Sunday, July 24, 2016

The War of the Squirrels

I am at war!  The first thing to know when you are at war is KNOW YOUR ENEMY . . . believe me, I know mine! If you've ever battled squirrels, you're on my side.  Sure, they LOOK cute and fluffy but they are devils and they destroy things.   This summer, they've zeroed in on my sanctuary  . . . my refuge . . . my gazebo.

 Look closer . . . and you'll see what these evil creatures are doing . . .

They are shredding my gazebo screens!!  This happened a few summers ago and by the time I found out, they had literally shredded two complete sides!  I'm guessing they are gathering nesting material but they are gathering from the WRONG person.  I did a bit of research and found lots of different suggestions for repelling squirrels and well, I decided that a multi-faceted approach was the way I would go.  SO . . .
 I read that they do not like strong scents like mint so since I have an abundance of mint, I spread pieces all around the deck.  The next strong scent I added was good, old-fashioned mothballs tied up in pieces of panty hose.
 To "spice things up" I sprinkled cayenne pepper all around the edges . . . and made a solution of hot pepper sauce and water which I sprayed on the deck as well.
 And then for "good measure" I went the chemical route and soaked the screen with this critter repellent (Important side note:  They really mean it when they say to not spray INTO the wind . . . I think the main component in this is pepper!)
 And after all of this . . .
I came home yesterday to find this . . .
 DRAT!!!  Now I'm not giving up because it WAS just a few smaller holes so MAYBE once they got a mouthful, they decided they didn't like the taste?? I'm still not convinced this is going to work but early this morning I had another idea based on what they had done a few summers ago to one of my outdoor decorations.
 I had made this cute, little banner to hang in front of the house but one day I came home and it was broken.  I thought maybe the twine just broke but when I tried to tie it together, it appeared that some of the banner was actually MISSING?! The next day I came home -- only about 5 triangles were left!!  I was TOTALLY baffled -- who would do this and WHY??  The answer came a year later when we trimmed a thick pine tree at the side of our house.  Inside we found . . . you guessed it, pieces of my patriotic banner. SO, this led to my current day problem and I wondered, "What if I GAVE these little monsters some nesting material?" -- would they leave my gazebo alone?  The result . . .
I didn't INTEND for this to be patriotic -- it's just that the tulle I had was blue, the fabric I didn't care about was red and I figured the fluffy batting might be appealing so I added that.  I stapled it all onto an old bench by the bushes where these little varmints tend to congregate and I'm HOPING they say, "Gee . . . why don't we use this pretty stuff for our nest and not bother with that nasty tasting screen that smells".
SO, does anyone else have any ideas for me??  Have you ever battled these creatures and won??
To be continued . . .

On any given week (depending on how busy I am!) I love to participate in Linky Parties.  These gals put a lot of time and effort into hosting these parties so I always want to show my appreciation by directing my readers to these blogs. 







Saturday, July 9, 2016

Kitchen Renovation Under 500.00

There are four words I'm sure my family NEVER thought they'd hear me say:  "I LOVE my kitchen"!
But after 20 years in this house . . . I finally DO!
Thanks to my girls who 'got the ball rolling' by starting the painting of walls and cabinets, I just finished.  It took a few months but less than 500.00 to transform my most hated room into my most loved. There are SO many pictures of this process but I tried to pare it down to the ones that I felt would be most helpful to others considering this process.  Our budget was tight and the three biggest expenses were the paint (I'll explain why later), the flooring (109.00) and the counter top refinishing kit (119.00).  The rest was elbow grease and a few odds and ends.
The yellow dinette set was the inspiration piece for the room.  I purchased it years ago at a thrift store for 100.00 hoping some day I'd have a yellow, retro kitchen to put it in.  
Painting the cupboards was, well, a REAL job.  Here's the paint explanation.  I decided to go with chalk paint because I'd used it on furniture and loved the look.  Research told me it would work.  Well, it did . . . and it didn't.  It was VERY temperamental even though I thoroughly cleaned and even lightly sanded the laminate cupboards.  It took three coats to get good coverage and even after waxing, it was 'spotty' and dull in spots.  SO, I ended up going over them with a semi-gloss white paint I already had and that looked great.  SO, I spent 80.00 for chalk paint when I could have spent 20.00 on a gallon of semi-gloss paint and a quart of Kilz primer.  SO much time wasted too.  But -- lesson learned and in the end it all worked out.  I did not paint the inside of the cupboards either -- just the faces.  I also sprayed the beige stove hood with white paint designed for appliances.
I kept all of the hinges and sprayed them white.  To replace the old handles, I filled one of the holes and then bought red, porcelain knobs to put on the doors.  The drawers (pictured here on the left) presented another problem.  I filled BOTH holes but then had to drill a hole in the center for the knob.  Do you have ANY IDEA just how TOUGH cheap, laminate is???  I tried every drill bit I had and finally went to Home Depot and asked someone there what to use.  He told me to get a bit used to drill through tile -- and it worked!  Still took a bit of effort but it did work.
My tiny kitchen looks SO much bigger now with the pale yellow walls and white cabinets.  As I said, one of the larger expenses was the counter top kit that I told you about in an earlier post.  You can read about it here -- Daich Spreadstone Counter Top kit -- simply AMAZING!
I painted all of the outlet covers with high gloss, red spray paint; made a new little awning-type curtain over the sink; and a matching toaster cover.
 Over the sink is this nasty (well it USED to be nasty), cheapo, fluorescent light fixture.  No money to replace it right now so I just painted the lovely faux-wood grain, metal frame yellow so it blends into the section above the sink.  I got a piece of clear fiberglass cut at the local hardware store then laid a piece of lace on it and sprayed it white.  Remove the lace and voila -- a pretty light fixture.
I decided to do something special with the cupboards over the refrigerator (does ANYONE really use these cupboards??) Well I didn't so I decided to make this a decorative focal point by painting the inside a contrasting color and adding a few vintage pieces I had stored away.  I also drilled a hole in the bottom so I could add some light in there, running the cord down the side of the refrigerator to the outlet.
In the "After" picture you get a glimpse of my new flooring as well as a cabinet I made over and a message center from an old cupboard door.  I'll be posting more information on those in future posts.  Proof positive you CAN make over a room on a budget -- you just have to be willing to put in the time, effort and in my case, have a couple of cute, twin daughters who got the effort started!