Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Great Dog Sitter Debacle of 2009

I want to make this short.

Basically we decided to hire a house sitter to care for our dogs, cats, and frogs (yes we have frogs) and watch the house during a recent vacation. Usually we board the dogs and let the other animals fend for themselves. This time we were going to be gone a little longer than usual and getting a house sitter seemed to be the perfect solution. We hired a sweet college girl. A friend of a friend. A kid that seemed genuinely nice and responsible. We simply asked that she feed the dogs, let them out to potty, feed the other animals and hang out. We told her she was welcome to have a friend over to keep her company.

Note to self: you are NOT a good judge of character.

Ok-long story short. We return home. We call the sitter from the road and tell her we will be home between 5 and 6 pm. We tell her she can leave that afternoon after letting the dogs out. We pull into our driveway and 2 boys run out of the house with trash bags. We find a total of 6 kids in our house. There is the smell of marijuana and dog shit in my house. The trash is full of empty liquor bottles and marijuana ashes. There is dog poop all over my dining room, on the floor, the rug, the Christmas tree skirt, the drapes and on one present.

Oh how I cried. Oh how I scrubbed. One of my dogs hasn't slept in her bed (in our room) since we returned-almost 1 month ago.

So we think we may not go the dog sitter route again.

Canvas Floor Cloth

Floor Cloths were invented in France in the early 1400s, when painted oilcloths were used as decorative wall hangings and table coverings. They were introduced to North America in the 18th century.

In the early days, floor cloths were used to imitate the fine flooring found in fashionable homes. These cloths, often referred to as "crumb cloths" because of their use under dining room tables, were also used in parlors and hallways. They also made the floors warmer in the winter, and were used to cover the dirt floors of early Colonial America. Sails from ships were recycled as floor cloths and painted in bold designs. For several hundred years, these cloths were made and used in both rich and poor homes. It is said that George Washington listed a floor cloth valued at $14.82 in 1779 in a financial disclosure. While in office, Thomas Jefferson had a green painted canvas floor cloth in the dining room in the Whitehouse.

Until the invention of linoleum, these floor cloths were very popular throughout North America. Painted either free hand or using stencils, their washable and wearable finish made them a desirable addition to the home. By the early 1920s floor cloths virtually disappeared until hand-painted items came into style in the 1960s and they once again became popular.

My mom made dozens of floor cloths in the 80's. They were beautiful-but they were created before their time. No one in the 80's wanted anything like them. I remember the basement full of them-overlapping each other all over the floor. Like the general consumer (mom tried selling her rugs but never sold a single one) I didn't appreciate floor cloths back then. But people can change.

I made my first small canvas floor cloth about 14 years ago. It had a Christmas design and it still looks like new.

A few years later I painted a cloth in tribute of my cats. You wont believe what this rug has been through. I can tell you it has been scrubbed with abrasive cleanser, left outside for a month, tossed aside in the garage for years, and it sat under cat food dishes for years. I found it out in the garage to take this photo-it is filthy and I considered cleaning it to demonstrate how nice it could look-but I don't feel like cleaning ANYTHING today.

Here is a small floorcloth I painted to go by the back door-it's only purpose is to collect mud that the dogs track in. As you can see it is doing it's job very well.

I made a large canvas floor cloth two years ago to go under my dining room table. I never liked it. I always wanted to re-do it. So following the great house sitting debacle of 2009 I decided there was no time like the present.

I prepare my canvas using the least difficult method. I hot glue or sew the hem of canvas that I purchase from the fabric store. The I roll on a layer of primer-the same stuff you use to prime wood or bare walls. In this case I started with a cloth that had been previously painted. I scrubbed the old cloth, sanded it, then I added a coat of white primer.

Next I drew the design. In this case I used a diamond pattern with a mariners compass in the middle.

Now scoot everything out of the way so you can bake cookies. Did I mention I was painting on top of the stove...and don't my cookie sheets look cruddy...please don't judge me. I promise they are clean.

I began painting, first black

Next the red

Now the gold

A few coats of Primer

Almost finished

Finally after a few coats of primer the cloth goes under the table.


I don't feed my children on a regular basis. Meaning-I don’t make meals at regular times. I do make dinner most nights and we at the table together-but the rest of the time I wait until the children ask for food before I feed them. One of my favorite foods to prepare is a “snack tray.” I take bits of a variety of foods and arrange them in a muffin tin. When the children were younger I used a mini muffin tray. Now larger appetites require larger trays. Preparing the food in this way gets the children to eat a greater variety of foods and it’s also fun.