Friday, December 21, 2007

While the Gettin's Good

We have a former plumber visiting. Like all smart old home owners, we jumped all over that and put him to work immediately. A new faucet in the downstairs bath. Repairing the shower faucet in the upstairs bath. New drain lines for the AC in the basement. Installed drainage rock around the sump pump. Drained and removed the old water heater from the basement. And he even helped install a really big, really heavy mirror above the upstairs vanity.

We also have a quilter visiting. Like any smart quilter, I jumped all over that with a whirlwind quilt shop hop and lunch at the Olive Garden. We enjoyed ourselves so much we're going back out again today armed with coupons. And we may need to go again next week. You know, to use the rest of the coupons.

Ya gotta get while the gettin's good!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Attention Family Members

If you happen to be one of the incredibly lucky people on this planet to be related to me, may I have your attention please?
At the beginning of this holiday season I merrily decked the halls, paying great attention to detail. Each ornament was carefully chosen and placed in an eye pleasing arrangement on not one, but two trees. The Christmas village was assembled in such a fashion as to make you almost feel like you were looking at a tiny winter wonderland. Each package was wrapped with the utmost care, their shinny ribbons twinkling under the lights of the tree.

Obviously, I forgot about the cat.

So, if you are indeed one of those incredibly lucky people, I would like to set your expectations accordingly before you arrive…

No, I didn't forget to decorate the bottom two feet of each tree. The cat has amassed a stash of ornaments somewhere. I'm sure I'll find them in July.

No, there wasn't an earthquake registering 5.0 on the Richter scale near the village. One fell swoop of the cat's tail is all it takes to obliterate the entire town.

No, I didn't forget to put lights on the tree in the front hall. They mysteriously stopped working. I'm sure the cat climbing on them had nothing to do with it.

And finally no, I didn't intend to give you a tooth marked package with nothing but a shred of ribbon left and fuzzy hair stuck all over it. Just consider it her way of adding her name to the gift card.

So, now that we have all of that straight.

Looking forward to seeing you all!!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Let There be Cake - Season Finale

After a few hours of shock therapy I was able to explain my dilemma to my hardworking hubby who had been MIA all week hosting his technology summit. I don't think he believed me at first, really how hard can having a range installed be? Finally, we agreed that upon arrival of the range he'll take a look at it and see what he could do. He IS a certified computer engineer and the instructions didn't specify what kind of certification was required.

So I have to digress here just for a minute and shout out a big kudos to H.H. Gregg. Not only did they deliver what they promised, they were even early. And both the sales staff and delivery persons were extremely helpful and courteous. Evidently they've done some staff training since I'd last used their services.

I conveniently needed to be 100 miles away while DH tinkered with the new range. You know, just in case it's the house that's cursed. No need for both of us to join Mr. Kurtz. Upon my return home he had it hooked up. Never mind that it was shooting five inch flames from the bottom of the oven.

My brother showed up about that same time and we all agreed to go to our local steakhouse to have our last meal, er I mean a meal, before any further tinkering would be done. Two hours later my DH and my brother were trying to convince me that the shooting flames were normal. Just think how fast I could cook a pot roast?!

I handed them the installation manual and they spent the next hour making adjustments.

So FINALLY, after two weeks, three days and two and one half hours, and six migraines...LET THERE BE CAKE!

And to top off that cake, the guests are stuck in a snowstorm in Canada!

Anyone want to start a pool on how long it will take for the LP company to finally "get around to calling"?

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Let There Be Cake - part two

(Or perhaps it should be titled, You Know You Live in BFE When...)

So all I needed was to get the range converted to LP and hook it up. Seems simple enough, eh? Of course appliance retailers don't provide this service. It seems not just any Joe Blow or handyman can do this conversion. Seems that it is supposed to be someone "certified" according to the installation instructions. Cause it's so highly complicated and all. The retailers don't want to have to pay their delivery people enough to be "certified". Nor do they want the liability issue. You know, in case the darn thing blows up.

So I called around, and around, and around and no one was willing and able to do this. Not a single soul. They all told me that my LP provider would have to be the one to provide such service.

(here is where the creepy background music starts)

So thinking the end of all this mess was near, I gladly called my locally owned and operated L.P. Gas company. A lovely lady answered, we'll call her Mildred. I explained my situation and asked if I could schedule an appointment to get my range hooked up. Mildred responded, "Oh, I don't know, we don't make appointments."

Um, OK, so how do I do this?

"We can take your number and add you to the list. We try to do what we can for people, but we've got people who've been waiting a long time. Our guy only works in the mornings, he's the Minister at blah, blah Church. I'm not sure when he'd ever get around to it."

Um, OK, any clue at all how long it might take? I have guests coming the first of the week.

"Oh, he couldn't do it by then, we've got lots of people who've been waiting a long time. We'd like more notice than that."

Um, but the old range just stopped working so I had to replace it. I hadn't planned this in advance.

"Well, like I said we've got lots and lots of people...blah, blah. I don't think it would be before 3 or 4 weeks. We like to have more notice..."

(blink, blink) WHAT?? Three or four WEEKS?

"Yeah, we've got lots of people..., we try to do what we can.. I can take your name and number. Then when he can get around to it, he'll call you. Of course you'd need to have the new range ready."

I was so stunned I just gave her my name and number and hung up the phone.

(to be continued...)

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Let There be Cake - part one

So after teetering on the edge for a while I finally pulled myself out of the corner, wiped the drool from my chin, and headed to the big city. We found ourselves at the doorstep of H.H. Gregg. A place I had sworn many moons ago never to revisit. But I was a very desperate housewife.

