Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Peony Explosion

Otherwise, how can it open so fast? Just one (hot) day, it changed from this
to this

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Garden Update

My peony "gardenia" finally started to open yesterday. I am so excited, will take a picture a day, then show you the entire process. It looks pink now, but it supposed to be white. We will see.

And the iris I got from AK last summer survived and thrived. Look at these gorgeous flowers, and click to see the details.

Spring is here and summer is approaching, there are lots of different bugs showing up in my garden. Found this amazing butterfly on my shed door. One of its wings looked damaged or deformed, so the poor thing couldn't fly too far or too high. After taking this picture, I carefully moved it to my garden, near some flowers, so it can get something to eat. It disappeared the next morning, hopefully it was strong enough and flew away, instead of eaten by bird or cat.

And look what I found. It's a spider nursery on the leaves of my purple coneflower. So many tiny black and yellow spiders. One slight touch on the leaves, they scattered very fast. Then 30 seconds later, they regrouped to this tight mass. Very interesting. Should do some research to find out what kind of spiders these are.

Monday, May 24, 2010

To Do List Update

Finally I can cross the "refinish the decks and porch" off my to-do list. They look great. Don't you think?
My flowers looks even prettier next to it! BTW, my peony "gardenia" is about to open, for the first time ever! So exciting! Cannot wait.

And finally finished painting the metal plant shelves and cart. Don't they look much better? Here is the before and WIP, and here is the finished shelf in action.
Don't you think it's much better than putting a big black shelf there? I think my plants look happier on it too. Maybe because of the baby, I want everything to be colorful and happy now. OK, how about this metal cart?
Sorry I don't have a good before picture. It was another great curb find a couple of years ago. It looked ok in that picture, but was too rusty and ugly after staying outside for several summers. I cleaned, primed, and spray painted it "Bumble Bee" yellow. Like it much better now. And here is a picture of before_wip_after. Can you tell the difference?

Friday, May 21, 2010

What Are The Chances Of

your cellphone vibrated itself into a mug, or as I said "attempted suicide"? That's what happened to me this morning. I just went to brush my teeth, left my 2 weeks new cellphone on top of the radio on the nightstand. Then Stubborn came in and asked me "Did you put your cellphone in your cup?" I was like "What are you talking about, crazy man!" That's when I saw it. Stubborn was holding it with two fingers, water dripping out of it, and it was still vibrating, continously, which is abnormal. The screen all gray, the poor thing probably filled with water. At first I blamed little Caterpillar. We caught her reaching out from her crib and crabbed some CDs from the top of radio/DVD player before. And she always fascinated by our electronic devices, phone, cellphones, remote controls, etc. So I thought she was reaching for my cellphone, but couldn't hold on to it and dropped it in my cup next to the radio. But I put it far away from her, her arms are not long enough to reach it, and the CDs closer to her were untouched. Then I realized it must be the alarm went off while I was in the bathroom. I was brushing my teeth, so I didn't hear the vibration. And somehow, it vibrated itself into my mug! What are the chances of that! All the directions it could go, it went towards my mug, and fell right into it. And I normally finished the water inside during the night, but today, there just happened to have half cup of water. Bad luck or good luck? I probably should go buy lottery today. So, now my poor cellphone is laying on the desk and under the tablelamp. There is no windows in my office, so no sunshine. The closest I could think of is that tablelamp. Hopefully it will be warm enough to dry it up. I could still take a phone call, it's just none of the buttons works now, and if I try to adjust something from the menu, everything goes crazy and blinks and turns the 'page' uncontrollably. Crossing my fingers now that it won't die on me. I just got it recently! And I like it. Is there waterproof cellphone out there?

Update: AK just sent me a link to an article about how to save wet cellphone. Maybe mine will be ok.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Spring Garden Update

This year I decided not to grow any vegetable, just flowers. With little Caterpillar around, I don't have any time for gardening. So, all the flowers (most are perennials, some are annuals) have to be tough enough to survive on their own. Here are some perennials in my garden right now. I love this time of the year, there are just so many different colors, and watching your garden wakes up from the long cold winter is always soooo exciting.

