Tag Archives: house

Building a Raised Bed

Welcome to Mowenackie’s Do-It-Yourself Home Show!

Your host for the day will be Sarah, a wannabe carpenter with absolutely no experience. Joining her is her trusty sidekick, Owen. Owen likes digging, rolling in the grass and chasing the cats. He also likes piña coladas and getting caught in the rain.

Today’s project (which was actually completed two weeks ago) is: Making a Raised Bed Garden. Or at least the raised bed part.

Here are the materials you will need:


  • (2) 2×6 boards, 8 ft. in length (Aside: did you know 2×6’s are actually something ridiculous like 1-7/8″ x 5-3/4″? Why? This makes me feel cheated. Good thing Lowe’s gives a 10% military discount.)
  • 1 piece of flatwood, 1’x3′
  • handsaw
  • level
  • measuring tape
  • carpenter’s retractable pencil
  • power screwdriver
  • 2 “ 2.5″ screws (about 20, plus a few to strip or lose in the grass)
  • Band-Aids

Got all that? Okay, first lay your 8′ boards over two saw horses the picnic table bench. Use the measuring tape to find the 4′ mark, then draw a straight line across it. Try to follow this line as you cut the board with the hand saw. Try not to cut the picnic table bench.

4' boards

You should now have four 4′ boards.

Next, use the deck platform your husband just built as a level surface. Line up the boards face to end. This is called a butt joint, but I wish it wasn’t. I feel awkward telling you to hold your butt joint tight while you secure it with screws.

butt joints

You should now have a nice little frame.

Back to the picnic table. Measure off one square foot of the flatwood and cut. I made up the term “flatwood”. I have no idea what this type of wood is called. It’s not plywood. It’s flatwood.

Trace a line from opposite corners of your square and cut to form two triangles. Sawing the wood will be more difficult at this angle, but suck it up.

Repeat this step. You’ll need four triangles – one for each corner.

cutting corners

Secure the triangles in the corners using the screws.

finished bed

Fine. If you want to be all fancy-dancy and not lazy, you can go inside, get a hammer and some nails. Or you could probably use thinner screws if you had them or wanted to take another trip to Lowe’s. Because the 2.5″ screws may or may not split your flatwood.

split corner

In fact, they probably will.

As long as you can get the screw all the way in before the wood breaks completely, it will hold it. I think.

split wood


Other advice? If you come across a knot in the wood, it will be very difficult to get the screw through. You will have to take it out and start over in another place.

Or another.

Or another.

stupid knot

A word of caution: if you try to force the screw into the knot by using all your weight to lean on the power screwdriver, the screw will be %@#! hot when you finally give up and take it out. Handle with caution. Or have burn cream handy.

Don’t worry if your seams aren’t perfect.


The thing only has to hold dirt, not water. So get off my back, alright?

Injuries are possible.


Cue the Band-Aids.

Ignore the pain and focus on the results.

raised bed

See? Owen is ecstatic.

On our next show, well show you how to turn the sandbox-looking thing you just built, into this lush abundance of fruitfulness:

raised bed garden

Thanks for watching!


Baby Booties

I wear a size nine shoe. This is not terribly small in the world of woman’s feet.

My husband also wears a size nine shoe (in men’s sizes, of course). This is not overly large in the realm of men’s feet.

All of which may explain T’s constant amusement when he folds our laundry and, in particular, our socks. He thinks I wear “little baby booties”.

baby bootie socks

I have to admit that even I don’t understand the physics behind this sock anomaly. I mean, there certainly isn’t this big of a difference between the size of our feet in real life. So what’s with the socks?

Isn’t it good that we have so many interesting things to ponder in life?

Keeping the Fights – and the House – Clean

One of the things I love best about my husband is that he’d rather spend time with me than with anyone else. This is sincere and it holds true in any situation.

Example: At most military functions I’ve attended, I find that the guys will split from their wives and form an elbow-bending group where they can jostle each other around, laugh loudly and generally behave like the primates from which they descended. This leaves the wives to gravitate towards each other, forming groups almost out of self-defense where they can shake their heads and roll their eyes at their spouses’ antics.

Not my husband. He stays with me, and not because I would be a little lost satellite without him. At the last Yellow Ribbon event before his unit deployed, I asked him why he didn’t go hang out with the other soldiers.

“You can, you know,” I told him. I have the potential to be a clingy wife since I am so shy around people, so I try to self-monitor.

“Oh, believe me,” he said. “I’ll be seeing those guys more than enough very, very soon.”

