Friday, December 21, 2007

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Gadget Kid

My 19 year old son just told me about this cool electronic gadget you can buy that you attach or aim at nonworking light bulbs on a strand of Christmas lights. It analyzes and finds the burned out bulb. I looked at one at QVC. You have to aim the tool at each light, and it lets you know which is not working.
The tool costs $15.92 plus 3.97 shipping and handling. And not only that, but then I'd have to actually use it!! Yeah right!
I think I'll go buy me another set of $2.99 lights from Wal-Mart.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

A Different Kind of Tour

Christmas Tour of Homes
Ok, I’m sure that you all are tired of looking at perfect houses and wondering why you can’t have gorgeous things like all of these other toured homes.
I was thinking you could take a look at mine and then you’ll know that it can be Christmas even in the midst of chaos.

First of all, I’m the one that does the decorating, so I have no excuses. I do have some beautiful eclectic things, but I’m cheap, move a lot and hate it when things get broken. So what I have is mostly kid-friendly pieces. Last year, I cleaned out some stuff and decided that others could enjoy them before they were ruined at my house.

Here are a few of my favorite decorations.

First of all, my children’s nativity scene, my dear sister, Nin, made this and gave it to me years ago. It has been through all of my children and still looks pretty good. It’s in the bathroom, because I can’t put any priceless items in there, the kids would play at the sink and break it. I looked in this morning, and someone thought that the sheep needed a better look at the Infant King.

On the other side of the bathroom is the Angel who proclaimed the good news to the shepherds, she is a country girl, like me. She used to have a lovely red bow on her pinafore, but someone was sitting there doing their business and pulled a little frayed edge of the ribbon and zip, she now has a fringed scarf. Maybe more appropriate in this weather than a satin ribbon anyway. She used to hang from a gold ribbon, but that came undone and now we twist a strand of her hair around the hook to keep her on.

The three-foot tree sits on top of the piano, out of reach, (or so I thought.) Notice that the lower half of the tree has lost it’s lighting, due, I’m certain to some curious child who tugged and loosened a bulb. Its only going to shine half of it’s light now for the rest of the season, I’m not undecorating it to figure out which one is the offending light.

On my buffet, with my other nativity collection sits a new tea light holder from Partylite. I love its simplicity with the dark colors and lack of detail in the Holy Trio. My husband asked me the other day why they were sitting around a cauldron. I told him “Stables are cold, Smarty.”

My very favorite decorations this year are on my desktop. I made my screensaver into a Christmas Slideshow of Christmases Past. My kids love to sit and look, watching for their pictures to come up. They know if they touch, the slideshow goes away. Hmm, why didn’t I think of this before!?

Before you leave, come into the kitchen and help yourself to the bag of marshmallows in the pantry. I didn’t get the baking done that I had intended, so chip off a chunk of the almond bark and grab a hot chocolate packet from the shelf.

Oh, you’ll have to take it with you and mix it at home. Sorry, someone just dumped out the shredder. Hey look, it’s snowing!! I don’t think I’ll vacuum until after the Holidays.
Merry Christmas!!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A Wasted Walk-Through

Being a military family, each night I make the troops start at the front door and do a “walk-through”—police call. The object of this "order" is to get anything that is yours and pick it up, put it away or I get it and it disappears. Thinking I could just command and not inspect, I sent them on their errand. Miss Busy came back a few minutes later and said, “Yeah, Mom, nice house, but I sure don’t like all the junk on the floor.”

Monday, December 17, 2007

I feel like the Christmas Idiot

This evening after dinner, I was standing in the kitchen tidying up when the doorbell rang. My kids have been trained NOT to go to the door--they escape, and they get in arguments with neighbor kids etc, so I went to answer it. I opened it to find no one there. Aargh, I hate it when those rotten neighbor kids “ring and run.” I was going to find them this time. Even though I was only in slippers I headed out to the sidewalk to see if I could find the perp and give them a good tongue-lashing. I glanced one way and then headed toward the mailbox, I heard something near the side of our house and called out. “Ok, you may think it’s funny to ring the doorbell, but I don’t!” I saw movement, HA, I had them now, someone moved to hide behind my Suburban, probably thinking they could scoot around the back of my truck and then they would be home free. But I had parked it so you couldn’t get in between the garage and the garbage cans. I stood at the end of the driveway, I wasn’t going back into that inky darkness at the side of the house, I’m not a complete idiot! “Come out,” I said, in my biggest scary Mom voice. “I can see you there!” A muffled-disguised reply, “Hey lady, go check your door!” Huh? I stopped short, what was this? “I checked, there isn’t anything at my door.” “Not at your door, on your door.” Came the same muffled, somewhat familiar voice from behind the garbage. “Oh.” I said. (Oops!)
Embarrassed, I sheepishly left the confrontation at the end of the driveway and went to the door. There, right under the gaze of the porch light was a red envelope, taped to the door. Taking it inside, the “Christmas Perpetrator” slunk away in the darkness, his identity still a mystery to me. I went inside to relate the story to the family. Inside the envelope was a Wal-Mart gift card in the amount of $250, with a note that said the card would explode at the checkout if we purchased a DVD-VCR, “…so don’t do it!” More to come, I guess. That is if I can keep from blowing someone’s cover. And I thought this Christmas would be boring…

