Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Fair time

We spent the evening at the Johnson County Fair. We try to go every year. Initially we went to introduce the children to farm animals that they didn't get to see living in the city. Now they keep asking "Can we get one of those?"
A baby alpaca- too cute!
And then there were the obligatory smoked turkey legs:
I12 munches away.
J15 makes it a whole face experience.
After eating we looked at the animals, checked out the exhibits and then did some rides. It's not a huge fair but it's fun. We're fortunate that we are able to park at my friend Roger's house, where I used to share a garden. He lives right by the fairgrounds (well, one bean field over) and we can park there and avoid traffic in and out of the parking lot.
The fair from Roger's house.
In other news, our old house is on the market. Our realtor wants us to spruce up the landscaping a bit. We know it needs work so after work I walked to the old house and did some weeding. I'm thinking that a bit of weeding and some new mulch will work wonders. Things were a bit neglected while we were working on the new house that I didn't keep up with the weeds. Our realtor wants us to have it done by Tuesday when he and a group of realtors will be doing a 'tour and comment' on all the new listings for the week. I'm a bit worried about what they will say, they do a walk through and critique what's wrong with your house that you need to fix to get it to sell. However, on a positive note, our realtor is closing on two houses within a few blocks of ours this week. He said that both of them were on the market for less than a week before they had an accepted offer. Not only do we have a desirable zoning but we also live in a high demand neighborhood for the elementary school. We'll keep our fingers crossed.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Independence Days- week 13

Another week gone by. My how time flies...
It's been a busy week, although today I paid the price for pushing myself too hard. I woke up this morning with a sore throat and generally felt like I'd been hit by a truck, I ached all over. So I called in sick to work and slept until 10!!! I must have needed it. I generally can't sleep past 630 or 7, even on weekends. J15 got back from her trip this morning at 530 am and also slept away the morning, having been on a charter bus for 18 hours straight.
V has been working hard in the basement to try to have her room ready for her but things haven't been going as quickly as he would have liked. But...
She has two walls framed and another in progress!!
Through her wall you can see my freezer in what will become my food storage room. The freezer and the shelves for my canning jars will be in there. I'm a bit excited to have an entire separate room for food storage. We're purposely not putting heating vents in it so it will stay cooler during the winter
But on to the business at hand- Independence Days. I'm feeling a bit more "independent" recently as we are getting settled in.
1. Plant something- nope.
2: Harvest something:
Behold! This evening's harvest.
The first India Paint Eggplant and my first bell pepper. We've still got loads of hot peppers. We've had broccoli this week and I have tomatoes starting to ripen- but only the cherry ones.
3. Preserve something- um, no.
4. Reduce waste- recycled, repurposed and used cloth bags at the store (most of the time). I also perfected the morning commute using the bus system last week so I don't have to drive all the way into town.
5. Prep and storage- Construction on the basement continues. I stocked up on pasta that was on sale. Oh, and V discovered two boxes of canning jars that I didn't know I had. They were stashed way back in this little closet under the basement stairs. Amazing what you find when you move- one case was even wide mouth jars. Hm, I didn't know I had any of those.... That tells you how disorganized I am. Or how much my priorities have changed in the 15 years we have lived in that house.
6. Build community food systems- stopped at the Farmer's Market but didn't pick up much. Only brats (our favorite- from local beef and quite lean and tasty) and some summer squash since my vines rotted with all the rain and I didn't get any. I had a nice conversation with the vendor about the bizarre garden summer it's been. I also picked up some sweet corn from a roadside stand since ours isn't ready yet.
7. Eat the food- My meal board is found! I'm amazed at how dependent I had become on planning and organizing my meals for the week. Not that I couldn't have planned without my meal board but it somehow makes me feel more in control.
We have a call into the realtor about putting the town house on the market but haven't heard back from him (that surprises me). I got all the painting done including the back landing and I finished painting the garage on Sunday afternoon. The floors have been vacuumed, the toilets and tubs scrubbed, the counters cleaned. There is STILL the broken window in the dining room that V keeps saying he will fix - maybe he's waiting for me to get fed up with waiting for him so I'll fix it myself. I also got my volunteer marigolds transplanted into the front flower bed although they look kind of pathetic. At least it's better than the flattened plants that were there.
Things are coming along- we're looking down the throat of August. EEEK.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Ramblings of this and that

