Sunday, August 31, 2008

Oregon: What's In A Name?

I'm getting close to the ending in my book, Undaunted Courage. In reading this book a question came to mind. Where did Oregon get it's name?

Obviously, it is a name that has been around for awhile. A name known to folks in Lewis and Clark's time. Then it was known as the Oregon territory, and it encompassed a larger portion of land, as did the Louisiana territory. Back then the Columbia River was also known as the Oregon, or Oregan river.

I was able to glean this much from the book. In order to learn more about the origins of the name Oregon, I needed to do some more research. Unfortunately, I was not able to come up with a definative answer, but I was able to learn of a couple different possibilities, and from there, I was able to come up with what I felt was the most probable language and origin of the word.

The History of Naming Oregon, at discusses the general timeline, and in particular the first known use of the words Oregan and Oregon, as well as the original spellings, the first of which would be from what I would assume was an English fellow, Major Robert Rogers, who mentioned it in a report to King James the III, in 1765. In this document he says the Indians called it "Ouragon".While evidently there has been no evidence found that shows this name in any Indian language, I'm thinking he had to have gotten it from somewhere... The other thing to take into consideration with the lack of evidence, is that not only did many of the tribes of that time suffer, and even completely die off, due to diseases contracted from the white folks, but those who did survive were in such low numbers that they quickly assimilated themselves into the white world, their customs and languages lost within 1 or two generations.

According to this same site, "Another possibility is the derivation comes from Wau-re-gon, Indian for "beautiful water". This too has not been substantiated."

Searching further I found,who mentions another possibility, "The origin of the state name is uncertain, but might have been derived from a 1715 French map which refers to the Wisconsin River as "Ouaricon-sint." ...Hmmm. Personally, while I do notice the similarity in names, I'm having a hard time wrapping myself around a river in far NW territory being named after a Wisconson river.It's possible, but I'm thinking the other two possibilities are more probable.

Then there's who says, "...World Book Encyclopedia states: The Columbia River was at one time called the Oregon or Ouragan, which means Hurricane in French."

Given the rather vivid descriptions from Lewis and Clark, as well as the trade traffic which came to the mouth of the Columbia, as well as up the river a ways, followed by the trade between the natives, and certainly communications between them, as evidenced by the trinkets and other goods Lewis and Clark noticed in the natives up and down the Columbia, I can see this as a distinct possibility. Another thing I notice is the spelling similarity between Ouragan, and "Oregan", a spelling Jefferson used.

Of course one can't completely discount the Wau-re-gon either. After all, if the name came from natives, they did (and still do) find the Columbia to be a source of beauty, as well as an inportant, perhaps at one time even revered source of sustenance.

As much as I enjoy being set apart, as one who doesn't necessarily follow the crowd, I am inclined, in this case to go with the flow, and agree with the general consensus, Ouregan, both for it's meaning, and it's timeline, although, if that is the case, then I expect it was a name picked up by the natives from a traveler/trader, rather than from the native language.

The more romantic side of me though, would rather think my second choice is the correct one, "Wau-re-gon"

What are your thoughts?

Saturday, August 30, 2008

More Kitchen Fun And A Book!

Pa needed to make an extra trip to town yesterday, in order to pick up something we were unable to acquire on Thursday. He also stopped by the Library to pick up a book we had on hold that came in about an hour after we left there on Thursday. I was just finishing up my dishes when he returned home, and I was just delighted with the all he had to show me!

The first thing he held in front of me was the sieve I had requested he try to locate while in town. It was larger than I expected, and that suited me just fine. The larger size will be much more diverse in it's uses. Next was a large cast iron dutch oven. The dutch oven we've been using is perfect for most of my needs, but there are some things that a larger one would come in quite handy for. Again, I was just tickled! The third, and last item Pa pulled out for my inspection was the book he had picked up at the Library. I was one happy Ma!

The first thing I did, was wash the sieve, then set about to rinse and cook the blackberries the kids had harvested earlier. As they were simmering on the stove, I opened the book, The Encyclopedia Of Country Living, by Carla Emery. Oh my goodness! What a book! I could barely tear myself away from it to tend the simmering fruit in the other room. Within the hour, I was online, and at Powell's, determining the availability of this book. Pa walked by, looked at the screen and started laughing. "I knew it! As soon as I saw what book it was I knew I'd have to buy one for you!" Hehe. He knows me so well! I haven't ordered it yet, but know I'll have to. It's just a must have for my library. It is the perfect companion to my earlier purchase, Country Wisdom & Know How.

Back to my simmering blackberries... The kids had managed to glean probably 2 cups of the ripe berries, to which I added about a cup of sugar. Lindsay and I took turns stirring as they simmered. Once we determined they had cooked long enough I dumped them into my new sieve and pushed them through, in order to seperate the seeds. I plopped the bowl containing the resulting syrup into the freezer to cool down while the vanilla ice cream sat out, softening. Once the syrup had cooled down I began layering ice cream and syrup into a 1/2 gallon container.Since Lindsay had helped with the syrup, Nathan got to do the marbling. Pa and the kids had blackberry marbled ice cream for their dessert last night. Everyone was thrilled with the results! I may have a hard time beating that creation next week.

