Sunday, September 4, 2011

$10 Antiquing

Living in an older home has given me an appreciation of older things. I've always loved objects more when they have a history and I love shopping, so antiquing was a natural fit for me. Encouraged by the hand-painted signs in town directing people towards a flea market gathering of vendors selling their good and wears I happened upon quite a few finds for $10.00 or less.

My first stop brought me to the booths, local vendors renting out space with pop up tents lining what normally serves as a parking lot. I have always had a fascination with lights and lamps so when this blue glass number caught my eye I had to see the price. With a $10 price tag and my previous knowledge of lamp wiring kits it had to be mine. Especially since the cric (the toothed metal sprocket that adjusts the height of the wick) was in good shape and was adjusted with considerable ease.

What a Bright Addition!

At the next booth I spied these coffee and tea jars and they were a steal at $5 for both.

A little clear nail polish to fix a small crack, two large rubber washers and these jadeite babies are ready to go!

Next I hit the mother-lode. To think of all the wasted days I have driven by and never stopped at the Descanso Mercantile before! The shop is tucked next to the more famous local eatery, the Descanso Junction. The mercantile is a very cute very small yellow building that looks like a mash-up of everything country from the front gate and entry to the "themed" rooms where you can browse merchandise that all has a common feel. Looking for cabin accents? There's a room for that. Vintage cookware? Country Garden? You better believe it! There were so many items crammed together onto the shelves, onto the floor, hanging from the ceiling that even the smallest person in the place would feel like a bull in a china shop. But that just means there is so much good stuff to browse.
Here is a story and video that CBS San Diego ran on the shop almost a year ago.

My budget didn't allow for big purchases but what I got using their summer discount was this incredible copper teapot with a wooden handle from Portugal for $10.44. The perfect touch we will need on our new wood burning stove (check posts in the coming months for an update on that).

I can't wait to make hot chocolate with you on a snowy winter day!

Thus concludes my vintage binge for the time being, if you want to check out the Mercantile for their goods and ever-changing assortment of interesting things, you might just run into me ogling the vintage cookware! The address: 8306 California 79, Descanso, CA 91916-9640

Happy Shopping!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Murder most Fowl

We have had a bit of an infestation problem with the local mice population. When we first moved in there was a veritable colony of mice. Mice in the laundry room, mice in the walls, mice in our cars, mice in the shower (not a great day for me) but we have cut down their numbers and limited them to the yard rather than the house. The first one I saw was cute, but then they start "attacking" you in the shower, or causing thousands of dollars worth of damage to your vehicle, and you have to realize that they carry all types of diseases (the HANA virus is especially prevalent in our area) so they had to go.

Recently we had been doing well with traps around the perimeter of the house and last weekend we discovered a few mice building a nest on the porch under our barbecue. Kove caught one, and was able to get another that had fled under the porch.

To preface what happened next: I have heard stories before about chickens killing all types of insects,  I've seen them catch lizards, and I've heard they are rather brutal hunters but I had no idea they were capable of taking down a mouse. We have two large hens that patrol our yard, Rachel and Mia. They are both very docile except when it comes to food. I give them veggie and fruit scraps all the time and it's like watching shark week, feathers flying while they destroy whatever sad piece of melon rind I just gave them.

Rachel is more timid passively feasting on the plants and feed we have in the yard but Mia catches everything from grasshoppers and crickets to moths and lizards. To my knowledge this was her first mouse.

Suspect #1. Name: Mia. Likes: chasing bugs, getting treats. Dislikes: poultry wire, the hose, mice.

After Kove had caught the first two he was pretty thrilled but called out the chickens for not helping him. No sooner had he said this than Mia raced across the porch and grabbed one of the mice in her beak. She then proceeded to knock the mouse around the yard as if trying to crack open a nut.While Kove stood awe-inspired, so proud of his chicken huntress. I on the other hand stood spell bound, it was one of those train-wreck moments where you don't want to watch but I just could not believe what I was seeing. It was so primal, so predatory, and rather impressive. I'll never be able to look at the chickens the same way again. (editor's note: we took the mouse away from the chickens so they wouldn't eat it, I'm not sure I could stomach mouse tainted eggs, bleh!)

Our mouse problem has begun to dwindle off, be it the traps, the end of the spring population boom, or the fact that we have some rather effective birds of prey in the yard.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Last night we got our first big summer storm. I knew we had a chance of showers and isolated T-storms but I wish I had been able to see the swell on the news. I was told it looked something fierce on the doppler radar. The timing could not have been more perfect though. I had just gotten home and changed out of my work clothes, I brought the trash cans in, collected the mail and let the chickens out for some "yard time". I had just finished opening up all the windows in the house to get some fresh air when I heard the first drops. Then the wind picked up tossing chair cushions across the porch and I realized I needed to lock up the chickens before they found themselves strewn across the yard. . . or the neighbors yard.

I put my house coat on and ventured out to corral the chickens. It was like something out of the Wizard of Oz. The sky beyond the mountains towards the coast was still filled with sun but huge black clouds were swirling in from the east, the wind was causing the house to creak and the rain drops were falling huge and heavy. It was still incredibly hot out, it could not have been less than 85 degrees. I got back in the house and a huge gust took out the front window screen. So I started closing up all the windows realizing the wind was blowing so voraciously that the rain had become horizontal and was pouring through the open windows. Within minutes the temperature dropped significantly as if dementors had ridden along with the storm. I snapped a few pics of the front yard from inside the house:
Don't shake that tree down onto the Mini!!

