Heart Stone Feathers

Word Nerd – Feather Finder – Heart Stone Hunter – Synchronicity Searcher Winging It While Lovingly Writing Through Life

Category: Miscellaneous Ramblings

The Gift of Five Death Wishes

Coffee Mug Barb

How can you NOT love a coffee whose reviews include such profound praise as “Best Bowel Movement EVER!” and “As soon as I get out of the emergency room, I’m going to get another cup.”

Pete Fountain is our Black Lab mix. What he’s mixed with we have no clue. Something that reduced his size to around 45 pounds, give or take a few. He was actually a stray that was named by the Kentucky shelter volunteer who found him wandering and who happened to love the Jazz musician with the same moniker. Tim, being the owner of a water gardening store, loves the fact that “fountain” is part of his name. I just love that he ended up as part of our family in upstate New York. How that happened is a long story, but the bottom line is that I’m pretty certain Pete is happy to be here too.

However, there is one thing that I know he hates. No, DESPISES would be the better descriptor. People who deliver packages to our front porch INFURIATE him. No matter where he is in the house, he always manages to hear the mail-lady, UPS man, or FedEx driver the second they pull into our driveway. Before Tim or I ever know what’s happening, he’s off and running full-tilt to the front door – barking so frantically he’s gagging on his own breath.

To make matters worse for the delivery person (unintentionally, of course), we have a couch located directly under the picture window that they have to walk past to get to the porch. Pete always manages to launch himself onto the top of the couch before they’ve even shifted into park. He runs the length of the couch as they hurl themselves past him and then he makes a return trip as he escorts them back to the safety of their vehicle. By the time they leave, Pete’s usually pretty entangled in the curtains and has left a trail of foamy spittle on each window pane.

Saturday, Pete and I were peacefully relaxing on the couch enjoying the heat from the nearby pellet stove. Unfortunately, our mail-lady attempted to quietly deliver a box while we were there. She never stood a chance. Luckily, I saw her coming, but I still didn’t have enough time to distract Pete before he woke up from his warm slumber. She did her normal “toss-tuck-and-run” as I waved to her with one hand (we haven’t had to sign for a package since Pete arrived on the scene in 2008), the other hand trying to keep Pete from slamming his 45-give-or-take-a-few-pounds against the windows.

The next step of this hate-filled routine involves having to wait a few minutes after the delivery person has left the premises before I attempt to go out the front door and onto the porch. Even then, I have to do some serious shape-shifting to slither through the narrow crack I give myself in order to keep Pete from shooting past me. At least when I come back in the door, I have a box to act as a shield against him. His attention then immediately shifts to needing to know what goodies await him inside the package.

As I cut open Saturday’s unexpected delivery, Pete started sneezing uncontrollably and I started involuntarily drooling from the smell that engulfed us like a tidal wave as it was released from the folds of tissue paper. It was COFFEE!!! Not just regular ole coffee, though. This was DEATH WISH COFFEE – marketed as “The World’s Strongest Coffee” and manufactured only three hours northeast of us. Five heaven-scented K-cups were lovingly tucked inside a monster-size mug (I’m guessing about 30 ounces). You can’t see it in the photo, but the inside of the carafe-masquerading-as-a-cup is a beautiful, glossy red (my absolute favorite color). That glorious smell mixed with such a luscious hue warmed me more than the pellet stove had managed to do all morning.

Never have death wishes been more happily received as a gift. Thank you to my dear cousin, Barb, who shares my infatuation with coffee, but who’s obviously far smarter than I am as she imbibes on decaf while I’m swilling caffeine until my heart threatens to explode (which usually starts to happen after only three cups – what can I say; my body is a freaking wuss).

Interestingly, the only thing I remember Tim mentioning to me after this year’s Super Bowl was over (he watches it mostly for the commercials and I happily don’t watch any of it) was the 30-second commercial that Intuit Quickbooks had “awarded” to a small business this year. That commercial was won by Death Wish Coffee. Of course, I had to immediately Google it and learn more about the company. I’m not a huge fan of strong coffee (flavored coffee has pretty much made me its bitch), but I liked that Death Wish supposedly wasn’t bitter and that it even had “subtle notes of cherry and chocolate.” I never really envisioned ordering it, but I sure was happy to see it in the box on Saturday.

Of course, being the wuss that I am, I made Tim try it first. I had two sips of it and was pleasantly surprised that it lived up to its description. The next morning, I asked him if he’d liked it and he unhesitatingly informed me that, “It cleaned me out good.” Hey – he shared it with me, so I just wanted to share it with all of you (you’re welcome!).

