Monday, June 29, 2009

Independence Days- take 2: week 9

What a busy week it has been. I've been weeding like a fiend for the past two days (well, only in the evening today) The garden is starting to look a little better. I've discovered the drawback of the wonderful, loamy soil that I've got. It dries out quickly. It seems like only last week that I was lamenting that we were having so much rain. Tonight I was hauling water to drooping pepper plants. Of course, the hose is back at the town house since we are using it to pressure wash the garage. sigh
But on to the business at hand. It's Monday again, time for my weekly check in with the Independence Days Challenge. I'm still finding this challenge quite helpful for me in organizing all those things that I'm doing. Even though I know we're accomplishing a lot, sometimes it seems like I'm just spinning my wheels and not getting anywhere. At least this helps me see what I've gotten accomplished toward our goals.
1. Plant something- nope.
2. Harvest something- Behold!!!
Chard, and two firsts: broccoli and a hot wax pepper.
Ok, I know it's not normal to harvest the first broccoli and the first pepper on the same evening. But I'm really excited about the broccoli. I've never grown it before and with all the craziness of moving it got planted out really late and looked pitiful for the longest time. I was actually surprised to find a head of eating size and a bunch of little ones coming along when I was weeding. The pepper- I just couldn't resist.
I also harvested some raspberries and saved some chive seeds.
3. Preserve something- again, only my sanity. Working 6 days straight last week and then only having one day off has been draining. But I only have to work 3 days this week and then I have a 4 day weekend. I may even try to take Wednesday as a vacation day if it stays slow like it's been. I'm really glad that I have so much vacation banked that I can use. I've used a lot of it this spring.
4. Reduce waste- just the usuals: recycled, composted and used cloth bags at the store. We've been repurposing as much building material as we can out at the house with good success. I've slowed down on collecting boxes. We've still got quite a stash and I'm not sure how many more we will need.
5. Prep and storage- not much stored. House prep continues. We've been focusing on waterproofing the basement since much of my food storage space will be down there, not to mention J15's room, my sewing room and the 'play room' so getting it reasonably watertight is a priority before we can start to finish it.
I'm also counting the cats as 'prep and storage' material. They will be figuring prominently in our mouse control plan. I'm actually glad now that we got them before we moved. They and the dog have been getting acquainted slowly but we've been having to keep them isolated from him when we're not available to 'supervise'. This means that J15 has their litter box in her room, which is NOT where she wants it on a permanent basis. So, hopefully they can work things out before we move so we can have the litter box in the downstairs bathroom as we had planned and have the dog leave them in peace as they move about.
6. Build community food systems- hmm, not so much, I've been rather self centered lately and not focusing so much on my community. I'm hoping to make up time later.
7. Eat the food- Still working on eating down the freezer in prep for moving. I had raspberries on my cereal this morning. YUM! We're going to have to incorporate broccoli into the menu tomorrow! And I'm seeing an omelet for breakfast with sauteed hot pepper and onion. I don't normally go in for that big of a breakfast during the week but it sounds sooo good.
I'll try to post more regularly this week but I make no promises. The fabulous weather is supposed to hold through the weekend. Highs in the low 80s, low humidity and clear skies. Sounds like great weather to finish a bathroom.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

i've been a bad blogger

It's been a lean week for posts this week. We've been busy. I worked all week plus it was my Saturday to work this weekend. But I did manage to finish up a little early yesterday and we took advantage of the fabulous weather to get some work done. Here's an update of what's been going on.
Nothing I've done, but here is a tiny apple from the mystery tree in the yard. Look closely.
V was laughing at me this afternoon in the yard. We were working to fill in the holes the previous owner's dogs had dug in the yard. I had filled in a hole when suddenly I heard a squeal and realized that I had buried a nest of baby bunnies. We carefully excavated them and then teased each other on how 'soft' we were, even though we knew that they would potentially nibble on the garden.
Spaz is settling in. Please disregard the need for vacuuming.
Mandy finally settles in for a nap in the rocking chair.
The cats are settling in. The dog has been out at the new house during the days since they've been here so they have been having a chance to explore without him around. They won't let him near them so he has decided to bark at them from a distance. Ugh. Mandy has become a bit more bold, coming out to look at him from behind the baby gate we have put up in the door to J15's room (their sanctuary). Ticket is, I think, excited to get to know them. His tail is wagging in a friendly way and he really, really just wants to sniff them all over. He still doesn't know kitty behavior so he is trying to interact with them as if they were dogs. Poor guy.
But in even bigger news:
The well pit is filled!!!!
We just need to put down a layer of plastic that we're doing for waterproofing the basement, a little topsoil and horse manure, get the concrete slab in place and we're set for reinstalling the air conditioning!!!! Woo Hoo!!!!
V and J15 work to install the plastic water barrier.
V has come up with his water abatement plan for the basement. The biggest problem is that there is really poor drainage away from the house for any rain that falls. So, we spent time this weekend excavating a drainage ditch between the house and garage. There will be a plastic barrier fixed to the house and lining the ditch to lead water away from the house. It meant a lot of digging this weekend but hopefully, it will help keep moisture out of the basement. We've got both the North and West side of the house done and those are the sides that leak the worst.
I took advantage of the fabulous weather today to spend several hours in the garden weeding. I tried to rediscover my onions. Let me tell you, pulling large smart weeds from around small onions isn't a pretty thing.
And to end on a positive note:
Raspberries! Both black and golden.
The first 'real' harvest of berries for the year from the raspberries at our town house. I'm not expecting anything from the ones I transplanted this year so at least we'll get a few from the plants I didn't move. I probably won't get enough for jam this year but I'm looking forward to berries on my cereal for breakfast tomorrow.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Meet the newest family members

