Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Outdoor Patio Table - Update

I built that beautiful outdoor patio table almost three years ago...

Today, with a heavy heart, I have it cleaned up and ready to sell.  I have had it stashed on the small porch of our most recent home and the table is unusable.  The porch is just too small.  I decided that I would rather it be used than sit there sunning itself in the hot Texas heat.

Here is what it looks like today:

The condition is still lovely.  I refinished it once, about a year ago.  Lightly sanded and re-stained then a coat of urethane.

I never really was able to resolve the wobbly legs.  I moved them to the inside but the problem still persisted.  It was fine for dining though and the only real issue was concern that the legs would wobble themselves off.

A beautiful table that has weathered really well.  I would build again.  I probably will if I have a patio large enough!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Halloween Party

Secret Agent Man LOVES Halloween.  We all do!  I told him that this year he could invite 5 friends over for a Halloween Party.

He chose his friends and we sent out the invitations well in advance.

I was really going to try and do a healthier Halloween party.  Then, time got ahead of me and the night before the party I was at Target buying cheese puffs, ingredients for a super sugary punch and lots of other junk.

I planned a craft, a game and a food to decorate.  I figured these things would keep them busy for the two hour party and if they would rather play and ignore those things, that was fine also.

We were going to decorate a sugar cookie with frosting and sprinkles or cupcakes with the same and then I found these........

I thought these were super cute and the kids LOVED them.

Special Agent Dad was a ninja turtle, I was a werewolf (both picked up at Target last year when they were marked down 90% off), and Secret Agent Man was an "Indestructible Stone Samurai Warrior".  His friends showed up as: Boba Fett, A ninja, Spiderman, Swat team member and a ninja.  We were four ninja's deep.  I felt pretty "classic" in my werewolf getup.

00Dog was a bunch of grapes.  She looked like a member of the fruit of the looms crew.

We got to those ghouly pizzas after the witch's brew and some snacks.

The witch's brew was a recipe from a Halloween cookbook that Secret Agent Man bought years ago.  It was a mix of lime sherbet, frozen limeade and ginger ale.  Those 6 boys drank the entire bowl (complete with floating gummy worms).

They also snacked on popcorn sprinkled with orange sugar crystals, cheese and crackers, halloween gummy snacks and those HUGE pizza cookies.

After they ate, they ran.
They used that huge back yard of ours to run and run and run!

Then we played a game called Don't eat Pete!  I got the game from a The Teacher Wife .  We played that fun game with smarties instead of candy corns.  Unfortunately the game moves rather quick and it ended with most of the boys trying to cram way too much candy into their mouths.  Yet, they LOVED this game.  They were giggling with huge smiles and couldn't wait to scream out at each other.

We had a foam bat craft set out with googly eyes and stickers.  They made some really cute bat creations and then it was back out to the yard to run!  We ended up at the playground down the way and they played some hide and seek and chasing games until it was time to head home.

Special Agent Dad played a very special role in being the "chased".  He evaded them all once we left the confines of the yard.  They all had fun trying to catch him!

The kids left pretty quickly and we were left with one little Secret Agent moaning on the couch with a stomach ache.  I felt pretty bad about poisoning him with sugar.  There was just too much of it.

Next year or next party, I am definitely going to stick to one sugary treat and get creative with the rest.  One of the other boys mom gave me some great ideas like peeling a watermelon to resemble a brain and other fun stuff.

This party was fun!  I'm already planning the next one!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Austin Book Fair

A friend let me know yesterday that Secret Agent Man's favorite author was at the Austin Book Fair doing a book signing.

Yup, Dave Pilkey of  the Captain Underpants fame was there.

Unfortunately, It was during the Halloween party and there was no way we would be canceling that.

We happened to be downtown Austin on Sunday and we stumbled upon the outdoor book fair on accident.

The very first tent we walked into was the children's books tent.

Secret Agent Man immediately found the Captain Underpants books.

