Team McKinky

Team McKinky

Sunday, February 12, 2012

David's 26th Birthday!

Wow, I just had to ask David to remind me how old we are...why did I keep thinking 25? I guess I just keep losing track now!

This past year for David's birthday, I had a huge surprise for him. He was still commuting to Connecticut during the week, and I managed to convince him to stay up there for one of the weekends (normally, either he would come home or I would go up there). As soon as he left the Sunday night of the weekend before he was staying up there, I immediately went into our mess of a garage and moved everything into the basement. During the week, our friend Thomas came and patched up the ceiling where the plumbers had taken down the sheet rock to re-plumb the house. He patched that up, and I washed down walls and swept the floor area.

That weekend, I had a painting party at the house with some of our good friends. We painted the garage walls and ceiling white, and I painted the back wall of the little nook red (D's favorite color). I had gotten him a nice Husky tool chest...his parents and I got wheels for his car, and his mom got him a carbon fiber bumper. So, once the garage had been cleaned out and painted, I set all of those things out for him.

The following weekend, I managed to keep him out of the garage by telling him I was working on a craft in there that was too big to bring inside, and he couldn't peek (at the last minute, I remembered to tape up the garage door windows!). We had a nice birthday dinner out with friends, and everyone came back to the house for cake & ice cream. Then, everyone crowded in the garage and I let him loose. He was so surprised! He loved his new toys and was so excited and thankful for the paint job (we had been planning on doing it for a while, but were both dreading having to get it done).

The next day, we painted the garage floor. We had to scrub the floor super clean, fill in any cracks, and then roll paint on the floor in sections. We then threw down paint chips in the sections. It is awesome.

My only complaint about it is that because the concrete is sealed, when we park wet cars in there, the floor puddles up (doesn't just soak into the concrete). So in some spots where the floor is uneven (where the tires from our cars have worn down the floor), there are puddles for a couple of days. Of course, the painted floor has certainly come in handy. When we had to repair David's car recently, any oil and coolant spills that landed on the floor were very easily wiped up.

After the paint had cured for about a week, we moved everything back into the garage. We anchored shelving units to the walls, bought plastic tubs for storing various things (painting supplies, baking supplies, canning stuff, beer brewing stuff), hung hooks for our bikes and lawn chairs, and hung up a tool storage thing that our friends JJ and Wayne got for us. And, of course, moved David's drafting table and tool chest into place in the nook. Next on our list: painting and hanging up cabinets in the nook that we got for super cheap at the Habitat Re-Store. And maybe trying to keep tools organized!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

A Very Vermonty Trip (plus NH, ME and MA!)

Back in March, we took a road trip through New a weekend. David was working up in Connecticut for a few months on a big project. So he would either come home on weekends, or I would fly up there to go on a mini adventure. So, I arrived at White Plains airport at about 10:30pm one Friday night (thanks, Delta, for your wonderful flight delays!) and we drove up to Montpelier, Vermont. The drive took a total of about 5 hours, and we made sure to stop at the Welcome Center after we crossed the state line to Vermont. Just about everything was closed, of course, but we were able to find this great sign:

Apparently, they take their syrup very seriously in Vermont! Important side note - David and I tend to get pretty goofy when we are on the road. One of my favorite movies is 'White Christmas.' So we spent the whole trip to and from Vermont either quoting the fabulous line "Vermont must be beautiful this time of year....all that snow!" or singing 'Snow' together - horribly off key and obnoxiously loud. Good times. We got to Montpelier (or, to be more precise, Barre) at about 3:00am, and made our way to the Yellow Farmhouse Inn. It was a beautiful Bed & Breakfast, owned by a very sweet couple, Sandra and Mike, who were originally from Boston.

They cooked an amazing breakfast, and Sandra even passed along her recipe for Cream Scones, which have been a great hit the past few times I have made them! After we had breakfast and packed up, we headed out on the town. Montpelier is the capital of Vermont, but it is tiny!