Yeah, I know. I said we were going to wait until we got settled in the new house. But we made the mistake of making a trip to the animal shelter yesterday afternoon. We actually ended up with two new additions to the family.
This is Mandy
I don't have many good pictures of her yet. She doesn't stay still long enough. She is a tiny little thing. About 11 weeks old. We're a bit worried about her with the dog. She is about a mouthful for him. I don't think he would hurt her on purpose but he just wants to play and they're not ready for that yet.
This is Spaz
He's a year old- a bullseye tabby. After a swat across the nose the dog has been giving him a wide berth. Ticket is curious but Spaz isn't ready to play nice yet. Of course, they've only been here since about 5 this evening so they've only had about 4 hours to settle in. Spaz has spent lots of time under the china cabinet and we've been keeping Mandy mostly upstairs in J15's room to keep her away from the dog.
It will be an interesting few days while everyone gets used to each other.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Independence Days- take 2: week 8

Another week gone by- another week that we aren't moved yet. AAARGH!!!! This seems never-ending. We did get some good progress done this weekend but goodness, things just don't go as smoothly as you would wish. V and the children will go out tomorrow morning while it's still cool to see if they can get some work done. V hopes to finish the framing for the bathroom medicine cabinet and the wiring for the GFCI outlet above the sink. J15 can help him bring in some sheetrock since we forgot to do that before we left this evening. I think the children are going to work on finishing filling the well pit. One bonus of all the rain we have had it that the dirt has settled nicely and we can see how much more we need to add to actually fill it up. It has to be filled and settled before we can reconnect the air conditioning unit that will sit on top of it and believe me, with the temps in the 90s and high humidity that has suddenly become more of a priority. With all the cool weather we had been having it didn't seem that important but all the sudden it hit us in the face that we don't want to move until we have air, especially since the basement won't be finished and we'll all be sleeping upstairs where it is hot (it was 85 in the living room this afternoon. Of course, if we were there full time we could open windows at night to let in the cool air- oh wait, most of the screens still need repaired and the mosquitos are fierce. sigh.
Anyway, it is time for my weekly IDC update so here goes:
1. Plant something- Nope.
2. Harvest something- radishes and chard. A little bit of lettuce, but as soon as it got hot here it bolted so it needs ripped out (in my spare time). I did pick the first two golden raspberries from here in town. The ones we transplanted out to the farm most likely won't produce this year but there are still plenty here in town and it looks like we will still be here for raspberry harvest so at least there is that good point.
3. Preserve something- No. I've thought about freezing a bit of chard since it looks lovely but I'm not sure I can find the time. I need to make time I guess. One more thing to add onto the list.
4. Reduce waste- the usuals of recycling, composting and using cloth bags. We even remembered to take our cloth bag when we stopped at the home center this afternoon. I'm thinking of using some of the packing cardboard from some of our purchases as mulch in the garden to try to keep down some of the weeds. I am slowly getting control of the weeds in the tomatoes but the onions and beets are looking pretty sad. Maybe I can have children weed those- it's pretty easy to tell an onion from a weed- even for a 9 year old.
5. Prep and storage- nothing much here. I'm actively trying to NOT store anything new at the moment- even though it's tough sometimes. I'm really hesitant to move much in the way of food stuffs out to the house when we're not there all the time to keep an eye on it. But no more mice since the 3 we caught last week and V found another entry place around the fan housing for the bathroom vent in the basement bathroom. Whoever installed it punched a hole through the foundation block for the fan but didn't seal it well so it was yet another mousey highway. But on a positive note, while V was patching it this evening I went out the basement door to the garden and there was enough of a suction to move air in and out of the space he was working on, which tells us that the house is much better sealed than it was before. So progress is being made. Before there were so many holes in the mudsill that the house was like a sieve.
7. Eat the food- no problem here. We're trying to eat our main meals out of storage for the most part. But we've still been having to make multiple stops at the grocery store each week. With the children home from school they have been going through gallons of milk and lots of bread for sandwiches. I haven't been baking my own due to time constraints. It's a good thing that the grocery store is located on the direct route between houses so it's an easy thing to stop.
I hope this week coming week will be a bit more productive than last. No word from our insurance agent as to a deadline. But I work on Saturday so that takes me out of commission for the day. But it means that I have a 4 day weekend for the 4th. EEEK! July is coming up that soon! We need to get moving- literally!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

It's official!

It's finally, really, truly summer!

I hope you all had a Summer Solstice filled with good things.

And happy Father's Day!
Poor V, he worked hard in the heat today.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Busy Saturday

