Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Peaceful Approach

Something got me really riled up the other day. I was talking to my mother-in-law on the phone yesterday, and I mentioned it. There I was, ready to scream my lungs out, bang head on the wall, and throttle a person or two.

My MIL's response? Pray for them.

Say what?

But it makes sense.

And it got me thinking about the more peaceful approach to problem-solving, no matter what the problem is. If you're like me, certain things irk and irk you, until you feel like your blood is boiling. But instead of focusing on the annoyances, look at what is causing them. Generally, it's a sad or unfortunate thing that is causing the situation or causing the person's behavior.

Oftentimes, I think the use of prayer is way overdone. Not everyone wants to be prayed for, and not everyone is comfortable having that much religious influence in their lives. But stepping away from actual prayer, just using REFLECTION to look at the situation and it's provokers causes one to see the situation from a different perspective.

It's a very peaceful approach.

I thought about it last night when a friend of mine was going through some major problems with a landlady. I wasn't involved in the situation, which perhaps made me better realize why she was acting a certain way. Her motivators weren't to screw him over. Her motivators were the possible loss of money, poor financial planning, and desperation. Unfortunately, that lashed out in a nasty way against my friend. But, by seeing what caused the situation, hopefully my friend could realize that it wasn't about him. Reflecting on things, we both realized why she was acting the way she was, and that it wasn't personal. We could have gone on for hours, ranting and raving about her indecency. But being consistently mad is incredibly overrated.

Peaceful approach. Reflection. Hmm. There may be something to this.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Subway stop

Ok, it's not a true subway-style sign, but I decided to take one of the boards from one of our old shelves and make a subway sign. I'm only about 1/3 of the way done.

First, I had to measure the length of the board (36") and then take the phrases I wanted (26 lines of phrases) and space them out on the board. Since the subway style has phrases of all heights and widths, this was actually pretty complicated because everything had to fit, but it wasn't uniform size. And I wanted to leave 1/4" inch in between each row of text.

Then, there's a matter of writing the words in. I suppose I could have just printed out text and mod podged the letters on, but I actually like the idea of the entire thing being MY doing, not a computer's. So, I'm printing out the phrases, line by line.

I'm trying to do mostly straight-line fonts (not fancy cursive or roman-style fonts). But, that means I can still mess around with the width of certain letters and make each line look similar but different than the last.

My plan from here:
1) Finish the lines. I'm only on like line 7, so there's a lot more work to do.

2) PAINT! I want the letters to be dark, and I don't know yet what I want the background to be. The purple I like? Maybe. I haven't decided whether this is going in our home or in my office. The painting will be time-consuming, since there is a LOT of detail work around the letters.

3) Paint in the letters. I have been trying to figure out how to do this, since a paintbrush doesn't generally create the straightest lines. I THINK I'm going to try using a fine felt pen and a small ruler. That way, I can be precise and not have to worry about paint.

It's really a calming project. We watched a movie last night, and I just hunkered down with my board and a pen. Nice.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The night where I sing "Hockey Monkey" at the top of my lungs

Me: What are you putting on the computer?

B: Oh, just a series I think you might like.

(B loads up the computer but then leaves the room for a few minutes)

Me: "The Loop"?? We watched this series. I can't believe you forgot this.

B: (Nothing. Quiet in the other room)

(Meanwhile, after a minute or two, the theme song for the series comes on...)

Me (at the top of my lungs):
All the scientists are running around
looking for the monkey, but he can't be found,
'cause he's down by the pond
playing hockey with the kids.

And all the mothers are running around
looking for their children, but they can't be found,
'cause they're down by the pond
playing hockey with the monkey.

And it's 1, 2, 3.
The kids love the monkey.
And 4, 5, 6.The monkey's got a hockey stick.
And 7, 8, 9.Havin' a good time yeah.

B (after a few moments of shocked silence from the other room): But have you seen SEASON 2?

Me: Oh. No.

B: Then watch.

Me: But can I rewind it and sing "Hockey Monkey" again?

B: Yes.


Today I am grateful for many things.

My wonderful husband who cracks me up, loves me, cares for me, and (usually humorously) occasionally drives me nuts.

Our life. Sure, I often wish our house wasn't constructed the way it is, but we're pretty happy where we're at. It's a home.

Money. More specifically, how we handle money. Over the past few years, as our incomes have gone up, dipped, crashed, and then gone up again, I've come to realize what money we truly need to live on. What decisions we make on what we "need" versus what we "want." We cut corners on many things, but I think we've done so in a graceful way so as to not feel like we're penny-pinching college kids eating ramen in a freezing studio apartment. B and I save. We save so we don't have the haunting money issue following us around and causing us to be curt with each other. We save for security. We save for our future.

Don't get me wrong, we're not the perfect couple. We don't do most things in perfect ways. But at least for now, I can be grateful for the choices we've made and the paths we've taken. They say a good marriage is built on a good foundation. I see what they mean now. The decisions we're making today will impact us tomorrow... but moreso, the HABITS we initiate and follow today will make our tomorrow (hopefully) better.

