How to drop major pounds in a day and a half

by Jessie K on June 28, 2014

IMG_7391Attention dieters of the world! I have stumbled upon a nifty and expedient weight loss solution: FENCE PAINTING. Yes, fence painting. Forget your Slim Fast, your Hydroxy Cut and your strawberry flavored Menthols. Spraying 63 gallons of black paint on a fence will get your body bikini ready in a hurry.

IMG_7390For the past three days I have been out in the fields painting board fence with Jake. As soon as I zipped up that unventilated painter’s jumpsuit, donned the goggles and the eye mask on a 92 degree day with high humidity, I realized a bikini ready body would be mine, whether I wanted one or not.

I must have sweated out half my body weight in 10 minutes stumbling around a field holding a paint sprayer gun wondering what those purple spots were prancing across my pupils. While I was still lucid, I had a faint inclination I might actually die from heat exhaustion. But I couldn’t take off the suit because that meant chugging a jet stream of black paint and getting paint all over my face and clothes. See:

IMG_7418All things considered, I decided I’d rather die from heat exhaustion than chemical poisoning. And who wants to scrape gobs of black paint out of your ears? Oh, wait, I know: Jake, the original Young Invincible.

IMG_7420How about whispering some sweet nothings into that ear?

We were painting with these giant hoses that can knock out six lengths of fence including the posts in something like 1 minute. We knocked out one mile — some 5,000 feet — of board fence in a day and a half. The pace was relentless. My husband is relentless. There were no languid lunch breaks under a shady tree swapping tales about our reckless youths. No, I had to eat my chunk chicken breast straight from the can topped off with “spicy buffalo wing” flavored crackers then told to get back to the gun. By the second day and some 40 pounds lighter, I had wised up and burned the painter’s suit and donned something more weather appropriate. I present to you, Fence Painter’s Chic:

IMG_7422By that point, though, Jake had put me on hand painting duty to get into the fine detail handiwork around gardens and outbuildings and hard to reach corners. Which was fine with me….I’d had enough of random downwind blasts of paint to my eyes to last me a lifetime. (Seriously, a blast of paint to the eyeballs is about as close a description of hell as I can muster.)

IMG_7425All in all, it was a killer job — as in, it did nearly killed me — but weirdly relaxing at the same time. There is something to be said for working outside. And it was pretty cool looking back at a mile of board fence and thinking, ‘Wow, we did that.’ But that could also have been the paint fumes talking.

What to wear when the Internet hates you

by Jessie K on June 26, 2014

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Married seven years today

by Jessie K on June 23, 2014

E_046E_073 E_075IMG_0209IMGA0088-1IMGA0118OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEleven years together,

seven of them married today,

Three deployments,

two moves,

four dogs,

two little girls,

the occasional deer neck tacos and

hundreds of chickens later

we’re still going strong.

I wouldn’t want to live this crazy life without you.

(And it wouldn’t be nearly as crazy without you.)

I love you, Jake.

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I’ve been buzzard bombed

by Jessie K on June 22, 2014

IMG_7386Today when I dropped off June to my friend Brendan and Susan’s house for a playdate, I walked outside back to my car when I saw a bunch of objects drop from what looked like the overhead tree. I didn’t hear anything break so I figured it was twigs or leaves or nuts falling from the tree. As I approached my car, I detected a putrid, horrible odor. It smelled like a dirty two week old formula diaper. Or raw sewage. It was horrendous. Like, one thousand times worse than mere poop.

Susan was nearby so I asked her if she smelled it and whether her septic might be overflowing. She came over and took a whiff and nearly had to sit down from the overpowering stench.

Then I looked at my car and noticed it was splattered with some sort of goo.

IMG_7384I thought my car had been pooped on by a flock of passing birds. But then Brendan came over and looked at the goo and said, “That’s not poop. That looks more like entrails. You’ve been buzzard bombed!”

We now think a passing buzzard, holding a mouthful of decomposing roadkill, dropped his load on my car!

IMG_7383I was all set to drive back home in warp speed, hoping the wind would blow off the carrion. But Brendan pointed the goo would most likely just dry and harden in the hot sun. (I’m sorry, did you just lose your lunch? I’m so sorry. Really. I am. Who feels like some oysters?) Thankfully, Brendan offered to rinse it all off with the garden hose before I trekked back home. That right there? That’s friendship: When someone offers to wash vermin guts off your car. Brendan, I owe you.

Yet somehow the story gets worse: While he hosed down the car, I noticed some wild lambsquarters growing nearby. Like an idiot, I picked a few leaves and started to chew when Brendan reminded me I might not want to forage so close to where he’s rinsing roadkill. I immediately spit them out, trying desperately to maintain some decorum.

My car no longer smells like rancid possum meat.  I have no choice but to take all this as a incredibly positive omen — my luck is going to be sensational from here on in.