Weird Real Life Video and One Rant

It has been weird-real-life video for me to stand here and rinse and wash someone's entire life. I have seen one couple marry and raise children, take trips on ferries, attend graduations, and have parties. I’ve watched them open Christmas presents, and babysit grandkids, I’ve seen new puppies, sons playing baseball, and kids riding carousel ponies. It is so heart breaking to me to see these photos in this condition. Oh, I know that no one plans to have a 20-foot wall of water entire your living space. (And it was a beautiful home; I've seen the pictures to prove it.) But it sure makes me more passionate about the Creative Memories Mission
On my morning walk back from the school bus, I stopped with a friend at the home of a neighbor to let her know that her garage door had been left open. She mentioned that if someone had broken into her garage they could have all the junk in the garage except for her girls' Baby Books. I nearly yelled at her to get them in the house and put them in a safe place. I'm sure she was a bit shocked at my outburst. I can't help it. When I see the damage that has been done just because things weren't stored properly and backed up and negatives stored in a safe place, it just makes me want to cry.
I'll try and control my outbursts.
And speaking of outbursts, why is it that some people say things like, "oh I can help, what do you need. I can help you with that, just call me." and then when actually asked to help, I get, "oh, I'm busy until after Christmas, do you think the photos will wait that long?" Never mind that they happen to be from WWII and are currently soaked in a mud covered casket. No, they can't wait until after Christmas!! You know, it happens to be Christmas at my house too, but sometimes the needs of others take precedence. Ugh! Ok, enough ranting. I'm back to washing photos. My cold, wrinkled fingers have plumped up again.

Working instead of Blogging

I was sitting here reading through some of my favorite blogging posts, (I'll post my favorite blogs soon, I promise) and I just came to the conclusion that this blogging thing could really take a large portion of my life.
I can actually DO the laundry instead of blogging about how much there is.
I can actually fix dinner instead blogging about what I would have prepared if I hadn't been sitting at the computer all day.
I can actually sew my kids Christmas presents instead of pining away at the fabric my sister sent me.
What a concept! Work! Good, fulfilling work! I was reading in the book of James today, (you know, in The Bible) I'm doing Read thru the Bible in a Year. It says in verses 22-25 of Chapter 1

22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.

Ok, enough writing about working, and I'm off to be a doer, not just a hearer...

Friday, December 14, 2007

Day3-Muddy Pics

Today's batch was fairly easy to clean up. I had them in the fridge over night so mold would not grow. The first two garbage bags went much faster, but then they were mostly pictures in frames, with their own set of problems. These pictures were stacked closely together, so there were lots of pictures in a smaller space. A few things I learned that I thought would be of interest to you and good info to pass on to our customers. Please take your photos out of the developer's bags/envelopes. They almost always have dye in the paper used to make the envelope. When they get wet, the dye will run and stain the top picture. Fortunately, for Mrs. "C", most of these were double prints, so the duplicate was somewhere in the stack. In the stack I did today, I only found one CD, and while it did work and the pictures loaded ok on my computer, there was only one CD. I was hoping I would find more CDs when I started today, making my task go a bit more quickly.
There are still about 4 packs of pictures here in the fridge and then another garbage bag and a box out in the garage keeping cool. Speaking of cool, I had to keep stopping today and let my hands warm up, the cool water I had to use for the pictures was too cool for my hands to stay in it for very long.
I got about 35 or so scanned, a friend from CMC-Sharelist, told me something I thought I would pass along. She reminded me that with Memory Manager 2 you can scan multiple photos and the "cut" them apart with the crop tool, that way you are only lifting the scanner lid for every third photo. I had done this before with one large photo and cropped people into their own portrait, but hadn't thought of scanning more than one picture at a time. Great time saver, thank you!
As far as editing, the only thing I am doing is straightening with the custom rotation tool and doing a fine adjustment on the cropping so that no white is showing. Every so often I may do a quick color fix, but nothing major. I'll show Mrs. "C" some examples of what MM2 can do and then leave it at that.
I do have a question about naming the photos. I have absolutely no ideas about how to number or name these. Any ideas?
Thanks for your contiued support of my "project." You guys are great to keep indulging me in my ramblings.

Day 2-Mud Covered Photos

Today I started in on a small garbage bag on photos. I say small because it was small in size, but the number of photos was nearly overwhelming. The photos were stored in a canvas bag, through the mud, I read "garden Tote" on the side. It had pockets on the inside and out. It was full of nearly a dozen sets of "picture developer" envelopes, 2 slip-in style pocket albums, and stacks (about 8 inches thick) of photos. I'm estimating 500 photos in this bag. They may be the worst out of the bunch. It looked to me like the bag had been full of water and the muddy sediment settled and landed right on the photos. (I just can't even imagine the heartbreak these people went through--to see all of their things FULL of mud.) I would grab a small section of photos and peel and swish in the sink to remove the chunks of mud. (You know, all those pdf things on CMC-Network don't even begin to come close to what I was actually doing.) They say "gently agitate", I would peel clay, in a one-inch thick ribbon, off the photos. They say, "gentle spray of water" I decided a foam craft brush worked great for cleaning the photos. It seemed so drastic at first, I kept thinking, don't touch the photos, but the only way I could get them clean is to use these steps.