I really dislike Saturday mornings. They feel so wasted, at least when we're trying to get the new house ready to move. V and J15 have Tae Kwon Do and Kum Do classes in the morning which essentially takes them out of commission for anything until about noon. I took advantage of the morning by doing my grocery shopping and organizing the latest 'pile' of boxes to move out. We're really doing well on getting things packed. At least I think so. My parents stopped by in the morning and my Dad asked (tongue in cheek at least) when we're starting to move. We've still got lots of furniture to move but we also have lots of empty cabinets and bookshelves.
This will eventually be V's study.
The children have their rooms packed and moved except for the beds, dressers and desks.
V and I also made a quick trip to one of the local home centers and picked up the things we need to finish the upstairs bath, except for the tile for the floor. We got new light fixtures and a vanity/medicine cabinet for the wall. There was only a mirror on the wall and I can't function without a place to put 'stuff' in the bathroom.
Then we got to work. I finished up some painting elsewhere in the house while V disconnected the existing lights/fan in the bath and took down the existing ceiling. What a job!
The upstairs bath- down to the studs and with no ceiling!
V- HOT and sweaty!
We still don't have the air conditioning unit re-connected to the house and it was humid and in the upper 80's today so it was tough working conditions. But behold:
A new bathroom ceiling!!!
Tomorrow we need to make a run to the other home center in town (they have the trim tile we need). Then we will work on framing in a space for the medicine chest and work on putting up the dry wall for the walls. The tile floor will be last and will definitely be easier to do when we finally have lights in the room again.
The garden looks better today. Things have managed to straighten themselves a bit. I did lose a few tomato branches but that's ok- they'll make more. I also spent time today cleaning up the place. With all the work being done there are boxes, packing materials, wiring bits and general messiness that was driving me nuts. So the cardboard all got stacked for recycling and generally straightened up.
So now I'm tired! and tomorrow will be another crazy-busy day.
But at least it's Solstice- the longest day of the year.

Wind and whining

We had a HUGE thunderstorm come through late Friday afternoon. I had just arrived home from work. After it passed we went out to the new house to survey the damage. There must have been one heck of a wind with it out there. My garden is flattened :( and we have a few downed limbs including what looks like about a 6-8 inch oak limb broken off on one of the trees on the hills. Of course it wasn't a clean break and it's still hung up high in the tree. We also had water in the basement :( when we thought we had the leaks plugged. There was even water leaking in from a place that hadn't leaked before. (sigh)
In other whining news- we had a message from our insurance agent. When we bought the acreage, we explained the plan to her and she was fine with it. But evidently 'corporate' has figured out that we have two homeowner's policies and are pressuring us for a definite date we will make the new house our 'primary residence'. They are likely to issue us with a deadline. Grrr! I don't see why they should care- we're giving them their money.
So, we're planning to do a blitz to try to finish the upstairs bath this weekend. If all else fails J15 can sleep upstairs for a while until we get her room finished if they end up putting too much pressure on us. We figured that if we had another week where neither of us was working and we could spend all our time working on the house, we could be ready. But, I've already taken lots of time off and V has a big writing project that he has to have researched and finished by July 2 (for a July 3 site launch date).
You may not be 'seeing' much of me for a while depending on what comes down. We already know that we have a July 21 deadline for moving- that's one of the stipulations of our mortgage- We have 90 days from closing to be in. It's creeping up faster than the weeds in the garden.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Anything to eat around here?

I'm posting today on meal planning over at Homemakers Who Work. Come on over!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Garden confessions

Time for confessions. My garden is a mess! Someone please remind me why I chose to even plant a garden this year with all the house mess going on... oh yeah, I love it. And I love having the food and preserving it to feed my family. But it's a weedy mess. There is some good news though:
Tiny beans popping up after the rain (surrounded by weeds)
We had huge storms come though early this morning and again around lunch time. We ended up getting about an inch of rain. But it cleared off nicely (although it got HOT) I did do a little weeding this evening, trying to rediscover my tomatoes.
Here, we'll have some fun:
Try to spot the tomatoes!!!
They are in there. I pulled the largest weeds around about a third of them last night and another third tonight. The final third wasn't quite as bad as I had weeded them about a week ago. These weeds grow so fast! and there are so many of them!!! I still need to go through and get out the grass that is coming up but at least the tomatoes are now taller than the surrounding weeds.
But it's amazing what you can find when you weed.
I found that I have some little tomatoes set on my cherry roma tomatoes. They are an heirloom variety of grape tomatoes and Oh, so tasty.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Garden update mid june

After work tonight K and I went out to the house to work in the garden before dinner. We would have all gone out but V and I12 had been out there working all afternoon and V had to be home for a conference call about work at 530. I got a good hour weeding in before we needed to head home. I managed to find some of the tomatoes in the weeds. I can hardly tell that I have ever weeded, even though I know that it was all done not that long ago. The garden is being taken over by nightshade, pigweed and smartweed. They seem to grow so much more quickly than the veggies.
K9 was excited to help harvest.
He found the giant radish (which he probably won't eat)
Lettuce and chard looking lovely.
The only plant with peppers set on- one of the 'mystery' hot peppers.
But oh, the weeds!
The photo above was taken in the area I just weeded and worked for planting my beans over the weekend. Already hundreds of tiny weed seedlings up.
Whoosh, at the rate they grow they'll be towering before you know it. sigh. Someday I'll be on top of the weeding- maybe.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Independence Days- take 2: week 7