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A new headboard from an old barn door

by Jessie K on June 18, 2014

IMG_5707Remember the old barn door we salvaged from the barn we demolished?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe were finally able to use it in our new house. (I can’t get over how little June is here! She’s a baby!)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI loved the soft, muted colors in the wood. Judging from inscriptions on other parts of the barn, this door, which I’ve been told is made from American Chestnut, is at least 100 years old.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAlmost exactly one year later, we’re finally able to put it to good use.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHere’s the other side of the door.  Amazing the difference in color, right? (I also had a filter on my lens for this shot so the hues look a lot more saturated than they actually are.)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI recently bought a bed frame for our guest bedroom and some accompanying brackets for a headboard.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJake and his Dad installed the door as a headboard over the weekend.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATo prep it for use, they trimmed the ragged edges with one of Jake’s big saws and tried to get off as much dust and dirt as possible. Dirt and dust in a bedroom: Not a good look.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThey also screwed down those old hinges to prevent them from clanking against the wood. We opted not to spray a clear coat on the wood because we were afraid it would alter that amazing weathered color. We were going for au natural. Hope our guests don’t mind!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI love the way it looks and I’m really proud we were able to make use of the old wood. It feels good to recycle old stuff, and I love that we were able to bring a piece of our old place to our new home.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs for the rest of the room, I’m not sure how I want to decorate it but the headboard will serve as my starting point. Can’t wait!

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My summer as a full time mom

by Jessie K on June 17, 2014

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is the first summer I’m staying home completely with June and Katie. Every previous summer since June’s birth, I’ve always managed to prioritize work over spending all day as a mom. A big part of this is because I had to — work is work. The bills keep coming. I get a lot of satisfaction out of writing books and developing projects.

But the other part of it was that I wasn’t sure I had it in me to be a full-time mom. Is that bad to admit that? I was always afraid of losing my patience, running out of stuff to do, hanging around the house all day with nothing much going on with the omnipresent hum of Dora The Explorer in the background. I’m a very structured person and don’t really do well with unadulterated hang time, and I assumed that’s what being a full time mom would entail, at least some of the time.

Having a second child really changed things for me. Suddenly it hit me like a ton of bricks: Of course I want to stay home and be a full-time mom! DUH! Who wouldn’t want to stay home at least for a little while with their kids while they’re still very young? My kids are only going to think I’m the coolest person in the room for a very small sliver of time and I have to take advantage of this opportunity. Because in four, five, six, seven years? I’m going to be perceived as the biggest tool on the block. June is going to want very little to do with me….except maybe fold her laundry, fetch her snacks and buy her cute sneakers so I gotta cement myself as Cool Mom while I can.

I’m half kidding here but it is true: It’s such a short amount of time kids want to be with their parents. And I — being the quasi employed professional that I am — have the luxury to spend time with my children.

I’m one of those women who doesn’t believe in giving women guilt about their choices. If a woman has to work or wants to work or — and lets just say it — really doesn’t have it in her to spend all day every day as a full time mom, fine, she should never think she has to apologize for her choices (you don’t see men crying into their lunch boxes about this stuff so why should women? Equality for all, right?). My motto is, you do what you have to do to get by and it doesn’t help the conversation to have regrets about your chosen pursuit, whether you stay home or keep working.  I like to think that we’ve transcended beyond the so-called “Mommy Wars,” but I suppose I’m just hopelessly naive. But something’s gotta give either way: If you work, you miss time with your kids. If you stay home, you miss out on work. Or you do like the majority of American parents and you do both — work and parent. But the thing I’ve found with being a working parent is that it’s actually kind of stressful to straddle both worlds. Because you’re constantly having to shift gears, going from “kid time,” which is slow and meandering and can sometimes feel like being trapped in a circus fun house, requiring the patience of a levitating Tibetan monk (and I mean that in the best way possible, ha! ha!) to “work time,” where you’re constantly having to rush, rush, rush, go, go, go, be efficient, say something clever, get to work on time, look professional, wipe the spit up off your tie while pretending you know what’s going on. It’s SO MUCH easier to remain in the one gear instead of having to shift gears a thousand times a day. This is why so many working parents are harried. They never know which gear they’re in.

I fully understand I’m in an enviable position — I GET to stay home with my kids this summer where for so many parents that’s not even an option…that’s a pipe dream. So I’m going to enjoy it. Every last minute of it. Even though I’ll probably lose my patience at least twenty times a day. But that’s parenthood, right?

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Time for an exciting stair runner update

by Jessie K on June 13, 2014

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt’s been several months since we installed our Dash & Albert stair runner and I thought it’s a good time to let readers know how the carpet is holding up.

