Kitchen drawer dividers

This was just a tiny project to try and organize the kitchen a bit. The silverware drawer is shallow, so I built dividers for it to replace the ill-filling silverware tray that was in there.

This was a little tricky because the bottom of the drawer was sagging a bit, it was only made of 1/8″ plywood and it is all original, and The Rancho is 50 years old! I added a piece of 1/4 plywood, and that made a nice bottom that the dividers could sit flat against.

This project was the first step in an ongoing kitchen remodel. Next I plan to make a two level divider for the bigger drawer with ladles and spatulas, and a sliding upper tray for the smaller items that live in that drawer. Eventually I’ll be redoing the countertops and doing a light refinishing of the cabinets, but I love the dark woodgrain of the cabinets as they are. I just want to add some color to brighten the place up and make it pop a little.

Anyway, I have lots of plans, and the ability to do them at my own pace, because I don’t think we are going anywhere soon.


Just a month or so ago my shop looked like this, and getting to my bench required crawling over stuff including the tongue of the boat trailer, tripping over boxes for my husband’s toy business. Once I got to the bench, there was barely room to do anything.

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But then I decided to overhaul the Mustang, and I sold my boat (without ever getting it in the water! That’s the 3rd boat I’ve sold without ever using it!), we installed new LED lighting in the garage to brighten things up, and my husband cleaned up his stuff in the garage and re-organized. Then I unexpectedly sold the Mustang. Suddenly I had an empty, clean, well-lit garage.

I decided that now I have a garage back, I wanted to do some woodworking. Quite a few years ago I used to do scrollsaw work and intarsia and woodburning, and I wanted to do more. I like building things. Someday I’d like to build a new vanity for the bathroom, and do new countertops in the kitchen.

This spring I built this potting table to put on the patio and organize my gardening supplies. I found the plan on×4-potting-bench

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So that really lit up my desire to build more things. For a long time I have had my eye on Steve Ramsey on Youtube – and his Wood Working for Mere Mortals channel. So I finally signed up for his online woodworking class – The Weekend Woodworker –

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The first project was to build this neat little rolling bench, which has been awesome! He includes project plans and how-to videos and videos on each skill and tool, and safety videos. It went together just as expected, except I chose not to install shelves because my old miter saw is so big it took up the whole bottom shelf by itself. Even though I already have two benches, having one I can move around has been really useful!

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Second project was this little patio sidetable. Each project builds on skills and introduces new skills. I’m really having fun, and I can’t wait for my next project. We are all still trapped at home during the pandemic, so it’s nice to have projects to work on. And my garage is so clean and roomy now. I’ve sorted through a lot of things I don’t need, some of which I’ve had saved for years and never needed.

I guess I am a minimalist. All the things I get rid of take a weight off of me. Although I loved the Mustang, we joked that it was my albatross, a la the Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner, and I was cursed to have it forever hanging around my neck. I couldn’t go forward and I couldn’t go back. It was so heavy, with the weight of being ‘my first car’, and the story that goes with it, one of the best stories a classic car can have! Now I have shook it off, and released myself from it. I have my garage space back, and I can do creative things of my choosing, and I am really loving it!

Lockdown in the time of Coronavirus

I guess we’ve been hearing about the virus in China for a month or so, but it has suddenly hit us hard. With the knowledge that this bad new flu is circulating, but without testing capability, and an already overtaxed medical system, we are now in semi-lockdown. The play we have been rehearsing for over a month (Much Ado About Nothing) is on hold until later in the summer, I’m working from home, and people are wiping out the grocery stores (glad I went to Costco with friends and stocked up a couple weeks ago). Crazy times.

I had just settled on a plan to expand my photography into family portrait work, and decided that this summer I would train and do any odd jobs I could get, and hone my craft. I bought a new (used) lens just for this pursuit.

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This is a Sony f/4 70–200mm. It takes really sharp pictures with nicely blurred backgrounds. I’m really happy with the few test shots I’ve done.





