It’s been a little while since we’ve published worked on a refinishing project, which honestly seems to be the most popular thing we do. We’ve been on the hunt for a while for some patio furniture we don’t detest. The problem is that it’s all ugly plastic or REALLY expensive. So we’ve kept our eyes out for something we can work with.

Finally this weekend we found some plain metal chairs. nothing special but the perfect base for a refinishing project. The chairs were $4.99 each, not in bad shape or rusted, and we bought two cans of spray paint at $3.50 or so each.


They started out black, with a few rust spots here and there. Still, they were stable and in decent shape.


Add a little paint…


And viola! They went from dud to fun in about ten minutes. We let the paint dry and set while we work on cushions for the seat and back (because hey, why not).

We haven’t made the cushions quite yet, but have our fabric planned out. This fabric was another Goodwill find at about $3.00.


I think this project will be a great start to spicing up our back patio. We have a really sizeable patio that is covered, which is nice, but doesn’t keep rain or snow or wind out. It’s nice for the summer when our house is sweltering because we have the stove, oven, and dishwasher running all day, and I’d like to make it more functional. I’m a super huge fan of the “outdoor rooms” you see set up at home improvement stores and such.

Don’t tell Katie, but I have designs on our outdoor space. I’m really tempted to put in a low wall around the slab and then put in canvas and vinyl or screen “walls” that we can roll down when it’s nice, and can go up when it’s not so nice. I think we can do it and it would be pretty much epic. I think it’s about time to recruit Father Burb and Father Burb in law to come out for a visit.


(Garden party last year, but you can see the space and get the idea. )

We’ve been quiet around Burbex recently. Rachel had nasal surgery last week, so we haven’t been up to any large projects. To keep you entertained if you’re bored in the mean time, here are a few fun pictures and small projects to keep you going:

Here you can see two of our syrups we made for soda. The brown color is the pineapple mint, which we talked about in another post, and is from the really fun cookbook, “Can it, Bottle it, Smoke it”. The pink syrup (which is almost gone!) is strawberry. This was an adaptation of the Strawberry Black Pepper syrup from the same cookbook.

We also made a small batch of mulberry jam last night, which can also be seen in the picture above. We have a mulberry tree in our back yard, but this is the first year we’ve been proactive enough to actually harvest some of the berries before the birds ate them all. Mulberries look and taste a little like blackberries, except instead of growing on an uncontrollable vine, they grow on a funny looking tree:



We’re also in the middle of a big project that is a part of our long, ongoing yard renovation:

Eventually all of the sod will be removed, and we will have a garden here under the cottonwood tree. You can also see from the state of our grass (dead!) how hot and dry it has been here in Colorado. You can also see were we have previously started the sod removal in this garden and never finished…

And last, but not least, we welcomed a new member of our menagerie here at Burbex:


This is Kazumi. He’s a nearly 2 year old retired Bengal. He’s settling in and bringing a little equilibrium to our wild household by giving Sora someone to chase around.




April 3, 2012

This weekend Katie and I put a lot of backbreaking work in to our gardens, to get them up to speed for the new seasons. Of particular pleasure is the fact that we planted two trees end of season and they both survived and are starting to leaf out. That’s a big deal.

So we weeded, we raked, we picked up sticks, we trimmed and primped and planted. We started our seedlings the other week for our veggies. All in all it was a good weekend.

Katie and I are currently discussing our goals for this season. We definitely have a garden we’d like to finish, as well as the veggies, and we’ve even started talking about a chicken coop. At 18 eggs a week, we could use the help.

So my question to you is, what are you doing to get ready for the new season? Cleaning? Gardening? Mowing? Cooking? Tell us in the comments!

Seedlings Approacheth

March 20, 2012

So last year our garden did alright- it kept us stocked in produce for a large portion of the year. But it would have been totally KICK BUTT if I had started seedlings. Which I didn’t. However, this year I got on top of it and started all of them. I’m hoping to get some good starts in pots so that I can plunk them in and get a ways ahead this year.

Our starting lineup includes:

Cherry tomatoes tomatoes

Yellow tomatoes

Banana peppers

Bell pepers












Other beans

We used a combination of peat pots and egg cartons. The plan is to get shoots and replant them in to pots once big enough. They’re living out in our garage until I’m a little more certain it will stay nice out. Colorado “winter” is weird that way.

