31 May 2011

Travel Tuesday

 While between destinations, we passed through this town.  It was just so pretty, we had to stop and take some pictures.

The name of the town is Shoenberg, which literally means, beautiful mountain.  Well named, I thought.

30 May 2011

Gone to the birds

I tried to kill us all yesterday.  Not on purpose, of course.  I was just being my usual self.  We came home from church and started getting ready for lunch.  The chicken was ready in the crock pot and I made a potato salad Saturday night.  All we needed was for me to do the easy task of opening a can of corn, putting it into a pot and turning the burner on, which I thought I did.  Silly me, I turned on the front burner that just happened to have my recipe binder on it.  Stupid, stupid.  About a half second after I realized something smelled like it was burning, the house filled with toxic smoke. 

At this point, I never know if I should turn off the burner and grab the baking soda, or yank the burning thing off of the burner.  I yanked.  And I turned off the burner.  It seemed like a good compromise to me at that time.  Unfortunately, the burner was stuck to the notebook, so I yanked the whole shebang out of it's spot.  And then I couldn't breath so I ran outside.  Have I mentioned before that we live in a basement?  Very few, very small windows in a basement.

Lunch was served outside a few minutes later than I intended.  I like eating outside, except it was very cold and rainy.  With windows open and fans running, we decided to go for a drive and visit some friends that we never see anymore.  It always takes an emergency to bring friends together...  They very kindly opened their home to us for a few hours and even served rhubarb cheese cake.

Our time outside in our yard caused the kids to adventure around a little differently, I guess.  They made some interesting discoveries in places that I have been everyday.  Notice anything interesting in this picture?  I hadn't.  It's just where the hose hangs.

Look a little closer...

Remember back a few months when I was pondering the ring neck pheasant egg situation?  We have a nest, right here in our own backyard.  I have never seen a hen, but my husband says he saw one a few weeks back walking along that fence.  There are 12 eggs.  The kids counted them before I knew what they had found.  Hopefully, the hen, if she comes back, already knows what my kids smell like and won't abandon the nest.  It may already be abandoned.  This find caused me to do some more research.  Apparently, hens are kind of careless at first about where they drop eggs and will sometimes make a "dump nest" where they lay some and then just leave.  I figured that was the case, since we haven't seen a hen around for a long time. 

Then I read more.  When a hen finally selects a nest site, they lay one egg per day and may keep going until they end up with 20 eggs.  During this time, the hen only comes to the nest to lay her egg and then she leaves again.  When she is all done with egg laying, she begins to sit and rotate the eggs.  Incubation is about 24 days and most chicks hatch toward the end of June.  Even though they are "born" on different days, all the chicks will hatch at almost the same time.  Isn't that crazy?  Twenty kids all at once... she must be crazy.

Given that it is late in the egg laying season, making it perfect to hit that late June hatch date and that she only would visit the nest once per day making it probable for me to miss her, I'm hoping that this is a genuine nest that will be used to hatch out all of the eggs.  I don't know why that excites me, but it does.  I just hope that my kids handling the eggs won't ruin it.  They now know to leave the nest alone for the next week.  If it stays the same, we'll know that it is abandoned.  If a hen shows up, we'll pretend we don't see her.

Fueled by this great find, the kids flew around the yard looking for more amazing things.  This is what they found and were again warned to leave it alone.  A few weeks ago, we watched a wood pecker working on this spot in an apple tree.  Everytime we came or went, he was there.  I guess it's a he.  I really don't know.  Now, there's some little wood pecker chirping away inside.  It amazes me how perfect of a circle they can make.

28 May 2011

Preparedness Challenge: fire starters

Okay, technically I covered this one already in the warmth and shelter section, but I want to talk a little more about this subject.  Specifically fire starters, but also shelter.

It is wise to carry a few fire starting options in the 72 hour kit.  I know personally that waterproof matches can be kind of temperamental when you try to strike them and it could take a few to actually get anything lit.  We have a few inexpensive cigarette lighters in there too and my husband wants to buy a nice zippo to have around.  While we were shopping the other day, we decided to pick up a flint and steel from the camping department.  It's the kind that comes with some magnesium stuff that you carve off and it's supposed to ignite easily.  We want to try it out, but we have to wait till things dry out a bit to light a campfire in the pit.