Coincidentally enough, I love spending time with him as well. So, you see, 90% of the time, we’re perfect for each other.

Make that 85% of the time. The other 15% we’re busy arguing or being mad at each other over the household distribution of labor.

Actually, 5% of the time we’re arguing about it, 10% of the time I’m mad at him over it, and he doesn’t get mad, which is even more annoying.

Housework is, without contest, the area that causes the most friction in our relationship. Often I wonder whether I’m being overly critical or sensitive, though – as I’ve written before – I do believe my way is the best way.

As it turns out, I’m not the only one. Housework seems to be a commonly disputed topic, according to my latest “Tell Me” poll.

Here are the full results:

Tell Me: What do you argue about MOST with your spouse?

Housework         32% (7)

Money                 23% (5)

Children/Pets    14% (3)

Other                   14% (3)

Politics                 9% (2)

Work                    9% (2)

Religion               0% (0)

All three people who selected “Other” provided alternate answers. The first answer – and my favorite – was:

He points out that I’m not perfect and I disagree.

Another said:

Snoring! I don’t…He does!

And one sickening individual made the comment:

We don’t argue.

Shameful. Who doesn’t argue? Clearly, this person is not Italian.

So there you have it. I feel better. Do you?

Thanks for voting! New poll will be coming soon. As soon as I think of one.

Neither a Borrower Nor a Lender Be

Yesterday as I was sitting at my computer clickety-clacking away furiously, like a woodpecker in heat, I heard a rap on my door downstairs.

I have the absolute pleasure and luxury to work from home on Thursdays, which means my commute on those days consists of rolling out of bed and turning on the computer. This is infinitely preferrable to the road rage that comes from trying to navigate through the construction-riddled highways that signal autumn in Maine as much as do turning leaves.

It also means that I was sitting at my computer in too-big, wide-legged, gray sweatpants with a stain on one cheek, and T’s chocolate ice cream-stained PT sweatshirt (just ignore that last part, dear), with my hair in a ratty semblance of a ponytail-slash-bun. I was a sight for sore eyes.

Or a sight to make eyes sore.

One or the other.

When I heard the knock, I got up from my chair and thundered down the stairs, trying to avoid tangling myself the herd of stampeding animals and plummeting to my death.

Oh yeah, and I wasn’t wearing a bra.

The inner door was open to let in some light and through the glass of my outer front door I saw a small boy standing on the steps. He was adorable, with golden brown hair and dark skin and eyes, no more than seven or eight years old. I had never seen him before in my life.

Quite frankly I was surprised to see him standing there now, as he was alone. I live in the kind of neighborhood where people drive their kids two hundred yards to the end of the road to wait for the bus, even in nice weather. We have car-to-door Girl Scout cookie sales. Makes me miss the good old days of latch-keying it.

I hooked a finger in Owen’s collar and opened the door.

“Hi,” I said.

This is what the kid said to me:

“Do you have a fifteen milligrater socket we can borrow?”

Um. What?

No, “Hi, I’m Johnny Johnson from across the street.”

No, “My mom/dad/stepwhatever sent me over.”

Just, “Do you have a fifteen milligrater socket we can borrow?”

I looked up and saw that my across-the-street neighbors were in their driveway. They looked like they might be working on a car.

Now, I’m no mechanic (though I used to date one), but I’m pretty sure he meant “millimeter”. I don’t know of any system of measurement, English, metric or otherwise, that uses “graters” as a base unit.

(Incidentally, why does America use the English system of measurement, but England uses metric? I think we’ve been had.)

Also, he probably meant to add wrench on the end of that, but now I’m just getting nit-picky.

“Um, no, I don’t think so,” I said, trying to search my brain catalog for our tool inventory.

He just stared at me.

“A fifteen…what?” I prompted him again, to fill the awkward silence. And to make it look like I was giving the matter special consideration.

“A fifteen milligrater socket.”

There it was again! That grater thing.

“No, I’m sorry. I don’t.”

“Okay.” He turned around, jumped off the steps and ran across the yard.

No, “Okay, thanks anyway.”

No, “Okay. ‘Bye.”

Just, “Okay.”

I stood there for a second, contemplating.

They had probably wanted him to ask my neighbor. I live in a duplex and my landlords live in the other half of the house. The husband is an electrician and would be much more likely to have a fifteen milligrater socket than I would.

I felt bad for the poor kid.

But not bad enough to direct him to the other side of the house.

I didn’t like the way he looked at my ice cream stain.

