Sunday, October 30, 2011

Halloween--of course!

I love seeing all the pumpkin carving and costume posts popping up all over blog world. We're definitely going to jump on this bandwagon!

With all the craziness of building a house and holding two jobs and having a son in Kindergarten, it feels like our quality family time is dwindling. This morning when I woke up, I realized it was the first time I'd woke up next to Cody in weeks... he just gets up early with work or building... Consequently, we try to savor every second we get together. We've been doing some fun things to get ready for Halloween and to enjoy the Autumn together.

Today we had a pre-Halloween party with my side of the family. We made yummy Jack o' Lantern pancakes for dinner along with Mummy Fingers, Witches' brew, and... baked omelet... hm. Better think of a better name for that one. Anyway. It was fun. Afterword, we carved pumpkins and then enjoyed our dessert of Ghosts in a Graveyard and made some roasted pumpkin seeds with garlic and smoked paprika. mmm.
Now, I plan to blog stalk for a while and see some of your fun Halloween activities!

Friday, October 28, 2011


Sometimes we all have a bad week.

Our hair looks funny.
Our kid gets in trouble.
We stub our toe.
We get a scratchy throat.
Something comes out totally wrong.
Someone gets mad at you for no good reason.
We run out of chocolate.
There wasn't a new episode of Glee OR CSI.
The furnace doesn't work right.
We can't sleep, even though we're tired.

And for one reason or another, we just can't get out of this bad rut. All we want to do is run away from it all or go cry. Probably both.

Sometimes it just happens.

And that's okay. It is part of being human. We should all make peace with the fact that there are bad weeks out there. I need to make peace with my bad week as well. It will get better, but not if I continue to dwell on the bad things that have happened. They're over now, and they're so menial in the long run.

Alright. Time to shake it off and step up. And maybe go reload my pantry with chocolate. :)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The House: Week 13

This week I traded out my sunscreen, bug spray, cooler, and sunglasses for thermal underwear, extra socks, a thermos of hot soup, and ear muffs.

Name of the game this week: the dry-in. I tried to look up an official definition, and in my twenty-second Google search I didn't find anything. So I'm making up my own. When a house is dried-in, it is, well, dry! That's not to say there aren't still things going on the outside. The items that truly keep the house dry are the roof underlay, the house wrap, and the windows and doors. Siding, soffits, gutters, shingles, all of course do their part, but for all intents and purposes of this blog, when I say "Dry-In" I mean the aforementioned. (Roof underlay, ALL windows and exterior doors, and completed house wrap.)

Cody worked more on windows this week. He's getting very good at making them perfectly level so that they will open and close easily. I learned that when windows are hard to close it's not because of the track: it's because they're not straight. Funny Cody story: Cody, his dad, R.G., and I were putting in windows on House 5. On the last window, they got it caulked with silicone and lifted it to put it in, when they realized it didn't fit in the frame. So they pulled it down and realized that the wall had been framed incorrectly and would need a fix before the window could be installed. Cody then scraped off all the silicone into his hands and RAN from House 5 to our house, which is over a block away and smeared all the silicone onto the next window so that they "wouldn't waste it... It's still good!" silly silly Cody. I just hope there's no dirt or hairs or anything in that silicone... Incidentally, the mis-framed window took a few hours to fix, but it is fine now.

This week I worked more on house wrap and helped Cody with windows. We had other small crews working on roof underlay, "clean up" framing, exterior doors, the trim that goes around the garage door, and probably more things that I forgot.

Another silly story from this week: When we were originally touring the neighborhood, we liked this kind of olive-green siding color, but there's a house across the street from us that has already picked it, so we went with blue. We asked our next-door neighbors (House 2, P) what siding color they picked, and guess what they told us? "We liked that green, but since it's across the street, we went with blue!" I didn't think it would be a huge issue, since the blue is pretty neutral, and we have different floor plans, different stone, etc. But our neighbors thought about it a while and decided to change their siding color. There's a $50 change fee for this kind of thing, and I was going to offer to pay half since it was mostly our fault the P's wanted to change their house color... but when they told our program manager about the situation and how we'd have matching houses next door to each other, he waived the fee. So now we won't be matchers any more, and I think the P's are happier with their choice (at least, I hope they are!).