Also important to remember is something that catches fire easily.  You can't just hold a match to a log and expect it to burst into a roaring fire and sometimes things are a bit too damp to use what is around you.  Some old newspaper is easy to pack or toilet paper can work too, although it doesn't always burn great.  Make sure it's held in something that will keep it dry.  There are also other options such as these fire starters made from dryer lint and egg cartons.

During our last shopping trip, we had some fun in the camping area.  If I could find the camera, I would take a picture for you, but it has disappeared along with one of the baby's shoes.  I'll link up to pictures instead.   In addition to the flint and steel, we bought a little camp stove.  Very little, but for emergencies and little pack trips that I send the boys on, it will work great.  It can also serve as a heat source in a small area, if it is so needed, although you should probably have good ventilation.  We also bought a little mess kit.  We figured a stove wouldn't do much good without a little pot to sit on it.

To top off the week of shelter and warmth, we bought a tent.  We have been watching the online classifieds for a good deal and we found one this week.  It's not huge, but I didn't want it to be.  We need to be able to carry it on our backs if needed.  Like when I send the boys on that pack trip next month. 

All in all, it was a pretty good week for us, in the preparedness area.  I'm linking up to Homestead Revival for the Preparedness Challenge.

Other topics on the 72 hour kit:

27 May 2011

Speaking of underwear...

After all that underwear silliness, we weren't done yet.  Yesterday, we took a little trip to visit my sister's family.  My nephew was having a birthday.  While there, we discovered that the little man wasn't wearing any underwear.  He couldn't seem to explain it.  I know for a fact that his underwear drawer has plenty of clean pairs in it.  Now I am a bit paranoid about it and I asked him a few times if he is wearing any today.  And so life with a little boy continues...  and I am constantly asking myself, "what is he thinking?!"

Like last night, on our late drive home, he stayed awake the whole way drilling me with questions about how muscles work.  I'm not sure why that was on his little mind, but he asked questions for quite a while. 

In other news, my watering can is no more.  Well, I guess it still is, it just isn't quite as functional as it used to be.  It still holds water, but it's rather difficult to pour without the handle attached.  The boy is pointing at the dancing daughter, who claims the thing spontaneously broke all by itself.  She claimed that after she came out of hiding, so the boy got the full blown "things cost money... respect people's property..." lecture.  Not fair that he got it at that moment, but I'm sure there are several broken things that I don't know about yet.  He is a master of destroying things just because he can.

And the monster baby has taken things even further today.  She is not content until she is on the counter or table or desk.  She has mastered climbing up chairs, and from there, the sky is the limit.  Or so it seems.  Until she comes crashing down.  Her little noggin is covered with little bumps and red marks from her escapades today.  But will she learn?  Oh, no.  She keeps right on climbing.  I tipped one chair on it's side to discourage her, but she'll climb it any way.  It's going to be a rough couple of days I think.  For both her and myself.  I thought I had already baby-proofed my home, but no... In order to be truly baby safe I need to get rid of my breadpans and all chairs, as well as anything that could possibly be used as a stool, like the basket that holds her toys.  Either she is going to end up suspended from the ceiling most of the day, or we're going to have to start sitting on the floor because the chairs had to go.  I'm seriously considering blockading her into one area of the house with soft baby toys to play with.  My blood pressure can't take this much longer.

I came across this photo that I took a few weeks ago after some insane winds.  Not as insane as some parts of the country, but considering that we always have wind, this was something.  At first I thought a storm had blown in but then I realized it was dust.  The sky was so full of dirt it made it possible to look right at the sun to watch the sun go down.  I thought it looked kind of neat, so I snapped a few pictures.
I think that sums up my random thoughts for today.  Hopefully tomorrow I'll have an actual point for my post.