I have a new batch of yogurt "brewing" right now, and am about to begin another grand kitchen experiment. Saturday is rapidly turning into our beany supper night. Last night I got my beans soaking. Today, I'm experimenting with a recipe for an old favorite of both Pa's and mine, bean and bacon soup. As much as we enjoy it, Campbells soups have become pricey enough that we don't tend to grab them off the shelves too often. I figured why not try and make my own. Keep your fingers crossed it will be a successful experiment, and that the kids will enjoy it as well!

Hope the beginning of this Labor Day weekend is a wonderful one for all of you! Stay safe, and have fun!

Friday, August 29, 2008

We All Scream For Ice Cream

Had a great trip to town yesterday. The kids loaded up their bookbags with oodles of books as usual, then we were off on our shopping excursion.

We started off at Grocery Outlet, as usual. I was a bit disappointed that they didn't have any whole wheat flour or baking soda. They did have unbleached white flour though so grabbed a bag of that, and was pleased to note Safeway had both the other items on sale, so it worked out. The other grocery item I was tickled to see added to our cart at the grocery outlet was the big tub of vanilla ice cream.

There are two reasons that particular purchase made me happy. First off, we store our big tubs of ice cream in the chest freezer, filling a smaller container we keep in the house for the weekly supply. What I plan to do with the vanilla is flavor each individual batch so the kids won't tire of having the same flavor served to them for weeks on end. This morning the kids headed outside and picked blackberries, which I plan to cook up with some sugar and push through a sieve to remove the seeds. Then the kids can help me layer the vanilla ice cream and blackberry mixture before marbling it. I'm looking forward to the process, and the kids are eagerly anticipating the flavor combination they helped create.

The other reason I was excited about this purchase is the container itself! Once the last of the vanilla ice cream has been scooped from the container I will wash it up, and it will make a handy container for any number of uses. Now all I need to do is decide what it's designated use will be! It could be used as a canister for larger amounts of flour, or perhaps as a craft supplies container. Then again, it would be a great size for storing a full "recipe" of my laundry detergent, rather than splitting it into two coffee cans. I could do as many others, and utilize it as a small trash can. I don't think I'll do that though. I'm sure other ideas will come to me as well. Oh the possibilities! However will I decide?

I'm thinking another large tub of ice cream is in our future, or 3, or 4.... ;-)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

New Duds For A New Season

When I was a youngster, I remember our annual trips to Portland for school clothes shopping. It was a trip I always looked forward to.

As homeschoolers we don't feel the need for the big school clothing shopping event, but the kids were in need of some things we couldn't find, or aren't inclined to purchase at the thrift stores so we figured we may as well do it up right. Yesterday, we made an unscheduled extra trip in to town in order to remedy that situation.

It's been awhile since we've visited K-Mart and we thought it might be fun to head that direction for a change. The first thing we noticed upon arriving was the parking lot, one of the largest parking lots in the area, was all but empty. I found that a bit sad for some reason, and it made me wonder why Sears bothered having two different stores in our area, one for tools and large appliances, and the other, K-Mart. Wouldn't it make more sense to combine the two? But then, what do I know?

We headed inside, and to the children's clothing departments. Lindsay and I stopped at the girls section, while Pa and Nathan headed on to the boys section. Both parties found several items to tote into the fitting rooms. Pa and Nathan made it to the fitting rooms first. As Lindsay and I entered our chosen room, and began trying things on, I found it amusing to note Pa and Nathan's voices coming from the room right next to us. I suppose, with the limited customer base, they don't see a need for seperate sections for guys and gals.

When Lindsay finished trying on her clothing, and choosing the preferred items, we were then off in search of some jammies for her. We had a heck of a time with that search. What surprised me the most about it was that the employees probably outnumbered the customers by at least three to one, yet we couldn't find anyone to point us in the right direction. We finally gave up and I headed over to the women's and juniors section, thinking I might find something that would do the trick for her there. We got lucky, and found a size small set that Lindsay liked. I was surprised to find it fit her perfectly. Durn kids, really need to slow down on those growth spurts!

Naturally, Pa and Nathan finished with their shopping before Lindsay and I did. They then moped about a bit, looking bored while Lindsay and I finished up, trying to enjoy ourselves and not feel too rushed by our other half. Pa wonders why I seize upon every opportunity to send him and Nathan off on other missions while Lindsay and I search for clothing. You wouldn't think it would be all that difficult for him to figure out ;-)

The sun is shining again today, and we're all looking forward to our regularly scheduled trip to town. The kids are both sporting new clothing. Nathan doesn't seem nearly as excited about that as Lindsay is. She's all excited about modeling her new fashions for the folks at the library. All Nathan cares about is that he has a pocket for his wallet. I wonder if it's a gender thing?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

One Minute - One Hour - One Page At A Time

When I was a child I enjoyed reading, a lot! As I got older I read less. That's not to say I didn't still enjoy reading. I just got so busy with other things that I guess I just didn't manage to take the time for it.When my first child was born I found I had even less time for reading. I did read to her, but that's not quite the same thing.