OK. enough rambling. Where are we now, after 13 weeks of hard work?
House 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 (ours!): DRIED IN!
House 7, 8, 9: House wrap, roof underlay all done. They were still being framed when windows and doors were delivered, so they didn't get theirs delivered yet. Once those get delivered, we'll get right on it.
House 1, 2, 3, 5, 6 (ours!), and 7: Shingles delivered. Subcontractors have been out working on heating and plumbing in several houses, but it's kind of been all over the place. They'd been on vacation for a few weeks, but now we're catching up. We have to have plumbing and heating vents in before we can shingle, since they go through the roof. Once the houses are dried in and the floo and plumbing vents in, they're ready to shingle. So, obviously, we've got to get these houses going! We're hoping to shingle a house in about 2 nights (or 1 Saturday). We have an overall goal to get all the shingling done on all 9 houses, before Thanksgiving. Of course, we won't all be on a roof; we'll have smaller teams doing stone or other jobs while there are people on the roofs.

On to another week!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Monday, October 24, 2011


Something that really brings back memories for me: eating artichokes. When we were kids, on very special and rare occasion, my mom would cook whole (fresh) artichokes. Considering the cost of artichokes, and the youth of us kids, it's no wonder that we would usually share one or two between us kids. We'd savor every bite and the only unhappy words were when someone took even a single petal over their share. And then we'd get down to the tender heart of the artichoke and drool impatiently while mom scraped off the choke and handed us our little forkful that we'd slurp down while wishing there was more. I'll never forget the day we each got our own full artichoke to enjoy ourselves--we felt so grown up and so special and so spoiled!

When I saw artichokes for a dollar apiece at the store, I bought two, thinking that Cody and I would enjoy them and give the kids a few bites to try. HA! They ripped through those artichokes so fast, I had to take a handful of petals to my plate just to have a few.
Even Katie got in on the artichoke fun.
And now, the famous joke:

Arti was a gangbanger trying to work his way up into the mafia. The mob boss gave him a hit list telling him that he'd be payed a thousand bucks a hit, so Arti started following his first victim. They were in the local Safeway grocery store, when the victim rounded a quiet corner and Arti struck, choking him to death. When Arti turned around, he saw the horrified expression of a little old lady dialing 9-1-1 on her phone. Panicking, Arti choked her to death as well just and a second later the police arrived and arrested him. The infuriated mob boss refused Arti's thousand dollars and only paid out one dollar in spite. The newspaper reported the headline the next morning: "Arti chokes two for a dollar at Safeway."


Sunday, October 23, 2011

Halloween Spiders Hairbow Tutorial

Another hairbow tutorial, since the first one was so fun to make. Please let me know via comment if you try out making your own hair bows--even if you don't know me personally, I'd love to hear from you and see if it worked out okay!
Halloween Spiders Hairbow

-1/2 inch thick black ribbon. For some reason, I can never find solid black in my stores, so I'm using this black and white polka-dot with white trim ribbon. I like it, but use what you can find. Hey, you could even do it in a different color. I've seen some mighty cute pink spiders out there!
-3/8 inch thick ribbon to line the clip (red is shown)
-Alligator clips or barrettes, about 55 mm long
-1/16 inch black grosgrain ribbon
-googly eyes
-1 soft red pom-pom, if desired
-hot glue gun and scissors
1) cut three strips of your black ribbon--one long and two shorter. The long one should be about 3" long, the shorter ones about 2 1/2" long. Wrap them around your fingers so you can get a feel for how big the abdomen of your spider will be. If you want it bigger or smaller, by all means, do it!
2) Pin your strips into circles and glue shut.

3) On your large loop, seam-side down, line the inside right edge with glue and press the outside left edge of a smaller loop into it. Seams together, of course; like shown below. Repeat on the other side, so your big loop is in the middle and the smaller loops are on the sides.