26 May 2011

The high points

It's almost 11 and I'm just eating breakfast.  It's not that I slept in, I've been up for quite a while now.  It's just that I didn't want cheerios.  Again.  I decided to make granola.  I've never made cereal granola before, but I have made granola bars, so I figured I could handle it.  I may have been wrong.  I may have over-baked a bit. There is a bit of a "smokey" flavor going on.  Or maybe my jaw muscles are out of shape.  How can something be so crisp and chewy at the same time?  I'm letting it soak in some milk to try to soften things up a bit.

While I'm here, I'll catch you up on the high points of the week.  The baby seems to have grown a little.  She can now reach things on the counters.  She also figured out how to use one of my bread pans as a stool.  Nothing is safe.  Nothing.

The other night, my son informed me that his nose felt funny... like it was going to throw up.  I tried to get him to explain what exactly nose throw up feels like and he didn't know.  We still don't know.  I am constantly having to listen to the great world of 6 year old boy humor.  Basically anything with the words poop or fart counts as high humor. 

The lilacs have started to bloom.  I love that I can smell them before I see them.  There are trees in bloom everywhere.  I do love this time of year.

For some reason the other day, I decided to sew.  I had seen a pattern for extra large diaper covers being used as night time underwear.  Since I have a pile of old baby towels and a son that sleeps too deeply some nights, I thought I'd whip one up.  It went very quickly and I was very pleased with myself until I held up the finished product.  Oh, my.  Did I mention that they were extra large?  I suddenly realized that I could possibly fit into these underwear.  Here's a picture with a pair of his actual underwear to the right, just so you can see the comparison.  I held them up and started laughing uncontrollably.  I just spent the last few hours sewing underwear of all things and completely useless underwear at that.  The baby assumed I was laughing at her and joined in as well.  I laughed till I cried and then I laughed some more.  And when my son got home, I made him try them on and I laughed even more.  My husband came home and laughed with me a bit and now, everytime he leaves he asks me if I'm planning on making any more underwear and we both start laughing once again.  I think I need to get out more.

Well, my bowl of rock-hard granola is almost gone.  I'd better get to work, and not with the sewing machine!

24 May 2011

Travel Tuesday

Here are some more pictures from the Germany trip I took two years ago.  We traveled to a town called Landshut (pronounced more like landsuit), where my husband spent some time.  I don't have any good historical stories from this town, but I did try on a traditional costume, called a dirndel. 
Every four years, this town puts on a big re-enactment of a wedding that happened way back in the day.  We happened to be there the right year, but too early to take part in the festivities.


23 May 2011

My addiction

I have a problem... maybe it's an addiction.   My husband is thinking about an intervention and I may need it.  See, I buy wool sweaters with the idea that I will re-purpose them into other things, like these baby slippers or these Easter eggs.   Every time I am at the second hand store, I wander over to the sweater rack and come away with a sweater that I just love.  I get it home and try it on and decide to wear it a while and it ends up in my closet.  I now have enough sweaters to wear a different one every day of the week at least. 

The sweaters on the right are the ones that I don't wear because they are too small or have holes in them.  The sweaters on the left are the ones that I bought with the intention of felting and re-purposing, but have somehow ended up in my closet.  This doesn't include the sweaters that I already owned before I became addicted.  I've got a few of those too.

When I first started this wool re-purposing habit, I fearlessly felted and hacked into two sweaters.  I did really well for a while, until my daughter begged me not to cut up one little sweater.  It's on the top of the pile on the right.  Every time I pull it out, she begs me not to cut it, so I hide it for a bit longer.  It would have been perfect for more Easter eggs, but oh, well.  I have continued to use wool from those first sweaters to make more slippers for the baby, but I just haven't been able to do anything with the other sweaters yet.

To try to break this habit, I decided that I can't buy any more sweaters unless I have a specific project in mind for it.  Today, I bought a white sweater vest that I don't like at all, but I have a plan for it!  My husband doesn't really believe me.  He's sure it will end up in the closet with the others, but I'll show him.  I'm on my way to put it into the washer right this minute.  It will become a sheep pillow for my sister.  Her birthday is coming up and I have her name for Christmas, so that's my excuse.  Hold my hand, I'm going to cut up a sweater without putting it on.