Maybe thirteen years ago I rediscovered my passion for reading. Pa and I would sit outside, in the lawn chairs and read for hours at a time. I enjoyed that time, not only for the reading, but also for the quiet, peaceful time Pa and I were spending together. Sometimes we would share excerpts of what we were reading with each other. Pa also liked to read at night. At times he would read portions of his book to me. There was something really great about that.

Then came Nathan. After Nathan was born, it seemed I had a hard enough time finding time to grab a quick bite to eat, let alone sitting down and devouring the printed word! Once again, I stopped reading. I missed my reading time, but managed to fill up my days with other enjoyable pursuits, spending time with, and getting to know my son.

About 15 months later Nathan's sister arrived. If I didn't have time for reading after Nathan was born, I sure didn't have time for it now! Two young'uns, both in diapers, both needing my attention in similar yet different ways took up all my time.

My babies are growiing up, much faster than I would like. Nathan is now 11 years old, rapidly approaching his teen years. Lindsay is 9. She'll make it to the double digits before the year is out. Both of my younger children are avid readers. They seem to enjoy reading as much as I did when I was their age. Although I do wish time would slow down a bit, that the seconds and the minutes in the days could hesitate long enough in their ticking that I could relish the moments in their childhood just a bit longer, I've found there are some benefits to their advancing ages.

I can read again! Eight years ago Pa recieved a wonderful book for his Birthday, "Undaunted Courage". I was excited to have this book join our combined library, as it was one I had heard a lot about. Throughout the last eight years, I have attempted to read this book. I have managed a paragraph or two, sometimes even a couple pages at a time before being interrupted by the life that surrounds me. I picked the book up again a couple weeks ago. Although I wasn't able to just sit down and read for hours at a time as in the past, I have managed one to two hours at a time with minimal interruptions.

Last night, Lewis and Clark "&c." made it over the mountains, into the valley, and down the mighty Columbia. When I closed the book about 10:30 last night, they had just decided upon their site for the winter, and named it, "Fort Clatsop". Tonight, I am looking forward to reading the next chapter. At this rate I may actually manage to finish this remarkable book by weeks end. It only took me eight years!

I do have some recollection of the beginning chapters of the book, which covered Lewis's childhood, and introduced his mother who I found to be a very interesting woman. At some point, I think I'll pick this book up and read it again, if for no other reason than I would like to get reacquainted with his Mother. Hopefully, the next reading won't take me quite so long.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Incredible Talking Floor

As most of my family knows, and my husband finds rather amusing, there are times I find it necessary to talk to inanimate objects. On more than one occasion Pa has walked into the kitchen, with a confused look on his face, asking who I'm talking to. That always seems an odd question to me. Isn't it obvious? I'm talking to the dishes! I may be talking to a plate, a glass, an errant piece of silverware that is swimming around in the sink, using every trick it can think of to evade my grasp. Or I may be talking to the dishcloth which has decided to be difficult.

I've been known to talk to my computer, and have had some quite interesting conversations with the vaccuum cleaner. I've even chatted it up with the living room couch.

Yesterday, my ability to communicate with beings that are not normally able to talk back came in handy. Yesterday afternoon, at the inisistance of my son, I found myself talking to the bathroom floor. By now the idea of me talking to the bathroom floor may not seem all that surprising. The really incredible thing about this particular situation was that the bathroom floor was actually talking back to me. Not only that, but I had witnesses! As a matter of fact, both my children joined in on the conversation!

Yes, that's right. My two children, who have never to my knowledge spoken to an inanimate object before, were in the bathroom with me. We all three were gathered around a small area of the bathroom, looking down, talking to the floor. And the floor was talking back to us! Not only was the floor talking back to us but, perhaps thinking we couldn't understand floor language, it was tapping out a code of some sort! Now, I've never had a seemingly lifeless form actually talk back to me, so naturally, I was anxious to hear what the floor had to say! Turned out the bathroom floor had a request. There was something it felt it needed and it needed my help in acquiring it!

It began by asking me if the knocking sound was where I wanted it. To tell you the truth, I wasn't really sure I wanted a knocking sound placed anywhere in my bathroom, but it seemed quite insistent and it was being kind enough to offer me a choice, so I responded by letting it know the approximate area the knocking seemed to be coming from. It wasn't happy with that location, so it knocked in another area. I wasn't thrilled with that location, right at the base of the sink cabinet, and so our knocking game continued.

I told the floor perhaps it would be better nearer the wall. The floor responded by asking which wall? "The outside wall" I said. That seemed to confuse the floor even more. It wanted to know "which outside wall?" I had to think about that one for a minute. I looked at my children. They seemed as confused by the question as I was. We were all of the understanding that there was but one outside wall in the bathroom. I then thought, perhaps, being a bathroom floor, it considered all 4 walls surrounding it as outside walls. Alrighty then! I merely needed to think like a floor!

We continued our knocking game, me attempting to direct the floor in a certain direction, the floor seeming more and more confused by my human explanations. At one point, not really sure exactly where the knocking was located, I bent down and knocked back at it. The floor and I knocked back and forth at each other for a few minutes, and there were times the floor was sounding rather desperate, but we finally settled upon a satisfactory location.It was at this time that the floor refrained from any communication whatsoever. It no longer talked to us. It stopped knocking at us.

