Sep 28, 2012

Last of the Labor Day Work

After the ceiling fan went up I knew we were going to get some major work done this weekend. And when I say we, I mean Dad and Kyle would be doing all the working really.

Left on the Labor Day Work Weekend List:

     Install overhead lighting/fan in the living room
     Install light over the baking area on the kitchen
     Install a cable outlet in the living room AND run the cable up to the attic
     Check to see why the running water in the shop isn't working
     Figure out why there are open wires coming out of the gazebo
     Install the kiln

But before the list got shorter... it got longer.

My parents were staying the guest bedroom with the guest bathroom. And when my dad went to take a shower, he found a loofah wrapped around the hose. (We have one of those handle shower things...) So he took the loofah off and hopped in the shower. Led to water spraying over the top of the shower door all over the bathroom!

Apparently the loofah was there for a reason. So we added replace the shower hose to the list. We're sorry to all the people that have used that shower, we had no idea!

The other new item got added when we heard the doorbell ring.

I didn't even know the doorbell worked. So I hopped up to see who was at the door. No one. And so I sat down. Then it rang again, so I went back to the door. No one.  At this point I thought I was being tricked, so I left the door open so I could see the little neighborhood kid run up.

Doorbell rang again, no kid. Then it rang, rang, rang, rang, rang, rang, rang. No joke. So we added repair the doorbell to the list.

One more trip to Lowe's and the men were set. We ladies ran to Dallas real quick and when we arrived home all the work was done. Really. It was like little elves just came in and fixed the house for us... except that Dad and Kyle don't quite look like elves...

They made a light where there was no light, made a switch where there was no switch, replaced the doorbell, replaced the hose on the guest shower, installed a cable outlet in the living room, and ran the cable to the antenna in the attic (so we don't have to prop up the antenna in the living room anymore). They even had to take off a sheet of paneling in the back living room to get the cable wire all the way down the wall! But they put it back on before we got home...

Impressed? Me too.

So by the time we ladies arrived home, the honey-do list looked about like this:

     Install overhead lighting/fan in the living room
     Install light over the baking area on the kitchen
     Install a cable outlet in the living room AND run the cable up to the attic
     Check to see why the running water in the shop isn't working
     Figure out why there are open wires coming out of the gazebo
     Install the kiln
     Replace the doorbell
     Repair the hose in the guest shower

So I headed outside with the men to check out the water to the shop.  See we have these two water spigots: one on the side of the shop and one on the gazebo.

Problem is, neither one of them worked. So Kyle and Dad started exploring to figure out the problem and Kyle found this:

Turns out it's a valve to shut the water off in the winter when the pipes could freeze. Handy, we just didn't know it was there.

So Kyle turned the red valve and the water was back on and working. The blue knob is for the winter. If you turn off the water flow to the spigots, then you open this knob and the water flows back out of those pipes and into this hole so the water doesn't get trapped in the pipes and freeze. Genius, I think!

Then to the other gazebo issue: the random wire situation.

Not a pretty sight. Or a safe one either. Dad checked the wires for power and figured out that we had 220 volt wires and 110 volt wires. Hot tubs (which the previous owners used to have in the gazebo) can be either 110 or 220, so maybe they had both sets just in case. I'm no electrician.

So my dad shut off the power to the 220 volt so that we could use the 110 volt. A normal household receptacle is 110 volt. So Kyle will be putting an outdoor receptacle out there and we'll have ourselves a place to plug in the gazebo lighting some day ;)

As for the kiln, we didn't quit get there. I told my dad we should wait. Still not sure if I want to fire up a 2305 degree kiln for fear that I'll blow up the house. So we're waiting on that one for now. But don't worry, I'm not getting rid of it just yet.

After all that work we rewarded ourselves with some East Texas-style rewards, you know, Dairy Queen Blizzards. With the buy one get one for 99 cents deal they were running, we couldn't resist.

It was a great Labor Day. Family, home improvement, ice cream. What else could a girl want?

Oh that's right, to try to take pictures of actual family members when they come into town instead of just fans and doorbells... oops!

Sep 26, 2012

Cracking Myself Up

Taking a quick break from our Labor Day weekend recall, because I had to share this; it has nothing to do with the house or taking pictures or anything of the sort, but well...

See sometimes there are those time when I wonder, "is this really happening to me?" And yes, yes this is my real life.