What a busy few days. I've got almost all the painting done at the old house (I just need to touch up paint on the back door landing) and we are hoping to meet with our realtor tomorrow afternoon or Monday at the latest to get it on the market. Yeah!!! There are still a few repairs to be done. There is a broken window in the dining room that hasn't been fixed yet and I need to do something about my flower bed by the front sidewalk. The flower bed got driven over when we backed in the moving truck so everything is flattened. Fortunately, I have a whole bunch of volunteer marigolds in my back yard there that I plan to move into the front. An easy solution and it won't take long. Oh, and I need to make sure both bathrooms are clean (read here: pristine). Maybe it's just me- but nothing would turn me off quicker than a dirty bathroom. I noticed that there is a little mildew on the grout in the upstairs shower stall since we've moved out- that will have to go.
We had a huge ass storm last night. Not much rain in the gauge- only.4 inch but I think it was blowing sideways enough of the time that I'm not sure how accurate it was. I was worried that we would lose power during the storm but we pulled through. However, in the middle of the night- long after the storm was past- I got up and discovered that the power was off. Man, it is DARK out here with no lights around. In town, even with the power off in our neighborhood, there was always enough reflected light from other parts of town that it wasn't that bad.
Heard from J15 this afternoon. She is having a blast! They were exploring the French Quarter of New Orleans this afternoon. I was a bit surprised to hear what their service project was about- I thought they were all related to hurricane relief- I was misinformed. They went to the WWII museum, got a tour and an educational presentation and then spent the rest of their morning interviewing WWII veterans. How cool is that- of course, she said it was rather depressing- but still, a good learning experience.
I had a chance to stop in at the farmer's market this morning. I picked up some brats and some yellow summer squash. One of the vendors has arguably the best brats on the planet (local beef- yum!) and we have been yearning for them since the beginning of the summer. When I was picking up the squash, I had a nice chat with the vendor. We were discussing the bizarre summer we've had. I'm not the only one who doesn't have tomatoes or bell peppers. He told me that he's been doing this for 29 years and he has NEVER not had tomatoes in July. He said he's only had 3 ripe ones off the entire field. And he said his green beans bloomed for a month before he had any set on. My beans are finally setting on- I spied my first half inch long bean tonight so soon....
The boys are happy- V finally set up the x-box so they are playing their brains out after 3 weeks without it. But at least they did go outside this afternoon to fly kites in the gorgeous weather.
Enough babbling for now. I've got laundry to do.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Mmm, more cheesy goodness

Lazy woman's stuffed peppers.
We had our first official stuffed chilis tonight. I take the lazy way out. I split, seed and remove the membrane from my hot peppers - tonight, jalapeno and hot wax. Then I fill them with a mix of cream cheese and shredded sharp cheddar. Then it's into the oven at 425 until hot, bubbly and just barely browned. Then serve and YUM!!
Still no tomatoes! I did notice this evening that I've got one that has the faintest pink blush to it so soon.... I can't wait. It's late July and no tomatoes!!!??? My tomatillos look great but all I've found is empty husks. We had some more broccoli tonight- I mean, really, who harvests broccoli in July?! And we're still getting loads of chard. I did notice that I have at least one eggplant that is about ready and I've got loads of hot peppers (but no bells yet?) What a weird garden year.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Cheesy walls