Combined with my full-frame a7ii, this is certainly a rig capable of producing high-quality images.

I also plan to dedicate any ‘hustle money’ I can make to my meandering Mustang project. But who knows when things will get back to normal, when I can start hustling, if I will even care about the Mustang when this is all over. Maybe priorities will change? Right now the poor Mustang is buried in the garage under shipping materials leftover from Christmas. The toy shipping season has stretched out significantly. Things are still selling now in March!

But I don’t mind working at home. I’m hanging out with my hubby and dogs and cats:

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surrounded by all my craft projects I’ve been putting off. Like my ‘learn to paint’ project. I’ve got my paints, I’ve got my easel, all I need is time.

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I can FINALLY follow along with BOB!

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It’s actually kind of nice, but I’m only a few days in. We will see how it feels by the end of the month! I hope to sneak off for some fishing when the weather warms up next week. We will see how it all goes. I’m just hoping people handle this sanely, take care of each other, remember to be kind and considerate, and we will all ride out this strange time, stay healthy, and be back to normal sometime this summer.

Until then I’ll try not to spend too much time riding the range in Red Dead Redemption.

Red Dead Redemption 2 (13)

The Rancho – 2013 – 2019

When we bought The Rancho, the previous owner had planted a row of bushes along the road as a buffer from the carnys across the street. It added privacy, but reduced curb appeal, and was kind of creepy at night.


Two years ago we remodeled and spent last summer babying the new grass. We kept the dogwood, the japanese maple, wisteria on the porch, pieris up by the house and rose bushes (which I thought were goners, but our yard guy has saved. This spring Dave snapped a picture of the house with the wisteria in full bloom. So much nicer!



This year’s Garden – Spring

When we lived in the country, I had a lovely big garden that I worked very hard on. The last year I was able to do it I was really getting the hang of it, and grew lovely big tomatoes and squash and herbs and really enjoyed myself. But then I went back to work full time.

Eight years later, we no longer live in the country, but I still want my garden. One constant problem in our current backyard is the plum tree. It produces a bumper crop of plums every year, and the ones that fall on the ground get eaten by the dogs, who also chew up the pits, which are bad for them. So after surrounding the plum tree with a dog fence for a couple years, we finally put up a proper fence around it.

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And I thought, hey, this looks like a good place for a garden! So last year I did a little raised bed and put cauliflower and kale in it, and the aphids and slugs ate it up. I did a few tomatoes and basil in pots as well, and that was more successful. So this spring I decided to really go for it. I’ve always wanted tall raised beds so I wouldn’t be on my hands and knees weeding. But in order to have a nice garden in spring, you have to start well before that, by planting seeds in February.

I started out by spending early winter watching videos on YouTube, my favorite channel being The Rusted Garden . I find him very relaxing to listen to, and he makes it seem easy, gives simple instructions, and basically doesn’t add a bunch of drama to it. Just good, straightforward advice, and he’s even in the same planting zone, though on the other end of the country, so his advice on timing is pretty accurate for this area too.

I ordered seeds for a modest garden from Territorial Seeds, as I always did for my country garden. They are in Oregon, so I know they will sell stuff that works in the NW, and I’ve always had great success with their seeds (not so much with the usual garden center seed packets, those have generally been very hit or miss in germinating).


A month later, I was thinning them out and moving them into dollar-store pots.

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Next thing you know I was taking them out for visits to experience the wind and the sunshine, but bringing them back in if it got too breezy or chilly.

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So, this experiment was going well, time to get the garden in order. The garden area was covered in failing weed barrier. I want my raised bed plants to be able to reach down to the soil if they want to. So I pulled up the weed barrier where the beds are going. I also thought I would put a little shed in there, but once I spaced out the footings for an 8 ft shed, it was going to take up the whole garden 😦

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Chives went in pots, broccoli went in the existing bed, and we tore down the old arbor in the yard and temporarily piled it in the garden so the dogs wouldn’t get stuck on the nails in it. That sort of felt like we were going backwards for a bit.

