Saturday, May 19, 2012

Magical Mud Room Makeover

Magical Mudroom Makeover

Ever have a room in your house that you look at for years wondering what to do with it?  My mud room has both baffled and tormented me for nearly six years. It was never finished and isn't even connected to the house, well, only at the roof.  The inner walls are plywood and even they aren't completely finished.  

My inclination was always to have it torn down and have a "real" front porch built - some day.  Well I got tired of waiting as you all know me to do and I decided to just do "something".  So I got out the white wash and painted, and painted, and painted.  Things always look better painted.

My biggest dilemma was the inside of those round windows you all like.  Well on the inside they are just a square piece of glass against a cut out round hole and you could see the glue.  I am not that handy with the jigsaw for an inner piece,  so I decided to just paint the glass!  

BEFORE
First coat on glass

AFTER


So here is the dreaded plywood before the paint (above).

Floor before

Floor before
As well as the floor before.  Now don't gasp at painting the floor - it's just wood, and old crappy looking wood at that - but - look at those interesting diagonal boards...

After

After
Perfect for a white wash!

So here is the finished look with added decor I already had (below).




There are still a few other things I want to do - that you can't see in these photos, but for the most part I am happy with how it turned out, considering what I started with!

New Toys

(imported from my former photo blog)
I've been researching point and shoot cameras this month.  I wanted to upgrade my pocket camera, the Nikon Coolpix L18, to something a little more advanced without a large monetary investment.  I already own a DSLR so something in between would be nice.

When I go out for a drive I don't always have time to stop and get the perfect shot with the DSLR, so I admit it, I sometimes just want to "point and shoot"!

So after looking at Nikon, Canon, and Olympus, I decided on the Olympus SZ 12, which I think just came out.
I was impressed by two things initially, its 14mp and 24x zoom.
It was retailing for about $199 and the comparable Nikons and Canons were more.

I always shop around online and was delighted to find a sale at B & H Photo with an instant rebate of $50!  With only one week of the sale left, I jumped on it for $149 plus $9.05 shipping.

It arrived a week ago and I've only had a couple of days free to play with it.  I was impressed immediately by that 24x zoom and stabilization!  I can photograph the birds at my feeder now from the comfort of my deck chair about 30 feet away.

The first day I used it I caught this Western tanager through the fence.  I've never gotten a photo of this timid bird before.



The functions of the Olympus SZ 12 are very user friendly and it's easy to catch on to how to scroll through the functions.
There are some fun and entertaining functions called Magic Art Filters, that include a pop art look, pinhole, fish-eye and nine more.  Of course it's also got modes for portrait, night, landscape, scenic, etc.

I took a walk around the yard and got some images with the macro and other functions which are also on my other blog at www.newpioneerdiary.com , so the credits are from there.


soft focus added in Picasa.


While I was sitting at my computer I was delighted to see the illusive MacGulivray's warbler nearby, so I grabbed the new camera and got these shots of him - from my desk chair, through the glass!



So if you're in the market for a point and shoot or even shopping for your first camera, do check out the Olympus SZ 12.  Google it for more details as I have only scratched the surface here.

This would be a great introduction to digital photography for anyone, not to mention a terrific pocket camera for all occasions!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Spring at Last!

I know the calendar said it was Spring, but it didn't really feel like it here in the Pacific Northwest until last weekend.  In fact, we got a three day hot spell in the upper 80's which was quite a switch from the cool, rainy days we'd been having.

I've been enjoying the birds that return to my feeders every year like the goldfinch and grosbeak.  The watering hole has been the real social hub, where many of the warblers have been seen too.

So here's a little photo tour of the yard and some of what's out now in May.








One of my favorite birds is the MacGullivray's warbler.  They return here every year to nest and raise their young.  Usually very illusive, this year he is underfoot, in the birdbath, in the yard, and along the back bank outside my window.  Today he was protecting his territory from the other MacG in the reflection of the glass.  It was quite a show and I got several photos of him up close. 
(No harm came to either party by the way.) 




Isn't he a beauty??

I rescued a hummingbird today who flew into the front porch mudroom and was confused by the large round window he couldn't escape from.  He was quite cooperative as I gently cupped my hand over him.  He actually sat on my finger as I took him outside, probably relieved to be over that adventure, but not willing to wait while I got the camera out for a photo though...

The tomato plants are in as well as the squash, spinach and lettuce, but I'm keeping it pretty low key this year and using mostly containers.
It's hard to tell what the rest of the season is going to be like with this unpredictable weather too.

I hope everyone is getting a chance to enjoy nature and wildlife where they live!

I'm working on the mudroom makeover this month - so stay tuned for the photos of that project.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

New Pioneer Unplugged

Modern civilization is great, full of conveniences like cars, cell phones, email and the internet.  We can connect with friends and family anywhere in the world at any time day or night.

This observation got me to thinking and wondering if we are handling it responsibly.  Are we still taking care of ourselves?  Getting enough rest, experiencing enough peace.

Even in my fairly laid back lifestyle I still make a point to take a day or two a week to "unplug".  
A mental detox, refraining from human interaction.  It's not necessarily a day I do nothing, I might be quite inspired and deep in a creative project or gardening.
But I do tend to get my best ideas when I'm just sitting on the deck watching the birds.

Simply put, it's like we're a container, and while we're busy and on the go our container is full.  When we unplug and relax our container is empty and allowing new thoughts and ideas in.
I think this is how the Source speaks to us (or God or Buddha, whatever works for you), and if we just heed it, great things can develop.

If we're constantly on the go how do the messages get through?

Just recently I had a breakthrough in my personal life.  At first I found myself struggling to understand a recent challenge.  I took a day to unplug and relax, by mid-day it hit me, enlightenment!  I journaled for over an hour and the issue was resolved.  Wow - therapy on the cheap.

It's my belief that we really do already have all the answers - if we will but listen and trust our intuition.

Have you had a similar experience?