Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Where's the Bear? #1

After re-visiting the old blog of a friend this Spring, J has wanted to commit blatant plagiarism and do a contest where we post a picture and ask for your ideas for a funny, witty or snarky caption to go along with it.  She and her sister posed myriads of Playmobile people and animals and snapped photos all summer, intended for just such a contest.

After the giant bear arrived at J's birthday party last weekend, however, we have had a difficult time finding the right spot to keep a bear over 5 feet tall!  Consequently, it has been moved around to various unlikely and absurd locations, and I started snapping photos of my own.

Thus is born our plagiarized  Create a Caption Contest!  Please enter as many captions as you feel compelled to write.  Next Wednesday, J and I will pick a winner.  The prize will be a photo of the giant bear sent straight to your smart phone for your viewing and sharing pleasure!

Because I have had a hard time getting going this morning, we'll start with this photo:


Monday, November 24, 2014


J celebrated her 12th birthday with 5 of her school friends on Friday evening.  She requested build-your-own mini pizzas for dinner and cupcakes for dessert.

The girls played something loud and rambunctious downstairs (that I was too much of a chicken to peek in on), Apples-to-Apples, a Jeopardy style game that she made up, and then watched several movies.  The got to bed quite late, but also got up late and played another loud and rambunctious game downstairs.  I think they had a lot of fun!

J seemed surprised that she received many of the items on her carefully crafted Birthday Wish List!  One thing she was given that she didn't request was an enormous teddy bear, almost 6 feet tall and big around as a tree.  We have been having problems finding a good place to keep it...more on that later!

The temperature yesterday got up to the upper 60's.  We took advantage of the sunshine and harvested the remainder of the root crops in the garden:  carrots, parsnips and sweet potatoes.  I would say everything was quite productive!

Today the wind is howling up here on the Ridge.  I have plenty to do, but just returned from the Orthopedist, who injected my left thumb, where he says I have developed severe arthritis.  The procedure was quite painful, although pretty quick.  Right now it is aching and numb, and I'm feeling a bit queasy, so I thought I'd take it easy.

Poor Stella is feeling lonely and dejected since Kali is away getting groomed.  She tagged right along up into the tree house this morning, and kept me company while I got it clean as a whistle up there.  Kali should be home soon, and then all will be right with the world again.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Pat on the Back

I seem to have won the admiration of some random truck driver when I was at the local potable water station this afternoon.  He approached me when I was filling up my water buffalo for the second time.  "Would you teach my wife to haul water?" he asked.  "It sure would help me out."

"No problem!" I told him, and then we lapsed into small talk about dry wells and dry summers until my buffalo was full.

I'm pretty proud of myself, actually.  I finally mastered the art of driving Ole Bessie (1989 Ford F150 = big, old and stick shift), and then jumped right into hauling around 1600 lbs of water in the back!

The temperature seems to have dropped while I was out there, and now I am chilled to the bone and the bed of the truck is slick with ice.  I have a nice cup of tea brewing.  Ahhh.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Blinded by Science

The Polar Vortex hit our corner of the world overnight.  Polar Vortices and myself are not on great terms.  It was they that made my January and February excruciating earlier this year.  I needed a way to make today more tolerable, so (at a friend's urging) I volunteered to help out at a program at the Elementary School.  A gentleman with a curled mustache, called "Mr. Will" brought a mobile Science Safari to the Gym.  2 other moms and myself helped "Mr. Will" show the kids how to do the various experiments.  It was a lot of fun, and the afternoon flew by.  Besides, it was nice and warm in the Gym!

This is me in the Bubble Tower!
Here I am with my new friend, Bucky.
I stopped on my way home to drop off my parent's mail at their house.  My dad has been doing more genealogical work since it's too cold to work outside.  He told me that he discovered an ancestor who lived in Germany over 1000 years ago, who was no less than royalty.  In fact, he was the King...but only after he murdered his father to take the throne.  Luckily he had some progeny before his cousin killed him in order to take the throne, otherwise I wouldn't be here today!  I had another ancestor in Germany who went swimming in the sea as a young woman, and happened to be impregnated by some sort of shape shifting sea monster.  (You can read the story & see a drawing of my 53rd great grandfather here!)