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And those tomatoes and peppers just kept getting bigger! I planted six of each type I wanted to grow, and didn’t expect them ALL to do so well! I picked my favorites and potted them up, and offered free tomatoes to all my friends. This is mid April. Maybe next year I won’t start the seeds until March!

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I built raised beds out of 2x4s and cedar fence boards. I know they won’t last forever, but if I like them, I figure I can make them sturdier later. I filled them lasagna style – straw, grass clippings, old leaves, more grass clippings, dirt from the other side of the house, and finally 6 cubic yards (4 bags) of raised bed soil.

I should mention I had lots of help throughout the process.


Our yard bloomed early with Deadnettle, Grape Hyacinth, and some bulb I call bluebell. The fruit trees were blooming and the yard was alive with birds and bees and friendly bugs. I wanted to encourage this, so I just left it alone and enjoyed it!


Navi was doing a bit of rototilling over by the apple tree to take care of our mole problem. She got two of them!

They also followed me into the garden one day and caught a baby rabbit that was hiding in the Rosemary bush. Barclay caught it and let Navi have it and she ate the whole thing (ugh!) They will never forget that, and are always hoping to find something else hiding in the garden, so they are not allowed in there anymore.

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Finally we had a late last frost in early may, and a week later things looked safe to put my little friends in their new home! Two of the big heirloom tomatoes and one cherry variety here with two mini bell peppers, two more cherrys, a pepper, and a slicer in pots near the patio.

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Then I mowed the Deadnettle when it was done blooming, and the yard looks great! All the clippings went into the next raised bed, where I topped it off with raised bed soil, and planted greens. I know it was a little late for cool weather crops, because we started getting hot temps, but I wanted to try. Kale, Chard, Lettuce, Spinach, and Radishes.

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The pots by the patio were looking good, and I added pots full of parsley, cilantro and basil seeds.


About this time I realized the water by the house was a LONG way from the garden, so I looked online and found a used rainbarrel setup. This way I can fill the barrel every few weeks, and water out of the barrel.

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I added a third big bed for beans and cucumbers, and I will build a trellis for those, so I thought they could share a bed and a trellis. Then three low beds for squash, since they will need room to spread out. Zucchini, Butternut, and Acorn. I also mulched all the beds and pots with pine shavings.

I added some flowers outside the garden gate for color. Those pots inside have a bunch of different herb seeds planted, but they are slow to come up.

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The tomatoes are doing great, but I read that Marigolds and Basil are good companions, so I added some marigolds, and a couple different varieties of Basil in the bed.

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And that’s about it for spring. We are definitely heading into summer now (despite the monsoon rains we got the past week, with temps significantly cooler than the previous week which was in the 90s). The tomatoes are covered in flowers this week, and a few little tomatoes have started forming. It’s really amazing to see food growing from plants I started from seeds! It’s like a little miracle every time.

Nothing to do now, but kick back and enjoy our patio.

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A ‘Me’ Party!

The Photo Club assignment for this month was to make a composite photograph, so I composited the heck out of that challenge! I set the camera up on a tripod and raced around changing clothes and setting myself in different scenes around the room, then merged them all together with a little photoshop magic, to produce a party of ‘Me’s hanging around the house with the dogs.


Backyard remodel

Last year we did the front yard, taking out the overgrown bushes that the previous owner had put up to create a buffer between our house and the crack-house across the street, and putting in a nice lawn. That went very well, and it is still looking beautiful. This year the project is the back yard.

When we moved in the backyard was a formal garden, with pathways and sitting areas, a big dahlia garden, a vegetable garden, and a flower garden. The previous owner had been retired, and he obviously spent a LOT of time working on it. It was a maintenance nightmare for a couple working folks like us. So we had slowly cut back on the formal stuff anyway, but this year the lawnmower wouldn’t start in the spring, and by the time I got a new carb for it and got it running again, things were extra out of control.