So that's us. Far from perfect, but yet striving to make a better life with each other. And grateful along the way.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The bathroom is not that cold. Use it fast.

Spouse of mine: What?! You turned off the bathroom heater!!!!?

Me: Yes. We were gone for 4 hours. It's only 40 outside. It's not like the toilet is going to freeze over.

Spouse: But it's COLD!


Spouse: But it dries our towels and is all warm and such with it on.

Me: We were gone four hours. Use the bathroom quickly. Your behind will survive.

Spouse: But---

Me: Four house of heater use. Quick! GO!

Spouse stomps off to the bathroom, and turns the heater on (what I'm guessing is) full blast. And brings a magazine.


Friday, November 26, 2010

The post where I scream: New COUCH!!!!

Thanks to my rampant (ok, obsessive) coupon clipping, combined with Black Friday sales, we are the owners of a new microfiber couch!


It's so nice. We can both lie on it, AT THE SAME TIME. With the loveseat, we pretty much both had to sit. Numerous things got kicked off the coffee table as we tried to put feet up there. NOT pretty.

Now? COUCH!!

I already attacked the new couch with cat scratch guard. It's kind of double stick tape, but more transparent and will not leave gunk on your couch. We also acquired a new post for Rumpole (the scratcher culprit). Hopefully, it will prove useful. And B likes to put his glasses up there when it's not in cat use. Lovely.

I even got free delivery (thank you, Home Depot associate for acting like a complete tool and forcing me to go to your manager. I NEVER do that, but today, you ticked me off to such a degree that I complained. Free truck acquired to use for delivery)

I never before have gone shopping on Black Friday. It's always been prohibitively chaotic. Today though, I braved the couch store in the afternoon, reserved the couch, and picked it up later. AND, earlier in the day, B and I walked across the river to the local mall (yes, really, the mall is across the river, about a 10-15 minute walk) and got some amazing deals on clothes (yes, for ourselves. We can deal with that).

All in all? Fabulous day.


Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Quiet Thanksgiving

We're doing a quiet Thanksgiving today. Just the two of us. And yes, Christmas will probably be the same. Maybe that sounds anti-social, but I think it's quite nice after the crazy year we've had. Nice to not have to be anywhere, or dress up, or be asked to cook something specifically for 20 people.

I do miss the wonderful chaos, but there will be other years.

As for this year, we have a lot to be thankful for.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The post where I get a little sappy

The last couple of months have been amazing. It's not like my life was difficult or horrible before, but now it feels like things have fallen into place. The new job probably played a part, as that included being in the company of very good people.

But moreso, I think it's about B and me. We've sort of come into our own, I think. Of course, there are the moments when he drives me nuts (and vice versa, I'm sure!). I feel though, like we've overcome the hurdles of newlyweds and also beaten the dulldrum period that comes after the "oh my gosh, we're married!!" period wears down. Don't get me wrong, I still feel giddy to be married to this man. But, I feel like our relationship is on such good footing. We're not merely relying on the newlywed high; we've created something more.

And believe me, that something more has had other rocks thrown in the road as we've tried to sort things out. We've moved. We've changed jobs. We've had losses. We managed the entire time to not plunge into debt. To keep our heads above water. To slowly squirrel away our nickels and dimes, without somehow losing our heads.

There have been moments. Stupid things like finding 4-day old laundry in the washer or forgetting to let the dog out. Moments where coordination as a couple has failed. Messages missed, chores not done, one person neglecting to tell the other something.

But I've come to realize: That's normal. It's how you react to those things that indicates the strength of the relationship. And I've begun to learn that the better you react, the less often those things occur.

It's made me evaluate myself as a person. How I treat others. What annoys me-- and do I do the same thing to other people? What type of a mother I want to be someday... and how I want to treat my friends and family after that happens.

Suddenly, my goals are pretty simplistic: Be a good person, I suppose, is the best way to sum up my aspiration right now. Sure, I can divide that category into a billion subcategories, ranging from being prompt at work to making sure the cat fur is swept up at home.

At this moment though, life is good.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

He was wearing cute flannel pajamas, so it's all ok.

Eat Pray Love:
Having a baby is like getting a face tattoo. You kind of have to be really committed.

B: You know, I know as many people with babies as I know people with face tattoos.


Me: You look cute in those pajamas.

Corgi in the SNOW!!!

Well, it's not a TON of snow, but it'll do!! SNOW!
Videos are here:

Checking out snow for the first time: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2RFxCemoZmQ

Running fast fast fast and herding the garden boxes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=biEYHcAJMUQ

Jumping from one box to another: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yyS4gQoLctA

The chicken coop's tarp was covered, but inside: Dry. Success!
More garden boxes full of snow.
Pup, surveying it all, not sure what to make of it upon her first look.
So what to do? RUN AS FAST AS YOU CAN.
This snow stuff is actually pretty cool, mom.

And, she was given permission to go IN the garden boxes. This of course also meant hilariously jumping from one box to another.
Still moment, chest fur covered in snow.
Behind shot-- check out the snow on those feet!!!
Exhausted, but totally happy.
She loved it, and I cannot wait for her to see deeper snow.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Snow oh snow, hope I hope

Upon reading this, my blog friend Ashley is probably laughing her pregnant self to pieces. Whatever, Schram Minnesotan.