Our first stop was the Ben & Jerry's factory, just outside of town. We love Ben & Jerry's - not just because they make delicious ice cream, but because they are so eco-friendly (they use local cows for their milk) and have a great sense of humor in addition to being super laid back. They have an ice cream 'Cemetery' for all of their retired or failed ice cream flavors.

After the factory tour (which included a free sample of ice cream, gift shop, and huge ice cream shop), we headed to the Morse Farm Sugarhouse. They didn't have much by way of an official tour, but we walked around and saw the lines from the Maple trees (draining the sap and transporting it from the trees to the sugar house), and then we were educated on the process of making syrup. Apparently it takes quite a bit of sap to make even a small amount of syrup! The sap has a high water percentage (about 98%), and so it has to be boiled off for several hours to evaporate the water. In the gift shop, the Sugarhouse had a row of syrup bottles which are sold commercially, and are not 'true' maple syrup. We had no idea! Mrs. Buttersworth, Log Cabin, Aunt Jemima, Eggo are all 'fake' syrups (they are only 'maple-flavored'). So we were sure to bring a big jug of syrup back with us - and it is DELICIOUS.

Part of my excitement at visiting the Sugarhouse stemmed from my love (okay, obsession) with "Little House in the Big Woods." In Laura Ingalls Wilder's first novel, she describes not only the sugaring season, but also the treat that followed - sugar on snow. I have always wanted to try this (when it snowed last year, I attempted to make it, however it was a flop. I later discovered that since we didn't have pure maple syrup, it just didn't work out). Not only did Morse Farm have sugar on snow, they also had homemade doughnuts and coffee. The sugar on snow was fabulous. As soon as the hot syrup hit the snow, it carmelized. YUM! We also shared a cone of 'maple cream' (ice cream). We had such a great time in Vermont - not only was it fun to explore the different areas, but the scenery was beautiful. Mountains and hills covered in snow.

After our Vermont morning/afternoon, we drove through White Mountain Park in New Hampshire. Again, more beautiful views. We kept seeing signs for Moose, but unfortunately didn't see a single one.

They did have a pretty cool display about the local beavers:

Not long after our drive through the top of New Hampshire, we arrived in Portland, Maine (this was Saturday evening, at this point). Per our friend, Rachel's suggestion, we had dinner at 'J's Oyster.' Since we were in Maine, we had to try the lobster. Neither of us were big lobster fans before having eaten it, and afterwards (although it was delicious), realized it was a little too much work for not much payoff. The oysters were quite good as well.

Our final stop on the trip was Boston. We got in at about 10:00 that night, and checked into our hotel. The hotel shuttle was nice enough to take us to Faneuil Hall, where, at my dad's suggestion, we visited the Black Rose Pub and walked around. We were both so tired at that point though, we did little more than have a drink at the pub and head back to the hotel. The following day, we had until about 2:00pm to run aroud Boston before we had to head back to White Plains to catch my flight.

We had breakfast back at Faneuil Hall, at the Black Rose Pub. I had myself a full Irish breakfast, which was most excellent. I did avoid the white and black puddings, though!

After breakfast, we followed the Freedom Trail through the city to visit the historic sites. The trail was marked off by a red line.

We saw The Boston Common (the country's oldest park), the capitol building, Granary Park Burial Ground (where Paul Revere, John Hancock and Sam Adams are all buried).

And the site of the country's oldest public school, established by Benjamin Franklin:

Unfortunately, we didn't get to complete the trail, but on our way back to the car, we stopped at Regina's Pizza at Faneuil Hall - highly recommended by my dad. It was hard to say which was better - Ray's pizza that we had in New York, or Regina's. Amazing!

On our way out of town, we stopped in the Russian District, and had some great Russian food at Cafe Stoli - potato latky, and Vareniki.