Oh, I also found a receipt for some portraits done at Wal-Mart, so I called the number to see if perhaps they still had copies that could be ordered, or put on a disk. This happened to be the Wal-Mart in Chehalis that was flooded too. Dead End!
The counters are full again, llamas, Los Angeles Zoo, New Years eve parties, family portraits, even Jay Leno grace my kitchen this evening.
By dinnertime, I had to quit, no more space to spread them out and we needed dinner, I ziploc bagged what was left and put it in the fridge until tomorrow when I'll stack the dried ones and fill the counters again.

I've got about a dozen scanned so far.
Decided to: Just scan, not edit.
Sort some, matching faces and events.
Discuss with Mrs. "C" about what she wants to do with them when she is ready. I'd gladly do a power layout and get them safely in albums with journaling boxes for her to fill out.
Thanks so much to the ladies of CMC-Sharelist for their generosity. I am overwhelmed and greatly blessed by your offers of gifts and help.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

I wasn't prepared...

I was prepared for the worst. I had water and gloves and tools to scrape the mud, garbage bags in which to put the broken picture frames, tables to lay out the photos. But I wasn't prepared for what I saw when I opened the first bag.
I'm ahead of myself--
I was moved to volunteer with the cleanup, and came in contact with Kathryn at Daring Young Mom she referred me to a cleanup volunteer who had the photos. She came with 4 bags and 2 boxes, the bags were mostly pictures in frames, old 70's high school pictures, a black and white or two, and lots of snapshots. I was amazed to see that under an inch of gooey mud, they weren't in too bad of shape. Water really isn't an enemy to a picture, they are developed in liquids, and as long as they don't dry out in this condition, they can be cleaned and made right again. I started in on the first pile. I had glimpsed a black and white in the bag and thought I ought to start on the oldest ones first. They seemed to be the most precious, I guess. I had to break the frames in order to get the swollen cardboard backings off. I rinsed and scraped, peeled and rinsed and got to the glass and the picture. Sliding my putty knife along the edge of the glass, out came an old gentleman in a grey flannel hat, with a distinguished looking mustache. The photo was in nearly perfect condition.
Encouraged, I plunged onward, releasing brides and grooms, babies with moms, and school agers from their muddy prisons.
What I was not prepared for as my tables filled up with faces, was the surge of raw emotions I felt as I looked on literally decades of photos nearly destroyed by the raging waters of winter rains. It broke my heart that though these pictures are now relatively safe, I know of many others that didn't have the chance to be brought out of their mud covered sepulchers.
If I have learned anything worthwhile in all this, it would be to spread the word that if your pictures are precious to you, (and why do you take so many of them if they aren't?) then treat them like family. Don't store them on the ground floor if you live close to water of any kind. Make duplicates and store them off-site, a safe deposit box, or relative's home. Don't print your pictures at home!!! I know, this one may sound really terrible, but don't, don't, do it! Pictures printed by developers with the right equipment, can be rinsed, even brushed with a soft paint brush under water without fear of ruining the photo. But those pictures that you think will be just the same if you print from home, won't be "just the same" after sitting in mud and then being cleaned. They won't be there at all.
I rinsed and rinsed for about 5 hours tonight, my counters and 4 tables in my home are full of faces I know nothing about, families I don't know, children who are grown up now and have children of their own; water skiers, cruises and boat rides, Mustangs and Harleys, babies and grandparents, toddlers and toys; but mostly my tables are full of hope and rebuilding.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Nice Reward

This morning, Sweet Boy came up to me and crawled into my lap after I had finished reading my Bible, everyone else was still asleep. He put his arms around me and whispered in my ear, "Mommy, you are a nice mommy."
Ahh, that makes it all worthwhile. Filled my tank for the day.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Washington flood relief

I read this post through a link on a blog I regularly read.
Please read her post and then decide if you can help. I'm sending food storage items and blankets and clothing.
These poor people have lost everything, destroyed by 14 feet of dirty, river water.
So sad.
Please help if you can.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Update on DS's consumer experiment

Here's an update on my sister's "live off you food storage" experiment.
Enjoy, how are you all doing?
We have been very blessed, although I do not shop for groceries out of my budget, we are on WIC for milk, eggs, cheese and some cereal, plus I go to our foodbank once a week. I got 4 bushels of apples last week, I just finished putting them all up.
I got 13 more quarts of applesauce and about 15 or so pints of apple butter, and then froze 3 qts of it, because I ran out of jars. We'll eat those up first. I'm trying not to have too much in my freezer in case the power goes out again for a week.
Here's Sis's update:

Hi All,

Maybe this is Provident Living Practice.