My old dining room walls- they are covered with cheese. Well, cheese colored paint, that is. We've been amused that the color of paint that we chose to paint the downstairs walls and stairwell is food related. The color is "soft brie"- or in spanish- 'queso suave'. I was curiously amused by the idea of suave cheese covering my walls. But the dining room is painted at the old house. We were hoping to not have to paint our bedroom but having moved furniture and discovered some staining behind my cedar chest (under a window where it has rained in on occasion) we decided that it will have to be painted as well. I can finish painting the bedroom tomorrow after work and I have Friday off (I worked last Saturday) so I can finish the trim paint. The house will be on the market this weekend. Woo Hoo!! What a major hurdle cleared!!!
We heard from J15- they made it to New Orleans safely and she attended the first event in the Super Dome this evening. I'll be honest- the thought of 36,000+ teenagers from all over the country seems a bit overwhelming. But she called and said it is more fun than she had imagined it would be. Tomorrow they have a 'learning event', Friday afternoon they have time for sightseeing and Saturday they will spend the day in 'service' at the WWII museum. I'm not sure what they will be doing there but it is something related to post Katrina restoration.
V hopes to frame J15's room this weekend. She is really hoping for a room when she returns on Monday. We also need the space. With most of the basement unusable due to construction- storage space is at a premium.
In more mundane news- we had nearly 3 inches of rain yesterday. 2.75 to be exact. And we had some minor water leaks in the basement again (sigh). We actually think it may be coming up through the floor in some spots. There is a hill to the North of us and there is the possibility that the water pressure building up on the North side of the house is forcing the water in. I'm really glad that the field on the hill is in hay and not planted. I hate to think of the runoff if it was tilled.
Things are very slowly getting unpacked. V finally got his computer set up and so is back at work this week and I've been working full time at the hospital. Since we're trying to clean up the old house to sell, unpacking has been rather low on the totem pole of priorities. I am frustrated that I can't remember what box I packed the cats' medical records into. They have an appointment with our vet on Friday morning (Mandy has worms!) and I can't find the records. I remember packing them, thinking that this was a great box to put them in but, now, the box I thought they were in- isn't it. I guess it's not the end of the world if I don't find them right away. We have Mandy's rabies vaccination certificate (she got hers last Wednesday when she got spayed) and I know Spaz got his vaccination the day we picked them up- it's just that the certificate is MIA.
Of course, I also can't find by blow dryer or my favorite t-shirt. They're somewhere- it's just that WHERE is the question...

Monday, July 20, 2009

Independence Days- weeks 11 and 12

Ok, I obviously didn't have a chance to post my update last week so this is for two weeks. I'm going to try to keep this brief. We have to get up waay early tomorrow morning. J15 needs to be in town to meet the van by 530 am. She is leaving for a week in New Orleans. She is part of a group who will be attending the ELCA National Youth Gathering there and doing some service work. She's really excited but it's going to make for a long day. V and I didn't get home until after 930 tonight from the house in town where we were cleaning and continuing to move out a few last items. The last of things that will require two people to move (My antique library table/desk and my sewing table) are out.
But on to the business at hand- the Indendence Days Challenge.
1. Plant something- Nope
2. Harvest something- Beets, broccoli, chard and hot peppers. It has been so cool lately that my tomatoes, while loaded, aren't ripening.
3. Preserve something- nope.
4. Reduce waste- we've been pretty bad this week. Oh, still composting and recycling but lots of my cloth grocery bags have been used to move stuff and I keep forgetting to put them back in the car/van.
5. Prep and storage- froze 4 pints of blueberries. My Mom gave me the idea of freezing them in drink mix containers. We went through a few canisters of lemonade mix while working out here when it was so hot and we didn't have air (I know- presweetened drink mix- yuck), But the containers work well for airtight storage for berries. I'm also thinking that all our continuing work here counts as prep. For storage- we got the freezer moved and the shelves for my canning jars- I only have about a dozen jars that are still full so I hope my tomatoes kick in- we need tomatoes canned for the winter!
6. Build community food systems- ate sweet corn purchased from a farmer selling out of the back of his pickup down the road and a locally grown melon.
7. Eat the food- we've been trying to eat out of storage but it's been rough this past week. I still don't know where some things are (my menu board is MIA) and we've been busy so we've been piecing it together a lot. I desperately need to make a significant grocery store run since we're out of lots of things that I usually keep on hand. I was trying to NOT stock up and eat down our stores before we moved and now I'm paying the price.
All in all, it has been a pretty productive week. Our town house will be on the market this week, we're moved, I've got the morning bus commute worked out, and everyone is tired but happy.

