right now

right now

Dec 13, 2012

but wait...there's MORE!

Oh yes, there's more... add to the Deployment Disaster list:  new axle for the other Subaru and the heat went out yesterday in my tenant's house!  Yes, this would be the $5K brand new heat pump we had installed 3 months ago, frozen!  At least they are of course covering this, but seriously?  The repair guy acted like it was completely reasonable for this to happen, this is America now, low expectations.

Anyone wanna trade lives just for about the next 6-9 months?  No takers?

Alright then.  Today's topic will be Thing Two:

This kid has been busy.

He is in the Lego Robotics League this year at school.  Really great program for the little mini-nerds engineers.  He stays after school 2 days a week and has volunteer engineering type adults from the community to help along with his Math & Science Academy teacher and a few high school students that are also in the program and come to help the younger elementary students.


Loch and BFF Kenny, who clearly is awesome.

Every year there is a "challenge" that they have to design a project for.  This year's challenge is to build something that will help senior citizens.  Below is Loch working on the project.


These Legos are no joke, below is one of the robots, there are Lego bricks he uses that are $240 apiece!  Needless to say, I am completely freaked out when he brings something home to work on or tweak a bit.


Here is Loch at a district competition.


Inside the competition.  There are teams from all over the state and the Washington D.C. area set up.  The competition goes all day with different events for presentation and judging.  This Lego League is active all over the U.S. right up through college/university level.  Geeks unite!


The school garden is looking good for winter this year:


Why can't my garden be this orderly looking?!


Last month Loch was selected as one of 30 students to compete in the National Geography Bee, and yesterday was the first competition.  After surviving about 10 questions of increasing difficulty, he was out in Round Two.  He did great and unfortunately the video I got of him was the one where he got the question wrong LOL!  Ooops.

The Setup...

...and he's out.  But to be fair, so was most of the 1st and 2nd row! 


 These are 4th and 5th grade students.  They did great, Loch at least made the first 2 cuts.  The winner was a 4th grade student from Loch's class, which isn't surprising because his teachers have been consistently amazing in his Math & Science program.  The winner goes on to state level next.
***
Add to this both kids are still in music lessons, Cub Scouts and now swim team which has practice twice a week and Saturday meets and you have one very tired mama!
***

Finn wants grandma to know that he's been busy, too!


Finn showing his improved time ribbon in the Freestyle, and Loch finished 1st place in the 50m Backstroke.  They are on the same team so there is a bit of brotherly competition!

Yes, I have completely lost my mind:


I am a stroke and turn judge at the meets.  Go ahead and laugh... just don't swim in my lane or I'll get revenge in the form of two letters:  D. Q.   !  (insert evil laughter here)

I do get to be up on deck the whole time, but consequently can't really watch what my own kids are doing, and one day I am going to have one of my own kids in my lanes and face the possibility of DQ'ing my own kids :)

I did manage to get one video at last Saturday's meet.  Loch is in Lane 2 (lane 1 is unoccupied so he's the swimmer on the left).  When you watch just imagine how much faster he'd be if he didn't stop at the turn to do his hair and makeup...  but I can't get on him too much, he was 1st place!


Sorry this post reads like a big brag book, but it's months worth of activity and I got to get rid of all the guilt I have been feeling for not posting the boys' stuff for the grandparents!  I think we may be up to date now on their shenanigans.



Dec 10, 2012

I gotta start somewhere...

Have I been too busy to blog?  Or is it that I am becoming a poor manager of my time in my old age?  Even though I am busier than usual and have had some situations thrown at me over the past few months, I think it is actually just a time management issue.  The "old me" used to blog in the morning early, like most of you do, I was good about it then.  The "new me" decided that I needed to get chores done in the morning and that I would blog in the evening, you know - after the kids were in bed and I could relax and blog in peace.  In reality I've found, I'm done by the time I finally herd the kids off - to do nothing more productive than check Facebook and flip channels on the tv looking for anything decent to watch (ha!).  Useless is what I am that time of day, useless.  I also find that these days I am more scatterbrained than usual, and my usual is OCD freak out Type A, so any amount of ADD I am not dealing with very well.  I think it's hormonal, but whatever, it's completely unacceptable in my book.

