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Monday, August 29, 2016

Backyard Porch Painting

Everyone needs to do at least one thing to their house that a real estate agent would cringe over.  Something that makes a potential buyer walk through your house and say, "hmmm, that's cute" as they make a mental note to get rid of it.

These things are important to a house.  It's what makes a house a home.  It's your personal touch.  Well today I'm going to share my personal touch...

 We finally finished it!  The backyard porch is no longer a chippy paint concrete pad surrounded by my new deck.

We took our own sweet time to do this because it's summer, it got hot, and we had other things we'd rather do.

But, bit by bit, and with everyone contributing, we gotter' done!

To begin with, Alec removed all the loose paint and repainted the concrete pad red again.  We could have stopped there but there's nothing personal about a red concrete pad.

So I picked out a rug pattern to paint and Jeff printed it on grid paper.  I went with a simple pattern because, well, I'm a little lazy when it comes to projects like this....

We then marked a grid on the concrete pad, measuring 1 1/2 inch squares.
We started to mark the lines with chalk but that was a messy mistake so we just used a pencil instead.

Jeff then used the printed image on grid paper and drew it on the concrete pad grid.  He's totally smart!  I would have never thought of that, nor had the patience to do it.  I would have just winged it and that seldom turns out as well.

Finally, we put paint to brush and started painting in the design.

It took a couple coats of paint and we just used paint we had lying around from house projects.  Finally, I outlined the design with a permanent maker.

We then sealed the whole thing with a clear concrete sealantto protect the image and make it last longer.

There it is, cringe all you real estate agents, we're not selling anyway!

Friday, August 26, 2016

Thoughts for Friday

Here we are staring another Summer Friday in the face.  This Summer Friday, however, marks the 3rd anniversary of my sister Nikki's passing.

Pictured: Nikki and my son, Alec.
Nikki was only 38 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.  She was just a couple weeks shy of her 46th birthday when she passed away.

As with the past couple years, this year we will light a candle to remember and celebrate her short life.

I have a few things I'd like to get to this weekend as well, starting with finishing my back porch project.

We've made a lot of progress and I should be able to post the complete reveal next week.

I've also picked up a couple items free on the sidewalk lately.  This umbrella stand I have needed for a couple years and was too cheap to buy new.  I figured I'd find one at a garage sale or something.  I never expected to pick up one free though!

I sanded the rust spots and painted it red and it now holds my clothes line. It's a lot heavier and sturdier than the one I was using.  I can now use that one to hold my table umbrella.
On a whim, Jeff picked this bird cage up free on the sidewalk.  It works perfectly to keep Audrey from eating my house plants.  Seriously, what is with that?  She's adorable but I'm getting a little tired seeing my plants destroyed and her looking all innocent about it....I mean, at least fess up to it, Audrey!

The online store is now stocked with Peppermint Menthol and Honey Safflower Goats' Milk soap.

Honey Safflower is a favorite among many of my clients and the Peppermint Menthol is a rising star, so get a few bars while they last!

And finally, I want to leave you with a link that Nikki would have loved.  I have no doubt, if she were still alive, she would have contributed several photos to this feed.


Friday, August 19, 2016

Thoughts For Friday

I had this past Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday off.  We spent a couple of those days in Astoria, Oregon.

You never know what to expect for weather when you visit the Oregon coast.  That's why I actually prefer to go in the winter because if it's rainy and windy, well, it's supposed to be then.  In the summer, it's a little disappointing to arrive to 50 degrees and rain.

Lucky for us, we had nice weather!

Even the beach was decent!  Not too windy nor too cold.

We visited the wreck of the Peter Iredale which ran a shore in 1906.

We also climbed the 164 steps to the top of the Astoria Column.

Unfortunately, we had to return to a heat wave and work.
On the bright side, the heat is helping the pepper plants!  This is a Purple Prince Hot Pepper Plant (say that 5 times fast!)  It's peppers will turn red when completely ripe.

That's all I've got for this week.  Check back next week as we're making progress on the backstep/oriental rug paint job!

Enjoy your weekend!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Nocino Part Deux

 It's time!  Actually, a little past time but we've had a busy summer.

I'm talking about time to make nocino, of course.  I wrote about our first time making it last year.  This turned out to be a pretty popular post so I thought I'd add a little to it as we're tweaking our recipe to make the best nocino yet!

Nocino is an Italian liquor made with unripe, green walnuts.  Use it similar to how you might use Kahlua or Bailey's;  in coffee with a little cream (because who doesn't want a little liquor with their morning coffee, right?)

Last year's nocino turned out quite good, however, I felt there was room for improvement.  It needed to be a little sweeter, in my opinion.  We used vodka in our recipe last year but I found recipes where people used rum instead.  Rum, being a little sweeter than vodka, seemed like a good idea.