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So we rented a walk-behind string trimmer, and I worked my butt off mowing it all down. I was kind of sad to see it go, because it reminded me of our pasture in spring, and I loved watching the grasses wave in the breeze.

With everything back under control, I figured it was time to begin the backyard remodel I had been planning. There were a few problems. As previously mentioned, Navi is a digger, so any gardening needed to be fenced away from her. Also, there is a plum tree in the corner of the yard, and the dogs enjoy eating the plums and chewing up the pits, which are toxic, so I had it temporarily fenced off with a dog x-pen, but it was not a permanent solution. I have this plan:

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Which I have deviated from slightly as my desire to have a garden got stronger. When we lived on the farm, I had a huge garden, and I worked really hard to get better and better at it every year, and I hated to give it up when we left. This year I finally got my act together enough to put in a tiny container garden with a few tomatoes and peppers and herbs. But I would like to grow our own lettuce and greens as well. So I took the corner marked Bushes on my plan, and fenced it off to make a garden, and keep the dogs away from the plums.


We had a lovely mild day, not too hot, not too sunny. Mowing and weed-wacking commences…


Then we went to Lowes and found a no-dig fence style we liked. They have stakes that you pound into the ground, and then slide the fence panels onto them. Tall enough to keep out the dogs, and they look nice.


The corner already has a brick outline, but it was curved, and the fence could not curve as much as the bricks, so we made the fence line fairly straight and left the curved areas outside it for planting some bushes to soften the area up. We also got a nice no-dig gate that fit perfectly in the little entrance-way.


Completed. Now the dogs are unable to get to the plum tree, or any planting beds I want to put in there.

We continued mowing and trimming around the rest of the yard.



Much better! Still needs clean up, but it will get there. This is where I want a stone patio eventually.


Dave gets a well-deserved rest and smooches from Barclay ❤


Day 2


The garden area has these two brick circles, one on either end. This one had a greek statue on it, and it shifted and she fell over a couple winters ago, so now she is up on the patio. I am not fond of these brick circles, they look sloppy, and appear to be full of debris – broken bricks, old tile, etc. I want to take one down and reuse the bricks to outline a garden bed.

So I started tearing the other one apart, and discovered 1) it gave shelter to the biggest spiders I’ve ever seen and 2) it was hiding a stump! I picked through the bricks one by one, brushing off spiders and tossing them into the fenced area, then arranged them into a curvy garden bed.


Leaving behind the stump, which is much less obtrusive than the brick circle had been.



Meanwhile Navi dug holes big enough to stick her whole head in! That’s the next area to work on.


But that’s enough work for one afternoon. I stickballed Barclay until he was worn out and jumped in the tub to cool off, and called it a day.


Bonus – tomatoes growing in my container garden – yay!





The Mailbox

As you can see from this pic of the front yard pre-remodel, the mailbox was a plan black box on a little wrought iron arm. It was black that had oxidized to grey, and had some surface rust, and the post had some rust too. It was also super wobbly and the mount was all rusty. I thought I would use the long Labor Day weekend to do something fun with it.

Disassembly took some time. Dave helped me Dremel off the rusty screws on the mount just to get it into the garage. I cleared off the spider nests and bent the door back into shape. I removed the handle and flag, and scraped off the old numbers, cleaned it and sanded it until everything was fairly smooth. It has a few dents and some marks where it looks like it was shot with BB pellets, and I considered bondo-ing those away, but decided it adds character (I’m pretty sure this is the original mailbox), and the weekend is short and I’d like to have this back up for the mail-lady on Tuesday.

I put my first three coats of ivory on it, and then let it dry as the can indicated, and masked it off for the next color, but discovered the 4 hours they said it needed to dry wasn’t an exact science. When I peeled off the masking, it took some of the ivory off with it, so I had to re-mask the blue and re-spray the ivory.