These are my favorite! I planted some Columbine seeds after we bought the house. It took them two years to bloom, and they just came back every spring. I love how delicate the flowers are, and they look so shy since they always facing down. They are so lovely, yet very tough. I have them in full sun, full shade, and semi shade, and they are all doing great. The only difference is the ones in shade bloom a little bit late, which is perfect, kind of extends the show.

AK gave me some Lily of Valley last year. They looked like dried up sticks, no much live in them. But I planted them around the garden anyway. They did nothing last season. I am so glad I didn't pull them out. Look at how lovely they are. I know there suppose to be more flowers, but I am just glad they are alive and healthy enough to bloom. I am sure next year, they will do even better. Oh, did I mention about the heavenly fragrance?

I bought this peony "Gardenia" 2 years ago. I heard they will start blooming the third year, but I didn't believe them. But I was pleasantly surprised the other day to see all these lovely buds! They are getting bigger and bigger, about the size of a walnut now. Cannot wait to see the flowers for the first time. Peony "Gardenia" suppose to be the most fragrant peony ever! I planted it right outside the kitchen window, next to the deck, so we can enjoy the sight and the smell in the house.

I sowed those tiny sedum seeds in the space in front of peony last year. I was trying to get a flowerbed that provides different interests throughout growing season. You know, since most of them are perennial, they don't last all summer as the annuals. The daffodils, lilies, daylilies, and mums were great last year. The sedums were very small, I didn't even think they will survive. But look at them now! Even without flowers, they look so refreshing. Maybe I should replant them and separate the plants. But since they are right next to the peony, I don't want to dig too close and damage the peony's roots. So, they just have to stay crowded for a little bit longer.

And here are my strawberry, chive, and some vegetable green grew from dropped seeds last year.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Winchester Center

We live really close to Winchester MA, and my train goes through their downtown every day, but we never really spent time there. So, last Sat while we were at the street fair, we walked around a little bit. It's just so beautiful and peaceful. I probably will take little Caterpillar there more often, even just for a walk.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Baby Update

Little Caterpillar is growing up so fast. She now like to spin around in the crib, and quietly practicing crawling and trying to pull herself up. What a darling little girl!

Went to Winchester En Ca Fair on Sat with little Caterpillar. This is the first street fair for all of us, and we didn't even plan it. I just happened to see the big wheel thing from the train on Friday, and thought it could be fun. Oh, what fun it was! There were so many different rides,and games, we walked around for a long time. But little caterpillar is too little to get on any ride, I mean, she cannot even stand by herself yet. Stubborn actually put her in front of one of those rulers next to the gates, see whether she can pass that one (30"). The other mother was laughing, "it's a little bit too early, isn't it?" Little Caterpillar was confused, too many people, too many big moving things, too much noise, rides moving, people screaming. Too much of everything. She was curious and looked around for quite a while, then she just simply gave up. 'I cannot play with any of these, I will just take a nap'. I didn't win her anything either, so these photos will be her only reminders for her first Carnival/Street Fair. Then we stopped at the playground near our house, and she got to play in the baby swing for the first time! Not too bad! She was a little bit affraid at first, but 5 minutes later, you cannot even take her out of there. That's my girl, fun loving sweetheart.

Monday, May 17, 2010

One Big Item Crossed Off The List,

well, almost. The weather was great last weekend, and no rain until Wed, so I got to finish staining the decks and porch. All the deck floors, stairs, railings are done, just need to paint the raisers later. I have to put something on the stairs to catch any drops, so have to wait for them to dry first. And now, I think I have to do a third coat on the porch. I didn't think anyone will come and visit us, so I didn't tape off the area. Well, the twins (2.5-yr-old) came over and ran on my porch barefooted! When I heard the noise, it was already too late. I opened the front door, and told them not to do it again, and I had to go tell their mother their feet are covered with stain. And my poor porch floor has tiny foot prints all over! They are cute, but I just want my floor to be clean! So, guess I have to do a third coat. I have lots of stain left over, it won't be a big problem, just one more hour working. So, until I am satisfied with all of them, I have to keep them on the list for a while longer.

