Manolo for the HomeMay, 2008 | Manolo for the Home

Archive for May, 2008

We have a serious AYYYYY! situation here

Friday, May 30th, 2008
By Christa Terry

I used to hate bugs. Then I became a vegetarian, learned all about beneficial insects, and developed a live-and-let-live attitude toward nature. Now I still hate bugs, but I have to tolerate them so I don’t look like a damned hypocrite!

To a point, that is. My touchy-feely philosophy falls completely apart when it comes to anything that is going to damage my house, destroy my garden, or hurt me and The Beard. An animal that fits any of the previously listed criteria is gonna get schooled by yours truly.

I don’t think it’s more afraid of me than I am of it.

There is something…or perhaps two somethings…building a nest in our modest little shed. The same somethings built a nest last summer, which we found the remains of this spring. The Beard has knocked the nest down a few times, but these somethings are extremely determined to start a family.

Why can’t I be more specific about what they are? We’re obviously not sticking our faces right up near the nest so we can compare them with pictures of flying black and yellow bugs we find online.

Suffice it to say that we’re very sure that the somethings are either paper wasps or yellowjackets. I’m hoping they’re paper wasps, because paper wasps are fairly unaggressive. Yellowjackets, on the other hand, are mean little bastards who are always on the lookout for some opportunity to throw down.

The Beard had this to say: “Yellowjackets apparently nest underground and will also whisper incorrect lotto numbers to you in your sleep, resulting in inevitable poverty. They’re jerks.” Sounds to me like the fit the gonnagetschooled criteria to me! If it does turn out our somethings are paper wasps…well, they’re still going to have to go because their preferred nesting spot is right over our shed door and when paper wasps do attack, it’s typically because their nest has been disturbed.

When it comes to striking the killing blow, Jonathan Hatch of How to Get Rid of Things has this to say:

The safest way to get rid of paper wasps is to purchase a can of pressurized wasp killer and spray the nest in a sweeping motion during the night. It is best to treat a yellowjacket nest in the late evening with either a dust insecticide like Sevin or Dursban, but usually an aerosol will do so long as the poison reaches the nest. Hell, try two cans.

Oh my goodness…please, please, please let the things be paper wasps…

Disposable furniture — not much of a dilemma at all

Thursday, May 29th, 2008
By Christa Terry

United States Patent #3149880 is for “Disposable Furniture.” It’s an interesting idea, and one that I feel has been thoroughly embraced by people in the U.S., if not quite intentionally. I like to walk around my neighborhood in all sorts of weather, and it’s an unusual day indeed that doesn’t involve my stopping to inspect some piece of discarded furniture. There isn’t all that much in my house that came out of someone’s trash, but there are a few things. I enjoy refinishing tables, you see, and the curb is a wonderful place to find blank slates upon which to work my magic.


So what do I mean by disposable? This passage from Yet Another Blog about Money sums it up nicely:

IKEA makes sense if you’re willing to recognize that the furniture items you buy aren’t going to become heirlooms–and indeed, might not even survive your next move. They are, in a sense, disposable. If they break or get scratched, you won’t be happy about it, but you won’t lose sleep over it, either. And when you finally decide that you are sick of a particular piece of furniture, it will probably have a used resale value of somewhere between $5 and $25, which, depending on your personal finances, you might not even bother with reselling.

I have one of the chairs in the image above, complete with a nubbly off-white cushion that attracts cat hair like some kind of magical magnet. I tell you this: It’s flimsy. Yes, I’m probably the third or fourth owner of the chair (thanks, Kristina!). Yes, there’s a bit that’s glued because there was a “fyorgen” or whatever it is Ikea calls those oddly shaped screws they give you with your flat packs. However, that doesn’t change the fact that the chair is simply not made to last.


Colorful cast-offs

Wednesday, May 28th, 2008
By Christa Terry

Every now and then I’ll come across a tale of some enterprising individual who built something grand from scraps, and I’m more than a little envious of their accomplishment. In Costa Rica, near where my mother has a vacation home, there’s a lovely house a construction worker built with the leavings from various work sites. You’d never know it wasn’t crafted from specially chosen materials. Seriously, it’s gorgeous.

That’s one way to use it up!

Likewise, I would never guess that this floor, which was laid down by the people behind Diary of a Vermont Eco Builder, was crafted using leftover pieces of Marmoleum. As you know, I’m not a huge fan of lino , but the pattern is fab and the Marmoleum adds a real splash of color to what may be an otherwise plain kitchen. I say could because it looks like the countertop is also made of Marmoleum…a lovely reddish-orange Marmoleum. Mmmm…

The reason I’m not redoing my floors and walls with cast offs is that I don’t have a supplier. The Vermontians used leftovers from their own construction projects so it wasn’t really an issue. What I’d really like is to find someone who’s looking to unload a bunch of flagstones or round bits of concrete with flat tops or anything else I could use to create a little garden path. Any ideas? I’m scouring Craigslist as I write this!

Food with faces

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008
By Christa Terry

Sometimes I feel like there’s a vast unseen conspiracy to make the world much, much creepier than it already is. Why else would there be a movement to give perfectly good trees faces, turning them into horrible rabid monsters that scare passing children and yours truly? I mean, how about we choose one thing and DON’T anthropomorphize it for a change?

The tools of the facemakers!

Or not. Lee Valley Tools wants to help you turn your garden into a terrorscape of leering vegetables using just a few pieces of plastic. Much like the Bonsai Kitten kit, the Vegiforms kit molds your growing produce into a number of heinous, nightmare-inducing shapes.

