Archive | June, 2012

Find the Kitty Friday: Sneaky

June 29, 2012

4 Comments

Where could she be?

FTK_sneakies

Looks like another few days of blistering heat. It’s just too weird, this weather. The first half of the week is record-breaking scorchers, then the temperatures dips so low I have to wear sweaters again, then a few days later it’s scorching hot again.

I wish the weather would even all out, don’t you? Why can’t we average all these days, make it partly sunny and 65 degrees all the time? I don’t think it would be boring at all.

Whether it’s sunny or cold where you are, have a good weekend. šŸ™‚

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How to Build a Walkway Using a Concrete Paver Mold

June 22, 2012

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You can spend thousands of dollars and hire a professional contractor to pour your walkway or install commercially made concrete pavers, or you can use Quikrete’s Walkmaker form or some other type of form. Walkway with Stones The Walkmaker, constructed of a durable plastic material, greatly simplifies the construction of a concrete walkway and produces exceptional results. For a customized look, purchase powdered cement coloring to add to the concrete mixture. Here’s how we made our lovely walkway with the mold.

Stuff You Need:
Paver Mold- we used Quikrete’s Walkmaker
Crack-resistant concrete
Flat-bladed spade
Gravel
Hand tamper
Wheelbarrow
Powdered cement coloring
Measuring cup
Bucket
Hoe
Trowel or shovel

Step 1

Determine the amount of concrete material needed for the project. Quikrete recommends one 80-pound bag of concrete for every 2 feet of walkway.

Step 2

Measure the walkway area and remove the sod with the spade. You can lay the pavers directly onto the ground, but for best results Quikrete recommends that you remove 2 to 4 inches of soil and pour gravel into the trench. Tamp the gravel so that it is level and compacted.

Bust Sod

Step 3

Pour a bag of concrete into the wheelbarrow. Remove approximately 2 cups of dry mix and set it aside. Add the powdered coloring to the dry concrete mix and stir well with a hoe.

Step 4

Fill the bucket with approximately 3 pints water. Slowly pour half the water into one part of the wheelbarrow. With the hoe, rake the dry concrete into the pool of water, mixing until all the water is absorbed.

Mixing Concrete

Step 5

Add another 2 to 3 pints of water to the bucket, and pour the water into the concrete mix. Rake and chop the concrete into the water until the water is absorbed. The mixture should have the consistency of mud. When you chop the mixture with the hoe, the mixture should stay in place. If the mixture is too crumbly or stiff, add more water. If the mixture is too soupy, add some of the dry concrete mix you have set aside, and mix well.

Step 6

Place the Walkmaker form at one end of the walkway. Shovel or trowel the concrete into the form, patting down the mix to ensure that it fills the corners and cavities of the mold.

Filling Form

Step 7

Lift the form straight up so it does not snag on and damage the wet concrete pavers. Hose off the form immediately to prevent the concrete mix from hardening.

Lifting Form 2

Step 8

Repeat the process of mixing concrete, laying the form in the walkway and adding the mix to the form until the walkway is complete. Allow the pavers to dry for at least 24 hours.

Step 9

Sprinkle cupfuls of Portland cement sand mix or jointing sand over the pavers. Spread the sand mix between the paver form lines with a broom so the mix completely fills the form lines.

Sweeping Sand Mix 3

Step 10

Mist the pavers with a garden hose, wetting the sand mix but not washing it out of the form lines. Allow to dry completely.

Spraying Water

Secret Garden Blooming

Notes and Tips

To make a curved walkway, reposition the Walkmaker form onto the wet concrete mix in the direction of the curve. Press the form down to form new paver lines. Smooth out the previous paver lines with the trowel.

To prevent the Walkmaker form from sticking to the wet concrete, lightly spray the form with water or very lightly with cooking oil.

To create a nonslip surface, lightly brush over the wet pavers with a stiff broom. The broom will create small ridges on the paver surface.