Hey I got some new boots!  (see? ADD)


So today I dump all my phone pictures onto the computer and I have 394.  394???  This is normally not a problem when I post 2 or 3 with a daily blog post, but now where do I start?  I spent 2 good hours deleting junk photos and still was left with a bunch.  Another thing I noticed, I have a penchant for having my camera handy when humorous things cross my path...

like this... I liked it



or maybe I just have a weird and sarcastic sense of humor.  I think that's it.  In any case I have enough strange photos now that I can ensure a regular WTH? weekly post for at least 2 months!

So I am left with a whole bunch of unrelated stuff that I will present in ADD fashion over the next few posts.  My mom probably wants to smack me for not posting photos of what the boys are up to so we will all have to endure lots of stuff of which has nothing to do with my suburban homesteading efforts, but I'll get back to that eventually.

Some of you may know that the hubs has left the building... he's out west in an undisclosed location that I like to refer to as Area 51 dropping bombs and doing Navy "stuff" in preparation for deployment.  It's a long one, he left right after Halloween and has missed Thanksgiving too.

He was here to vote and left the next day, wow it really has been awhile since I've posted!


It was cold that day!

Does your state let you use a Concealed Carry Permit as a voting ID?
awesome - totally using that next time :)

We had an "early" Black Friday before he left... bet you can guess where we are :)


Time for him to put on his lovely can't-break-em Navy issue glasses and say good bye!


A rare photo with me in it -


We spent a great Thanksgiving Day at a friend's house, which called for Mama Pea's Almond Cranberry Cake - it's becoming quite a tradition, I've made it for 3 years in a row now.


It's even better than it looks :)


Now that the sugary sweet stuff is out of the way, I'll give you a brief overview of the beginning of "Deployment Season".  We have our own reality show, and it's real.

*Starter went out in one of the Subarus.

*I got really sick, like ew.

*Then Finn got Strep.


*Then Loch got Strep

at the doctor we learned how much sugar is in a Mtn. Dew, good thing we don't drink them!


*Then I had a pipe break inside the wall behind the toilet. (this was exceptionally fantastic)

 Oh joy, on a Friday night too.  Text hubs and complain and scream and threaten to throw seabags on the lawn when he returns.  (Don't be alarmed, this is perfectly normal and acceptable behavior for a Navy spouse).  

Crawl under house, (ew) and shut off well pump. Cry some more.  

Then this appears...yes I believe this Honey Boo Boo good ol' boy truck is larger than my house!


2 Navy guys set up shop in my bathroom, jab a big hole in my wall (who cares about that?!) and proceed to put a patch job on there that is still holding today.  On a Friday night.  And wouldn't accept my money.  I did force cookies on them however and will make sure the hubs buys them lunch when he gets back.  Apparently these are a few of the guys that were left behind on this trip to keep an eye on the squadron and the hubs called them from Area 51 and dispatched them.  Don't know what they patched it with, don't care - they are awesome!  Immediately regret thoughts of throwing seabags on the lawn and now cry because I'm so grateful I have such a great husband.  Manic Depressive, anyone?

This is all normal that everything explodes, implodes, etc during deployment but the annoying thing this time is that deployment hasn't technically started yet!

The icing on the cake:  find out that hubs will get 5 days of leave for Christmas when he returns. Um, going to Minnesota is a 2 day drive, each way.  It's the Navy's job to make sure the hell will rain down on grandma, too.  Good thing she was a Navy wife herself, so she gets it, even if she doesn't like it :(

Many more things have been making me crazy lately, Loch had Lego Robotics League, both kids are on swim team, I'm a Cub Scout leader and they have music lessons to get to, I feel like I should have paid more attention to people when they warned me about how crazy it gets as they get older!

Up tomorrow, Loch was selected to compete in the Geography Bee, so hopefully I can get some video of that for grandma, but here's the letter, mom -


So hey, that's that - I did it, I'm back in the game!  Makes no sense I know, but eventually I'm going to find my way back to canning, seed catalog discussions and the like, at least I hope that's where I'm headed!  Speaking of, headed to a meeting to start the process of legalizing hens in our city, will be a long process I'm sure, but hopefully we will have a good turnout and lots of people that will fill the aisles at city council meetings.