4) The head can be a little tricky, so wrap the ribbon around your fingers and play with it until you get the look you like. You can easily do two small loops glued together just like the abdomen, but here's how I usually do my head: Loop your black ribbon over into a circle, but twist the end ever so slightly so it kind of sticks off to one side. Glue shut, like this:

Then bring your next end back around and glue the back of the head. It almost makes a figure 8, but the loops come forward. Like this:

Then cut off the two loops from the spool of ribbon.

5) Attach two googly eyes to the front of the head. The front is, of course, not where the ends of the ribbon meet up.
6) Line your alligator clip or barrette with ribbon. I like to use red with these spiders, but you can really use any color you like. (I didn't put pictures up of lining a barrette. If you want to see how, look at my pumpkin tutorial.)
7) Now, cut four equal length of the skinny black ribbon and seal each end with a small dab of clear finger nail polish (or burn ever so slightly in a candle) to prevent fraying. These pieces should be about 3" long each. Pinch them together, put a dab of glue in the middle of your lined hair clip, and place the middle of the skinny ribbons right in the glue. Legs!

I swear it's red on that clip, even though it looks very orange

8) Now, glue the abdomen on the back of the clip. On an Alligator clip, make sure the back goes over the thick part where you pinch the clip open. You want him to look like he's about to pounce--not like he's looking up into Heaven. :) Barrettes aren't that particular. Then, glue the head to the front. Glue it both to the clip and too the abdomen, so he really looks put together.
9) The "finishing touch?" Glue a fuzzy red pom-pom into the middle of the abdomen for some visual interest.

Our completed spider bow, ready to adorn the head of any sweet unsuspecting baby!

Also, you could instead put these on a pin for a clever little brooch. We love making our own holiday bows because it's so festive. I'd love to hear from you if you try out this tutorial! Good luck, and happy hair days!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Halloween Pumpkin Hairbows Tutorial

After seeing a relatively large amount of traffic to my blog searching "Halloween Hairbows," I thought, "what the hey! I'll give the people what they want!"

How to make a Pumpkin Hairbow:

Materials you'll need:
-Orange, brown, and green ribbon. I like 100% polyester, grosgrain ribbon. I always buy 100% polyester because it is the most versatile, and I will probably use this same ribbon for other projects. You can curl 100% polyester; you can't curl any other type of ribbon. I also like 3/8" thickness for this project.
-Alligator clips or *barettes.
-Hot glue gun and hot glue sticks.
-scissors, of course.

1) Cut the orange ribbon into five strips: one long one (I like about 2 1/2 inches), two medium (about 2 1/4 inches), and two short ones (about 2 inches).
2) Wrap each orange strip into a circle and glue shut, so it is just a plain loop.

3) Make a cross-over loop with the brown ribbon and pull it quite tight. Glue to keep shut. It should be quite small: this is your stem.

4) cut a green piece with diagonal ends, fold in half, and glue to stay put. This is your leaves.

5) Now, attach all your orange loops together. On one edge of the inside of the largest orange loop, put a line of hot glue. Make sure your glue goes over the seam of your loop, since that will be the back of the bow. Line up one of your medium loops and press the outer edge in, so that they kind of telescope together, seams together. Like this.
6) Repeat the same process for all the loops. Make sure your middle loop is the big one by putting the medium loops on either side of the large loop, and then the smallest loops on the outer ends. In the end, it will look like this.
7) On the back of the orange pumpkin, put a bead of glue and attach the brown stem, poking up on the side you want the top. Then adhere the green leaves in the same manner. I kind of did it backwards when I was making this tutorial... obviously it doesn't make a huge difference, but I would have liked the leaves on the back more.

8) Line your alligator clip with ribbon. I chose brown, but you could use any color that matches your bow. I like to do this by first clipping the alligator clip to the end of the ribbon, and then putting hot glue on top. Since my clips have a hollow center, the glue pushes down to the bottom and keeps it together, but prevents me from making a massive mess or burning myself while I'm gluing.
9) Trim off any excess ribbon and try to clean up any hot glue webs or dribbles. If desired, paint any raw edges of ribbon with a dab of clear nail polish to prevent fraying. (Some people like to use a candle or a heat gun for this... I'm afraid of hot stuff, so I like the nail polish method.)
10) Finally, glue the back of the orange pumpkin--if you've done it right, it will be a row of seams--to the clip and enjoy.