21 May 2011

Canning dry beans in the pressure canner

This week for the preparedness challenge, I thought I'd share a skill I'm working on instead of the next step of the 72 hour kit.  We were traveling this week, so I didn't have a chance to work on the 72 hour kit much.  Besides, canning is an important skill plus,  I'm a bit lazy, so this is what you get.

We spent a few days this week visiting my mom.  The weather wasn't great, but we got outside a bit anyway.  Spring is just barely peeking out there.  Her tulips were blooming and the grass is turning green under the snow they got during the night, but that's about the only color you see other than the brown mud everywhere, but that doesn't really count.

We did not use this old stove

My mom took full advantage of my presence and started canning beans.  Canning dry beans takes a pressure canner.  Pressure canners are just scary enough to stop us both from doing much with them when we're alone.  Together, we have just enough courage to do it.  For Christmas, I bought two new pressure gauges for her two twin canners.  (She has several, I don't know where they all come from)  This was the maiden voyage for those gauges.  *Get your gauges checked every year to be safe.  We took ours (hers) to the county extension office and they took them to a neighboring county since their tester thinger was broken.*

At the last minute, mom decided to use her antique canner that has been handed down from mother to daughter since my grandma's grandma.  It's pretty cool looking and the gauge was actually accurate.  (she tested it too)  She chose to use it because it is tall and she wanted to try canning some half gallon jars of beans for those times that we are feeding a multitude.  There is surprisingly little information online about this particular canner.  I looked because I was nervous.  (I did learn that half gallon jars aren't really well tested with the pressure canner.  So keep that in mind...)  The valve things on this baby are complicated and a little scary.  Mom cranked up the heat and then decided to go see if my sister had any potatoes she could borrow.  Sneaky lady left me there wringing my hands, not knowing exactly how to run the thing.  It does look scary with steam pouring out the copper valve... kind of bomb-like.

It was a funny turn of events for me to be standing on the balcony calling for the neighboring house to send mom home.  How many times had she stood there and called for me when I was a girl...?

We survived with no mishaps, thank goodness.  I know I make a big deal out of a not so big thing, but I'm a coward, I guess.  Maybe it's the gauge and valves that make the pressure canner look so scary.  It's really not that complicated, if you read the directions and keep them handy because you will forget exactly when you are supposed to turn the heat down.

Why can dry beans, you ask?  They store perfectly and almost forever in their dry state.  Seems like a bit of work just to get beans in a jar.  But, for a person like me that only remembers that I was supposed to soak beans about five minutes before I need them for the meal, beans in a jar are a valuable commodity.  The funny thing about this process is... you have to soak the beans.  I'm a dork, I know, but it makes sense to my silly brain.  Better to soak a bunch of beans and get them all cooked at once so I don't have to remember in the future.

Here's the process we went through, just in case you want to know...

-Soak the beans.  I know a lady that says you don't really need to do this step.  You can measure out the dry beans and soak them right in the jars if you want.
-Put beans into the jars.  Dry bean measurements are: pints 1/2 cup beans  quarts 3/4 cup beans.  I know that doesn't make sense. Two pints to a quart,  but 1 cup of beans in a quart jar is just too much.  I know, I tried.  We soaked all the beans together and then divided them into the jars.  The jars will be just over half way full with soaked beans.  I've heard that people cook the beans first, but I don't.  They cook a bunch in the canner.
-Top off jars with water, leaving 1 inch head space, then wipe the rim of the jar.
-Put lids on.  I've read to warm the lids in a pot of almost boiling water, but I forgot.
-Our canner said to put two quarts of hot water into the canner... follow the directions with your canner as far as venting, etc.  We vented for 10 minutes and then put the doo-jobby on.  My mom calls it a stop-cock.  I prefer doo-jobby.
-For our elevation, we brought the pressure to 14.  To find the correct pressure, look in a canning book or in the instructions that came with your canner.   I would go with the canning book if it's up to date.
-Let cook for 75 minutes for pints, or 90 minutes for quarts.