Today's Goal...

I WILL BLOG LATER TODAY!  I have no excuses, and this is me officially stating that I refuse to be a lazy blogger any. more.   But you got to give me a few more hours :)

Oct 30, 2012

All is well!

Just a quick post to let you all know that Sandy was very anti-climactic here.  We did just fine - we didn't even lose power, that's a first!  We were very fortunate, we never saw winds above 55 mph, the only things to deal with were 12 inches of rain and the full moon tide cycle.  Flooding, but only streets and not the house.  The fence is down everywhere, but then again that happens all the time and isn't really considered a problem since it's easily fixed with a little work.  I did wake up one morning to the roof leaking, which upset me since the roof isn't very old, but hubs inspected and found that the wind was driving the rain up under the shingles and a nearby roof vent, it was easily controlled with a towel and bucket and ceased to be a problem as soon as the wind slacked up.  He'll inspect more once things have dried out.

My thoughts really go out to those up in Jersey, DE, MD and NY.  Uffda, they are going to have a long road ahead.  You bloggers affected please check in when you are able and know that our family is praying for you.

Musings...
-Anyone watching Gov. Chris Christie?  The guy is tops in my book!  Straight shooter, likable, unapologetic and says things like "We'll pay for it somehow - even if I have to cut programs we'll take care of this." Ha - who is going to argue when it's put that way?  I'm not sure if I'm impressed by him sometimes or just the fact that a government official can use so few words and be effective without any B.S.  Love the guy...

-Looks like  will be another "no lesson learned" storm for our local non-preppers, so I can expect to see the same madness the next time around... 

-Wish the news would release more about the HMS Bounty Tall Ship sinking off the coast here, I'd love to know what they were doing off the coast in the middle of a hurricane.  Sad to hear about the loss of life, but it is interesting that the ship sunk right in the middle of the "Graveyard of the Atlantic", isn't it?  I toured the ship during the OpSail 2012 event here, you may remember my post about all the tall ships this summer, it is an incredible vessel.

Coast Guard photo:

You can read more here

a photo of her with sails up - some of us have seen the ship in 'Mutiny on the Bounty', but even kids would know this ship as the one in "Pirates of the Caribbean"



- I keep thinking about the people going through this further up the coast, just devastating.  Experience is the best preparedness tool and nothing can substitute for it, sadly many of these areas just don't have that tool.  Next time they will but I sure am praying for them now.

Anyway... my damage is minimal but I still need to get to it - leaves stuck all over the floor in here, that always happens!  Put away some supplies I had standing by and then to deal with the yard.  It will be awhile before I can get out there and work much since the water table is saturated so it's a big puddle, but the fence needs to get back up because I don't care for walking dogs on a leash!  Still getting 35-40 mph gusts and light drizzle, but I'll take it over the rain of the last 3 days.

Take care everyone in the northeast, post pics and status updates when you can and let us know you are okay!


Oct 27, 2012

Stuff It, Sandy!

We're Ready... 


This marks the first year that I haven't needed to go to the store for anything before a storm!  I've always been pretty prepared, but have always felt the need for last minute stuff but no longer, this is a big accomplishment.  That didn't stop me however, from heading out to People Watch... I'm continually amazed at the mentality of some people, as well as the complete inability to "think outside the box".

Random observations:

Lines and parking lots that rivaled Black Friday at WalMart - I didn't even need to go in, the news showed me the photos of empty shelves and people that are desperate for water and "necessities".

On a whim (as I drove past a WalMart) I went into the Office Max across the street from WalMart.  Empty store and whaddaya know?  Shelves FULL of batteries and flats of water LOL

I went into a Kmart today, just to check it out... the camping aisles were completely empty, even sleeping bags LOL, where are people going, the KOA?  Shelves with tags that read Lanterns $49.99, 29.99 etc - empty.  Yeah, the kind that take canisters of fuel that people won't be able to find anywhere.  I headed into housewares where they still were full of hurricane lamps and "oh, look at that, 32 oz bottles of paraffin oil on sale for $1.99"!  LOL so even though I didn't need any more you better believe I bought them all, bahahahaha!  We won't talk about people freaking out because there is no bread anywhere yet we still probably have 24 hours left with power and the shelves were chock full of flour and yeast :)

I figured we could always use another grill lighter yet there were none at Kmart, so now I'm having fun with my challenge and stopped by a shady convenience store and there were about 6 people in there freaking out over the fact that there was no more cigarettes and malt liquor LOL but behind them glowing were grill lighters and loaves of BREAD!