Here’s my confessions. A couple of people asked if I were going to buy gas, or Christmas. I thought I’d better define my parameters for this experiment. All I’m really trying to do is not go grocery or household shopping. We have a couple of roasts, about 20 lbs of hamburger, 5 pounds of sausage, half a dozen packages of chicken (in various parts and pieces) and some fish and salmon. I have frozen and canned vegetables. Since our family is smaller and our children are still under 10, we don’t’ eat as much as some families would. For us so far, it’s just the same, maybe a little better, because I’m trying to plan meals and not be so impulsive. We are buying gas, of course, but I’m trying to drive around less. If you stay at home, you need less fuel. I realized about mid-week that there was a zip lock bag of old salad in the vegetable drawer and I was sad that it had gotten brown because I couldn’t go buy more salad. This is making me realize how wasteful I’ve been in the past.

Monday I went to our local grocery store two times to pick up a prescription I’d ordered on Saturday. I just recently have been able to get a 3 month supply of my prescriptions, so I wanted to do that before we started non-shopping. But on Saturday, they didn’t have 90 pills—so I went Monday to pick up. But, the pharmacist had an emergency and the pharmacy was closed. Finally, Tuesday I was able to pick up my pills. Then on Wednesday, DH asked me if I’d pick up a prescription for him. So, I went back again. But, I only walked through the store to the pharmacy. In the past when I’ve gone to pick up a prescription, I’ve always picked up something else—just because I was in the store and sometimes because the kids were with me and they wanted a snack. It was a good reminder of how easy it is to impulse shop. Plus, even though I was trying to plan ahead on the prescriptions, I didn’t plan far enough in advance.

I actually had to buy something today. A friend asked me to bring her crock pot home from an event on Saturday and bring it to her later, which I was happy to do. I did and dropped it in my garage yesterday. So, today I bought a new crockpot. I realized that emergencies (minor though this was) happen and you need to be prepared with some cash.

I made a chicken casserole with stuffing; we’ve had taco soup; everyone loved the rigatoni casserole sprinkled with cheese. For breakfast we’ve had French toast, cooked oatmeal, and cold cereal (that will end soon.)

I’ve mixed milk half and half with Morning Moo. It’s actually very good. I can’t tell the difference. I think I have another week of mixed milk and then we’ll be drinking Morning Moo all the time.

I had a big package of cheese sticks frozen in the freezer and have gotten a new set of 12 out when the old ones are gone. We’re eating them much faster that I thought.

I did get a haircut on Friday, but I justified it by saying that I’d actually made the appointment a week before I began the experiment; Friday was just the first day that would fit my schedule.
(End of update)

How are you doing in your experiments? Post and let me know.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Cleanup

After I saw that the sugary lava flow was not moving any further, I trudged up the stairs to where Hubby was studying. I slunk over to the bed and, with head hanging down, I told him I had destroyed the kitchen.
He hugged and assured me that it would be all right, we went down stairs to survey the damage. I was met again with the terrible sight. Hubs said not to despair, and went to get the spackle knife-paint scraper thing from the garage. He started chipping away at the objects on the counter and I set the pot to soak in the sink. I lifted the spoon and thought it looked like sticky tar. (It would probably be useful for protecting the roof if we ever needed a little patching.)
I was able to get the drips off the floor without any damage except for a small bubble in the linoleum which you can only feel if you are scrubbing the floor down on your hands and knees; as if I ever have time to do that, I’ll never feel it! I was pretty impressed at that, I thought for sure the sugar-lava would have melted right through the floor, I did have the foresight to throw a cup full of cold water on the spill before my teary outburst, maybe that helped.
DH was scraping away at the diamond-hard mess on top of the counter, he had managed to loosen the cemented objects without casualty, and even salvaged my Pampered Chef hot pad that had so bravely covered my countertop. It performed beautifully. The counter under the pan was fine, and under the obsidian-like puddle, the counter was only a bit orange. At least there was no burnt countertop, as I feared. (It is nearly brand new and I’d like a few more years out of it before I need to do a complete kitchen remodel.)
As he scraped, the chips flew like little Pele’s tears, the Hawaiian goddess of volcanoes, I’m sure if it had been her kitchen she would have been crying over this mess as well. Bear scraped and chipped, chipped and scraped, I tried to keep the kids out of the “free hard candy-mess!” It was on our shoes, stuck to the front of my apron, even in my hair. Chels didn’t want anything to do with the offensive tasting stuff, “candy isn’t that good,” she decided and went back to her book.
I snapped off the cupboard door from it’s hinges and laid it on top of the other counter and began to tackle the new igneous rock formation that had dribbled down it’s front. (It’s called Pele’s hair, just in case you wondered.) To quote Wikipedia: “Pele's hair: a geological term for volcanic glass threads or fibers formed when small particles of molten material are thrown into the air and spun out by the wind into long hair-like strands.” Well, there was no wind, but I think the term can still apply. I used the “melt-and-gently-scrape-with-a-plastic-spatula” method of disaster cleanup. (I’m sure that FEMA has specific cleanup protocols for this but I’m not trained in that area. Aparantly, I’m not trained very well in the area of cooking protocols either!) It was returned to it’s natural state pretty quickly, Pele hadn’t damaged the door, and the MAG-SWAPS method was working. I pulled the drawer out and started on it. This took a little longer to soften up the quartz-like goop, it had been closer to the top of the volcano’s crater stock pot and thus got more of the glop. Eventually, it was cleaned up too, I even managed to remove the sticky finger prints from endless openings and shuttings with little grubby hands.
Dear Hubby had finished the initial pass with the paint scraper and was working on the cleanup of the obsidian-crystals. He swept them up with the little broom and dust pan. We decided to throw the whole mess into the compost bin to attract more bugs into our yard. (Did I just type that?) Well, we hoped for “beneficial-bugs” anyway, whatever those are… After his clean sweep he gave it a once over with warm soapy water and there was no stains, no burns, nothing!! I couldn’t believe it, I was sure I had ruined it all and God protected my kitchen from Mount Vesuvius-Minor.
The floors all got a sweep and a scrub, and then I moved the furniture and shampooed the carpets, I had planned to do it after canning season was through, I guess this is a fitting way to finish it. I am keeping a log of things canned, time spent, and cost, I’m not sure how to write the entry for the apple butter. All I have to say to whomever I give my home canned gifts to this Christmas, you had better appreciate it!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Molten Lava-or How NOT to Make Apple Butter