Forecast is still calling for snow here, with a bit of a break from rain beforehand, so it MIGHT STICK. Though we typically get a few snows here, we a) got NO SNOW last year, and b) it doesn't usually snow before Thanksgiving. Fall was kinda mild, so this is a shell shocker of "wow, it's almost winter!"

Snow's only supposed to last until mid-day tomorrow, but the temp is not supposed to get above freezing, so the snow may stay.

Anyway, this is advanced warning that if there is snow, there will be photos and video of the pup getting to see snow for the first time. Oh, I giggle.

I grew up in warm locales where I never saw snow at home. So here's hoping for a decent dumping this winter to make me sick of it (like Christmas '08)!

The rooster who was outed.

That big ol' rooster I was telling you about? You know, the one whom I thought was a rooster and then I got a dark-colored egg from? And the so-called hen crowed on Friday?

It was all about timing. Ready to sell the non-crowing rooster, suddenly I found an egg in the coop that I THOUGHT could only match the rooster's breed of chicken. None of my other birds matched a breed that could product that egg, so I attributed the egg to the rooster, and the rooster was now a hen.

So I thought.

Then, I caught the bird crowing on Friday. Yes, hens can crow, but this greatly lowered the possibility that the bird was a rooster. I put the rooster in the laundry room cage.

Sure enough, the bird crowed in the laundry room, AND dark brown eggs appeared in the coop. The crower? A rooster.


I had thought that KFC was a black australorp. But, I'm beginning to think that she might actually be a black copper maran. I can't imagine that these JUMBO, dark brown eggs come from her (she's not the smallest), but maybe. The only other option is that my Americauna is actually a Welsummer. I doubt that though, since my Americauna has the puffy cheeks and everything. It's also not uncommon for the black copper marans to lay very large eggs (see here).

I emailed the person who was interested in buying the rooster last time, and sure enough, he was still interested. So, the birdie went away last night.

It's much quieter around here. Stuck in the laundry room, I can only guess that rooster was conjuring up very detailed plans regarding my demise. He was NOT happy about being stuck in that laundry room, let me tell you. Whooo! Ticked off, muttering, and cackling. But now, he gets to go off to a barnyard of happy hens. I suspect life for you will be pretty decent, bud.

Friday, November 19, 2010

I am hen, hear me crow.


There is only one type of chicken in my coop that will lay dark brown eggs: the cuckoo maran. And I have only one maran.

We're not talking "close" in color here, people. The maran's eggs are dark chocolate-colored. The nearest brown is sandish-colored. So I'm not confusing chicken eggs.

Since I had been getting dark eggs, I realized my maran was laying. Hurray!

Then. At 6:30 this morning. In the near darkness, I hear a crow. Great, I thought, the red bird is crowing again. Or Cluck Norris. I had been horrified the other day to catch one of my (whom I thought was) tried-and-true-hen red birds crowing. I identified her with a piece of blue painter's tape.

Middle of darkness... I go out and let the hens out. Normally, feeding them shuts up the crower. Not this morning.

So I go out and clean the laundry room chicken pen, which of COURSE I left outside to gather rainwater and soak to get a good cleaning. In retrospect, yes, that was totally lazy. Whatever. So now, I have to clean out chicken muck in the near darkness.

I finally get the cage ready and go rooster hunting. Flashlight in hand, I'm in the pen. All of a sudden, THE MARAN CROWS. Yes, the same maran that has been laying dark brown eggs. THE ONLY BIRD who lays dark brown eggs.

Chicken grabbed. Put in laundry room. Crowing stops.

I immediately look up "Can hens crow?" on Google. Turns out? Yes. Dominant hens can possibly crow.

Insert expletives.

So how do I solve this problem? I now suspect, with the exception of Cluck Norris (whom I'm beginning to question now since he hasn't crowed in an awful long time), that I may have NO roosters; it's just my hens' dominance game.

Regardless, I have hens, and I don't want to get rid of them because THEY LAY EGGS. But now they make noise!


Thursday, November 18, 2010

The rain and the busy

The rain is supposed to start at 3pm this afternoon, which means my schedule for getting the trash out tonight has been moved up. The storm may turn into snow on Sunday and/or Monday, so that also means I should probably get my patio chairs under cover. And the cold temps mean my chickadees may want some new bedding.

Oh, and I have to go to work.

SO, mash all those things up and you have my day. Hurry, race, work, and stay dry.

But, on the geeky side of things: ee!! Snow!!! We didn't get ANY last year (which I suppose was good because we were moving), and it was sad. Usually it snows a handful of times every given winter.

** Update as of 10am: Huge, big ol' bag of coffee chaff is in the trunk of my car! The girls are going to be so happy.
** Update as of 4pm: Chicken have new bedding, patio has been cleaned and swept, patio chairs brought in out of the rain, cushions stacked. Driveway has been shoveled (there was some dirt) and raked. Front entrance raked. Picked the last of the veggies in the yard (except for green onions and chives). Took dog to dog park. Mailed something at the post office. Whew! And the rain is now coming down outside.


