The pitter patter of progress

Look! Just for you I created a fun survey where you can tell me which type of column you'd like to see on our house.(Woo hoo! Lucky you!!)

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey, the world's leading questionnaire tool.

Though I'm not sure this picture says a lot, compare and contrast with this one and see all the work we've done.

Mabel went to Nana's and Paw Paw's so I thought we'd spend the weekend solely working on the columns, getting the project finished. There are, with us at least, certain methods to our DIY madness and sometimes we have to be honest with ourselves about these projects. Money is limited, and it is the facet we most often have to remember.

Despite my hope for a big unveil this morning, we had a budget set aside of less than $80. Most of that ended up going into reciprocating saw blades. We bought a $20 one meant for cutting iron which turned out to be overkill; a $3 blade for thick metal was actually the blade we needed. When you're talking about an $80 project, $23 takes a big cut (no pun intended). It didn't leave us enough to get the wood for the facade of the columns, and we decided to wait to get that wood anyway. For a nominally larger cost, we can get a higher grade board from a local lumber yard rather than from the big box store. A higher grade board will mean less knots and mars, making the finished column smoother and much prettier.

This coming weekend we'll both have paychecks to dole out for the finishing wood and trim, so until then our yard will remain (as one friend deftly put it) one trampoline shy of redneck gold. All of that is to give a glimpse inside how our renovations work: with time, ingenuity, and a little bit of spending money. Oh, and a generous Nana to keep the little one distracted and happy all weekend--essential to success.

It took an entire day to get the iron work down and the 4 x 4 (actually 2 2x4s laminated and screwed together) cores for the new columns up. That "entire workday" happened on Saturday, after I spent 6 hours volunteering at the community garden. My body still hurts.

On Sunday Charlie mended the fence while I built a small retaining wall from some 4 x 4s we had on hand. Having the dogs in the fenced area most of the time, they've created paths where they run laps around the perimeter of the space. That path, even on a gently sloping hill, has created an erosion problem which, in turn, created soil build up around the fence at the bottom of the hill. The soil build up pushed the fence every which way, making it lean and wobble. Once again the fence is perpendicular to the ground and we're already seeing and hearing the pitter patter of progress.

down wind of chemical stench

My lengthy dislike for Scotts MiracleGro products started when I was just getting interested in gardening. Scotts was suing TerraCycle for using green and yellow on their packaging, though I never really believed that was all it was about. Perhaps a small start up company with a great idea for reused packaging and simple organic ingredients was putting a hurting on a major corporation's profits. Whatever it was, Scotts image seemed like the popular football star stuffing a nerdy kid in a locker.

Companies like Scotts promote chemical use in the garden, persistent chemicals that perpetuate reliance for gigantic yields and "weed-free" gardens. They promote the idea that a singular plant (grass) is the only acceptable basis of a beautiful, lush yard. A single variety plant space, such as a weed free lawn, is known as a monocrop, and a monocrop's lack of diversity can create all sorts of issues that need other synthetic products to resolve.

I won't get into the many uses of weeds...well maybe for just a second--some of those weeds might replace your prescription medicine, others could be pulled up and used to make an organic plant food, yet others simply feed the wildlife in your yard. Perhaps if the critters had natural forage they wouldn't go after your tomatoes and you wouldn't need that Scotts brand pesticide after all.

The more I learn about gardening, the more I learn that popular kid in the green and gold uniform had a few unsavory secrets. Enter stage left: Monsanto, wealthy, smooth-talking hip best friend to Scotts. Monsanto's own GMO-tainted politics does nothing to endear me to Scotts. 

To put my feelings into perspective, let's talk about something most people have some level of concern about: the honeybees. We've all heard about the rapid decline of bee populations and what will happen if they keep mysteriously dying. Bees an accessible environmental issue: less bees, less pollination, less productive crops, less food, higher food prices, food get the idea. Scotts sells all sorts of weed killer monocrop the hell out of your yard. Make it all grass, get rid of that nasty clover...that nasty clover that bees find so useful as a source of food. Yeah, food, that little thing that keeps us all alive. Of course, Scotts' BFF Monsanto, the company that sues farmers whose crops have accidentally cross-pollinated with Monsanto GMO crops. The GMO crops that may or may not contribute to the decline of bee populations, certainly contributing to the loss of monarch butterfly populations (another handy insect that pollinates plants).

And then the National Wildlife Federation announced its partnership with Scotts. Frankly I took the news personally. I felt like an old friend went and made out with the dude that used to tease me every day about being flat-chested. Betrayal.

How do you feel about the partnership? Care, don't care, wish I'd saved my breath for some pretty furniture and lovely pictures?

* * *

You Grow Girl and Native Plants and Wildlife Gardens discuss the new partnership on their blogs.

links worthy of collecting

If you're interested but don't know where to start learning about what SOPA/PIPA could mean to you, this is a great article.

La porte rouge makes me want to draw and paint horses in snow.

I guess I'm a little late to the OldBrandNew party, but I'm so glad I made it!

Since we're knee deep in cold and flu season, the Numen site has a beautifully simple site full of herbal remedies and resources for natural approaches to healing. (Thanks so much for the link Shari!)

My Simpler Life's Declutter Calendar makes decluttering your entire house a doable task in tiny little time segments. 

Not a lot to say this morning, the weekend was fun and {as always} too short. We need more play time around our house. But after a weekend of renewed interest in the work we do, I have a brief thought to start your week:

Do what you believe, believe what you do, and maintain a natural curiosity all the while. 

Do you take this approach to life? How so?

the underbelly of the Sneak

I've been getting up at 5 every morning to work on printing orders for shops. I've worked out 3 days this week. I've gone to work my desk job every day and then home to work my real job (mama-ing). Then it's time for laundry, dinner, and any other cleaning I can fit into 2 minute increments.

I'm tired. (Enough with the whining, I know.) We're supposed to take a quick little jaunt to the beach, but that's all up in the air now, thanks to Irene. She seems to want to see the NC coast, too. On a non-related (but far prettier) note, another skirt:

Since I had Fat Roll Friday once before, I thought I'd share the strength part of my Wednesday and Friday workouts this week.  We do a 45 minute work out that consists of a 15 minute warm up, 15 minute skill building and then a 15 minutes of strength building. I'm writing it out because it makes me look tougher than I really am.

Wednesday: 90 sit ups, 160 lunges and 68 25-lb kettle bell push presses in 15 minutes. My bottom hurts, but that's it! A few months ago I would've been immobilized.

Since Wednesday's lunges didn't do me in then today's 11 minute workout of 60 sumo lifts (15 pounds each arm), 120 15 pound kettlebell rows, and 120 side lunges with a 15 pound kettlebell probably will. Yeah, I can hardly move around and today I've already run upstairs and downstairs at work more than I usually do in a whole month.

To distract you from the pain, I present to you some feathery culottes. If for no other reason, simply the word "culottes" should make you smile. Say it with me: CULOTTES!

There you have it. Some pretty, some ugly, just a bit of life from the underbelly of the Sneak!