So I have a friend with chickens. She gets eggs from the chickens and I think that's great. Kyle and I have thought about getting our own chickens someday for the very same reason. But today this friend is out of town, so she asked friend number two to collect the eggs for her. Friend number two left town today... so she asked me to collect the eggs.

Sure. Free eggs. No prob...

By the time I got to her house it was 7:45 at night. Which most times of the year (the last 6 months) means it's still light outside. Today it was dark.  Once in her backyard, I had no way to turn on the flood lights, I had no flash light other than my little phone. And there were chickens.

So I opened their little gate and walked right in. Then the chickens appeared. And I had been told that the chickens were actually scared of people, so they would run away from me... if not, that I should just stomp my foot and they'd go away.

Yep. Worked about as well as hitting sticks together to scare off mountain lions (Parent Trap anyone?). The chickens did not run away, they RAN AT ME! Three chickens in the light of the moon chasing me in a confined area. I was stomping and making noise and jingling my keys and dancing like a fool, and they were getting closer!! See my mom has this big 'ole fear of birds that I've never understood until now; she tells stories about when her grandpa's chickens would peck away at her legs and feet. So all I'm thinking is "THESE CHICKENS ARE GOING TO MAKE ME BLEED!" and no one will even know to come save me.

So I hopped over the fence as high as a white girl can jump over a fence, landed sort of on my feet, and I was out of there. No eggs. Sorry friend with chickens, I don't know if those eggs will go bad...

It was a crazy night, but it didn't stop there.

So I called my mom to tell her the story, like only she would understand it, as I headed to Walmart to get my groceries. I was distracted and on the phone and as I hung up a large can of tomatoes rolled out of my cart through the hole where children's legs are supposed to go through. I didn't see it and somehow the can hit me as it squished between the Achilles tendon of my left foot and the front of my right foot (the opposite of the Achilles tendon, where it's hard to shave sometimes) as I was walking. Worst pain of my life. I almost hit the floor and then remembered I was in a public place and so I didn't scream my head off. I held on really tight to my basket for a really long time and hobbled past the baked goods.

I'm not sure I'll every recover. I have the pain tolerance of a sissy girl.

I got to the check out and as I went to pay I realized I had left my wallet in my car, you know because I forget everything nowadays. And so I told the cashier and she said, "well if you run really fast I'll keep checking you out." Did she not see the large can of tomatoes that killed my legs?! But it was my only option.

So I ran my tail off: out of the store, through the parking lot and back. I was pretty fast I think, but when I returned to the register panting and huffing she said, "Don't worry I didn't have to wait too long." She was nice, but really? I RAN.

The night ended with me trying to carry all my groceries and work stuff into the house with one arm as to not have to make two trips from the car, so I'd consider it a success.

I love my life. Wouldn't trade it. But sometimes I even shock myself...

Have a great day. Maybe befriend a chicken... maybe not.

Sep 24, 2012

Fan and Family

Labor Day weekend, I know it seemed like years ago... but my Mom and Dad came to town! They brought my grandma with them and we had a whole weekend planned.

For the ladies, we were going to see Aunt Billie and Uncle Frank in Dallas. And for the men, they had work to do.  When my dad told me he was coming to town he asked if we needed any work done around the house, and he's very handy. So after he begged us to let him work for us, lol, we said yes.

Then we got busy making a long list of things to get done. It looked something like this:
     Install overhead lighting/fan in the living room
     Install light over the baking area on the kitchen
     Install a cable outlet in the living room AND run the cable up to the attic
     Check to see why the running water in the shop isn't working
     Figure out why there are open wires coming out of the gazebo
     Install the kiln

We essentially had 2.5 days minus a few football games to watch. But we had two very handy men.

So first they got in the attic and looked at all the wiring and switches and checked all kinds of things. See there was no overhead lighting at all in the living room, no switch to a light or anything. Weird, I know. They were starting from scratch. Same for the baking table. Oh and the cable outlet...

The whole bunch of us headed to our local handy dandy Lowe's and filled the cart:
    50 feet of 14-2 co-axle cable
    3 remodel boxes
    2 light switches
    2 light switch plate covers
    1 cable outlet cover
    1 can light/ ceiling box
    1 can light cover
    1 can light bulb
    2 work lamps
    2 work lamp bulbs
    1 fine ceiling fan
    TOTAL $195.99

Big money projects for us. We didn't have any special coupons at that time, and we don't really get credit cards at these places just for the 5% off (not yet at least), but thanks to some really special friends of ours, we had a $200 gift card to Lowe's.  You won't believe what we did with that $200. It would have cost us a fortune to get someone else to come out and do all this work.