The Food Snob

I have a confession to make: I’m a food snob.

Not in the gourmet sense, but in the healthy sense. I think that processed foods are evil, genetic modification is terrifying and sugar is nature’s prostitute; it feels good at the time, but it’s just screwing you in the end.

I can’t be so hypocritical as to pretend I never eat these things. I am as prone to temptation as the next man – especially when I have PMS – and I have certainly eaten my fair share of Ben & Jerry’s, Green & Black’s and Mike & Ikes.

I do, however, try to indulge only as a treat rather than on a daily basis.

Doesn’t it sound noble? In reality, if I eat too much sugar my eczema kicks into overdrive. My skin starts peeling off at the hairline, leaving raw pink patches around my face that are almost as attractive as the white flakes that start to surface in my eyebrows. Hot, I know.

And, by the way…it’s itchy as hell.

Since I have a limited tolerance for sugar, not to mention bad drivers and people with no common sense, food can be an adventure. Take grocery shopping and something as seemingly benign as a can of corn. Now, riddle me this:

Why does the ingredient list for Hannaford Whole Kernel corn include sugar, yet that of Hannaford Crisp and Sweet corn does not?

Why do some brands of canned red kidney beans contain sugar?

When is it ever necessary to feed children – or anyone else, for that matter – cereal that contains 15 grams of sugar per serving? I’m not talking total carbohydrates here. I’m talking straight sugar. And keep in mind that’s one serving (3/4 cup). Who eats just one serving of cereal?

By the way, there is less sugar in one serving of Double Stuf Oreos.

Yeah. That’s what I’m talking about. Dessert marketed as breakfast. Probably not a good thing, but anything to make a buck, right?

Okay, I’m getting all worked up. Focus. What was I saying? Oh, right. Hidden sugar.

Processed sugar is literally in almost everything, from spaghetti sauces and breads to soy milks and salad dressings.

It’s enough to make you feel betrayed. Fortunately for me, I’m just sick enough that I see it as some kind of game. Me against “them”. How healthy can I eat when the powers that be are doing their darndest to poison me?

See? Paranoia can be healthy.

Sort of.

Military Spouse Friday Fill-In (#3)

Welcome to “Military Spouse Friday Fill-In” hosted by Wife of a Sailor.

This week’s questions are:

1. What is your favorite household chore?

I love to water my various plants, herb gardens and flowers. Give me an outside chore over an inside one any day.

2. What is your favorite childhood memory?

We had a great neighborhood for being a kid. We lolled in the grass checking clovers for honey and watching cloud shapes. We picked blueberries in the pine-baked fields, played “extreme badminton” in the day and flashlight tag at night. We drew with sidewalk chalk, organized capture the flag tournaments and rode bikes. I particularly liked the time one of my friends and I played “apple baseball” in her mom’s kitchen…but that might be a whole ‘nother blog post.

3. What is your most embarrassing moment?

Oh good grief, do I have to pick just one? Well, there was the time at my first job out of college when I unknowingly tucked my skirt into my underwear and strolled into the lobby. I don’t think I’ve worn a skirt to work since. Then there was the time when T and I were first dating and he took me to meet two of his very best friends: a lovely, sophisticated couple that he considers family. I was so nervous that upon our arrival I asked to use their bathroom – which was, of course, right off of the living room – with rather explosive-sounding results. Um, I think I still have nightmares about that one, so I’ll stop there.

4. What uniform of your spouse’s is your favorite?

ACUs. His dress blues are nice, too, for special occasions, but there is just something wanna-rip-‘em-off sexy about the ACUs.

5. What canceled TV show do you miss the most?

My favorite canceled TV show is M*A*S*H. I have all eleven seasons on DVD and I watch an episode or two while I’m eating dinner most nights. I did this before I even met T and I continue to do it now when he is at drill or deployed. The irony – besides that I like to watch a show about war while my husband is living in the middle of one – is that M*A*S*H strengthened my zeal for pacifism rather than making me want to have anything to do with the army. But life has a way of making you choke down your words and rethink your theories, so…here I am, married to my soldier and loving him more every day. The little turd.

The Spirit of Spring

A couple of days ago our neighbors’ grandson created a vivid mural on the driveway with sidewalk chalk.

Which, when let out, Owen promptly sat in.

Thrilled, as always, to be around people, his bushy tail waved wildly, sending clouds of chalk wafting on the breeze.

The end result?

Chalk Legs

With his green tail and pastel striped legs, Owen is now a walking representation of the Spirit of Spring.