He lifted up the 9th book in the series and excitedly exclaimed that it was "signed by the author!".  He could not believe that this signed copy was left behind.

We quickly snatched up this amazing find and were in line paying for it in no time.

He beamed for the rest of day, exclaiming how he would show everyone in class at school tomorrow.

We walked through the rest of the book fair, rolled down some hills (Secret Agent Man only, the adults abstained), walked through the grounds of the capital building

and watched the founder/owner of the Salt Lick BBQ restaurant make some food.  Most notably some peach cobbler.

After that cooking demo, we walked toward the food area and there before us was a food truck that Special Agent Dad and I had been trying to track down since our very first visit to Austin.


I was way too full from lunch still to order but, Special Agent Dad grabbed a kebab to take home for later.   Now, I am really craving that falafel wrap with hummus.....

Okay, he had a few bites right away and then saved some
Secret Agent Man and I danced to the local band playing in the next tent.  Beto y Los Fairlanes.  They were awesome!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

White Refinished Desk

I have been waiting for years for the perfect solid wood desk to land on the floor of the local goodwill.

It happened a few weeks ago.

I walked in, just by chance.  Not looking for anything in particular, and there she was.

She had really beautiful detail in the legs and around the top, not to mention the hardware which was dramatic and full of character.  Bonus that I would not have to buy new hardware.

I brought her home for $30 looking like this.

I actually really loved the black and thought it would be beautiful in the right room.  Yet, I knew that I wanted this desk right in the front room where I could take advantage of the beautiful views out of the full windows.

This room is very bright from all of the natural light and has mainly white trim.  I knew the dark black color would not look right here.  That's okay, I always imagined the desk as antique white and knew that would look beautiful with the yellow walls.

I started with taking the drawers out and checking for any structural damage or fixes that would need to be made.  There wasn't much.  I did notice that the drawers stick a bit and thought I might try to do some filing to help them fit a bit better.

Next, I removed the hardware and set it aside.

I wiped the desk down with a damp rag to clean off the dust and also used the wet/dry vac to clean up any dust or dirt.  This also gave me a really good chance to check for bed bugs/other unwanteds before I brought it into the house!

You can never be too careful!

I had a small amount of primer/paint combo leftover that I thought might cover it.  I knew with the dark color I would need a few coats, even using a primer.

Unfortunately it wasn't enough.

I bought another can, this time using a low VOC paint so that the fumes were negligible and it would be safe to bring inside without off gassing.

I used a foam brush to paint around the sculptured parts and parts that I couldn't reach with the mini roller.

It took almost 4 full coats.  I made sure to allow it to dry in between coats and even flipped it on its top to ensure coverage in the spots that were hard to see.

I took all of the hardware outside and sprayed painted it with Oil Rubbed Bronze spray paint on a piece of cardboard in the grass.  The key to this is to keep your arm moving back and forth while spraying so the paint doesn't clump.

Once the last coat was dry, I placed the hardware back on the drawers and pulled out some sand paper.

The thing about these painted pieces is, if you rough it up a bit and distress it, nobody will ever see your mistakes with the paint.  I ran the sandpaper over the edges and around each drawer.  It's best to sand the areas that you think would normally show wear and tear over a period of time.

The black paint underneath came out beautifully and gave great character to the piece.

[Just a note: before you do any sanding, especially on a piece that you are unsure when it was built or painted, you should ALWAYS perform a lead test.  These are easily and pretty cheaply available from most hardware and warehouse stores.  It is usually just necessary to get the lead sample wet and swipe the paint.  It will give you quick results.  Never sand any paint that contains lead or comes back positive in a lead test.  Lead is dangerous and causes brain damage if inhaled. ]

So.....I did another wipe down and vacuuming and dragged this baby into the house.  There she is in her new home.  I love what she brings to the room and think that this is so much better than any brand new desk I could've found.