And updates on the metal shelves. I primed that big black heavy duty metal shelving unit, and spray painted it mediterranean blue. But one can was not enough to cover everything. So now, it's still sitting on my driveway, and I need to go pick up another can of that, and more primer for the metal cart and plant shelf I just cleaned and sanded. They actually looks much better already with most of the rust gone. Thinking about painting them apple green or bright yellow.

Friday, May 14, 2010

To Do List

Reading today's post on one of my favorite blog Chezlarsson, I felt so motivated by her energy and spirit. So, I hope if I also share my to-do list online, I will have to finish them. Well, I will try to remember to post my progress once a while to make sure I am stay on track. Oh, I also put some already finished projects and some WIPs in the list, since this is a list for this whole year, and having some DONE projects just makes me feel less pressured. Ok, here it goes.

1. Switch summer and winter clothes, means move all summer clothes down from the attic and wash and move all winter ones up to the attic. (Almost done, still waiting for this crazy New England weather to settle down, so I can finally move the sweaters up as well)
2. Organize the attic. (Almost done)
3. Organize closets in each room (The ones in master bedroom and baby's nursery are done. Living room one is half way through. The one in the first floor half bathroom was done two years ago, needs some work again)
4. Rearrange the living room to set up bigger play space for little Caterpillar. (Half of the sectional sofa already moved to the basement, playpen set up, floor mats down, maybe need more, and toys all over the place. Still need to move the huge Norfolk Pine tree outdoor, so I can set up that corner for the rocking horse I thrifted.)
5. Clean up the basement, bleach the floor (done finally), sort the boxes (half way through), rearrange my work station and craft area (huge mess right now).
6. Drop off all donations at Salvation Army. (Tomorrow)
7. Change filters for the undersink water filter system, and deep cleaning the faucet. (DONE!)
8. Hang all the arts and photo frames around the house. Finish some art frames I planned. Switch off the Chinese paints with framed art, with glass. Easier to clean if baby throw food on it.
9. Finish organizing the home office, especially my closet crafts area.
10. Finish the slipcover for the sectional sofa. (Half way through, all fabric washed, need to be ironed first)
11. Make the toys which patterns or instructions already downloaded.
12. Paint the second floor hallway. The staircase is too high and too dangerous, have to figure out a safer way to paint that.
13. Work on the thrifted items, and move them out of the basement.
14. Baby proof the house!!!
15. Refinish the front porch, side deck and big deck out back. (Power washed, sanded, and 80% stained, and need a second coat. Just wish this rain every other day pattern can stop soon, so I can finish it. )
16. Build a gate for the deck, and stain it the same color as the railings.
17. Repair the raised bed garden around the deck. (one side is almost done, need to buy more boards for the other side)
18. Spray paint the metal shelves and move all the indoor plants outside. (the big black one needs one more coat, the others not even started yet)
19. Spray paint the outdoor furniture again. (power washed already)
20. Repair the crack on the driveway.
21. Somehow kill the ants around the foundation of the house and driveway, or at least drive them away. They are coming in.
22. Thrift a couple of nice chairs for the master bedroom, a toy chest for nursery, and a kid table chair set for the living room.
23. Repair the little shed I built. After 5 years, need some new plywood and a fresh coat of paint.
24. Repair the lawn, too many weeds, and some bold spots.
25. Trim one of the oak tree, the branches are too low again.
26. Buy some annuals for the garden, to fill the space I used to grow vegetable. This year I don't have the time for that.

These are just the things I can think of right now. I am pretty sure as the time goes by, I will add more to it, and finally cross some off as well. Oh, besides all of these, I have to find time to play with little Caterpillar. That is my reward at the end of the day!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

More To Learn About Men's Shirt

I got up earlier this morning, and started ironing some of Stubborn's shirts. We buy wrinkle free ones a lot, since I don't like to iron them often, and he simply just can't learn it himself. But I was tired one night, didn't take the laundry out of the dryer until the next morning. You know what happened, everything got sooooo wrinkled, it was very sad looking. I remember reading about a trick somewhere saying you can put in a damp towel and run the dryer for 10 more minutes, the wrinkles will be gone. So I tried. Worked for most of the clothes, but these shirts are still not presentable. So, I have to iron them this time.

