Friday, January 6, 2017

Snow Days

I don't much enjoy snow anymore.  It's stressful to drive in and I live at the top of a steep hill.
But there are some little pleasures that come with having it snow and stick around.

Foot prints.  Pictured here are squirrel prints.  I've also seen raccoon prints this week and possibly a bobcat.  Bird prints are pretty cute too.

It's fun to follow them and see where they go.  A lot of them are focused around the bird feeder and the water hole.

It's very cold here this week, not the norm, but it does happen.  Personally, I look forward to the rain returning, but until then I shall enjoy scouting for foot prints in the snow.

Monday, January 2, 2017

2016 - It's A Wrap!

Huckleberry hollow underwent some major improvements this year.
To recap, here's an overview, follow the links to read the full posts.

Back in April of 2016 I decided to redo the bathroom - again - and it really turned out nice.  New paint, trim and floor paint.  You can read the full post here: .

All Spring and Summer a friend helped me install a new 6 foot cedar fence along my property line.  This was labor intensive!  Together we cut the labor costs and although it took us several months of part time work, we were able to finish it in time for some outdoor deck sitting - with privacy.
You can view the complete post here: .

In the middle of the summer I started working on new ways to skirt the mobile.  I love Pinterest and get a lot of my ideas there.  I found some great ideas on alternative skirting concepts and used two of them for around my place.
One was a row of concrete blocks placed just under my addition, leaving about an inch of air flow space.  Another was to use cedar fence boards like pickets, around other sections of the home.
Two posts covered this subject and they are here: .  And here: .

By the time summer was winding down and had a little more free time from work, I decided it was time to tackle the mud room and front deck issues.  There was dry rot and leveling that needed addressing.  Again my friend helped me with the leveling and I replaced the top deck boards last.
That post is here: .
 You'll notice some additional upgrades to the paint around the place too.

After that we transplanted 2 of my very large bamboo into 4 bigger pots, as well as dividing them.  They are 12 feet tall now and have occupied those pots for about 10 years.
They add the perfect privacy screen above the new fence!
That post is here: .

By then the weather was changing and it was time to focus indoors.
I needed to finish working on a back bedroom that needed some odd repairs, not pictured, but not interesting in photos anyway.  The goal here is always about insulation and sealing, while still trying to maintain aesthetics.  It's not a pretty place, but it is very functional.
I also worked on the other two little bedrooms, carrying on the same theme with new paint.

I also revamped my first poetry book, Poetic Zen, with new color photographs.  The post is here: , with a link to ordering it.

After the fallout of 11/9 so many of us were devastated by the news of a new leader that when I finally regained some optimism, I decided to pull together some artists and writers and publish a book about hope.  It's called Messages of Hope and the post is here: .  You can order from the links there.

I wrapped up the year by reopening my Etsy shop and diving back into metalsmithing.  I purchased a new domain name for it as well, you can visit it here: .
My goals this year are to increase my work-from-home income with finished jewelry pieces as well as supplies for other artists in similar mediums.

So the smallest bedroom has been converted into half storage and half art studio.  Upcoming posts on that as I try to squeeze another work space into an already tiny space!

Thank you all for following along with me on my journey to remodel my life.  :)
Farewell 2016, and hello 2017!  May we all prosper and find joy. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Messages of Hope

I am so excited to announce this new book! I pulled together artists, poets, photographers and writers to contribute their talents to this much needed publication!
Messages of Hope is now ready for purchase. All proceeds are donated to charity! So you are helping yourself and others with your purchase. This will make a great gift at any time. Available from the link below.

Messages of Hope
24 pages, published 12/21/2016
Messages of Hope comes at a time we most need it, for the country, for the world, for ourselves.A collection of poems, essays, art and photography by four artists.

Friday, December 9, 2016

New Book!

Hot off the press!  Poetic Zen first published in 2004, now revised with all new color images and a bonus poem!  Available in both print and digital formats on MagCloud.

Poetic Zen

By J Gray in Poetry & Images

24 pages, published 12/9/2016

Poetic Zen was first printed in 2004. Now revised in 2016 with all new color images and a bonus poem!

Monday, November 7, 2016

Boycot Black Friday


This Black Friday as with last year, I am opting out of shopping and going outside.  It's a fitting gesture for me and a smart one.  We consume far too much stuff at an alarming rate!  I am slowing that down and promoting "less stuff".  It's easier to manage less stuff, costs less and allows me more free time.  Now that's smart.

