kittens for adoption!

We haven’t posted in awhile, because we’ve been busy fostering these adorable, sweet, cuddly & playful kittens! We’re working with Kitten Rescue LA after finding these sweet little darlings. All kittens are spayed & neutered, vaccinated, dewormed & deflead, box trained and using their scratch toys [not declawed]. But moreover, they’ve gotten totally spoiled with high-quality food, lots of hugs and playtime by a professional cat lady [me]!

Izuara: Lilac Point Siamese / Balinese, female = ADOPTED!
Manzanita: Brown Tabby / Short Hair, female
Sequoia: Maine Coon & Tabby mix / Medium Hair, male
Juniper: Black & Brown Tabby / Short Hair, female
Sage: Maine Coon & Tabby mix / Medium Hair, female
Aqualera: Lynx Point Siamese / Tabby mix, female = ADOPTED!

To get started, any interested parties should first fill out an Adoption Questionnaire with Kitten Rescue and make sure to specify the kitten[s] you want by name at the bottom. Once reviewed, we can set up a play date to meet the kitten[s] you’re interested in. Please share with your friends on social media, these little guys can use a little extra promotion to get to the best homes possible!

Thank you!

time for a sign

When we lived in Echo Park, we were up a steep hill, which cut down on all but the most fervent of foot traffic. Now we get all manner of visitors. As a person who works from home, I’m not only here for these, but now I have an eye-level window in my front door, which has entirely eliminated the “pretend I’m not home” thing I used to do.

So I made a sign. It’s 4″ x 4″ and fits right in our door molding. And I’m sharing it if you also feel like giving audience to these on-demand pitches is something akin to earnestly reading every email in your spam folder.


the june garden

It’s June, and the garden has officially started to explode with growth, greenery and blossoms, which are now a crop of baby veggies. These guys are especially cute, so I took a bunch of baby pics. Unfortunately, our armenian cucumber seems to have a white leaf mildew, so I spent the morning spraying them with a baking soda dilution and hoping for the best.

In more of the progress arena, we have nectarines that are starting to turn red, the one lone peach on the peach sapling is holding strong & growing, our revived mystery stone fruit tree is now taller than me, and wildflowers that are finally blooming thanks to a good mulching. We’ve also found that our meyer-ish lemon tree seems to be going through a 2nd bloom season for the year.

In the meantime, I decided to start a small collection of tropical plants in containers, to focus the water they need into a small space and help keep it from evaporating. I chose plants that are hardy to our temperatures and got them started off right with a really nice organic potting mix. I chose American Beauty dragon fruit for its flavor and cactus-like hardiness, dwarf papaya for its contain-ability, and Fredrick’s purple passion fruit for its rating as an excellent fruit flavor. Now I just have to build the trellis extension on our fence before the 2 vines get 6′ tall.

One thing that is absolutely not a baby is our yellow squash. We are barely able to eat it in real-time with its growth. My challenge of late has been to make as many healthy, non-cakey squash dishes as I can, which has been both interesting and tasty.


And a final shout-out to our preponderance of purslane. Many people probably think this is a weed that’s just out of control, but purslane is actually an edible, crunchy plant, highest vegetable source of omega-3s, and beneficial to soil, keeping water near the surface and available to neighbors. I’m letting it grow wherever it pops up, hopefully it’s made good friends with my tangerine and plectranthus here.


building a cat tree

The time of cats was finally upon us. We could wait no longer. I combed ads of shelters and rescue organizations and focused on 6 cats at 3 organizations, and narrowed it to two. The fosters were all ready to place them once we qualified, so the rush to furnish the house with some cat stuff was on!

Awhile back, I decided to try making furniture. While I’m sure I could be good at it, I made the mistake of trying to make a model of a chair out of plywood, so I could make all my mistakes on something cheap. I didn’t realize at the time that ply is not a great stand-in for solid wood, and got pretty far with it until it was time to put my finished panels together. So, I mentally noted that next time I’ll work with a low-cost solid wood, but in the meantime, I had all these chair parts with no real end-game for them. Moving them from our last place kinda felt like a failure.

The 4 corner posts were an obvious upcycle, but it wasn’t until the weekend we confirmed we were adopting cats that it occurred to me, if I cut the tenons off the panels, I could make a box base for the posts. I drew up a rough sketch and worked out basic dimensions, then made a 1″:1′ drawing to see how it would work. Luckily, we have lots of scrap wood, and I made a few unexpected workarounds along the way.

I didn’t take many pictures of the progress, because I was pretty focused and on a deadline, but I managed to work it all out by Sunday night for the Monday morning cat delivery. It’s much bigger than any cat tree need be, but I like that it houses the litter box in a space that can turn into a lounge area, and that they have a high place to perch. The fact that it looks like craftsman furniture will be a plus if it has to move to another room. And the biggest thing is, I don’t have dead-end project parts sitting around, making me feel like a failure. So far, they like it too.

landscaping progress

One the front fence was complete, we were ready to start putting in plants. Generally, I just stopped at nurseries around town and bought drought-tolerant / native plants for the sunny front fence areas and perimeters, and nice partial shade ground covers for under the trees. I’m loving all the colors we have going on here, I think we just need another coat of dichondra and clover seeds, and then wait for it all to fill in.