Whew! What a week. It seems like time has been flying by and it's time for another IDC update already. It's been busy but sometimes I feel like I'm spinning my wheels. Oh, I know that every little bit gets us closer to our goal but I'm impatient and want everything ready NOW.
Here's my update for the week.
1. Plant something- Hmm, lets see, sweet corn -one freebie variety and then I planted 4 rows of Bloody Butcher corn. You can eat it fresh for sweet corn or let it mature for grinding. It has these fabulous red kernels! Beans (scarlet runners, Christmas limas, green, yellow wax and purple pods), cilantro, cucumbers (way late!!!) and transplanted little dill seedlings from my Mom.
2. Harvest something- lettuce, chard, mustard greens, radishes. I've pretty much given up hope for the peas but maybe once I get the fence up I can get enough for one meal... maybe. I've never tried to plant peas as a fall crop, has anyone else? I was really hoping to get some for the freezer and I have a bit of seed left- so maybe I'll experiment this year. I should have a bit more time by then- I hope.
3. Preserve something- No.
4. Reduce waste- just the usuals. We missed our regular garbage pick up last week in town so actually have a full barrel! That is something of a rarity here. Of course, we have also been pitching a lot of accumulated garbage. I have still been scavenging boxes from work. We're just about there with packing. Most of what's left are things that we are actively using (well, we haven't really started cleaning out the garage yet). We've still got our old video tapes down in the basement but again, V has train stuff on the shelves in front of them so I'm not packing them until it's gone.
5. Prep and storage- still working on the house. I've been trying to figure out where things will go. I've got more cabinet space in the kitchen than I've ever had so it's kind of fun. Unfortunately none of the storage spaces in the basement are finished- the bathroom is the only finished room down there so we have lots of things stacked all over the place upstairs. The room that will be V's study is particularly stacked tall. I'm almost dreading unpacking more than I did packing. I did get the last of my empty canning jars moved out yesterday and I only have a few full jars on the shelves here.
6. Build community food systems- Can't think of anything this week. I didn't even get to the farmer's market. Oh, wait, I bought locally produced yogurt (I had some for lunch with strawberries today - YUM!)
7. Eat the food. We've had home produced salads and I've had a couple of radish sandwiches (bread, butter and sliced radishes, Mmmm). Been trying to eat mostly from stores but as we've been busier, I've noticed that I've been slacking on my usual cooking from scratch. Oh well, we've gotta eat!

I didn't get out of work soon enough to make it to the animal shelter this afternoon (they close at 530) but we did go check out another rescue organization in town. We were able to talk to the woman in charge but they didn't have any animals there at the moment. They are in the process of moving their facility and are still remodeling the new space. But she said they have several cats who do well with dogs- unfortunately they both sound older than what J was hoping for. We were okay with not being able to get our hearts set on a cat since we're not really ready to adopt yet. But I'm seriously hoping a cat will help with the mouse problem. We thought we had most of the spots where they were getting in sealed up- but evidently not. I found some mouse droppings in one of the kitchen drawers on Saturday (I've been reluctant to put anything in those drawers- they seemed to have been a mouse hot spot) so we set some traps last night. V said there were two mice caught under the kitchen sink last night. Grrr. We only caught 2 the entire first month we were there- before we had the holes plugged! (sigh) They must have figured out that there are interesting things inside again. I'm going to have to give serious thought to mouse-proof food storage. I'll have to look for some large tubs or tins for things like rice and pastas. I don't think we'll ever be able to totally eliminate them but I'll be happy if we can at least keep them under decent control. We're worried that there are enough problems with the siding that we won't get the problem under real control until we replace/repair it. The term 'money pit' is still ringing loudly in our ears.

And now, it's nearing the time that I turn into a pumpkin. I was over-tired and didn't sleep well last night so now I'm paying the price.
I feel like I've been rambling for what should have been a straightforward update. Oh well, that happens when I get tired.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

I'm tired

It was a busy, busy weekend here. We worked out at the new house Saturday afternoon and all day today. Today was really busy.
Saturday morning we slept in. Not intentionally but I think that exhaustion just caught up with us. even I, who don't generally sleep later than 7 slept until after 9. J15 got up at 940 and mentioned that I didn't wake her up for Tae Kwan Do. I did go up and wake V at that point but they opted to not go to Kum Do at 1015. V and I made a trip to one of the home centers and then we loaded up the vehicles and headed out.
This morning we got an earlier start. I feel somewhat bad that we have been skipping church a lot recently but I've only got so many hours in my weekend and while I find it helpful for centering, I often get the same feeling of peace working in my garden.
I did get a lot done in the garden this weekend. I finally got my sweet corn and beans planted, as well as the cilantro and transplanting the dill seedlings my Mom brought me. This morning I weeded the fenceline and installed most of the rabbit fence around the garden. I got 3 sides done before I ran out of fence and wire ties. Fortunately, I got the 3 most difficult sides done. Now I just need to finish the barnyard side. But I need to put in fence posts to fasten my fence to. I did a bunch of weeding around the peppers and tomatoes but I've conceded that I'll probably never be 'on top' of the weed until we are actually living out there and I can spend a bit more time in the garden. I'm trying to look at this as a 'building year' (taking reference from various sports teams). I did discover that I have a few little peppers set on. It's quite exciting!! The tomatoes are blooming but I think it's been too cool for them to actually set. My eggplant have blossoms forming so we'll see what happens.
This afternoon I spent time ripping out the old subfloor in the upstairs bath. We are planning to use ceramic tile on the floor and the existing subfloor is the wrong kind. So it had to go. But now we are ready to install the tile backer, rip out the existing ceiling and put in drywall, tile the floor, finish the walls, install the new sink base and sink and then we're almost set!
The insulation is finished for the exterior walls in a portion of the basement so we are getting closer to being ready to frame J15's room. The upstairs bath and her room are the things that are keeping us from moving completely.
V did finally get the lights in the dining room finished today. Except for the bathroom, most of the main floor is about ready to move in (well, the kitchen island still isn't finished),

In more fun news, we spent a little time this morning looking online at the available cats and kittens at the local animal shelter. I told J15 that if we are still a bit slow at work this week we will try to go visit this week. I'm not ready to bring a cat home quite yet- we're still a bit chaotic, but we thought we would go see what they have. She has fallen in love with a 10 week old kitten that she saw on line but I told her she needs to meet them before she makes a choice. I'm worried that a kitten that young may have a hard time with the dog. They also have several 10 month olds who look very promising.
Tomorrow it's back to work and the 'real world' V needs to write for his paid job so I don't see much happening out at the farm tomorrow.
Have a great week.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