Anyway, while I was hanging them up in the closet, we both suddenly realized that 90% of shirts are in the blue family! How boring! Stubborn blamed me for not buying some colorful ones, but how can I? He likes blue and he is just so stubborn! I had to talk to him for a long time to get the only pink striped shirt and a gray/greenish one. Since he realized the boring color issue, I went online searching for fun colors out there. And look what I found, almost like a "Men's Shirt For Dummy" article. Perfect! Will forward it to Stubborn, so he can learn something, and won't challenge me too much next time we go out shopping.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Great Idea

Saw this on design sponge several days ago, really loved it. It's so modern and simple, and love the colors they have. The floating shelves I made for little Caterpillar's nursery are holding her toys right now, so no need for these genious bookends. But when she goes to school and has more books, overflow the bookshelf I made her, I will probably get some of these shelves! So cool!

Monday, May 10, 2010

What A Mother's Day!

What did you guys got for Mother's Day? I thought I will get something nice or practical (typical me), or go out shopping and eating at my favorite place. BUT, having so many WIPs in the house and rainy and windy weather outside changed everything. Couldn't do any painting outside, so I basically didn't even step out. Accomplished a lot inside though.

First, I enjoyed some sweet play time with little Caterpillar in the morning, kind of gathering up courage and building up strength for the rest of the weekend. Then Stubborn started bugging me about changing the water filters again Sat. afternoon. I know, sometimes I like to postpone some projects just because I don't feel like doing. Yeah, I am the handy one in the house, so Stubborn has to either push me to do it, or do it himself and mess it up. But I was so glad he pushed me this time. There are two filters for this under sink filter system. Didn't take a picture of mine, but it's exactly like this. The first one (actually is the second filter water flow through) we opened, was quite clean. BUT, we were horrified when we opened the other one. The water inside was MUDDY! I couldn't believe my eyes! And we use filtered water for Caterpillar's formula! Then think about it this way, that filter did its job, stopped all those 'gunk' from getting in our drinking water. Well, no need to argue any more, it's time to change them. Then Stubborn reminded me the faucet is kind of greenish. So, we dicide to take the whole system apart, deep cleaning and reinstall it. Man, it's harder than I remembered. I installed that system long long time (5+ years) ago. Then came the time to clean that skinny little faucet. How am I supposed to clean the inside of that tiny tube thing? Just while I was in the basement searching the protential cleaning tool, a little light bulb lit up in my head. Since we couldn't push the Q-tips through the curve, why don't I use wire instead? I put some cutton at the tip of the wire, and made a loop so the cotton ball won't fall off. It worked like a charm. Man, I was so glad Stubborn suggested it. IT WAS FILTHY! The cotton ball came out GREEN! I didn't realize there were so much algae growing in there, and we were drinking it! Eww! Anyway, after some deep cleaning, it's time to put everything back together. My wrists are painful ever since I had little Caterpillar, and the fact Stubborn has longer arms, he was doing most of the job. We connected and disconnected everything twice, still could not stop the leaking. So, we shut off the water, and called it a night at 11:30pm. Sunday morning, I sweared I will fix it, so this time, I put on more Teflon tape, and squeezed into the cabinet. It was too narrow for Stubborn to get in and he won't know what he was looking at. I was lazy to look for some cushion to put on the floor, and the cabinet is about 6" off the floor, so I was really glad I did some yoga before (the bridge pose). FINALLY, this time it's fixed! Stubborn actually said the water taste SOOOOO sweet! He sometimes still acts like a little boy! I am really glad he is stubborn enough to push me this time, otherwise we would still be drinking algae water. Eww! Eww!