Not bad for $30 and some new paint!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

A Smelly Tale

Sorry it has been so long since we've posted an update!  With school starting and a Big birthday bash to plan I haven't had time.  I really hope to get some pictures up soon with some stories of the past month! But, for now........a lesson.

It was a normal night.  Secret Agent Man had gone to sleep.  Special Agent Dad and I had cleaned up and talked for a bit before sitting down to watch an hour of tv.  We didn't plan to watch long or stay up much longer since it was already late.

00Dog asked to go outside so I let her out, thinking we would go to bed once she was done.

About 15 minutes later I casually asked, "I wonder where 00Dog is?"

She does some foraging and faux hunting at night so we weren't too worried....until that time turned into 20 and then 25 minutes.

Then suddenly it hit me.  It was filling the room.

I started a panic stricken plea "No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no!"

Special Agent Dad said, "what is that?".

I looked at him and said "00Dog has been sprayed by a skunk".

We both ran up to the door and tried calling her without going outside into the stench.  She wouldn't come.  We couldn't see her by the light or hear her feet running.

We wondered if she had jammed herself under the deck again and was stuck.  Nope.  She wasn't there.

I called for another minute or two and here she comes running.  Outside of the fence.  From the direction of the playground.

I am not sure how far away she was or how she got out of the fence but I wasn't going out to face a skunk in the dark in that yard.  I ran to the front door and called her.

She came running around and there she was.

In obvious distress.

White fur drenched yellow.

Eyes swelled shut in pain.

Smelling awful.

I did some quick googling, threw on some throw away clothes and grabbed paper towels.

I immediately tried to soak up the excess oils on her fur but was gagging so hard it was difficult.  It's not that the smell was bad but the concentration of the odor is so much that it makes you sick.

After that first response I came in to google further.  Specifically to see how to treat her eyes.  I quickly threw together a peroxide, soap and baking soda mixture to pull the smell out.

The mixture soaped her right up and we had to hold her down to keep the hose on her eyes for a fresh water rinse.

Luckily after that rinse she was able to open her eyes.   I'm not sure if it blinded her for a bit but she seems to be able to see this morning.

The next decision was also hard.  Where was she going to sleep?  She is the most spoiled, entitled and elitist dog that I've ever seen.  She would never dare sleep outdoors and needs multiple pillows to drape her lazy body across.

But - there was NO way we were letting that smell in the house (any more than it already was).

The garage was 86 degrees even though the outdoor air temperature was in the 70's.  That's too hot for her.  I thought about cracking the door open a bit but once I thought of what may sneak through that crack I said no way.

We tied her with her leash to the post outside, laid down an old rug for her to sleep on and gave her some water.  I'm sure the spray got in her mouth as well.

As a matter of fact, we realized later that she was completely lost out there after being sprayed.  She couldn't see or smell to find her way home.  It was only after us calling her that she knew which way to go.

We hit the hay at about midnight.  Then it started to happen.  The barking.  This dog NEVER barks.  Only to be let in.  I knew it was going to happen.  I couldn't let her wake the neighbors all night.

I grabbed up a blanket and went to lay in the kitchen.  Every time she would bark I would yell "no!".  She would stop for 30 minutes to an hour and then start again.  

This morning the smell is pretty much gone from her chest, neck and chin.  It is still pretty bad from the face area.  I didn't want to get the peroxide solution in her eyes.  I am going to run her to the groomers for a bath from them to handle that.

What a funny experience!  Secret Agent Man loved this story!  We couldn't wait to tell him when he woke up!

Last time 00Dog went missing at night we found the dead opposum the next morning.  This time we had a black and white hound sprayed by a black and white skunk.  Never let 00Dog run free in the yard at night!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


Our air conditioning broke this weekend.  We woke up to the carpet being flooded by the condensation pipe.  Of course we didn't know that's what it was at the time.

We called the landlord and event after event led to zero air conditioning.

We've been hanging out in the upstairs bedrooms where there are window ac units.

And at stores

And the library

And outside once the sun goes down

The repair man should be here tomorrow morning.

