Odds & Ends (and, an oddity or two)…

Today is Q&A time – about all the odds & ends I have left hanging out there.

But, first up, let’s get the oddities out of the way.

Today is August 21st, 2017. It is the day of the Total Solar Eclipse of 2017!  I would call the total solar eclipse one of the most interesting oddities in Mother Nature. I love oddities. This is definitely my thing! So, the question of the day is…

Why-oh-why, did you not spend the day in Wyoming (or Nebraska) experiencing this once in a lifetime odd event given it is just a few short hours by car of where you live?

The simple answer is that I am a procrastinator. I had a tentative plan. I requested the day off of work. I tried to find somewhere to spend the night, but there was nothing left by the time I started looking. Then, I decided we could just drive somewhere the morning of the eclipse, spend a few minutes in total darkness, experience the event, and drive home in time for dinner. I thought this was a great idea. After all, I had the day off and nothing else to do. I told Tad the tentative plan. He was definitely not on board. I think it was the getting up in the middle of the night, driving for several hours in likely heavy traffic, and possibly missing the eclipse anyway if traffic was really bad. Tad does not get excited about odd things like I do. So, two minutes of odd was not enough to convince Tad to go on this day trip with me. So, I thought I would just head out on my own. It could still be kind of fun? As the day neared, the final deciding question of whether or not I would be experiencing this 2 minute once in a lifetime event was “Is sleep more important than 2 minutes of total darkness in the middle of the day?”

Yep. Sleep won out. I know. What is my deal?! I wanted to go, but I love sleep. I have missed out on a lot of sleep in my lifetime! Sleep is very important to me. I am not one of those people who lives by the “I can sleep when I am dead” mantra. Anyway, post solar eclipse I am ok with the decision. Plus, I did a quick google search and discovered that there will be a 2024 total solar eclipse in Rochester NY. Tad has family in Rochester! And, in 2045 there will be a total solar eclipse right here in Colorado. It can’t get more convenient than in my own backyard! That will likely be my final chance to experience total darkness in the middle of the day. I won’t miss it – unless, of course, I am sleeping :)

Once I got over the disappointment of being a procrastinator (and choosing sleep above all else), I realized I could still make the best of this day. I showed up at my dentist appointment early and told them that I needed to get out of there ASAP – so, no X-rays, no doctor exam, no fluoride – just the basics. Yes, I had a dentist appointment today – on Total Solar Eclipse Day. I seriously don’t know what is wrong with me sometimes!

Last night somebody on the news said that the eclipse here in Colorado would be like it is at dusk. He was wrong – in my opinion. I would compare the 2 minutes of “total” eclipse here in Colorado to sitting under our courtyard shade screen.  A bit like it is when it is hazy, but without the actual haze. Then, the light had a golden feel, but not like the “golden hour” at dusk. It was like being in a golden city – kind of like what I would imagine Emerald City to look like – a bit odd, but golden nonetheless – if Emerald City (and the Wizard of Oz) were real.

So, here is what Colorado felt like during the solar eclipse of 2017…


I don’t know. It looks mostly like it does any other day. Maybe, the “golden” thing was in my imagination?


Now to the Odds & Ends (and other lesser known oddities)…

Did you win the garden contest?

The good news is that I didn’t lose! So – no, I did not win the contest. However, I have had a bit of an interesting garden year. It has been very unusual…


That is an upside down purple pepper! I realize it is doesn’t really compare to the solar eclipse, but still a bit odd, I think. In case you are wondering, it tasted just like a right side up pepper :)

Is your blueberry bush alive and well?

Yes – yes, it is. It hasn’t grown much and hasn’t produced any blueberries, but it is still alive. The oddity here is that it is still alive! Odd or not, that is a win in my garden book!


Other than the upside down purple pepper and a surviving blueberry bush, what other contributions have you made to the outdoor scene this summer?

I, maybe, saved a bee and cheered up somebody’s day with some alley sunflowers. Somebody might consider this odd. In my mind, every little bit counts. I am willing to risk being thought of as odd if there is even a slim chance of saving a bee or cheering up just one person’s day.



Again, it isn’t a total solar eclipse, but it is a line through one of the items on the To Do List.  I spruced up a drainage swell in the front yard. The exciting part of this project was crossing it off the To Do List…


Our outdoor room (aka courtyard/patio) got some added pep! On a recent out of town trip, I added to my collection of blown glass patio decor…



and a striped pillow or three.


