Since nobody but me seems to think planting a garden is a priority, there probably won’t be much of a garden this year.

Since nobody has bothered to eat all of the vegetables I preserved last year, we should only need a miniature freezer this year.

Since nobody has bothered to eat all of the jams and pickles I canned last year, we won’t need more than a miniature pantry this year.

I’m kind of tired of everybody around me talking such a great game of pool and then shooting a lot of shit talking about self-sufficiency and sustainability yet doing nothing about it.

When the black helicopters come swooping in after society collapses, they best not come to me with some bullshit about “I’m hungry and there’s no food to loot from the Trader Joe’s”.


Let there be light

Mr B was kind enough to brave IKEA with me this week. He’sactually been in their store before, so I was glad to have him there because I would have gotten lost in there and I probably wouldn’t have emerged until sometime next year with 8 McMansions worth of shit.

Because he was a pilot in a previous incarnation of himself, it was entertaining to watch him driving the IKEA buggy. Did y’al know that all 4 wheels on IKEA shopping carts rotate? Mr B kept giving the cart a great push with a bit of a twist on it and the cart would just go flying up the aisle spinning in circles. To be honest, I’m a bit surprised that we didn’tget kicked out.

We now have all of the light fixtures for the house. Rude Ass will be installing them sometime really soon. I’ve stashed a few of them until after Sunshine finishes the walls, because they’ll be in his way if I have them hung now.

It was exciting just putting the cartons inside; I’ll probably piss my pants when they’re actually hanging from the ceiling.

I wanted black or blue or even metal finishes on my lights but went with white to match the switches and outlets. It wasn’t the hill I wanted to die on (that hill still looms ahead in the form of kitchen counters).

The three pendants hanging over the kitchen peninsula each require three bulbs.

There is a spotlight to shine on whatever Sunshine decides to hang over the fireplace; it requires three bulbs.

My four track lights in the kitchen and living room each require four bulbs.

My bathroom has a 3 bulb track light going in.

I hope I have enough light in the house. (Yes, that was sarcasm.)

Final note: all of the bulbs throughout the house will be LED, so using that many bulbs isn’t as obscene as it sounds. I wouldn’t want the electric bill that went with that many incandescent bulbs (or, heaven forbid, halogen).

Weekly progress report: it’s starting to look like something¬†

Rude Ass had almost finished the ceiling in the bathroom last time I looked in yesterday evening. 

Biff had gotten the locks installed on the front door.

We have our thankless water heater on-site.

Sunshine got one wall finished in the kitchen. I like the sort of biscuit color he ended up with.

Overall, it’s really starting to look like something, and I’m pleased as punch that it looks better than I had pictured in my mind’s eye. 

I’ve also managed to make a tiny dent in the Christmas gifts that I want to crochet. I’ll write about that another day, though. There are so many to do that they deserve their own post.

Last night, I got to clear out a major amount of space under the bed, because early next week Sunshine will be heading to Shreveport for the afternoon. I got his dad’s house sister’s jar goods all gathered together in cute little baskets I bought. I also put two Christmas ornaments in each basket. One was a clear plastic bubble that got Mardi Gras themed confetti stuffed in it. The other was a boot made from old/retired Texas license plates, made by the ladies at the local tag office and sold for a small donation to their preferred charity.

Now, I need to go get ready for work. I hope everyone has a beautiful day! 

I never thought I’d hear myself say….

…that I miss state toothpaste.

State toothpaste is that wonderful, multipurpose substance issued to guests of the gated communities that the government uses to manage the lives of those who’s lives have become unmanageable. I was one of those people before I got clean. State toothpaste is made by the Bob Barker Company. No, not that Bob Barker from “the price is right”; just some dude with the same name somewhere in the Carolinas or somewhere like that.

State toothpaste is good for many things, including (but not limited to): brushing one’s teeth, gluing stuff to cinder block walls, treating pimples, taking paint off of metal bunks, cleaning one’s sneakers, and bleaching one’s clothes. Bonus points for whoever figured out that the best way to clean your whites in the gated community is to take state soap, state toothpaste, and the blue wrapper from a package of rolling papers; make a paste with it, and pretreat any spots; then the remaining paste gets watered down until it is the consistency of liquid detergent and used to wash said whites.

This morning,  I realized that I need to clean my shoes and boots. Most of my sneakers have white soles, and the white was no longer white. 

Since I’m not willing to revisit the gated community to get some state toothpaste, my best free-world alternative is Pepsodent toothpaste. However, with the gas crisis happening in the state of Texas thanks to Harvey, I’m not driving to town for Pepsodent toothpaste. 

So I broke out the next best alternative.

I used baking soda to make a paste.

I used the paste to clean a pair of my sneakers.

I’ve still got all the other pairs left to clean, and I’m bored with the task already. However, I need to make my shoes last so I can take the money I would have spent on new shoes and use it to buy some things for the house. I’ll finish cleaning my sneakers with baking soda, then I’ll bust out the leather cleaner, leather conditioner, and leather sealer; and I’ll deal with my boots.