One more look at the final product:

*Note: if you're using barrettes, you will do it the same way. Just line your barrette with ribbon first instead of a alligator clip. I have two girls, a 3 year old and a 7 month old. My baby gets alligator clips because I can easily slip them on to head bands. My 3 year old gets barrettes because they stay in her hair very nicely, especially over piggy tails.

Friday, October 21, 2011

The House: 12 weeks and rolling

This week has been one of the funnest (for me, at least) of the whole build thus far. We finished the ninth house with the framing, and so we have all moved on to new jobs. We have two guys assigned to putting on roof underlay/tar paper, three guys (including Cody) assigned to windows, two on doors, two continuing on "clean up" (keep reading for that) and all the girls have been working on Tyvek house wrap. It is a blast to work with different people, and to see lots of progress done each day. Because each of these jobs only take a few hours per house, we're moving around a lot more than we were while we were framing. It is really refreshing to see stuff get done each day. Like I said, FUN!

At our house, we completed our "clean up." And by clean up, I don't mean just sweeping the floor. I mean cleaning up the last few framing jobs before plumbing, electrical, and eventually sheetrock.

First, we take these metal brackets called truss anchors and put them on every other truss, but it is staggered between front and back of the house... weird to explain. Impossible to take a picture of. If you want to know more, come visit. :D The anchors are the diamond-shaped metal brackets shown.

One option we have is to use extra wood to put additional stud backing anywhere in the house. We put some behind where doors will open, to reinforce where the doorknob hits the wall and hopefully prevent holes; also we put some above every window where curtains go, behind towel racks and behind were we hope to hang TVs. Since these are not part of the floor plan, we had to come in on extra hours and do it ourselves. Of course we were perfectly willing to do that!
Another little "clean up" job was the blocking on the ceiling. Anywhere a wall ran parallel to the roof trusses, they needed extra blocks of wood to sheetrock. So those had to be measured and placed every two feet, like this:
Not pictured: another wall in the basement had to be framed. We skipped that wall in the original framing because we wanted to get the roofs on before the snow came. There was also some fire blocking put into the load bearing wall, and then a good sweeping with a push broom and one last check to make sure everything is done. We are ready for our plumbing and hope it comes soon.

Also done on our house: Roof underlay! We have two types of paper that goes on the roof, and certain areas need a double layer. No rain seepage for us. Nope nope nope.

And lastly, we had some people put on the Tyvek House wrap (I suppose I shouldn't call it Tyvek... the brand is "Code Wrap"), and we even had some of our doors put in. In this picture, we have 2 guys working on the back French door, and 5 girls working on house wrap. Cody said more doors got in besides just that one, but it was dark so he didn't take a picture.
So... after all that, here's where each house is standing at the end of 12 weeks building:

House 1, 2, 3: Roof underlay, House wrap completed, all windows and exterior doors are in. These houses are now water tight!
House 4: subcontractors did plumbing. House wrap almost done, roof underlay done, exterior doors on, starting windows.
House 5: House wrap almost on, but no roof underlay quite yet. Exterior doors on.
House 6 (ours!): "Clean up" finished, house wrap almost all done, roof underlay done, most of the exterior doors on.
House 7: Roof underlay on, house wrap started, working on "clean up" there.
House 8: No change from last week (all framed, roof on, waiting for inspections to be done)
House 9: Finished framing, subcontractors put on the roof trusses and sheathing.

One random tidbit: I'm the secretary for our group, which means I calculate the hours everyone is putting in and submit them to the corporation every week. Sum total man hours put in by our group, through the whole 12 week build so far: 4548.25. We're over 1100 hours above the minimum required.

Finally, want to know the best way to motivate a bunch of people to do construction? FOOD! :)

Monday, October 17, 2011

I *heart* my kids

Once again, I tried to take pictures of the kids. And once again, the vast, VAST majority turned out like this:

We'd get so close and then one kid would look away or stick out their tongue or something like that. Kind of frustrating, maybe. But very cute in the long run... looking back at it, I wouldn't have it any other way. I love their goofiness, their childhood, their silly faces. I love my kids!