Friday, December 9, 2011

Unexpected Visitors

Sunday morning the Terrible Terrier woke us up wanting to go outside.  Mr. Backwoods opened the front door to let him out and noticed horses in my Dad's yard.  My Dad doesn't own any horses.  Apparently the semi wild ones that normally stay on top of a nearby mountain/ reclaimed strip mine had wandered down in search of green plants to munch, and possible warmer, less windy areas to hang out. 

The Mister let Terrible back inside and 10 minutes later he was barking at the front window again.   I opened the front door to this:

They didn't seem too terribly concerned about the Terrible Terrier.  (Say that 5 times fast.)  He barked and jumped, but they just sort of looked at him, like "What?"  So I wouldn't recommend using a Yorkie for any sort of herding.  Unless you are herding really small plush squeaky things.

Some of the horses that hang out on top of the mountain are so tame they will walk right up to you, even to the point of being pests.  We've had to shoo them away before when I've been trying to take people photos and they kept getting in the way.  I think people must feed them frequently.  These were a bit more shy.  I slipped on some shoes to go out and get closer shots, but I spooked them.

Late last night Babe Jr looked out the window and saw them in Dad's yard again.  Its kind of cool to have them wander in, but I'm afraid we may have an excess of unwanted fertilizer by spring. 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Waiting for the Bus

Babe Jr's cheer schedule has slowed down now that the competition is over.  That means less practice and that she's riding the bus home more often.  The Terrible Terrier has figured this out.

On Thursday he was outside when it came up our road.  Instead of barking at it like he does most vehicles, he sat down and calmly watched as it turned around in our driveway.  When the door opened and Babe Jr stepped out, that little tail started wagging like crazy.  Then as the bus pulled out and rambled back down the road, he turned away from it, watching for Babe Jr to come up the driveway and around the house.   It was so sweet.  Friday, I had my camera handy as he looked out the storm door again awaiting her return from school.
In March she will be 12 and he'll be 8.  I'm sure she's tormented him over the years with the dressing up and the hair bows and all the crazy games he's been subjected to.  But its obvious he he loves her.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Creative Holiday Problem Solving

My mother in law asked me to come over last Saturday and decorate her Christmas tree.  After I got hers up I was really in the mood to go ahead and get some of our decor out, even though I usually wait until the weekend after Thanksgiving.  The problem at the time was that our Christmas tree was too big for our current living room.  Unless I bought a really inexpensive one, a new tree is out of the budget right now.  I'd rather wait until after Christmas too see if I can find a good deal on a nice one, or wait to buy a new one next year when I've had time to set aside some extra funds.  A friend of mine offered one that no one in their family wanted that had belonged to a relative who had passed away.  First problem solved.

I picked up the tree 2 days ago.  Its fiber optic, so there's a halogen bulb in the base and a little wheel on a motor to which you attach transparent discs.  The light shines through the disc allowing the colors in the fibers fade and change.  There were extra discs, one which was clear with only black parts.  I realized this meant I could convert it from multicolor to only white lights, which made me really excited.  I prefer white because it allows your decorations to show and take center stage.  The borrowed tree was lesser enough in size that I could pick through my Christmas decor and use items in only colors that match my home decor.  I found a huge spool of chocolate brown ribbon with sparkly turquoise threads running through it that I had bought probably 4 years ago and forgot about.  I spent hours artfully looping the ribbon and attaching it to the tree with floral wire.  I sorted all of glass ornaments down to only shades of green, blue, and brown.  I spent an unnecessary amount of time deciding exactly where to place birds and flowers.

Once I was finally satisfied that all the ornaments were placed just so, it looked lovely... for about 2 hours.  I noticed the fibers were no longer glowing and asked Babe Jr and Mr Backwoods if either of them had unplugged it.  They both said no.  Babe Jr checked and it was still plugged into the outlet.  At first I was concerned that covering the base with a tree skirt had overheated it.  I checked the label on the base followed instructions to let it cool, hit the reset button and plugged it back in.  Nothing happened.  There was a spare bulb in the box, the old one didn't look blown, but I figured it was worth a shot so I replaced it anyway.

Still nothing.  I realized even the motor for the color wheel wasn't working so we gently lifted the tree off the base, slid it out and opened it up.  Mr. Backwoods tinkered a bit and we decided the tree had already been used many years and had finally worn out or there's a short somewhere that we can't fix.  We put it back together and I had Babe Jr squeeze in next to the tree to hold the base while I placed the tree back in it.  We got ready for bed and I crossed my fingers hoping that after it sat overnight it might miraculously start back up again in the morning.