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The allure of a $5 turkey.

It's baaaack! The $5 Safeway turkey. Yes, a 20-lb turkey for $5.

Monday afternoon was my raid-the-stores-with-my-coupons day ($73 saved, ahem ahem!). Everything was necessary... except for maybe the $5 Air-Wick plug-in that I got for $2 to put by the litter box (it works amazingly, btw).

And then to Safeway. Where the $0.29/lb turkey exists.

And here's my secret: I'm getting another today or tomorrow.

TWO turkeys?! You say. TWO?!? Two 20-lb turkeys?


I figure I'll cook them both up and then make turkey broth. I'll then freeze the turkey breast slices and some other slices in turkey broth, keeping them fresh and able to be defrosted and used on sandwiches. The rest is likely to be frozen in pot pie mixtures, destined to be turkey soup, pot pies, or some other concoction we dream up.

Hey, I have room in my freezer, so I might as well. Right?

Plus, it's an excuse to finally buy that roasting pan that just went on sale for $10.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The post about the junkless laundry room

Yesterday, Blogger was refusing to upload photos. Today? No problem.

We spend a great deal of time this weekend going through STUFF. In our defense, it was stuff that wasn't junk. It was useful stuff. But you reach a point where you have too much useful stuff that it is no longer useful.

Take for example, one of our large bins. It was full of electronic gadgets, cords and wires. How many cable cords does a couple need?! One, not ten. You get the picture.

So, we weeded and waded. Or, rather, I weeded and waded as B cleaned the rest of the house. End result? A clean house and a laundry room that is clean too. The laundry room is significantly better now that it has an ENTIRE BACK SEAT OF MY CAR's worth of full trash bags hauled out of it. Some of the benefits:

The storage rack now has a shelf and a half of free space. I'm including "free" as where the towels are, since that's just a temporary assignment. :) We're thinking of moving the crock pot, blender, and a few other kitchen items out here, since we don't use those items every day. Space and organization. Yes, and I put a piece of fabric up to cover the window. It's just better not to advertise the room's contents.

Not only are all the bins organized above the washer/dryer, but I HAVE A FREE BIN!!! I think I'm going to put summer clothes in it... which will then mean room in all the winter clothes bins. We also assigned one bin to Holiday presents, something I LOVE since there have been a few times where I've run around because I didn't know what happened to the present I got someone.
The freezer top is also relatively clean. I had to deal with a stupid chicken yesterday, and I plopped that hen right on top the freezer, so excuse the freezer muck marks. Part of our problem has been that we stored things on top the freezer. Since the freezer needs to open, this was a bad idea.
And, the floor is clear. But.... it's so nasty. I hate this floor. The problem is that because it's just plain old wood, little bits chip off. And then any dirt you do get on the floor gets saturated INTO the wood. And us painting it white was not the best decision either, since every little chip shows. I have yet to figure out how to solve this issue. Rug? Gray floor paint? It needs to get solved, because right now I HATE moving laundry from washer to dryer. If something drops on the floor, I cringe. The floor is just NOT acceptable. Thoughts?
I also hung a window covering on the door. It actually makes the room cozier. No, I did not spend a ton of money (obviously), but I had this $2 coffee bean sack lying around (figured I'd find a use for it sometime) and it fit the window perfectly. Why spend money when it's a laundry room (and a rented one at that).
Inside our house, we finally decided we needed more space in our teeny, tiny (and ONLY) closet. It's 43"x42". Pretty small. And yes, all our clothes need to go in there.... Originally, we had the chest of drawers INSIDE the closet, but that made it difficult to get to half the clothes. (Note: don't you like how all the colors turned out here??)
So, I decided we had enough space in the living room to move out the closet. It used to be against this back wall:
Sigh... we still need to organize CLOTHES, but that will be improved upon when I put some of our summer clothes in that empty bin in the laundry room. It can often be difficult to put away clothes (due to lack of space), and so I'd like to someday soon tackle that problem.

So the weekend ended with more space in the laundry room, more things organized, and more closet space. Yesterday, I bought 8 little plastic boxes (shoebox size) so I can organize smaller things, like garden seeds and pencils and and and. I have plenty of room in the laundry room and in the side shed, so I'll be getting to work soon!

Monday, November 15, 2010

The post that was not meant to be

I have this wonderful post (with photos) that is all ready to be written. It's all about how our organizing/throwing out/mess-reducing spree is going.

But Blogger has other ideas today. Photos? Impossible to upload. It's not my internet connection. It's a mystery.

Long story short, my backseat of my car is slowly filling up with Goodwill donations. I'm waiting a few more days to actually go out there, since we keep adding to the mess. We finally decided that the bin of wires and cables? Needed to be drastically sorted through. And that tool bin? Needed sifting out. Clothing, books, etc too, though we'll try selling some of the books first. I have about 3 years of backissues for Architectural Digest. I've finally parted with them.