I still haven’t been brave enough to drink an entire cup by myself, but if and when I do, I’ll make sure I have the 9 and 1 already entered into my phone and my finger ready to push the other 1 at the first tremor of trouble. Until then, the other four K-cups are acting as potpourri for our entire house – and they’re in a sealed Ziploc bag – tucked away in a kitchen cabinet. Yeah…it’s THAT strong. I’m in Heaven and Pete doesn’t even know what he’s missing. He’s too busy guarding the porch from the next box-wielding intruder. Perhaps I should gift each of them with a Death Wish of the “non-furry” variety for all of the harassment they’ve endured over the years of delivering to us. If anyone deserves a stiff drink, it’s definitely them… 

Mudroom Update #3

Karndean Ashland

The flooring for the mudroom has finally been chosen and ordered. Tim and I decided on Karndean LooseLay in the Ashland pattern (the photo above shows what it looks like in someone else’s kitchen; unfortunately, that’s NOT our house). It’s described as “delicate oak grains coupled with a cool chalky washed finish.” If it works well in the mudroom, we might use the same pattern in the kitchen and front entryway. We used “regular” Karndean (in a bamboo-type design) in both of our bathroom renovations and we’ve been very pleased with how well it’s held up. Tim was also impressed with how easy it was for him to install on his own; he thinks the LooseLay variety will be even more user-friendly. It will take about a week for the order to arrive, but I’m hopeful that the next update will be the final one.

Mudroom Update #2

Mermaids Song Paint

As I mentioned in the last update, Tim wanted something in the range of “sea glass blue” for the wall color in our updated mudroom. He ended up choosing Valspar’s, “Mermaid’s Song.” To me, it has a slight greenish-blue undertone (and it also reminds me of liquid Imodium, but I mean that in the kindest of ways – I think).

Wall Color It looked even brighter once we had two coats of it on the walls. It was such a change from the dark cabinetry that had been in there, the first morning I came out and turned on the light to let the dogs out the back door, we were nearly blinded! I couldn’t find the light switch fast enough to ease our pain. OK – so I’m exaggerating a wee bit, bit it IS bright. The fact that we had just installed a new LED light in there might have something to do with it too. We went from a single 60-watt incandescent bulb (which is equivalent to only 630 lumens) to 1,400 lumens of output.

The paint had three days to dry before our Flow Wall cabinets – all 674 pounds of them – arrived last Tuesday finally having made the journey all the way from California to New York. I confess that Tim and I were a little nervous opening the first box as we had basically bought them “sight unseen,” other than just online. I can’t recall another time we’ve ever done that, especially for such a large purchase.

We both were very impressed with how well everything was packaged. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture to document it. Suffice it to say that nothing arrived damaged (except one measly bent screw, but they had sent us many, MANY extras) and each component had the appropriate hardware and directions packed with them to streamline the assembly process. Perhaps the best part though was that there wasn’t a lot of extraneous packaging that I usually feel guilty throwing out. Most of it actually went in our recycling bins once we were done.

Before we started hanging the pieces of slat wall and putting the cabinets together, we once again watched the YouTube video that had first convinced us to make our purchase. It’s only nine minutes long, but it did a pretty good job explaining how to assemble and install everything. Unfortunately, one of the few pieces of the puzzle they DID leave out ended up being something that immediately threw us off track. I’ll explain that in more detail a little bit later. For now, just notice in the photo below that we hung the slat wall pieces all the way to the ceiling. We had decided to do it that way as the walls in that room are only seven feet tall and we wanted to have one foot of extra storage space underneath the cabinets.

Slat Wall

Perhaps the most time-consuming part of the process for us was in simply locating the damn wall studs! We think our mudroom was likely added on as an afterthought to attach the house directly to the garage, so it quickly became apparent that things had been piecemealed together during that construction process. That meant the studs weren’t where they were supposed to be. Some were the traditional 16″ apart while others were 14″ or 17″. Even having a stud-finder wasn’t very helpful as we were trying to locate them over layers of exterior siding (that were no longer “exterior” but were now buried in the wall) and interior paneling. We ended up drilling a lot of test holes (it looks like Swiss cheese under that piece of slat wall!), as well as doing a lot of swearing (but not at each other).

Once we conquered locating the studs, it took us approximately ten hours (spread out over several days) to get everything assembled and hung on the walls. We have one more large cabinet still in the box should we ever need it, but for now, having space for our barn gear and the dog’s stuff is more important. Here’s what the room currently looks like (please ignore the fact that we still need to install new flooring)…

Small Cabinets Stuff

Small cabinets & the plastic storage bins they came with (along with our usual boxes of tissues, hand wipes, & winter gear).

