Why I love bats, and why you will too.

Call me crazy, but I find myself obsessing over bats. They are my favorite mammals, other than my cat, for several reasons.

pallid-bat-940x550

The best reason ever is that they can eat over 1200 Mosquitos an hour and can consume their body weight in insects every night! That’s right. Stupid, disease carrying, biting, poopy mosquitoes. BUHBYEEEEE

They are also great pollinators! So at night when they are flying around, they are pollinating your area so that the ecosytem can be maintained. Thank you fruit bats!

22503253761_d1bae5e3b9

Thirdly…they freaking ECHOLOCATE! Not all species of bats do. Fruit bats, for instance don’t echolocate at all. It is said that in a light rain, they can navigate through the raindrops(I don’t care if this is true or not), but if it is then they are basically superheroes. They are the only mammals whose front limb has adapted into a wing and are capable of true flight! And boy, are they awesome to watch at dusk dive-bombing to find all those dumb mosquitos. DIE MOSQUITOS…actually, don’t cause then the bats would leave.

Before you FREAK OUT and go all “count Dracula” horror movie about bats, yes I know they can be freaky looking. They sleep upside down for goodness sake! But take some time to consider that, yes while vampire bats do exists, they do not “suck blood”. They lap it up. Ok ok ok, calm down! I know that isn’t any better. But unless you’re in South America where some bats have been seen to be lapping up blood from a cow or goat here and there, you’re fine. (sorry South American cows)

Ok now that I’ve convinced you of their awesomeness, lets look at how to attract bats to your property.

Bat houses

Make the bats feel welcomed! Build a bat house using plywood or cedar. The rough surface will make it easier for bats to climb in and out of the house. Keep the roughest side of the wood to the inside of the house. Bat houses work best if they’re at least 2 feet tall, 1 foot wide, and 3 inches deep. Keep the temperature between 85-100 degrees F, as bats prefer a warmer climate. To ensure this, place the bat house in a location facing the sun for the afternoon hours.  NO TREES as they are more susceptible to predators in a tree as well as too much shade.  To give ample enough room for the bats to drop before they take flight, put your bat house at least 15 feet up in the air. An east or west facing chimney is an ideal place.

bats-bathouse-1000
Cool, right?

Food and Water

Now that you’ve invited them home, give them food and a water source. Bird baths work well as ponds. Planting night blooming flowers can attract nocturnal garden insects, which, in turn, attracts bats! Marigolds, Dahlias, and Thyme are all good plant examples!

Screw you wasps

Make sure you check your house regularly so that you are not just making a home for bees, wasps, or hornets. Also check your house for holes before you put up your bat house! Seal and fill them as best you can. Bats can fit into a hole the size of a quarter, and we want to prevent cohabitation! After all, this roommate stays up ALL NIGHT!

Rabies

Yes, bats can carry rabies. But you’re more likely to have an encounter with a nasty raccoon or skunk than a bat. After all, they are way better at avoiding you with their echolocation than you are with your human eyes and ears. Plus, the benefit way outweighs the risk in my opinion, knowing that less than 1% of the bat population actually carry rabies. 2014-wildlife-us

Ok, so have I convinced you yet? Bats…do it…you’ll thank me later when you can enjoy your back porch without the Zika virus. Plus look how cute they can be!

maxresdefault

At Home with Christiana: Grout redemption!

As a follow up to my earlier backsplash post (more on that here if you missed it), I want to highlight a quick fix for what can be a frustrating aspect of a backsplash project, or of tile anywhere for that matter. Grout. Like the constantly dingy-looking, never comes clean, “I think it used to be white but now it’s just gross” grout.

giphy

You can fudge up grout color in a project, or you can simply inherit some yucky stuff with your house. Either way, I. HEAR. YOU. And I am here to help you fix it! Once and for all. In one afternoon. (Don’t worry, this is not a “magic” cleaning method involving a tootbrush and too much of your time. Whole lotta nope.) Welcome to your grout redemption!!