Happy pressure canning!

I'm linking up with Homestead Revival's preparedness challenge!

14 May 2011

Preparedness Challenge: communications

Today for my preparedness point, I'm talking about the communication area of our 72 hour kit.  In times of crisis, it is nice to be able to turn on a radio to hear the news.  Unfortunately, in a crisis, there probably won't be electricity, so battery powered or a crank style radio are best.  Also good to have, is a whistle.  The sound of a whistle carries a lot farther than a voice can, something that can be helpful if you are lost.

These are what we have in the way of communications.  A crank radio that has a battery compartment if you would rather, and a radio that is attached to our lantern emergency light.  It takes a lot of cranking to keep the radio going, but I know I can get it to work if I need it.  There is also an attachment that charges cell phones, but I haven't looked into that yet.  It would be handy to be able to charge your phone with a hand crank when there is no power. 

 I'm linking up with Homestead Revival for the preparedness challenge!

13 May 2011

All a jumble

Both my brain and this house are all a jumble.  About a week ago, while looking for possible jobs, my husband found a job listing that he thought fit me perfectly.  I scared me to death.  I know that I have a degree and all, but for some reason I thought that if I needed to get a job (which I do) it would be a simple, low-paying, part-time job.  We had been looking at a few like that when he saw this job... a teaching job...at the university here in town. 

At first glance I informed him that there was no possible way I could fit the job description and flung the idea out of my mind.  He persisted and showed me all the ways I could be a good fit and then he left for the week to help my dad with the cows.  He was right, they weren't looking for someone with tons of teaching credentials, but rather someone that knows their way around a horse and has a degree that fits.  I do have both of those credentials, so I started to actually think about it and I decided to give it a try.  Now this wasn't just a simple resume and reference application.  I had to write a cover letter exciting enough to make them want to read further, a curriculum vitae, which I had never heard of before, references, which is tough when you have worked with family most of your life, and a statement of my teaching philosophy, hmmm. 

I spent the last week digging through my rusty memory, trying to remember every horse related experience I've ever had and put them down on paper in a readable and nice looking way.  My last English class was about a decade ago and those wheels were a bit rusty.  By the time I actually finished grinding out all of those lovely papers, my brain was absolutely exhausted, like to the point of shutting down.  That was yesterday.  I attached those files to my online application (about 20 times because it just wouldn't work properly for me) and collapsed in a heap, outside, face down in the un-mowed grass and there I stayed for a very long time.  It's amazing what sunshine and fresh air can do for a person.  Then, I came inside to unwind while reading some blogs and there weren't any!  Well, nothing new, anyway and no reading list to help me get anywhere.  I had no idea I was so attached to the blog world until yesterday.

I woke up this morning feeling completely hung over.  I even had to wear sunglasses inside to keep my head from exploding.  And then I saw the house, or what was left of it.  A neighbor boy came inside today and exclaimed loudly that my kitchen was a mess. (he's always loud, even when he's quiet)  If it's messy for a messy boy, it must be really messy.  Then I tried to feed the kids and there was nothing in the fridge.  They ate hot dogs twice today with leftover macaroni and cheese and the dregs of the lettuce.  There is no bread, but there are a few crumbs of tortilla.  All we have left in the fridge is onion and some cucumber and a little cheese.

I'm embarrassed of myself.  Embarrassed that I let things go so easily and embarrassed that I've let my brain get so rusty.  And then I felt fear.  I just put myself out there, quite possibly to be rejected.  But it wasn't only the fear of being rejected, but also the fear of being accepted.  I have this terrible fear of looking like an idiot, which I should really get over since I spend a lot of time looking like an idiot.  What if I wear mismatching shoes to the interview?  What if they decided they want to hire me and then I fail completely at the job?  What if, what if...