Large Cabinets

Large cabinets & hooks for our barn coats & dog gear, with space below for our smelly barn boots.

What problems did we encounter along the way that we might warn others who are interested in such cabinets? As I mentioned earlier, hanging the slat wall all the way to the top of the ceiling was ALMOST a major disaster. Nowhere in the literature, nor in any of the videos, did it warn us to leave at least an inch (or two) of “access” above the top of the slat wall. That seemingly small gap is CRITICAL to be able to lift the cabinet over the slat wall “suspension clips” in order to hang the unit. It’s hard for me to describe it in words, but maybe the photo below helps.

Cabinet Gap

Based on where the brackets have to be hung on the slat wall and where the bar is that the cabinet is suspended on, you have to have room to lift the cabinet (which is NOT light) “up and over.” In the photo – it might not be obvious – but there’s only a finger’s width gap at the top of the cabinet and the ceiling. To say that Tim and I grunted, groaned, twisted, tweaked, and cursed like sailors to get each cabinet over those damn clips would be a HUUUUUGE understatement. BUT…we did it without having to remove and lower the slat wall.

Having learned our lesson on that side of the room, we hung the slat wall for the small cabinets on the other side with what we thought was an appropriate amount of space…N.O.T. We had forgotten to take into account that the “piecemealing” work of prior people had created a “sloped” ceiling on that side of the room which once again led to not being able to lift the cabinets at a sufficient angle to clear the clips. More grunting and a LOT more swearing. That side of the room also seems to have less “smooth” walls underneath which means the cabinets don’t really “flow” along the track very easily. Luckily, we don’t plan on moving them often, if it all! In the end, everything survived, including the two of us (and the 25 years we’ve invested in our marriage).

It’s been less than a week, but what do we think about them so far? Tim admits they’re much nicer than he actually expected them to be. I think they’re well-built and super-sturdy (especially after how much man-handling they’ve already endured from us). For obvious reasons, we both think the ideal place to use them is in a well-built room with nice straight edges and smooth surfaces. Would we buy them again, though? Absolutely.

As for what we still have left to do in renovating the room, there’s the floor replacement that I keep mentioning and we need to paint the two doors, as well as paint and rehang the coat rack that used to be by the garage door which will now only be used for our “good” coats (no longer intermingling them with our stinky barn ones as we so grossly used to do). Tim also keeps talking about doing some trim work along the ceiling, but there’s not much space (or need) for it (or so I keep debating). Time will soon tell who wins that debate. I’ll keep you posted…

Still Missing the Old Girl

Babe 2011

Yesterday would have been Babe’s 31st birthday. She only missed it by 146 days. I still tell Tim that I’m headed out to the barn to feed the “horses” and yet now there’s only Punch. His 34th birthday is in exactly 100 days. He seems healthy, but so did she (she was 26-years-old when the photo above was taken in 2011). I guess only the Universe knows what will happen between now and then, so we’ll just keep enjoying our time together, one blessed day at a time.

There is always a way…

Wings Climb

(Winged-climber created by Antoine Josse, a French Surrealist painter and sculptor whose favorite material to work with is plaster.)

A Simple Decision (or not)…

Mudroom Cabinets

After many hours spent discussing, measuring, more discussing, remeasuring, and remeasuring yet again, Tim and I finally ordered the new cabinets yesterday for our mudroom renovation. More than a year ago, we’d started making a Pinterest folder with ideas of what design features we wanted in the room. When we recently sat down together and looked at all of the various photos we’d saved, what it boiled down to was clean lines and as much hidden storage space as possible to keep the “eye clutter” to a minimum.

In one of my early morning web-surfing sessions to get some ideas about what types of cabinets were available, I stumbled upon the FlowWall system. Marketed mostly as cabinetry to organize your garage (but also used in laundry rooms, craft rooms, home offices, etc.), I immediately liked the look of them. As I sat there groggy-eyed watching numerous YouTube videos about how to install them, I was surprised to learn that each cabinet lacks a “backside” to it, which allows them to slide along a slatwall track system so that, if and when you decide you want/need to change the layout of your room, you can do so quite easily. That kind of design flexibility made me like them even more. Tim was pretty much sold on them right away too.

The problem we encountered was in having too many options for how to customize the cabinets that would fit into our space (I know – that doesn’t really meet the definition of a “problem”). Regardless, we tweaked, we re-tweaked, we re-re-tweaked and drove ourselves (and each other!) crazy with possibilities. When the FlowWall company emailed us a 20% discount code on Friday that had to be used by today, we took it as a sign to stop dawdling and to start deciding. Bless you FlowWall as Tim and I might have still been discussing cabinets in 2017!