Hold on to your girdles here... I don't like stainless steel. (the audience gasps) I'm evidently the only person in North America who has no desire whatsoever to install stainless steel appliances. I don't want to spend the rest of my days wandering around here with a bottle of Windex wiping every tiny fingerprint. Nor do I want my kitchen to look like a fancy restaurant kitchen, it's my home, if I want a fancy meal I go out. I also have no desire to own appliances that will soon become the avocado green of the new millennium. It might be all the rage now, but sooner or later people are going to realize they're a pain in the keester.

So all I wanted was a basic white self cleaning oven. I kicked the tires on several different models, deciding on three, none of which apparently are made in white anymore. So then I kicked a few more. Then I found one that came in white, but it had gray grates. With my cooking and housekeeping skills those things would have been stained and ugly in, oh, about two days. Come to find out, all the white ones have gray grates. So I finally gave up on the hope of ever having matching appliances and ended up with the same model in black. Black with black grates that will hide my spills and cooked on food. (Cause I have parades of people through here every day ya know.)

It will, at least, match the dishwasher. But most importantly, they could deliver it the next day. Now all I had to do was get it converted to propane and hooked up...

(to be continued)

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Teetering on the Edge

I've beaten my head against a wall so much with this range issue that I'm seeing stars.

Stars are pretty.

I like stars.

Stars make me think of the heavens.

Which reminds me to count my blessings.

I love cereal.

I like soup.

Most fresh veggies don't need to be cooked.

I have a microwave.

I could survive.

What the Hell the rest of these people are going to eat I have no idea.

But that's not my problem.

They're all old enough to fend for themselves.

I'm as obsolete as my range.

And that's fine by me.

The fact that the oven doesn't work prevents me from sticking my head in it.

It's all good.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

To make a long story short

I'll never do business with Sears again.

No one on the planet will help me get a range installed. (I called them all.)

If our house guests (whom I assume are coming sometime next week but I'm not sure since my DH doesn't feel the need to show me the courtesy of notifying me of their arrival) don't like it they'll have to go stay somewhere else.

I'm done.

Monday, December 10, 2007

How Homeschool Moms Have Fun

Mom: "Time for dinner!"

Kid: "What's that?"

Mom: "Salad"

Kid: "No, what's that?" (points at strange new food)

Mom: "Avocado, it's native to Mexico."

Kid: "The water is bad in Mexico." (silently decides the food must be bad too)

Kid: "And what are those?"

Mom: "Peppers and grape tomatoes"

Silence as the kid stares at the salad.

Mom: "If you eat all your salad you can have whatever else you want for dinner."

More silence. Finally the kid reluctantly eats, leaving the avocado.

Mom: "See, it's not that bad."

Kid: "I only ate the lettuce."

Mom: "Uh, yeah, that was spinach."

Kid: (mouth drops on the table) "You did that on purpose!"

Mom: (while doing the happy dance) "Mwah, ha, ha, ha! Now who's the smart one?"

Sunday, December 9, 2007

No-Bake Cookies Anyone?

I found the perfect excuse for no holiday baking. No oven. Yep, Sears isn't delivering my new oven as planned. This doesn't even remotely surprise me. I don't believe we've ever been able to make any major purchase without some sort of glitch. And this time it really seems to be a glitch. "The computer" didn't forward the order to the delivery department. So it's soup again tonight. If I didn't know better I'd think Oprah, her trainer and diet author Bob Greene and that perky Denise were behind all this. I certainly can't whip up that batch of forbidden brownies now can I?

In other news, it seems we may be creating some monsters with this whole blacksmithing stuff. Yes, monsters, plural. Yesterday was another session. Followed up with a few hours of surfing to locate a forge as it appears waiting another month to pound hot metal isn't an option. So now I get to choose if I want to allow my baby to have a "real bow and arrow with dull arrows" off his wish list or a gas forge. Being the over protective worry wart that I am, I'm thinking one could put an eye out and the other could theoretically blow up. I'd much prefer to go back to harmless matchbox cars and soft Kermit dolls.

I wonder if I could bake with a forge?

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Holiday Hubub

Busy getting ready for the holidays. The in-laws are coming to visit in about a week. Trying to get everything done before they get here. Planning to get the house clean. Planning meals. Planning what to take to one Christmas party. Planning what to wear to another. Planning what else to buy. Planning what else to wrap. At what point are we all going to wake up and realize all this crap is a lot of work and give it up?

Denise Austin is trying to kill me. Well, that's not right. Her workouts are trying to kill me. Previously unknown parts of my body are now throbbing in pain. If you don't see a blog post from me it's because I can no longer lift my arms. Or I've tangled myself up with curling ribbon under the tree. Either way, sending chocolate might be a good idea. Just make sure it's dark chocolate and only two ounces, as that's all that's on my approved list. (insert rolling eyes here)

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Cookin' with Gas

After the service technician finished his inspection and returned from his truck, estimate in hand, his first question was "How much do you love your oven?"

Sears will be delivering a brand spankin' new one on Sunday. I debated over the 5 burner model but decided I really didn't need it, I don't even like to cook with 4.

Fa La Freekin' La

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

I'll have you know...

Despite the cat's efforts to derail me; I did 10 minutes of cardio, 10 minutes of pilates, 10 minutes of yoga and survived! Three months ago, before I quit smoking, the cardio would have killed me. Today it was easy. Why on earth the cat was attacking my feet while I was working out I have no idea. I can only assume she thought I was having a seizure and was trying to warn me. I hear they do that sort of thing. She certainly isn't used to me flailing around the living room like that.