There’s something calming in the simplicity and repetition of the task, at least; and I can take comfort in knowing that I’m being responsible and not adding to a glut of used clothes and shoes flooding charity shops and resale stores and African villages and whatever else they do with all those things we donate to feel better about ourselves.

Final note:  I’m not judging anybody who does donate stuff to charity shops, because I do it too. It’s definitely better than tossing things into a landfill. I’m just trying to do my part to stem the tide of cast-offs from so much consumption.  If you like to stay on top of the latest trends, that’s great (I really mean that, I get it, I like clothes and shoes too); just be sure to donate the cast-offs so they don’t wind up in landfills. Even the torn and ruined garments don’t go to a landfill when donated, they get sold to textile recyclers.

Composting class

Mr B has a friend that is pretty knowledgeable about composting. This guy has invented a large-scale tumbling composter, and he’s found a freegan spool to make an even larger version of it for me.

I can’t reach all the way to the top. That’s how big this thing is!

Side note: this guy says we’re almost composting on an industrial scale, what with all that backdoor fruit my boss sends home with me. Whoa.

I got to pick his brain about composting. He says my compost heap stinks because it’s gone anaerobic.  It’s gone anaerobic because I haven’t been putting enough brown in it. Brown is stuff like sawdust, wood chips, rotten sticks. He and Mr B had some cellulose left over from one of their product testing experiments, and Mr B and I tossed it into my compost heap. I’ve been instructed to keep my ratio of brown to green roughly equal.

This morning, I went out and added some newspaper and egg cartons, toilet paper and paper towel cores, and plain brown paper from deer feed bags to the old compost heap and started a new one with our household compost bucket contents and more of the paper products.

Sunday, when I go to work, I guess I’ll be doing my boss a favor by cleaning up all of the wood chips all and bits of bark around his firewood stacks so I can at least start trying to match the amount of backdoor fruits & vegetables I bring home. 

Electrical plans

The electrical engineer we hired has been great to work with. He came into our project as a friend who already knew that I had been nicknamed “change-order”, so he has double and triple checked that he’s understanding my needs and desires. In exchange,  I’ve been trying to be accommodating when one of my desires is adding a new & difficult twist. 

Prime example: I kind of wanted to put an outlet (that my floor lamps will be plugged into) on a switch on the wall so I could easily turn it off with a switch. When I asked about it, I could see that it was absolutely possible but it complicated things, so I let it go.

Side note: remember, I’m choosing my battles. That wasn’t one of the ones I’m choosing.

When we started painting on the walls to mark cable runs and outlets and switches, I started realizing how complex my kitchen’s electrical was going to be. As the electrical engineer started marking for Sunshine to drill the holes for wiring in the ceiling, I really started understanding how complex; however, the kitchen IS the battle I’m choosing; so I’m not backing down. 

There will be many, many lights and many many outlets. 

The switches for all the living room lights & the ceiling fan will also be on the wall in the kitchen.

It’s definitely a mess of wiring.

Side note: all of those x marks you see all over the foam blocks? Mark the locations of the concrete and steel post & beam systems buried inside the foam insulation blocks.

The living room is a little bit better, but not much. The entertainment center will need multiple outlets at multiple levels.

Yes, that is an electrical outlet in a position over 6′ up the wall. Because the teevee has to have power; and I was a stagehand who liked a clean stage with minimal visible cables and wires, so there has to be an outlet in a position to hide the cord. That’s also why the coaxial cable for our Internet service will be on an outlet instead of having excess cable piled in the floor to trap dustbunnies and hair tumbleweeds.

The walls under the bookcases will need outlets.

Yes, that’s marked LED at an outlet location. One of the outlets will have LED night lights in it, which will be near Mollie’s special place under the bookcases. My furbaby might want to go dig out a toy in the middle of the night without waking us up to turn on a light for her.

Then there’s the quad box next to the ridiculous couch’s future location. It will have one of the USB-port-equipped outlets in it.

Then there’s the lighting in the living room.

Two track fixtures will light up the bookcases and entertainment center. There will be a ceiling fan centered above the living & kitchen areas. There will also be a special spotlight aimed at the mantel area of the fireplace. That one is for lighting up Sunshine’s taxidermied finest hunting achievement that I promised the documentary film crew I would never ever post to social media or any other corner of the Internet. Sorry folks, you’ll never see that one #onhere.

The other USB outlet will go in the bedroom, on Sunshine’s side of the bed. This outlet will also power the window unit air conditioner that we will be using until we can get our geothermal system done.

We haven’t even begun to start pulling wires and such in the bathroom, which is not going to be simple. Recessed lighting over the shower, lighting for the vanity, lighting for the other side of the bathroom (which will house my clothes washer), and a fart-fan. Oh, there’s also electrical outlets, because hair dryer and iron.

For a small house, it’s got a lot going on with the electrical system. Sunshine’s probably not really happy about the expense of it all, but I think he understands that we don’t want to have to do it all again anytime in the future. We’re both of the mindset that it’s best to “measure twice, cut once”. Let’s do it now, while we’re young enough to work to pay for it; it’s only going to be more expensive to upgrade it later.

