Sunday, September 29, 2013

Signs, signs, everywhere signs...

I never really thought much about themes in my life until I started this blog.  Sometimes there are definite subjects or themes to write about, and then other times I have to grasp for blog titles. I'll let  you be the judge on this one...

I had a great trip to Southern Indiana to visit family this week.  Mom and I kept busy building these "thankful" signs which are designed to hold photos. We covered the basics of sanding, cutting, drilling, nailing, painting and staining in this little project. I learned that mom knows how to handle a mean pad sander.  And we had some great laughs along the way.

 You can find the step by step instructions at blog.


We enjoyed a Rose-Hulman homecoming weekend starting with an invigorating 5K race/walk.  We actually had numbers and chips in our shoes. Cool.  Ok, I admit that we didn't check our times.  Some things you just don't need to know...

Happy we finished the 5K Walk

We went to the football game, and my favorite part was the half-time show.  Student-built robots throwing Frisbees onto the field.  Make no mistake.  This is an engineering school.

Enjoying the football game

Frisbee throwing robot
I loved hearing all the stories at the reunion dinner.  The guys (it was an all male school when Mike attended) laughed a lot about their crazy school day antics.  And the wives compared notes on what it's like to marry an engineer.  Apparently extreme detailed planning and having lots of stuff from which to build other stuff are traits not just unique to Mike.   Note to self...future book topic?

And we also toured Rose-Hulman Ventures, an engineering consulting firm that provides businesses with engineering services staffed with student interns.  We learned about some fascinating projects from building medical devices to pallet repair.  I was so pumped about the innovative work underway that for the first time since I retired, I wanted to be a project manager again AT THIS COMPANY.  And for a very brief moment, I wished I could be an engineer.  Of course that didn't last long!

One of our goals this year is to empty out a storage  unit.  So I've been doing my part by finding walls for the art work.  And Mike has been a real trooper to hang the art, only complaining a couple of times when I changed my mind...
Ladder and black cat on the stairs.  Bad sign?
Hanging James Von Ochs' prints in my study
Beach sign in the bathroom of course.
Ducks ala Andy Warhol?

And then you sometimes find a sign that brings a smile to your face and you have to turn the car around to get a picture...

And so goes another week in retirement where a "normal routine" eludes me.  And really, I'm ok with that.

Enjoy your week!  Diane

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Life as we know it

A friend recently commented that my blog is "all over the place".  I call it "life as we know it".

Front porch
Fall is in the air!  It's been simply lovely with blue skies, cooler temps and of course mums.

Original fender flares

In August of 2012 we went on a Jeep Jamboree trip where we took our Jeep Wrangler Rubicon off road for several days through the beautiful wilderness.  During this trip I won a set of Bushwacker Fender Flares.  Ok, I must admit that when I got the gift certificate for the fender flares, I had no idea what they were...


After waiting almost one year we finally ordered them (the certificate expired end of August 2013).  And as you might expect I wanted them on the Jeep right away so Mike jumped into action and installed them.

New fender flares

The Rubicon looks pretty tough doesn't it?

Mike, Diane, Pam and George
Last weekend we enjoyed a bit of Ireland at the Indy Irish Fest.

My sister Pam and brother-in-law George came over for the weekend, and we enjoyed fantastic music by the Fenians and the Elders.  

And we were compelled to partake of Irish Stew, fish 'n chips and maybe more than a few Smithwick's beers....

The Elders performing

The shivs

And the gardening theme continues...

We picked several plastic grocery bags full of jalapeno and habanero peppers from Uncle Nick's garden.  Mike traditionally cans them, and this year I got in on the act.

First Mike made some new tools to clean the peppers.  A trip to Goodwill yielded a couple of spoons that he cut and filed into shivs.  Though most often used in prison breaks, we found these worked great for cleaning the seeds out of the peppers.

Diane using shiv to remove jalapeno seeds

And I learned that safety is critical!   We cleaned the peppers in the garage because of the intense fumes, and we wore 2 pair of rubber gloves to protect our skin.

And when Mike worked on the habaneros, he wore a face shield.  What can I say?  We live on the edge!

Mike and the face shield


Final product
Hopefully we are well-stocked in peppers for the coming years.  If you have any recipes that use jalapenos or habaneros, please send them my way...

And I enjoyed hanging out downtown with my sister Pam...

Hope you are having a fun week!

Monday, September 9, 2013

DIY: Restoring a park bench

One of the things Mike and I share is a desire to re-use, recycle and fix what others call trash.

Park bench covered with green lichens
When we were getting my house ready to sell, we were very mindful to recycle whenever possible.  We  donated old paint to Habitat for Humanity ReStore and donated clothes, towels, pots and pans to Goodwill.

I also re-use old items such as jeans for making purses, and I've re-purposed many items into suncatchers.

So, you're probably not surprised that Mike and I rescued an old park bench from the neighbor's trash earlier this summer.  Not only did we see the promise in this once regal bench, but we wanted to save it from going into the landfill.

So here's a quick description of how we fixed up this park bench destined for the trash.  This is my first Do It Yourself blog, so bear with me here...

Step 1:  I removed the old boards using a screw driver and crescent wrench.  The screws were very rusty so we couldn't re-use them.

Unfortunately the boards were very weak, and we couldn't really re-use them. They went into the trash.