Then the rest of the weekend I bleached the rest of the basement. Yeah, I didn't finish it right after the flooding. I was exhausted. I went through lots of boxes, got rid off lots of junks. Then I went up the attic, threw down all the summer clothes, and dragged up all the winter ones and another box of Caterpillar's clothes that are too small, but I want to save for (maybe) her future baby brother or sister. I reorganized the stuffs on the attic. last season I asked Stubborn to put the clothes in any empty luggages he could find, since I was pregnant and on bed rest. So, now I have no idea where things are, and I don't like it at all. Yeah, I like to have everything totally under my control around the house. Oh, little Caterpillar was so cooperative, she took a long nap while I was doing all this. She didn't even wake up by all the noise I was making. Well, I finally came down, I was so disgusted looking at the huge pile of clothes on the floor! Why do I keep all these clothes while I only wear maybe 1/3 of it? And every year I have to move them around twice? Did I tell you I am so into decluttering recently? So, after close inspection, I separated them into 3 piles, keep pile (hang or neatly folded, putting in our closet), 'too small but I might squeeze back in them after losing the last 10lbs of baby weight' pile(folded and put in a bin, hide under the shelves), and donate pile(throw into a laundry basket). Did I mention I was doing several loads of laundry all this time. So, after decluttering throughout the house, I ended up with 5 huge bags of stuffs for Salvation Army. There are still some organizing to do, but I felt so relieved! Maybe a couple of more weekend, I can finally sit down, and enjoy the clutter free, WIP free house with little Caterpillar! Maybe.

So, for me, this Mother's Day was lots of hard work, I was exhausted at the end of the day. BUT, I gave myself the best gift possible, a cleared mind. With some WIPs crossed off the list, I am actually ready for more. Bring it on!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Finally, Friday!

Feeling so tired lately! My deck refinishing project is still not done yet. The weather is just not cooperating. It has been raining almost every other day! The deck boards need at least one day to be dry enough for staining, and after that at least 24hr to dry completely. Last weekend I put one coat on the front porch, and small side deck's railing, and two coats on most of the big deck. The reason I couldn't do the whole deck at once is that stupid big BBQ! Stubborn insisted on buying it when we first bought the house, and assured me that we will use it all summer long, and he will BBQ lots of great food for me and our guests. BUT, so far, he probably used it about 10 times, in FIVE years! What a waste of money and space! And it's too heavy for me to drag it down to the lawn, so I have to push it around, which slowed down the whole process. Anyway, now the big deck is 75% done, and I have been waiting for a perfect weekend to finally finish it. But it's going to rain again!!! Uhhhhhh! I want to pull my hair off. There are so many WIPs in and around the house, they just cluttered up my brain! And since spring is finally here, I have to do some yard work. Need to paint that fabulous metal shelf so I can finally move my orchids and other plants outside. Bought the primer and paint already, again the rain! And I have to build a gate for the deck, so little caterpillar won't fall off it once she start crawling on the deck. Oh, too much projects, brain overload!

Ok, I have to accept the fact I cannot work outside this weekend. There are still tons of things to do inside. I still need to get all the summer clothes down from the attic, and pack all newly washed winter clothes up and haul them up to the attic. It's such a big project every time, I feel tired even just thinking about it. Next house, we definitely need a bigger closet, so I don't have to put off season stuffs elsewhere. And I have to finish organizing the basement. It's such a mess ever since the flooding. I bleached the concrete floor already, but lots of boxes are still on tables, and I need to sort through them and get rid of as much as possible. I don't want to be a packrat any more. Again, the clutters are suffocating me! Oh, I have to switch to all summer drapes, finish some stuffs I was making for my girl. And we lost one of caterpillar's birdie (her favorite chewing toy), I have to make some more.

And on top of that, I got a whole sale order yesterday. Don't get me wrong, I am very excited about getting some business, considering the fact I haven't work on my shop for quite a while. But since I was selling these monkey fist knot keychains really cheap, $6, the wholesale price (50% of retail price) is just hurting, it won't even cover my labor. Stubborn told me not to do it, but I already agreed, and I was thinking I could make them while riding the train and shuttle. I still waiting to hear from the customer, and once she decides on the colors, I will have to work really hard to meet her deadline. Actually I already started. Since red is the most common and traditional color for Chinese Knotting, I went ahead made some red ones last night. And I made some other color ones on the train this morning. Just hoping those will be on the customer's order sheet.

I feel exhausted even just talking about these. Hope caterpillar give me more time to sleep tonight.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Spring Cleaning Yard Style Part 2

I have been really working hard at home during the weekends lately, trying to finish the decks and porch as fast as I can. But since they are in pretty bad shape, I had to power wash them first, then sand them down, and finally stain them. Here are just couple of before and after shots of the deck. More updates next week.