First project: The Ceiling Fan
Like I mentioned, we went from no overhead lighting in the living room to a ceiling fan and overhead lighting in one day. It was kind of a miracle; I was very impressed.

We chose this guy for the fan. My dad told us that you really shouldn't go for the cheapest fan. That the blades are smaller and less angled and that they usually have a smaller motor (no matter how big the round thing looks) and so they spin real nice but there's not much air flow. My dad may not be a professional electrician, but I'll tell you what, he's a professional at figuring out how to cool down. He knows fans. With Kyle and my dad being the same in the "we're always hot so it's nice to have a 367mph breeze blowing" department, we went with a good fan.

They actually drilled holes in the ceiling and the wall.

Aren't they both just so handy. The men I love the most, all right there doing manual labor for me for free... lol. :)

And here she is.

Kyle and Dad were both very happy and very cool for the rest of the weekend. Considering they were climbing around in a 110 degree attic for a while with no air/breeze of any sort, they deserved to get to relax under the fan.

Then Sunday we put them back to work. More to come on the planned Labor Day weekend projects, and the unexpected ones that popped up too!

Sep 21, 2012

Photography First Try

So we got the camera and the battery had to charge for 2 hours, but not too much longer than 2 hours... so I waited until the next night to charge it. But then it was dark outside, so I had to wait until the next day to use it. Lots of patience...

First little adventure out. You know, all the way to the trees in our yard. Still life, lol, I was the only one at home.

I'm only a beginner, you know, like very first day with the camera, lol.  And these are what they call SOOC, you know, "straight out of camera." Meaning they're not edited.

I'm not against editing at all. I'm no purist. I just don't know how to edit yet, lol.

Let me know what you think. Aren't those pecans looking impressive? Almost pecan-eating season... then satsumas...

Sep 19, 2012

Choosing our Camera

To take pictures I'll need a camera.

I figured I'd share how we picked the one we did, just in case anyone else has as much difficulty as I did making this decision, lol.

One of my good friends who is an actual real life photographer was selling one of her cameras because she got a fancier one. They call it a Canon 40D, and it has a 17-85mm lens on it (it's fancy). It's pretty much an amazing fantastic professional camera if you've ever seen one.  Heard it was for sell, thought maybe I'd just buy it...

See Kyle and I were looking into getting a nice camera to take pictures with. And I was looking into becoming a professional photographer who can capture any image she wants and has a big fancy camera and wears hippy-like clothes and shoots all the town's Christmas cards. Maybe I was dreaming a bit.

So it was time for a decision... or it was the beginning of the decision on what DSLR camera to buy. I know she was only selling one, but when I looked online for the reviews on that one camera I started getting carried away. Remember how I can't make decisions.

I am not kidding when I can tell you that I've probably read every website that reviewed the 40D (that's on the first 2 pages of the Google search, lol) and read every forum about the differences in the 40D and the 60D. I've read about how Canon names their cameras, about ISO and aperture and crop sensors and all these things that just recently I knew absolutely nothing about. I could estimate that I spent at least 2-3 hours a day (every day for the last 3 weeks) reading about or talking to Kyle about cameras. It's kind of crazy.

So I decided I was going to buy my friend's camera. The Canon 40D was released back in 2007 but is still known to be one of the best intermediate DSLRs Canon has made. Like those camera people on the camera people forums keep raving about it. And my friend only used it like 3 times before she got a newer fancier one, so it's practically brand new.

Here's what I learned. Canon had essentially 3 levels of DSLRs (DSLR means they have this mirror or prism but in reality you just need to know they're the really good kind):

 - Beginner: Which is what they call the xxxD line. The cameras are numbered 450D, 550D, etc. Mostly though they call them Rebels, like Rebel T2i (same thing as 550D). Confusing, I know.

 - Intermediate: Still intermediate is the wrong word, because these are great cameras, tons of professionals use them. It's the xxD line like the 40D my friend is selling, 50D and the 60D I read so much about.

 - Elite: Like the best of the best, like they filmed the TV show House M.D. on one of these. They're the xD line like 5D Mark II and stuff like that.