So pretty much, we didn't just clean this weekend. Cleaning has involved just putting things back into a system that wasn't working because it had too much unnecessary stuff in it. Now, the system has MUCH free space.

Today though, I get to head out (at some point....) to the store to pick up a few plastic bins. Like the pair of shoes-sized tubs. Why? Because we've hardly used any space in the side shed shelving unit, and I'd rather have things in labeled (hopefully categorically) small tubs.

Obsessive much? Darn straight. It's lovely to have space.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The cat that deserved wrath brought upon him.

A certain cat in our household deserves a whole bunch of whoop-butt.

I'm specifically thinking of you, Rumpole. Yes, YOU:

My guess is that something was bugging him. He's normally not a cat that does bad things. And by "something" bugging him, I'm thinking of maybe the dog. Ok, definitely the dog. Maddie can be a bit persistent with her nagging him to play.

But the payback Rumpole paid was not worth any of Mad's indiscretions.

Reel back to yesterday morning. I sat down on the floor and let Maddie out of her kennel (she sleeps in a dog kennel downstairs). Out she comes, gives a stretch or two, and then she hops on my lap, like a bunny rabbit, and leans against me. It's our morning routine.

But yesterday morning, she smelled. She smelled like cat pee.

Upon further inspection, I discovered that an evil cat (see suspect, above), had entered her kennel and peed on her dog bed cushion.

A bath, a cushion washing, and a scrubbing out the kennel later (and a mental note to keep the kennel door closed during the day), and we're all back to normal.

Maddie still is wondering why she had to take a bath at 7:30am though. She thinks she smelled fabulous.

Friday, November 12, 2010

A partnership.

**A quick note as I begin this post: I'm currently being stared down by a certain Paddington. I'm sitting on the couch, and he just hopped up next to me, and there is judgment in those eyes. I'm talking something akin to the eyes in this photo:
Yes, truly. I suspect my only indiscretion was a lack of scratched provided on my behalf. Adequate reaction, I suppose.

Onto the topic of the day: Partnership.

Last night my sick husband started talking about things. Ways for us to be more organized, what needs to be worked on, what needs to be sold/donated, money, chore charts, calendars, etc etc. No need to go into details, but you get the picture.

**(pushy cat now has his head on my keyboard, btw)

The point I took away from it was this blessed feeling of being in a partnership. Don't get me wrong, I feel like that pretty consistently. I'm pretty darn lucky to have found B.

Still, when confronted with mundane, daily tasks, it's nice to know there's someone in the thick of it just as much as you are. And suddenly, those tasks don't seem as mountainous when you have a partner.

It wasn't a crazily long conversation or anything, but the results were still darn clear: I have a pretty nifty husband, who's in it with me. He's my partner.

In case you're wondering, a chore chart may be making an appearance, the laundry room storage cleaned out and organized, and laundry done this weekend. Next to tackle: Spices and the armoire that seems to always catch everything in the most messy form possible. There's more, but you get what I mean.

Quite a guy, folks, quite a guy.

** Pushy cat has now pushed the tab button a few times on the left-hand side of the keyboard. He has since decided that leaning against the computer (not actively pushing buttons) is much more comfortable. And he's purring full volume, like a hummingbird. That's my fault; I gave him some scratches.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

New toy and Maddie loving her "dog bed."

After spending an hour and a half Tuesday cutting out photos, I broke down and decided to buy a paper cutter. Right angles! Joy of joys. Plus, it will be handy for making cards and all that jazz.

I was all set to get a mid-range one for about $40 (and use my 50% off coupons from Michaels to get a steal), when I saw that this baby was 40% off. Yes... it was $69. But the seal on the deal was when the salesgal decided to let me use my 20% off ENTIRE PURCHASE coupon that did not exclude sales. Since the other small items I had were all also 40% off, this became quite the steal.
This model? The LED SureCut Folding Rotary Paper Cutter by Fiscars. And embarrassingly, I did not realize it had an LED light until I got home. BONUS.

My last paper cutter was a frustrating beast, only cutting the way I wanted it to about 50% of the time (what's the point, right?), latching weirdly into place, etc etc. This one laughs at those problems. So far at least...

So, there is this plastic guard thing that you can flip into place. It helps you hold what you're cutting, AND, as soon as it hits the mat, it lights up an LED strip. NO JOKE. You can see what you're cutting MUCH more precisely. The only complaint I have is that I accidentally cut in the wrong place two times, because I was looking at the wrong light. That will change as I become more used to it. It sort of creates a magical first down line for you to use as a reference when cutting.
See the line? Right by the cutter?
And then, when you lift the plastic back up to get the item you cut, the light goes off. It automatically goes off after two minutes of nonuse too. :) I switched the batteries around after not finding an on/off switch. Then I read the box and learned about the two-minute turn-off. Sigh.
Another plus? It's not awkward to store. It FOLDS IN HALF. So, I'm storing it in the box it came in, that way it's protected. But it really doesn't take up much space. AND, you can cut on it very well when it's folded in half. This is great; you can cut on smaller surfaces.
I was so excited about all of this that I finished up the page I was working on Tuesday night. Yes, some of the photos are cut by hand with pencil and ruler and scissors, but many are cut with my new toy. I've decided I don't particularly like the striped background, but we'll see. It may grow on me. Each month, I find myself with a lot of cat and dog pictures, so I am trying to figure out how to display them without taking up a ton of space.