A couple of weeks ago, I posted that I had finished all of my canning. Well, the bug hit me again as I strolled through the grocery store. APPLES!! I hadn’t done any apples! No applesauce, apple butter, apple pie filling, apple rings, spiced apples, NOTHING! I scooted Sweet Boy over in the cart and loaded in a full bushel box of apples. (Now he had a seat instead of the “ouchie-wire” cart.)

Back at home I scoured through all my files for the delicious caramelized-sugar apple butter recipe that Gram and I made back when I lived in the mid-west. I couldn’t find it anywhere, looked all over the Internet too; I only found recipes that had real caramels added. I couldn’t can that, caramels have milk in them, so although the flavor may have been right, the recipe certainly wasn’t. I gave up my search and called Mom. She remembered it, but although didn’t have the recipe; she said that I should just be able to “caramelize” the sugar in a regular recipe and add it to create the caramel flavor.

Armed with this new knowledge, I carefully measured out my applesauce and discovered I had enough for a triple batch of apple butter, which called for 12 cups of sugar. I thought that if I caramelized half of the sugar and added the rest “raw” that would give it the flavor I was seeking. I dug out my heavy cast iron Le Creuset stockpot for the job, knowing that it could create a mess in the pan and I didn’t want to have a difficult time cleaning up my new Wolfgang Puck cookware. I got out several hot pads to protect my countertop when I removed it from the heat; caramelizing sugar takes a great deal of attention so it does not go past the point of no return and burn.

Everything was ready so I measured 6 cups of sugar into the pot and turned on the heat and started carefully stirring. It took awhile to get that much sugar heated and then it started to melt. I stirred and stirred and once it was all browned, there were a few lumps so I kept it on the heat just a few more seconds. Then all of a sudden, it grew into a molten-lava inferno. I quickly removed it from the heat to the waiting hot pad on the counter. It wouldn’t stop expanding. Like a volcano, it erupted its molten-sweetness over the boundaries of the stockpot and down the sides, flooding over the hot pad and across the counter like a lava-flow, cementing everything in it’s path to it’s final resting place. I panicked, but I was helpless to stop the searing-slow moving sugar-flow.

I watched; sickened by the prospect of ruined counters, burned floor and the hours I would spend cleaning up the mess; as it oozed and spread dark sticky drips to the floor. The air was thick with the smell of burnt sugar and the smoke hung dark and heavy. I sat down on the floor and cried. There was nothing else to do but watch as it destroyed my kitchen like the Roman city of Pompeii in the wake of Mount Vesuvius.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Consumer Experiment

My sister "Silver" and her family have decided to try an experiment—living on their food storage only, from now until Christmas. She has been very industrious to “put up” and can lots of things this summer and fall. She made this decision when she was looking at all her neat rows of canned goods. (I must admit that I sit in the garage on our swing which we brought in for the winter and admire my shelves too.)

I think this is a fantastic idea! Of course that is one of the reasons why we store for the future, to use in the event of an emergency. So if we have not planned ahead and purchased everything that we need in that event, how do we know if we have been wise in our preparation?

King Solomon said, in Proverbs 6:6 “Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise, which, having no captain, overseer or ruler, provides her supplies in the summer, and gathers her food in the harvest. How long will you slumber, O sluggard? When will you rise from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest— So shall your poverty come on you like a prowler, and your need like an armed man.”