BUT. Then they came out with this 7D which seems like it would be in the xD line, and then they made the 60D a little more like the Rebels and then everything got confusing and it's like the 7D is now the Intermediate-Elite line!? I know.

So I thought maybe the 40D was perfect for me, then I thought the 60D looked great because it also shoots HD video in addition to pictures. Then I saw that the 60D was maybe a downgrade from the 40D for pictures but still more expensive, and then it got crazy. Then I realized I really wanted the video option and I decided we would buy the 60D.

I called my friend and I told her. She had someone lined up to buy her camera if I didn't (so don't think I'm a bad friend or anything). I was all "I'm going to buy the 60D... although I know I'm out buying myself" (AKA buying more camera than I need right now) and she said:

"Yep you are."

In the nicest and most helpful way anyone could ever say that. I was about to drop $1000 on a camera when I don't even know if I like taking pictures yet?? A THOUSAND dollars for that 60D (and that's the used price). Was I insane?!

And so I thank her, and then I tell my husband I think I had gone crazy. And I realized that the Rebel line has some really, really great cameras and they can be professional too (like they have a lot of the same specs as some of the fancier ones). And they even do video...

And the most recently discontinued Rebel is the T2i, which all the reviews AND specs say are exactly the same as the newer T3i except for a wireless flash adapter (which you can buy separate if needed) and a screen that swivels. That's it.

Oh and if you can call all the Walmarts in your area and hunt for it. Then you can walk into your local Walmart and buy it "going out of stock" on clearance you can get it Brand New! for like $200 less than the T3i. Yep.

So that's what we did. Walked right into that Walmart...

I'm now the proud owner of a brand new Canon 550D/ T2i. Crazy.

Now I just have to wait for the battery to charge. We'll see where it goes.

Sep 17, 2012

The Photography Adventure

So one of the first of these new adventures is going to be photography. I know nothing about it really.

Well, at least a few months ago I knew nothing about it. But now I've been reading all the "Top Ten Tips for New Photographers" websites and learning as much as I can.

I think I surprised a few people when I said I wanted to pursue photography a bit. A few people said they thought I'd be good at it. One friend even said I looked like a photographer; although I have no idea what that means...

But I think the biggest desire to shoot comes from a desire to capture the beauty I see all around me. I see beauty everywhere. I feel like the Lord speaks to me that way a whole lot; I'll be driving home from work in a hurry to get to the grocery store and then there will be the most beautiful sky, the best sunset and I'll have to drive right into it for an entire hour. God loves me very well.

And so I tried to paint. And I still love painting but I can't quite capture exactly what I see. I'm not that talented (at all really), I just enjoy it at times.

So photography has always been on my mind. And then I heard a friend talking about taking pictures and the joy of capturing the sweet moments in people's lives. And I think I fell in love with the idea right then and there.

I have no idea where all of this will go. More than I likely I'll figure out how to work a camera and take really great pictures of Kyle grilling on 4th of July. I'm not thinking I'll be any Ansel Adams or anything,  or even a professional photographer at all...

But it's neat to dream about and it's neat to learn. And at least I'll have better pictures for the blog right?

So that adventure starts today as a part of the bigger adventure of this year. I don't have too many plans for the year yet. I'm thinking about making Kyle pose for me lots and lots, thinking about carting this thing with me everywhere I go and taking at least 1 picture on manual every day. Maybe I'll convince my friends/family to let me take their Christmas card shots for a low, low introductory price of Free, lol. But there will be lots of experimenting.
And to tell you the truth, I'm very excited about it.

Happy Shooting (like the camera kind, or I guess the gun/bow kind if you're the hunting type).

Sep 15, 2012

Next Year's Adventure

(Pardon the delay, our internet has been out here at the Hess House...)

So I'm a planner. Through and through. I seem to think that more than trying anything fully, I can simply read/research/plan enough to make the perfect decision the first time.

That's why I tasted all the flavors at Orange Leaf frozen yogurt before choosing one (or two), that's why we have to go in at fast food places while on road trips (because I need more time to decide than allowed in the drive thru), that's why when I was at the eye doctor last week and he flipped the little lens in front of me and said "one or two?" I asked him to flip back and forth about a million times.

I like to plan, perfectly.

I came home last week with a sketch of how I wanted the living room arranged (I'm a doodler too). While I was sharing it with Kyle he got up and started moving the furniture! I was all, "wait, now?" And he replied, "why not?"

He's good like that. All about jumping in and trying something to see if it works. What's the worst that could happen...we move our furniture back where we had it before.

