31 May 2010

I'm Proud To Be An American


My girlies made this beautiful and tasty treat to commemorate the holiday today.  Help yourselves!

I love this song by Lee Greenwood.  It sums up my thoughts today exactly.

God Bless The USA

by Lee Greenwood
If tomorrow all the things were gone,
I'd worked for all my life.
And I had to start again,
with just my children and my wife.
I'd thank my lucky stars,
to be livin here today.
‘Cause the flag still stands for freedom,
and they can't take that away.
And I'm proud to be an American,
where at least I know I'm free.
And I wont forget the men who died,
who gave that right to me.
And I gladly stand up,
next to you and defend her still today.
‘Cause there ain't no doubt I love this land,
God bless the USA.
From the lakes of Minnesota,
to the hills of Tennessee.
Across the plains of Texas,
From sea to shining sea.
From Detroit down to Houston,
and New York to L.A.
Well there's pride in every American heart,
and its time we stand and say.
That I'm proud to be an American,
where at least I know I'm free.
And I wont forget the men who died,
who gave that right to me.
And I gladly stand up,
next to you and defend her still today.
‘Cause there ain't no doubt I love this land,
God bless the USA.
And I'm proud to be and American,
where at least I know I'm free.
And I wont forget the men who died,
who gave that right to me.
And I gladly stand up,
next to you and defend her still today.
‘Cause there ain't no doubt I love this land,
God bless the USA

I'll be back tomorrow to tell you all about this weeks goings on at the cottage.  Think - front door; texture on the walls and cabinet installation.  Yippee.



26 May 2010

I'm Begging You Here

Does anybody remember this Serendipitous Post?  That was back in the good ol days when we thought we were just "remodeling" our cottage.  You know, like, new windows, pushing the kitchen out a bit, a fresh coat of paint.  Oh, but then the project started to grow.  And grow and grow.  How the heck did that happen, you ask?  What's that?  You didn't ask?  Pshsst.  I'm gonna tell you anyway, because if you're taking this ride with me, I need you beginning to end~  

Before I even figured out how to post a picture, (yes, I am my own trail blazer), I began a blog.   I wrote a post just to chronicle for my family and friends what was happening over at the cottage.  So here's how it was, way back nine months ago, when we thought we were going to move out for two or three (ha, haa, ha, haaaaaaa, ha, ha) months to make a few improvements to our abode.  Have a quick look at this here post if you're brave enough.  Here We Gooooo.

Way back then,  I thought I was going to have to install new flooring over the ugly linoleum which, some Bozo misguided, previous homeowner had installed over the beautiful wood floors of the cottage.  No offense whomever you are. Then, when we started ripping out the linoleum we had the good luck to find our cottage had originally been built using gorgeous hardwood!  I couldn't believe this serendipitous surprise!  We could just refinish these floors, and keep the integrity of the original cottage intact.  Plus, it would save us a bundle of dough!  

So, where are we today, and why am I begging for your help?  Construction is brutal.  It is not a game for sissies.  It takes its toll on everyone everything involved.  Walls were razed, beams were removed, windows were shattered and general chaos ensued.  Nothing was left unscathed!  My serendipitous find, my gorgeous, original to the cottage, wood floors were r u I n e d.  I don't say this lightly.  I cried.  They were not the "happy tears" I originally cried when I discovered the floors.  This is a sad, sad, story.  I would totally understand if you had to sign off, bail ship, run away fast, NOW.  However, for those of you brave enough, those made of solid sturdy stock, adventurous (and charitable), I need you now.  You've given me advise and wisdom on practically every decision I've had to make over here at the cottage.  You guys have become my sub-conscience, my artistic muse, my rock.  Now I'm asking you to become...  My wood guys. 

Here's the Dealio.

The original oak hardwood floors were ruined.  Not because the construction guys weren't careful mind you.  "Anyone who knows construction guys knows how meticulously careful and gentle they are," she said,  biting down hard on inside of her cheek.  