To allow the concrete to properly cure, choose an overcast day when the temperature will not drop before 50 degrees and no rain is expected within 24 hours. If it does rain, cover unstained concrete pavers with plastic sheeting. In an area with sun, cover the concrete pavers with plastic sheeting or burlap to prevent the concrete from drying too quickly. Lightly moisten the burlap periodically when the material becomes too dry.

Do not cover stained concrete with plastic sheeting or burlap, as they may cause discoloration. Apply Quikrete Concrete Sealer to the surface of the concrete instead.

Concrete is caustic. Do not breathe in concrete dust. If you have sensitive skin, wear gloves while handling concrete.

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Happy Boxing Day!

June 19, 2012

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It’s too hot today to fool around with boxes much. When I suggested that Livvy play along, she languidly looked my way as if to say, “You’ve gotta be kidding me,” and then looked away.

Well, I’m no person to pass up a fun holiday, heat or no heat. So here are a few blasts from the past. Happy Boxing Day! LOL

FTKBox

LivvyBox3

LIvvyhidelasers

FTK filing1

Find Kitty LR 4

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What Weird Bug Is This?!

June 15, 2012

3 Comments

I heard this muted buzzing sound while at my desk today. I looked over to my window and spotted this bee or beetle or something buzzing around. What the heck is this?!

weirdbug1

Anybody know? It looks like a cross between a bee and a box alder beetle. ?? I’ve never seen anything like it. My son through it was a beetle, but when I flipped the bug upside down, it “played dead,” curled up its body, and ejected a stinger. A yellow bubble of venom oozed out.

weirdbug2

What is this thing? I’ve never seen anything remotely like it. Is it a mutant honeybee?

weirdbug3

Please leave a comment if you know what it is. My curiosity is bursting!

Identification:
Head: Black and shiny. Jaws like an ant.
Thorax: Yellow fuzz, like a honey bee. The underbelly has a thin ring of yellow fuzz, too.
Abdomen: Black and smooth covered by two black wings with red stripes, like a beetle.
Legs: black and smooth. Front legs have feathery ends.

The bug is about 3/4-inch long, 1/8-inch wide. Moved somewhat slow. Could not fly, although wings lifted and buzzed a bit.
Has a stinger from which it ejects venom.

He was somewhat aggressive and distressed. When threatened, did not run away but instead stuck out his stinger.

weirdbug4

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2012 Projects

June 12, 2012

9 Comments

Well, I broke the latest projects list to the family today. They didn’t cry or scream. As a matter of fact, they took it very calmly. Because I am bribing them this year. šŸ˜€ OK OK, it’s not exactly bribing– more like paying. It won’t be much but at least it will be something. And best part is that I won’t have to do it all!

This will be the year that we finish up to loose ends, that we complete the little things left undone or things that need patching. For one, my front porch is sinking into the ground. The previous owners just plunked the porch foundation posts on cinder blocks, and YEAH. NO. It’s starting to make me nervous. Since the house is a balloon frame house, a sagging porch can pull the wall studs out of kilter so bad that the floor joists pop out of their tenons. That would be…. bad. With all the rain we’ve had for the past decade, the porch is definitely sagging and I am having trouble sleeping at night. Time to jack up the porch, dig some 2-foot deep holes, and install concrete piers. This is perhaps our biggest project for the year.

Our second project will be to fix the back porch. I still never sided around the kitchen window that I installed in 2010. The house wrap tar paper has held up well (and we sealed all gaps and cracks that summer), but hello, we can’t have no siding there. We’ve decided to rip off all the siding on the entire wall there and replace it with wood clapboard. I got a quote on vinyl siding, which would cost us more that what we bought the house for! :-O

Window Workers

It's be fun siding this area of the house. NOT

Anyway, I have to rip off the back porch (it was never installed properly anyway), rip off the siding, replace the siding, and build a new back porch. I intend to enclose it to create a mud room. Currently, when the gang charges into the house with their muddy boots, they drop right into my new kitchen. That must end.