A bit of perspective

I've been feeling a bit overloaded lately, feeling that I've got a lot on my plate. And I do, I mean, really, we're moving, fixing two houses, gardening and then I'm working full time. It's a lot. But then things happen to put it all in perspective.
Yesterday was a rough day at work. One of my co-workers informed us that she was requesting to increase her time back to 80% (she is currently working 60% since the birth of her twins almost a year ago) and was hoping we would support her with management. Ok, I have no problem with that but was wondering why she would choose now (with all our budget problems). Then she burst into tears and told us that she needs to increase her hours because she is contemplating divorce. Evidently her husband was fired from his job on Monday because he was having an affair with a woman from work (she was also fired). I have often wondered why she has stayed with him. He was fairly highly placed in investment banking and was never home, rarely helped her with the children (11, 8 and the year old twins) or anything around the house. She has essentially been a single parent since I've known her. The affair was the last straw. He, of course, has been telling her that it's her fault, that she didn't make him enough of a priority (how could she, he was never home!). She is devastated.
All this has made me realize that, as crazy as my life is at the moment, I'm happy with it. I'm grateful for the challenges and chaos. I may have a lot on my plate but they are all things I placed there myself.

Taking care of business

I've been a bad blogger. I've been busy and haven't been keeping up with everyone like I would like to do. But, I've got some business to take care of. I've received two awards!
Jennifer at Ramblings of a Country Wife has presented me with this one:
Thanks Jennifer! Of course, there are rules attached. I'm supposed to include this text:
"These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers."
and pass this on to 8 other bloggers.

I've also received an award from Sue at Making a House a Home. Thanks Sue!

Here are the STEPS of this Award:
(1) Thank the person who nominated you for this award.
(2) Copy the logo and place it on your blog.
(3) Link to the person who nominated you for this award.
(4) Name 7 things about yourself that people might find interesting.
(5) Nominate 7 Kreativ Bloggers.
(6) Post links to the 7 blogs you nominate.
(7) Leave a comment on each of the blogs, letting them know they have been nominated.

What is with all the rules! Sheesh. I dislike rules. I'm one of those people who break chain letters. But I'll play along a little. I'll at least list the 7 things that people may find interesting about me.
1. I didn't start having children until I was over 30.
2. I used to work as a contract archaeologist (so did V)
3. I am a reformed school teacher- seriously, I have an education degree and taught high school special education for a few years before going back to school for my current profession.
4. I've been in 49 of 50 states and 9 countries. Somehow I've managed to miss Louisiana.
5. I lived on a dairy farm in Western New York state for 6 months during my junior year of high school.
6. I HATE malted milk balls. They are probably the only food I can truly say I hate. There are other things I don't like or would choose not to eat, given a choice but, eew! they're like eating chocolate covered chalk.
7. I'm really a very disorganized person. My papers are in a jumble, I tend to lose things, My desk at work... just shut the office door. I'm also a packrat. I have a hard time throwing things away. I mean, you never know when that may come in useful, right....

Ok, here is where I'm going to break the rules. I know of so many creative and wonderful bloggers out there that choosing them is too hard for my tiny little brain right now. So, if you are reading this, consider yourself chosen for one of these awards. Take your pick.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Varmints and local fare

We've got a critter problem! And not just the mice out at the farmstead. We have, on the North side of the house, what we affectionately call 'the bump'. It is a spot where the kitchen overhangs the foundation by about 2 feet. It is the spot where we have kept our firewood that we have used in the outdoor firepit (we don't have a fireplace). Other things have accumulated there over the past few weeks, part of the old chainlink fence, a wooden workbench top, you know, stuff. V noticed yesterday that we have a new addition that we're not too fond of:
Notice the dirt pile- not good!
We have had a groundhog (or woodchuck, whichever you prefer) move in under our wood pile! Definitely NOT something we expected near downtown. We moved all the wood out to the new house today but are wondering how to get rid of the uninvited tenant. My thought was to call the city animal control but evidently, if the animal isn't damaging anything or a threat, they won't do anything about it. We could get a live trap ourselves I suppose but I really don't want to go to the expense. My first choice would be to just shoot it but there are several problems with this: 1. We don't own a gun (although we've thought about it with the move out to the country) 2. Discharging a firearm in town is quite a bit illegal. V did some research online and found mixed results from pouring ammonia down the burrow. He also found something about feeding it Bubbalicious bubble gum. My guess is that it gums up it's insides and kills it. While it would be effective, I'm not in favor of it. It seems a rather slow and cruel way to get rid of it. So, any suggestions? We already removed the woodpile it was under and filled in the top of the hole. It has evidently just moved in so I don't think the burrow is terribly deep yet. Hopefully we have discouraged it enough that it will move on but I'm not going to hold my breath on it.
In local fare, I thought I would introduce to you one of our local products:
Yum, vanilla yogurt! Now I just need some peaches or strawberries.
This is made in a tiny town about 15 miles South of us, They are a new company, started by a guy who moved into the area and wanted to do something to help out the small farmers in town. Many of them are Amish and it gives them a great outlet for their milk. We also get our eggs from a small company there.
The product isn't at all like commercial yogurt, it's much better!
I know several people who have tried it who don't like it. It isn't stabilized with gelatin like most commercial products so if you jostle it too much it gets a bit liquidy, and it has a cream top, not homogenized in. I've found it to be much more like homemade. So I can get my yogurt fix and feel glad about supporting a new local company.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A lovely day