So I offer a small “online challenge”: Can you live on what you have stored up? I’m going to try. Report here to my blog what you have done, how long it has worked for you and what lessons you have learned through the process. I’ll let you know how I’m doing and what is up with my sister’s challenge as well.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Wanda died last week

I was reading Proverbs chapter 31 the other day and was thinking, oh yeah, if I had servant girls, I could get all that done in one day too. Because the proverbs 31 woman had maidservants and I didn’t, I named my appliances so that I could feel like I had “servant girls” working for me too. I have Drucilla the dryer, Christine the crock-pot, Minnie, the microwave, Denise the dishwasher, (sorry my Dear Friend!) Olivia Oven, Brenda blender, and poor old Wanda the washing machine.
My original Wanda, (17 years old) died last year, and was replaced amazingly enough by a lady of the same name. She is not new working for me, but had a one-year warranty, as she has had some operations in the past to fix this or that. She worked fine for me up until about 3 months ago when during her spin cycle there came a terrible screeching noise. I ran and shut her off and waited. I had a full load of laundry in the tub, sopping wet. How was I to get it all spun out if I didn’t just run it? So I did, ignored the screaming and finished the load. I ran the next load on a different cycle, permanent press instead of regular and low and behold she was working again. So I just shrugged it off as a fluke, temperamentally speaking. She was working again, so all was right with the world. Fast forward to last week.
I was washing bedding, two mattress covers and one blanket. I thought that I had washed them this way before; they were all white and needed bleach, so I thought they would be perfect in the load together, wrong. When the load was done, they were still sopping wet, they had been spun, but it wasn’t enough to get out all the water. I ran the load again, same thing! Ugh! What was I to do; I can’t afford another repair, another huge expense!
I walked the load over to the neighbor, who had said I could use her machine if ever I needed it, (I think this qualifies.) Sure no problem says she and promises to return them when they are done. Meanwhile, a few days later, I got to thinking, well, the load did spin, just not enough to get all the water out, well, I’m just going to use the darned ol’ machine until she gives out entirely. So, I loaded her basket up again and cranked it up. Perfect load, just fine. I did another, just the same, nearly dry clothes, she was working again!! God had healed Wanda! It wasn’t until later that I discovered that my neighbor couldn’t get the “white bedding” load to finish either, she tried everything, finally had to split them up and wash the offending blanket separately.
So I guess Wanda didn’t die after all, and there is a moral here, if you want your servant girls to work hard for you, you’d better give them their proper portions, blankets together and mattress covers separately.
Proverbs 31:15
She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family and portions for her servant girls.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

BooBoo is stuffed

Babies are funny! I love the way their little minds work. BooBoo (18 months) does the cutest things and you can almost see the wheels churning inside his little head. Lately he has been stuffing things down the front of his shirt, like he was trying to save them for later. He walks around looking like he has elephantitis, clanking and rattling as he moves. Every once in a while, something will fall clear through his jammies or his sweats and he’ll act all surprised. It cracks me up, like he didn’t know it was there?
The school kids just walked in the door, gotta go do the “Mom” thing now.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Birthdays Stink

I am of the opinion that birthdays stink. Oh, don’t get me wrong, birthday’s when you are 5 or 6 are terrific; balloons, streamers, presents and friends to share in the momentous occasion. But when you turn 40, the balloons have lost their helium, the streamers have gotten dusty in the attic somewhere, the presents are fewer, and the friends are busy with their own families. My birthday this year has been at best, a downer. The phone has been turned off, my cell phone is dead, my day has been busy with cleaning up kids that can’t make it to the potty, and laundry of the above-mentioned stinky clothes.
I can’t even post this to my blog because the internet has been disconnected.
I was told by Hubby last night, (not in these same words, but the same message), that I was halfway to dead. That is why forty is such a big milestone for some people, because most people live to be 80 or so, so when the milestone, (or headstone rather) is reached, you are “halfway there,” “reached the top of the hill”, there is “no turning back,” “it’s all downhill from here!”
My day has come to this, gleaning the dredges of the bottom of the bread bin at the food bank. The highlight of the excursion was the halfhearted attempt of several tone-deaf food bank volunteers trying to sing the traditional birthday dirge, leaving the “name space” blank with a wave of the hand for me to fill in my own name. I should have said Sheila instead of my real name; it would have been just as personal.
Well, life goes on, (comforting, isn’t it?) We age, and we grow and hopefully mature past the need to have a balloon-infested, streamer-waving grand birthday occasion. Life should be full of simple things, a sweet hug from your 4 year old; a sweet little hand patting on the back when you pick up the baby; the next door neighbor rearranging her schedule in order to take you out for an impromptu birthday lunch. The joys of seeing kids get along, the smile on your husband’s face when he has enjoyed a meal. So I didn’t get a new bottle of perfume for my birthday, big deal; at this point I’d rather pay the phone bill. So I didn’t get an elaborate dinner out with my husband; right now, I’d just like to feed my family nutritious meals. So I can’t take the family out to celebrate at a weekend resort with catered meals and bellhops to jump at your every command, but my kids know the difference between right and wrong, they know when someone is being a bully, they know how to comfort a sibling, they can change a diaper in a pinch, and bathe a child.
So I guess in retrospect, for my birthday, I’d rather have food in my cupboard, warm clothes for my children, and a good roof over my head. I’d rather celebrate with my family around me and blow out some candles with a neighbor, who invited herself over so that I wouldn’t be alone on my birthday, and watch all 15 of our kids playing Twister and Ants in the Pants together instead of a romantic dinner and expensive presents. When it comes right down to it, “happy birthday” is all in your mind, it is a choice, it doesn’t matter that there is no phone service, (actually, it’s kind of nice not having it bug me all the time,) it doesn’t matter that there is no new bottle of perfume on the bathroom counter, (it would only get dusty and create clutter anyway.) I know that I am cared for, pampered on occasion, and loved.
My family loves me, my children love me, my husband loves me, and I even have some pretty nice neighbors who think I’m ok. But most importantly, God loves me and died to give me Eternal life. I was chosen before the foundation of time to be His and that is an overwhelming thought. God loved me before I was even born, enough to send his own son to die and pay the penalty of my sin. That indeed is what matters most, and birthdays don’t actually stink after all.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Last of the Canning