As I posted yesterday, Maddie has a new dog bed. She made me oh-so-excited last night when, instead of flopping down in the closet or by the door, she came over to her new bed and she slept on it. Poor B had to put up with ample squealing from me. I was SO excited.

It's a great size for her too, I think. And, once we get some rug backers, it will stay very securely in place.
The cat was sleeping on it this morning (but Mads was in her kennel), but Maddie seemed very content on it last night... even as the annoying human took photos of her.
Who'da thought. A rug for a dog bed.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Dog Bed

We have really struggled with Maddie's dog bed.

First, she doesn't really like beds. She loves to go all spread eagle on the floor (hardwood) or rug. Literally-- legs in all four directions. I don't want to thwart this behavior, because I find her little teeny corgi back paws dragging behind her quite adorable. And that fluffy butt. Oh!!

But she needs a bed because... she knows that's where she eats her treats. BUT...there are other problems.

Second, most dog beds are too big or too small. We don't have a chihuahua, but we don't have a german shepard.

Third? They're obscenely expensive.

Finally, it has to be easily washable. We learned this the last go-around, when the cats decided the bed smelled like something to be peed on. This from our never-ever-spray cats. They didn't spray. They just found a new litter box... and poor Maddie was taking her treats there like a good dog... but then she'd sneakily eat it on the rug because her bed smelled.... SIGH. Luckily, the humans quickly realized what was wrong (and smelled what was wrong, those punk cats!) and took the bed away. So ease of washing needs to be done too.

Oh, and it also needs to be pretty heavy because it's at the foot of our ladder and we don't want to slip. And the little booger dog does careen into it at pretty high speeds.

So, not wanting to spend tons of money on this already-growing-in-price project (thanks cats), I headed to Goodwill today. At first I thought "old car mat with stuffing sewn on" but that's not easily washable. Hmm...

Then, I found it:A knock-off flotaki rug. Yes, seriously. And it's just the right size for her and the space.

Better yet? SHE LOVES IT. I gave her a biscuit and told her to take it to her bed (she knows that command), and she RECOGNIZES IT AS HER BED. Better yet, the oh-so-good, amazing, wonderful pooch found her bone in the house and is currently gnawing on it ON HER BED.

Love this dog, can you tell?

We'll need to put some rug backer on the back of it to help slippage, but hey! Great. Best yet? Project will come in at under $10.

Pretty sweet.


I'm feeling pretty out of it this morning, so y'all only get updates. No real creativity (or uploading of photos!) involved. YAY!

  • We have decided not to move. LONG story involving rent that should be lower and a home that has many problems and the possibility of having a bedroom that is not in a loft (woo!), but the hassle involved and the desire for our next move to be int o our own house won in the end. Poo. And yay.
  • New job is going well. This makes me very happy.
  • I have no desire whatsoever to go outside and clean up our now dry deck. The tarp is doing it's thing well though!
  • The chickens need more straw. Good thing I haven't cleaned out my car trunk yet.
  • I've decided to tackle the storage bins in the laundry room this weekend. Specifically, the tool and wire bins. I do not need all these wires. And the tools are hopelessly disorganized. I plan on much donating to Goodwill.
  • Cluck Norris has begun to crow. This is not good. He's in quarantine in the laundry room. I may have to give him away on Craigslist. He's not worth eating, and it'd be really weird to eat the little guy. He's so tiny... and blue skinned!
I think that's all for now...

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Mystery of the (now famous) Sweet Potato

This image is now famous.

So far, the photo has been forwarded to agriculture departments at universities in Oregon and Washington.


Because NO ONE knows what happened to the potato.

It all started out with my sweet potato harvest. About 20 or so percent of the potatoes have this weird skin coloration and texture.

I emailed some ag experts. Nothing. No clue what it was.

I finally emailed my local agriculture extension service. Here, it's run by Oregon State University (even though they aren't in the city I'm in). They have no idea either, so they asked me to swing by their office with a sample.

I did just that this afternoon, and they were greatly intrigued. I ended up going back and getting another few samples.

SO here's what we know:

* The skin is what looks like carmel. Under a microscope, it looks glassy and crystal-like.
* The interior is normal and able to be eaten.
* The regular sweet potatoes also have strange things: the eyes have horizontal stripes. Usually, if there is a stripe, it's vertical, indicating fast growth.
* A woman who works at the extension service grew sweet potatoes last year and had a similar problem!
* NO ONE ELSE seems to have ever seen this before, despite that it hit two people in my city.

So, four rough sweet potatoes and one "regular" sweet potato are being sent away for another expert to look at.

Results soon to come....

Monday, November 8, 2010


My grandmother's service on Friday was very simple. Just a simple graveside service with a few family and friends. There was a Mass in the evening, where the priest read her name out as someone for the parishioners to keep in their prayers and remember.

The most tear-jerking moment though, came from a bird.