I had a lovely day.  It was a slow day at work so my co-workers sent me home early.  I did get a bit of painting done at home (the window mullions in our bedroom)  in the afternoon.  Then we had a lovely dinner at the Wig and Pen.  We had a 'Flying Tomato' pizza...deep dish, lots of cheese, fresh tomato slices.  YUM.
Then we came home to have cake.  V and the kids baked me a marvelous cake.  Decorated especially for me.
The white bison cake
I have always loved bison.  I have several stuffed ones and some hand carved wooden ones.  So for my birthday they made me a bison cake, complete with chocolate droppings.  And I love the 21!
A mini bell from K9.
I got lovely little china bell from K9 that he picked up at the Herbert Hoover Museum on their last field trip of the school year.  They also cleaned the house for me: dusted and vacuumed the living and dining room and even packed a few things.
So, it was a lovely day.
Thanks for all the birthday wishes.  Have a wonderful rest of your week.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

What to do for dinner?

I'm at a loss.  I don't know what to have for dinner tomorrow evening.  The rest of the week is all planned out.  The week's menu looks something like this:
Monday: Burritos
Tuesday: Spaghetti and tossed salad
Wednesday:  Mommy's choice
Thursday:  Grilled pork loin, potatoes and broccoli
Friday: Pizza

But I don't know what Mommy's choice will be.   You see, tomorrow is my birthday and by our house rule, I get to choose what's for dinner or where we go if we go out.  I'm personally thinking about going out but where....
It needs to be somewhere family friendly- with food the boys will eat and prices that won't break the bank.  There are a few possibilities
The Brown Bottle (Italian)
The Mill (American/Italian)
The Wig and Pen (Ok, it's really mostly a bar but they have KILLER pizza)
A mexican place that I can't remember the name of right now (my favorite mexican restaurant that was just a few blocks from us closed last year :(
There are a few of the standard chain restaurants- the ones we call the brass and fern places (come on- you know which ones they are) but they're never my first choice.
I'd really like to go out for Thai food but I know that would never fly.  The boys will eat chinese food but most of the restaurants here that are sit down places are REALLY expensive and I'm torn about take out.
Too many decisions.  

Oh and in case you're curious.  I'll be 47.  Man, I don't feel that old.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Independence Days- take 2: week 6

It feels like it's been a slow week.  I've been back at work and just can't get as much accomplished as I did when I was off.  I realize that there are 9 and a half hours less in a day that I can use (8 hours work, half hour lunch and 25 minute commute each way) but I guess I still hold myself to a high standard- that and I'm impatient.  I haven't gotten much big done but lots of little things have been accomplished.  
I still like Sharon's Independence Days Challenge because it helps me organize and see how much I have managed to get done, even with working full time.  
1.  Plant something- Transplanted a yellow cherry tomato seedling from our town back yard into the garden and planted cucumbers.  V and I got the trellis built for the pole beans but I haven't gotten them in the ground yet. I have been battling the weeds and the weather.  I have had several chances to get out and weed when there has been a break in the weather but it seems that everytime I go out it rains again shortly thereafter and replants half the weeds I hoed up.  But at least the trellis is up.  
2.  Harvest something- Lettuce, chard, mustard greens, radishes and a few green onions. Yum, salad!  I think my peas are a bust for the year thanks to overly friendly bunnies.  (sigh)
3.  Preserve something- no
4.  Reduce waste- pulled more boxes out of the dumpster across the alley and picked up boxes from work.  Packing has been on a hiatus since I'm out of boxes except for really little ones.  I've got about a dozen more now and packed up three from my craft/sewing room this evening.  My stuff from that room is about all packed.  Now it's just V's guitars and sound equipment. Otherwise on this category, recycled, composted and used cloth bags as usual.
5.  Prep and storage- Hmmm, I don't think so.  I haven't been storing much of anything recently.  Still working on prepping the house.  It's taking SO much longer than we had hoped to get things done out there.  We're trying to fill in the gaps in the epoxy coating on the floor (they did the floor coating after they had built walls and installed equipment so there are now bare spaces) and it seems that it is taking forever.  But once that is done we can start putting up the insulation and drywall in the basement.  We did choose a light for the dining room this evening.  I found it strange that there was no overhead light in there and we wanted one.  I guess that's kind of prep.
6.  Build community food systems-  I talked to one of the RNs today about canning.  She would like to learn and I told her I would give her some help when her garden starts producing.  She also moved last fall and has her first garden.
7.  Eat the food- I think all meals except Wednesday are planned out of stores this week.  I'm still debating on what I want to do on Wednesday, have V cook or go out.  Hmmm... too many choices.

Ok, I guess all in all not too bad of a week.  I REALLY want the weather to cooperate with my schedule so I can get my beans and sweet corn planted before it's too late.  Maybe I'll see if I can divert J15 from what V has planned for her tomorrow to weed a bit for me.  It's so frustrating to know that they're all out at the house working while I'm stuck at work.  Normally I love my job. It's just interfering with my life right now.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

A new venture

Today I begin posting over at Homemakers Who Work.  It's introduction time over there so stop in and meet all the other writers as well.  It should be a grand adventure.  We'll be dispensing words of wisdom (hahaha) when the introductions are finished.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