The good news is it was too hot to vacuum.  I picked up the vacuum from the repair shop.

So, while in the car we have been listening to The magic tree house series.  Secret Agent Man loves this series.

Their current adventure is a trip to Japan about 400 years ago to visit Matsuo Basho, a famous poet.

They travel along with Basho-san and see sumurai's, sushi and sumo.

So tonight before bed we brought up some sumo and watched it.

Special Agent Dad and I never went to any real sumo matches while we lived in Japan.  They were quite expensive.   Wish we could have.

Even if I didn't attend a match; I didn't leave Japan totally unimpressed by sumo.  

There was a street called the Honchu (Honch) across from the base that was lined with bars and food joints.  We would head out there for overpriced drinks and fun late at night.  

Japan is so safe that I would routinely be out at 2 or 3 in the morning by myself walking to meet friends or heading home.  You are never afraid.  

This night was a weeknight and it was after midnight.  

The Honch was empty.  

Nobody on the streets, a few people in the bars. 

I was heading down the street to meet friends when a very large and imposing figure steps into the street and begins walking toward me.  

As this man passed me, all alone on the street, I put on a frightened smile and with a small wave kept on walking.  

Who was it?

Oh, only Musashimaru Koyo.  Not just a sumo wrestler, a yokozuna.  The highest rank in sumo.  

This guy was massive.  6 foot 3.5 inches and 520 pounds.

I should have taken the opportunity to talk to him, have some conversation.  

What an opportunity!  

It's just don't see that everyday walking down the streets of Japan.  I was unprepared and completely dumbstruck.

I'll never forget that night and I'm glad.  It's a cool story to tell Secret Agent Man.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Back To School

School has been back in for a week and we are in 100%!

Back to school howdy was fun.  We went to check out the classroom, find Secret Agent Man's desk, and get all other logistics figured out.

Special Agent Dad joined WATCH D.O.G.S.  Watch Dogs is an awesome program to give the fathers a chance to volunteer in the school.  Here is the website for more info on this great program.  Secret Agent Man has been waiting for Special Agent Dad to become one of these "Heroe's of the Hallway".  It is really great to always see the fathers in the school volunteering as much as the mothers.  We will be sure to keep you up to date on the days Special Agent Dad volunteers.

Open house night went great, we had an information session in the classroom, met the music and art teachers and signed up to volunteer.  There were many volunteer opportunities.  I will be stuffing folders on Tuesday's for the teacher (all fliers and school work from the previous week), reading as a guest reader on a Friday in November and most exciting - be the Room mom for all of the parties.

Later in the week I went to an info session for Math pentathlon.  Secret Agent Man really loves math and was very anxious to be a part of this program.  It turns out that most of the school also wants to be part of it.  The competition is fierce and once in the program, always in so there are very few spots.  His school placed third in the state last year.

Math pentathlon consists of a few strategy type math games.  The students practice the games once a week and then compete in national tournaments in the spring.  Parents have to volunteer several hours during the year as well.  Here is more info on Math pentathlon.  The coordinator mentioned in the meeting that people would be waiting in line at 4 A.M. to sign up the morning of registration.

A sample of the K&1st Math pentathlon games

One of the reasons we moved here and picked this specific school is because of the amazing academic opportunities.  We agreed there would be no reason to pass any of them up, especially with Secret Agent Man being so eager.

I set my alarm clock for 3:30.

I arrived first and sat in the car until someone else showed up.

This lady and I waited about ten minutes until the next person showed up.  We sat and talked for hours in the dark.  And the line grew.  There were about 70 people in line by 7:20 when they opened the doors.

There were 2 spots for 1st grade boys.

I took the first.  The gentleman behind me (3rd in line) took the second and last spot.

And that was it!  Secret Agent Man is now on the Math pentathlon team!

There were a lot of upset people behind me (I think, of course I left right away).

It sure is shaping up to be an exciting year!