The guava tree is currently covered with little popcorn blossoms. It’s kind of astounding, there is going to be a ton of fruit!

In the back, I was inspecting what looked like offshoots of our nectarine tree, to find the fruit is fuzzy! We have a surprise peach tree! We also put in a dwarf tangerine tree, and a little pomegranate tree in the patio corners. The pom is still adjusting to the sun, but the vegetable garden is looking really happy! I got a coat of Penofin on the redwood fence just in time before the tomatoes really took off. There are a lot of blossoms getting started on the eggplant, and the cucumbers and yellow squash are growing bigger every day. My little pumpkin seeds finally sprouted, so I put them in, and the butternut has a few tiny squash babies on it. Amazing what full days of sun will do.

Finally, the pond continues to get updates and improvements. The lower patio sitting area is fully-integrated with the pond edging, and we got some new plants! A colorado water lily, which is just stunning, and a baby elephant ear and papyrus. We’ve also noticed that on hot days, bees come perch on the water plants for a drink. But most intriguing was this dragonfly that came by one day. It was so huge, and didn’t seem to mind me standing around taking pictures. I’m hoping it was a mother who came to lay eggs, but we won’t know for awhile.

a picket gate for a picket fence

A terrible joke might be: we were on the fence about adding gates to our fence. Maybe that’s just a terrible sentence without being a joke at all. But the truth was, we weren’t absolutely sure, we’d seen plenty of cute fences that were mere barriers without security features, and we thought maybe we liked the openness. That is to say, until I looked into gates and realized that they’re easy to make. Just a bit more wood and a bit more time. Google any picket gate plans and you’ll see they can be done in a half hour, so I just added the step of pre-staining and made it an afternoon project. I also decided to use scraps to make a nice fruit crate and a mailbox.

Picket gates are pretty easy, the only difference is that you have to start with a square frame, using the same rails as your fence, and 2 outside pickets. The trick for me was getting this to be square and getting all the rails to line up from one side of the fence to the other. The fence rails are mostly level, but the posts are bolted to chain link poles and who knows exactly how straight they are? The gate is straight for the most part, but i ended up hanging it at a bit of an angle to achieve visual linearity between the 2 fences. And I’ve invented words to get my point across here.

My favorite aspect of building this fence and gate is that we have regular walkers, from our block and beyond, who pass by every day. I got so much positive input from neighbors and new people I’ve never seen, it’s been really encouraging. And the lemon crate is popular with the neighbors, every time I fill it, there are takers.


redwood fence over chain link posts

Over the past month, I took my fence ideas post to the research phase, and looked at finished redwood pieces available at hardware stores. Just so happens, Home Depot has planed pieces in various widths of whole inches + 0.375″ by 0.625″ which is a nice way to be able to finish sides & faces in whole inches. After measuring the chain link poles we were left with, I came up with a box sheath to build and attach to each using a few widths of this planed redwood. This was easy with the free-standing poles, but for those still attached to fencing, some workarounds were required. They’re still pretty sturdy, though.

One of the things I did to prepare for this project was research weatherproofing sealers. I remember choosing one for our back stairs, but we picked it by color rather than product type. Fortunately, we picked a great product and came back around to it in the research. I read a decent amount of blog posts that gloss over different products, but most of them ignore what I think is the most important factor: how to reapply every few years when needed. Most products suggest that you strip the fence before reapplication. Honestly, that’s a deal-breaker for me. A friend used Penofin and recommended it to me, and when I looked in our basement, there it was, same stuff we used on the stairs. A low-solids wood oil that can be reapplied without stripping as necessary [which is far less frequent than other outdoor weatherproofing, Penofin lasts up to 5 years, where others last 2-3].

I decided to go with the Verde line, the eco-friendly, non-toxic line they make. It’s appreciably more costly, but odor / fume-free and only requires soap & water cleanup. I don’t work for Penofin or get a kickback for singing their praises, but I really like this product. Hey, Penofin people, I am available! Before I put up these posts, I sealed the inner-sides, and did the same with any new pieces going up. There are various tints to choose from, I’m using Rosewood. It goes on looking yellow-ish, but after a few days, cures into a nice final color. The before & after below is after a week.

Once I had a good collection of pieces with sides & backs pre-stained, we got started deciding on heights for rails and spacing for pickets. We decided to use a standard piece as a spacer, so once the first picket was level, we could move down the fence, drilling pilot holes and affixing pickets. I did this side in one afternoon, and the next in another.

After each section, I finished with a coat of Penofin on the outsides. This is one of the most satisfying projects I’ve done on my own, mainly because it could actually be done quickly and easily and with only a few tools. Voilà!


pond progress

Over the past few weeks, we’ve collected some rocks and pavers and Jason worked up the edges of the pond and finished up the lower patio. The water balance continues to evolve and we saw a bloom of algae, which we were told to expect. I guess this means we’ll be heading back to the pond store to pick up some more plants to keep it all in check.

Here’s what it looks like today, now we just have to wait for the next shipment of dwarf avocado trees to come into local nurseries so we can finish planting up the edge.