The week in photos

I'm feeling a bit better now- having had my rant and cry.  We got a bunch of boxes packed and moved out this afternoon and the weather cooperated that I could get some weeding done in the garden.  
I'm a bit miffed.  My peas have all been eaten off down to the level of the weeds that they are surrounded by.  I was going to weed them but decided against it until I can get my fence up. I need to make that a priority.   I may not have any peas this year which will be a hard thing to cope with.  Everything else in the garden is looking fabulous.  We had our first salads from the garden tonight.  YUM!
Now on to the highlights of the week
The last day at Longfellow Elementary.
K and his kick ass bike.  
He and I did get down to the bike shop to pick out his bike.  He got a really great one.  It's a bit big for him- he got a small frame adult bike as opposed to a kid's bike- but he got a 7 speed mountain bike and he'll most likely grow into it by the end of the summer.  And what a great deal- he got a nearly $500 bike for free!  It doesn't get much better than that.
My fabulous kitchen!
Yeah, I know,  the island isn't finished yet but the track lights, range and hood all work!  The electric range will be going up on craigslist soon.
The peonies are in full bloom.
It turned out to be a pretty good day, considering the rough start.  We've almost got all the books packed up from the basement but I'm out of boxes.  ARGH!!! All I've got left are really big or really little boxes.  Nothing that is really useful.  (sigh)  Maybe I can ask at the grocery store tomorrow.
I hope everyone has a great rest of the weekend.

Reader beware

I'm in a bad mood.  Cranky, crabby and downright B*&^#Y.  No particular reason but feeling overwhelmed and unappreciated.  
1.  No one wanted to go to the concert with me last night and with the number of assaults we've had in our neighborhood recently I wasn't going to go by myself.
2.  It's raining and things I need to get done in the garden can't happen in the rain.  It seems like the weather and my schedule aren't playing nice together.
3.  J and V were both looking for their uniforms this morning before class.  Ok... that particular load of laundry didn't get done this week.  If you're so concerned about having a clean uniform do the flippin' laundry yourself.
4.  No one has been helping with the dishes or vacuuming or much of anything else- at least not voluntarily.  Every time I ask the kids to do something you would think I'm asking them for the moon.
5.  I feel like I'm packing up this house single handed.  I realize that V has been focused on the new house but really, is it too much to ask for other people to pick up a box and pack a few books.  It isn't that hard!
6.  I'm tired.  The dog woke me up at 615 this morning.  And just once, I would like to be the one to lounge in bed.  I'm really tired of always being the first one up.  Is it too much to ask that someone else let the dog out and bring in the paper and let me stay in bed for just a little longer.
7 through 100.  All the other little things that are pissing me off today.  It's just one of those days where everything is setting me off.  The dog threw up on the stairs and K thought it was funny. Yeah... it's one of those days.

Ok.  I just needed to vent a bit.  I already had a bit of a cry this morning.  Now back to packing... the house doesn't pack itself.

I'll try to post some pictures of K's new bike later.  It's a really SWEET bike.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Not much to say

It has been a busy few days at work.  I haven't been very productive around the house though.  I've just been weary.  I did manage to get the trim painted on the garage this evening.
We were hoping to go downtown this evening since it is the first night of the annual Arts Festival and there is a free concert. The Squirrel Nut Zippers are going to be playing downtown and they are loads of fun.  But they don't even start until 9 and we've got a busy day tomorrow.  So I think we're not going to go, even though it would be loads of fun.
I think that tomorrow morning I'm going to run to the farmer's market and then take K9 down to the bike shop to finally get his prize bike.  After lunch we'll head out to the new house and see what can be done.  I need to touch up the paint in the dining room out there and maybe we'll get to do a little drywalling done. That and we need to work on the finish on the basement floor.  It's supposed to rain but maybe it will hold off long enough to get a bit of gardening done.
Now, it's off to watch a video with the kids and get some sleep.  I actually don't have to get up in the morning.  Wow!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Sheetrock and babbling

The first half of our sheetrock needs will be delivered tomorrow, along with the foam insulation for the basement and the studs for framing.  Woo Hoo!  Now we can finish the upstairs bath and start framing in the basement. Guess what we'll be doing this weekend!  

I12's 6th grade graduation party was amusing.  They had custom t-shirts for the kids and each one got a sharpie to sign each other's shirts.  There was also the customary display of baby pictures for guessing who was who and they did a wonderful photo montage set to music of pictures of the kids and activities from school since they were in kindergarten.  And finally, they had cake.  Not just any cake, but one with each child's name on a piece so they got their own name from the cake, decorated in the school colors.
It was also a bit sad. I12 is my 'worrisome child'.  He has always had delays in language and social skills.  We took the leap and tried him on meds for his ADHD last year which has helped with his school work.  I'm not so worried about him academically though,  He's a bright kid, just inattentive (he is really ADD, without the H).  What worries me is the social skills part.  As all his classmates were running around, chatting and laughing and signing each other's shirts he stood there, not knowing what to do.  I do so worry about how he will fare in junior high.  He has very few friends his own age.  He does have a few friends from the after school program but they are all a couple years younger than he is.  We took him in for a full psych evaluation last fall, since I still think he falls somewhere on the autism spectrum but they didn't really tell us much.  Part of the problem with the eval is that he does really well with adults, especially one on one so he was a shining star in the clinic, his problem is that he can't relate to kids his own age.  We've tried to get him involved in activities to get him 'socialized' but haven't had much luck.  He doesn't like sports- he would much rather spend time with a book or video game (his dad and I are the same way) and has different interests from most kids his age.  He does like acting though, so I was going to look into some summer programs at our local rec center to see what I can find.  I do hope that when he gets to junior high in the fall that he will find a group of similar kids who "don't quite fit" the normal mode and make some new friends.  He's going to have several hundred new friends to choose from.  I'm also hoping that he'll do some growing up over the summer- I think a little maturity will help.
Although, when I think about it, both V and I were 'misfits' in our schools when we were growing up.  We both had few friends (and still have just a few close friends) but somehow managed to find each other.
How about all of you- did you feel like you were part of the 'in crowd' when you were young or were you one of the outsiders?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