We were all keeping it pretty much decently together. We all knew this day was coming, and she was not doing well. She lived to almost see her 84th year, so she led a pretty full, amazing life. We'll miss her, don't get me wrong, but the service was more of a celebration rather than a traumatic event.

My grandmother loved to sit out on my parents' back porch and watch the hummingbirds. My mom has a few feeders, and the birds (for some reason) actually get along with each other. It's pretty frequent to see 10+ birds on one feeder. You can even go up and put your hands on the feeder, and they will eventually sit on your fingers. My grandmother would watch them for hours.

So there we are, the middle of the graveside service. The priest is talking. There is only one simple flower arrangement-- a casket spray of astromeria, roses, and carnations. And suddenly, a hummingbird zooms by and starts sipping and tasting the casket flowers.
The poor priest... we were all pointing and whispering, and he did not know what was going on. That little bird went from flower to flower. There were no hummingbirds at my grandfather's funeral.

It was probably just nature being nature. Bird saw flowers, bird sipped flowers. But to us, it was a kind reminder of the person we were saying goodbye to.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Down to San Diego

I'm heading to my parent's house this afternoon. Three hour layover in Portland... I have a book and a few episodes of Dexter.

My grandmother's service is tomorrow morning. Very small, very simple.

I'm honestly not ready for this. I haven't been thinking of it, and that's worked for me. However, pushing it off to today/tomorrow/Saturday/early Sunday means I'm going to have to work through some things.

Anyway. Off I go nonetheless. It will be nice to have my sister, parents, and I back in San Diego at the same time. That hasn't happened for a while.

PS: I haven't packed.
PPS: It's supposed to be in the 90s (!!!GAG). I put my summer clothes away! This could be interesting.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

New Scrapbook

Yes, I do scrapbook. I try to keep my scrapbooking simple. Honestly? I've been horrible about photos until I started the blog, but that has increased my photo-taking, so I should be keeping an album too.

And honestly, I enjoy doing it. I don't purchase a lot of bells and whistles; I want the focus to be on photos.

The goal? To get completely caught up so I have an album starting when B and I got married. So far, September-March is either done or partially completed. That leaves June-August and March-October. Eeek. But now it's rain-time here, so much more indoor opportunity.

However, I initially started out with an 8.5"x11" book from Michaels. Everything in that size was cheaper than the 12"x12". Not knowing what I was doing, I took my time initially, and everything took forever. Then I panicked to catch up, and I did not do that great of work. My small 8.5"x11" scrapbook QUICKLY filled up, since, well, it is 8.5"x11".

I was frustrated. Each of my scrapbooks only held 10 pages. And you insert the pages into plastic sleeves which rippled (maybe due to rubber cement fumes?). You go through 10 pages fast, and even with my 40-50% off Michael's coupon every week, that's still a lot of scrapbooks. I really did NOT want 3 scrapbooks a year. I'd prefer more in one scrapbook.

Luckily, my friend, Nat, started her blog, http://almostneverclever.wordpress.com/ . Go and visit. She's a scrapbook genius. This is substantially supported by the fact that she's been doing this for YEARS and her scrapbooks are gorgeous.

SHE turned me on to a different type of scrapbook: the Pioneer SJ-100 Jumbo Scrapbook. At $8.50 each, it was about the cost I was paying for a small book (even at 50% off!!), and the amount of pages totally warranted the $7ish shipping charge. The book has 50 pages, and it can be expanded! Plus, the pages are 11 3/4" x14". There is significantly more space.

The new book prompted me to change back to a style I wanted: Keeping my photographs square-cornered. It's much cleaner and allows for a better layout, I think. I will make some exceptions, but for now, this is my goal.

Last night, I tried the new book for the first time. Because you glue/tape right onto the page, it can be a bit nerve-wracking. No screwing up! So, I cut my photos out (using a careful template to keep the edges square), put the backing on, laid them out.... etc etc. And the end product? This page (one of 3-4 pages for March):

I decided to keep with the hand-writing because to wait and type would take me much longer. Maybe I will eventually switch, but this is what I'm going for at this time.

I think it looks amazing, particularly when compared to my old pages where the main problem was that I HAD NO ROOM.

HEre are my two books, compared in size. The old one is almost half the size of the new one.
The pages are ripply, and I really didn't like the end look of writing the month name. I don't think I have bad handwriting, but I wanted something a little nicer.

It's not a BAD layout, it just does not look as clean, I think, as the March page does, above. March has made me so happy that I am seriously considering redoing the months I did for the small scrapbook. I know... you may think I'm crazy. But it just looks SO much better.

And while the old scrapbook took time, I generally go over to a friend's house to scrapbook, so I have a fun time out and about anyway. It won't be like it 100% time lost. I still had fun.

I will make sure on the next page (the backside of the page, above) to put some extra cardstock in the corner/bottom edge. I want to make sure I'm creating a strong page that turns well.

I am now seriously excited about catching up on my scrapbook this winter. Crazy!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The rooster that laid an egg.

So, I have this cuckoo maran chicken.