I also managed to hit my calorie target. And it's even shopping day! Normally, this would be the day that I would binge eat on whatever struck my fancy at the store. But today I bought some of those wee little ziplock bags and started portioning out my snacks. I'm hoping frequent small meals and the exercise will revive my gasping and fading metabolism. If not I may have to give up my beloved Cheetos. Yeah right, that'll be a dark day in...

Monday, December 3, 2007

Off Like a Hurd of Turtles

Since the fear of public humiliation worked so well for the quitting smoking thing I figured I'd share with you the next phase of Extreme Makeover: Healthy Lifestyle Edition. Yep, it's time to break out the diet and exercise.

I'm not one of those people who freaks out over every pound. I haven't even stepped on a scale in years other than at the doctors office. So a few weeks ago when my pants no longer fit, I just went out and bought new pants. I figure at my age, I deserve to buy bigger pants. But a new belt too? Houston, we have a problem.

So today I woke early, trotted downstairs, flicked on the TV and watched Denise Austin workout. After twenty minutes I decided it might not kill me, so I joined her for the cool down portion.

I feel better already.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

In a Funk

Mom always said, "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all."

Monday, November 26, 2007

I Wanted Festive Blog Photos

While decking the halls and making spirits bright, my plan for today was to take an updated porch photo to add to the header up there at the top of the page. I thought it would add a nice festive touch to the old blog. Yeah, it ain't happenin'. Pouring rain. So in the meantime just envision simple evergreen wreathes on each door, swags of mixed greens on the windowsills and a couple of antique sleds leaning in the corner where Fred the furn used to be. Voila, it's now updated in your mind!

What happened to Fred? Fred's dead. I kinda forgot about Fred, and well those east coast fellas don't last long here in the winter. Not that his life expectancy would have been any longer inside, I can kill a houseplant faster than green grass through a goose.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Snug as Bugs in a Rug

Now that we have the doors and all the cracks and crevices in the basement hermetically sealed, it's remarkably warmer in here. Downstairs anyway. Upstairs you still get that, "Oh my God these sheets are cold" feeling. We need more insulation in the attic. But until then I'll just keep my eyes peeled for some flannel sheets. Of course I can't just run to Wally World and pick some up. No, we've got those darn ultra thick mattresses that require ultra-mega-super deep sheets. So I have to search high and low for flannel sheets that don't require me to sell one of my kidney's to afford them. Nothing is ever easy around here.

Now that the insulation is up in the garage, I'm told it's nice and toasty out there too. I wouldn't know. I froze my butt off trying to clean up the front porch and hang the holiday decorations and have thus declared all outdoor activities postponed until spring. Or until my butt thaws anyway.

Monday, November 19, 2007

The War of the Whistle

The General's first plan of attack consisted of this.

(blink, blink) Go ahead, I laughed too.

When that didn't flush out the bad guy, he sent in some bigger guns. It ain't pretty, but it has stopped the gushing winds coming in under the door, thus keeping our toes warmer. Still whistling though.

So The General, following his trusty advisor's strategic plan, developed this major line of defense. Fancy new Plexiglas inserts for the screen doors. The theory being that it would deflect some of the gale force winds out here on the prairie. They work surprisingly well. But of course there's still some air getting in around the outer edges of the screen doors. So he's starting to win the battles, but not time to call home the troops yet.

The Plexiglas, in combination with the aid of the highly skilled canine unit, did however provide him with the necessary intelligence to pinpoint the location of the bad guy. Right there it is. That nice trim detail that holds the 100 year old wavy glass in the door.

By all rights, it needs to be carefully removed and re glazed. But it's going to drop 30 degrees today. So until spring, we have no choice but to keep it captured in the Frost King's tomb.

And if THAT doesn't win the war...


Sunday, November 18, 2007

Look What We Found

Friday we looked around for some blacksmithing supplies. Not only did Grandpa have an anvil, he also had a vice, hammers, clamps, all we need is a forge.

Keep in mind, it's the packrats that will rule the earth once it all hits the fan and everyone is running amok. Remember Mad Max? I come from a long line of packrats. You should be nice to us, we will be the power brokers when that day comes.

Then, while cleaning the stinkin' bugs out of the basement we found this hidden above a door. Someone was boozin' it up down there many, many moons ago.

But I think the most interesting find of the weekend was... a fungus bigger than your head. Cool, eh?

I believe it's called an elephant ear. But, I doubt it's as tasty as the one's you get at the fair.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Kids These Days

Jarrod and his crew from Hi-N-Dri Guttering are here today. They're out there braving the cold, the bugs, dangling off precariously placed ladders 20 feet in the air. Obviously they're younger than we are. With age comes wisdom. We've reached the point in our lives where we know how much it's going to hurt when we hit the ground. So certain home improvement projects are going to be left to the professionals, the young, or the insane; whomever we can convince to get up there.

They quickly started removing the miniature roof moats we had previously. If you click on the above picture you can see the water draining from the gutter. It hasn't rained here for about a week. So they weren't really gutters. They were moats.

Very full moats.

Check out the size of this ladder. Nothing in this universe would ever convince me to climb up on that thing. Not even chocolate.

I feel the need to point out that they are here, working their tails off on the day they said they would. Such a rarity with contractors now days. And the best part, they're crazy, er I mean young, enough to come back and clean them out for us next year.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Bug Sucking

I'm writing a letter to the USDA. I want to know the name of the moron who brought these blankety-blank Asian beetles here. You know they know who did it. I want his name so I can give him back the 6,000,000,000,000,000 little buggers I've sucked up into my vacuum cleaner the past three days. Or shoot him. One or the other.