The girls are home, and avoiding homework at all costs.  In other words, it's a fairly typical night.  J managed to sprain her ankle on the way out of school this afternoon, so she has her foot propped up on pillows.  Both girls have been invited to be flower girls in their cousin's wedding this summer, so there is a lot of emotion flowing regarding that, as well J's birthday party this weekend, to which one of her friends is unable to come.

I need to go check the fire before I stick dinner in the oven.  I'm hoping that this Polar Vortex will not be hanging around much longer!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Flannel Sheets & Comfort Food

This weekend, I changed the sheets on our bed and put on the flannel sheets. cozy!

Comfort was the theme of our weekend, as 2 out of 4 of us have colds, and I seem to be right on the verge of getting something.

Friday evening, we had a visit from JP's sister and brother-in-law from Japan.  They are in the States for a few weeks, and stopped here on their way West.  They brought with them JP's old buddy, Spunky!  The comfort food for our foreign visitors was homemade pasta with home cooked sauce and meatballs, freshly baked bread, homemade pumpkin roll and homemade vanilla ice cream.  (Yes, I was in fact in the the kitchen all day!)

They had to travel on after our favorite Saturday morning breakfast of whole wheat pancakes with Poplar Ridge maple syrup, crispy bacon, and fresh eggs.

Last night we took my mother out to dinner to celebrate her birthday.  J baked a 2 layer cake and frosted it with cream cheese frosting that she also made, and we shared that with her and my dad this afternoon.

We lazed around on the sofa all afternoon, watching "The Sound of Music" (another Movie-cation flick), and drinking endless mugs of tea.

The comfort food  tonight was chicken and dumplings with more freshly baked bread.

I feel like turning in early, to snuggle in my cozy flannel sheets and read.

Eat, sleep, read and movies...not a bad way to spend a weekend!

Monday, November 10, 2014

We Had a Fantastic Weekend!

JP and worked our tails off this weekend.  We were exhausted and sore when we went to bed last night.  It was the good kind of exhaustion though, the kind that comes with knowledge of a job well done.

Friday evening, we moved the hens to their new abode while they were drowsy and roosting.  They seemed to tolerate the move without issues.  After we got their fencing up and stabilized on Saturday morning, we let them out to explore.

Sleepy hens trying to get their bearings
in the new place!
The roosts hinge up for easy cleaning underneath, and
we have easy access to both their area and the nests
 from a hallway.
These are the nest boxes...actually kitty litter
boxes that slide out for easy cleaning.  Look!
They know how to use it!
Here come the ladies after we opened up
their little door!
Here they are, exploring out doors!

JP boosted me up in the bucket of the tractor to finish staining the tree house.

He hooked up the electric to the chicken fencing while I hung out laundry.

He mowed the grass for one last time while I gathered more leaves for the garden and pulled out the rest of the chickens' old fencing.  Together we gathered up some huge piles of leaves that he mowed into a pile and spread them on the garden too.

For dinner, we had our favorite hearty beef stew and a crusty, chewy artisinal loaf of bread that John baked.  Along with the remainder of a bottle of wine that went into the stew, we had an enjoyable meal with the girls.

Yesterday we moved the remainder of the pile of cut wood from last year, and JP split some of it.  We also covered the coal bin with a tarp to keep it somewhat dry.

Our friends came over later, and we spent the afternoon drinking tea and chatting.

It was a lovely but busy weekend!

Today the girls are home because of Teacher In-Service.  Already we have been to the Orthodontist and I have been to a job interview, and have sausage in the pressure canner.  We have many other plans in the works for this afternoon, so I need to run along...hope you are all off to a good start to the week as well!

