Saturday, October 25, 2014

Our Mobile Chicken Coop

I realize that I haven't blogged in FOREVER. This is the first thing I've felt like sharing in a long time. It must be because we're so excited about it! We decided to build a mobile chicken coop for our backyard. Believe it or not, we used about 80% recycled materials from around the backyard. We only bought the chicken wire, wheels, hook and eye door latches, and lag bolts. I even used an old can of paint to make it look like a barn! 
 The reason for our mobile coop is fairly easy to explain. We want them to be able to eat grass and not be stuck in the same place for their whole lives, but we need to keep them safe from our dogs and predators. The major bonus of this method, is that they fertilize the ground, and by moving the coop to a fresh patch everyday, should encourage new growth by the time we get back around to where we started. (We have quite a large yard) We water the patch of grass we just moved from to get the poop to get absorbed in the ground.
 I should mention that we are in no way experts on any of this. We have done a lot of reading and research, and we are also learning as we go. We didn't follow any plans for the coop, but looked at a bunch online and then drew out our vision for our own. It then took shape as we looked around for materials we already had. The shutter is something I saved from my days as a wedding decorator, and now it is our egg door.
 The door to the bottom is off of an old yard sale find. I have a cabinet that I remade into an entry table and I removed two of these light green doors and saved them. I'm glad I did! All we did was add some hinges and the lock.
 We already learned to hang the water higher, so that they don't get it all dirty. This is an early photo. The first night was hilarious as we sat outside to watch and see who would discover the ramp and top floor first. We all cheered on our own hens. Their names are Doris, Mabel, Mildred, Eleanor. I love that we can easily tell them apart based on physical characteristics. They each have their own personality and it's been fun to watch them these first few days.
 We really didn't know what to expect, as far as egg laying. We didn't know if they'd start right away, or if they had to get used to their new home first. We also didn't know if they would know where we wanted them to lay the eggs. The person we bought them from gave us two of their eggs and I decided to put them in two of the nesting boxes to give them a hint. The first day, it was so exciting to open the door and see this in one of the boxes! I should have taken a better photo of the house part, but there are four nesting boxes right when you open the egg door. This is a close up of one of them. You can see where the ramp comes up in this photo. The rest of the floor is chicken wire, so that their poop falls to the ground. So far, it has worked perfectly. We wanted minimal cleaning.
It has been really fun for our family to watch the hens and learn their routines. I always expected to go out early in the morning and find eggs, when in fact, our hens lay them during the day. I will look out the window and only see 3 on the ground, hear a bunch of squawking, then when there are 4 down on the ground I will go out and check, and there's an egg!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Wood Plank Accent Wall- Dining Room

This morning I finished up my dining room project. I'd posted photos of it yesterday on Facebook, but I felt that I needed to add just one more row of wood to the wall. I did that this morning, and I'm so glad I did! You can't tell from photos, but in person it made a big difference when compared to my height standing next to it. 
 Honestly the hardest part of this project was cutting the hole for the electrical outlet. We have the world's worst jigsaw and the blades bend and cut crooked. I even broke a blade while doing it. Thankfully my husband was nearby, so I begged for help on that part before I messed it up too bad. Honestly, if our jigsaw (which we rarely use, so I haven't bought a better one) was better quality, it would have been easy.
 So, to start off, I removed everything off of the wall. I painted about a third of the wall white. This wall continues over the cabinets in the kitchen, so I had to climb up on the counters and continue all the way over the cabinets. I used a stud finder and marked all of the studs with chalk. When shopping for wood, I decided it would be worth the money to get the tongue and groove shiplap wood instead of regular boards. I am SO glad I did, because it made installation a breeze. We bought the longest staples we could find, and I used an air compressed staple gun to install the boards. (Note: I avoided the stud that runs next to the electrical outlet, since my husband said that the power lines are tacked to that stud, and you can never be 100% sure where you are on the stud itself)
 I didn't stop and take a photo of the bare wood after I installed it, but you get the idea. Last, I used Minwax dark walnut stain to get the warm color I wanted.
 Turning my table this way and putting my cabinet and coffee cart on the same wall make the most use of my small space. I can't believe how much bigger it looks set up this way.
 Then I just shopped my house for decor. I knew I wanted to keep it fairly simple.
The hanging pots are actually white metal pails that I pried the handles off of. I used white clothesline rope from Lowe's and just looped it through the holes and tied knots. I am using fake boxwood, since that big plant on my cabinet is apparently the only indoor plant that I can keep alive. I've had that plant for about 8 years!!!!

My wood wall, and white planters were inspired by a photo I saw on Instagram account @elsielarson and her blog is called A Beautiful Mess. Inspiration is everywhere, you just have to find a look you like, and dare to try it!