After our Russian experience, we drove back to White Plains so that I could fly home. It was an exhausting weekend, but we had so much fun in the four states we visited! We would love to go back for another visit someday - hopefully for much longer next time!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

We're Back! Maybe. And 'How to Make an Earring Holder'

Well, it's been about a million years since we posted last, but now that I have a laptop, I think we might actually be picking back up on this blog! Don't quote me on that...I am really bad about uploading pictures, so we'll see what happens. Assuming we stay on top of this, we have a plethora of old crafts, improvements and trips to post.
I finally got around to making an earring holder for all of my earrings. I bought an empty frame from Hobby Lobby and some lace. I used my staple gun to first staple the lace to the back of the frame, and then pulled it tighter and stapled the inner part of the back of the frame (where the glass would normally lay).
After completing that, I realized that the white lace looked TERRIBLE with the cream frame. Luckily, I had some 'Antique White' spray paint from an old project. I taped up the frame, and then spray painted the lace to an off-white. It matched perfectly! Even better, I think the coat of paint might have reinforced the lace threads.
Once that dried, I hung the frame up on the wall, and hung my earrings up. They are now up and on display, and easily accessible!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

septic debacle pt. 1 - the problem

one of the biggest issues we've faced at mckinky manor is the septic tank. it failed on us about a month after we moved in, and started backing up into the basement. we hired a company to come out and pump it and see if they could fix it. long story short, we paid $1400 for the to pump it and tell us we'd have to get a permit and do a complete rework of our septic system. awesome.

so we went to get the $250 permit, and they told us to get a $300 soil test. for those of you keeping score at home, at this point we're up to almost $2000 and still haven't started work on the actual solution. to make matters worse, the soil test came back with the equivalent of straight f's on our land's report card. they say that none of our land is any good for septic. why they built here in the first place with no usable soil is another story for another day and doesn't help us out one bit today.

so...the soil test guy gave us a few options to send around to septic contractors to get quotes on. we did so, and the lowest price we got was $11,400. that's before disposal fees, and electrician costs. so, we're looking at 13,350 total. fast forward three months and the gwinnett county environmental health department has denied every single plan our contractors have submitted for one reason or another, so even if we had the time and money to devote to this thing, we'd still be held up by them. to top it all off, they had the audacity to suggest that we get another $300 soil test just in case the ground changed significantly during the 3 months worth of foot dragging and lolly gagging they were doing.

on top of all that, we have major drainage issues in our yard. the soil is constantly soaked because of the heavy rainfall we've had lately, and the water from the entire neighborhood flows to a retention pond adjacent to our property which is fed directly by a creek running along our property line. the pond and creek have overflowed and crept up several feet, which of course, raises the water table in our yard (one of the obstacles to getting work approved.)

drainage issues in our yard...
1.) the beginning of that glorious creek. that pipe is never supposed to have standing water in's about 3 feet deep at this point.

2.) this is supposed to be more or less dry, at most a trickle. notice the trees growing out of the water? ya, they're actually not supposed to be in the water at all.

3.) one of the many sources of groundwater moving (and i use the term lightly...) directly across our property
4.) and here you see the water moving across our driveway. this is after a relatively light rain. it's a few feet wide when it pours, which it has been doing a lot lately.5.) as you can see...

to be continued...(cue tense music)

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A Curtain for the Kitchen

Here was last night's crafting fun! A Roman-style curtain for our one Kitchen window. This project took a little longer than I expected, but the end result didn't turn out too bad. Here are the supplies I needed:

I used red burlap fabric (1 yard, which was more than enough), a white grosgrain ribbon (wide, and an entire spool), my iron and ironing board, scissors, a curtain rod (of the suspension variety, since the window area is a little too tight to hang a real curtain rod), measuring tape, and a roll of Heat N' Bond.
The window is 31 1/2 inches wide, and we didn't need to measure for the full length of the window, since the curtain is decorative, not functional. I figured that I wanted it to go down no more than 12 inches, but because I was doing a Roman-style curtain, I needed to go cut the fabric longer (to compensate for the folds of fabric). The Heat N' Bond is just an easy, no-sew option -- the roll is 3/4 of an inch wide, so because I was hemming the sides of the fabric to hide the raw edges (see below), I doubled that to make 1 1/2 inches on either side. So, if you follow that, the width of the fabric was 34 1/2 inches (window width + left and right sides).