Oh, and update on last year’s garden — despite snow, sleet, COLD…we STILL have parsley. Send me your address if you want some. Seriously.

In A New Light

February 20, 2012

As I have mentioned time and time again, updating the lights in our house has been one of the easiest ways to make the space nicer and more like our own. Recently, I tackled the bathroom. Our previous owner, Mr. Do-It-Yourself-Taking-Every-Possible-Shortcut had a real LOVE for wood. Ugh. So our bathroom has wooden cabinets and a wooden box light strip. YUCK. So I finally decided to redo it.

As you can see, wood everywhere, and I think it totally clashes with my awesome Tiffany’s blue bathroom. So after turning off the circuit (of course), I dismantled the box. You can see the two screws on the front. Because they did things like paint around it, it was stuck pretty firmly on there. So, screws off, bulbs out, then PULL and it came off. A little more dismantling, and ta-da – we were left with just the raw wiring.

I’ll have to talk to my photographer to get less fuzzy pictures (<3 you!). Anyway, as per typical wiring, you have your black, your white, and the copper wire is our ground. We picked up an inexpensive light strip from the ReStore near us, and immediately discovered that the screw holes were not at all in the same spot. So a quick trip to the hardware store fixed that. We got some toggle anchors and screws, measured, and put the new anchors in.

Once those were in, we used some long 2″ screws we also picked up and began installing the new fixture. We twisted the correct wires (black to black, white to white, ground to ground) together, stuffed it behind the fixture and screwed it in.

A quick wipe with some glass cleaner and it was all ready to go!

I love how it looks – it totally jives with our bathroom feeling. I think my next chore will be to take the cupboards apart, paint them white to match the trim, add some cute paper to the back wall of the cabinets, and reassemble, but that’s all for another post 🙂


Don’t Sink This Project

January 31, 2012

If you’re at all like me, I kind of need an excuse to do the really grody (can you still use that word?) chores, say, like cleaning under the stove. I’ll get to that in a minute.

This past week/weekened, father Burb visited the BurbEx and helped us out with a number of projects, for no other reason less than because he is a foot taller than either of us (thanks for closing the heating vents!). He also brought a circular saw in to the household. This will allow us to get SO much more done! (read- very excited).

The first project we decided to tackle was to rip out the floor under our kitchen sink. Because we have had so many plumbing issues, the floor was saggy and nasty, so I thought it would be a nice surprise for Katie to put in a new floor. The most perplexing thing about ripping the floor out was discovering just how much of our kitchen (and house for that matter) were built in place. It makes it somewhat harder to do some of this because I’d hate to have our sink fall out because we moved a piece of molding, you know?

Anyway, the floor came out distressingly easily by breaking out the rotting away wood.

Anyhoo, you can see the floor being ripped out piece by piece. Perhaps the funniest part of this is that we found an interesting piece of wood. The guy that owned our house prior to us was a real “do it yourself-er” except that he really kind of sucked at it. Shortcuts and shoddy work, which is what we spend so much of our time fixing now. Anyway, the support wood stuck under the floor included this little gem.

“CA” are the first two letters of dude’s last name. It appears he was practicing his wood burning skillz before “fixing” the sink.

Once all the old floor was ripped out, we took measurements so that we could cut our new floor. Because the old floor was built in place, it was one solid piece around a pipe. We had to do two pieces to accommodate.

Yay! Twirly! I love my new saw. We decided to use quarter inch plywood for the new floor, as we had bracings running along the edges that held a groove for the floor to be set in to. We began by cutting the two pieces of the floor.

As you can see, our fancy saw horse is made up of our recycling bin. After cutting the two main floor pieces, we had to measure and cut out a chunk on each piece to fit the pipe. I made two cuts on each side, and then we used a screwdriver and rubber mallet to score and pop the piece out.

Once the pieces were completed, we were able to set them in to the floor space. However, the bracing with the quarter inch groove was not properly cut or something because the floor did not quite fit. We had to do some jiggering and have a slightly incline floor. Oh well.

You can see that these were winched in and then we used the rubber mallet to tap them down in to place. Once the floor was set in, it was snug enough to not really need any additional bracing or support. I added one piece of 2×2 along the left edge under where the board is because we cut the smaller piece of floor above, and it needed a support to sit upon. Otherwise, there was structure in the middle as you can see, and running along the right-hand side.

Once the floor was in, since it was too cold out to paint, I got cheap dollar store contact paper that will serve just fine for now. Again, cut to size, peel back the backing and place the paper down.