Of course when we got up the next day it was still dead.  But then I realized that the light Mr. Backwoods wears on his hard hat underground is the same size as the bulb that goes in the tree.  And luckily, he has an extra since he upgraded to a lighter version that doesn't require an attached battery pack.

He gave the OK to use his spare for the tree.

I just have to remember to charge the light when I'm not using it for the tree.  The tree skirt easily covers up the cord and battery.  The lights won't twinkle or fade in and out without the wheel, but at least they glow.  And I don't have to completely disassemble the tree and start over. 

Another problem solved.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Fall Photos

We've been really busy lately with school sports and other functions, which is why I've been scarce around here.  So I haven't had time to work on any fun projects.  I did, however, make time yesterday to go outside and take  a few pics before all the leaves completely die and fall off.

I got up that morning, well it was actually more like afternoon, but it was a beautiful day.  So I went outside with the dog to have a cup of coffee on the swing.

He wanted to explore.  I decided to grab my camera.

One of the benefits to living out in the middle of nowhere is there really aren't any neighbors to see you wandering around outside with your camera in pajamas and a pair of lime green crocs.  This guy didn't seem to mind my extremely casual attire.

I'm glad I took advantage of what may have been my last chance of the season to capture some of these lovely colors.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Bed is Made

Its finally finished and in place in Babe Jr's bedroom.

I used 2 coats of primer and one coat of semi-gloss of trim paint to make sure none of the knots showed through.  After the the first coat of primer I also used some paint-able caulk to fill cracks and disguise some of the nails.  It took forever.  I had the units propped up in my kitchen and could only work on one side at a time, then had to wait wait until it dried to flip it over to work on the other.  But its finally done and I have my kitchen back!

We already had the bins on hand and they conveniently fit the cubbies perfectly.  Only one of them actually has stuff in in right now because they were stacked together under Babe Jr's desk previously.  I actually bought them several years ago to use for her Easter basket; they've served many storage purposes over the years.  We have some reorganizing to do now.  The cubbies on the wall side of the bed can be used to store things that won't be needed very often, like off season clothes.  Both sides are finished and trimmed out the same way, so the bed could be placed in the center of a room with bins in all 6 cubbies. 

I didn't trim out the section at the head of the bed like I did the foot due to the layout of Babe Jr's room.  We're planning to do a headboard eventually, probably something upholstered.  But if you trim that end you can center the bed lengthwise on the wall like a traditional day bed.  This is really a versatile design, and even though it was time consuming for me since I could only work on it in spurts, it was fairly simple to construct.  Here's the link again for plans.  Ana White Daybed

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Bed Update

I finally finished most of the sanding and started priming tonight.  I used up the last of a can of primer I had and now I need to buy some more.  This is going to take forever.

This section will be the foot of the bed.

I knew the raw wood would suck up a lot of paint, but I may need more than one coat of primer or multiple coats of trim paint once its primed.  There are also a few holes and cracks that need filled that I didn't notice before it was all white.  I'm not sure if I should use wood filler and then prime those spots again, or buy white caulk of some kind.

I've also been looking at baskets and bins to go in the cubbies.  I don't think a natural or stained basket would match in Babe Jr's room.  I've been trying to find something black.  Maybe like this:

 or this:
 or this:
 Images from

She has some plastic bins in her room currently that fit, but they are orange, pink and green.  They match for now, but she's already sick of her current comforter set, so I foresee a color scheme change in the near future.  But, based on how long it looks like its going to take to get all 3 units painted, we've got plenty of time to think about it.

Monday, October 3, 2011


Yesterday we threw a bridal shower for my friend who's getting married in 2 weeks.  I decided to make cupcakes.  Approximately 72 of them.

 Yellow cake with Chocolate Butter-Cream.

 My personal favorite, Dark Chocolate cake with Peanut Butter Butter-Cream.  I love that Reese's make mini peanut butter cups now, they look so cute on top.

And in honor of fall, and because the bride loves pumpkin, Pumpkin Spice cake with Cream Cheese Butter-Cream.

They were a pretty big success.  The Pumpkin Cream Cheese seemed to be  a crowd favorite.  I bet I gained 5 lbs from licking beaters, spoons, and mixing bowls - after I was done using them of course.  Mr. Backwoods nearly had an aneurism because I wouldn't let him eat lots of them.  He was, however, quite pleased when I brought home leftovers.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Building a daybed - halfway there

A few months back I saw this Ana White Plan for a storage daybed.