Then of course, like any renovator worth her weight in salt, I have a myriad of unfinished projects! We have to install drywall in out kitchen “cubby” and install shelving in there. The boys will do that project and get paid for it.

pantryshlevsquirky

Unfinished kitchen shelving.

 

Then there’s the small bench, or window seat, in the kitchen. I’ll pay the boys to do that, too.

And finally, there’s the electric. There’s still only partial electric in the bathroom and there’s a problem with another circuit. Both require me going into the attic. Oh Lord. I HATE the attic.

Attic3

Nooooooooooooo !!

So that’s my summer. LOL. Be praying for me, I have 3 to 4 months to do it all!!

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Cool Aluminum Foil Garden Markers

June 7, 2012

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Garden markers are so helpful when the little seedlings are just starting to pop up in the garden. All those seedlings look the same and if you are like me, you totally forget what you plant where. In the past, I’ve tried popsicle stick markers (the pen ink fades and the popsicle sticks never go in far enough so they topple over) and skinny tree limbs stuck in the ground with colored string (I always lose that list that tells me what color belongs to what plant!). So when I saw a unique fix at lifehacker.com/5915201/make-garden-markers-with-aluminum-duct-tape, I flipped. This is so neat!

Crafting weblog Aunt Peaches shares how to make inexpensive and attractive garden markers using a bit of aluminum duct tape and a box of plastic dinner knives. Cut out a piece of aluminum tape and sandwich it around the handle of the plastic knife. Then write the plant name in reverse on the tape with a ballpoint pen – this will press out the letters on the other side and you’ll have an embossed metallic garden marker.

The key is using aluminum foil duct tape, the kind used for taping heating and cooling ducts together. I tried it using aluminum foil. It didn’t work out very well.

marker

The duct tape markers should last a while. And they look kinda quirky and cute.

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Repair Man

June 6, 2012

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All I wanted was for him to check the vacuum cleaner belt.

RepairVacguy

I suppose every family has one? The kid who loves to take stuff apart just to “see how it works.” He disassembled the ENTIRE vacuum. I tried to refrain from nagging and worrying. I think it’s terrific that he likes to tinker. He’s the one who now installs and assembles all my furniture, computers, and etc. I used to do all that stuff, for years… it’s So good to have a break from it all!

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Cricket Bug

June 5, 2012

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Gee, Livvy gets all the air time on this blog. Well, she’s MY companion, and the other cat and the dogs and the bird are the kids’ pets. Funny how all the pets love the Mom, though. They are all nuts about me. I suppose it’s because I am the “meal ticket.”

Here’s our cutie Yorkie, Cricket. We sometimes call him Cricket Bug. He’s as cute as one in a rug!

Cricket Towel

Yorkies are adorable, but they are, um, energetic. That’s an understatement. They are MANIACAL. But they are so cute and they are never mean or ornery. Always sweet and perky. They do tend to get constipation, however, which is why Cricket Bug there is wrapped in a towel after a long, long sitz bath. We’re all glad that’s over, especially my daughter who did most of the grunt work. To prevent constipation in small dogs, give them a teaspoon of canned fresh pumpkin a day. Yeah. I gotta get that.

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Find the Kitty: Boxed Set

June 1, 2012

2 Comments

Oh my, my, my. She’s trying SO hard to be inconspicuous. Where oh where could she BE?

FTK Boxed

Hmm.. maybe she’s getting a little too big for this.

For all you Fuzzy fans– I will be posting MORE FUZZY FOTOS in the near future. He’s away most of the day (being the outdoor cat that he is) and comes home in time for dinner. When it’s very hot, he tends to stick around more often. Be warned, though– Fuzzy doesn’t do as many zany tricks as Livvy. He’s cute, but he’s just…. boring.

In other news– now that the weather is better, I have to venture up into the Attic (insert creepy organ music) soonto fix an electrical problem. My vacuum cleaner must have blown something when we used it, as the power is out to two bedrooms. It’s not the circuit breaker nor the plate covers or anything. So I have to check the junction boxes upstairs. *sigh*

Have a blessed weekend, friends!

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