A bit distracted

Didn't get much work done today here.  Oh, I managed to get everyone fed and got laundry folded and put away. I've been a bit preoccupied this afternoon.  Hospital administration announced today that they are going to start layoffs soon.  They won't say how many of the 6,600 employees will be affected but they have indicated that it will involve all levels of staff and will affect even those employees who do direct patient care.  I don't see how they can start laying off the people who care for the patients who pay the bills.  Now, some management folks I can see on the chopping block.  A few months ago, when they started asking people for ideas on cost savings I was a bit irked when the announced the hiring of some bozo for an 'assistant administrative vice president of doodling' or something like that.  Oh, the upper level management took a voluntary 5% pay cut which sounds great until you realize that  one of their 5% is more than I make in an entire year.  OH, THE AGONY TO HAVE TO LIVE ON ONLY $30,000 A MONTH!
I'm not worried about my job, the cuts will be based on seniority and I've been there the longest of all of us except the woman who is going through phased retirement already.  Our newest and youngest OT is really worried though, she just found out that she is pregnant with their first child and is worried that she will lose her job.  Since her husband is a farmer, she carries all their health benefits as well as brings in the steady/reliable income.  We did our best to reassure her that everything will be fine.  We hope we've already done our part by giving up a new position that had been approved for our division.
Like I needed any more stress in my life right now.  (sigh)

Tomorrow night is I12's 6th grade 'graduation' party at school so that should lift my spirits.  The children's last day of school is Thursday then V can start them on house repair boot camp.
Should be interesting....

Monday, June 1, 2009

Independence Days- take 2: week 5

Ok. I'm tired.  I seem to be saying that a lot lately.  But I didn't sleep well last night.  We were up late helping J15 on a school project that was due today.  It was a report on her 'life and times'.  She was supposed to prepare a history of her life, with pictures, and correlate the stages/ages of her life with world and US events.  Unfortunately, she ended up redoing much of it.  She had been working on it at school for the past week and had lots of pictures and information on her file on the school server.  Sadly, the school server was down all weekend and she couldn't access any of the photos she had already scanned in.   So she had to re-scan photos from before we had a digital camera and pull information and images off the web to complete her project.  Then, of course, her printer decided to be uncooperative.  Finally, she just saved it as a PDF and V printed it from his computer this morning.  Thank goodness for a household network where we can share files between computers easily.  When we finally got her wrapped up, a thunderstorm came through, and then I was having weird dreams that involved painting and packing.  Hmmm, I wonder why that would be.
I guess the 16 hour days I've been putting in working on the house have taken their toll as well.  Both V and I are feeling physically a bit better this evening after having had a 'down' day today.  V was doing some writing today and I was at work.  We did get out to the house for an hour or so this afternoon after I got off work.  V cut some wire to length for some of the re-wiring that needs done in the house and I got to weed!!!!  Hurrah!!!  Who would think I would be so excited about weeding.  I did get the lettuce, beets and chard weeded, the potatoes hilled a bit and some of the peas weeded.
But on to my usual Monday business: the Independence Days Challenge.
1.  Plant something- 3 huge crowns of asparagus from my parents, my super secret tomatoes, a yellow cherry tomato from our backyard and 10 free flowering tree seedlings (they look like tiny sticks!)
2.  Harvest something- RADISHES!!! our first real harvest from the new garden!  I did snack on a few leaves of chard and a bit of lettuce while I weeded but they aren't quite big enough to harvest for salad yet.
3.  Preserve something- again, my standard reply of  'only my sanity'  But that was quite a feat this week.
4.  Reduce waste- Hmm, the usual but not much else.  We are still trying to repurpose as much as possible out at the house.  Oh, and I guess I keep snagging boxes out of the 'office trash' drop spots at the hospital to use for packing (I got 3 boxes today!).  That saves them from ending up in the garbage.  My brother dropped off lots of boxes for us again today.  We will save all the boxes for them since they are hoping to be moving soon as well.  Oh, and another thing.  I pulled out a bunch of boxes, an almost new mop, broom and a box of cleaning supplies from the dumpster across the alley- someone had dumped lots of their moving/clean up stuff- so I ended up with a bucket, most of a bottle of bleach, nearly full bottles of clorox clean-up and 409 spray, a scrub brush and a few other things.
5.  Prep and storage- Well, we are still working on the ultimate prep of getting our homestead up and running (well, livable comes first!)  Storage is NOT high on my priority right now.  We're trying to downsize our stores before we make the big move or at least not add anything new.  Although, I'll confess, I almost picked up some canning jars I saw last week but then I remembered that my Mom says she has a whole bunch that she isn't using anymore that I could have (after we move!)
6.  Community food systems- Not really.  I guess the sharing of the super secret tomatoes is a kind of building community, even if they weren't mine to give- I was a recipient.
7.  Eat the food- no problem there. We're trying to reduce the stores so we've been eating from stores as much as possible, although I'll confess that we stopped at the store on the way home to pick up some frozen french fries to have with our burgers for dinner tonight.  But tomorrow is cheese tortellini (from the freezer stores- purchased when it was on a good sale) and pesto frozen from last year's garden. We're almost out but I noticed that my basil is up so we'll have more this year.