This tale comes with another epic story. Remember how I said I needed an excuse to clean under the stove? Well it came as the result of one of our cats engaging in mischief. When we first moved in to our house, we lost one of our cats for about three days. We couldn’t figure out if she got out, was hiding, or what happened. It turned out that there is a hole that was cut for no apparent reason that we can determine, in the back side of the sink and neighboring cupboard. That gave the cat space to get behind the cupboard and under the counter.

Initially, father Burb and I stapled some dipped chicken wire in to place. We threw a cat in the cupboard and she wasn’t able to get back there.

Done and done, so we thought. However, we underestimated the sheer panic and strength of a desperate cat, and she ripped the wire right down and got behind the cupboard.

Fine we said. We’ll take the food away when we can’t monitor and she’ll have to come out to get some. After a day and a half, we tried reaching back there and bodily removing her. However that didn’t work because the gap behind the counter was shaped like an L”

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Well, that’s supposed to look like an L. Anyway, she would hide back behind the corner where our arms, vacuum, tape measure, and other assorted items just couldn’t reach. We tried wet food, where the smell would drive her out after two days of no food. No luck. Finally, I decided that desperate times called for desperate measures.

I looked at possibly popping out a wall of the cupboard or something but again, because of the built in place nature of the entire construction, that wasn’t possible. I then began to wonder if it would be possible to pop the side panel off. Again, shoddy construction was a possibility. So after the third day, we pulled the stove out of place, cleaned under it, and then I began removing nails from the side panel.

Gross counter. Don’t worry, we cleaned it.

You can see the space behind the cupboard.

And the hole she got through.

Ultimately we got her out by prying back (rather than removing) the side panel, and when we could see her, I blew canned air at her. She did NOT like that so she ran to the other side of the L, which then allowed Katie to scare her out with the tape measure. She took off like a shot, and then I screwed in a piece of board I had cut to the right size, just for this occasion. No more hole, no more stuck cat. She’s now pouting in the cat tower.

I can’t wait to build more things, so we’ll definitely keep you posted on that.




January 16, 2012

So yeah. One of the things that annoys me the most about being a homeowner is that we inherited all the bad taste of the previous owners. Let’s just say they liked wood. A lot. Anyway, one of the small things we’ve been doing to really spruce things up and give it our flare is to replace the lighting. SO much of it was so tacky, it’s awful…and the top of my priority list was to remove the fugly fan that lived downstairs.

To set the stage, I’ll say that we probably have seven foot ceilings, so it’s kind of low to begin with. Then there was a giant monstrosity of a fan, with wicker inlay and flower-shaped glass shades. Teh awesome to be sure.


Kind of like this one.

So we decided to get a nice and compact light that would provide plenty of brightness but MUCH less visual space.

Zoomed: Style Selections 4-Light Chrome Flush Mount Fixed Track Light Kit

Now, I kind of like replacing our lighting fixtures because it makes me feel like a badass. The first step was to shut off the breaker. ALWAYS do this. It hurts to get shocked. Once you’ve had someone else touch the wire to make sure its off (just kidding..kind of), start taking pieces off. We started with the blades, then shades then the fixture, then the ring, then the remaining pieces.

After removing all the pieces, you should be left with an inset box with two to three wires. One black one, one white one, and one that is usually the ground, and is often green.

It’s a little hard to tell in this picture because the plate is in the way, but the far right wire is black, the middle is white, and the third is a copper wire on the left.

We removed the plate because it was a right pain in the ass.

Next we removed the components of the new light. We put up the initial bracket-

The dust ring is disgusting. I’m also not sure why I look so concerned. Don’t worry, I didn’t cry.

Next twist your wires from the fixture to the wires in the box. White to white, black to black. Make sure they’re secured, then twist a nut on to the end to secure it. You can also wrap it with electrical tape.

Next the ground wire, or green wire should be either screwed under a green screw (as in this case) or wrapped around part of the metal framework.

Our screw was green and said GRND so we knew where to go. The wire was wrapped underthe screw, which was then secured.

Then the fixture goes on to the bracket. Screw it on, place the shades on, the bulbs, and voila!

We wound up with a light I wasn’t embarrassed to own. I chose the moveable track lighting to spread the love since this one light covers a large space. It’s a nice way to spruce up a drab looking area.

