Things Brick Loves/Hates, vol. 4

© shoutingforha
LOVES:  Sleeping.  The Beast can fall asleep just about anywhere but his favorite napping places are the middle of the boy's double bed, the sofa in the den and any one of the plush rugs scattered throughout the house.  Brick is incredibly lazy and spends his days moving from one sleeping spot to the next. 

HATES:  Being wet.  His water phobia includes swimming, wading in creeks, being bathed or having to go outside when it's raining.  His response is always the same:  head hung low, tail between the legs and sad look in his big brown eyes.

Click here to see more Things Brick Loves/Hates.


One Thousand Gifts (4175 - 4187)

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4175.  The curly-q vines of cucumber plants that wrap themselves around anything they can reach including nearby tomato plants.  
4176.  Celebrating my hubby's birthday.  I'm so glad we get to grow old together. 
4177.  Leftover prime rib, sliced thin and served French Dip style.  Delicious. 
4178.  Air conditioning in my car that blows cold.  
4179.  A boy who plays drums for hours and hours every day.  I love listening to him play.
4180.  Driving down the Natchez Trace with the windows down. 
4181.  Afternoon thunderstorms that water the garden on hot summer days. 
4182.  New next-door neighbors.
4183.  Watching Brick and our friend's dog, Lucy, race around the yard during her week-long visit. 
4184.  A boy who faithfully walks the dog every single day.  
4185.  Trying a new-to-us restaurant and discovering that it is one of Nashville's best kept secrets. The Ha family has a new favorite place to eat. 
4186.  Laughter.
4187.  Our nightly ritual of reading with our boy before bed.  I especially love the deep conversation that flows afterwards.  


How To Clean and Protect Butcher Block Cutting Boards and Countertops

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When the hubby and I did our big kitchen renovation last fall, we installed a gorgeous Boos Block Blended North American Hard Rock Maple Countertop on the island.  The countertop is, by far, my favorite thing about our kitchen.  

As a rule, I try to do the bulk of my chopping on my Boos Block cutting board.  I've had it for years and it seems silly to mar the countertop when I have an amazing cutting board at my disposal.  

Both the cutting board and countertop are wiped down with hot, soapy water multiple times a day. As with any unfinished wood surface, I am careful not to leave any water or other liquids pooling on the surface as it can warp and age the wood prematurely.  

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Once every week or two I give the cutting board and countertop a good scrubbing.  The process is really quite simple.  All you need is coarse salt, an old lemon or two (these gave their zest to a yummy dessert) and some mineral oil.  Mineral oil can be found in the digestion help/laxative section at your local grocery store.  

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Begin by pouring a generous amount of salt onto the wood surface.  

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Cut the lemon in half and start scrubbing using one of the cut sides.

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The lemon juice combined with the abrasive quality of the salt will gently lift any dirt and grime from the wood grain without scratching.  Don't be alarmed if the lemon juice/salt mixture starts turning a little gray.  That just means it's doing it's job. 

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When your lemon starts to look like this, it's time to toss it in the trash and grab the other half.  Keep scrubbing until you have cleaned the entire surface.  

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Use a damp sponge or cloth to remove all of the lemon juice and salt from the wood.  Then give the cutting board and countertop a thorough cleaning with a little hot, soapy water.  

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Now you're ready for the final step.  Pour a small puddle of the mineral oil onto the surface and rub it in, following the grain, using a soft cotton cloth.  The wood will remain a little oily until the mineral oil has a chance to soak in completely.  This usually only takes an hour or two.   

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Not only does the mineral oil keep the wood from drying out, it provides a barrier of protection and will keep your cutting boards and countertops looking like new.  

As a side note, per the manufacturer's suggestion, I disinfect the cutting board and countertop with a bleach and water solution every so often.  I also have a separate cutting board that I use exclusively for meat and poultry to prevent cross contamination.


Things Brick Loves/Hates, vol. 3

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LOVES:  Putting on his choke collar and leash.  The sound of it being pulled off it's hook is enough to send Brick into a wagging frenzy. 

HATES:  Exercise.  Our old dog will tolerate walking for approximately ten minutes and will play fetch exactly one time.  Once he's had enough, Brick will lay down and refuse to get up.  It's especially helpful when you find yourself a mile from the house with a stubborn 96 pound dog.  For the record, he's been this way since he was a puppy.

Click here to see more Things Brick Loves/Hates.


One Thousand Gifts (4161 - 4174)

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4161.  Finding the first tomatoes in my garden.  I am growing seven different varieties and cannot wait until all the plants are heavy with red, ripe fruit. 
4162.  Quiet mornings spent fishing on the Harpeth River with my boy.  
4163.  Spicy food.  The older I get, the more I enjoy a little zip on my tongue.
4164.  Talking with the hubby while we sit out back on a cool summer night.  
4165.  Reserving my ticket to visit Pearl Harbor in August.  I am so excited!
4166.  Sunny days after a month of seemingly endless rain. 
4167.  The way my boy's hair is so wild when he first wakes up in the morning. 
4168.  Jeni's ice cream on a hot summer day.  
4169.  Another year spent with the people I love.  Who says growing older is a bad thing?
4170.  Stretching with my boy in the morning.  
4171.  Picnic tables with giant umbrellas that offer shade during the heat of the day.    
4172. Trimming some wayward branches from our trees to let a little more sunlight into the back yard.
4173.  The cheerful blooms of the Black-Eyed Susan.
4174.  My hubby, who is the best dad in the world. 


Making A Curtain Rod Out of Electrical Conduit

© shoutingforha
The Ha house has a large front window that measures 140" across. The fellas and I typically hang out in the den at the the back of the house most nights so privacy wasn't really an issue.  All that changed when we did our little kitchen renovation.  

You may recall that in addition to gutting/redoing our entire kitchen we cut an 8-foot opening between the kitchen and dining room. That opening not only let in a ton of extra light, it provided a clear line of sight from the front window to our kitchen.  

I am not one to keep curtains drawn but sometimes a person wants a little privacy.  Especially on those early school mornings when a certain someone might be stumbling about the kitchen in their pajamas prior to their first cup of coffee.  Just me? 

I decided that the only logical thing to do would be to hang both sheers and drapes on the front window.  The sheers would provide the privacy I desired while still letting in the light.  The only problem was that a double curtain rod large enough to span the window was ridiculously expensive and most of them were far too ornate to suit my simple taste.  

Enter my brilliant idea…  Why not use electrical conduit to make a curtain rod.

For the large window I purchased four 10' lengths of conduit, six couplings, two compression connectors and three double curtain rod brackets from my local home improvement warehouse. 

After securely affixing the brackets to the wall (one on each end and one centered on the window), I got to work cutting the conduit to the appropriate length.  Using my handy-dandy hacksaw I cut the two pieces of conduit for the front rod in 6.5' lengths.  I wanted the sheers to hide behind the curtains when not in use so I made them 3" shorter.

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The two lengths of conduit were joined using one of the couplings.  Notice that the screws hold the curtain rod squarely in the middle of the center bracket.

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I attached a coupling to all four ends of the rods to prevent the curtains from sliding off the edge. The compression connectors were placed on the ends of the front rods as a simple finial of sorts. 

The curtains slide easily on the conduit and it supports the weight of the curtains without bowing or sagging.  I was so happy with the results that I decided to hang an identical double rod on the 4' window in the adjoining dining room.  Best of all, the entire project cost a mere $56.  Not bad if I do say so myself.  
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