Speaking of outdoor living space – I started a renovation of our patio art table…


I say started because I think it needed an update from it’s original design. I still think it needs something more, though. It is missing color, maybe?

Ok – so – this hasn’t been one of my most productive summers.

And – frankly – the anticipation of the solar eclipse thing kind of overshadowed everything anyway.

Did you find something sculptural for the living room wall – above the wallpaper art?

Yes – I did! We were wandering around a local art show this summer – and it drew me in.


Handmade and very cool. Maybe, a little odd in some people’s (design) book…


It’s a bat.


It’s a totally cute bat!


I seem to recall another bat decor item in your house? You seem to like bats? What is up with that?

I don’t particularly “like” bats. It just so happened that a couple of bat type items crossed my path – and I like those bats for their uniqueness. Though, I like that real bats control insects and stuff. I like that about bats.

Did you ever get the hardware installed for your guest bedroom built in and closet?

Yep. We went with simple in an oil rubbed bronze finish. I love this built in. There isn’t enough room in our guest room for a dresser or any other kind of furniture storage. We thought a built in and a smaller area for hanging clothes was the best utilization of this closet space. It isn’t completely finished – we want to now install some lighting, but at least the hardware is installed. Every little step gets us closer to the finish…


Why did you not have lighting installed for the built in during the recent renovation?

Good question. It is kind of a long story. The short version, though, is that plans changed mid construction. More on that in the future.

Is the bathroom finished?

I think we last left off waiting on hardware installation, the mirror, and some artwork. So – the answer to this question is “Yes, it is mostly finished”…

Finally finished too...

The cabinet hardware was easily installed once I procured the longer screws.

Tile Close Up...

The frame for the mirror was started by Tad, but finished by the woodworker who built the vanity and bedroom built ins.


A photo of a little girl playing the violin for a cat and two dogs was framed and hung.


A huge nutcracker King rules the room…


Is that you playing the violin for the cat and dogs?

Ha – you aren’t the first to ask that same question! No, it isn’t me, but I can see why you might ask – given the antique nature of the photo – and my age…


Why don’t you just take a picture of the finished bathroom and call it good?

I know, right! I have tried taking those exact pictures you speak of. It is impossible to get decent pictures of this tiny space with my little non professional point and shoot camera. I think a video tour of the room might be better to show you around.Yes, I think a future video tour of the new bathroom is in order – stay tuned for that!


Our garden is in a contest & I would like to not lose…

I entered our side yard garden in a contest. I didn’t really think it would get chosen.

It ended up making the finals – and is now up for vote.

My main goal is to not lose. The pressure is on. I am currently #4 – with only slightly more votes than the edible garden at AT&T baseball park.

I realize that my edible garden may not technically be seen by some as “the best” given it’s very small size and the non-traditional mixing of flowers and edibles.

Again, I am just trying to not lose at this point. So, I am asking for your vote. Plus, the website is kind of cool to peruse if you like garden stuff.


Oh – and if you have 30 seconds per day, you can vote every day until August 4th…


Ok. Now, with that out of the way, here is the real 2017 garden story.

This year’s yard and garden has been a bit of a challenge. A very cold spring, followed by an early hot spell, then a multi day freeze, next a hailstorm with golf ball sized hail, a neighbor’s ash tree that dropped millions of seeds in our yard, very late germination of vegetable seeds, and finally the cold season vegetables going from seedlings to bolted overnight. Sigh…

You might notice (if you voted) that the contest entry pictures look pretty lush. In fact, that garden looks darn amazing! So amazing that you might actually think it could be the best one?!

You also might be thinking “Wow! Why are you whining? Your garden looks pretty decent, especially since you submitted those entry pictures in June! Who knew that gardens in Colorado could look that great in June!”

Here is the truth. It’s a spoiler :(

The pictures I submitted are from previous years – because a garden, in Colorado, in June – especially this June – is just barely getting started. My garden this June was just a bunch of empty troughs, hail damaged perennials, and what I thought was a dead grape vine. It was sad.

Fast forward a good 4-6 weeks…


Things sort of recovered. Things did finally sprout in the troughs. By things, I mean tomatoes. The tomato plants have gone completely crazy. Unfortunately, there are only about a total of 9 tomatoes on those huge plants.

The front raised bed, is what I would call a partial success this summer. The middle stuff never quite recovered (lots of bare dirt in there). The carrots (there at the bottom) look great, though I haven’t actually harvested any yet. The strawberries and blueberries (there at the top) have thrived!