For most of us, our bedroom is the core of our personality as we express it through our houses or apartments. However, it’s also one of those spaces that isn’t really public once you’ve moved out of your college dorm room. What that means, at least for us, is that while we have individual things about our bedroom that are awesome, we also have areas that are pretty neglected and that we haven’t done much about. One of those areas was our bed. Upon leaving college we upgraded from a futon to a real mattress and box spring, but we’ve never had a head- or footboard, or any kind of matching bedroom set. So, one of the things we’ve been contemplating lately is doing something to make our bed look a little more grown-up and finished. We have plans for a headboard, but it’s been a trickier project than originally anticipated, so in the mean time, we went with decorative pillows.

We got 2 27″ square pillow forms to add some height and a generally finished look to the bed (Sora thinks she adds refinement as well). We then got some fabric. The fabric was a great find, it was on the bargin rack at Denver Fabric for $6.95 a yard, plus it’s intended to be curtain panels, so it was double wide. We got enough fabric for both pillows for about $6. The one downside is the fabric isn’t  as durable as you would usually use for something like a pillow. It’s definitely not a cuddle-up, fall asleep and drool kind of pillow.

To make the covers, I used the simplest pillow cover known to man-the flap pillow. I took a length of fabric long enough to cover the pillow, and folded it over hamburger-style, leaving 6-8″ overlap on one end. I then sewed up the sides to make a shape like an envelope.

From there, I just stuck the pillow form in, and folded the flap inside (think of a letter that you want to close and be able to open again later). Because these aren’t functional pillows I didn’t worry about making it fasten, however, if you wanted it to fasten, you could add buttons for a visible embellishment, or velcro on the inside for an invisible hold. The only other detail was to finish all of the raw edges. They’re mostly out of sight, so I just serged along all of my edges, but they could be zigzag stitched or folded over as well.

Bonus post! Our basement flooded after running the post-cookie dishes through the dishwasher, so we called in a plumber. Turns out our mainline was clogged. When clearing the line, his blade got stuck, because our pipe is damaged, collapsed, or crushed. It wasn’t clear which. What was clear, and kind of amazing is what came out.

Those are tree roots. Probably about two feet of tree roots. It’s kind of a miracle it came out. On the plus side, it gives us running (draining) water….for now. On the negative side, our pipe needs repair and I’ve never heard anyone be happy about having to repair a sewer line. Aren’t we lucky.

Feel free to send donations. Just kidding. Kind of.

It’s that time of year

December 5, 2011

Winter. Holidays.

I hate snow. I kind of hate winter generally. However, I do get sucked in to the holidays. Now, my parents stopped celebrating Christmas as a corporate abomination when I was pretty young. It was something like. There’s no Santa, p.s. there’s no Christmas either.

I grew up loathing all things Christmas and was righteously offended by anything Christmas. You’d think it was eating children or something. However, it eventually became the doorway through which I became part of Katie’s family, so it now holds a lot of meaning for me. I love their traditions. I love the visiting and the food. I love being a part of something bigger, and welcomed so thoroughly.

And of course, I love presents.

Last year we started what might become a new tradition for us – our friends introduced us to the idea of acquiring a permit to go cut our own tree down from the National Forest. Given our love of doing things on the cheap, $10 for a permit and an adventure sounds like a good deal.

It starts by meeting up for breakfast and ridiculously fancy coffee. We then drive in and tromple around up a mountainside looking for just the perfect tree.  It’s harder than you might think.

First off, there are several requirements about size, there is shape and density to consider, and then you cut it down. Mountainside forest trees are just not lot trees. They’re a little more Charlie Brown. Anyhoo, once you cut it down, you then have to drag it back out the half mile, hopefully without falling, and strap it up to the car.

This year, we decided to lop down a 19′ tree for our 6′ ceiling room. Since you can’t “top” trees and leave the stumps, we cut it in two and dragged both pieces out. It was heavy. And hard. And there were several inches of snow on the ground. All in all, a good time, if you like noodley appendages.

However, we got the tree out and it was graciously driven home by our friends’ parents. It was during this time that I realized the tree was about 6′ across at the bottom and still about 13′ tall.  More lopping. Then I had to get it through the door, downstairs, and manage to fit under our lower-than-average basement ceiling. I knew I shouldn’t have bought the 18″ tree topper.

Anyway, it’s all set up now and I find that lots of lights and dangley things help take up the CB space, but really, it’s about the best tree you could ask for.