Sunday, July 19, 2009


and found.
One tired puppy.
We had a scare last night. Ticket managed to break the latch on his tie out line and escaped. We didn't discover that he was gone for probably 20-30 minutes and didn't know where he had gone. We searched and called. Living within 20 yards of a state highway I was really scared that he would be a casualty of a large truck. Or I was worried that he would get into someone's livestock and would be shot (I have no reason to believe that he would attack livestock but he probably broke his line lunging after a rabbit in the yard). Fortunately for us, he still has his license tags and was found by one of our new neighbors. They have dogs and they fed him and kenneled him for the night and this morning took him to one of the local vets (not the ones we bought the property from) and they looked up the license info and called. We actually found out they had him before we got the call- they called our old number in town and left a message- The wife was on her way back from dropping him off when she spied V looking plaintively in the ditch and asked if we had lost a dog.
Anyway, he is safely returned and we are looking at getting a new line for him. We will all sleep better tonight.

Thursday, July 16, 2009


We got internet access today. Hooray!!! So, a few pictures to satisfy your curiosity.
A gift in the mail!
When we got to the house on Saturday there was a package in the mail. THANKS MEADOWLARK!!! I can't wait to try them.
My new dryer- delivered on Tuesday.
But of course, it couldn't go off without a hitch, could it. I washed a load of towels, threw them in my new dryer and went upstairs to do the dishes. 30 minutes later, I thought I'd check to see how they're doing. EEEK! there is water leaking out from under the dryer and the towels are still wet. It seems that the dryer vent to outside was completely clogged with dog fur and lint and all the moisture was condensing in the vent hose and running down onto the floor. SIGH. I really wonder how the former owners managed to live like this. That much of a clog obviously didn't happen overnight- I wonder how they did laundry. I don't have my clothesline up yet- hopefully this weekend. But the vent is cleared and the dryer is wonderful.
The upstairs bath.
Ok, not the best picture, but the tile is in and the toilet works. The sink still isn't connected but hopefully soon.
Our bedroom???
If we can find the bed under all the stuff. Actually, this is before we had even more stuff loaded in the house.
J15 and her boyfriend B.
They did a fantastic job helping out. It was so nice to have a teenage farm boy to help move heavy furniture and appliances. He also took multiple loads of stuff from the garage in his pickup. He has even come back a few afternoons this week to see what else he can help with. He wants to help frame the basement walls. We're not objecting- I guess we haven't scared him away yet. Actually, of the guys J15 has dated this guy is definitely a keeper.
The truck.
We backed it up over the front lawn so se could run the ramp to the porch. That way we didn't have to move things down any more stairs than necessary. This is the first load. After that I got too busy to take pictures of the move.
The living room, piled with boxes.
The kitchen: counters stacked to the max.
My storage for the week.
One local store had a great deal on blueberries. So I stocked up. The canisters are my Mom's idea. Since they are airtight they do a great job at keeping the berries from getting 'freezery'. All you need to do is unscrew the top and pour out as many frozen berries as you need.

I'll try to catch up with what everyone has been doing but my time is rather limited. I feel a bit guilty even posting this since I have millions of things to do.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The cable company lied

Oh, we have cable TV, but the internet access...that's a different story. We can see the internet (kind of) we just can't connect. The system keeps telling us that our account number doesn't exist when we try to log in. We have called and V went to their office yesterday. The woman there told him that transfers of service 'confuse' the system and that it sometimes takes up to 30 days to sort it out. 30 days!!! I don't think so. We'll keep working on in, hopefully I can have access other than at work soon.

