Tuesday, April 30, 2013

I Love Saving Money

I am not brand loyal to very many things when I shop.  That's not a criticism for those that always buy the same specific brand of any particular product, just a statement that I don't.

Bounty, Scott, Viva... they're all paper towels.  All going to be used for the same lowly purpose.  (At my house right now, that purpose is primarily cleaning up puppy accidents!)  Similarly Charmin, Angel Soft or another brand of 2-ply is ok.  Left to my own devices, I will choose whichever one is cheaper that day.  Think about what it's for... why flush the extra dollars?

Photo credit: http://www.drugstore.com
When we brought the puppies home, we knew we needed something to clean up accidents.  Derek reached for Resolve.  A can like this lasted about a week.  At our local grocery store, the price is $5.49.  Being a cheapskate, I didn't want to pay that much again so I looked for a coupon but I didn't find one so I looked for it at the Dollar General next to the grocery store.  They don't carry it.

But I still needed something to clean up spots on the carpet.

What to do?  What to do?

I kept looking around the store and found a store brand clean up product that said it would eliminate pet odors.

For $2, I figured it was worth a try.

If it was crap, at least I wouldn't have wasted much of our very sparse funds.  And if it did the job, I'd look like a freaking genius for trying it.  High reward - low risk.

Premium Stain & Odor Remover
And after a week of using it... I like it.  I definitely think it's doing the job it is intended for.  The stains come up very easily and the house doesn't smell of urine or feces when you walk in.  Right when you are using it, it doesn't smell as perfumy as the Resolve does and it's a liquid you squirt on instead of a foam.  But it's getting the job done, I'm not big on perfume smells and I honestly can't think of even one good reason to get hung up on the foaming/non-foaming difference.

I recommend Dollar General's Premium Stain & Odor Remover for anyone who has pet clean up needs and wants to save a few bucks!


Kitchen Re-Make

Here are some shots of the kitchen on the day the realtor handed me the keys at closing on our new house:
They were flat white, grungy in that sort of way that doesn't wash off and tricked out with some clunky door pulls and hinges vintage 1977.  Amazingly 35 years later this house had it's original kitchen.  If money wasn't an issue... like a major issue right now... we would have pulled it all down and put in new cabinets in a more functional configuration.  We would have also put in larger stainless appliances instead of the smallest of white ones.  But life is what it is and we are in make do mode.

So with about $3,450 investment and a couple of days labor, we turned the appliance-less old kitchen into this:

$3,300 of that is new appliances and installation fees.  The other $150 bought a Rustoleum Transformations kit for cabinets, a can of brushed nickel spray paint, brushed nickel door pulls and some various and sundry stuff like paint brushes, screws and shelf liner.

The spray paint was so I could re-use the once nasty antiqued brass hinges rather than plunk down $70-ish for new ones.  I thought that was one of my more ingenious cheap-skate solutions!

The most often asked questions we've encountered were about the Rustoleum Transformations kit.  People have inquired if it worked, looks good and is as easy to use as the box says.

It was pretty easy.  A bit time consuming, but definitely not difficult.  The simple steps of washing the cabinets, brushing on a deglosser and wiping it off with a clean wet cloth, putting on 2 coats of base color, brushing on the glaze and wiping it away with a wad of cheesecloth and then brushing on a finish coat - with drying/curing time in between each step - were very straight forward.  Of course, if  you have a slight bit of artistic ability or vision you'll be better able to mimic a wood grain look when wiping the glaze away...

It worked to transform the appearance of the whole kitchen.  The pictures speak for this fact, so yes, I'd say it worked.

It looks better than when the cabinets were painted white.  Did it achieve the pretty dark cherry wood finish I covet?  It hints at it but falls a little short.  But then I wasn't really looking for a miracle and would say we got pretty close to what we were expecting from the product.  This kitchen isn't forever... it's very much a 'for now' thing so falling short of perfection is ok.

My only REAL gripe about the product is that it chips very easily when bumped with pan or where two doors touch each other.  Yes, both of those incidents have happened already so I'm searching out a way to cover up little white spots.

And... trying very hard to be a little more graceful than a bull in a china shop so I don't make more chips!

Beauty is a Beast!