Since we spend a  spend a lot of time outdoors, we ended up going with polypropylene indoor/outdoor rug, which is scrubbable, bleachable and can stand up to all kinds of dirt. For two-thirds of the year, we’re a shoes-off household — Jake tracks in too much dirt — but  that rule goes out the window in the warmer months when June is going in and out of the house fifty times a day. So the stairs receive a lot of traffic, many times without shoes, but these days, with shoes on. 

I’ll start with the good news. I get a lot of comments about my stair runner. Guests love it. I’m super glad I went with such a bold graphic choice. I don’t regret that for a second.

Now the not so great news. I’ve noticed some pilling in certain areas of the carpet! I don’t know if pilling is the right word….what do you call it when fibers start to come loose from the weave?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt’s not much but it’s enough for me — admittedly, a very anal retentive stair runner aficionado….but can you blame me considering the hassle we went through installing this sucker? — to notice, and I have to say, I’m a wee concerned about it.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI pretty sure it’s our dog Solha’s claws that’s causing some of fibers to come loose. She traipses up and down the stairs about as often as we do and her claws aren’t exactly French manicured.

It’s not a big deal now, but what is the carpet going to look like in five years? Guess another hellacious stair runner install is in our future! But, hey, I’ll probably be ready for another major decor change then anyway, if not sooner.

If I’d have any advice for readers, it’s this: The weave of the stair runner is really important especially if you have pets! I wish now we would have gone with a regular bedroom carpet type of stair runner…a weave a dog’s claws can’t pull on. But those type of weaves don’t come in super pretty prints, colors and designs like those you find from Dash & Albert (if I’m wrong, please let me know). It’s more like corporate carpeting from the 80s in a delightful mauve palate. But, hey, at least it lasts.

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Pick an allergy, any allergy

by Jessie K on June 11, 2014

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The other day June was sitting at the breakfast table eating cereal when she said, “Mom, I want to be allergic. What can I be allergic to?”

Continue reading here.

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Making do with trash furniture

by Jessie K on June 5, 2014

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhat do you do with trash furniture? It’s a question I keep asking myself as I slowly attempt to makeover my house. Take this little metal side table. I literally found a pair of them in my backyard, remnants from the previous owners that they forgot to take with them when they moved out. They’re not the greatest tables, nor are they terrifying either, so I opted to make do with them rather than spend time and money looking for “better” ones.  I spray painted the suckers, in other words. That blah flesh color had to go.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI opted to spray paint them a bright, cheerful green — I want the front porch to look as warm and welcoming as possible — but right before I started, I got a wild hair to paint stripes on them. I figured, it’s a trash table…if it looks terrible, I can always paint them again.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI covered both the tops in Frog Tape….then peeled off every other strip to make stripes.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI borrowed one of Jake’s levels to make sure my tape stripes were more or less straight.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThen I used an X-acto knife to make sure the ends of the tape neatly tucked into the edges of the table. I didn’t want a raggy look.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI spray painted the bottom first, making sure to mask off the underside of the glass.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI spray painted on about two coats. Once the bottom was completely dry, I flipped it over and spray painted the tops, giving it two or three coats. The whole process took several hours.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALooks decent, right? I was really happy how it came out. The spray paint went on really nice and smooth with no globbiness.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe’ve been using the tables out on the front porch for several weeks now and while I like them, I think I’ve decided the bold, graphic stripes don’t really work with the wicker. It’s a clashing of two worlds — like Addidas having tea with a frilly Victorian boot. But I can’t justify throwing out the wicker either because it’s still perfectly functional. It was handed down to us by Jake’s Grandmom several years ago. See? It goes back to my trash furniture dilemma — do you toss it and spend money on newer, better stuff that’s more to your taste or keep using it and maybe try to restyle it to give it a fresh look?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThankfully, the wicker is on it’s last legs. We’ve recently noticed the seat part of the loveseat is separating from the back. And I’m definitely not going to spend money to have it fixed. Oh well! Looks like I have no choice but to get new patio furniture one of these days. Gee, that really stinks ;).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABut my frugal nature requires me to keep using it until the love seat breaks or the end of summer, whichever comes first, when hopefully I can score a more modern furniture set on clearance sale. Mama loves a bargain.

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Poultry season

by Jessie K on June 2, 2014

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe have another batch of broiler chickens under way.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd every single one of them is already pre-sold. I guess this means we’ve arrived in A-list chicken world. Or something like that. (And we only raise 60 at a time so there’s that.)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn another month or so, they’ll be big enough for slaughter. Sounds harsh, but that’s what it is.

We keep them in these heavy, homemade sleds Jake pulls onto fresh ground a couple of times a day, allowing the birds access to fresh pasture while keeping predators out. Those white things on top are sealed buckets of water that feed into the chicks’ troughs.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe’ve been raising broilers this way for about five years now and so far, we haven’t had any problems. Other than the sleds being too heavy for me to pull across the grass, that is! And I love that June gets to see livestock every single day.

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