Oh sure, some of you are sitting there thinking "there she goes exaggerating again". Um, no, not this time people. Even the gutter guy was freaked out when he stopped here the other day. It's a lot like a horror flick really. They're attracted to light colors. This big old white house is just a giant bug magnet at this point. A big old orange polka dot magnet.

They're everywhere, all day. They try to jump in my coffee, they crawl over my freshly folded laundry, they drown themselves in the dog water bowl, they're dive bombing me from the lamp as I type.

On the bright side, these blankety blank bugs do somehow cause that annoying whistling noise the door is making seem like a pleasant serenade.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Half Way There

According to Chantix's nifty little online support program, I'm half way there. Half of the 90 day program is over. So after 45 days of wanting to bash my head into a brick wall, I should now consider myself an ex-smoker.

Okay, I'll go with that, but there are still days that are worse than others. Today for instance. I've noticed when I'm not feeling so well, the cravings last longer and are more frequent. Other days it's not so bad. So I think the key now is to figure out how to survive these bad days.

I'm making muffins. Then I might just skip the cookies I'd planned and pour the bag of chocolate chips right in my mouth.

Hey, they said I should celebrate. I'm just workin' the plan.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Mentee

"It is not what we give but what we share, For the gift without the giver is bare."

Blacksmiths are some of the nicest people you'll ever meet. So willing to share their knowledge and skill. So willing to encourage and support a young boy who shows interest in the craft. Of course I suppose today was a bit of a novelty for them, too. I doubt they normally have droves of middle school age boys knocking at their door wanting to join their club. So the kid caused a little bit of a stir at the blacksmith association meeting today. They were even taking pictures to add to their website.

After four hours of playing with fire and beating a piece of hot metal with a hammer, here he is with his tired and cheesy grin and his first hook.

We're guessing he'll have to eat his breakfast in the morning with his other arm. He's going to be sore. But he thoroughly enjoyed himself and is disappointed he has to wait an entire month for the next meeting. There was a gentleman there who lives much closer to us who volunteered to help mentor as well once he gets his own forge finished. That will be nice.

Now we're looking around at getting him the necessary basics to set up shop in the barn. It's starting to look like we may have to mortgage the house in order to support his new hobby. Have you priced an anvil lately? Good grief! So we're hoping we'll be able to shop Grandpa's tool shed and pick up a few things there at a much more reasonable price!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Service Technician Saves Christmas and Possibly Lives

The wonderful aroma emitted from the heating vents when I kicked the furnace on for the first time this season reminded me it was time to have it serviced. Today was the day, he promptly showed up at 8:15 this morning. I pointed him in the direction of the basement and went about my business.

Soon after he returns and asks if I have a garbage bag. He announces that our chimney is clogged and not allowing the furnace to vent properly, he's already removed a five gallon bucket of debris. I'm obviously alarmed and concerned, but he seems to just shrug it off and claims it's common with old chimneys. Then he goes back about his business.

Twenty minutes later, he's back. He needs another garbage bag. This time I decide to go back down with him to inspect what's going on down there. He shows me where he's getting all the debris from. There's no trap at the bottom of the chimney, like most have. He was actually digging the debris from the point where the duct meets the chimney. I was looking straight at it. That means there is five foot of dead birds, nests, droppings and other chimney crud in the bottom of that chimney!!! After recoiling from the horror of it all, he calmed me down by saying that as long as there's enough room for the duct to vent we're ok. I don't necessary agree with that statement, but he is the expert I suppose.

In fact he's the guy who installed this furnace to begin with. He mentioned that he doesn't recall the previous owners ever having him come back to service it. Nice. He proceeded to pull out about two foot of the crud and then apologized for having to charge me an extra $40 to do so. I was thinking $40 was a bargain since I wasn't about to reach my hand in there.

Before he left, he of course recommended that we have it serviced every year. I asked him what day he'd like to come back. He laughed and said to call him next spring. I wasn't trying to be funny.

And that, boys and girls, is how the technician saved Christmas. Now Santa wont get stuck in our chimney. And hopefully we now won't die of asphyxiation during the night.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Strategic Home Improvements

While it may seem as if we're running around here like chickens with our heads cut off, there really is a plan. It's just that some things are easier if you do other things first. And some things require that they be done in a certain order. So there's a lot of strategic planning involved in an old home renovation. Then of course you have to throw in the gotta-do-it-now damage control projects.

This spring we had the roof replaced. We also needed to replace all the guttering, given that it all flows in the opposite direction than what it should. And for those of you not intimately attune to the functional properties of guttering, that's bad. So we made all the phone calls. Collected all the quotes. Decided on a contractor. Who of course, never bothered to come back. And now isn't accepting our calls.

Fast forward a few months and we are making the phone calls, collecting the quotes...
because the gutter replacement now fits into the strategic plan. If we wait one more week after all the leaves have fallen, we won't have to clean them out!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

When the Wind Blows

Okay, remember those screen doors that my wonderful DH spent hours and hours refurbishing and replacing? Yeah, they are now whistling Dixie. I can't even describe how annoying it is. Not the horrible moaning sound like the doors in the old farmhouse I grew up in. No. This is a high pitch whistle. A very annoying whistle. If it were doing more of a cat call whistle I might not mind it so much. At least it might make me feel good about myself. No. This is a whistle like someone trying to learn to whistle. Did I mention how bloody annoying it is?

