Fly Tying

Since James found out about the arrival of Baby M, he knew his extravagant fishing days were limited.  Realistically we should not be spending massive amounts of money on fly rods, reels, line, and especially flies.  Those tiny little things that get tied to the end of the line, thrown into the water, get hooked in mouths, and get stuck on something and lost are at least $1.50 a piece and I have seen some for $6.00!  I could not believe it the first time I saw how much they were! The hooks are tiny!!  Although–I must admit, they are quite amazing to look at!  The colors, patterns, materials that are used are crazy!

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Flies that James likes to use to catch Trout.

Now, you may be saying that those don’t look too hard to make–because I said the same thing when I first agreed to make flies for him.  Well let me tell you, those tiny little masses of feathers/rabbit fur/deer hair/elk hair/string/wire are some of the hardest things I have EVER tried to do. And truthfully probably one the of the most frustrating things I have tried.  The hooks are tiny, TINY, the string or hair NEVER stays were it should, you have loose ends hanging out everywhere, and most of the time when I am done it does not look like what it is supposed to.  We have had the fly tying kit for close to a year now and it only comes out when James gets desperate, wants me to try something new, or when I decide to make up a brand new fly–AKA, seeing what colors/material I can throw together and see if it actually catches any fish.  I enjoy fly fishing when it is 90 and sunny, James fishes all year round–sun, wind, rain, snow, cold, you name it, he has fished in it.

Since we decided to cut back on recreational activity spending (i.e. spending $20-$50 on flies each time we go fishing–which for James is almost daily in the summer and two-ish times a week in the winter), there really isn’t much choice in the matter. Fly tying will be in our blood eventually. Besides, most of the fly fisherman we know around here do tie their own flies because it is so much cheaper.  In order for me to agree to make some dysfunctional looking flies I told James that I get to pick out some of the colors we use.  He likes the browns, greens, browns–me on the other hand enjoy seeing lime greens, blues, pinks, orange, sparkles.. If I were a fish, I would skip the boring tan fly and go straight for the eye catching lime green and pink fly!  James tries to tie the flies but his hands are too big–he can hardly hold onto the hook without covering the whole thing up, and turns out his fingers can not be all at nimble and gentle without ripping the material, or breaking the thread. Eventually, I always end up fishing the flies.  The best part is that no matter how horrible the fly is James always says it looks great and he always uses it!

81tDzgFxjDL._SY355_.jpgThis is our fly tying Kit.  Not a fancy one, but it works.

Let me tell you–the video in our kit and the YouTube videos that tell you how to make the flies look so simple; lies, its all lies.. Even the simplest ones, like what we made yesterday were hard!  James wanted to go fishing with a friend, but wanted some flies that looked like worms.  Seems easy enough right, I thought I could bust one of these guys out in a few minutes.  Well turns out it took us 30 minutes for the first one and it looked horrible.  We did make 4 of them after the first one and by the end I had it down to about 10 minutes a fly.  The fly we made yesterday had one piece of long thick string or rubber down the back of the hook–that is it.  Should not have taken so long, but of course I once again underestimated the difficulty of the fly tying skill.

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Our fly tying contraption.

Now, most people who do this on a regular basis have their very own room to fly ties and keep it set up 24/7.  We on the other hand have all of our fly tying things in a Tupperware box that sits in the closet until I get enough courage to actually attempt to make a fly. We set ours up on the kitchen counter when it needs to be.

To make our squirmy wormie fly: (This was a team effort–it took 4 hands occasionally)

  1. Get a size 10-12 hook and put a gold bead head on it.  James had to do that because I was not able to get the head around the hook part.
  2. Wrap the copper wire around the shaft of the hook to the curve to make sure it has enough weight to keep it under water.  Make sure that the head is locked in place by wrapping a lot of wire right behind it.  Make sure the wire is tight, otherwise it just moves around the hook as you make the rest of the fly–super annoying when that happens.
  3. Take the sparkly thread (that was a must for me) and wrap it from the bead head down to the end of the copper wire, covering it completely.
  4. Take one of your squirmy wormie bodies and put it on top of the hook shaft–we both needed to hold the worm part onto the hook while I wrapped the sparkly thread around it from head to toe.
  5. I folded the worm body over its self twice to make the worm body thick enough to where I thought it looked ok.