So to get control over myself and my life, I am making a list of what I will do tomorrow...  I need my sleep tonight.
-find the kitchen (this includes washing and putting away dishes)
-bake bread
-wash and put away laundry
-vacuum (which also includes picking things up off the floor and putting them away)
-go through baby's clothes and weed out the stuff left in there from a year ago
-go to farmer's market for salad and seedlings
-make a real, honest to goodness, meal
-enjoy the sunshine

It feels good to have a plan.  It feels good to have stretched myself a bit, too, even if it was painful.

11 May 2011

Heebie Jeebies

What a lovely day!  The rain has tapered off a bit and the sun has shined long enough for us to get out and enjoy it.  I had to rescue some marigolds that were floating in a tray on the patio... lots of moisture for us, but not as much as some people.  It sure has been good for my transplanted lettuce.  They have enjoyed the moisture and cooler weather.  In fact, I think some plants are almost big enough to sacrifice a few outer leaves for a little salad.

The wet weather hit at a good time for me, as I was needing to get some computer and paper work done.  I feel like I've been chained to the desk for the past three days.  I think I'm about finished with it and just in time for the sun to return!  While sitting here this morning though, I heard a strange sound.  At first I thought it was the lady upstairs, but it wasn't.  I kept hearing throughout the morning and attributed it to the vcr, or something else like that, doing some noise, but it wasn't that either.  It is a scritching, scratching, flippy, floppy sound and it's coming from where the chimney is.  We don't have a fireplace in this apartment, but there is a big pipe in the wall where one used to be.  It's all stuffed with insulation now, and with the tv moved in front of it, I forget that it's there.  Until today.

There is a little door thingy outside on the chimney, I assume for cleaning purposes.  I have had to shoo children away from there because there was a wasps nest in there at one time, and it just doesn't seem like a good thing to play with.  When I heard those noises, I immediately figured that there were two children that were going to get a talking to... leaving that door open for animals to get into...  Only, the door is closed.  I checked.  So, I'm guessing either some bird built a nest down there and the eggs hatched today, or some animal has fallen in there and is making a big ruckus.  I don't know which.  I'm not about to pull that insulation out to see either.  Wanna know why?

First of all, I've been hearing that flip-flop, scritch-scratch, and maybe a squeak as well, all day long.  When I hear such sounds, my body immediately tenses up and I picture bats, and then my skin starts to crawl.  Every once in a while, a bat would get into the house when I was a girl, and I'm still traumatized by it. *shudder* 
Secondly, the thought of touching that insulation makes me itch all over.
And finally, the idea of pulling out that insulation and having some Thing come flopping, flapping, scratching, squeaking, into my living room, where there are a thousand objects all over the floor for some Thing to scurry under/on/over just gives me the heebie jeebies.  *another shudder* 

And the husband isn't home to bravely face it either, so it's just me and the baby right now, left to deal with it.  To deal with it, I'm going to go open the little outside door, in hopes that it actually connects and whatever is in there can get itself out.  Then I'm going to turn on some loud music to drown out the sounds.  I will also periodically walk over to the pipe and peek at it, making sure that nothing is coming through that insulation.  But mostly, I will be here, on the other side of the living room, facing that wall with a broom in my hand, just in case.

Or... I will go outside.  That's what I chose.  I actually accomplished a few things that I've been putting off, like planting the winter sown carrots that have been waiting on me and I planted two marigolds.  Then I went ahead and transplanted a summer squash into a bigger pot.  A larger version of the t.p. roll.  Those roots grow through the cardboard fast.  I think I will give this squash to my sister, or maybe my mom, whichever seems more excited, I suppose. 

Unfortunately, I have to come back in to fix some dinner and the sound is still there and the skin is still crawling.  Excuse me, I'm off to turn up the music.

10 May 2011

Travel Tuesday!

For the past several weeks, Trisha over at Roundabout has been taking us all on a tour of France, sharing pictures from her travels.  Seeing her pictures has made me want to share some of mine, only I've never been to France.  I've been to Germany.  My husband and I took a trip almost exactly two years ago, and something about the spring and all this rain has made me a bit homesick for my beautiful Germany.  So, you get to read about it.