We changed and reconfigured the floor plan so many times that, our little remodel morphed into the complete destruction and reconstruction of a fish cottage which has been completely gutted.  We didn't add a lot of square footage.  We just flip-flopped a few things rooms, so in short, the wood floors are gonzo.  Now, (like in the next 24 hours) you,  I, you and I, have to decide what type and what stain our new wood floors should be.  K?

These are just a few of our choices.  Believe me there are more.  I just love you too much to burden you with them.  So if you could just help me with any insight, knowledge, personal experience or opinions that you have I would be eternally grateful.  As in forever.

Cherry?  Often used in cottages on the East Coast.  Typically stained with a dark finish so the grain just shows through.

Help me?

 Hickory?  One of the hardest woods around.  Nice grain but when it is all layed down it has a really busy pattern.  When I saw a picture of hickory flooring installed a little of the ADD in me came out.

Any thoughts yet?

Knotty Pine.  A soft wood but, it has awesome, random knots, patinas to a warm burnished glow and nobody cares if it gets dented or dinged because, after all, it's knotty pine!

I'm begging you!

Of course there is also reliable, solid Oak.  For those of you still with me, (helloooooooooo out there),  we must also decide if we go for the original 2" to 3" planks,  the more common of today 6",  or the wide plank 7" stock.  Just for the heck of it I'll throw in that I think we have nixed cherry or any very dark or red colored stain because we don't want to suck out too much light have to continuously clean a dark floor which would show every footprint or speck of dust, sand, dog hair.  Of course, it aint over till it's over.  I could possibly be persuaded in that direction.  Not that I'm easily led.  Oh who are we trying to kid here.  Lead me.  Please just lead me!

The light sandy stain, or the richer more golden hue?  

Decisions, decisions. Holy... holy... all that is holy.  Help me.  I'm on my knees here. 

This particular wood is EcoTimber.  It is solid unfinished reclaimed flooring which we could stain once it is installed.  This timber is old-growth wood.  It is denser, more stable than new wood, without the environmental cost.  This is reclaimed from an old building or structure somewhere out there. "Huh?  What's that I just heard you mumble?"  Kinda like the original wood floors that you destroyed weren't able to save during your construction project?  Yep,  just like those.  

And (yes, I've just begun a sentence with the word and).  And, if all these wood types and wood stain decisions are not enough for you, how about this?

Stain on the shingles anyone?  Anyone?  I know,  I'd run away screaming too.  If I could but, my husband won't let me outta here.  

Oh Mommy.  I think I want to move to a farm and raise goats.

Love you more than all the reclaimed wood in the USA.  



23 May 2010

Who Loves Ya Baby?

Who loves ya baby?

I do!

I love you so much that I went down the beach, and shot some pics just before sunset.

Just for you.

The tide was high.


This little ol Cove, in this little ol beach town, is my favorite place on earth.  Thanks for letting me share it with you through these pictures.  I just wish you all could have been here with me.  Raise your glass.  Here's to You!

God loves you and I do too...



19 May 2010

Rocks Are Forever

Our most recent project at the cottage has been,  deciding on and purchasing the rock which covers the bottom portion of the walls outside.  My hubby and I,  have spent a lot of time at RCP, in their yards full of rock samples, arguing and fighting and making overtly dirty looks at each other.  Acting out the smashing of said rock over beloved's head, oohing and aahing, hashing and rehashing over rock, in order to make important decisions.  Rock is forever.

Well, it's kinda forever and probably, unless you buy a house and hate the rock and take it all out and remodel it, it is going to have to sit there being what it is.  Therefore,  in my bossy butt headed humble opinion, and in our particular case since we plan on living here 'till we croak,'  it's forever.  What I'm really trying to say is this.  If the rock goes up and I end up regretting my decision, it's gonna be tough cookies a regrettable moment for me.

Remember when this place was just dirt  I said, that Dirt Rocks?   Now that I've spent an inordinate amount of time pursuing rock piles, comparing and contrasting and deciding it wasn't worth getting a divorce over  discussing rock.  I pulled up my big girl panties and made decisions based on the look, color (tone), texture and price of rock.  I didn't compromise let my husband have his way completely rather, we made a mutual decision in hopes of having a Happy Ever After.  In a word, nobody got hurt in the long run.