A few minutes later Pa joined us. I showed him the area where the strange knocking was last heard. He seemed to know what it was all about!

Today, Pa is heading into town. He's going to the local hardware store, where he plans to pick up some supplies which he says should put an end to the mysterious communications from our floor! He seems to think the floor needs some breathing space or something, so he's going to make a hole in it, just a few inches from where we last heard the knocking. Then he's going to run a pipe through that hole, and connect it to a couple other pipes that run underneath the floor.

An added bonus is, this area just happens to be quite near where we plan to place my new washer, and the pipes Pa plans to tap into in order to alleviate the floors apparent breathing problem, are the hot and cold water lines. Pa says those lines are just what we need to get my washer up and running.

Hopefully, by tomorrow, both the floor and I will be happily humming along. Perhaps the floor will talk to me again. I hope it's happy with the changes!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Still Groovin' ...

Recently, Happy Hearts At Home posted an entry about her hobby of collecting Vintage sheets. Being a curious sort, and one who enjoys antiques I asked how I might be able to tell vintage sheets from newer. She responded with a very good description of a box of sheets that I, the confessed packrat, have safely stored away. These are sheets I used as a teen. At the time they were new sheets, and some of them made what I felt was a very cool, even hip statement!

On one occasion, several years back, I decided to surprise Pa by making the bed with one of these sets of sheets. The set a chose were white, with bold red and blue flowers, the sort of pattern Peter Maxx may have come up with. When he went to bed that night it was dark, and he didn't notice. Come morning however, when he opened his eyes, and discovered he was sleeping on a bed of large, vivid red
and blue flowers, he was awake within seconds. Those sheets served to wake him faster, and more completely than the most potent cup of joe! I have since been banned from using that particular set of sheets on our bed. The kids, however have been treated to them on occasion.

Thinking about my box of sheets, all neatly folded in their box, as well as all those bags and boxes of clothing I somehow managed to save from my youth I wonder...If these sheets, and perhaps my clothing, all those boxed up memories are considered vintage, the music from my youth, which I still enjoy is considered "the classics", then what does that make me?

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Sunday Sun Day

Yesterday was a beautiful day, all day long, and today looks to be a repeat. While my family took advantage of the sun, I had fun experimenting, both inside and out.

Early in the day, with Pa's assistance, we covered several milk jugs with black plastic and set them on the shelves of Nathan's greenhouse. We watched as the temperature inside the greenhouse soared beyond what the thermometer could read, and hoped the jugs of water would retain the heat throughout the night. Last night we noted it was about 10º warmer in the greenouse than it was outside, about 8º warmer than without the jugs the night before. This morning, I checked the temps again. 2º difference. Hmmm. Looks like we're on the right track, but more experimenting to do. I've got some ideas floating around in my head, but need to figure out how best to turn those ideas into reality.

While the greenhouse and the sun were busy doing their little dance, I was busy in the kitchen. We picked up another 4 lb. bunch of bananas at the Grocery Outlet on Thursday, and still had 5 bananas left from the previous bunch which I needed to use up. Since last weeks experiment with the cornbread went so well, I decided to give banana bread in the dutch oven, on the stove top a try. It actually turned out pretty good, although not perfect. A portion of the bottom was burned, and the top wasn't quite done. I remedied the latter problem by heating up a skillet and plopping the bread in there, upside down, then heating until it was lightly browned. The burnt bottom portion, well, all I could do with that was shave it off. We all had a slice last night and everyone enjoyed it. Of course, like Nathan's greenhouse, it's got me scheming for future experiments ;-)

While the braead was baking, I pulled out the blender and started dumping the ingredients for cocoa mix in. 1 part cocoa, to 3 parts each sugar, powdered milk, and creamer. Gave it all a whirl and poured it into an empty creamer container where it now awaits cooler weather, and pleas from my children for a warm beverage.

Once that was done, I didn't want to waste a perfectly good, cocoa dusted blender container, and I had a couple bananas that still needed using, so I plopped them in, added some powdered milk, cold water, a wee bit more cocoa and a bit more sugar, along with several ice cubes. As the kids covered their ears, I gave it all a good whirl and filled their cups with the resulting sweet and creamy mixture. It made more than I was anticipating, so Pa and I got to split the remainder. It really turned out quite good. Just the right combination of chocolate and banana, with just enough sweetness to make it a treat while not being overpowering.

After all that activity, I had plenty of dishes to keep me busy while I waited for my banana bread to finish baking. It ended up baking on top of the stove, on a very low heat for about 70 minutes, after which I pulled it, and let it set off to the side, with the lid on for another 15-20 minutes, before finishing it off in the skillet.

Dinner last night was a throw together utilizng ground beef with plenty of onion, and the left over beans from last week. Tomato wedges and cottage cheese added some balance to the meal, as well providing some much needed color. Not exactly a highlight supper, but it was good and filling so did the trick.