In order to get that fierce guard dog look that is so classic for a Doberman, tails and ears are trimmed while they are very young puppies.  Then, their naturally floppy ears, must be splinted until healed so they are erect.  In the past that splint has been external and required almost a full taping of the dogs head to keep it in place for 6 weeks.  More recently, a system was developed to use a stent internally which, after healing, is removed via a single tiny incision.

Our boys got stents before we ever picked them up from the breeder.

And I was pretty sold on this method.  It's clean, neat and only requires us to tape the very tips of their ears *if* they flopped.  Both of Lightning's, and one of Thunder's, ear tips flopped.  And keeping tape on them has been difficult.  I couldn't imagine having to do the whole external splint and tape the whole ear thing.

But now that's changed...

In their 'boys will be boys' rough housing, one of Lightning's stents broke through the skin on Sunday evening.  I think it bothered us more than it bothered him but we dutifully made the appointment to have the vet remove it.  They couldn't take him until Thursday morning so we've had to just watch him and feel bad about it for a couple of days now.  When we got out of bed for the first potty run Tuesday morning, I noticed it wasn't just broken skin but an inch or so of stent poking out.  By the time I got him back in the house and cornered only about an inch and a half of the stent were left inside his ear.  I bit the bullet and pulled it out.

This is what it looks like.  The stent is a piece of semi-flexible plastic much like fishing line, or what you use in a string trimmer for the lawn, but it's heavier.

Now we've got about 3 weeks of externally taping his ear so it will hold its shape.  And he's a royal pain in the backside about it.  He fights about holding still to get the tape put on and then thrashes about trying to find a way to get it off.  And then his brother helps him with his predicament...  Thunder bites his ear and pulls the tape off sending me running to pull it out of his mouth before he swallows.

And I don't really know what I'm doing when I try to tape it so I'm finding it to be a real ordeal.

I wish there wouldn't have been issues with the stent.  If that had gone smoothly I'd have no hesitations about it.  But one of Thunder's twisted so he has an ear that sits at a bit of a wonky angle (we hope it will straighten when the stent is removed) and then all this mess with Lightning's ear...it gives me doubts.  I'm truly not sure what I'd choose to do if I could get a do-over!

And this is the sad way he comes out looking.

For the 10 minutes the tape lasts...

Frogs of the Zombie Apocalypse

Really late one night a few weeks ago Derek was outside and could hear the most awful sound. He couldn't even describe it except as something creepy beyond belief that made him want to get back inside the house as fast as possible.  I put it up to dogs howling in the distance and echoing off some of the hillsides...

During the rainstorm on Sunday, water
was running down the yard in streamlets
like this.  The back slopes to the west and
then both sides and the front slope south to
the lane from the main road to our house.
At the bottom they drain into a little stream
that meanders through the neighborhood.
Considering it case solved, I dismissed it because pretty much everyone out here has dogs, most live outside and more than a few run the neighborhood freely.  Every now and again they all point their noses moonward and put up a big racket in the middle of the night.

Then Saturday, the first night home with the puppies, I had them out for that one last attempt to go potty before bed and I could hear the most awful noise. Completely scary and totally indescribable.

I made Derek come outside with us and he confirmed it was the same noise and asked me what I thought it was.

I was a little unnerved so I tried to make a joke... there's a cemetery just past the houses on the next road over and I said it's ghosts coming up from their graves.

THAT did not go over well!

He pointedly told me I was not nearly as funny as I thought I was and jokes like that would get a 'For Sale' sign planted in the front yard ASAP.

Seemingly coming from different places around us, we've heard it a few times since then.  A few nights ago it sounded a whole lot closer, like right across the road where the stream curves along the side of the lane, and instead of panicking this time, I stopped and actually listened closely.  It was puzzling for a few minutes.  And then, I realized what's making the noise.


Yes... frogs.

A closer look at the streamlet.
There are little streams all over these wooded areas and the boy frogs have been out there croaking out a real symphony trying to woo the girl frogs for mating season. And then the Mocking Birds pick it up and it sounds like the cacophony is, indeed, rising.  They're loud and when it rains and gets foggy everything blends together eerily.  And that freaks the dogs out so they start howling and it echoes through all the trees and pretty soon it does sound like the ghosts are rising from their graves and gathering to start the zombie apocalypse!

Silly frogs...