IMG_20160206_144517287_HDR.jpg Tada! Squirmy Wormies

Can you guess what color I picked out?? Of course the neat pink one with sparkly thread!! We made our squirmy wormies for $0.50/each, not $1.50/each from the store.  They may not look like the ones from the store, but James did say he had a lot of bites when he used them yesterday–sadly he did not catch any fish though.  He told me a few times that he likes my squirmy wormies more than the ones from the store! He actually really liked the sparkly aspect of them.  And! The fly on the upper left, the sparkly tail feathers were his idea and he said the fish loved it!

Baby M’s Room

I was going to wait until Baby M’s room was completely done, but I could not wait any longer.  James wanted to put hardwood floors in the nursery because it would be cleaner with two hairy dogs in the house.  I finally agreed after much hesitation.  We bought unfinished circle sawn fir to match the wood in the living room.  We had pulled up the carpet in the nursery and threw it out.  We did have somebody put the wood floors in the nursery, James nor I have ever done that before–so we thought we would let the professionals do it this time and we would hover over them to watch how they did it.  James parents arrived just in time from Sunny Northern California to help James stain the floor. I would have helped but was not allowed to because, well, I am pregnant and should not be around the fumes.

IMG952015110595180227957Unfinished Circle Sawn Fir in our baby’s nursery!

James and his dad worked for two full days on finishing the floor. They carefully sanded the wood planks, vacuumed all the dust up, stained the floor–two coats, and then put the finish on.

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I must admit, this is one job I was happy to hand over to James and his dad. The fumes from the stain were horrible, even with the fan out the window and the nursery room door closed.

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Then came the finishing coat.  That stunk pretty bad as well, however it did seal in the rest of the smells.  If I am not mistaken, James dad put two coats of the finish on and it did not take too long for it to dry.  We got the baseboards back on, touched up the walls, and painted the ceiling white. (The ceiling was the same color as the walls before this).

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Floors are done! I will not show you the rest of the room yet because we have not completed it.  But the floor looks nice doesn’t it?  I was not a fan of the wood at first because it seemed cold and not baby friendly–however I have since changed my mind and can not wait to bring our little girl home to her wonderful room!

Extra Hands

My mom came out to visit last Wednesday and stayed for just over a week, my dad had planned on coming last Friday but the weather was miserable and he was not able to fly out here until Monday afternoon.  Both my parents flew back Thursday morning–is it time for you guys to come back here yet?! We had planned to stain the trim on the outside of our house while my parents were in town, however the weather had other ideas. It has been raining for the past 2 weeks, non-stop.  So staining was thrown out the window, we do however, have a color picked out for when it stops raining and our house dries up again.

I have been wanting to repaint the inside of my house for a while now, it wasn’t that the color was bad, but it made the house seem very dark and woodsy.  James only recently decided that the house should be painted, maybe because I kept bothering him about it?  But in reality, he was tired of the green as well.  I was pushing for Sherwin Williams Antique White, James wanted Whole Wheat, also by Sherwin Williams.  Whole wheat is a nice color, we have that in the basement and bedrooms, but I wanted something a little lighter for the main level of the house.  James must have been on a painting frame of mind because last Saturday he decided that we should paint the inside of our house if we can not paint the outside.  So we looked at colors for a few hours and we compromised on the color between Antique White and Whole Wheat– Believable Buff.  My mom measured the wall square feet and we figured out how many gallons we would need, turned out to be 5-6 gallons.  On Sunday morning my mom, myself, and James went to go get paint, the paint lady asked if we would like a sample of paint first.  Now, normal people would say yes; it is a logical thing to do, sample the paint on the wall to make sure you like it, right?!  Well, turns out that is not how James and I roll.  We just wanted a 5 gallon bucket of paint.  I think my mom was either A) Totally impressed that both James and I were on the same page or B) Thought we were totally insane for buying $170 worth of paint without testing it first because she looked a little shocked.  Either way, we jumped right in, no turning back now!

We got back home, pushed the dogs out the dog door and locked them outside (it was not raining at that point) and started to tape the trim, doors, and windows.  James must have pulled the short straw because he was volunteered to paint along the ceiling.  He was the first person to put the paint to the wall.  I could tell he was panicking a little bit because he was very quiet.  I asked if he liked the color because we had already bought it or because he actually liked it; he could not decide which “like” it was.  I told him not to compare the green color with the cream color because it was a HUGE color difference.  I must admit, The cream color did not look that light until it was right next to the green, at that point I was happy we did not get the Antique White.

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The first thing James painted was in the corner on top of the closet, the anticipation was killing when while he was painting and I was not able to see the color because I was holding the ladder.

