Friday, October 31, 2014

Trick-Or-Treat (Smell My Feet!)

For all of you peeps out there planning on doing the Halloween Trick-Or-Treat thing tonight, we've already been there, done that, all done folks!  For some crazy reason, our town does Trick-Or-Treat on the Thursday BEFORE Halloween, have for years.  Not only that, but the kids get a half day on that Thursday, so that they are ready by 4 PM at Go Time!  Now tell me, wouldn't it have been awesome to do Trick-Or-Treat TODAY on the actual Halloween day, and have a half day of school, and then the entire weekend in which to lay around eating candy?  I certainly think so!

In any case, it's done.  Yesterday I spent most of the day in L's classroom, helping with their party, and reading a book to the kids.  I picked up the girls from school so that we would have extra time to work on our pumpkins before candy time!

This year, J went for a French Monsieur, complete with moustache...ooh la la!  L tried different shapes and patterns on hers.  I went for more of a lantern effect.

L chose a Bollywood Dancer costume early on, but decided against it once she realized that her belly was showing (refused to wear a shirt under.)  Luckily, on my little outing with the Ladies a couple of weeks ago, I found a cute little colonial style dress at the Goodwill.  It fit her perfectly, and along with a hat made by Aunt C before our trip to Williamsburg a couple of years ago, it made a great costume!  J had her heart set on Pikachu, and froze out there in the trenches!


We had a good time, the girls slept well last night, but JP and I were so busy cleaning up multiple messes, that we forgot to raid the candy stashes once the girls were in bed.  Oh well, there's always tonight!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Die Job

Our major kitchen appliances are failing us right and left lately.  The ice maker on the refrigerator sprung a leak a couple of months ago, which lead to major buckling of the hard wood floor where the water sat for hours.  Although we repaired the leak, we could not get the ice maker working again.  We are getting by with ice made the old fashioned way - in trays, which is a pain in the patootie for our family that loves ice in our water bottles!

On Saturday morning, JP had just finished heating water on the cook top to make coffee.  He lifted up the tea kettle, and we saw sparks and heard a small explosion and the thing blew the circuit.  Once the circuit was turned back on, the cooktop read an error message, which lead us to the knowledge that we would be sinking around $500 into repairs...about half of the value of the information that it would probably happen again.  We decided to replace the cooktop with a different brand.  Luckily, although our main cook top died, we still have our 2 back up gas burners that we can use until our new induction range arrives!

Yesterday it became obvious that something died in the closet in my bedroom.  I was hoping it was merely stinky shoes, but after fairly thorough investigation, that does not appear to be the case.  Now the stench is leaking into the bathroom, so the culprit must be in the wall between the two.  I've had the door and windows open all day, hoping to air out the place, and it is somewhat better.  Let's hope this is short lived!

This morning I got another section of the tree house railing stained.  It has been extremely blustery today, to the point that it actually blew the stain off my brush on several occasions!  Apparently it also blew my ponytail into wet stain too, a fact which I discovered in the shower several hours later.  2 shampoos and conditioner treatments later, it is still stiff and sticky feeling.  Now THAT'S a bad dye job!

There is still a lot of staining to do...I think I'll
need a ladder at some point!

On the bright side, Dad and I finished putting up metal on the inside of the Chick-bit house.  The ceiling panels, into which we had to cut 6 holes for light fixtures, were a killer!  I'm currently sitting here with a heating pad on my shoulders, trying to recover!

It has turned out to be a rather laid back evening.  The girls are finishing up homework, and I should get some dinner fixed.  JP works late, so we will either watch a movie this evening, or carve our pumpkins. soccer practice tonight!

Monday, October 27, 2014


I have been waiting for this day since late August - the first day after soccer is all over with, when after school time will be carefree and not at all rushed.  The first day when we don't have a million things to do after school.  It didn't quite turn out all free and easy today, but the girls and I did enjoy a little walk outside in the sunshine, and J is still AWOL out there somewhere.

The girls played their last soccer games of the season yesterday afternoon.  We celebrated with lunch at Dairy Queen, complete with Blizzards!

We have been working hard toward getting the Chick-bit house ready to house at least chickens...rabbits will come later.  Since the days have been getting shorter, we are getting fewer eggs all the time.  I have gone from supplying a dozen a week to my parents and all the eggs we can use plus selling 3 or 4 dozen a week, to barely having enough for our family!  The 14 hens are only laying about 3-4 eggs daily.  Once we get them in a space where we can turn on lights, the production should increase significantly! 

On Saturday, JP and I finished insulating the entire structure, walls and ceiling.  I also finished painting the outside eaves.  Today, Dad and I put metal up on 2 out of 3 inside walls, and I put a second coat of paint on the second clean-out door and the outside door.