Thank you #REI for this splendid image that encourages us to Opt Outside.  (Even they will close for Black Friday.)

Will you join us??

And speaking of STUFF, here is a great video from Woody on the subject:

Friday, November 4, 2016

Indoor Projects

After a myriad of outdoor projects and the eminent arrival of Fall rains, I moved my motivation indoors at the beginning of October.  This next project was already brewing in my mind while I was working outside.

I had a plan to caulk the remaining seams in two of the bedrooms and repaint.  I had such good success in the bathroom from earlier this year that I was eager to get started.

I don't have any photos of this project because honestly, seams of walls and ceilings just don't translate well in a photo.  If you've ever done any caulking work you know what I mean.

One of the biggest problems I ran into was an old patch / fix from the former tenant.  I'm still not exactly sure how to make a permanent fix, but for now I have at least made it look better and used a small piece of sheetrock to patch a hole in the ceiling.  Originally there was a really long piece screwed to the ceiling tile that also covered an old water stain.
I just put a few coats of Kilz paint over the stain and it was fine.  (Reminder:  this mobile had previously been rescued from Mt. St. Helen's).  Now of course it has a full roof-over structure, so these water stains were quite old.

The overall goal here is to eliminate the need for trim and give it a more finished look.  I did indeed accomplish this!  Floor trim, of course, remaining.

There's nothing like a fresh coat of paint!  Both bedrooms got a country white which will be greatly appreciated come the long dark winter here.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Winter Readiness

I like to repost this one every year as we head into winter.  I have had a lot of experience by trial and error on what to do or not do during storms.  The last thing we want is to already be in one unprepared, whether at home or away from home.

I've added two great new gizmos to my arsenal of supplies.  Actually one was a gift from my brother this year.  It's a battery operated light switch.

Don't let this thing fool you!  It's incredibly bright and only needs two AAA batteries.  It can mount via sticky pads or magnets.

 Is that crazy or what?  I love it!

Next up is my go to tool when the lights go out and it's dark.  It's a headlamp.  Hands free light wherever I need it.

This has three settings, two for brightness and one blinks.  I imagine the blinking option would come in handy should I somehow get trapped in a snow bank, lol.

 More tips follow from this archived post:

  While it's a little early to be thinking about snow here in the Pacific Northwest, it is not too early to prepare for it!
Women on their own must look out for themselves and be prepared for anything - because anything can happen.  I have been through many major storms here and been trapped for weeks, both at home and away from home.

I now have a preparation ritual.  In the Fall (sometimes sooner) I start thinking about what I need to do, from gathering supplies to making preparations.
Supplies always include extra canned and dry goods, anything I can cook or prepare on a camp stove should the power be out.
Preparations include winterizing the house.  Wrapping outside pipes, putting up heavier curtains inside.
I even pack an overnight bag that I keep in my car should I get stuck away from home.

I always make sure I have a flashlight and extra batteries, several small propane tanks, lanterns and oil, matches and ground coffee!  Until they design a battery operated coffee grinder, this is a staple for me!  Of course a small drip coffee one-cupper and cone shaped filters must be included.
[ update:  I found a hand grinder!  No batteries or electricity required!)

Other useful things would be a couple of bags of ice in the freezer, so when the power goes out it keeps the food cold.  One year it was so cold outside that I just put the food out in the mudroom.
Extra containers of water may be necessary if your water comes from an electric pump,  and did I mention candles?  Lots of them.

Obviously I have a back up heating system that doesn't require electricity.  I have a wonderful wood stove.  It is actually my primary heat source. I get my fire wood in the summer, stacked, cured and covered by Sept.

Keep the gas tank full in the car and the snow shovel by the front door.  Have a corded phone to plug in to the jack should the power go out.  Cordless phones are useless without power.
Up until about a year ago I didn't even have a cell phone, but now that I do, I keep that charged up.  While I don't get service here at my house, at least I can use it in the car if need be.

So these are some of the things we can do to be prepared for a long winter living alone.
If you're on a budget like me, or just like to conserve your resources, we have to think outside of the box a little more, get creative and work with the resources you have.

I'm really quite content with my independent life, and grateful to have a sharp mind and willing spirit.  It just makes life so much more interesting.

If you have any tips you'd like to share on winter preparedness, please leave a comment!  I look forward to hearing from you.