Photo from

I decided I wanted to try to build it for Babe Jr. as opposed to buying one. The bed she previously used was a platform, which I handed down to my niece, so we did not have a box spring for her mattress. I checked prices on a cheap frame and box spring in our area, and I couldn't have purchased those alone for less than the cost of my materials. 2 weeks ago I finally bought the lumber and got started.  So far I have about 80.00 invested. I already had tools, sandpaper and wood filler, so those didn't need to be purchased. I may have to buy a can of primer, but even so this is looking like its going to be a really smart project financially.

For Ana White's more popular projects, she provides a cut list and layout for how to get the most use out of your  lumber.  I sketched those out and had them cut the plywood sheets for me at Lowe's.  There are pros and cons to this.  The positive, I didn't have to do it and then I was able to fit the plywood in my car.  This meant I didn't have to take Mr. Backwoods truck and worry about the wood getting wet if it started raining on the way home.  The negative, they do not practice what I would call "precision cutting" at Lowe's.   I'm not going to go into huge detail about the issues this caused, or how I built it, because the tutorial on Ana's site is awesome and tons of other DIYers have already shared their experiences there as well.

Here's where we are currently.

I put the plywood boxes almost totally together the first day.  I had bought screws that were too short and didn't have enough longer ones on hand at home.  A few days later I got a handful from a friend that he had leftover from a project.  I finished the boxes an evening after that.  Then the following weekend we got the trim on - I had Mr. Backwoods help since I had never used a miter saw.  Now I'm in the midst of sanding and wood filling stages.  The lack of a garage or covered area outside is really slowing this process down.  I can't do a lot of sanding at once because of the mess it makes, and these things are too heavy for me to carry, so carting them in and out of the house frequently is not an option.  Also, wood filler takes time to dry, then it shrinks, so you have to sand and apply more in some areas.  My living room has had these sitting behind the couch in various stages for a while, and I've probably got at least another week before I'll get them to the paint/prime stage.

I'm thinking I'll probably wait a while to paint them.  I need to touch up Babe Jr's dresser and we have a desk that was given to her that needs something done.  My next 3 weekends are full of wedding and pre-wedding activities for our best couple friends' upcoming nuptials.  So, Babe Jr may just be stuck with mismatched furniture until Spring.  Or, rather than tackling it all in one nice weekend outside, I might try to work inside on one piece at a time throughout the winter.  It all depends on how ambitious/bored I get.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Make your own decorative letters

I had been wanting some stuff to put on the ledge created by my kitchen cabinets.  I came across a blog where the blogger had the word "EAT" sitting on top of hers and I thought it was really cute.  I tried to find the source, but since I originally saw this last Spring and didn't pin it or save it in my favorites, my search was fruitless.  Anyway, I really liked the idea of decorative letters over the cabinets rather than the typical baskets or platters, but I couldn't find them in any of our local stores.  One of the downfalls to living in the backwoods is limited shopping options.  Walmart had some wooden letters, but they were a childish font and not as large as I wanted.  Then I ran across this tutorial on Pinterest.  It was meant to make pinatas, but I figured I could make it work.  I gathered some old boxes and got started. 

Disclaimer:  Due to the length of time this project took, photos were taken at different times of day so the lighting and white balance are wonky.

I sketched out the letters on cardboard, using a ruler to make sure they were even and all the same size.  I cut out 2 of each, for front and back.  Then I cut strips for the sides.

I used packing tape to attach the strips to one side of the letter.

I  used the hot glue gun to attach the other side, then secure the taped side a bit better.

The corrugated cardboard left rough ugly edges, so I decided to paper mache the letters to smooth everything out.  Babe Jr helped, this was messy and took several coats, but it was fun.

If you look closely, you can see we used old math homework and study guides for the paper mache.  Who gets a newspaper anymore?  Once it was completely dry, I painted them black.

Here they are on top of my cabinet.  I obviously need more accessories up there and they hadn't been propped up well yet, but I'm happy with how they turned out.  I still haven't got this staged so that I'm satisfied, but I'm getting there.

Monday, September 19, 2011

New Lens!!

I finally got another lens for my camera.   A few months ago I did a maternity shoot for a friend and then the subsequent newborn photos.  My friends were really happy with them, so in exchange for doing more shoots for them, they are helping me acquire a bit of new equipment.  It works out great for everybody because they are getting pics they love and the benefit of the equipment, and I'm getting the equipment and have willing subjects to practice using it.  My first request was the 50mm 1.8. 

