Burnin’ Ring of Fire

We are still in the “house tweaking” phase of the new house, awaiting construction to begin on the new peaked roof. It is delayed for several reasons, but mostly because FEMA is bananas. It is the federal government, so not very surprising. Architectural plans are being redrawn and new trusses designed, and I am sincerely hoping construction begins in a few weeks. Until then, we shall focus on the exterior.

Fire pit

This funny shaped area (picture a wonky egg with corners) between the house and the pool had bushes in it, and as you can see, two sprinkler heads. The bushes obstructed the view from the pool of the TV we bring outside on weekends. An awful problem to have, I know. I took the bushes out one afternoon, and we had the epic idea to turn this area into a fire pit. A FIRE PIT! (<— this is not doing justice to my enthusiasm!)

First, we had to cap off these sprinklers, which was pretty simple.  We dug around to uncover the source pipe, cut it off, and capped it.

Fire Pit Fire Pit Fire Pit Fire Pit

The nail polish remover was used to clean the pipe before applying the glue (which is actually a chemical solvent that melts the two plastics together). Be sure to use nail polish remover containing acetone.

Boom!  Fire pit building time!

Fire Pit

We decided to recess it into the ground a little bit so we didn’t end up removing TV-obstructing bushes and replacing them with a TV-obstructing fire pit. That’s when it happened.

Fire PitThere are two problems in this picture.  First, we discovered ANOTHER pipe, that we didn’t know about, which feeds the circulatory system of the pool (I’m sure that is not the correct term, but I don’t know what the correct term is, and this is why we pay a pool guy). Our brainstorming ideas included (1) off setting the fire pit to one side to avoid contact with the pipe (hideous!); (2) putting down a thermal barrier of some sort (eh); or (3) giving up (nope!). Finally, the Boy had a great idea. Pavers!


The second problem with the picture above is that the stones we bought have these raised lips on them (right side of the picture), so no matter how we stacked them, they didn’t sit flat. We later learned that this is because they are actually made for retaining walls, to be stacked with the lip down catching the back edge of the stone below it, and therefore able to withstand the pressure of earth pushing against it. We remedied this issue by getting a chisel, hammer, and whacking the lip off of every single stone. It was a bit time consuming, but fairly easy, and worked great.



We left a few inches of dirt on top of the pipe, put the pavers down, which helped making leveling easier, as well as providing a barrier, and then built the fire pit on top of it. It is important to note that this was the FOURTH time we laid out the stones, and these suckers are heavy. We placed them once before discovering the pipe, once off to the side in a strange shape, and twice in the location you see now. It was exhausting, but we are loving the fire pit just in time for the weather to get chilly (60ish degrees at night = chilly for a Floridian).

With the addition of rocks around the pit, as well as in it for a little extra distance between the fire and the pipe, we called it a day. Well, a night.


I have no idea whose toe that is.

Naked Tomorrow

The Boy recently introduced me to Macklemore’s latest hit, Thrift Shop, which is sweeping the nation, and perhaps the world. Since I only listen to talk radio in the car (I’m such a nerd!) he had to fill me in on the latest happenings in “real” radio. I’ll admit, the song is catchy, hilarious, and holds a special place in my thrift-loving heart.

I got thrifty AND crafty in celebration of MLK’s birthday, and wanted to share all the deets. I was headed to the gym that fateful morning, when I passed my favorite thrift store, and saw a packed parking lot and signs for 50% off EVERYTHING. Obviously I slammed on brakes and pulled in. It was a madhouse. And no, I never made it to the gym, but I looked very sporty in my workout clothes, and called to ask about kickboxing classes from the parking lot, so that is just like working out, right?? Right.

This is the beauty that caught my eye:

Laundry Jug

I have been wanting a container with a spout for my laundry detergent for quite some time, thanks to some evil genius on Pinterest, and this giant jug won my heart. The price tag did, anyways:

Laundry Jug

$4.99 and 50% off? SOLD. She was a little plain Jane, but I knew I could fix that. There was already a hole in the side and a spout taped inside the jug, so I just had to assemble. Also, the top was just a plastic open ring, so I cut a piece of cork to size and simply super glued it on. I browsed the interwebs for cute laundry signs, slogans, etc., and settled on this one:

Laundry Jug

I can hear your sighs of relief that this post wasn’t an annoucement that The Boy and I are running away to join a nudist colony. That wouldn’t be good for anyone, except The Dog, who is always shamelessly naked. I didn’t like the white on beige contrast, and I wanted the paper to look a bit aged, so I soaked some coffee in water, squished it up a bit, and “painted” it onto the paper. Once dry, it looked exactly the way I had hoped, and matched the jug perfectly.