Grow your own edible army…of FEAR BLEAH BLEAH BLEAH!

At about thirteen bucks, the cost is reasonable, until you factor in all the extra gardening you”ll be doing to appease your veggie overlords. In other words, you better pull those weeds, because they’re watching you…

Available in the form of an elf for shaping eggplant, melon, pumpkin, and squash, or the “pickle pair”, corncob or heart (makes heart-shaped cross sections when sliced) for use with cucumber, zucchini and summer squash.

The molds can be used repeatedly. With zucchini, you can create a new shape every week. They might even encourage children to eat their vegetables.

Or it just might encourage them to wet the bed!

Stoloniferous rage

Monday, May 26th, 2008
By Christa Terry

When The Beard and I first moved into our house, there was a decorative trellis set up in the back yard. It was supporting a network of vines springing forth from a main woody trunk growing right against the fence that divides our property from our neighbor’s property. At first, I left it alone thinking that it would eventually flower or so something interesting, but what a fool I was. If anything, I can only imagine that the trellis was our home’s former owner’s method of dealing with a force so malignant and ugly one can only camouflage its evil.

DIE DIE DIE!!!!!!!!!

I’m talking about stolons. Oh, some stolons are nice enough…strawberry plants are stoloniferous, as are creeping buttercups. Others, however, do nothing useful and are determined to take over their host garden at all costs. Unlike rhizomes, which are in and of themselves a plant — at least according to Backyard Nature; other sites define them differently — stolons are just parts of a larger plant. The kicker is that a single piece of the stolon can grow into a big ol’ plant. Just when you think everything is pulled up, dug up, and gone for good, a new vine starts to grow from a three-inch long section of shoot.

Naturally, I did not know this. I was under the impression that you pull up as much of the nastyyucky root as you can and all of the ancillary bits will die off in time. After all, if you stop a heart from beating, the capillaries don’t go on living! But no, stolons are hardy little buggers with a will to survive that rivals that of the most highly stubborn animal.

When the weather here in Beverly was warm enough to allow for outdoor treks, I put on my gardening gloves, hefted my shears, and cut all of the vines off the trellis. Then I set about digging up the roots, which is when I found out just how far the shoots or stalks or whatever you want to call them traveled. I was ripping up long stretches of grass and scattering the soil in what were slated to be decorative beds. Bits and pieces of stolon not connected to any main root system were already sprouting new plants! It was a nightmare!

Or, rather, it still is a nightmare, because the original plant had spread its hellish tendrils practically everywhere by the time we moved in. I blame the house’s former owner, who decided to ignore a problem instead of tending to it. Everything I read on subject says HERBICIDE, HERBICIDE, HERBICIDE, CROSS YOUR FINGERS, AND PRAY TO WHATEVER GOD YOU WORSHIP. It sounds like a hit-or-miss strategy that also happens to be the only strategy out there.


Read it and weep…

Friday, May 23rd, 2008
By Christa Terry

…and by weep, I mean release your envy in the form of tears as you peruse Born Rich. I’m a confirmed re-user, recycler, thrifter, and simple living advocate, but that doesn’t mean I can’t live it up vicariously through people who have adopted a wholly different approach to life. Sure, I go on a little buying bender every now and again, but the stuff I buy is usually stuff I need.

But when I decide to do a little virtual window shopping, there’s no way I’m going to be satisfied with a trip to Bernie & Phyl’s. I prefer to dream big when I’m dreaming about things I wouldn’t buy even if I had the money no matter how uber-fantastic they are! I can admit that stuff can be fun, useful, and awesome to look at even if I’m trying to keep my own stuff level to a minimum…right?

My pets are SO not that pampered

For example, I’m sure that riding in the car would be a lot less traumatic for my kitties if they were traveling in a “hand-made Global Gallivanter trunk is crafted in espresso Napa leather with reinforced corners and two thick leather straps with brass buckles.” Provided, that is, I got it for free. It’s always like that — the cats love the stupid cat spa because I paid zero bucks for it and hate the cat bed we bought at the vet’s office.

Then there are real gold floors, mother of pearl encrusted XBOXs, giant pirate ship beds, and underwater treadmills. A lot of the stuff on Born Rich is utterly ridiculous…only some of it is stuff I’d consider coveting…but almost all of it is fun to look at. Enjoy!

The walls have eyes

Thursday, May 22nd, 2008
By Christa Terry

Today’s bit of bizarre comes from Bridey, who sent me a link to a blog post describing Bocci 22 outlets.


Now is it just me, or do these outlets look…well…vaguely confused in a classic Nintendo-esque sort of way? Whatever stymied these poor givers of electricity did not make them happy. I mean, they’re frowning!

Frowning, tedious to install, and giving me a case of the screaming heebies. I’ll just stick to plain old ugly outlet covers for now until someone comes up with a sleeker option that has a bit less personality.

NtB WANTS: boldLOFT coffee mugs o’ love

Wednesday, May 21st, 2008
By Christa Terry

This is where I get all squee-ish and say things like, “OMG teh cuteness!” The gist of it is this: I get one (the girl one, probably) and The Beard gets one (likely the boy one), and we drink coffee all day and think about each other. At least I gather that’s what is supposed to happen, based on boldLOFT‘s description.

Teamwork is awesome.

More probable, however, is that we lose one half of the set, and he’s drinking out of the girl mug and I’m drinking out of the dollar store mug with “X for xylophone” on it. That’s all right by me!


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    Christa Terry
    (a.k.a. Never teh Bride)


    Manolo the Shoeblogger