Outside the box, people... stay the heck away from Walm@art!  

So, we are as ready as we'll ever be, generator to run the well pump for showers, lamps and oil, Kindle charged, knitting at the ready, lots of food storage, means to cook it outside, 6 gal containers of water that stay filled with drinking water, and plenty of containers to collect rainwater for flushing if we need it.  The most amazing thing that has definitely not gone unnoticed is that this late hurricane is happening when the temps outside are a fantastic 55-65 degrees - normal years the a/c goes off and we can look forward to 95 degrees, humidity and mosquitoes, so that's the bright side.  Between watching my parents deal with winter storms and pumps freezing over in Minnesota winters and all I've learned from my homesteader/prepper blogger friends I'd say we are more prepared than most, so thank you mom & dad and all of you!

With mommy getting over an illness and daddy dealing with broken ribs, (story for another day)  the boys have really learned how to pull their own weight a little more in moving and securing items and just helping in general... it's high time!


To Mom, I have had NO voice for 2 days (the family is enjoying that) so you will just have to believe me, we're safe!  I hope all my friends up in the northeast are having their preparations come together well and that you come through with little damage.  I look forward to hearing all your reports, see you on the other side!  Looks to be pretty crazy from the hurricanes we are used to, this thing is still 500 miles or more away from us and our surf is intense already and having high wind gusts, it just feels different - so get ready!

Oct 15, 2012

Summer camp all year long

I have been waiting for this day...

See that playset?  The one that the kids don't ever play on anymore?...


It's coming down!


I have often entertained the idea of turning it into a coop, or a potting shed - but what I really wanted was a... camp style canoe rack!


I don't think I had to lift a finger.  Hubs is fantastic with this stuff, as long as I can get him to "see what I'm seeing".  This was a tad difficult since he didn't grow up where canoe racks and summer camps were a common sight.  I think I might have jogged his memory with a showing of Friday the 13th.   

 After the kids helped daddy dismantle the old playset and salvage any lumber that wasn't split or rotted, they were off to get their supplies.  

Finn said he could help.  Uh-huh.


Hubs clearly thought I was describing a skyscraper canoe rack, but I can work with this.


Ta da!  Ok, I admit it stayed like this for several weeks.

It is huge, but incredibly useful.  We still have a big tandem kayak that was last seen floating around Minnesota/Wisconsin in my parent's garage... or someone's garage we know up there (we hope), so we have plenty of room for that as well.  It even holds our rooftop cargo box and will eventually have an attic shelf we can store some gear in.  Of course we can't afford a real roof LOL, so bamboo will do for now!  The kids have named it the 'Yak Shack.


That poor old yellow canoe is in desperate need of some TLC, that's what years of hot southern sun will do to your stuff here.

Another view, this thing is huge.  Bonus is that I can fit a couple of chairs under there so I will have some shade to read a book, knit, or any of those other things that I will honestly never get to do!  I'm sure we will do a little decorating with old life vests and cracked paddles to give it a little character :)


Hubs celebrated by smoking some pork in the rain.


For the uninitiated, that's not raw meat.  The pink is from the "smoke ring".  It turned out beautifully and now I have a ton of pulled pork in the freezer ready for quick meals.  I took a jar of my canned hot pepper sauce, added some extra vinegar and other random things and it made for a great NC style mop to go with it.  We will be enjoying this long after the hubs is on the other side of the Suez Canal :)


I've been doing some cooking of my own lately in celebration of cooler fall temps...