Here is a close up of the successful berry section…


The flower part of the garden has been beautiful this July…


The grapevine (the tree looking thing in upper left corner) did not die! It did eventually leaf out again, after been frozen this spring – and there are even a few grape clusters…


The sunflowers in the alley are now going strong…


They haven’t flowered yet, but there is still time – and hope…



As you can see, I am still trying to contribute to the gardening world despite the adversity of Mother Nature here in Colorado.

Thank you for helping me not lose the garden contest.

The prize is a book – or something – at this point, I can’t even remember.

Soft Stuff, Part 2 – Plus, some Josef Frank & Franz Josef stuff…

This story is supposed to be about upholstered cubes. That may not interest some of you. So, I have thrown in a tangent about two Austrians with Josef in their names. These two are not the Josefs I am referring to, but the photo is a hint of what is to come…


First up, though – the cubes. I’ve already shown the new look. What you haven’t heard is the low down on why the cubes needed a redo and how they arrived at their new, colorful look.


We have four cubes total. We utilize them for extra seating as needed so, I didn’t want to get rid of them. Two were solid red. Two were tan. All four were kind of boring.

Two of the cubes ended up near the front door because Tad thought they would work well for people needing to sit while putting on (or taking off) shoes. He was right. It was a good idea.


The big blocks of color, while bold and a nice jolt of energy, didn’t feel quite right with the stuff we had going on. The solid block of non related red (or boring tan) seemed out of place. It seemed that the cubes needed to be softened up a bit.

Initially, I thought about just getting them all reupholstered in spring green – because I like green – and green goes with everything, in my opinion.

Then, I realized that an all green cube could be as boring as the all tan version.

View from my desk

That is when the idea of doing a pattern on the top came to fruition.

We all know by now that a bunch of pattern isn’t my thing. However, I do have a thing for a black background with bright colored simple graphics. This was a trend some years back – like 10ish years ago, maybe. Given it was in vogue a decade ago, it isn’t all that easy to find right now. I didn’t let that stop me. I did a pretty extensive search looking for that perfect fabric.

Eventually, I stumbled upon a fabric design from the 1920s-1940s that I became obsessed with…fullsizeoutput_132cI wanted this fabric for the top of our cubes. It was perfect! The black background – check. The simple, yet interesting, graphic pattern – check. The bright colors – check. It has little butterflies in it – bonus check! Finally, it has a whimsical, Dr. Suess-ey feel – double check!

Here is a different design, but still with a black background that I considered. Very garden like which is totally my thing…fullsizeoutput_132bThese are Josef Frank fabrics. He was an Austrian born architect/designer from Sweden.


Not to be confused with Franz Josef, the Austrian emperor, who has a glacier named after him, in New Zealand…

fullsizeoutput_1333We were there…


Initially, we were all very nervous.


That is me, Kellee, there at the back of the pack.


A young Alex.



That is ice (and Tad)! Totally cool.


Words cannot begin to describe the beauty.


Does he look Austrian?


Guiding our way…




Anyway, back to the fabric thing.

Sadly, the Josef Frank fabric is very, very pricey – and the patterns are relatively large scale so would not translate well to a small 18″ X 18″ cube top. Though, check out some of these other patterns and colors. Oh my gosh…fullsizeoutput_132e fullsizeoutput_1330 fullsizeoutput_132dLovely.

And, now, finally back to the actual topic of this story. I was persistent in my search for black backgrounds and the right kind of simple, bright, graphic pattern – that was reasonably priced. I held out for the right thing. Eventually, my perseverance paid off. I loved this pattern for our cubes as soon as I saw it. It met all my requirements including all the right colors. It isn’t quite on the same level of perfect as the Josef Frank fabric designs, but pretty darn close.


An added bonus of this fabric is that the colors are woven in, creating a really cool texture…


Conveniently, I found some solids that coordinated perfectly with the top inspiration fabric that are also woven with a softer and almost worn or washed color.

In red,


and blue


and green


and, finally, a natural linen.


You might be wondering why I didn’t just pick a single color in the solid options and do all the cubes in that color. Well, that was my initial intent. Then, I thought “Why not four different colored cubes?” But, I didn’t love the idea of all blue cube. I have talked about it before. A lot of blue isn’t my thing. So, that is when the multi colored thing came about.


I like it! The upholstery people had to call me twice to make sure that is what I wanted. Yep. It is exactly what I wanted.


I will not give up on having a Josef Frank pattern in my life. I am just postponing the dream for now.


In the meantime, I will sign off with some Franz Josef pattern in the form of glacial ice,


glacial remains,


and a glacial cairn.