Even though there’s a lot going on with the electrical system,  most of it will be very eco-friendly and very savings-conscious. All of my lights will be LED, every single one. I will be sure to pick energy star certified appliances.  Our heating & cooling will be geothermal. I’m hoping for a front-load washer. 

We’re trying to be as environmentally friendly as possible; hence the hopes of finding as much as possible at ReStore type places, used appliance shops, thrift shops, and etcetera. It’s important to us that we don’t create waste. Where we have to buy new, I’m trying to be very deliberate in my decisions so that I’m not buying shit just to buy shit. I spent too many years in a mindless existence (active addiction) to be as careless or mindless as I was back then. I’m trying to think ahead now in order to further simplify our lives in the future.

Reclaimed wood (and being the change I wish to see in the world)

I mentioned yesterday that Sunshine wanted reclaimed wood walls instead of sheet rock, and that I chose not to fight that battle because I’m saving my arsenal for the kitchen cabinetry battle. I don’t mind letting him win that one since he is giving me a lot of control over the way the boards are arranged on all the surfaces that are getting them. I also like that reclaimed wood is reducing waste and all that hippy-dippy-trippy crunchy stuff, because it’s important to me and I have to be the change in wish to see in the world.

Before I get into pictures of the wood and such, let me give you the back story on the reclaimed wood. Sunshine searched craigslist for reclaimed wood, and came across The Tired Lumber Company just north of Dallas, offering reclaimed pallet wood for sale. He set up an appointment with them and took off without me to go get some wood. When he got back, he told me a story that made me wish I had ridden along.

The Tired Lumber Company is two young, minority teen-age boys who’s dad wanted them to learn the value of money and work and all those important life lessons.

Side note: I mention that the boys were minority because supporting woman & minority owned businesses is one of those things I really like to do. These are populations that have been disadvantaged for centuries, and the only way it stops being that way is if people start to step up and seek out these businesses and support them; so I have to be the change I wish to see in the world.

Apparently, the ad hadn’t been on Craigslist for long, because Sunshine said that he was their first sale. He cleaned them out. Sunshine bought every single board these two kids had reclaimed from palettes their father brought home from work.

When he got home with this wood, I was delighted to see that some of it had interesting markings on it. I was a bit disappointed that much of the wood was really new looking. Sunshine donated some wood stain that was left over from the window framing project and took me to the local hardware store for some supplies. We picked up 2 gallons of goof paint (white and light blue) and a can of stain so we could add some variety to these boards. We also grabbed a few random objects from the barn to use to distress some boards and give them a bit of character. The carpenter got into the spirit of things and made me a special tool to distress the boards.

It was really just a stick with a bunch of little metal objects attached that I used to beat some dings and dents into the boards. Then the carpenter got even more into it, and he started cutting remnants of cedar from the window frame project so they’d be a thickness that worked with the thickness of the palette boards. Then the carpenter went batshit crazy and drove to his house and loaded up a trailer with old fence panels and baseboards and such he had in a pile after he made some repairs to his home.
Sunshine and I stained and painted boards for several hours. Not all of the boards got painted or stained. Some were delightfully weathered already, and some showed several years of paint colors from the carpenter’s house. Some boards got both paint and stain to give them a cerused effect, which is a technique that uses paint to highlight the grain in the wood and then stains the wood the desired color.

Mr B got into the spirit of things, too. He broke out his torch and burned some of the boards.

I wasn’t around when he did that, so I gave him creative freedom. I was intending to have the boards feel more “collected”, and giving up control over Sunshine’s staining and Mr B”s burning was a way to achieve that feeling.

We’ve already put some of these boards to use. The bedroom will have a sliding barn style door leading into the bathroom, and the carpenter already has the door mostly assembled!

Sunshine and I will be putting the vast majority of these boards in the bathroom, on the outside of the bathroom wall in the living room, and on the bedroom side of the wall the sliding door goes on. We are also going to be using these boards on the living room side of my kitchen island. By doing it ourselves, we save the carpenter from having to deal with me and we save some money too. The money we save by doing the walls ourselves can be spent letting the carpenter do more specialty stuff, like building me a couple of spice cabinets to inset in the kitchen walls on either side of my stove.

We’re now getting into the fun parts of building a house. While I am absolutely the girl who thinks the hidden stuff is the sexy part, I do still like the process of making this house my very own with all of the lipstick and mascara stuff. And yes, I think it’s sexy to talk about things like structure and proper plumbing and safe electrical systems. Having a house fall apart because it was poorly built is not sexy; there’s definitely an appeal to having a solidly built home that protects me when I’m inside it.

We’re also about to slow down the progress a bit, so Sunshine doesn’t have to work so hard. I’m hoping we can find a refrigerator and and dishwasher at the ReStore or at the used appliance shop near us. It will save us some money while helping the planet, and that’s definitely a win-win.