Saturday Night At The Movies

The kids happily munched on freshly baked banana bread during their weekly feature event, The Indian In The Cupboard. Rated PG for mild language, violence and "brief sexy dancing", as a Mother I was looking out for these scenes. There was some mild language, as uttered by a rather upset cowboy, played by David Keith, from way back. Pretty much what you would expect from such a fellow ;-) There was some violence, which combined with the language causes me to agree with the rating. The "sexy dancing" must've been hiding pretty good. The only hint of that I saw was during the characters flipping through the TV channels, and then it was merely imagined (by me) in the background during a musical video. This film was enjoyed by all 4 of us, imaginative, enough action to keep the kids entertained yet not overwhelming, and even contained some moral messages. I would recommend this film for family viewing provided said family's younger members are at least 9-10 years of age.

This morning, Pa is heading to U-Haul to pick up the hand truck he reserved over the phone yesterday. Since there were no ramps available we'll be making do with some thick boards. I'm a bit frustrated as the weather the last couple days has been perfect for drying laundry out on the line, but am keeping my fingers crossed the sun will hang around a bit longer. This afternoon's unloading and manuevering could make for a rather entertaining sight!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Sunshine Dreams

Yesterday, we went to town and picked up my new washer. It looks great sitting in the back of the truck ;-) Owning one himself, the young man that brought it out for us was full of helpful information. However, he did not know how much it weighed. The other young man that operated the machine that picked it up and placed it neatly in the back of our truck did know how much it weighed, 325 pounds. Uh-huh! Now Pa is really quite strong, and I'm pretty good at helping out, but 325 pounds is just a wee bit beyond our limit!

Once home,Pa covered the washer, already wrapped in plastic with a tarp and there she sits, in the back of our truck. I'm sure the kitties had a grand time checking it out last night as we slept. Today, Pa will be giving U-Haul a call, and hopefully following up with yet another trip to town today, to rent a hand truck and perhaps a couple ramps, so we can wrangle my new washer down, out of the truck and into the house. Should prove to be entertaining.

After our trip to town yesterday , Nathan seemed to be in a bit of a funk. He said something about his plans for the day not being realized, but other than that wasn't willing to share. We allowed him some personal space for a bit, then I went out and shared with him some ideas for his greenhouse. He perked right up. We found an outside thermometer we could do without, and he placed that inside his greenhouse so he could track the temps. Today, we will be fashioning some solar collectors for the shelves, and check the temps some more, to see how that may change things, especially at night (evening and morning temp checks)

Once the thermometer was in place, Nathan busied himself preparing a yogurt cup as a small planter, filled it with soil from his new bag of organic potting soil, planted a few romaine seeds and placed it inside, on the top shelf of his greenhouse. The experiment begins. We're all excited to see how it goes.

The morning fog has lifted and it looks like it may be another sunny one today. I'm hoping the warmer sunny weather will hold through next week so we can finally get to work on our Power House science project! After the initial excitement, and eagerness to proceed , the lack of sunny days, along with the overly abundant wind gusts this summer resulted in a bit of a let down for us. We needed to be able to depend on the sun for the beginning experiments, and our solar friend just wasn't cooperating! We made do with some other lessons, but are keeping our fingers crossed that we'll be able to proceed this next week. In a way it's kinda neat, in that Nathan's greenhouse fits in so well with the Power House lessons.

The odd weather did provide us with a lesson of it's own. Perhaps solar alone wouldn't serve us well here. Perhaps, as with those on Dragon Island, we would need to depend on the wind as well. Of course the idea of going completely off grid is little more than a fun fantasy for us, though it's not complete madness to consider at least cutting back on our dependence on the Power Company at some point, perhaps just a wee bit at a time. It all adds up, and would make for some great science and life lessons for the kids.

I'm pleased to note I managed to wake a bit early this morning, which provides me with more time to accomplish all I have planned for the day. With the sun smiling down on us, and so many grand plans, today just can't help but be a memorable one!

Friday, August 22, 2008


Good morning and Happy Friday! Made it through another week with flying colors :)

This morning, you may have noticed a slight change in my blog. I've been noticing some confusion as to who I am when I post in various places around the web, and what folks should call me. While I will answer to just about anything, I figured it was time for a bit of continuity. I did not want to lose "Kim's Mom", but have increasingly been known as Boondock Ma" or some variation, so I chose to add "Boondock Ma" as my main identity, with "Kim's Mom" in parentheses. This way, I hope to alleviate some confusion, while retaining my old familiar identity for those who have been following me a bit longer.

Upon saving my name change, I noticed that somehow, I had inadvertently added an "industry" to my profile. My first inclination was to go in and change it right away. Then I thought about it a moment. Although I do not attend a formal school, I am a student of sorts. I homeschool my children, which could classify me as an educator, but more than that, I am learning. I am learning from my children, from my husband, from my extended family. I learn something from most everyone I meet, no matter how briefly, and I learn from experiences every day. I am a student of life. I chose to allow my new occupation label to remain.

This afternoon we are heading into town once again. Normally, I would not consider this a good thing, as I really do like to limit our driving time, but today is different. This afternoon, assuming all went well on the other end, we get to pick up my new clothes washer! This is something we've needed for some time now. Although our "old ancient one" has served us well, it's been showing some noticeable signs of age, getting tired, seeming almost to be begging for retirement. Last week, it decided it had had enough, and quit on us.