You've got choices to make man.  Lots of decisions.  It can be overwhelming in a rock yard.

There is a veritable wealth of rocks out there.  Some rock, such as volcanic or manufactured were dismissed right away for the obvious reasons.  Even still, I'm all for excluding all but 3 types of rock to be used for cottages.  Personally I would have preferred River Rock, however I'm flexible, like I said. That also, may or may not be true.  I don't know.   I HAVE decided that we would all be better off emotionally and physically if we didn't have so many options to choose from.  This train of thought could also be applied to paint colors, light fixtures, cabinets, window styles, bathtubs and everything else which involves life altering decisions.  Really,  just 3 choices and the world would be a better place.

The sills are built and the copper flashing (must be used at the beach for sea air protection), to protect the wood is all securely screwed into place.  The house is wrapped and ready for siding.  So, lets rock!

It starts off like this, with the bottom row there.  They work from the foundation up to the sill.  My hubs is in the pool plastering business.  He deals with finishes, cement, plaster, stone, pebble, ROCK and the like, all day long.  Well, actually,  the amazing and competent guys who do the physical work of applying the rock or pebble, stone, plaster, and cement finishes deal with it.  My guy deals with those guys.  In short, you may be thinking, why didn't you just leave all these mind numbing decisions up to the experts?  Experts like your own husband who makes his living and supports your family by running a company whose main goal is finishes.  Pshhhhhhh.  You obviously don't know me very well.

The rock we chose, each one individually, has to be placed in like  puzzle pieces.  We could have chosen rock which is already placed on a board of a certain size and our guys could have easily thin set pre laid sections onto the wall. That rock is all even and level and smooth.  It goes up in no time.  Everybody wins right?   Nope.  We had to go (again) and do things the hard way.  I will now have to bring these guys pizza, chocolate chip cookies and beer every day for a year.  And yes, a paycheck too.

But our guys are artists.  They do labor intensive work with natural stone painstakingly placing each piece onto the wall perfectly until it fits snugly in place.  Very little grout is needed thereafter because, it's all natural and is truly a work of art.  Just look at it!  BEAUTIFUL and NATURAL, is it not?

Ya better say yes!  It has an organic vibe and I wouldn't have wanted to see any other in its place.  You made the right decision Tia.  The perfect decision, and it's a good thing too because,  now you're going to have to live with it forever.  Just to make you sure you all love it though, I'll take more pictures when the job is complete, the rock has been acid washed and the sealer put on. Then the blues, greens and sand colors will appear.  It's hard to tell how magnificent it is when there is a layer of dust on it a mile thick.  All right, an inch thick.  I never promised you that I don't exaggerate did I?  I am a writer of sorts you know.

Hey, Dr. Fix It.  Yeah, you up there.  Get down off the roof.  I know the view is awesome and you can oversee everything including the surf way up there but, the roof's all finished now.  Yep, I'm proud to announce that the roof is up and on and all nailed down.  So, go ahead nasty weather.  Rain all you want.  Bring it on!  We're ready for ya now!  Par for the course,  it did all that raining when we didn't have our roof on yet.  That was back when we had nothin but a big open void up there.  Doctor Fix It was up there nailing down plastic tarps and big pieces of board to try, I repeat, try, to keep it dry. Alert for all you  2009/20010 remodeling dummies.  You must have missed the meme that it was going to be  an El Nino year here in California.  

Oh shoot,  I forgot for a sec; we are here in California, and it's now May.  April showers brings May flowers doesn't even ring true for us here on the coast.  Remember my post way back last winter,  It Never Rains In Southern California? Well, that's all over now,  so you Doctor Fix It, you've got better things to do down here on the ground. 

You can should read all about that guy, right up there on the roof.  I now formally introduce to you,  Doctor Fix It.  He knows it all; just ask him, listen in on his radio show or, you can take my word for it.  Nah, ya better tune in and hear for yourself.  Just pop on over to his site, he's a pretty cute guy and a good and long time friend to-boot.  (Which is why I can tease him relentlessly in person, and on my blog like this.) He really is a wealth of knowledge and information and he knows just how to explain everything about construction in layman's terms so even I can understand it.  If you have any construction questions, give him a call, it's impossible to stump him.  And if you do, tell him I said he has to give you a prize.