Here, I hemmed around three of the sides of the fabric. For the fourth edge, I estimated how wide the loop needed to be to slide the curtain rod through, and folded that edge over, creating a sort of pocket. Next, I attached two strips of ribbon vertically to the front of the curtains, each about 8 inches from the edges. The Heat N' Bond didn't work out so well here, because when the goop melted to bond the fabrics together, you could see a dark spot under the white ribbon. So, to keep the ribbon from flopping around, I stitched little X's along the ribbon that could easily be hidden when I did the folds. Unfortunately, I'm not so good with remembering to take pictures for each step, so this might sound a little confusing! Next, I loosely folded the fabric in a sort of layered fold to do the "Roman" part of the curtain (see final picture for what this looks like!) and pinned the folds down (because my curtain was so short, it was only 2 folds). I Heat N' Bonded those folds to each other, and stitched along the edges, so they would be secured. Then, with the extra ribbon, I made little bows:
These were stitched onto the ends of the white ribbon that goes vertically along the fabric. And that was it! I slipped the curtain rod into the pocket I'd made earlier, and asked D to pop it into the window frame (I couldn't reach, and at 6'6," he's perfect for reaching things that are too high. He has no problem asking me to get things that are "too low" to make up for it). Here it is:
There are a couple of minor things I'll need to fix on it to make it look better, simply because if I don't I will go crazy, but hurray! We have a curtain in our kitchen now!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Sips n' Strokes

I had a pretty awesome time at Sips N' Strokes with some of the girls the other night. I think this might become a frequent activity -- I'm no artist by any means, even though I love to do artsy type things. But it was a really relaxed, fun environment, and the instructor did a great job showing us how to paint step-by-step. Our paintings turned out pretty well -- we did an "Abstract Guitar," and enjoyed a bit of wine along the way (this was after a dinner full of Margaritas over at El Azteca!).
Here's the bestie and I mid-painting:

My final painting:

I LOVED Christina's...she went against the norm and used a palette that matched her bedroom colors (pinks and grays):
And here were a few of the other girls' paintings:
Pretty cool...I think we're going to go back soon -- and yet another "masterpiece" will fill our bare walls at home! Or maybe even a Birthday or Christmas gift one day...

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Turtle Power!

We cooked some homemade pizza last night and watched TMNT II: Secret of the Ooze (brought back so many memories!). Here's the recipe we used (although we mostly just winged it!). I'm still looking for a good pizza crust recipe, so I just got a store-bought crust for last night. You can use any toppings you'd like, here's what ours consisted of:

Margherita Pizza

1 can Pillsbury Pizza Dough (Thick Crust style, found near the biscuits)
Olive Oil (3-4 Tbsp)
Shredded Mozzarella cheese (as much as you like, we used about 1-2ish cups)
2 Vine Tomatoes
Half a cup of mushrooms, sliced (more or less, depending on your preference)
1 Avocado, sliced
3-4 leaves fresh basil, chopped

Preheat oven to 425*. Pop open can of dough, and unroll -- it should be in a rectangular shape. If it keeps shrinking, let it set to room temperature -- that should reduce shrinkage. Spread Olive Oil from the center, all the way to the edges (it'll make the crust crisp). Scatter cheese (NOT to the edges). Slice tomatoes to desired thickness (ours were pretty thick) and arrange on pizza. Sprinkle with mushrooms, avocado and basil. Bake 20-25 minutes, until crust is golden brown. You may need to eat this with a fork and a knife, depending on how heavy your toppings are!