The "old ancient one" will remain in place for now. It is in a room which is seldom used, and really not adequate as a laundry room. The new washer will have it's own place, which means we'll be making some changes to accommodate it.We do want it to be happy after all! I'm doing my best to keep in mind that our newest family member will not be springing to life, performing it's duties within minutes of it's arrival. I am however, hoping to have it completely set up and humming along before weekends end.

Yesterday, I had a hard time deciding what to wear. I have several articles of clothing, either new or "new to me", that I was anxious to wear. After trying on several different pairs of jeans, and determining each of them to be too long or too baggie for my mood, I finally settled on the pair I had worn last time we went to town. Then it was on to the top half. That was a much more difficult decision. I tried one on that I really liked, and which my family agreed upon, but it was a cool, short sleeved top and the morning air was feeling a bit nippy, and looked rather gray, so I continued, trying on a couple more warm weather tops just for the heck of it, before heading on to the cooler weather tops which I thought might be more appropriate for the days weather. I finally settled on a sweater and was happy with that choice for a couple hours.

Then something amazing happened. The sun came out! A fresh, bright blue sky overcame the gray. Wisps of steam began emerging from the ground, and when I ventured outside I found I was uncomfortably warm. What a difference a day makes! I headed back inside and began sorting through clothing once again. Finally settled on a nice all season top, which was cool enough for the day, with longer, 3/4 length sleeves. I figured this one would get me through pretty much whatever the weather decided to throw at me.I did grab my jacket on my way out the door, but the day continued to warm up, leaving my jacket looking rather forlorn, sitting on the seat for the entire trip. What a glorious day!

From the looks of things, today will be more of the same. It's like Mother Nature has decided today is a day for celebrating! I tend to agree. It's Fun Friday, a day not to be wasted; A day to celebrate life, and all it may bring our way!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Pondering A Lifestyle

Livin' in the boondocks has presented some challenges. For the most part, I've greeted those challenges with eager anticipation. I like a good challenge. At times I've overcome those challenges. More often though, I've made compromises, and usually, have found those compromises to be quite satisfying, even better than completely conquering them may have been.

In the past, I've read books and articles. I've scoured the internet. I've gleaned information from various sources, including frugal living sites, Homesteading sites, "Green" sites, and even a couple survivalist sites. All this research, along with current events, and our choice of residence has brought me to the conclusion that, for us anyway, less really may add up to more, and we may need to look to the past, at least to a point, in order to sustain ourselves in the future.

Yes, there are modern day conveniences which we now find ourselves depending upon. In fact, some modern developements may be utilized to enhance what some may consider a more "backwards" or "primitive" style of living. Solar power for example; Although there are some aspects of solar power which may be harnessed using quite simple techniques, for a totally "off the grid" experience, we would probably need to depend on modern technology to deliver.

Tuesday, during our trip to town, we stopped by Sears where we chose a new washer. In all likelihood, we will be acquiring said washer tomorrow afternoon. I'm really looking forward to it! As much as I enjoy getting back to basics, I'm not willing to labor over a tub of sudsy water, rotating dirty laundry with my hands, then doing the same for multiple rinses. I am hooked to the convenience of a modern day washer. As a bonus, we've found this modern appliance is more energy efficient, and conserves water, while processing larger loads of laundry at a time. Due to these features, we are actually eligable to recieve a rebate check from our power company. We're just winning all the way around with this purchase!

Drying those clothes however, is a completely different matter. I enjoy hanging my clothes outside on the line, bringing them in when dry and breathing deep of the almost heavenly aroma. I even find some enjoyment in drying laundry on the rack, by the woodstove on those days the weather isn't cooperating. I definately have a sense of accomplishment in the savings we realize by not utilizing a dryer!

Yesterday afternoon, we put Nathan's new greenhouse together. This morning we dressed the frame with the clear vinyl cover. He's just tickled with the results, and is eagerly anticipating placing his first seedlings inside. In the meantime, I'm scheming, trying to come up with an idea for containers which will hold water and, painted black will collect and store the solar rays in order to keep his little green babies warm during the cooler evenings which are sure to come. Who knows? Maybe we'll have salad, featuring Nathan's greenhouse lettuce with our Christmas dinner! ;-)

I'm learning to utilize the cast iron dutch oven to bake on the stove top. We're considering purchasing another, larger dutch oven, and setting up a place outside where we can bake larger items.I'm really having a lot of fun experimenting with this "new to me" form of cooking. I do need to be careful though. I don't want Pa getting the idea I can make do without a conventional range! ;-) Hmmm. I wonder how they baked cookies in the "good ol' days"?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Rainy Days And Sleepless Nights

Yesterday was a gray, wet day. It was even too wet for my children to amuse themselves with the battle of the slug for long. By afternoon, the rain had chased my young'uns inside. We briefly considered just staying in, reading, playing inside games, crafting or any other indoor pursuit we could think of, but then we thought why not make the most of it, and take a bonus trip to town.

We all climbed into the car and headed off to our next great adventure. Once in town, we split ways. I had Pa drop Lindsay and me off at the thrift store. He was a bit concerned, as he and Nathan had a couple things to do, and he thought perhaps we'd get bored waiting for them at the thrift store. Silly Pa! When they finally rejoined us, perhaps 90 minutes later, we were just finishing up looking through the books, and considering making a second run through the clothing section. Me get bored at a thrift store? Not likely!