Monday, July 13, 2009

We're in

Just a quick post from work. We made it. There are still a few odds and ends at the old house and we are living out of boxes but we've spent the past two nights at the new house. The weather was wonderful and I'm ready to kiss J15's new boyfriend. A 16 year old with a pickup who volunteers to help you move is a godsend. More later- we're supposed to get internet access at home this afternoon.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Here we go!

We're gearing up. We've got a 14 foot U-Haul truck reserved. We'll pick up the truck at 8 am Saturday morning and begin moving furniture and appliances. We still need to get the toilet reinstalled in the upstairs bath but we've been waiting for the adhesive to dry on the tile so I can apply the grout. It's been so humid in the house that it seems like it took forever. But I checked before we left tonight and it will be all set tomorrow morning. But that still means no toilet until Saturday to give it 24 hours to cure.
The air conditioning was reconnected this morning and has been working to dry things out- but it's been so cool here that it hardly ran today. I also ordered my new dryer (we're leaving our venerable gas monstrosity here- but I'm taking my new washer) and it will be delivered on Tuesday morning. So no laundry after tomorrow.
After Friday night we will be without internet access until at least Monday- and no cable TV either (what will the boys do?- oh yeah, work!). If I have time and energy, I'll try to take some pictures of the ordeal. At least the weather is supposed to be nice- so far they're predicting low 80's and partly cloudy. I can live with that- as long as it isn't pouring rain.
Think happy weather thoughts.....

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The big push

Ok. I'm off for the rest of the week and we're talking getting the cable/internet access hooked up, the air conditioning will be on tomorrow and we're hoping to rent the moving truck this weekend. Internet time may be limited. 'See' y'all soon.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Independence Days- take 2: week 10

It's been another busy week here. Things are starting to come together both for house and garden. The end isn't in sight yet but we're starting to see a glimmer of light. I'm ready to start dry fitting the tile in the bathroom tomorrow evening so hopefully Wednesday I can actually put it down officially. But on to my usual Monday business- The Independence Days challenge.
1. Plant something- Nope. I really need to figure out where my herb garden is going to go so I can get things planted so they have a chance to get established before winter. Maybe in my spare time....
2. Harvest something-
Broccoli, chard, beets, a hot wax pepper, raspberries and yes, the first tomato!!! It was a tiny Cherry Roma- no bigger than the tip of my little finger and it was red, ripe and delicious. Sorry, no photos, it didn't last long enough.
3. Preserve something- made Summer Fruit Massacre jam. I've got lots of beets coming soon so I need to find my recipe for pickled beets and see if I can find the time to can up a few.
4. Reduce waste- the usual- recycled, composted, used cloth bags. We're reusing the old shower curtain that was in the basement as a tarp for keeping things dry in the barn since we're resorting to using the barn for storage since we don't have the basement finished. We have continued to repurpose as much as we can out at the house- even if it means more work than buying it new.
5. Prep and storage- Stocked up on sugar since there was a good sale and I needed more than I had for making jam. Otherwise, still holding off on putting much food out at the house until we actually move due to the potential pest problems we have out there. I'm still counting all the work we're doing on the farmstead as prep work since it is the ultimate prep.
6. Build community food systems- Have been trying to get back to eating more locally but it's been tough as busy as we have been.
7. Eat the food- Still eating a lot from the freezer although we've been slipping with 'convenience' foods when things get crazy around here. We've been eating at all kinds of odd hours, anything from 5:30 to 9:00 pm for dinner. Our schedule has been dictated by what we're doing out at the house- the kids have finally adjusted to the chaos and we rarely get the 'are we going to eat soon?' plaintive questions anymore.