Tis also the season for things to blow into the yard. Things like corn husks and such. Which means it is also the season for the dog to go nuts. Lucy, unlike my DH, actually has OCD. Anything out of place in the yard or house gets barked at until relocated to it's proper position. I thought it was cute at first. Five years later it's about as cute as that whistling.

On the home improvement front, I don't have much to report. I did, however, get some sewing done lately. Like finishing this quilt.

I have an online friend who names her quilts like meteorologists name hurricanes. I've decided to name this one Katrina. Why? Well, it was a disaster waiting to happen. I was way in over my head. But in the end, it was a valuable learning experience.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween

I just don't get it. You'd think kids would WANT to come out to the middle of nowhere to knock on the door of a spooky old house. But alas, not hide nor hair of a tricker treater to be found. The only thing knocking on our door are those dang orange beetles. I guess I'll have to eat all those Reese's myself.

Mwah, ha, ha, ha

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

I Stand Corrected

Okay, so he wasn't just out there shuffling things around. It was much more complicated than that. He completely reorganized the layout of the workshop. And he also started on the insulating. I didn't realize all that because I was busy cleaning, doing laundry and hanging curtains.

Aren't they purdy? I just love ball fringe curtains. Yes, I know they're not the latest fashion craze. My mom had them in her dining room when I was a wee little girl. I can remember them like it was yesterday. His mom had them too. They're uh, classic. And really, what's not to love? Frankly, the fringe amuses me. Their flickability is irresistible. And since it's my room, I'll put whatever I darn well please in there. I'll have you know both of the men in the family couldn't even resist reaching out and touching the soft, fuzzy trim when first seeing them.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Zip, Zilch, Nada

I have no home improvement projects to report. It's football season you know.

My husband did spend some time out in the garage shuffling things around again so I can't find anything. He claimed he needed to do it so he could park the car in there now that the frost is flying. But he does this at least every three months. The only explanation I've ever come up with is that he wants me to keep him around so I can ask him where stuff is. Or maybe he has OCD. Come to think of it, OCD would explain a few other things...

We have spent some time recharging our batteries though. Both figuratively and literally, the camera was due for a good charge. Friday I took off for part of the day, leaving M in charge of the homeschooling to attend a quilt show. I enjoyed myself and they built swords. A even learned the proper use of some power tools. Sunday resulted in more sword building. An improved design I suppose. I don't know, I had locked myself in my sewing room for the weekend and wasn't paying much attention.

Now our little mini vacation is over and I'm paying the price. My to do list for the week is ridiculous.

Update: I'm still not smoking, but I just ate an entire bag of Cheetos. *sigh*

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Gawd, I Love It Here!

I have friends who live in the 'burbs that think we're insane for living all the way out here. But what they just don't get is that, in fact, we're truly blessed. Sure it takes a while to get to town but the drive to and from, especially this time of year, is drop dead gorgeous. So even on a dreary, overcast day like today when you're just out running errands you can't help but bask in Mother Nature's beauty.

So as soon as I got the groceries put away I couldn't resist a walk about the yard.

If you look closely at the above photo (you can click it to enlarge) you'll see the entrance to a small wandering path that follows the ravine around the back of our property. It's a little slice of heaven back there. If I could make this shot scratch-n-sniff I would. The sweet smell in the air here is intoxicating and you really need to experience it to appreciate it.

And even as I sit here at my desk typing this, I have 270 degree views like this...

yep, the drive is worth it.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Building a Sewing Table - Part II

So once M finished building the drawers, we moved the pieces inside where I started the finishing process. I thought maybe I would do another milk paint technique, but after the first coat of stain, changed my mind and decided to try something new. I actually liked the mottled look and thought I could make it work to my advantage.

Overall the finishing steps are as follows:
1. One coat of stain, allowed to soak almost completely in before wiping. Allow to dry 24 hours.
2. Distress with a hammer those areas that would receive normal wear and tear.
3. One coat of Mocha latex glaze applied thinly with a brush, leaving extra in the grooves. Allow to dry at least 48 hours to a week.
4. Sand lightly with 180 or 220 grit sandpaper.
5. One coat of Amber Shellac.
6. Sand lightly again.
7. One coat of Asphalt antiquing gel applied with a damp cloth in a circular motion.
8. One more coat of Amber Shellac.

So I started finishing the drawers while he continued to build the top.

Then the next step was to put it all together. First, add the faux drawer in the center between the base cabinets. This will support the top and hide the machine. Another support piece is added to the back. Then the top is secured on with screws, which will allow the piece to come apart again if we ever need to move it out of the room. The table top is 32 x 60" with a drop leaf extension that is 18 x 60". It's big. And we have some pretty narrow doors in this old house.

After that, he crawled under and added some slide out things (the technical name eludes me) to support the drop leaf and the shelf to hold up the sewing machine. Then it was time to test everything out to make sure it all fit and functioned. We only needed one minor adjustment, not bad for a couple of amateurs.

So I spent this weekend putting the final coats of finish on it. And I'm thrilled with it. It seemed like the finishing process was going to take forever, but it was worth it. I like the fact that it blends in well with the antiques in the room.

And I love the drop leaf in the back as well as the breadboards. That will really come in handy when doing machine quilting. It's on wheels, so I can just roll it out from the wall to get access to the drop leaf.

Since taking this picture I've already filled up all the drawers. It will be nice to have all my notions so handy.

But what I love the most, is that it fits me! I tried using commercial tables and they were all way too tall. I'm short, only 5' 1", so having a sewing table just my size is awesome! I love it, even though everyone made fun of it and wanted to know if we were building a child's desk.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Another Busy Day

Today we relocated the three tables. Assembled the sewing table. Applied a coat of glaze to it. Baked a batch of Grandma's Oatmeal-Raisin Cookies, a banana bread, 2 loaves of Italian bread and cooked a wonderful pasta dinner. Now I'm going to go work on a quilt.