Shared with the folks at Mountain Woman Rendezvous #1.  Click on over and check them out along with great information from other homesteading bloggers!!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Wildflowers of Reynolds's Woods

It's still hard to believe this is my back yard!

Some days I just look out there in amazement wondering what in the world I did right to get this view.  I wandered the edges of our woods this morning snapping pictures while the dogs romped and played and enjoyed the sunshine.

Here's a "taller" look at the same area on the west side.  Isn't it pretty?  Further over, by that neighbor's fence, is the very much not attractive brushy patch.

And this is the far eastern edge of our woods where I want to fill in with some tall bushes and block out the view of this neighbor's house.  If you look really closely at that dead tree in the middle, you'll see 3 hollowed out nesting spots.  Not sure what kind of bird is using them but it's call is loud and it favors the darkness.  Sometimes the little fella is still telling his story to the world well after midnight!

There are so many birds and bugs and plants I've yet to learn names for...

It seems that much of the brushy patch on the west of our lot is filled with blackberries.  Yum!  We've been talking about putting a swimming pool in this area sometime in the future.  And before that happens I will be transplanting some of these so there's a supply for fresh fruit, jam and maybe even the occasional pie.  I love blackberries and it's been years since I had any fresh from the vine.

Between what I think is a locust tree and one of the oak trees there are several of these.  I think they are blue bells.  And I hope they spread and that there are more of them next spring!

So pretty!

I have no idea at all what these little pale lavender-colored flowers are but there are half a dozen little clumps of them  in the semi-level area we thinking would be perfect for a fire pit.  Like I've said out loud a few times, it's probably a weed, but I like them so they are staying put.

And these little white flowers, that I think are some variety of wild aster, are growing all over the yard and into the edge of the woods.

I really favor leaving the woods very natural.  No fussy manicured lawn here!  All it needs is a bit of cleaning up fallen dead wood and a few supplemental wild flowers and flowering bushes to add punches of drama to be perfect!!

Thursday, April 11, 2013


It's raining.


I'll be excited to get some grass growing so that every storm doesn't make the back yard into a giant mud puddle.  There's standing water everywhere someone has stepped or there's the slightest shallow spot.  This red clay soil just doesn't drain.

And then the dogs, which we pick up day after tomorrow, will bring in loads of mud...

The grass that was seeded right before we closed on buying the house is starting to come in.  I'm kind of surprised at how much is coming up after this much time.  I thought maybe it had all been washed away or drowned in the rains about 10 days ago or been blown off in the wind before the rains or that the multitude of birds and squirrels had found it a tasty little munchie.  It's still a little sparse but maybe there's more hope for it than I had thought.

Just before dark tonight it was raining so hard it looked like fog out through our woods.  I remarked to a friend that it was the perfect setting for a horror movie.  She doesn't like scary stuff at all so she didn't find that idea amusing.  Still, I was sort of mesmerized by the hazy look in all those trees that are just greening up.  I wish there would have been enough light to have taken a photo but it was truly right on the edge of nightfall.

It seems like it's been raining a lot the last few weeks here in northern Georgia.  Maybe rain is normal for Spring in the South (it's my first Spring here so I don't know) but these dark threatening skies and damp cold are exactly the kind of weather that make me want to climb back into bed and huddle under the covers and a get lost in the fanciful imaginings of a good book instead of venturing out into all the things the world is bidding me to do.

The folks over at the Kennesaw Mountain Battlefield have hinted before that the mist and fog makes for some great pictures on the Mountain.  I can imagine that it is even more hauntingly beautiful since I get distracted every time we drive through there wondering what tales those trees would tell if they could speak.  What would they say about those young men who sought the promise of adventure in war?  What would they tell of sheltering men, scared and hungry and cold and far from home's comfort, in their limbs?  Or maybe they'd whisper otherwise forgotten last words in a reverent awe that can only be born from watching men die?  Or perhaps even of relief and overwhelming joy in long anticipated homecomings at one of the little farm sites?

Maybe I should write a novel.

Or, maybe I'm just overly sentimental and caught up in mood-fitting old song lyrics today, too.
See the clouds they're giving life below
In colors that the canvas cannot show;
Keeping secrets no one else could know
For I'm the one who told them so.
David Gates, from Clouds & Rain Suite