So with a 1.75 liter bottle of white rum in hand, we made nocino part deux!

Instead of trying to cut the green walnuts like last year, we put them in a bag and took them outside and hammered the hell out of them.

Next we washed enough containers that sealed well and added a cup of sugar (one cup total split between however many containers you use.)

Add plenty of warm spices; cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, nutmeg, mace, etc to the containers.

Pour the rum and close the containers.  Store in a location that receives little sunlight like a closet.

In about two to three months (just in time for the holidays) strain the nocino through a cheesecloth and enjoy.

We're still drinking what's left of last year's nocino.  You can see how the walnuts turn the liquor dark.

Add a little coffee, milk, and whip cream and you've got a tasty drink!


Friday, August 12, 2016

Thoughts for Friday

Hello and welcome!

Let's start right off with what's blooming in the garden! This is a Turtlehead bush; strange name, I know. Apparently it gets it's name because the flower looks like the head of a turtle (no worries, I'm not seeing it either.) This is a perennial plant which is awesome, but even better, it requires very little maintenance and by very little, I mean, damn near none! Once a year in the late Fall, I whack the bush back to the ground and miraculously every spring it grows back. Come mid to late summer it blooms and the bees love it.

Speaking of bees, I'm sure you've heard, our honey bee population is being decimated. Chemicals, drought, air pollution, global warming, and other factors have all taken their toll on the bees.  Easy enough to dismiss as they aren't nearly as exotic as a polar bear or as cute as a harp seal, however these bees...they are IMPORTANT!

Take my pumpkin plant as an example.  See the shriveled little pumpkin?  Apparently this was caused by a lack of pollination.  The female flower bloomed, the male flower bloomed, but no little honey bee was around to spread the male flower's pollen onto the female flower.  What's left is a sad, little, deflated pumpkin that never had a chance to grow into the Great Pumpkin it could have been.

We've taken this situation into our own hands now and we've been performing the duty of the honey bees ourselves.  What that translates to is getting up early to time the opening of the female flower, then using the male flower's stamen (complete with pollen) and rubbing it around the female flower.

Here's a video for a better description:

All this pollinating has left it's mark on me and I'm oddly perusing the male pumpkin flowers of my neighbors wondering if their stamen is bigger or better.  Needless to say, we need to do something about this bee problem and quick!  If you use pesticides in your garden, please stop and if you have some extra space to plant, try planting the Turtlehead bush, the bees love it!

We got some exciting news this week in our fair city.  One of our favorite breweries opened shop here in Portland!  Double Mountain Brewery is now open and serving beer and pizza (the Truffle Shuffle pizza is to DIE FOR!)!  We'll be making our way to check it out soon.

I had a busy weekend last week making soap.  I replenished my stock of Peppermint and Honey Safflower goats' milk soaps.

I made a slight change to the Peppermint soap, I added menthol to it! Prepare yourself for an AWAKENING shower or bath with this bar!  I've also noticed the menthol seems to have brought out the peppermint scent even better.

Both bars will be in the online store soon!

Have a great weekend and get out there and do something good for the honey bees!  Check back Monday, I've got a great drink recipe you'll want to try!

Friday, August 5, 2016

Thoughts for Friday

The first annual(?) Home and Patio Sale wrapped up last Saturday!  It exceeded all my expectations!  We opened on Friday and had steady customers all day.  By the end of the day, nearly all the furniture had sold!
I apologize to anyone who may have come on Saturday.  We did have a few pieces of furniture left but the majority was gone.

 By the end of day Saturday, I was left with just this coffee table

and this patio table.

I ended up putting both my dining room sets in the sale

and they both sold!

Consequently, we were left with a bare dining room!
That didn't last long though, as I found a beautiful Danish Teak table at a second hand store about a mile from my house.

I picked up these four chairs at the same place. *Love the fabric*

Now that my workroom is cleared out, I'm on the hunt again for free sidewalk furniture I can refurbish for another sale next summer!  Stay tuned to this blog for more furniture makeovers and make your plans for next year to spend the last weekend of July in Portland for the Home and Patio Sale, conveniently timed to be the same weekend as the Oregon Brewers Festival!

Last week my long awaited Boncho came in the mail.  This is the bike poncho I helped fund on Kickstarter back in February.  I'm excited to try it out on my daily commute to work, however, I'm not excited enough to hope it rains.  Let's just say when it does rain, I won't be COMPLETELY bummed because I'll have my new Boncho to wear.

Lora's Beauty Online Store is welcoming August and looking forward to Fall with the addition of a new goats' milk soap!  The Honey Ginger bar has made it's debut!  The spicy scent of ginger combined with drips of honey make this a great bar for softening the skin.  This is a special seasonal bar and will only be in the store while supplies last!

Enjoy your summer weekend and pick up few Honey Ginger bars to entice Autumn!