Let me explain how I got to this point. We had awesome marble basket-weave tile floors installed in our hall bath, which is primarily used by our kids, buuut is also frequently used by guests since it is located in our front hall. (Basically, it is not a room you can just close the door and pretend doesn’t exist.) We chose light gray grout for the installation based on the package color sample. Which looked great. Until it dried. And our “light gray” grout was in fact not gray at all but… drumroll please… white. Womp, womp. Who wants to clean white grout in a kids’ bathroom? That’s right, no one. We weren’t pumped, we didn’t get the contrast we wanted from gray grout, but okaaaay we thought, it’s not awful. (Not yet.)

img_7771.jpg
Noooo! We white-grouted our bathroom floor!

Buuuut, fast forward through potty training two little boys, 1,000 grimy kid (and dog) baths, and SURPRISE! The grout was no longer an okay white-ish color. In fact, it never looked clean, and most of the time was a shade of icky beige which made our very recently installed floors look old and dingy. SHOOT.

IMG_5292
These guys make a mess?! No way…

After I discovered became obsessed with DeLorean Gray grout and used it on pretty much all of our other projects, I had a hard time refraining from adult tantrums about our bathroom floor situation. I actually contemplated re-grouting the whole floor until I figured out that for starters, it would entail chipping old grout out of approximately 5 million tiny joints with an itty bitty diamond coated blade. Uhhh no. 

grout renew.png
Fade-Resistant and available in something like 40+ colors. This stuff is legit!

I had pretty much given up when I stumbled upon Grout Renew during an early morning hardware store run. And praise to all the high powers it was available in Delorian Gray. For less than $20. Um, excuse me. Whaaaat?  I was pretty sure that it was too good to be true and most likely wouldn’t work, but what the heck did I have to lose?

So, that afternoon, my husband I found ourselves with a napping baby and two fairly distracted children and decided to give it a shot.  Per the package, you simply apply the solution evenly to all of your grout joints with a toothbrush, wait 30-60 minutes and wipe off. Easy peasy, right??

Actually yes, with one caveat.  Work in small sections and work quickly. Make sure you wipe your tile before the solution dries, which happened way faster than we expected.  DO NOT ATTEMPT this project when your children are only fairly distracted and might want a snack, OR when a certain baby might wake from nap time early. (Say, our whole lives right now.) Set your timer for 30 minutes and attach it to your person. Getting distracted and missing your clean-up time can derail this project in a major way and leave you with our pretty little situation below. But don’t worry, even that can be fixed.

 

X1b8WmqBRg2jPUq6p0lwxg
Dang nap time sabotage!

While scary, even the holy-crap-there-is-dry-grout-paint-everywhere situation was not unsolvable! Just way more difficult than it needed to be. (Luckily you have us to try out the more difficult route for you. You’re welcome!) But really, just a lot of extra scraping with One of these multi-tools (which I recommend everyone have on hand for clean up after any and all paint, tile, adhesive, anything projects), and the tiles cleaned up perfectly.  No more icky yellowish-white grout! Instead, perfect, easy-to-clean gray. Fist pump.

pfireuswtqoifjrw5o9qq-e1523378365361.jpg
After Grout Renew: Clean and gray!

In sum, use this stuff! Just don’t don’t make the same mistake we did.   (Unless of course you want to skip your arm workout and scrub tiles instead…) Here’s to happy grout!

 

Adventures of a Renaissance Mommy: Introducing Christiana!

Last but not least, I am Christiana, and I’ll be rounding out the DIY, home design, and real estate corner of this blog, which will be sprinkled (most likely erratically) with legal expertise, wanderlust, wellness, style, and my attempts at child-rearing philosophy (which mostly equates to embrace the crazy). A little bit of everything!  