Laundry Jug

A little mod podge to hold in place, a few coats over it to make it moisture-resistant, and voila!

Laundry Jug

Here’s the catch, because you know I share it all – I am admitting for the first time that the dispenser method may not be the most practical. When shopping for furniture, clothing, housewares, pretty much anything, The Boy prefers function over form. He just doesn’t care about aesthetics. (“This puke green couch is super comfortable, plus it has a pull-out bed! It’s perfect!” or “NO. You CANNOT move the knife block left three feet because then it is not right where I prep food and thus it is NOT convenient.” or “Absolutely not. You cannot put a dresser in a CLOSET. It makes no sense.”) These are the battles I face. I’m sure no one everyone feels very sorry for me and my struggles.

The problem is that the detergent comes out veeeerrrrrryyyyyyy slowly. Painfully slow. Then, when you finally have enough detergent (or you are too impatient to keep waiting and say screw it and use 2/3 of the recommended amount), you pull your little cup away … and it drips. Several large drips. Even if you scrape off a few of the drips, they keep coming. And where do they land? On top of the washing machine. Sigh. The Boy did laundry this past weekend, and I kept waiting for his disgusted comments about HOW DUMB the new detergent dispenser was, but he never said a word, which only means one of two things: (1) He did laundry WITHOUT detergent, which is entirely possible; or (2) He used the extra container of detergent and never touched the jug.

Any guesses?

Here is The Boy’s response after reading this post:

Boy Text

I’m just glad he didn’t go with solution number 1. This is proof that men can be trained!

A DIY Why Not Christmas

The holidays were such a whirlwind and I cannot believe 2013 snuck up on us like that. Here’s to a month or more of my backspace key getting a workout everytime I type 2012 …  then have to fix it.

I wanted to share some of the DIY Christmas presents we gave this year. I made a ton of sugar scrub to give family, friends, and coworkers. It was surprisingly easy to make and the ladies seemed to enjoy it. The process involves a lot of sugar, some baby oil, coconut oil, and essential oil for scent (or flavor, as I call it). I made one batch with a little bit of almond and vanilla extract, and it was VERY sweet smelling (maybe too much). Also, after using lavender oil to scent one lavender batch, I discovered lavender-scented baby oil, which was fantastic. The lavender scent was much less over-powering with that batch.  I made and gifted 8 jars total, and even made my own labels for some of them.

DIY Xmas

For my family, when Christmas started getting expensive with the addition of children (I have 6 nieces and nephews!), and still buying for all adults, we talked about a solution. Since it was unanimous that the stocking was everyone’s favorite part, we decided to each have one person to prepare a stocking for. It is fun to pick up things all year long, and then give a huge stocking full of small-ish gifts. We only do this between my sisters and my mom, so there are four of us. I had a hard time coming up with homemade gifts for my sister Stephanie this year. She obviously got some sugar scrub, and some lip gloss that came out mediocre. My attempt to make her etched glasses was a bust pre-Christmas, then I figured it out post-Christmas. I tried to re-create the photo transfer to canvas on a larger scale with a photo of her boys, but it did not pan out.

Adorable kids, crap-tastic gift

Adorable kids, crap-tastic gift

This picture is proof that a camera makes anything, except me, look better. This looks much worse in person. The original tutorial mentions that the process of wetting the canvas and removing the paper requires patience and is painstaking, which I did not experience initially. However, a 2 x 2 canvas, compared to a 8 x 11 canvas, is a totally different ballgame. It came out so bad that I did not give it to her, because I was worried she would feel obligated to hang this monstrosity on her wall. Sorry, Steph! I made up for it by fixing the dresser in the playroom while I was there.

