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Gardening

Well I think the Summer is IMG_4531finally here in the UK, we have had a lot of wind recently and wind is not good for my garden, it dries the soil out, flattens the flowers and because it has been a cold wind it has stopped things growing!  Thankfully now we are getting warmer temperatures during the day and, hopefully, no more frosts I can think about putting in the bedding plants.  My rockery is still looking really colourful with the tulips still flowering well and the pansies too.​

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My garden has a lot of established shrubs in and plenty of Spring bulbs but I always try and leave a small area at the front of the borders for some nice annuals, this space has primulas in now and they need to be transferred to another bed to die back over the Summer and then they can be re-planted back in the borders in the Autumn.

This year I have grown Calendula from seed and that will go at the back of the front bit, if you see what I mean!  The rest of the annuIMG_4570 (2)als I have bought from a small garden centre that acts as a day centre for adults with learning difficulties.  They have grown some wonderful plants and I had my pick early on in the Season.  The French Marigolds go in next and then the Alyssum and Lobelia are planted at the  front of the bed.  The Alyssum and Lobelia will hopefully knit together to form a small hedgerow right at the front of the border and the French Marigolds will stand up behind with the Calendula standing tall at the back.

I also bought some oxygenating plants recently to try and rid the pond of Spring slime, fortunately it is working and the slime is coming to the surface so I can scoop it out using a small fishing net.  The other day I was scooping and emptying when I came across a little smooth newt!  I popped him back in the pond but not before I managed a photo of him.​

We seem to have waited a long time for Summer to come this year but the garden will look wonderful soon if the wind stays away and the temperatures continue to rise.  I hope you all have a great Summer and can spend lots of time outdoors in your gardens.

I will be back soon.

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20141031_134226I am going off topic a little bit, from my home improvement blogging, in the interest of Christmas. We have these great solar lanterns on clearance, until they are gone. I decided to get one. We have a video on how to pop them up but I didn’t need that – it really was pretty simple. But the directions state that you must let it charge in the sun for a full day. I set the box in a window of my house and didn’t get around to putting it outside yet. I kind of like it as a nightlight, in the window with my plants. We’ll see what happens when I get to this room.20141104_192014

Anyway, Monday morning, the first morning after Daylight Saving Time (that’s correct, no “s” on “Saving”), I had my hands full of coffee, purse, lunch, getting ready to leave my house at 5:30 in the morning (I have a beast of a commute and work starts at 7). The newer shadows of the darker morning hid my bottom step and I mis-stepped. I ended up with knees buckling, sliding into the car pretty painfully. About halfway to work, while I was telling Andy about my fall on the phone, I figured I should look to see if I was bleeding. That sucker was running down into boot! As I write this now, on Wednesday, I have a horrendous scab, stiffness, and some bruising. I am going to save you the photos of that but believe me when I tell you that a little extra outside lighting is probably what the doctor ordered for my house.

I can’t  yet tell you how long the included batteries last, or how many hours it glows after a full day’s charge, but I do know that I may just put a few more of these on my Christmas list.

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20141004_120106I am still working in the New Room. I should soon start to call it the den because it’s far from new. I finished stripping the wallpaper and am now firmly convinced that menopausal women should have a mandatory stopping point on wallpaper peeling at somewhere less than 8 solid hours, or insanity sets in.

Next, I had to assess the order of painting, and the colors I wanted to use. I wanted the wainscoting to be a solid color, chair and base rails to be white, and the upper previously-papered portion painted with a decorative wash. I like solid color, but there are so many imperfections in these walls, and I have so many different colors to incorporate, that the mottling seems to be the way to go. I can always change it if I want.

Because the wainscoting requires that I really push the brush into the crevices, I did that first, on Friday right after work, in a purple-grey taupe (purchased at BigBox) to match the carpet. I used Construction Gear’s new premium 4” paint brush for greater control. The edge on this brush is so precise that I cut in the wainscoting without needing tape – the bristles went to the very edges and I gently pushed the paint right to the trim. I am impressed. For my white, I mixed the rest of the Bullseye Primer with all the leftover white paint I found in the basement. While allowing the wainscoting to sufficiently dry, I spackled and sanded the walls smooth best I could. I then painted the rails with this white, using the great brush again. I extended the white to the patched upper walls using Construction Gear’s Purdy paint rollers.

20141010_202908Afterwards, I went over to Andy’s for a few minutes. I had made plans to go out for a drink with old high school friends, trying to reconnect now that I am back in the area. Andy was welcome to join us but he stayed at home to spend quality time with his girls.