Monday, June 9, 2014

San Francisco Trip, 2014

We returned last night from a wonderful family trip to San Francisco. It was completely perfect, well minus the amount of time it usually took us to find a parking spot. We were able to squeeze a ton of fun into just one weekend. Here's my recap.
 This was our first time crossing the new Bay Bridge. Maybe it's not even called that anymore? I don't know. It kind of freaked me out to look to the left and see the old bridge cut in half. The kids don't remember their previous trip to the city, because it was probably about 5 years ago for them. When we drove into the city they were freaking out with excitement over the size!
 The first morning, we ate at a restaurant called Plow. It was really good! They even had gluten free pancakes, made with almond flour. By the way, I want that sugar pourer! Most of the restaurants are teeny tiny, so we had to wait awhile for a table big enough for 6. You kind of can't be in a rush for anything in this city. Traffic takes time, parking takes time, eating takes time. Just kind of go with the flow.
 We had to park at the very top of this hill and walk down to the corner to eat at Plow. This isn't even all the way to the top.
 There was a bench part way up, and yes, the kids and I sat and caught our breath!
 Next, we went to Crissy field. It had FREE parking...HOLLA!! If you had any idea how much money we wasted on parking this weekend, you'd know why that's so exciting! ;)
I think there were more dogs than people on this beach. The kids loved looking for treasures by the water.
 It has a great view of the Golden Gate Bridge. You can also see Alcatraz to the right. (not pictured)

 There was a seaplane flying throughout the bay while we were there. My observant word to the wise... don't touch the big piles of sand. I watched every dog that walked past them, sniff, then pee on them. Yuck! A little toddler was playing with a pile of sand in the distance and it totally grossed me out. This is obviously the perfect place to take your dog though! Lots of dogs playing fetch in the ocean.
 I said hello to the Golden Gate Bridge, yoga style! I wish I could always have a soft beach to practice inversions on! So much softer than the floor!

 We drove to Union City, where we had reservations for the kids and their uncle to do indoor skydiving. It's called iFly. They loved it! We got some great videos of them. Next time maybe we will try it too. Book in advance, because we wanted to add ourselves after we arrived, but they were all full. This tunnel goes really high, and you can pay an extra $10 for the instructor to take you all the way up to the top a few times.
 After that, we went to Cultivate Festival in Golden Gate Park. It was put on by Chipotle, and there were food booths, farm vs. factory exhibits, etc. By the time we got there, it was FREEZING. Thankfully I brought a couple of blankets.
 We went to the last concert of the day, Neon Trees.

 It was fun, and then after that we walked a mile back to our parking spot, which we drove around for 40 minutes trying to find yelped a pizza place. We totally rely on Yelp to read reviews, and see food photos when we're out of town. The place we chose was called Pizzetta 211 and it was SO good. Again, teeny tiny restaurant. We ended up eating outside by the heaters, which actually felt really warm after freezing our butts off at the concert.
 The next day we went to Ghirardelli Square and took a cable car ride.

 The streets are so much steeper than they look in the photos!
 We ended a couple of blocks past Union Square.
 My mother in law!
 When we got back to Ghirardelli Square, we went to my favorite cupcake place, Kara's Cupcakes.
 I had a gluten free chocolate velvet and it was delicious!
 My husband was dying for an authentic Chinese meal before we left town. He ended up asking our cable car grip (the guy who controls the brakes) for a recommendation. He told us Yuet Lee in Chinatown was his favorite.
We.pigged.out. It was really good! I can't help but think of all of the other restaurants, and what they have to offer. I think if you lived there, you could go to a different restaurant every day and still never eat at all of them.
We had SO much fun. Now it's back to reality of 103 degrees and housework. ;) I love that I can tuck away the memories of exploring, experiencing, and LAUGHING with the people I love, and use it as energy when we get back to the grind of every day life.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

June Update

I realized it has been a LONG time since I've updated the blog. I've found that it is on the bottom of my list these days, and that's ok. Life is just too crazy to keep up with everything. I'm just gonna share a few photos of what I've been up to recently.
I've updated my shelf for the Fourth of July. This is my substitute for a mantle. I just pulled together a couple of past crafts (fireworks and flag blocks), and added a few vintage things that I already had. I used a roll of wide burlap and added some flags, super easy. I love adding old tins and greenery to almost everything now.
 I've been taking a yoga basics class at a great studio for about a month and a half. My absolute favorite thing to practice is inversions. I like having someone snap a photo, or setting the timer on my phone, so that I can see my form improve over time. I can't wait until I can do this and have legs that are completely flat, not in a V shape. I can't believe the difference that just these several classes have made in gaining strength and balance. I really can't do most cardio, because I want to be kind to my prosthetic knee. My surgeon told me not to run, so while it feels like the whole world is out conquering the world one mile at a time, I'm just working on perfecting my form. It turns out that this is exactly what my body needs.
 Last week, I took my kids to class with me, and they liked it! I don't know that they will go with me every time, because that would get expensive. It's such good practice for them though, so I'm glad that they ask to come. The sweat literally pours off of us. If you are doing yoga correctly, it is SO much harder than it looks.
 Our girls graduated from 3rd and 4th grade last week! I can't believe we have finished our fourth year of homeschool! This year literally FLEW by.
 Our wonderful teacher is retiring this year, and we are so grateful for all she has taught us. She means the world to us! Several weeks ago we decided that we are going to try independent homeschool in the fall. This will be our first year completely on our own. I'm nervous but excited at the same time. My summer will be full of a lot of curriculum research and planning for the fall, as this will be the first time that the materials aren't just handed to me.
We are LOVING our garden. The growth has been amazing. 
 We also got a new rabbit. Her name is Hazelnut, and sometimes we call her Hazel. She's the first gentle and non-skittish rabbit we've ever had.
 The harvesting has begun in parts of our garden. Some things will take some more time, but I love going out to check on the changes every day.
I'm ready to enjoy the summer!