I left a border between blue and ivory on purpose for a silver accent stripe. I tried to apply it with a ‘silver paint pen’ but that did not work very well. I ended up trying to apply some spray silver I had by spraying it onto a plate and brushing it on with a foam brush I found.

I’m actually pretty happy with how it came out.

I also painted the post and the mounting pieces underneath and used all new hardware so it should be good for many more years to come. I still want to spray on one last gloss top coat, but I wanted to get it mounted in time for the mail tomorrow. I was going to spray it on the post, but there is ash currently raining down on us from fires in the Gorge, so I guess when that is over I will give it a finishing coat to protect it.

The next project will be trim and a cool mid-century paint treatment on the garage door. The Rancho is looking pretty snazzy out front. Next year we’ll have to work on the back.


The Front Yard

The front yard at Rancho Relaxo was a bit of a jungle.

The previous owner had planted a wall of photinias and spikey red bushes along the curb to keep the carny’s across the street at bay. He had also sprinkled in a few fruit trees, and a pine tree, and a circular rock planting bed which was all grown over in one corner. We had to cut back the limbs on the side where the neighbor’s driveway was so it wouldn’t brush his cars.

The front row had spilled out beyond the curb and onto the street, where Dave and I fought to cut them back so you could actually see the curb. They were a mess.

Looking into the yard from the house, you could barely see a little japanese maple snuggled under the big dogwood. Really you couldn’t see any of these just driving by.

It did do a good job of blocking the neighbors, but the bad neighbors left last year, and the new neighbors are nice folks with a nice neat house. Our yard was bringing down the neighborhood! So we invited a few landscapers over for estimates, and after considering doing it ourselves we decided we wanted it done right, so I handed over a sizable chunk of money, and the guys we picked did this:

We had them remove everything except the dogwood and the little maple (and a little bush that sits between them), trim them up and make a kidney-bean shape around them, and then put down new grass everywhere else. It is so nice! It took a couple weeks for the new grass to start growing from seed, and since it’s summer we’ve had to water it like crazy, but it’s looking good. We love the new view of the neighborhood and seeing our cute little house when we drive up instead of an unmanageable mess.


Bored? Games!

We had an awesome after-Christmas part last night, with Michelle, Scott & Sherry, and Sitka and Sake. We stuffed ourselves silly and played board games, and after discovering we were all really awful at Trivial Pursuit, we moved on to Apples to Apples, followed by a rousing game of Pictionary – a good time was had by all!

Even Mighty didn’t let the company or the pack of eskimos bother her, she spent most of the evening sitting in laps, clawing the guests, and lounging in the middle of the action with her tummy up.

So, today I felt like we needed some more board games to add to our party stash. Now that we live in town, we can have friends over more often, might as well be prepared!

We headed out to the local games store and examined all the board games. I was very temped to pick up Settlers of Catan, just because I’ve always heard great things about it, but it was pretty spendy. Instead we picked up a new card game, I’ll report back on that later. Then at the first Goodwill store we found another old card game that sounded interesting. But the last Goodwill store turned out to be the jackpot, as I not only found a used copy of Settlers of Catan for $4 (!!!), but for another $2 I brought home something really unique!

The amazing acrylic tower is a game called See-Queue – and it’s a 3-D tic-tac-toe game. It was made by a company in Salem Oregon in 1993, and designed by Mr Karol Kersh, but I can’t find out much about it on the web. It was ‘some assembly required’, but everything was there except for the marbles. We headed back out to find some marbles…

All set up and ready to play. Do you know how hard it is to find colored marbles nowdays?

The trickiest part was figuring out all the win conditions, and then trying to build them without attracting your opponents attention. It was really fun! I imagine it would be crazy with four people! You can turn the board around as you play, and you are making rows using all four levels sometimes, it’s kind of mind-bending. Cool game!