So I've been trying to figure out what it is I love, what it is I'm good at, what it is I want to invest time in becoming. Not so much going back to school or anything crazy, but like I bought a kiln and have still yet to use it or hook it up. Do i want to spend time learning to make pottery and buy the supplies and tools needed and teach myself? Not so sure really.

So I figure instead of wondering about all these things I ought to just try them. I'm thinking about finally figuring out how to sew or make my own bread, maybe getting into photography, or figuring out if I've got any talent at decorating our little house. Or a few other things I've got up my sleeve...

I have better expectations for the photography than I do the house, and more for the baking than sewing... I just don't stick to patterns or recipes very well, so we'll see.

But that's the adventure, with a time span of one year. We've got a lot coming up, but the details will be unfolding soon. I figure I could at least try. And then after the year I'll know a little more about what I do or don't love, or what I am or am not actually good at, lol. Refer to post from months ago "Things I Don't Do."

Here's to adventures and discovering life. Let's see where it goes.

Sep 5, 2012

Pardon the Mess


Pardon the mess around here. I'm doing a little redesign of the blog and I'm keeping the blog up and running during the editing process.

Which means it may look crazier around here before it looks better.

But just trust me, it'll be better...

Or at least I'll go back to the previous design.

Let's see where it goes.

Satsuma Tree

So I know we've been pretty heavy on gardening posts lately... but don't worry, we're about to rock the inside of this house like crazy. (Well at a slower pace sorta of, not too crazy, while we also enjoy college football season, crazy).

I promise we do way more than stare at our garden... usually.

So we were driving by the local nursery this past weekend and we saw that they were celebrating their 43rd anniversary of being in business... with a 43% off sale!

We swung in to pick up some sweet potato plants, and it turns out we were supposed to plant sweet potatoes in May. I'm sure the lady thought we were crazy for wanting to still buy them, so she gave them to us for free. So maybe that should have been a sign or something, but they look great, they already are growing some little sweet potatoes popping out of their little planters.

So we gave them a new home, right where the corn used to be.

But back at the garden store, the lady told us that the fruit trees were on sale too... Fruit trees! I'm kind of in love with anything that can grow us fruit. So I headed over to the tree section and found the satsuma trees, and Kyle picked out the very best one.

I was stoked because my mom has a beautiful satsuma tree and I LOVE the satsumas Satsumas are like small clementine oranges, no seeds, skin just falls off, super juicy!

But while my mom's tree is planted in the back yard at their house, apparently ours will need to be in a pot here in East Texas just in case a freeze comes to town. Then we can just roll the pot into the garage instead of trying to make an incubator for it (apparently just wrapping the tree in sheets doesn't work here.)

So we bought a BIG pot.

And we planted a satsuma tree. And then we danced the happy "we have another fruit tree" dance. Okay, maybe Kyle didn't dance.

It looks smaller in the picture, but isn't it beautiful! It's already got a few satsumas on it that will be ready in just a few weeks, and then I can't wait to see what we'll get next year.

Here's to fall gardening and plants that make fruit, and the fact that not all the other posts will be about plants this month, lol.

Happy Satsuma Eating!

Sep 3, 2012

The Gardener Returns

Happy Labor Day!

We have a great weekend planned with lots of projects around the house (already completed!!) and family coming in. Not so mention eating a quite large Dairy Queen Blizzard and laying on the couch more than usual...

So while we're off spending with weekend with my mom, dad, and grandma, I'm leaving you guys with this Garden Update!

So while I say I "gardened" this summer, I really just tried my best to keep things from dying. And succeeded some of the time.

But that husband of mine has a love like no other for this garden. So when he got home the garden got all the love and attention it needed. And he had the day off of course too.

Here's what it looked like before, just a few weeks ago.

And then this is what it looked like once he worked his magic. See the tomatoes he linked to the lattice on the fence. Or the lack of weeds. Or the stability for the bell peppers. Or the transplants out of the pots and into the real garden...

Okay so maybe it looks the same to you, but did you see the new broccoli?? You know, since it's a cool weather crop like lettuce.

He even helped out by staking up the bell peppers.

I'm glad he's home. But the garden is really really glad he is home. Maybe it will even survive.

Happy Gardening, Happy Labor Day (sitting on the couch and not gardening...) which ever your preference.

Can't wait to show off this weekend's progress!!!
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