In the end, instead of piecemealing together various individual cabinets, we chose the two “kits” shown in the above photo that we can take apart and arrange to our own liking. We also ordered several extra shelves and hooks, just to be on the safe side. And yes…we went with the maple color, even though we both also liked the white. Knowing how much traffic that room gets though, we didn’t think white was going to be a good option in the long run.

Tim did a great job of insulating, dry-walling, and spackling the ceiling so while we wait for the cabinets to arrive, we’ll (he’ll?) be priming the ceiling and walls and picking out the final paint color. I’ve happily delegated that decision to Tim and he’s leaning towards some version of a “sea-glass blue.” That’s a decision I can live with…

Mudroom Ceiling

Simple Beginnings

The renovation work on our mudroom has FINALLY begun. It’s the last room in our house to be “made over” since we first moved in 19 years ago. It’s a tiny space that gets a LOT of traffic. Since Friday, Tim has already removed all of the built-in cabinets and installed a framework on the existing ceiling for us to put up new insulation and drywall. Tearing down the existing ceiling and walls just isn’t an option as it will open up too many “cans of worms” and we simply don’t have the time, energy, money, or desire to completely gut the room. We’ll work with the existing bones, as well as some of the “flesh.” When we redo the floor in there, we’ll also do the kitchen and front entryway floors so they’ll all “tie in” together. Once everything is done, we can start re-doing all of the other rooms that are now due to be repainted, etc. It’s a never-ending process, but we’re simply grateful to have a roof over our heads. I’ll post updates as the process continues…

Mudroom Renovation 2016

Simply Wonderful Friends

FB Robin Post

It’s so nice to be missed, but it’s even nicer to still have these wonderful people in my life. And for those of you who might be wondering, my “SV pals” are the amazing souls that worked 24/7/I-lost-count-of-how-many-days to help reunite people with their pets that were lost during Hurricane Katrina. And yes – that hurricane happened more than ten years ago and we’re still in touch with one another. The work we did was perhaps the most grueling and gut-wrenching I’ve ever been involved with, but I’d do it again in a heartbeat, as long as they were right there in the trenches with me. I simply can’t imagine my life without my fellow SV’ers.

(PS – “SV” stood for Stealth Volunteers – we didn’t get much publicity, nor were we seeking it, but our name did occasionally come up.)



Two Simple Versions

This was my version of simple living this past weekend (Maple Iced Oatmeal Cookies that I made with Brookestone Maple Syrup, THE BEST syrup on the planet!)…

image1 (4)

…and this was Tim’s version (organizing his stamp collection; he’s collected them since he was a wee one and he probably has at least 100,000 of them, if not more)…

image2 (3)

Simply Perfect Gifts



It’s nice to be known so well. So well that the gifts you receive are so “spot on” that you can’t think of anything better you would have bought for yourself.

Yesterday, Tim went to a new reuse-it-type store that he’s been wanting to visit. When he came home, I was outside with the dogs. He kept sticking his head out the back door and saying, “Come see what I bought you.” Finally, the dogs had enough of the single-digit cold and headed on in. Before I could even get the door closed, Tim handed me the stack of green, metal bookends you see in the photo. Not only was he thrilled to have found them, but he was just as happy to have paid only 12-1/2¢ for each one (yes – that’s a CENTS sign). The bookcase is also something I’ve been needing for quite some time and he snagged that beauty for only $10. Talk about a happy guy (and gal!).

As for the other object on the shelf in the photo, that’s an air horn. And if you’re wondering why in the hell that would be a great gift, you obviously haven’t heard me rant about the hunters that trespass on our property and that shoot near our horse barn (or about the neighbor’s dogs who are chained 24/7 and who bark all damn day). Trust me – when I ran out of “air” in my last can at the start of deer season in November, it was quite a crisis for me. Tim remembered it though and bought one for me when he went to Dick’s Sporting Goods store. What a guy!

As for the “tool” that’s hanging off the shelf – that beauty was a Christmas present from my sister, Karen, and my nephew, Mike. Perhaps only I would be thrilled to receive an industrial-sized potato masher! In fact, the label on it says “U.S. Army Potato Masher.” That seems even more fitting as a gift because my father was always talking about how he often got stuck with what he considered to be the “shitty” task of peeling potatoes when he was in the U.S. Navy. Like I stated just a couple of days ago, this Irish lass never met a potato she didn’t like – and now I have a monster-size masher to make even bigger batches of them!

Ahhh….life really is good.

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