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See? Big color difference.  I can understand why he was a little nervous when he first started to paint,  I on the other hand loved the color instantly!  The three of us painted the entire living room on Sunday.  Monday my mom trimmed the kitchen and eating area and then picked my dad up from the airport.  On Tuesday, my mom, dad, and myself painted the entire kitchen and eating area, along with the downstairs hallway, and one coat of paint up the stairs and the hallway.  We needed two coats of paint to cover up the green.  Wednesday my parents finished painting the upstairs hallway and then took my dogs for a hike.  Mom, Dad, seriously, when are you coming back? We get our house painted and get the dogs walked!  In all seriousness though, James and I really do appreciate all the work my parents put into painting our house! It really does look marvelous!

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Before.

Again, not a bad color, but it is a very trendy color and I like the classic look better.  The lights needed to be on all the time and I was not too crazy about all the dark furniture and all the wood in the house.

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After.

Now the wood pops and I love it, the dark furniture looks great against the cream color, and the light walls reflect the light and we do not need to have the lights on all the time!  I am so extremely pleased with the color and the way it turned out!  I would also like to brag for one moment, we did not get paint on any of the trim, ceiling, cabinets, or doors!  Once the entire house was painted I asked James if he liked the color. This time he said yes, he likes the color and he is happy we went with a lighter color, it makes the house look bigger. I think he really liked how the wood looked against the color.  My mom was also thrilled with the color choice, she said that our house looks more Vail-like than Montana-like now.  In case you are not aware what “Vail Like” looks like, it is more of a classic look.

Ok, so now, the projects for the summer are:

  • Stain the trim on the house
  • Paint the inside of the house
  • Dig up and replant the dead trees in the front yard
  • Do something about the grass in the backyard.

Who would like to help us with these projects?  Don’t everybody raise your hand at once!

Backyard Patio

My husband and myself have been working on a particular project for over a year now. Yes, it is true, our backyard patio is turning into a never ending patio project.  Granted, our patio does look great, but honestly, I am quite done with it myself.  I would like to add ONE more thing, and then it would be a masterpiece, but priorities!  For the time being it does look great, maybe next year we will finish it off.

Last summer James thought that we needed to extended our small concrete patio and we wanted a sturdy fire pit that would not burn though itself (like our cheap one had from Lowes).  We mapped out what we wanted to do and went to the local store to get the materials.  Before we went to the store, we decided that we wanted a slate patio (gasp! I know, its expensive, but it was a small space and James knew the guy, so we got the contractors discount.  PLUS, we took the reject pile of slate, the colors that did not match perfectly or the awkwardly shaped stones–cha-ching! Another discount!).

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Notice the rickety fire pit? And yes, the dogs thought they needed to help as well.
Please disregard the gross looking grass in our backyard. That is a whole other disaster that will need to be dealt with eventually.

I should mention this project last April was done in the cold(ish), cloudy, rainy weather.  We cut up and pulled up the sod. Which was extremely easy in most spots since the grass was pretty much dead.  The landscapers put the sod right on top of clay and large rocks, with very little soil.  The roots of the grass were brown and fuzzy.  So the sod lifted up like old carpet without any glue on it after we got it started.  After we removed the sod we (and we I mean James) removed some of the clay while I chiseled the massive rocks out of our way.

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We then put down pea gravel on top of the dug out clay.  (For those of you who have done this sort of thing before, Yes, I know and I will get back to that.)  We put all the slate pieces out on the grass and I looked at them for a long time to see how my puzzle could be put together–because we got the pieces that nobody else wanted due to color or shape.  We finally started to place our slate onto our patio outline. We made an outside border and worked our way in.  For the second time, Yes, I am NOW aware that is NOT how you place slate, but at the time it seemed like a good idea if we wanted a clean line on the outside.

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We also outlined our “square” fire pit, which turns out was not square.  It turns out that it is a lot harder to get randomly cut stone to make a perfect square.

Yes, it was drizzling the whole time we were doing this, but it made the slate pieces look very vibrant!  After 3 hours of moving slate into place and then moving it again because the last piece did not fit properly, they got very, VERY heavy!  But we finally placed all the pieces and poured the rest of the pea gravel between the slate.

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Not too shabby for two people who have never done this before!