Thursday, November 6, 2014


I have felt a bit overwhelmed this week - stretched a bit thin.  I have lots of outside projects to complete, and a dwindling number of decent days to do them in!  By this afternoon, although today was a truly awful day, I am feeling somewhat better.  I am making a dent in the To-Do list AND I was able to keep my calm and NOT YELL AT MY FAMILY even though today was super sucky.


So, the tree house is mostly stained.  All of the railings and the stairs are finished, on all sides.  I was unable to reach some of the beams underneath, and still haven't decided if I am going to try to make that a priority yet this Fall, or wait until Spring.  The completed part looks great however, and is already working to shed water.  Yay.

The Chick-bit house is coming right along, although I haven't helped much with it this week.  We should be able to move the hens in by this weekend.  Yay.  I'll post pictures when they are moved in.

I spent a lot of time this week volunteering for a couple of very good causes.  I helped out at the PTA's Book Fair at the Elementary school one afternoon.  I restocked books, and helped several children make book selections that were within their financial means.

I spent this morning crawling around in the flower beds at our Public Library, weeding, dead-heading plants, trimming bushes, and in general cleaning out the beds.  I offered to do this at our last Board meeting when the Director wanted to hire someone to do it.  I enjoy gardening, but there is still a LOT to be done there...I may have bitten off more than I can chew with this one!

Good causes, enjoyable work...yay.

Now, we are finally getting the girls to bed (yay), and I can head there myself.  I'm exhausted.


Monday, November 3, 2014

A Pinch of This, a Bit of That...

It turned COLD over the weekend, to coordinate with the time change and the changing of the calendar page it seems.  We had freezing temperatures Saturday night and last night, and it seems odd to be getting the girls off to school in actual day light!

I did have the chance ahead of time to pick the final peppers, peas, tomatoes and cabbages in the garden, and to bring in a couple of potted plants.  J's tiny cauliflowers, planted back in May, are finally doing something, and L's little cabbages remain brussels sprout size, so I did cover their 8 foot bed to give them a bit longer to TRY.  The garden is looking sleepier, with only root crops yet to harvest:  carrots, parsnips and sweet potatoes.

I also spent half the day on Friday gathering leaves for the garden.  I will say with my favorite poet, Robert Frost:

"I have been treading on leaves all day until I am autumn-tired.
God knows all the color and form of leaves I have trodden on and mired.
Perhaps I have put forth too much strength and been too fierce from fear.
I have safely trodden underfoot the leaves of another year."

JP managed to install our new induction cook top.  Hooray!  We were so spoiled by our last cooktop's quick heating and cooling, that I found it almost insuffferable to use the gas for only a week!

JP and I stacked some wood for the outdoor wood burner, just in case we need to fire it up in the near future.  So far, we have enjoyed a warm blaze in the woodstove in our great room morning and evening to take the chill off.  The sunshine has warmed things enough during the day to let it expire.  One of these weekends will have to be full on cutting, splitting and stacking, so that we do NOT have to do it every weekend this winter like we did last year!

We did some baking this weekend too:  spiced pumpkin seeds, and French bread.  Both were delicious!

The Chick-bit house is coming along.  I finished the outside door, but still have the inside door to finish. 

We had a brief intermission this week while we tried to come to a consensus on the water storage unit.  We ended up getting back a rain barrel that we gave away some 5 or 6 years ago, and that got passed around a bit.  The price was right, and it fits the bill!  The plan is to have a contained water system for the chickens, something like this:

Photo by Stephanie Dayle

We had a sob-fest on Saturday night when we watched "The Fault in Our Stars."  It was very good, but as always, the book was better!  We rounded off the weekend with a nice dinner at my parents' house under the bright sunshine from their sky lights! goes another week.  The first order of business is sitting by the fire and deleting music from my phone until I find memory enough to install the iOS upgrade!