This is the old court house in Bamberg, Germany.  The story is that the someone owned all the land and wouldn't allow the town to build a court house without spending a crazy amount of money.  So the people dumped rocks into the middle of the river and made an island and built the building there, since the person didn't own the river.

And this is the building I lived in about a decade ago when I spent time here on a mission.  See the windows in the roof?  That's where I lived, in the attic on the near side.  By far the coolest place I've ever lived.  That building was so old.  I found out it used to be a tannery back in the 1400's.  The floors weren't very level.  If you spilled your juice on the floor,  you had to run to catch it and clean it up.  The windows looked out on the courthouse from the first picture.

And this is the doorway of a 1000 year old church.  I don't know why I didn't take a picture of the whole church, it's pretty cool, with lots of tall spires.  I was so interested in the doorway and the stonework, that's all I took pictures of.

Not all my travels have such in-depth stories, I just happened to start with a town that I know and love.  More touristy places will be coming soon.

09 May 2011

I love you Mom?

I'm a little late with happy Mother's Day wishes.  I had an enjoyable weekend, complete with flowers and chocolate... and a Dr. Pepper.  (my husband knows me so well)

Friday, my son came home from school with a marigold for me, as well as a cute little poem.  He was very excited to put the flower in the garden somewhere, and since marigolds are beneficial to the garden, I told him we could put it with the veggetables.  Then I went back to tidying up the kitchen.  Two minutes later he burst back into the kitchen announcing that he had planted it.  I guess I should have been more specific in my agreement.  I meant that together, we would go out and find a good spot... oh well.  I did go out to inspect and I think we'll be okay.  Sure, it's kind of in the middle of nowhere, but at least it's not exactly where something else is or is planned to be.  I kind of like it. 

The kids have showered me with dandelion bouquets all week.  And of course, I tell them how much I love them... they need pulled anyway, and they are a flower that nobody minds them picking, unlike crocuses or daffodils.  My son did the arrangement with the grass and the dancing queen did the long-stemmed bouquet.  I have distinct memories of delightedly picking dandelions for my mom and grandma.  I remember not understanding their lack of excitement at the ump-teenth bunch of weeds I brought them in a day.  How could they not be thrilled with such a lovely gift?  And so I pull out yet another cup to serve as a vase.  

Sunday morning, I got to sleep in a little.  Since the kids had been instructed to let me sleep, they very quietly came in, put their homemade cards in or under my hands and snuck out.  Of course, I wake up as soon as I hear the door open, but it's worth it... I think.  Not too sure what to think of my son's card.  * I love you Mom? *  Is it really a question?  You might think that he meant to write an exclamation point, but he actually made me two cards and they both said the same thing.  Hmmm.  Definitely keeping this one in his baby book.

Now, lest you think that I had a picture perfect day, I'll clue you into the rest of the story.  We were late to church because when mom sleeps in... we're just going to be late... because I'm slow anyway.  I didn't have time to put on any make-up either and I forgot my sweater and it was raining outside.  There was the usual circus trying to keep three kids somewhat quiet and the occasional chasing down of the baby when she made a break for it.  Then I taught the three year olds, who are very cute, but are exhausting and then, we came home to make a pre-planned, mom doesn't do any work, meal. 

Except mom forgot that she still has to plan the "no work" meal and didn't have even half of the ingredients.  Plan B was rice with cream of chicken soup on top.  Did you know that you are supposed to do two parts water to one part rice?  I knew that too, but I switched  it for some reason.  So... six cups of water later, we had the worst rice I've ever made.  Lots of it.  Lots and lots.

We made up for it today, after making a run to the market for the missing ingredients.  It was almost perfect.  The boy went to school, the girl went to a friend's and the baby went down for a nap...almost.  I was wishing I had some candles to make our little fancy meal a bit more romantic, but the baby in the high chair kind of ruined that anyway.  She munched on cucumber salad, while my husband and I pretended to be in a fancy-shmancy restaurant.  Except that we kept complimenting each other on our excellent cooking. 