Well, let me get back to my first “Yes, duh” moment.  We did dig down about 2 inches to put the pea gravel down and thought that it would be enough. TA-DA! it was not.  While the pea gravel is small, turns out it is not small enough and the stones moved just slightly when you stepped onto them.  That was not satisfactory for James.  Me? I was so tired and sick of the two day (ALL DAY) project that I really did not care at the moment.  So we started to REMOVE all the stone and attempted to put them onto the yard in the same place that they were in the patio.  I say attempted, because once again, the way our minds work failed us and we did not work in unison. Communication, right?  Well we did decide that we were going to place the stones in the same order as they were in the patio. What we did not discuss was how to place them.  One of us flipped the pieces and one did not. And of course we did not notice that until we removed them all.  TOO LATE.

After we dysfunctionally removed the slate from the pea gravel we shoveled all the pea gravel back into the wheel barrel.  James then dug down two more inches into the clay, while I once again chiseled out more big rocks–some probably 5 pounds.  After that was done, we (covered in mud from head to toe–literally) went back to the home and garden landscaping store and bought some sand.  We put the sand down, I leveled it out and made quite an impressive sand garden design.  Then, we started to once again put the slate back down onto the sand. We pretty much started over from scratch and once again, we put the outline of the patio in before we started to work our way inward. Because the outside stones were easier to see with their flat edges…right?  Then we put the pea gravel back into the cracks of the stone and DONE! (for the second time)

I should mention that an uneven stone or a stone that moved when it was stepped on was not acceptable.  So if that happened, we lifted it up and rearranged the sand until it was satisfactory.  So if you think about it, without allowing the stones to settle at all (yet again, another “yes, duh” moment), we lifted up EVERY stone yet another time and made sure that it was level and did not move.  (Ding Ding! Third time placing them!)

Ok, that was last April.  And the patio was a hit all summer!  It was very nice to have the extra space to hang out in without migrating to the grass.  By the time we were done with the patio neither one of us really cared what the fire pit actually looked like.  So last weekend we decided it was time to retire the decrepit fire pit and get a new one.  We measured out our fire pit, at which point we realized how “un-square like” our fire pit actually is.  James looked at me like “Well, whats another time to lift up the stones and put them down making sure our fire pit is square?”  My response? “Its fine, lets wing it.”

We did our weekend tradition and went to Lowes/Home Depot to get our fire pit materials and came back home.  We decided on rock like concrete stones (which weighed a ton) and we had to carry them one by one or two by by for James into the backyard.  James always lets me figure out the cosmetic side of the project, because I want the different color stones to flow.  You can’t have two of the same color next to each other right?  I put them down and realized how miserable our not so square fire pit was going to be–but I kept it to myself since I was not going to redo the slate patio for a forth time in less than 1 year.  James did notice that some of the slate right next to the fire pit was uneven compared to the next one. So he started to lift up the slate and dig some of the sand out to make them level.  Ok, yes, I can go with that, we don’t want our fire pit to be wobbly. But then he decided that quite a few of them were uneven from the freeze and thaw of winter.(James, go for it, I will stand inside watching you while drinking some wine.)

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This is the stone we got for our fire pit.

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James wanted a fire pit that looked like this. I thought why not? It is cheaper (minus two big rocks) and honestly I am not sure we could actually fit two more stones in there without having the top row stick out from the bottom one. Why? Really, the only reason I could think of is because we did not start off with a square and I just made it as square as I could.

Looks pretty nice huh?  Maddie (the golden retriever) has a ball in her mouth, she is not getting sick.

Now, the last thing that needs to be added before it is a masterpiece, you ask?  I would like to put a wood deck over the concrete patio and extend it to the side of the house so that our picnic table can sit on the deck instead of landscape rock. It hurts if you walk on it barefoot.  Plus, I think the transition from the wood deck to the slate patio will look a little better than concrete to slate. But again, that is not a priority.

Easter Eggs

Happy Easter everyone!

I thought I would share how I dyed my Easter Eggs this year.  At work I dyed 90 eggs with the residents. We did not have enough dye cups for everybody to have some, so I found some food coloring and plastic bags, I had a hunch.  It took a few eggs to master the process, but eventually we did and the residents really enjoyed dying eggs that way.

I present, Ty-Dye Easter Eggs:

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The picture really does not do the eggs any justice.

Hard boil your eggs and let them cool.  At work the eggs had condensation on them and the colors flowed very well. My eggs were dry.

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Use normal food coloring and get a plastic bag.  Put ONE drop of food coloring into the bag and smash it around until it looks like the bag above.  There will be tiny droplets in the bag and it will not look like enough to dye the egg, but I promise you, there will be plenty!