Saturday was too beautiful to be indoors, and he and I enjoyed one of the best days, ever. I started the morning with about 6 hours of painting, then we went for a 5k hike along Lucy’s steep cross country training course and truly appreciated her running. After we caught our breath, I treated Andy at a nearby coffeehouse. We sat outside under an umbrella and talked leisurely and even got refills! In the frenetic pace of our lives, this felt incredibly decadent. Then he was back to shuttling the girls while I painted, and we touched base again in the evening for the game on TV.

On Sunday I started the decorative painting over the white walls. I applied the taupe using a dry brush and damp rag to smooth it all, bringing out the texture of the wall. I allowed that to dry, then went back and did the same with a satin beige (a quart found in the basement). I like the organic look of it all being very well-blended, like a fine leather.

20141011_110517I finished almost all of this over the weekend, but on Sunday, while I was waiting for a visit from Mo, I got a call from the hospital, that she had been taken in for being dizzy (ok, she and I are both dizzy, but this was the bad kind of dizzy!). In a nutshell, she had missed one of her medications for about a month. I will need to start checking in on her more often, in her apartment. On  my way home from that, I had time to stop at Andy’s for about ten minutes, to rest in him and end the weekend on a relaxing note.

Andy suggested that I paint the window frames and sills white to update the room further. I will do that, as well as add the final coats to all paint, this weekend, and call it a light weekend. I need one of those!

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Last Rose of Summer

Rose of SummerJust about anywhere in the continental United States roses are still in bloom. However, in many places it may not be long until the last rose of summer appears. Meanwhile there is lots of work for the serious rose gardener to prepare this queen of the garden scene to endure the winter and bloom again next spring and summer even more strongly. There is pruning and mulching. There is cutting last blooms. There is cleaning the rose bed itself and lots more. The beauty of a home-grown rose is practically unparalleled in the botanical arsenal, growing roses is lots of hard work with huge reward at the end of the process!

There is peril in the process, however, due to the pesky thorns. These wonderful West County Gardener Gauntlet Rose Gloves from Construction Gear are just the ticket to avoid the thorns. Made of synthetic heavyweight suedegloves, they are intentionally thorn proof but also lightweight and fully washable. Unlike their shorter cousins, standard gardening gloves, these are gauntlet gloves extending arm protection up to the elbow to save shirts and skin from snags. These gloves are the perfect match for the last rose of summer and will winter over well to be ready for spring and another season of rose beauty!

~AH

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This blog’s focus, two little words: install. lighting. Cost: $50. Total cost for the bathroom: slightly under $200 with some leftover materials for the next room.

20140824_161002My weekend started early; Thursday night Andy was busy with the girls and a friend chatted me to see if I was ok. JD was in our circle of friends in high school and we reconnected right when my slide down the slope of divorce, death, and job changing started. He checks in every once in awhile via text just to see if I am alright. I told him I was, but he insisted on stopping over just to make sure. At that point I was in my PJs and had found a leak in the bathroom plumbing. I tried to deter him but I suppose when some people care about you, it’s a good thing. I changed back into clothes and let Andy know I’d be visiting for awhile during our regular phone time. JD and I decided the marine sealant I used on the flooring was good for the leak – it was in the sink drain and all parts were secure except one soldered vertical piece. We sat in the midst of my disastrous house and caught each other up on the last few months.

Even a surprise visit from an old friend can’t stop the inevitable. The bathroom called. I was lucky enough to find some brushed nickel wall sconces at a reasonable price at BigBox but finding the help during daylight hours was the challenge, thus they are last. I am decent at wiring; once you recognize that the wiring either works or it doesn’t, and as long as you don’t use your body as a conductor, it is safe. Andy came over Saturday with tools and equipment, to knock it out with me.

20140824_171619If you know my dad, you know that no project is standard. He loved to create from found objects and scrap, and for the bathroom wiring, apparently he used salvaged industrial wire that had four strands. So not only did we have an extra strand to cap off, but what was coming from the wall was as unmoving as the rock of Gibraltar and barely fit in the box. Additionally, he somehow tied the ceiling fixture in to the left sconce wiring, so there were an extra full set of wires. We did not get the lights up Saturday.

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Left, Before

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Left, After

Andy came back Sunday with more tools and equipment, and after another 2 ½ hours, roll of electrical tape, and 17 different types of pliers, we got them up. Something is loose somewhere in the wall that if the lights aren’t a certain way, they don’t work. Or one of them does. They look beautiful, however, and Sunday night I finally got, and left them, positioned to both work. Monday morning, neither of them turned on. At least I got up early enough to spend 15 minutes wiggling them around so I could light my morning. I finally got them positioned properly and hope no well-intended OCD guest tries to helpfully straighten them that last millimeter.

I am including before and after pics just because it’s so satisfying!