This was the first shot I snapped.  It's the side view mirror of my car.  I know, my car needs washed, sue me.  Its not the most interesting thing in the world, but I was waiting for Babe Jr to get out of cheer practice when I opened the package.  One of main reasons I wanted this lens is because it allows for a larger aperture which creates this great creamy blurred background.  I can take a portrait almost anywhere, as long as I'm far enough from anything in the background, and get this effect.

Here's another.  No, I don't smoke, but I did have a lighter in the console.  It's perched on my armrest here and you can't even make out all the bags piled in the passenger seat.  This lens also takes really crisp clear photos.  I can't wait to do some portraits and get some nice eyelash shots.

apothecary jar

And here's a shot of my new apothecary jar I just bought from Homegoods.  I took this one once I got home and didn't even try to straighten the kitchen.  You can't really tell that there are power tools on the counter in the background.  Of course I'm in the middle of another project.  By the way, the runner and place mats are also from Homegoods - I love that place.  I picked up the moss rocks from Dollar Tree a few months back with no real plan for them, I just liked them and they were only 1.00 per bag.

The Middle School homecoming is tomorrow.  Babe Jr's first school dance is right after the game and its semi-formal so she's pumped.  Hopefully she'll cooperate for some photos.  She told me tonight she didn't want to spend money on the ones they take at school since I can just do it, so that's a good sign.  Fingers crossed that there's decent lighting somewhere because the dance doesn't start until 9:30.

Maybe after the dance things will slow down in the Backwoods household and I can get a project post done.  I have photos from a few I've already done but I'm not totally satisfied with them and I made a new wreath that my friend would like to have a copy, so I need do that document the process.  Yes, I just blatantly left you with a teaser so you'll check back, haha.  :)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

A Touch of Sun

My entry for this week's photo challenge on

Summer Recap

Since I was missing in action all summer, I bring you a quick recap.

My niece came to stay for a week. 

We had blackberries and raspberries growing everywhere.  The girls helped pick them.  I attempted a few times to make cobbler.

I went out a few times and got some nice nature shots.  Until I saw a huge rattlesnake, then I didn't go poking around in the weeds anymore.

This is the Drake.  My Dad calls him the luckiest dog in the world.

He was a stray my sister picked up on the side of the road.

Now she has gone away to college but he still sleeps on the porch and gets to run all over the property between their house and ours.  He also has their Jack Russel and my brother's coon dogs to hang out with.  The Terrible Terrier doesn't care much for him though.

Babe Jr. made the middle school cheer squad and went to camp, but I can't post pics of other peoples kids online, so you'll have to use your imagination there.

I've been helping a friend plan her wedding and bridal shower.  I'm sure I'll have a future post about both as the shower is in 2 weeks and the wedding is a month away.

And finally, another shot of the wild horses at the top of the mountain.

I'm back!!

I didn't give up on blogging, my computer just broke down. The trusty old laptop had been through a lot these past few years and finally choked out the near the beginning of summer. Since we had sunk all our savings into our new house and the setting up of said new house, I had to wait a while to allocate funds for replacement. Now I'm officially back up and running. Here's a few cool photos from this summer just so my come back post isn't totally boring.

This is Babe Jr with a sparkler.  I shot this using a long shutter speed and a tripod in case your wondering how I did it. It was a lot of fun taking these but you have to keep really tight patterns to make out the shape.  Only a few of them I took are obvious, its best to keep with something simple.

And here's a nice shot of Mr. Backwoods in his natural habitat.  This was taken the same day as my new header pic.  I'd begged him for a few weeks to get me back up to the top of the mountain in the evening so I could get some sunset pics.

And speaking of the new header, you may have noticed my little remodel.  I decided it would be more logical to have my blog title actually match the web address.  My posts have gravitated more towards projects I've done (which are often things I've made because I can't find them in stores in our super small town) or anecdotes about living in the backwoods, moving away from philosophical ramblings.  So the new title just made more sense all together.

I documented a few of my projects over the summer and still have tons of them in the works, so more crafty stuff will be coming soon.  And if you're reading this, thanks for not giving up on me.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Easy Improvised Roman Shade

As promised, here are the directions of how I made the shade in my kitchen.  I ran across this Centsational Girl Tutorial a few weeks ago and decided that was the look I wanted.  She does a much more professional job than me, using a black out lining and a real sewing machine.  I chose to wing it.