I’m an attorney and a former Realtor, currently working as a full time at-home momma to three kids aged 5 and under, and wife to a Navy pilot. I love old houses and dirty jobs (no, not the diaper kind, but we have those here a lot right now too), and I spend my non-existent free time attempting DIY projects at the home we currently share with the tribe of monkeys we call our children. Think a slightly chaotic, less-than-polished HGTV show with naked toddlers and you’re just about there.

IMG_2356
Little Man Loves Demo Day!

I got here in kind of a roundabout way. I graduated from college and went straight to law school with a serious “Save the World” complex and a passion for Civil Rights. That’s all you need, right?! I focused on International Law and Human Rights and arranged to spend a year of my legal studies abroad in Japan, right around the same time my soon-to-be fiancé was stationed there flying for the Navy. I mean… fate, seriously? Gotchya.

I graduated from law school and joined a Big Four accounting firm in Tokyo. Fiancé became dear husband and we spent our dreamy newlywed years living in Japan and exploring Asia.  In short, I was living the life I had pretty much always envisioned for myself.

Graduate degree, check. Great job, check. Globetrotting, check. Fab husband, check. (Well, aside from saving the world. Which it turns out was not a paying job I was offered at graduation. Hmm. Still #lifegoals)

IMG_6048

And then don’t you know it, the universe threw change at me. My husband got orders back to the ol’ US of A and I was faced with the decision to either remain in Japan alone, or … go home. So, home we went. Because despite really enjoying our great ex-pat lifestyle, I had a sneaking suspicion that something was still missing. That something turned out to in fact be 3 little people, a fluffy dog, an old house or two, and complete madness. But more on that later. 

Back stateside, I seized the opportunity to try something new, and decided to try my hand at Real Estate. It involves a good deal of legal concepts and I’ve always not so-secretly loved architecture and design, so it clicked. At around the same time, my husband and I found out we were expecting our first baby and we threw ourselves headfirst into renovating our recently purchased 100+ year old home with literally NO experience. (You will see that a lack of sanity is a recurring theme here).  It was messy, hectic, and definitely not always pretty (a respirator with work gloves and maternity pants is oh so fetching).

IMG_0658 2

But it was through these experiences that I realized how much I really love to design, reinvent, and restore spaces.  And with a LOT of trial and error and research (and plenty of YouTube tutorials… woot!) we actually got kind of good at this DIY thing.

Fast forward through two more moves, two more beautiful babies, deployments and homecomings, and the dust is just beginning to settle on yet another home renovation. And… you guessed it, we are already planning our next move! Sigh. I can’t say that being a military spouse makes anything easy, but it does keep things exciting…

View More: http://taraliebeckphotography.pass.us/homecoming123
Welcoming daddy home from deployment (Photo courtesy of Tara Liebeck Photography)

Right, so this leads me to… why this blog? I will be the first to admit that I am a technology hermit. An old soul. I like to write with a pen and paper, thankyouverymuch. So, blogging is not something I was naturally drawn to. However, I do love the idea of spreading the friendship and wisdom and hilarity I have been so privileged to enjoy with these three exceptional women.

And hey, with my gypsy lifestyle sometimes long-distance support is all you’ve got.  My hope is that in sharing this sometimes often utterly humiliating stage of our lives and mixing it all up with our diverse and ongoing passions in life, we just might bring a little bit of laughter, comfort, joy (or who knows, maybe even inspiration!) to another household.

When the universe, and maybe even more importantly, my best friends come knocking…  “I’m in.” So, here’s to finding the joy in the everyday, in postponed or reimagined careers, in wonky old house projects, in broken bones (more on that later), and in actual spilled milk. I hope you’ll join us in our journey of friendship and growth as we embrace the crazy and surrender to the chaos. Here we go! Cheers!

IMG_5058Christiana is a Navy wife and mother of 3, attorney and former realtor, world traveler, home renovator and decorator, yogi, fitness enthusiast, and recipe and fine wine explorer.