Now Mike, back to you.  You've  got lots of rock to coordinate down here.  Piles and palates of it!  Doctor Fix It, has helped us build and, or remodel, 3 homes now and we're lucky to have him. Of course we can say, we knew him back when.  Now that he's a big star on the radio with his very own show and all,  finding the time to do actual construction for little folks like us really just means he loves us.  He's way too big to do it for the money now.  I'm pretty sure he's just doing it for the love.

The name of this rock is, Oceanic Serenity.  (I may have made that up), I don't know.

Did I mention how fun a rock yard is?  I just love rock.

I plan on going back to RCP again soon.  I am a brave and adventurous woman and I love challenges.  Ha, ha, hahahahahahaha ha!  No really, I'm going to endeavor to incorporate a mosaic of some sort on a wall in the back yard, using pebble, beach glass and sea shells.  Come back again, because I'll post on that fiasco wondrous work of art when the time comes.

There are lots of rules in a rock yard.

I just love it when people have good manners.  RCP employees are not only incredibly competent, patiently answering any questions you have about their product, they do it in a cheerful manner and you don't have to go seeking them out. They are always right there for you no matter how busy they are.  Guys, I was completely satisfied.

This is what we're looking at for the patio.  What do you think, because I don't want to make a decision ever again.  I'm all decisioned out!

Love you more than all the rock I've seen in the past 3 weeks.



11 May 2010

Birth of THE ARCH

The beginnings of our front entry.  Introducing the birth of, The Arch.

All of the new eves at the cottage are dovetailed.  I just love the softness this adds to the overall architecture, don't you?  Sorry, I'm easily distracted.  Back to the news at hand.  The Arch.

This is the front of our cottage after demolition but before real construction began.

This is the beginning of constructing The Arch.  There are many buildings (including the train station) here in SB which use The Arch as an architectural feature.  We wanted to put some of the integrity and history of our area into our cottage so we fashioned our entry to emulate The Arch, which is present in so many buildings that are original to our little beach town.  


This will be painted in a high gloss white paint soon.  I think.  I don't know.  Maybe I should put a stain on and keep the natural wood grain.  Just do the trim in white.  Maybe.  I don't know.  Hecks sake, help me out here!

By next week these pillars will be covered in stone.  Check back for photos, they're gonna be beauteous.
I'll take you on a picturesque visit to the Stone Store (RCP) soon, and show you how tough it was for me to make a decision on which stone to use.  Seriously.  After this I'm never going to make a decision again.  My decision maker is plum wore out.

My flowers, or what's left of them, seem to thrive on neglect.  This bougainvillea and the cottage roses are thriving in our California climate with little help from me since water to the cottage has been turned off for some time now.  Note to self.  (Self), don't over water the bougainvillea in the future.

The flowers are doing just fine without me.

They don't seem to miss my loving touch black thumb at all.

This cedar tree recently got a "sprucing up".  My bestest neighbor doesn't hate me is much happier now.  This tree got pretty hacked by wind in our last storm and some of its branches were about to fall into my neighbor's yard/house.  Now they are all laced up and this view is of me lying on my patio enjoying the view from below.  (Day dreaming of moving back into my cottage.) It's safe to come outside now John!
My poor neighbors have been listening to jack hammers and nail guns and me construction workers cussing in my yard for 8 months now.  I'm gonna owe them a lot of home made ice cream this summer!

Bailey is so confused.  Back and forth, back and forth, from cottage to rental she goes.  She doesn't know if she's coming or going anymore.  She just wants to go home.  Oh, wait.  Maybe that's just moi.  She's actually pretty happy wherever she is as long as I'm there.  Ya gotta love puppy love!

These are the architectural plans for the courtyard, formerly known as, the front yard.  There is an outdoor fireplace and a water feature in there.  We haven't even begun to go there yet.  Here is what it looks like at the moment.