The thing is HUGE, towering over my barred rock, and probably weighing upwards of 10lbs. It's a struggle to hold it. Based upon size, flopsy tail feathers, big comb, and um... "jumping" on a hen or two, I thought my rooster suspicions were accurate. It hadn't crowed, but all else was there.

Or so I thought.

I even went so far as creating a craigslist ad for the maran, hoping someone would want to pay a few bucks for a maran rooster (breeding and thus possibly creating baby hens that would grow up and lay dark colored eggs). I had a few people interested, but none could pick up the bird right away.

And thank goodness.

Because, yesterday, when I went out to the coop, I found this:
Yes, a dark cuckoo maran egg. It's pictured next to one of my regular brown eggs to show color differences. And, it's possible the maran egg will get even darker in color.

That big bird sure lays pretty eggs.

Craigslist ad: deleted.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Tarps, curtains and potatoes!

Well, it's late fall and, in Oregon, that means: RAIN begins. Our current 10-day forecast predicts rain or showers 8 of the next 10 days. Hurray for sogginess.

Given that we live in a TEENY TINY cottage, I did not want to give up our (uncovered) deck space. While it might get too cold to enjoy it out there, it would be nice (for storage reasons) for it to be dry.

A local store near us had a 20'x30' tarp on sale for $30. Yes please.

Up and over the canopy it went. The canopy is all nice, but with 4 open sides and a non-waterproof top, it does not do a good job at keeping everything underneath it dry. Please ignore the mess-- we piled everything in here that needed to stay dry. It became quickly apparent that we needed a better shelter-- everything got wet. So now that the tarp is up, I'm waiting for things to dry out and then I will clean.

I used one of our trellises on the other side of the deck, that way we could have the tarp be at a nice height for the entire deck. Had I not done this, we would have had to crouch down as we got close to the railing on this side. Since this side also has the steps to the chicken coop, it had to be set at a reasonable height.

On the other side of the deck, I decided to use the extra length of tarp and tie that end near the ground. Reason? It created a lean-to of sorts next to the deck that is COVERED. This way, we can park our bikes under the tarp this winter. We won't probably ride that much, but at least our bikes won't get rained on. I still have to hook up a cable or a chain under the deck so we can easily lock up our bikes.

Bike area, better defined. I had to weight down the one side with logs because there is a stupid rose bush on the other side, and I did not want the tarp to get shredded. Perfect world, the entire side would be stretched out. Oh well. You can also see the hoses, all rolled up for the winter.
I weighted down the one side of the tarp with a piece of cedar. The hope is that the cedar keeps that flap down.

Better close-up of the flap.

The lean-to side stretches down quite a ways.

Yes, I admit it. The tarp is not the most beautiful thing. But, it will allow us to hopefully use the deck moreso in the wintertime... and when you're talking about a space that is more than half your house in square footage, that's important.

Next project: HEATING THE HOUSE.

Ok, our house is stupid. The loft is in the middle of the house, which is great, but that means that there are two tall ceilings on either side of the loft where the heat can get trapped. It's great on the living room side; when the heat rises there, it just goes INTO the loft. But on the kitchen side, the heat rises up to the rafters and is lost.

We already made the switch to a more fuel-efficient oil radiator, but now we had the task of keeping the heat where we want it. Our house is pretty much one big room (with the exception of the bathroom-- the laundry room is attached outside, as is the side shed), so we needed to create a division.

I decided the best place for it was from the bathroom to the closet wall. 83.5", to be precise. We had a bunch of material leftover from summer (I was going to put it on top the pergola, but never got around to it). So, I bought a dowel and hung it:

I found shower curtain hanger things for $1.44/dozen, and that was so much easier than sewing loops on the curtain. I wasn't very precise with the curtains. Just sewed a flip at the top (for more stability) and sewed across the bottom (so no unraveling).

I'm actually very happy with the curtains. They really divide up our space nicely, and it is nice to not always be able to see someone in the next room. I will be on the lookout for a heavier material though... the white is nice, but I think I need something a little heavier to keep the heat in one room a bit more.
And, because I sewed them in panels, it's very easy to walk through.
Yes, easy to walk through, as Maddie demonstrates.

Finally, I harvested 2.5-3 sweet potato plants this weekend. I had a LOT of sweet potatoes, which makes me excited to dig up the rest (probably early this week). I also ended up with this one potato which is pretty funktastic (closer-up images below) and one that is almost the size of a football. Here is the first group of potatoes....

And here is the second group of potatoes. They're Georgia Jets. This is the produce from those teeny tiny seedlings that I was so worried about back in April/May (putting plastic sheeting and hot caps on) remember?

Here is my football-sized one. This thing is seriously huge. I brought it to work today to show everyone.

And here is the funktastic one. Not sure what happened to it. Just didn't form the tuber correct, it looks like.
Seriously funkadelic.

The sweet potatoes have to cure for a while before I can eat them. So I'm hoping to get the rest dug up sometime soon so I can get them all curing. I need to dig them up before the first frost and when the plants look like they're beginning to die. I don't want the plants to die and then the sweet potatoes to rot in the ground. And, based upon the above, they're big enough!