Do I need to mention I'm still not smoking?

What's Your Thing?

That thing that you enjoy doing. That thing that once you are engrossed in it, time passes without you realizing it. That thing you'd rather be doing when you are at work.

Everyone has a thing, some just take a long time figuring out what their thing is. This summer, I think my son has finally discovered his thing.

This week we visited Billie Creek Village, a turn-of-the-century living museum. While I was most interested in the old fashioned quilt show, and M was interested in the tools and farmstead, A was entranced once again by the blacksmith. And in fact, has decided to become a blacksmith's apprentice. Each second Saturday of the month, we'll be making a trek to meet with the Indiana Blacksmiths Guild where the kind blacksmith at the village has agreed to teach A everything he needs to know.

We realized later, after our tour was over, that we're really, really close to being able to open our own living museum. In our family we already have a farmer, a potter, a woodworker, a quilter and now we'll have a blacksmith. We just need him to hook up with a girl who makes candles and we'll be good to go.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Tidbits of Time

Little things. That's what it's all about some times. I've been filling my days lately with little things.

Saturday I started staining the sewing table with our secret stain recipe. Then finished basting a small quilt top.

Yesterday I baked brownies and a batch of cookies. Then I worked on some hand quilting.

Today I added a chocolate glaze to the sewing table. Figured it would work well with the caramel walls. I also put a coat of amber shellac on all the drawers.

I've since been searching the internet to find out if excess saliva is a side effect of Chantix. It's not. So I have no clue what my problem is other than I've been in a room painted caramel applying a chocolate glaze.

It's been 8 days since I quit smoking. I'm happy to report all family members are still alive and well. In fact, I've moved past the severe cravings to just occasional urges with nary a temper tantrum. I think I might actually pull this off.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Decisions and Confessions

Decisions have been made. Mistakes have been admitted. The wall stays but the ceiling paint has to go.

It's taken me over six months to finally admit my mistake. The color I chose for the kitchen ceiling is wrong. Really, really wrong. For some reason I thought an off white would be nice and not so glaring as white. And it probably would have been, but what I ended up with is definitely more beige than off white. And now that I've been admiring the new location of the fridge, I can't deny that white would look much, much better. Not to mention reflect more light. Normally a mistake like this wouldn't be a big deal. I'd just go buy the paint and fix it myself. Unfortunately, I can't reach the darn ceiling. You're thinking to yourself "Duh, girl, get a ladder." Well, I tried that. And no, I still can't reach it. I'm a dwarf okay, gimme a break. So I have no choice but to bat my eyes like a frog in a hail storm and beg my wonderful husband to do it for me. Again.

Also, while I was admiring the new fridge location and pondering the new upper cabinets, etc. it occurred to me that I could now have a bigger table in the room. And it just so happens I have such a table upstairs. But then that would leave me with no sewing room table. What to do? Shop Mom's basement! It just so happens she's been trying to pawn another table off on me for months. I could use it in my sewing room. (so I'll take the table Mom) I know he'll be more than thrilled to take the table apart, move it, and reassemble it AGAIN. He just loves to do that.

So after living with the new kitchen arrangement for a day, then testing entertaining in the dining room with M's sister and family, I've decided that the wall and the swinging door are going to stay. But I really think we need to add another window to the left of the other simply to add more light to the room. Since it's in the center of the house it's pretty dark, especially with the swinging door closed. Fortunately we have some extra trim laying around and so should be able to make it look like it's always been there. And wouldn't that drop leaf table in the kitchen look good under those windows with an extra dining chair on either side?

I may to have to put my eyelids on a workout routine to manage all this begging. And maybe bake another cake.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Operation Elephant Relocation

First thing, wait until the wife has finished cleaning and mopping the entire house, before undertaking the operation. You might safely distract her with her own furniture finishing project or something like that. Once you are satisfied she's safely out of screaming distance, start ripping a hole in the wall.

Don't worry about the mess, she'll be so happy to get the elephant out of the middle of the room, she won't care. But don't forget to lock the dogs outside so they won't go skipping through the house. That she might not be so happy about.

Then, reinstall the door you removed from the other wall. Once properly adjusted, it should be safe to let the poor dogs back in.

Next, crawl around in the spiderweb infested crawlspace and install the new water line for the ice maker. Then just slide the elephant in place. Hook up the water line and test it. Run back and forth to the crawlspace, where the shutoff valve is, at least 3 or 4 times during the process.

(And for all of you naysayers out there who stopped by and said there was no way the fridge was going to fit in that hole, please note all that daylight shining through the top. Room to spare even!)

Nice and flush with the cabinets too.

No more elephant sticking out in the middle of the room.

Good grief, look there, it's a path to the door!

Then smile sheepishly as she hands you the broom.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Indications of Autumn

It seems we are a truck stop on the south bound super highway. Every day for the past few weeks we've been invaded by thousands and thousands of birds. Very reminiscent of Hitchcock's movie. And I'll tell ya, they make quite a racket with all that "Are we there yet?", "Mom, he's touching me." and "Fred, don't you think you should stop and ask for directions?"

It appears Mother Nature has hit menopause and can't decide where she wants the thermostat set. Monday it was in the 90's, Wednesday in the 50's tonight it is said will reach the 30's. I resisted the temptation to turn on the heat until this morning. I couldn't take that awful sound anymore. The sound of my teeth chattering.