Chili 'n Jalapeno Cornbread

Rain expected this afternoon, but I'm hoping to at least get some pumpkins in the front yard and the porch cleared off of all our fishing gear and bait buckets - seriously, our porch looks pretty redneck right now since we have been busy with activities and Cub Scout stuff and not putting things away properly.  There's bait buckets, tackle boxes, even a bunch of camo painted boxes for a Cub Scout Nerf War, totally "Honey Boo Boo" out there.  Hubs' relatives are coming this weekend so I think I better clear a path!  


Oct 6, 2012

Free Download of Interest - today only!

Thought I would share this one quickly... one day only- free eBook from Amazon:


I haven't read it yet, but the title alone is great, and it's free today!  


Sep 27, 2012

I only thought the garden was done...

I lied, I thought the garden was done, kaput.  Then I remembered the other day that I asked hubby to leave the pepper bed alone since they were well behaved plants and weren't really infested with any sort of bugginess (is that a word?).  I've been up to other things inside the house and kind of forgot about checking up on them.  

All 16 pounds of them!


Nope, canning season wasn't over yet.


I also tried making hot sauce for the first time.  As usual, don't expect a recipe out of me, I don't use them.  I chucked a bunch of the mini-bell peppers that are a pain to freeze in the crock pot along with some jalapeƱos and a bunch of the yellow and green Trinidad Spice peppers you see in the photo above.  Added "a bit" of vinegar and a jar of last year's frozen tomatoes that were still in the freezer.  Cooked for several hours then blended with a stick blender, added salt and garlic, cooked a bit more and pressure canned a few pints along with a jar of fresh that we are using already.  Very yummy and now I'm thinking of making some of it into a bbq mop for our next pork smoking event, since the final sauce product flavor really hinted at it.  Not much of a recipe, but that's how I roll :)



Pickled jalapeƱos, Trinidad Spice Peppers, 6 qts frozen bell peppers (not pictured) and a bunch of hot sauce!


Although I'm not canning apples anymore, I still pick them up at the farm stand for fresh eating.  Finn is the apple connoisseur around here.  We all like them in some fashion, but for him it's a religious calling to sample every apple that passes by.


Above apples according to Finnegan:  "these are nice to look at, but taste gross"... there you have it.  These are Fuji I think, but I wouldn't judge any apple on this year's crop, apples have been dealt a difficult hand this year.

Speaking of bad crops, the pumpkin growers down here are calling it a total loss.  Crazy, the pumpkins look beautiful, but when you touch them or go to lift them, they collapse into a mess.  Too much rain.

So I've been avoiding the obvious, where the he(( have I been the past couple of weeks?!  I have no excuse for myself except motivation.  I have been busy with the kids's stuff, they have swim team, music lessons, Loch is in the Robotics Lego League, and of course we are Cub Scout leaders so that eats up a lot of time as well.  Of course none of this is a valid excuse for why I can't find 15-30 minutes to sit down and blog since you all do way more homestead-y chores and still manage to do it, I'm just a hot mess this year for some reason LOL.  Rest assured though, we are all alive and kicking and just waiting for the next wave of inspiration and industriousness to arrive.  Until then I'll continue cleaning up 2 square feet of the garden and losing interest or pulling all the stuff out of a cupboard to clean and then walking away from it with ADD  :)

There is a huge elephant who is not in the room yet, but can be heard wiping his feet off on the doormat outside... the deployment schedule has arrived.  Hubby leaves in just a couple of days and will only be home for 7 days over the next 2 months, after that we don't know how long he will be here before he leaves for 6-10 months.  We have heard this is the most condensed workup cycle that has been done, usually these training missions pre-deployment are a little more spaced out, but I guess we can thank the new crisis in the Middle East for that.  "New crisis" and "Middle East" should probably not ever go into the same sentence but I just did it LOL.  So anyway, now we aren't even sure if our holiday plans will be a go.  Oh well, I'm not afraid to say I can't stand Obama (military family, no big surprise there) but we will loyally "go with the program" and not complain too much, the deployment is needed and we've had him home for almost 2 years so we are fortunate.