The inside of this door still needs some work!
We hope to get the last wall and the ceiling panels up tomorrow.  Once that is finished, Dad can start building the nest boxes and the inside wall to separate the chickens (Chick) from the rabbits (bits.)

After lunch, I spent about 45 minutes staining the railings in the tree house.  I have lots more to do, but hopefully I can finish it up tomorrow. 

I timed it so that I could come in to get a shower and leave in time to pick up J from school and get her to an emergency orthodontist appointment (her wires were tearing up the inside of her mouth) and then pick up L from piano lessons.

While I was in the shower, the dogs started barking.  Apparently the tri-axle load of logs had arrived.  I took the quickest shower ever, dried off slightly, threw on sweats and a sweatshirt and ran outside.  In those 8 minutes or so, they had managed to off load about half of a truck load of the wrong place!  I explained where I wanted the second load to go, and they told me they preferred cash for payment.  I managed to scrounge up the cash, finish dressing, grab a bag of Puff Corn for the girls' snack, and took off for town about 10 minutes later than I had hoped.

I didn't manage to remember L's piano books, so she didn't actually get her piano lesson tonight - it has been rescheduled for Wednesday afternoon.  J's mouth is feeling better.  We now have 2 loads of logs that need to be cut up before winter.  I actually had 15 minutes to sit down and blog.  I have a Library Board meeting tonight, so I need to get dinner made and the kids and myself fed in the next hour. 

Maybe tomorrow will be a carefree and easy after school time!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

October Morning

O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow.
-Robert Frost

I walked in the woods with the dogs this morning.  We were all delighted by the adventure!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Canning (Or - I Spent All Day in the Kitchen)

The girls and I spent about an hour and a half in the garden on Saturday.  The Mexican Bean Beetles destroyed my Fall Horticulture Beans, so we pulled the plants, and after picking all of the beans off of them, bagged them in a trash bag to kill off off the remaining beetles.  We also picked a nice bowlful of Fall Sugar Snap Peas, a few tomatoes, and all of the Jalapeno Peppers.

I spent Sunday afternoon/evening shelling beans and slicing peppers on my mandolin.  Today was canning day.  I had 3 gallon bags of shelled beans in the deep freeze, so all together, I canned 13 quarts and 7 pints of beans.

 I also canned 17 1/2 pints of peppers.  JP will enjoy these on his tacos for the next year!

A Peck of Pickled Peppers

I did find an hour or so between rain showers to paint the Northern eaves of the Chick-bit House,  as well as a litter removal door, before I ran out of paint.

A second window, a door and a litter clean-out door have been added!
On Saturday evening, we went out with Mom & Dad for Indian food to celebrate JP's Birthday.  We came home for cake and ice cream...and candles and cards and singing.

J had another soccer game in the rain on Sunday afternoon.  The good news is, they finally won a game, 3-0!  L said she played in "some sprinkles", and they did not win their game.

Another weekend (and Monday) are gone. 

Still not bored!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Fall Break

Our little Fall Break is going by way too fast!  The girls were out of school yesterday and today for Parent-Teacher Conferences and Teacher In-Service Days.  JP has been off all week to work on building the Chick-bit House (Chicken and Rabbit).  Of course it has rained nearly every afternoon, and they have had to return things to the lumber store several times because the incorrect items were delivered last weekend.  Consequently, things are running behind schedule.

My conference with L's teacher was very nice.  She told me a lot of sweet things about L, and we discussed ways to get her to branch out and read some different books.  We met one of L's friends in the park later in the afternoon to play.  It was interesting to watch her interact with this little girl - her mannerisms and speech changed to imitate the friend!

J had soccer practice in the rain last night, and with the ever decreasing daylight hours, it was nearly pitch black when they packed up!

I got my flu shot this morning,  and have a sore arm tonight.

JP wanted to do something together today, and everyone said they were tired of going to the Museums in the Big City!  We decided (because of rain) to see a movie down South, and hit the Habitat for Humanity Re-Store and Lowe's while we were there.  We watched "The  Boxtrolls" at a different theater and time than originally intended because of traffic and time constraints.  We ended up being the only people in the theater for the entertaining movie.

The Re-Store visit was a bust, and by the time we dragged our sorry behinds into Lowe's we were all pooped.  We did manage to come home with another window and door for the Chick-bit House, but unfortunately not recycled ones.  JP and I carried the girls downstairs to bed, and have been tying up loose ends since then.

Tomorrow Accuweather is promising sunshine.  That would be lovely.

I'll leave you with some pictures of the Chick-bit House construction:

Framing out the structure.