Lindsay and I started our Thrift store hunt in the children's section. We found a couple pair of jeans, and a couple skirts for her to try on, then we were off to the women's section. I found several pair of jeans, a couple pair of nicer pants, and a few tops. We headed for the fitting room, where we had a grand time trying on all our clothing choices. Lindsay ended up with the two skirts and one pair of jeans. I found a pair of jeans, one pair of nicer pants, and 3 tops that fit. Okay. The basket was filling up. Time to trade up for a cart, and we were off again. We browsed through the kitchen items. Found some nice, even tempting things, but nothing I really needed so we continued on through the store. Grabbed a couple bundles of hangers, then on to the crafty section. Found a large vinyl tablecloth, still in it's original packaging. Great! Just what I'd been searching for so we can create a couple sit-upons for the kids! On to the books. Found three, two crafting and yarn work ones, and one "The Cat Who.." book for Nathan's reading pleasure. That's where we were when Pa and Nathan showed up.

Nathan had managed to lose a bit of weight in his absence. He was sporting a new hair cut. I'm pretty sure he lost a good 2 lbs. with that one. He was also beaming, and anxious to show us what he had purchased. Pa paid for our loot with minimal grumbling, and we headed out the door. Upon opening the back of the car to place our great bargain finds, we saw Nathan's grand purchase. He had finally made up his mind, used his gift card, and was now the delighted owner of his very own greenhouse! He's so excited to get it set up, and determine the best location for his purchase. It is a small greenhouse, not one you walk into. Rather, it has shelves to place pots of small plants and/or seedlings. It'll be perfect for his needs, and to keep him happily tending vegetation throughout at least most of the winter.

Last night, Nathan was so excited about his day that, from the sounds of things, he didn't sleep at all. When I checked on him, prior to retiring myself at 10, he was wide awake, chatting about his grand gardening plans, and the rain. When Pa headed in at 11, he was still wound up. At 7:30 this morning, when I arose, he was sitting on the couch, reading a gardening book. After greeting me, he related the weather events of the night, starting around midnight, and continuing throughout the night. The stats from our weather machine backed up his story. That is one excited young man! He had a good breakfast, and is tending his garden now. I can't help but wonder if the excitement will carry him through the day, or if it'll all catch up with him at some point, resulting in an afternoon nap, or an early bedtime tonight..

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

When I Woke Up This Morning...

This morning I woke up two times. The first time I awoke, looked at the clock and noted the time. It was about 7:20. I decided to close my eyes for a few minutes, and make it an even 7:30. When I next opened my eyes the clock said 8:25. I was all alone in the bedroom, and had somehow lost an entire hour!

Somehow, I found all this to be rather alarming. I quickly got out of bed, donned my robe, and headed out to the living room. I heard laughter and turned my head towards the dining area and the kitchen. Pa was standing there, laughing at me, saying I looked like I was late for the bus. My children were nowhere to be seen. I glanced outside and saw them playing. Wow! I really slept in!

I grabbed a cup of coffee, and sipped on that, waiting for my body and mind to wake up enough to comprehend all that had just happened. Lindsay looked in my direction. I waved, and she, smiling, waved back, at which time Nathan turned, and with a big smile on his face, he waved as well.

It was a little while before the kids came in to greet me. They were busy hunting slugs. Yesterday's moisture brought those slimy things out in force, so the hunt wasn't exactly a difficult one.

For those in other regions, who may be unfamiliar with this particular species of slug, commonly known as the Banana Slug, perhaps a short descriptive note would be called for. These things are huge, and ugly! I've seen them sliding their way along the side of the house, stretched out in all their glory to perhaps a full 10 inches long. Our first year on this property, Nathan, about 4 years of age renamed these slugs. That year he declared them, "The Great American Poop Slug"

With all the rain and heavy mist yesterday, I figured the kids would probably opt to stay inside and read, or perhaps do something a bit more crafty. They had other ideas. They spent most of yesterday outside, hunting and finding legions of huge, disgusting banana slugs. Once caught, the slugs were corralled into a common area of the driveway. The slugs were provided with plenty of fresh greenery to keep them happily munching in one place while more slugs were collected and added to the ever growing slimy population. Once the kids determined they had collected enough slugs, the slimy slug slaughter began. Nathan stood back and watched, as Lindsay hopped on her bike and began riding through the masses. They're all fertilizer now!

Evidently, prior to the slaughter, the slugs had managed to send for reinforcements. This morning, there were plenty more to deal with. Is there no end to them? Will my tender shoots of lettuce, spinach and green beans ever be safe from these relentless marauding forces with an apparently insatiable appetite?

This year, I've decided we are going to spend the entire Fall and Winter seasons collecting, pulverizing, and saving in a container chosen exclusively for this purpose, all the eggshells we can come up with. We may even increase our consumption of eggs for this purpose. Next year, I have every intention of forming a protective powdery egg shell barrier around the perimeter of each of our gardens. One way or another, we will win the slimy slug battle! 2009 will be the year we claim victory!!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Happy Harvest Frugal Sunday Supper

Once again, Monday has arrived. Somehow doesn't seem like a whole week since we greeted a Monday! Time flies I guess..