Hubby took the boys camping last weekend!  I was home ALONE for a night!  I realized that I had never, ever been alone without any of them, how strange!  I'm not ashamed to say it was awesome.  :)


Hubs & the boys - Knotts Island, NC

What was really cool was that apparently he did indeed feed them and keep them from harm's way, they came back the next day intact.  I had to save my "I told you that would happen" for another day...


p.s.  I have been trying to keep up with everyone and none of my comments are posting on blogs unless I'm on my desktop computer!  I usually read my blogs on the laptop so I apologize, I'm going to see if I can find the issue tonight.

Sep 10, 2012

Work!

Today is the first day in months that we have seen a high temperature only in the 70's, and I can't even begin to describe what that does for my mood and motivation!  Even though these temps mean only one thing right now...WORK... the work is so enjoyable now.  As you all know by now I didn't do one thing this summer except harvest and canning, so that means the garden, er, weeds are about 12 feet tall.  Here's a quick post and then I need to get back at it!

Hubby's taking the back yard and the heavy initial "clearing" while I'm taking the front yard today to try and get some curb appeal back.

No joke... these ornamental grasses are 10 feet tall and were obscuring our pathway to even get out of our gravel perennial garden/seating area.  I had already forgotten I had a yard and garden beyond this "walled in" room!


This is the view looking out my back door.  This is a deck, so it's crazy how high the grasses grew this year, this area is probably at 10-12 feet tall.  See how easy it was to forget the garden mess this year?  Out of sight, out of mind :)

 

Paused to enjoy a flower in the barrel pond...


They are here!!!


I won't know how they work for awhile yet, I plan on using up the open boxes of metal lids first.

We had a great day at a big event here Saturday, but that will have to wait another day, I need to get back out and man my scythe!  I imagine it will take the better part of a month to get the homestead whipped back into shape and it won't happen by itself, it's already proved that :)  We are actually supposed to have a low in the upper 60's tonight which will feel fantastically arctic compared to the past few months, I'm hoping for an open window kind of evening!

Sep 5, 2012

It may be hot still....

But it's fall in the kitchen!  We went apple picking and managed to get enough to put some up for winter.  The orchards around here are in dismal shape, most are rotting on the branch or just look awful, it made for a time consuming hunt to find the good ones!  All we get here due to our climate are Red and Golden Delicious, but I'll take what I can get and live vicariously through those of you who live far enough north to get the coveted Honeycrisps!



We ended up with 2 pecks, or what weighed in at home as right at about 20 lbs.  I would love more, but the condition of the apples along with the heat, humidity and mosquitoes had me quitting early!  Maybe another weekend I'll get more.


I finally relented and bought an apple peeler/corer/slicer.  


I spent the evening making apple pie filling to preserve.  Maybe my family will actually get more than one apple pie out of me this fall if all I have to do now is open a jar and dump it in!

This was only part of it, I had to do two batches or my poor burner would never be able to heat up that big pot!


Now that I have the peeler/slicer, I'm able to get the thin slices I prefer for pies.  I like my pies to have almost no syrup in them so they will pack into a pie nice and tightly with these.  The last time I made a pie I didn't have a slicer and tried to get them thin with a paring knife, ugh... never again!


Apple Pie in a Jar - bring it on, winter!


We were invited to a Labor Day cookout at a friend's house, so I also made an Apple Crisp, my first one ever.


It didn't end up looking like my grandma's, but I guess it turned out okay anyways - 


here is the pan an hour later... hmmm, of course it could have been awful and they were just being nice, they are nice people after all :)


a quick trip to Open House for Loch to meet his new teacher and see his desk -


then yesterday they were off!  Can you hear me shouting for joy?  I'm not being mean, they wanted back in school as much as I wanted them there.  This unbearable heat has made for some cooped up and bored children, and a frustrated mommy.  I love fall, always seems like time for a fresh start.


Marley took no time at all in getting back into her school bus waiting schedule.


I sat around in shock for a bit in the morning, then I figured I better get a plan together quick before they came home, so all I got done was jarring up some Apple Butter than had been going in the crock pot.  With that, all the apples are now dealt with.


Enjoyed a truly local summer dinner.  Although only the bread and onions here are mine, I was able to source the corn, potatoes, butter and pastured pork sausage from a local farm.  I didn't even realize it until we sat down to eat, but it certainly makes me smile to think that everything on my plate came from my own town.


Happy Back to School all you other mamas out there, enjoy!