What do you think the chances are, that this, in addition to the cottage renovation, will be move-in ready by end of June?  I know right?  Haaa, ha, ha, haaa!

I have tried to grow sunflowers many times.  I don't know what is the matter with me but, I can never get them to grow.  I was pretty much a failure at sunflowers.  I'm much better at bougainvillea.  Did ya know that they thrive on how much you are not watering them?  My daughter wanted a picture of sunflowers for her family room though so, I painted these for her.  I think I'll stick to painting them instead of growing them.  Much easier!  Original acrylic on canvas by moi.

Wish you were here.  I'm trying to pick and choose all the appliances and flooring and the stone for the pillars and the courtyard.  I've got to choose cabinets and lighting and flooring.  I need h e l p.  HELP ME!

Oh, who cares if it's done by June.  I'll just pitch a tent 'down the beach'  and enjoy the view!

Many blessings to all of you.  I'm counting mine every day!


09 May 2010

How to Build A Sand Castle

There are fewer things that make a lasting impression than building a great sand castle.  It is the ultimate family activity.  I'm going to share with you how we build sandcastles down here in Solana Beach, California.  Although we are a sleepy little beach town, we take our sandcastle building very seriously.

There is no wrong way to build a sandcastle, it just takes fine sand and imagination.   However, if you want your sandcastle to be truly memorable there are a few tips worth knowing.  The fist tip is water, and lots of it.  Dry sand is impossible to work with.  Water works as a glue to bind it all together and mold the sand to make its shape.

For the past eight months we have been remodeling our cottage at the beach. Once in a while, throughout all that work, you have to take a little break.  Lately, between hooking up electric wires and installing plumbing it's getting exhausting.  So, I decided to mosey on down the beach for some R and R.

We don't just sit lazily in the sand with a colorful little bucket and a plastic shovel.  There is no sun warming your back as the waves lap gently at your feet while you make a moat around your dream castle.  Nope.  I'm now going to teach how we do it 'round these parts because, we really know how to build a castle!
Put away your little pails and shovels.  We're going to build a sandcastle the Solana Beach way!
We build some mighty sandcastles around here.  From the looks of it, it's not about the final result.  It's more about the finesse you put into it and the process in general.  Either way, we get the job down.

This durable, oversize truck is tons of fun, durable and sturdy.  It is ideal for building sandcastles.

Look at those tires.  They are huge and have treads large and deep enough to maneuver in any sand on any given day, be it sunny and warm or brisk and windy.  This truck doubles as a large sand bucket.

After the bed of your truck is full to the brim, you slowly back up to just the spot you want your castle to stand.  This is a very precise art.  You want your castle (or castles) exactly in the perfect location.

When your bucket is full of sticky sand, you can dump it out.  Just lift the bucket up and voila!  You've just begun building your sand castle. Your bed is emptied slowly and surely in the precise spot you chose.  If you've got one of those little sand playgrounds in your backyard, that might be a good place to practice but, you'll be missing a key ingredient — water.  You'll find that lots of water turns the sand into a much stickier substance.

You continue to drop your sand and build your castle higher.  It doesn't matter that the tide is coming in, or even if waves are crashing about.  At least it doesn't matter down here at Solana Beach because, we don't fool around down here.  Sand Castle building isn't a drippy, frilly, artsy pastime.  When we build sand castles we mean business.

Are these not fabulous? Never mind the details, the windows and draw bridges can be put in later.  We now have the foundation for some amazing construction.  Kind of like at the cottage.  The foundation is laid.  Now it's all about the details.  Sandcastles are very much like real life.  The joy comes from the process of living and building and not in the act of completion.  That's the mantra we keep repeating to ourselves.  Over and over again.  Adnauseium.

I digress.  With the base in place, all you really need to do now is figure out just what you want your sandcastle to look like.  You might want to add some seaweed or seashells or other treasures you find lying about.  Throw on whatever you like and turn your castle into a kicking' work of art!

Love you more than all the sand castles that will be built on all the beaches in all the world this summer.  Oh!  And, Happy Mother's Day to all you mothers out there.  Remember, yours is the most important job in all the world.  May your day be filled with all the things you love.