With the outside layer of metal on...the window is from
Re-Store.  The two openings at the bottom of the walls
will be for panels that can be raised to scoop/sweep
litter out of the enclosures.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Essentially Unemployed

Well, I just returned home from a meeting with my employers, and I am now essentially unemployed.  I had been employed per diem, which basically means that I work as they need me, but it had been pretty steady until this past summer.  I have been working less and less over the past several months because of some changes going on.  As of today, I don't have any per diem work to do until possibly November.  I'm not exactly fired, but...I don't exactly have a job to return to later either.  Strange.

I have a couple of options on the table, but I am not sure about the viability of the one, or the desirability of the other at  this point.  Right now I am just sad.  I used to like my job, but lately it has become increasingly frustrating, and's just gone.

I cleared out my few belongings from the office after my meeting, which always makes everything so final.  They are sitting on the dining room table at the moment, until I figure out what to do with stuff.

I think I'll go pull weeds in my flower bed.  Gardening therapy has been successful in the past...

Monday, October 6, 2014

Whirl Wind

We blew right through this weekend...I am just now sitting to take deep breaths and process it all!

I have had one sick girl home for 3 days/week for the past 2 weeks.  That's 6 days out of the last 10 school days!  Luckily it was an upper respiratory virus that they both got, causing fever, headache and sore throat, so they basically laid around and napped, read or watched movies all day (easy!)  Because of that, most of my forays out of the house lately, have been to work, to pick up homework at one or the other school, or to take the dog to the Vet (just a check up!)  Boring.

Thursday afternoon, J was feeling somewhat better, and we decided to take the 20 minute drive through the country to the Apple Orchard.  We came home with the back of the car full of apples, our eyes full of the colors of Autumn, and our lungs filled with plenty of fresh air, but unfortunately it did the poor girl in.  She was back on the couch, napping, within a half hour of our arrival home.

The following day, the workers were scheduled to arrive at 7:30 AM to pour concrete for the new chicken and rabbit house that is currently in the works.  Here is the truck that poured the concrete:

The Green Weenie...?
And here is the freshly poured pad.

There is another one just inside the barn for a future metal shop...all in good time!

While they were still working on the concrete, I got a call from the Coal people.  We had been trying to get them out here with 5 tons of coal since December last year.  We had a dusting of snow the morning they showed up back in December, and apparently they couldn't make it up our hill.  They got up this time, and now we have back-up fuel for the winter.  Hoorah!  No more cutting and stacking wood every weekend while the snow flies!!

Also good for Stocking Stuffers...
As the Coal Man was disappearing down the driveway, I received a phone call from the Auto Clinic Dude, who has had possession of JP's old truck since it left the Muffler Man's care.  After spending $$ there, I no longer needed to wear ear plugs when driving the truck, but it still barely ran.  Auto Clinician was able to get it "purring like a kitten" (his words).

So it was that I stopped in the middle of making applesauce at about 2 PM, and hitched a ride into town with my Mom to pick up the truck (and more homework!)  On our way down the driveway, we encountered someone coming up (not a common occurrence on the hill!)  This happened to be the brother of a gentleman who supplied our load of long wood that we cut and stacked all winter.  He had promised us another load back in the Spring, but unfortunately, he passed away unexpectedly in the summer.  His brother told us that he had been driving around, trying to find the place where the wood was expected - he is planning on following through with his brother's unfinished business!

I finished the 24 pints of Secret Ingredient Applesauce later that afternoon, folded 3 loads of laundry, and packed a small bag for a get-away with my girlfriends.

My friend and I left town at 7 AM Saturday morning, and arrived at State College about 3 hours later, where we met another friend who now lives about 3 hours in the other direction.  We found a lovely spot for brunch, where we had crepes and delicious mocha, then walked around the town, shopping for several hours.  We had dinner at a lovely establishment, and then retired to our hotel room for more chatting, resting and recovering.  We lingered over an early breakfast the next morning, and then took off for home, where Soccer Sunday was happening whether we liked it or not!

I arrived home just as JP and J were leaving for her game over an hour North.  I just had time to make a thermos of cocoa to warm L up after her game before she and I had to leave for her game 30 minutes East.

Since soccer, I have been doing laundry, and in general catching up on what I normally do over the weekend!  Both girls will be back to school on Monday morning (hoorah), and JP will be home to get started on the chicken/rabbit...chick-bit?  I will be here and there, continuing the catch up process, working in the garden (have I mentioned the enormous crop of potatoes?), and helping when & where I can.  It is back to soccer practice and music lessons, but I feel rejuvenated.'s a short week, SO doable after some that we've already been through!

This is maybe 1/2 of the potatoes I dug this year...
2 milk crates full are now stored in the garage for winter!

Let's go, Team Poplar Ridge!!