I'm hoping to get a few days off work this week to get some more done. We're hoping to move some furniture in the next few days and the air conditioning guys are coming on Thursday morning to reconnect the exchanger so we'll be cool and dry. It hasn't been too hot but it's incredibly humid in the house which makes it uncomfortable to work.
It will be another busy week here. Wish us luck.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Progress- a long weekend in pictures

Whew! What a weekend. I have been a bit frustrated since it seems that we haven't been able to get out to work until lunchtime all the four days I've been off. Of course, there have been good reasons. But much progress has been made. Thursday morning J15 and I moved almost the entire contents of my closet to the new house while V worked at home- he had a big deadline for his paying job. But in the afternoon we got the drainage system finished for the house. And just in time- Friday night into Saturday morning we had 8/10 inch of rain and....the basement was dry!!!! Hoorah! It appears to have worked. Friday, the boys hauled composted horse manure from the barn/yard to put on top of the plastic rain barrier next to the house. Now I just need to plant some pretty annuals for landscaping and we're all set.
I didn't have much time to work in the garden but at least we got rain so I didn't have to haul water.
We got another head of broccoli- YUM!!!

The basement- will it ever be ready to move in???
V works on the last of the heating/air ducts.
The basement is a mess, without any walls as yet. But it is dry. and much of it has the insulation up and V finished the duct work today. We did get the concrete slab poured and the air conditioner unit is moved back into position. We just need to have someone come and reconnect it and recharge the system and we're all set. The ducts are all reconnected and the system works. We had the fan running this afternoon to circulate the air.
While V worked on the duct work. J15 and I worked on the upstairs bath. The drywall is all up, the cabinet is set in place and the tile backer subfloor is all ready to go.
It doesn't look like much but it represents several days of hard work!
We will tile get the toilet and sink base in place next, then tile the floor, and finally, tape and mud the walls. It still seems like a lot to do but we're making good progress.
The tile is all ready to go!
We're feeling the crunch now. We are required by terms of our mortgage to move by the 21st, so we're in the final push now. We're probably not going to have the basement finished, maybe not even J15's room done. But she will be gone for a week in New Orleans from the 20th to the 27th so maybe we can finish her room then.
I"m going to see how much time off I can talk my co-workers into this week. We NEED to get this done!!!!!
I hope you all had a fabulous long holiday weekend.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Drywall and massacres

It's been a busy day here. I was up early cooking and baking. It's my turn to provide bread for the Sunday service at church this week so I baked some bread this morning. I also created a summer fruit massacre that I'll be featuring in a bit.
But in better news. We worked at the house all afternoon (V had work to do this morning and I was in the kitchen). J15 and I got half the bathroom drywalled!!! Tomorrow we will finish the drywall and hopefully have time to put down the tile backer board so Sunday we can put down the ceramic tile. Maybe by the end of the weekend we can have a functional bathroom upstairs.

Drywall in the bathroom!!
We're still working on getting all the animals to play nicely together. It's amazing, Ticket is doing better with Mandy, the kitten, than with Spaz, who has supposedly lived with dogs before. Mandy is much more willing to let the dog sniff and lick her. At least Spaz is big enough to fend for himself.
Ticket is still getting to know Mandy.

I did make jam this morning. I didn't have enough of any one thing so we have a melange of fruits. Black raspberry, blueberry and peach. J15 nicknamed it "summer fruit massacre" and it stuck. It's REALLY good.
Summer fruit massacre!
Tomorrow is another busy day. We're planning to take some time tomorrow to celebrate the holiday and just enjoy being out at the house. J15 has another date with her new beau to see the fireworks. I don't know- 3 dates in two weeks. It must be serious. The scary thing is- he has his license and drives!!! EEEK.

Thursday, July 2, 2009


I'm posting today over at Homemakers Who Work on the difficulties of asking for help. I suffer badly from the 'do it myself' syndrome but I'm working on it.