Earlier today, I learned there was a wicked winter storm heading our way. Though it was nearly 70 degrees and sunny this afternoon, an arctic front was barreling towards us, bringing ice, snow, and below zero temperatures sometime in the next 24 hours.
It was time to finish up the outdoor decorations and light display, post haste! I finished up some emails, and dashed outside with about 15 minutes of daylight left. This should have been a no-brainer, because we put the spotlights out every year.*
*By “we”, I mean my husband. I participate by instructing on revisions and approving the end result.
Hubby was still an hour away, though, so it was up to me. How hard could it be, really?
Off to the garage, where I easily locate the storage container with all the necessary parts and equipment. This is going to be a piece of cake! I scope out the areas to insert the lights, and choose which colors to put in which locations. Perfect!
I’m considering a career change to “outdoor lighting specialist”.
My first little snag comes when I’m trying to anchor the lights into the ground. They have little stakes that attach to the light, so it should be easy to just plunge into the ground. However, I forgot that I live in these beautiful Ozarks, which are full of rocks. Big rocks. I think my house is built on top of a boulder. I can’t find any earth to insert the spikes into. It’s getting dark. I finally choose some spots that are in the general vicinity of where I wanted the lights to be, and seem to have enough earth to insert the lights into. Time to plug them up and be done.
How many extension cords should be used for these things? Every cord was 6 inches too short. After another 20 minutes of swapping plugs, everything was connected. Time for the big reveal!
I should have checked the bulbs beforehand. Total rookie mistake. Had I learned NOTHING from Clark Griswold?
I dug out replacement bulbs, then rearranged AGAIN so that the colors were separated appropriately. On the bright side (pun intended) the full darkness made it easier to point the lights appropriately and assess how they looked.
The temperature was dropping like a stone. My 20 minute project had now taken nearly 2 hours, and I still needed to hit the local home improvement store for some new bulbs. Even the dogs had gotten bored, and were sitting on the porch waiting for me to let them back inside the house. At some point, my husband pulled into the driveway. He gave me a kiss, sarcastically asked if I was having fun, and chuckled off into the house.
I had forgotten that all the electrical cords had to be routed through the timer box that my husband had installed a few years before. I had no idea how to operate it. One bulb had already burned out, and 2 more had fallen over because I’d neglected to tighten the heads properly. At some point, I’d pulled something in my back, so when I finally tried to stand up the pain ran through me like a hot knife and I let out an ear piercing howl. The dogs came over to offer some wet dog kisses as I attempted to straighten myself enough to walk up the stairs.
I returned to the house, defeated, cold, and sore. Hubby resisted what I’m sure was an overwhelming urge to tease me, instead going back out in the cold to correctly connect the lights to the timers. I’m trying to either sit or lie down, but am unable to do either. The dogs are trying to figure out what those noises are that I’m making, and if these new jerky movements are some sort of game.
I’m loaded up on aspirin, ibuprofen, Ben Gay, and pain patches. None of it is helping. I think I’m going to go for some brandy. Maybe head to the Urgent Care Clinic. At least I’ll have pretty lights to look at while I’m convalescing.
Ho Ho Ho!
So this year I was bound and determined to do something different with the front of the house. We normally spotlight our trees and bushes, hang some pine garland, yada yada.
I wanted to change it up, and I wanted to do it on a shoestring budget. I love a good challenge!
So I started by taking a walk in the woods on our property, and came upon my inspiration.
I picked out some branches and vines, and drug them back to the house. Then I remembered seeing a big conglomeration of Osage oranges, or Hedge Apples. If you look on the internet, you’ll find that they’re used for ridding your house of spiders (most likely not effective), curing cancer (I won’t be taking my chances on that one), or giving kids excellent opportunities for leaving big bruises on one another. My opinion was that they were big, green, and pretty, so I went and gathered some.
Next, I enlisted my husbands help in securing the branches to the front porch. He’s been married to me long enough that he just sighed and went to gather his tools. It took a bit to get them where I wanted them, but eventually we had branches secured to each of the posts closest to the front steps, and two more suspended from the roof of the porch.
So far, I haven’t spent a dime, which is making me very happy. However, I needed to get some white pine/cedar roping for the porch, so I took advantage of the Black Friday sale at Home Depot and picked up plenty for $15. I also grabbed some “shatter resistant” large ornaments for $5. I’m $20 in, which isn’t bad.
The next step is figuring out how to secure the Hedge Apples. I dig out my floral wire from my craft box, and after trying a few different options, the best result was to use the floral wire the same way I would tie a ribbon on a gift: wrap the wire from top to bottom, twist tight, then make another loop in the opposite direction, twist tight, and use the extra wire to secure to whatever you’re anchoring it to. By the way, I strongly recommend wearing gardening gloves while doing this. I didn’t, and I’m regretting it now.
It’s different, and it cost $20. Mission accomplished!