Today I finished the last of the canning for 2007, maybe. I said that Saturday too, and then I did some more. My friend Mrs T. gave me a recipe for tomato soup which was her mother's out of an old Kerr Canning book. I've made if for a few years now, the first year I scorched it, (oops) and had a rather barbequed taste to it. LOL, we finally finished eating it, (yuck). So last year I made a few more jars, but didn't eat all of it. I still have about 4 quart jars left from last year, but when Mrs T. made it this year it looked so much easier than I did before. I thought if I put it in pint jars, I could eat it for a healthy lunch. The kids don't care for it much, but I love it.
Last winter, I was at the local thrift store and found, to my delight, a Victorio Strainer with a few missing parts. The tag on the box said $2.99, a steal at that price, but it was half off that! So for $1.49, I got a great strainer--much sturdier thatn the red plastic version I had been using. I modified a "hopper" with my canning funnel, and used a garden hose gasket inside to keep things from dripping. I found a website with parts for it, but all I had to do was dig around in my toolbox for some masking tape and a gasket.
I got 28 pints of soup. That is if they all seal, the verdict is still out on some of them. Here is the recipe: (modifications by me in parenthesis.)
One note before I post this, if you are reading this and you work for some county extension office and have a problem with the ingredients I used or method of canning, please keep your comments to yourself. I realize that some of this is against the "Canning Bible Commandments" and I'll probably be subtecting my family to all kinds of fatal bacteria, but I did copy it directly from the Kerr Canning Book, it hasn't killed anyone from my family or Mrs. T's, so I think we are probably just fine.
Mrs. T's Tomato Soup
14 qts ripe tomatoes (18 qts)
7 medium onions (5)
1 stalk of celery (3 with leaves, minced in blender)
14 sprigs of parsley ( I didn't have any, so omitted this)
3 bay leaves (20 years ago, Bear asked me to "please don't put that in again", so this was omitted too.)
(1 T. Basil - instead of the offending bay leaves)
(2T. Fiesta Party Dip from Tastefully Simple, to add a little kick.) I was looking in my cupboard and started throwing things in, LOL
4 T. salt, ( I have an enormously huge jar of Season-All that someone gave me, I am trying to use it up, so I substituted this instead of salt.)
8 T. Sugar
2 tsp. pepper, (I sprinkled a large puddle on top of the soup and called it 2 tsp.)
(1 T. garlic powder, not salt, just powder, did that once, yuck!)
14 T. flour, (1 cup)
Mary adds about a tsp or so of cream of tartar to the flour to keep it from curdling in the next step. (I did too, mixed it right into the flour before I added it to the butter.)
14 T. butter (again 1 cup, I had more tomatoes)
Wash the tomatoes, run through the victorio strainer, mix the soup in a large stockpot and start the burner on a low simmer. (I used to cook it all first and then run the hot liquid-slop through the strainer. Mrs. T. did them cold this year and I thought it looked so easy, I'd give it another try.) Chop onions celery parsley, bay leaves, add to tomato juice. I ran it all through a few pulses in the blender with some of the tomato juice. I thought if the kids did eat it, there was no way they were going to eat the onions so I might as well blend it up anyway. Heat to a simmer. In a medium saucepan, melt better add flour and wisk together. Add a ladle-full of the soup slowly to the white sauce and wish quickly, (I reread this and laughed, because as you are wisking, you'll be wishing that is doesn't curdle, so I'm leaving the typo!) being careful not to get it too hot while you are mixing, (turn burner on low) Add about 3 or 4 ladles total then gradually add the mixture back into the large stock pot. Heat to a simmer. DO NOT BOIL, or it may curdle.

Fill quarts to 1/2" from top, (I did pints, like I said earlier) Put on lids and caps and screw finger tight. Process in a boiling water bath 15 minutes.

I just removed the last batch, I have one so far that didn't seal, I'm tired of the "canning failures" so I'll probably redo it, my fridge is filling with casualties. I had one chili from each batch that didn't seal, beef and chicken, so we have to eat that, then there's the peaches and pears and a stray jar of jam. (Time to clean out the fridge!!)