Coming up will be my “gimme” week. I will sit back, enjoy a more open flow in this tiny space, and add the fun stuff: roll the towels and add the accoutrements. When we talk again, you will find me starting to tackle the laundry room, which is the most disgusting room in the house. It is next because it is how all of the visitors enter the house and I really need to be glad when people arrive, rather than cringe. Even though this room is also small and has no wallpaper, I know better than to call this job “easy.” I will be cleaning it out, cleaning it, and repainting ceiling, walls, and floor. Sounds simple, right? Hah! Five tasks, five weeks. I suspect that my one-year deadline for the whole house will not be met.

I will be featuring the pink hard hat but using the disposable gloves, knee pads, and coveralls, as well.

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Right, Before

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Right, After

~BS

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20140725_174314Let’s focus on one of my favorite topics: Andy! Andy is many things. He is a superb dad, is nothing short of miraculous in the kitchen, has a naïve innocence that is endearing and yet a hardness that stands up to pretty much anything, and is so unique in his thought process he keeps even me on my toes (!!). And yes, Andy is a wonderfully big man. He’s over 6 feet tall and he’s muscular, and when he engulfs 5’2” me in a bear hug, every single thing in my life clicks into place and I am at peace. Now you know about Andy. But did you know that we carry gear for Big and Tall men like mine?

Most people are aware that we carry larger sizes in pants and shoes and other work clothing. For example, our leather boots are sized up to 18, double-extra wide. Our flame-resistant pants extend to 54 waist and 36 inseam. Shirt sizes are up to 5XL. But when you buy for your man, do you remember your accessories?

To try some of our products out on Andy, I wanted to feature the “extras” you might not consider when shopping for work clothes for your big dog. I picked out Carhartt’s wool socks in Large, Online stores’ budget-friendly reversible belt (choose from a variety of styles regularly priced to $25, for only $5.95 each), and an Ergodyne Core Performance Workwear base layer shirt.

SockAndy educated me, on our first date, that his homemade daisy dukes (settle down, ladies; his are simply jeans cut off at the knee and left to fray) were like summer in your pants. When we spoke of our mutual admiration of brand new socks, I told him they were like a vacation on your feet. So this weekend, right out of the goodie bag, he picked the socks first. He liked the length – they are no-show but with a slight “lip” in back so the heel of your shoe won’t rub that delicate tendon. “Oooh! Carhartt! Wool! Are they winter socks?” he asked. I pointed to the “All season” text on the package. “Will you wear them?” I asked. “Oh yeah!” he said. That man gets excited about socks. “I like how they feel right away. Not scratchy like you’d think wool would be.”

20140828_143237The belt I wasn’t sure on fit, so I was glad that I could return it after he tried it on (see our return policy here). A few months ago, we had gone to a department store to get him a new work belt and it broke the third time he wore it, and me exchanging the belt for him was a true headache. It didn’t stand up to the rigors of his blue-collar management job and the department store’s customer service was bad enough I almost wrote to the company. Almost. Anyway, the Online Stores belt did not fit. It was the same exact length and stated size as one he currently wears, so it was sized properly – except the belt was made of thicker leather, which would add circumference, and it was wider, which would add resistance against his belt loops. If you order this one, I suggest ordering one a size larger. I got two different belts, both thinner; one his size and one a step up. This morning he showed me that they fit great. They looked great, too! 20140904_050310“I love this belt,” he said. At this price, I’ll be buying more. Here’s a photo of Andy in his belt, getting ready for his workday (a little eye candy).

The dry-wick shirt is perfect for this time of year, when we head into cooler weather. It can be worn alone or as a layer. It is cut to fit snugly. CG-6415_Ergodyne_BLACK_Core-Performance-Base-Layer-Long-Sleeve-Shirt“You know this is buff cut,” Andy said. “That means it’s going to be tight.” Yay for me!

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September is the NSC Congress & Expo in San Diego, CA. The Safety+Health magazine placed in each registration bag features Confined Space.

In keeping with that theme, I will break from my farmhouse reboot series to bring you these important CSE products!

Construction Gear and Discount Safety Gear, sister sites, both offer products for confined space entry (CSE). Construction Gear’s DBI-Sala Basic Tripod Hoist package features a no-tools set-up assembly that supports up to 310lbs. The two piece construction offers an adjustable mast and fold-up lower base for easy handling and storage. The DBI-Sala UCL Confined Space Hoist System is designed for manhole and CSE/retrieval applications. It comes equipped with an adjustable offset mast, lightweight lower mast, and 3-piece lightweight base. Winch and SRLs are sold separately.

Discount Safety Gear carries this DBI-Sala Rescue Ladder designed to provide a means of assisted rescue. The optional anchorage plate is idea for CSE systems. l Also at Discount Safety Gear are hundreds of cost-effective signs to be used in conjunction with CSE applications.

 

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