Drop your egg into the bag and smash the bag around the egg, moving both egg and bag around.

Then add one more drop of a different color into the bag.  Make sure you do not hit egg, and then move the egg and bag around again.  Pull the egg out and let it dry.

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Ta-Da! Green and Blue egg!

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Orange and Red egg, Again, sorry for the poor pictures.

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A Tool Bench and Coffee Tables

Honestly, this happened awhile ago, but I thought I would still share it will you. Last winter James decided that he needed a tool bench in the garage.  Yes, it made since considering we were using a piece of plywood and two random things holding it up on either side.  It was pretty pathetic and the table was sagging in the middle.  So in the middle of the winter we decided that it was a good time to build a tool bench, in our VERY chilly garage (because last winter we ACTUALLY had a winter).

This was our first pretty big DIY project (besides our garden beds–I will post those once we plant the garden this spring).  While we were trying to figure out what it should look like, James and I learned quickly that we have EXTREMELY different ways to describe the exact.same.thing.  It took us a good 45 minutes, including some bickering back and forth, to figure out that we were talking about the same design.  James is very into the dimensions and numbers when it comes to building and I draw a picture so that I can see what is going on and how we were going to put the tool bench together.

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This makes perfect sense to me, James had no idea what I was doing.
Like I said, after 45 minutes we figured it out and all he had to do was put his dimensions in the drawing.

We did our weekly weekend trip to Homedepot or Lowes and got all the wood and screws to build our tool bench.  We built it in the garage with our heater going full speed. Brinks and Maddie wandered around the garage the whole time we were building it and I’m sure they thought that they were a great help!

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See, our tool bench looked just like my picture above!

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The peg board was my brilliant idea!

 The sagging tool bench is no longer!! It still looks pretty good, a year later. We do, however, have quite a few more fishing poles, fly poles, and ice fishing poles hanging above our tool bench.  The other day I was looking at our tool bench and thought that we should add a shelf under the bench to get the things that are under there off of the floor, James thought otherwise.  We will see what happens.

We also made all but one of the coffee tables in our house.  This past summer we were wandering around some antique shops trying to figure out what type of table we should put around our L-couch in the basement.  I went to all five antique shops (multiple times, because I did not want to miss anything) over a span of a week and a half.  I also went to multiple thrift shops to see if I could find a coffee table I liked that I could redo.  No such luck.  After waiting for a week and a half, James decided that he was going to take over the project and he was going to make one.  Realistically, when I say James took over the project, I mean he drove me to the reclaimed lumbar yard down the street from our house, let me pick out the wood, let me design the coffee table, and he put it together (I was holding the screw driver for him), and I stained it.  I must admit, I am very good at telling him how to cut the pieces of wood, where to screw the wood together so that it is not seen, and overall pretty good at bossing him around while he is doing the work. Whether or not he actually likes me to be the foreman of the job is yet to be determined. BUT! the coffee table looks marvelous!

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The old nail holes were my favorite.

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Our new (old) barn wood coffee table!
It is very sturdy and looks very nice if I do say so myself!

Necklace Board

I like to think that I am pretty crafty–I wish I could find a way to share all of my great ideas with you and eventually maybe I will.  Sometimes my DIY projects turn out and look pretty good; occasionally they most definitely not.  This is one of those times that I was thrilled with the result.  I was getting quite annoyed that I could never find the necklace or bracelet that I wanted to wear.  So I found a cheap way to fix that!

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My necklace board!

It is hung up in our closet and it looks very nice! LOOK!  I can see all of my jewelry and easily grab it on my way out the door!  James says it looks nice, but I really think he is just happy that I won’t have my jewelry sprawled out on the bathroom counter anymore.

Entering the DIY Zone!!

I bought a plain bulletin board from Target.  I had fabric at the house that was supposed to be for my kitchen curtain, but turns out I am not a curtain maker. (Yes, I did make one curtain and it did not look bad, but it took me an entire weekend.)  So I took that curtain fabric and stretched it around the bulletin board and stapled it to the back. I then attached a hook to hang it up.

I used clear pushpins to hang all of my necklaces, bracelets, and earrings on.  I spaced them out randomly and unorganized; I think it looks much better that way.  I was going to use the pearl pushpins, however I was told that the two metals would cause each other to rust.  Because lets face it, Target does not supply super expensive jewelry.  So in the end I bought something that would look nice, blend in with the background, and not let the metal of the pushpin touch with the metal of my jewelry.