Oh, in case you are wondering, I did NOT attempt to make anything for the kids. I want my nieces and nephews to actually like me, and not think of me as the weird aunt. They might already, but I don’t want to continue encouraging it. I did get crafty with their gift wrapping, though, using some string, ribbon and stamps:

DIY Xmas

Here is my niece, Avery, in the slippers and slap bracelet from us (we gave her brother and sister a similar gift):

DIY Xmas

Here is Uncle The Boy explaining the virtues of the slap bracelet, while Layne looks skeptical (can’t blame the girl!)

DIY Xmas

My nephew, Ryan, opening his Inkoos (a stuffed animal you can draw on):

DIY Xmas

We gave his little brother a mini version of Inkoos and I received this photo later:

DIY Xmas

I realized that the only two “kids” I haven’t included pictures of are Dylan and Taylor. Taylor is 17 so I don’t feel confident selecting a picture she won’t kill me for. Here is Dylan making creative use of his candy necklace:


And a group shot of the candy necklace fun:

DIY Xmas

The Boy received the obligatory Florida Gator shirt (and I received a matching one) from my brothers-in-law, who are both Georgia fans, and can barely stomach the thought of having an actual UF fan trying to weasel his way into the family.

DIY Xmas

Confession: I wrote Taylor (17 year old) a check. At first I felt bad, but then I realized it was the best gift possible for a teenager. She didn’t seem to mind at all!

Have I mentioned that we have a ton of hardwood flooring firewood? We were just as eager to get it out of our garage as people were to burn it, so solid oak firewood was The Boy’s version of my sugar scrub. No one was safe from receipt. We gave some to my sister we were staying with, not really as a gift but just to get it out of my trunk. They took it grudgingly but have since requested more! (We may need to start charging – ha!)

DIY Xmas

For The Boy’s side of the family, we have all adults, so it was easier to DIY some gifts. A lot of his family members have fire pits and/or fireplaces, so the firewood was a big hit. I classed it up a bit (“Hey, here is the leftover scrap wood we are dying to get rid of! Merry Christmas!”) by making some firewood carriers, which I thought would be particularly helpful for dragging wood out to fire pits. My inspiration came from designs like this and this. I made them using lengths of scrap wood, burlap, and durable rope. Unfortunately, I took a few photos of the process, but none of the finished product, so use your imagination:

DIY Xmas DIY Xmas

I doubled over the burlap for strength, stapled it to a length of wood, then drilled holes in each end of the wood. I ran a length of thick burlap-type rope through the holes, and made knots to keep it in place for a handle on each side.

We also gave several family members enlarged photos in homemade frames. Again, I failed to take pictures of these. I always make mental lists of my new year’s resolutions, and then can’t ever remember what they were. This year – write stuff down, and take more pictures (look – I already wrote it down!).

Another DIY gift that turned out surprisingly well was a box I made for The Boy’s mom. I wanted to give her something rustic, durable, and unique to lug some of her gardening supplies around in, so I bought this plain box at Michael’s:

DIY Xmas

Then I beat it up (mostly with a hammer, even scraping the claw side across it). I tried a few different stain mixtures and finally settled on the weathered oak by Minwax that we used on Madonna. I still wasn’t particularly satisfied, so I used some odd weatherproofing stain I picked up at Home Depot on a clearance end cap who-knows-when. I alternated dipping my rag in the weathered oak and the waterproofing stain, and it gave the wood a streaky look that was perfect.

DIY Xmas

I finished it off with two coats of polyurethane, and some personalization on both sides. One was stenciled with her last name, followed by “Farms,” and the other side was this:

DIY Xmas

You may recognize that tree from the dresser I refinished for a friend here (same stencil!). I made the bird red because cardinals are meaningful to her.

So there you have it! I am pretty sure that sums up all of the DIY gifts we not only attempted, but also actually gave out. I already have some great ideas for next year! My worst fear is that people will not like the gifts, be too kind to tell me, and feel obligated to keep this stuff just because I made it. Look, I’m not in kindergarten, and one woman’s handicraft is another person’s handicrap. I get it. Feel free to come up with creative reasons how the homemade gifts met their untimely deaths, though. Or – immediately burn them, as most people happily did.

We survived Christmas with both families, with only one faux-proposal (we went on a walk Christmas Eve and when we returned, my sister screamed, “Show me your hands!” Needless to say The Boy and I were baffled, then figured it out) and only one person (The Boy’s dad) asking if I was pregnant.  We get it, people. Remain calm.