Step 2:  We discussed several types of wood we could use including Oak, Cedar and Red Cedar.  Since the bench would be located outside, we decided on Red Cedar because it contains oil which helps it endure the elements.  After checking at Lowe's and Menard's, we ended up at a local lumber store, Northwest Lumber, and purchased 12 feet of 1x12 Red Cedar Wood.

Step 3:  Using the table saw, Mike "ripped" (sawed lengthwise) the wood into 12 pieces. Basically we measured the wood we removed, and replicated the size of boards.

Step 4:  Mike used the radial arm saw to create bevels on the front edges of the 12 pieces of wood.  Here's where we made a design change from the original bench as we thought it would be more comfortable to sit on wood with beveled edges.

Step 5:  I learned to use the drill press to create holes for the screws. After determining the location of the screws from the discarded boards, I measured and marked the holes on the new boards. I first drilled pilot holes to help insure the location was correct.  Using the pilot holes as a guide, I drilled the actual holes in each end of the board.  I wore safety glasses to keep any wood out of my eyes.

Step 6:  I used 100 grit sandpaper to sand the front and sides of each piece of wood.  The back of the wood had a rough finish, and since it would be on the back of the bench, we decided it did not need sanding.

Step 7:  It was time to work on the wrought iron.  First I used a steel brush to clean off a few rust spots. Next I sprayed a rust-converting primer on these rust spots.  When this dried, Mike created a temporary rigging board to join the 2 pieces so I could paint them in an upright position.  I sprayed Rustoleum Black Satin paint over both wrought iron pieces using a short side-to-side motion.

Step 8:  We purchased oval head stainless steel screws, washers and nylon-insert locknuts from Lowe's that  were the same size as those we removed.  We then fastened the boards to the wrought iron and the braces to the wood.

Here is the finished park bench with Red Cedar wood and freshly painted wrought iron.  

Total cost: Approximately $40, with $30 of that for the wood.

Total time:  Approximately 8 hours with about 3 of it spent shopping for the wood.

So, if you see a park bench sitting out on the curb waiting for trash pickup, or your own park bench is showing some wear, you might consider taking on a project like this.

We enjoyed working on the project together, and we're really happy with the results!


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

B week

Birthday, Bench, Berries and Branches that is.  Okay, I know these are seemingly random items, but it is life as I know it.  What can I say? 

First the birthday

We enjoyed a great weekend in Evansville celebrating my youngest sister Angie’s 50th birthday.  Her husband Eric put on a great party for friends and family.  We spent many hours under the pergola drinking beer, laughing and telling stories.   Nothing better on a hot summer day!

And then the bench…
Rescued bench

Which was a curbside rescue on trash pickup day earlier this summer.  Again, what can I say?  Clearly Mike's influence on me.  It was surely a beautiful bench in its' day, but  it needs some work.  

So we have another project underway, first removing the bad boards and rusty screws.  Then we trekked over to the nearest lumber company to buy 12 feet of red cedar for the new boards.  Mike did the saw work, ripping the boards and beveling the edges.  Next up is sanding the boards, painting the wrought iron and putting it back together.  I’m sure it will find a treasured spot somewhere in the yard or garden. I’ll share a picture of the finished project next time.

Mike trimming boards to proper length

And berries

We’re on our second crop of raspberries this year. The first one was mainly enjoyed by the birds, but I harvested a great second crop earlier this week.  You can’t beat fresh sweet raspberries from your own yard!

And  I wish I didn’t have stories of branches

Imagine my surprise when I opened the front door Tuesday morning and saw a HUGE branch beside the Bradford Pear tree. Unprovoked by storms or wind, this branch just broke off the tree for no apparent reason.  

And $650 later, the tree limb was removed, the tree was reshaped and we have a tree that will probably last another 1-2 years.  Though the cost was tough to swallow,  we feel good about saving the tree, and it gives us time to determine what tree will replace it.

And then Saturday morning I was looking out the kitchen window and saw another huge branch beside the Honey Locust tree.  Yes, the tree we were married under!  Fortunately  Mike were able to manhandle it and move it to the curb for “limb pickup”. 

I guess I'm NOT destined for a job removing trees as one of the branches  fell on my shoulder on its' way down to the ground.  Ouch!  Nothing major, I'm just a bit stiff and sore.  

So, not a good week for  trees.  Our tree service (we are putting the owner’s kids through college with all of our tree work this year) indicates that last year’s drought will continue to inflict damage on trees for several years to come.  Lovely. May just want to put a line item in the annual budget for the tree service!

Mike, Kevin and Kathy and their family
We enjoyed the Labor Day weekend with friends.  We originally planned for a quiet weekend at home doing projects, but when friends call...

Chuck and Melanie stopped by for dinner on Friday night.  We had a great breakfast with John on Sunday.   And we enjoyed a visit with Kevin and Kathy and their family.  Sadly, it was probably the last pool day of the summer.

And with Labor Day as the official end to summer, it seems appropriate for Mike to start teaching again this week.  He’s excited but somewhat lamenting the home projects that weren’t completed this summer.  I tell him not to worry about things that didn’t get done, there’s always tomorrow.   And I know what you are saying, “who stole the Diane we used to know?  The Diane who pushed people for a living to complete projects by a deadline. “  I don't know, but maybe retirement is erasing that heavy focus on deadlines...

I’ll leave you with a lovely picture from a visit with my niece and great niece last week.  I’m so happy that they live close by, and I get to see them often.
Alice and Diane

 I hope you are rested after  Labor Day weekend and enjoying a great new week!