Keeping the windows closed on the back porch has reminded me why I was going to clean that room. It reeks. So yesterday, while A was summarizing Macbeth in his own words, I tackled scrubbing the furniture, windows, doors and trim out there. Still need to do the walls and floors. It's starting to smell a little better. I then proceeded to explain to Bandit, aka Mr. Mud, how females, particularly the human ones, prefer for the men in their lives to smell good and the way to smell good is to stay clean. Almost the exact conversation I've recently had with my teenage son. Neither of them seems to have yet fully grasped the concept.

The cold weather also reminded me of other things we need to accomplish around here. Like changing the furnace filter. The wonderful odor emitting from the duct work this morning when I first kicked the furnace on was lovely. I believe it was a mixture of burning dust, cobwebs and I'm hoping a few spiders. (I've been spotting some humongous suckers around here lately.)

It also means it's time to break down and spend some cash. We need to replace the shoe molding on at least the exterior walls to help with drafts. And as much as I don't care much for heavy curtains, I'm also not fond of freezing my fanny off. We don't need curtains for privacy, but we really do for warmth based on the fact that I couldn't put enough clothes on to stay warm last year. Sure, we've got the new double pane windows, but if you're sitting right next to them they're still cold. So it was time to finally sit down and decide what to order. Of course it's not just that easy. When you have tall ceilings you also have tall windows. This seriously limits your selection. Luckily, I found some thermal drapes I think I can live with from JCPenny and they were even on sale. I also splurged and ordered a braided rug for the front hall, hoping it will add some much needed draft busting qualities to that space. I wanted to order one for the family room, but of course it's not available in that size in our area. It's good to know that the economy is doing so well, that these companies feel like they can pick and choose which paying customer to sell to. It's also good to know that the CEOs making these wise decisions are earning the big bucks. Grrrr.

Speaking of grrr... this not smoking thing is killin' me. The cravings the past two days have been nearly unbearable. I'm still plugging along though. Of course I say that as I'm cramming the last piece of cake down my throat straight out of the pan. Tonight, we diet!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Just Call Me Susie

Susie Homemaker that is. Today I cleaned, laundered, shopped, baked, cooked and sewed. If this sort of behavior continues it'll ruin my reputation.

Why the flutter of domestic activity? Well... I wasn't going to mention this to the world since it's rather embarrassing, but I quit smoking.

Why is that embarrassing? Because it proves how much of an idiot I am. Anyone with half a brain surely never started or quit years ago. It's not that I didn't want to quit. In fact I tried many, many times. Nope, I was truly addicted. Am addicted. I'd pretty much kill for a cigarette as we speak.

I had tried many methods of quitting before. The patch, that nasty gum stuff, cold turkey. But I always had a problem with the physical cravings and withdrawal. The feeling that someone is trying to pull all your teeth out. That your head is going to explode and there are butterflies flying around in there. The feeling like you just had 12 cups of espresso.

This time I'm using the new Chantix drug. I'm on day 13 of the program. You basically go through the physical withdrawal before you even quit smoking. Last week I felt terrible, headaches, nausea, dizziness, etc. This week it's better. Now I just need to continue to change my habits, and ignore the cravings. This morning I tried to allow myself to fall off the wagon. I tried smoking a cigarette. The drug is working. It was so nasty, I can guarantee you that was my last one.

So in celebration, because you are supposed to reward yourself, tonight we eat cake!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Color Theory, the Best Method for Chosing Paint?

He asked: "What color are you going to paint the room?"

She responds: "I'm thinking a creamy beige."

He replies: "Oh, but I thought last time you painted a room beige you hated it? And didn't you say you didn't care what all those real estate shows say about neutral colors, it's your house and you're going to paint it whatever color you want?"

She says: "Yeah, but didn't like it because it was facing another room that had a light value and the two didn't play well together. So I repainted with a dark shade."

Him: (perplexed doesn't say a word)

She continues: "And since this is the sewing room it really needs to be a neutral tone. Otherwise it could cast a strange color onto the fabrics and make matching difficult."

He says: "But wouldn't it cast the same color on all the fabrics?"

She gives him that look and proceeds: "And it needs to be a light tint to keep the room bright. So I think beige would be the color."

The conversation continues around task vs ambient light and the possibility of a new light fixture when they pass the local Dairy Queen. There was a huge sign outside that read, "Closing Tomorrow for the Season." Both their eyes and ears perked up and agreed that they better stop there on the way home. There would be no more opportunity for ice cream until next spring! Never mind that there is another one a few miles up the road that stays open year round. It was a grand excuse to stop for ice cream.

As they stood before the gallery of paint chips, comparing one to the other like everyone does, He asks: "Why are you choosing chips from the Craftsman Bungalow collection? Why aren't you choosing the American Farmhouse one's?"

Without even turning her head from the chips she explains, "I like the Farmhouse colors, but because the Bungalow collection are warmer shades, their earthy color would harmonize better with the wood tones in our house. All the colors for the house are from this collection and so they'll all harmonize well with each other."

He says: "Okay. That's good, I like those colors better."

So after all that scientific thought and discussion we ended up unanimously agreeing on a color called caramel. (Gee, no subconscious decisions being made there.)

I like it, I think it really does help warm up the space. It looks good with the wood trim. And it's yummy.

It even coordinates well with the cat!

Friday, October 5, 2007

Psst...Come 'ere and I'll tell ya a secret...