07 May 2011

Preparedness Challenge: light sources

It's Saturday again... actually Saturday is almost over and I'm just getting to writing this.  It's the day to look over one of those areas of a 72 hour kit.  Last week, I wrote about warmth and shelter and I'm still looking at a few things there, but I wanted to move along.  Today, I'm inventorying our light sources.  The list I have recommends a flashlight with batteries, candles and lightsticks. 

Flashlights seem to always be the thing we forget about... until we need them.  Every camping trip or power outage seems to catch me off guard.  Then when I do find a flashlight, the batteries are dead.  It's just a hard thing to store with the battery thing.  That's why I'm loving the flashlights with a crank.  You wind it up, and it lights up.  We even have one that also has a radio and compass.  We keep the lantern type one in my bedroom and we have used it on more than one occasion as a nightlight for the kids when the power goes out at night.  (You wouldn't think you would need light after bed time, would you?)

Along with the wind-up flashlights, we have also accumulated some emergency candles, and I had no idea that I had light sticks until I was digging through our car emergency kit.  I think we're pretty well set as far as lighting goes.  How about you?

I'm linking up with Homestead Revival's preparedness challenge.

05 May 2011

Transplanting day!

 It was planting day! My goal for the day was to get everything transplanted that was sitting in a small pot or t.p. roll.  It took a lot longer than I thought it would.  The cucumbers and squash went fast, but dealing with all those tiny lettuce, spinach, mustard greens and cilantro took forever. 
 Don't they look excited?  They are finally going home and they are going to grow and give me some good stuff.
 Here's the little squash that I transplanted a few days ago.  It doesn't look as bright eyed and bushy tailed as the others, but it has survived a very frosty few days without any damage.  I notice the weeds enjoy the environment inside the wall o water as well.
 Purple pansies just seem so cheerful, don't they?  They are finally all in their homes, spread throughout the garden areas.  They bring some needed color to the boring dirt.
 The mystery plant, starting to really grow.
 Here's one of the garden beds with a squash, some lettuce and some mustard greens along the edge.  I hate taking pictures at this point because there really isn't much to look at, but I like to compare later and see just how far the plants have come.
My neighbor calculated that we should be getting the early tomato varieties by mid June.  I can't wait!  The garden should be nicely filled out by then I hope.

In the course of the day, the monster baby has pulled up three pansies, smashed two tomato plants, eaten dirt, carried off my tools, put dirt in the watering can and had a wonderful time doing it.  Little stinker.  She had a bath this morning and now she has dirt in her ears.  Again.


 Here's me in my goofy garden hat.  My mom gave it to me for my birthday so I won't get my nose sunburned like usual.

03 May 2011

Strawberry plant and frosty nights

Here is the final resting place of my free strawberry plant.  I plunked some pansies in there for company and figured I might as well transplant a few of my winter sown lettuce and cilantro too.  I've got to find a home for the rest of the lettuce soon.  They are starting to crowd each other out.  The pansies aren't too impressive yet.  I didn't feel like driving around looking for more, so I bought the bedraggled ones at the grocery store.  They needed a good home.  Pansies are tough though, so I'm sure they'll make a good comeback.  Hopefully in a few weeks, I'll be able to show you a beautiful container.

Looks like we'll have two more cold nights and then things will warm up considerably and I'll be planting like crazy.  I'm sure the lettuce and pansies can take the cold, but I'm waiting till Thursday anyway, just to be safe.  The cucumbers and squash will soon be outgrowing their toilet paper rolls and need to be planted.  I'm always so worried about the plants getting too cold, but really, they seem to do better in the ground.  That is if they can survive the baby...

I'm starting to think that my chances of getting any ripe vegetables are diminishing.  Who cares about the sand box when you have boxes of dirt to play in?  And shovels to dig up any seeds that might be thinking about growing?  I hate to actually call her a monster, but she seems to be doing her best to earn that title and not just in the garden.  Maybe I should install some spikes around the boxes...  I've seen deer and rodent repellent stuff, anyone know of any child repellent for gardens?