Friday, July 13, 2012

Frost on the Windows

This is the story of how I transformed one little window in our house from boring to awesome! From less than private to very private! From letting the sun in to...still letting the sun in!! Here it is before, oh so boring...

And then, AWESOME!

Okay, lets back up a bit. What I really want to do is frost the window in our upstairs bathroom. I want lots of light, but I also want, let us just be honest, I NEED to be able to stand naked in this room and not have the world see it. (Or just the neighbors, but that can feel like the world.) These two photos are the best I have to offer, regarding the window in question. You get the point, eh?


However, I had never frosted a window before, so I needed to try it out in a place where a little extra privacy would be nice but also was not in a place where I would have to confront every day if things went horribly array. On that note we travel from the upstairs bathroom all the way down to the basement stairwell. This area is a mess, so be warned. The plaster needs to be repaired, the walls are painted a grotesque yellow-cream, aka smoker white, the tile on the floor is old and dingy the shelves and ad-hoc at best, etc etc. In all honesty, this is the sort of space someone in their right mind does not let anyone on the "outside" see. And yet, we leave this area on display. In the end, it is just a matter of practicality...we store food in this space. Someday...oh someday... 

I knew I wanted something a little more visual than just straight up frost so I cut squares which I would turn  90 degrees for the diamond effect. Over the course of many episodes of Mater Chef I cut out a million of these squares. Obviously, the cat was very involved. She always is.

Then I created a work station. This job requires the following....

If you take on this project, know that there are all sorts of paper types for this kind DIY. Read the instructions for application, it's your best bet. And make sure the window is VERY clean. 

I used an exacto knife and sciccors as part of my measurement process as I went along. Every singe pice required trimming of some sort or another. When you have the shape you need. Peel. Smooth out the paper on the window with your MPR card (or equivalent) as go. Take a sip of your Arnie Palemer. And repeat.

Then stand back and admire your work. Watch the world disappear before your eyes. And continue on. 

Do not be fooled. This project takes hours, it is tedious. And up close, it will look less than perfect. After all was said and done, I felt kinda bummed about all the bubbles in the paper. All I could see were the bubbles. I felt relieved that I had chosen to test out the project down in the stair well and did not go straight for the bathroom window.

But then, a miracle happened. The bubbles started to move out of the paper...two weeks later, that same bubbly mess above looked like this... I still do not really understand it. Maybe it is the type of paper I used, but now it looks great and mostly bubble free.

The light comes in nice and bright still, but I do not have to see the neighbors house, and they can't see in. Happiness ensues. 

Now, I just have to deiced: Do I want the same pattern in the bathroom? Or maybe I should try something else entirely. Like this perhaps? As always, I am open to suggestions. 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

High Summer Reflections

It's more of less mid July and our garden is growing in - full force. It's been really fun to compare this years garden to last years garden, there are defiantly some elements of it that are turning out to be more successful and some less so. A few of these successes have something to do with me, but most do not.

I learned last year that letting my viney butternut squash plants creep out of the beds and grow along in the grass attracts squirrels, who then sabotage the fruit with their wee teeth, so this year we've built a trellis. I have yet to see if this keep the squirrels away, but it does look a lot prettier.

I also learned last year that two zucchini plants is enough to feed a family of four. So this year, instead of planting an entire packet of zucchini seeds, I planted two seeds and got two plants and we have been having zucchini for with dinner regularly (yum and yummier) but not so often that we hate zucchini.

All six of our tomato plants have tomatoes on them! Truly, I can not believe it. Last year our first tomato arrived at the very end of July. I do think it helped that I used a grow light, the plants this year were a wee bit bigger when they were transplanted than last years, but ultimately I think summer 2012 has been hotter and sunnier by far that summer 2011. I have noticed a few tomatoes have small brown spots and I'll need to look into that, it could be an issue (a very big issue?!?). Or maybe, hopefully, it means I need to be watering the garden more. This summer has also by much much more dry than last year and I probably do not water the garden with the frequency it craves.

I planted some pumpkin seeds this week where the garlic used to be. Yeah, it's a bit late in the year, especially for a Minnesota Gardner. I might be a crazy fool but I already had the seeds and I empty space so I figure, what's the worst that can happen? Into the dirt the seeds went.

I have no idea what to make of the tiny Brussels Sprouts plants. Should they be bigger? Did the earwig infestation I had to kill off a few weeks ago put them behind? Or are they fine? If you have advice, please do share. Otherwise, time will tell. And then I will tell you.

I plucked the first cucumber of the year off my overgrown plants this past weekend. It was sweet, crisp and oh so delicious. (Ask one of my roommates if you do not believe me!) This time last year, our cucumber plants were just getting going. Again, it's been oh so hot & oh so sunny. 

Oh so hot is great for cucumbers and peppers and tomatoes, but it is not so good for lettuce and spinach and other greens. If it's one or the other though, then last year we had one, and this year the other. And variety is always nice. I am not complaining. I love the garden this, I loved it last year. I love the ways in which it changes and the ways it stays the same.

If you are wondering why your pepper plants are so tiny, as I was, it could be as simple as a lack of Magnesium in the soil and a little Epsom salt may just be the trick you were looking for. Truly, our plants have nearly doubled in size since the first application I put a week and a half ago. And here I almost thought I would have to give up on pepper plants, as if I just didn't have the right color thumb to make it work. Silly, Amber.

Just for kicks, I now present you with today's garden...

And our garden as of July 10th last year...

On that note, thunder clouds are rolling in, and the garden and I are rejoicing. Do a little jig with me, won't you?

Monday, July 2, 2012

Cold Rhubarb Drinks

Remember back in May when I went on and on about the joys of Rhubarb? And I made the Rhubarb Vodka mix? Well I finally strained the vodka...and it's delicious....Happy sippin'!