I may be a conservative homeschool mom by day, but every other Friday night after delivering my son to his Dad, when I'm all alone in the car (the only time I'm ever alone in the car) I turn into... a car headbanger. It's true, I tune to the local classic rock station, crank the sound up and rock out singing badly at the top of my lungs. I can do a mean air guitar and a wicked drum solo.

Tonight's favorite, George Thorogood

I walked forty-seven miles of barbed wire, I got a cobra snake for a necktie
A brand new house on the road side, and it's made out of rattlesnake hide
Got a band new chimney put on top, and it's made out of human skull
Come on take a little walk with me child, tell me who do you love?
Who do you love?
Who do you love?
It all started out back when I was a teen. My BFF, Karen and I would take off in true Thelma & Louise style (the early part of the movie, we never killed anybody) in my Dad's big old Oldsmobile. We used soda bottles, hairbrushes and whatever else we could find for microphones and guitars, with not a care in the world as to who saw us or what they thought of it.

Then I married and had kids and had to start acting like a responsible adult. I tried, but you know it's hard. So about the time my daughter was a preteen I occasionally would have these compulsions to crank the radio and do my best Angus Young impersonation. Particularly as we were driving through our small town where not only does everybody know your name, they know what you drive. Watching her hand cover her face and her body slink down into the seat as far as it would go without sliding out of the seatbelt was highly amusing. Now, when I do it to my son I just get a blank stare or rolling eyes that say "Is that really necessary?".

By and by my daughter got used to my little outbursts. In fact, there came a day when she threw in the towel and decided if she couldn't beat me, she'd join me. We'd make sure we really cranked it and rolled the windows down while we drove through town.

I've since lost touch with both of my car headbanging buddies. Miss those goofballs.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Building a Sewing Table - Part I

You have to love a man who can turn a chicken scratched drawing of something into reality. I had found a picture of a sewing table in Creating Your Perfect Quilting Space that was close but not exactly what I was wanting for my sewing room. So between the photo and my chicken scratches M has been able to start piecing together a workable piece of furniture.

The first step was to build the cabinet frames. Working with the tongue and groove beadboard has proved to be a little tricky, it tends to want to warp. A more climate controlled building environment would help, but the dream workshop is, well, still a dream. And considering I'm planning to distress the heck out of this anyway, it really doesn't matter. It just adds to the character.

Left side base cabinet:
The next step was to add the casters, the breadboard style pull out shelves and build the drawers.

Right side base cabinet:
Once all the drawers are finished it will be time to sand and distress them. Then I can start the finishing process while he continues to work on the top. Since it's going to be so large we'll have to finish and assemble it in place. Otherwise we wouldn't be able to fit it up our narrow stairs. I'm sooo glad we thought of that at this point!

To be continued...

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Farm Girl Goes Wild

The narrow, leaf littered gravel road wound slowly through the woods, glints of sunlight filtering through the branches, the smell of autumn in the air. As we approached the gate, there was an ominous low, rumbling growl. Every hair on the back of my neck raised and had I had a tail I would have tucked it between my legs...

Our homeschool group visited the Exotic Feline Rescue Center today. Now mind you, I was raised around animals. In fact, some might think the homestead resembled Noah's Ark. We had a horse, goats, pigs, turkeys, geese, ducks, exotic chickens, peacocks, a raccoon, a ferret, lots of cats and dogs, etc. But all of that ain't nothin' compared to what we saw today. The center has approximately 190 big cats from 9 different species set on 108 acres.

This is not even remotely like going to the zoo. This is the real deal. The staff asks you to stay at least 3 feet from the habitat fence, and you are more than happy to oblige once you get a look at one. If you've never been within three feet of a very hungry looking lion, you have no idea what I mean. At one point during the tour we entered an enclosed area and were soon surrounded by four huge habitats. I, being the geek that I am, instantly noted that there was only about four feet between them for us to stand. How on earth do we stay three feet from each cage? The math doesn't add up! So I did my best to pretend I was cool with it like everyone else and split the difference. Soon the cats settled down and I decided to brave my position and snap a few pictures. She seemed so nice and content...

Nice Kitty Before:
As I turned to take a few pics of her buddies, she leaped up, ran towards me and pounced on the side of the cage obviously in an effort to eat me, all in less than two seconds flat!

Not-so-nice Kitty After:
I know there was no way they were getting out of that cage, but just in case I decided from that point on I would remain in the center of our "herd". It's the stragglers and the young they go after. I've seen enough Wild Kingdom to know that! So after a while on our tour when I noticed a tiger literally stalking one of the young kids, I sacrificed myself and made him walk ahead of me. The staff explained how they feed the cats about 3000 lbs of meat each day. I figured the average kid weighed about 75 lbs. That's 40 kids. This one would just be an appetizer.

Not all of them were scary. In fact some of them were downright playful and cute. Like this guy. He's just a young teenager and you can see by his expression he really was just begging for someone to play with him. Unfortunately even playing with one of these cats can get you killed.

None the less, once the tour was over and we were back to the front entrance, I was more than delighted to see an animal a little more my speed.

But, I was afraid to even ask why part of it's ear was missing.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Best Laid Plans

Yesterday was the day I decided to clean up the back porch. I was going to scrub every inch of it. The light fixtures, walls, trim, windows. I was going to get down on my hands and knees and scrub the floor. It was going to sparkle. It was going to smell good. It was going to be so clean I could serve tea to the queen.

As I busily prepared the mountain of cleaning supplies needed for such a daunting task, I heard A hesitantly mutter from the back porch "Uh, Mom".

Upon closer inspection I found this:

Instantly, I was snapped back into reality like a twig in a hurricane.

Now the inside of my refrigerator sparkles.