This tree has been dead for a while and the limbs were looking a lot less steady in those winds!
The road was being completely flooded and then the thunder started. I've been in thunderstorms before but I'd never heard them this loud before. It was like someone was shooting off a rifle right next to your ear. Incredibly loud even through the closed windows that rattled every time the noise exploded in the air above the house. I never saw the lightning touch down but the sky filled with bright flashes and the sky would rumble on a drum beat. Then within an hour it was gone, just as quickly as it had appeared and the spellbinding show was a deep reminder of the awesome power of nature.

I think the weather is a lot more extreme up here. the house is fine but we are slated to have another round tonight, here's hoping I'll have equally good timing when I get back tonight!

In case you were wondering: The chickens were okay, they hid in their kennel and were not too keen that their yard time was cut short and they got wet!!

Monday, June 27, 2011


We don't have a very good internet connection, actually the connection is fine but we're only allowed a certain number of megabytes per month. There is no cable connection so we had to go through a third party distributor. So with the wonderfulness that is the Wii and NetFlix streaming video we still have to sit through at least three "retrieving" bars per 20 minute show.

So far I've had trouble coming up with fun activities to so while the video is "retrieving" so I've poured that time into doing odd chores and jobs around the house until the video starts playing again. So far this has resulted in chores being half done all over the house but we manage to find time to finish up some how.

Still, at least we have internet access so we can get to e-mail and information we really need online (like what kind of bug bites are toxic to grown adults).

You never realize how much of your life is permeated by the internet until you don't have access to it.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Things that will Bite in the Night

Last night was my first night back from house sitting and low and behold there was something waiting for me besides Kove. I started to doze off and to get more comfortable I started to extend my leg out from under the covers to get a little temperature regulation going. When I slid my foot under the comforter I felt a sharp snap on my foot. My immediate reaction was to say "ow" and then "something just bit me!" We flipped on the side table light and for a moment I thought maybe I was overreacting, maybe I just caught my foot on a zipper or something sharp. That's when Kove pulled back the covers and there it was . . . a centipede, and a big one at that. Thank goodness I wasn't wearing my contacts or glasses and could only see an outline of it or I would have lost it worse than I did!!

Kove got the bug out and disposed of it. I looked at my foot and sure enough I had two small puncture marks there, like a tiny vampire had bit me. And my foot began to sting and burn around the marks. So we got to work looking it up online and in the field guide we keep handy. We identified it as a Blue-Legged Centipede and when I saw pictures I was glad I didn't see the thing up close! We read a little more that implied it was not likely to kill me, but to keep track of my symptoms. So we put an ice pack on it and went back to bed, soon as the ice wore off it burned like crazy but I managed to fall asleep. I was interested to learn that they are indeed venomous and the common term for their maxillipeds is "poison claws" Wonderful. That made me feel a lot better.

On the flip side, I haven't experienced any of the other symptoms of a serious reaction, and I woke up feeling fine this morning, so i think I'm in the clear this time. Kove said it was a freak accident and we don't get those around very often, let alone in the house, but it's certainly giving me yet another thing to obsess over! And it will definitely change my bedtime routine: 1) brush teeth, 2) wash face, 3) set alarm, 4) check sheets for venomous blood-thirsty insects.

Centipede Bite

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

City Living

I house-sit for a friend on occasion and it gives me a chance to spend time in the city. There are a few things you notice when you've been out in the country for a while: 1) in the city there are five grocery stores within walking distance instead of one market 12 miles away and 2)there is a constant hum in the city. I can hear all different types of noises during the day, but for some reason everything gets louder at night. I never noticed this before. When I first moved out to the country I became very aware of how unnervingly quiet everything was. Except for maybe a few birds hear and there dotted by the occasional motorcycle caravan on their way up the mountain. It was a different kind of hum that seemed to come from the earth itself. But getting used to the general silence and coming back to the city has increased my appreciation of the quiet.

How often do you sit and listen to nothing? No stereo, no TV, no phone. What would you hear if you did? The countryside is therapeutic, and not in the "peace and quiet" sort of way your grandparents love. No, it is not because it is quiet. It is because listening to nothing reminds us to listen to ourselves. The quiet grounds us, it reminds us how small we are but how big we could be. City living has its perks, but I really miss the sound the earth makes.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Town Mouse

"You're the Town Mouse in the country"

I choose this theme based on a recommendation from my mother, who happens to know all too well my secret fear of everything I'll find now that I have moved myself out into the hills of San Diego County. A place where you can find snow in spring but no population counts for any neighboring towns, including the one I live in. More on that later . . . to set the tone I thought I should kick it off with the story I'm basing this blog on. This version comes from the Victoria and Albert Museum collection of Aesop's fables, enjoy:

'Now you must know that a Town Mouse once upon a time went on a visit to his cousin in the country. He was rough and ready, this cousin, but he loved his town friend and made him heartily welcome. Beans and bacon, cheese and bread, were all he had to offer, but he offered them freely. The Town Mouse rather turned up his long nose at this country fare, and said:
"I cannot understand, Cousin, how you can put up with such poor food as this, but of course you cannot expect anything better in the country; come you with me and I will show you how to live. When you have been in town a week you will wonder how you could ever have stood a country life."
No sooner said than done: the two mice set off for the town and arrived at the Town Mouse's residence late at night.
"You will want some refreshment after our long journey," said the polite Town Mouse, and took his friend into the grand dining-room. There they found the remains of a fine feast, and soon the two mice were eating up jellies and cakes and all that was nice. Suddenly they heard growling and barking.
"What is that?" said the Country Mouse.
"It is only the dogs of the house," answered the other.
"Only!" said the Country Mouse. "I do not like that music at my dinner." Just at that moment the door flew open, in came two huge mastiffs, and the two mice had to scamper down and run off.
"Good-bye, Cousin," said the Country Mouse,
"What! going so soon?" said the other.
"Yes," he replied; "Better beans and bacon in peace than cakes and ale in fear."'