Friday, August 31, 2007

Quart Count

Well, I'm done canning for today, I finished 25 quarts of peaches, or rather, AZ-Girl and I finished them. She's my sweet neighbor from across the street. She has helped me do jams and jellies too. Very helpful!!
Then we started in on the 6 boxes of pears. We did two boxes tonight before dinner. I got 18 quarts of pears. I did 4 jars with green food coloring and two with red for Christmas dinners.
Hubby and Fordman, AZ-Girl's sweetheart are putting up my light fixture/pot rack tonight, yay!! We've only had it for about 6 months. Finally, I'll have light again over my sink.

No Yard Sale--Canning peaches and pears.

I was supposed to have a yard sale today with my neighbor across the street. We spend most of the day yesterday cleaning and sorting her garage for the sale. I had been sorting stuff for quite some time and had a pile ready in the garage. But unfortunately, it has been so hot in my garage that the pears and peaches are ripening too fast. I thought I had a week or more to get them done. So instead of selling, I'll be canning today. It actually will be a good day to be in the kitchen, it is a bit cloudy, imagine that, here, in Washington, cloudy! Go figure.
I cleaned the kitchen and have all my jars sorted, I'm doing pear halves, maybe, (I cut them up anyway for the kids, so I'm thinking why not cut them up now.)
I'll post tallys later.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Pics of the kids.

We have company here for the night. They are traveling to the coast for a vacation before school starts. DearFriend commented that BooBoo sure looks like me so I pulled out some photos of me when I was his age. Oh my goodness!! It is amazing the resemblance. I'll scan one of me and then post one of BooBoo for you all to see. Hubby wants to get BooBoo's hair cut, but I'm afraid his little curls will all go away if we do that. Miss Busy lost hers when we trimmed, and now she is completely straight. I say the curls stay for a while.
BooBoo is such a sweet baby. He has learned how to give kisses but prefers not to shower them on just anyone. I gave him a bite of peach tonight and he "said" thank you by blowing a kiss to me.
On a totally different note, I've lost access to my second computer with Memory Manager on it. The machine won't load, Hubby thinks it has a bad hard drive, we had 2hard drives linked together to give me more space for my pictures. I'm going to reload MM on my original machine, my Dell. and then try and recover the data on my grey machine. I had 600 photos that had not been backed up. I'm scared I may have lost them for good. Both of my 2 GB camera cards are nearly full so that may be all that wasn't saved in the program, but I would hate to lose all of that unsaved data. My grey machine only had MM loaded on it, so I haven't lost anything else. We were trying to save space on the dell by loading my pictures on another machine. So frustrating. If I reload MM, I'll have to resort some of my pictures, for some reason it doesn't get all the pictures in the right place. But sorting a couple hundred is better than 6000. I have over 6k in my Memory Manager right now. I'm feeling lost without it, I couldn't edit this baby picture of me as well as I would have liked. Sorry for the quality. I hope you can see the resemblance.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Jars Washed and Labeled.

Today after scrapbooking with the ladies at Faith, I came home and washed the jars and labeled them. I usually use a sharpy, but since I had so many to do, I decided to use my computer. I had some Avery labels and downloaded a template for printing them. How easy!! I love my computer! I had to trim them a bit, but made quick work of that with my Creative Memories Personal Trimmer. (You can get your own CM supplies by visiting my website and shopping online.)
I labeled them on the lids only so when they are used I can just throw them away and not have to scrape labels off the jars. I did that once, what a pain.

I had a successful scrapbooking Crop this morning, sold over $400, nearly half of that was from inventory. So that is money in my pocket, the other is for one new customer who is excited about the new Vintage Power Pallet. It is so cool, all the papers and stickers are coordinated, and very stylish. It makes for an easy album project. I'd like to be able to keep a running tally of the album pages I have completed since I started this blog, but I can't figure it out, if someone knows how, tell me know.
Heading off to sleep now, late night last night, and company coming tomorrow.

62 quarts and 1 pint!

Tomatoes, onions, garlic, herbs and spices. 9 am on Monday to after 2 am on Tuesday. hot stove, sticky floors, 4 loads in the dishwasher, soup and bread for the kids and Hubby, burning hands from the acidic tomaotes.

Couldn't have done it without DC and her son.

Absolutely exhausted.

I'm not blogging very coherantly, nor am I spelling correctly, I don't suppose. I have sat here for the last hour and a half trying to figure out my blog again, it has been nearly a year. Couldn't figure out how to post again. Finally, blogger just kind of figured it out on it's own. Good, cause I have no brains right now.

DC and her son came to help me to day and oh, my, what a blessing they were to me. I never couldn't have gotten it done without them. Last week, I made about 50-60 pints and half pints of jams and jellies. My cupboard is full out in the garage. Saturday, we got 5 boxes of Tomatoes, 6 boxes of pears and 3 of peaches. I thought I was going to be doing peaches, and pears today, but they were still unripe, so I did the tomatoes.

We diced onions, peeled cloves of garlic and mixed herbs and spices for Italian Sauce. I didn't really cook it all together, just added the stuff to the jars and I'll jazz it up when I make the spaghetti sauce later.

I'm tired, and I want this last batch to be done. Will try to add a picture.

Wow, what a struggle

That was so difficult, clear the cashe, (whatever,) resign in, blah blah blah. Why does it have to be so hard!!

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