While trying to choose the fabric for this shade, I noticed there was only 3/4 yard of this mixer fabric left in stock, so I went on and ordered it.  I thought it was really cute, so even if I didn't make the curtain, I would find a use for it.  The first thing I did was lay it out and cut it the width I wanted it to be plus 3 inches.  Normally you would add 4, 2 inches for seam allowance on each side, but I was going to work with the selvage edge and only turn under once on that side.   Because it was a remnant, I didn't trim any length off other than to square up the cut.

Then I trimmed off the corners.  This makes them much neater when you fold the seams under becuase there is less fabric to bunch.

Then I broke out the iron.  Well, my Step-mom's iron.  I still haven't found mine through unpacking, but her's is much nicer.  When you press the little steam burst button, steam actually came out!  Mine works like a really dangerous super hot squirt gun.  Anyway, you iron it all flat, then fold over one side and iron a nice crease.  I started on the selvage edge since that one was the straightest.  Then I measured and cut the amount of seam tape I would need.

The cats are my ironing board cover, not fabric for an oddly themed feline room or anything.  It came that way.  Once I had the piece of seaming tape cut, I carefully placed it under the fold making sure it was completely covered.  This is important, if you iron directly over seaming tape it gunks up the iron and makes your Step-mom really mad, or ruins a dress shirt later unexpectedly.  I leaned this lesson with a shirt early on, so my Step-mom was happy when I returned her iron.  Anywho, its vital that you use the steam setting.  If the the seam tape doesn't get that moisture it won't adhere properly.  I once even improvised by placing a damp wash cloth between my iron and the project fabric when my steam setting wasn't working.  For the opposite non-selvage edge, I folded under and pressed, then folded under and pressed again before using the seaming tape so the raw edge would be turned under.  Once I started the top and bottom seams I made sure to be careful to line the corners up nicely while folding and pressing.  This is where the earlier trimming pays off.

Once all four corners are done, how you finish the top depends on how you are hanging the shade.  I already had a curtain rod in place, so I made a rod pocket.  I used the same process as making the seams, I just folded under about 2 more inches to make room for the rod and placed the seam tape right at the edge of that fold.  Often, the fabric is just stapled to a piece of wood then mounted above the window, so nothing additional is necessary.

Now I was ready to add the ribbon.  I didn't actually cut it until I had it completely attached, I just rolled along the spool as I ironed.

I measured 2 inches from the edge and stuck a few stick pins in right through to my ironing board to hold the ribbon in place.   I started on the top edge leaving an inch or 2 or ribbon hanging over so I could turn it under and attach nicely on the back.  I measured out 2 equal pieces of seam tape and had to sort of overlap them so they would stick out under the ribbon.  I had put pins on both sides of where the ribbon would sit, so that helped corral the seam tape into place.  Then I just ironed it on the same way I did the seams.  Once I got near the edge, I made sure to stop so that I would have a nice 2 inch border on the bottom as well, and carefully folded and pressed the ribbon into a nice corner and used a few small pieces of seam tape to stick it in place properly.  Then I used the same process across the bottom, carefully folded and pressed the other corner, and ran the ribbon right back up the other side to the top.  I should have taken more photos of this process, but I couldn't hold the iron, pins, ribbon, seam tape, and my camera.  Once I had the ribbon secured to the front, I trimmed it off the spool leaving and inch or so extra at the top, pressed both ends down, and attached them to the back of the shade.

Now its time to make your pleats.  This was pretty easy.  You could get really mathy and decide how many pleats you want then divide the total length by the size of the pleat plus and inch for the fold, but I just sort of laid it out and folded until it looked pretty good, then checked quickly with my little ruler to make sure they were roughly the same size between folds.  Then you press it all nicely.

DIY easy no sew roman shade

Now comes the only bit of real sewing I did.  I hand stitched the edge where the folds are so that it would stay folded.  I hadn't planned to place anything in it to weight it down, but it wanted to hang kind of funny without it.  Centsational girl used narrow wooden dowels.  I didn't have any of those, but the finish guy from the mobile home company left lots of extra paneling trim in case we might need it.  Its so thin I was able to cut it with scissors or snap it in half easily, so it worked perfect.  There are 2 pieces laying right on the little pockets the folds make in the back.  Since I hadn't lined it, it still sagged a little in the middle, so I put one or 2 small stitches in the middle of the shade right above each piece of paneling trim.

DIY easy no sew roman shade

Ta Daa!!  All done in about an hour without a sewing machine in sight.  Easy peasy.