Saturday's evening meal left me feeling inspired. With the frugal finds of the past week that I just couldn't pass up staring at me from the shelves of my refrigerator, I decided to see if I could make it a full frugal weekend. I grabbed a package of frozen ground turkey, some veggies and crackers, and one large bowl and set to work. Once finished with my creation, I estimated the cost of our Sunday meal (including sides) for 4 at approximately $3.50, and we have leftovers, which will provide 3 generous lunches for my children. A few more peas, a couple more potatoes on the side, and it would easily serve 6. The main dish is a variation on one I prepare often for my family, as it is a favorite with them. Actually, every time I prepare it is a variation, as the ingredients always vary by what ingredients I have on hand (including the meat) and just how generous I'm feeling as I'm dumping things in the bowl ;-) Anyway, on the off chance that anyone else might like to create this dish for their family, I took the time to note the amounts I used this time around:

Ma's Turkey Patties

1 lb. ground turkey
1 bunch (4-5) green onions, thinly sliced
about 1/2 lb. mushrooms, sliced (optional)
1 sleeve soda crackers. crushed
2 eggs
garlic (1 clove or 1/4 tsp. powder)
salt and pepper to taste

Mix everything up real good. Drop good size spoonfuls into preheated, lightly greased (I used olive oil) skillet, pressing down with back of spoon to form patties. Fry until golden brown, turning to cook other side. Keep warm while frying subsequent batches.

Options:This is a fun mixture to play with! I've used canned tuna, salmon, crab, ground beef, pretty much whatever you can think of for the meat with excellent results. I've made them with and without the mushrooms, and have even added a wee bit of BBQ sauce, cocktail sauce and/or lemon juice to the mixture. You could also add a small can of tomato sauce and turn it into meatloaf if you prefer.
Yesterday, for sides we served potatoes, and peas from our garden, and since it was Sunday dinner, we added a can of cranberry sauce for good measure. The potatoes were great, and the peas so sweet. Sure wish we could get veggies like that at the grocery! It was another tasty, filling, and frugal weekend meal.

Today, it's back to school, and we're hoping the clouds will clear allowing the ground to dry out enough the kids can enjoy some outside fun this afternoon. Otherwise, I guess we'll just have to pull out some indoor activities. Either way, it promises to be another fun Monday, the beginning of yet another week of new adventures awaiting our discovery.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Dinner And The Movies

Happy Sunday everyone!

This weeks Backyard Photo, of Nathan enjoying a lazy afternoon, after working so hard at trailblazing earlier in the day, was taken by Pa.

Last Monday, The Hillbilly Housewife, began a weekly frugal challenge blog post. Since our shopping trip is on Thursdays, I waited until yesterday to begin. This last weeks challenge was to incorporate a bean based meal one day a week. I jumped on this one, as it was something I had mentioned to Pa awhile back that I wanted to do. Somehow it got placed on the back burner, so this was a good reminder for me.

Last night we had baked beans for supper, utilizing white beans we'd purchased at the Grocery Outlet, so it was even more frugal than it might have been otherwise ;-) The Hillbilly House Wife provided the recipe, which I did cut in half just to make sure my family liked it. It went over great, with just enough left over to freeze for incorporating into another meal next week. Next time I make it, I'll make the full recipe so I have more to freeze.

Of course you can't have beans for supper without cornbread on the side. This presented a bit of a problem for me, as we are currently without a conventional oven. I was determined though, and thought there must be a way to make cornbread on the stovetop. Google to the rescue! I found this recipe at Mother Earth News, pulled out the cast iron dutch oven, and set to work. It was a bit brown in spots on the bottom, but not really burned. I expect some practice/experience would rectify that problem. I did substitute white flour for the whole wheat, as we were out of the latter, and I think it would've been better with the WW, but it was good just the same. A great alternative to heating up the oven on a hot summer day!

As well as being frugal, this simple, yet satisfying supper was quite filling. Not one member of my family mentioned dessert last night!

Saturday Night At The Movies

This week the kids chose The Last Mimzy, for their viewing pleasure. A Sci Fi/Fantasy for younger folks, who are at that age where they may be yearning for something a bit beyond children's fare, but not yet ready for more adult themes, this was a great movie, enjoyed by all 4 of us. It is rated PG, which I feel is a good rating as it may be a bit too intense (perhaps even scary in places) for younger children. My 9 and 11 year old children enjoyed it immensely, and headed to bed talking about magical bunnies and levitation. It took awhile to get them calmed down enough to go to sleep.

Pa and I had a difficult time choosing a film for our later night viewing. Netflix had experienced some problems (which they credited us for) so our choices from them didn't arrive in time. Therefore, we found ourselves scanning the selection at the library. We were looking for a comedy, which from the looks of things, was what every other patron of the library had in mind as well. Finally, we settled on one that looked to be pretty durn stupid, but we thought it might contain enough chuckles to get us through. As it turned out, Encino Man (not sure why it's showing a different title, but the write up is of the correct film), starring Pauly Shore was, as expected, pretty stupid. The story line was totally unbelievable, and there were numerous problems with continuity. However, it was stupid in a goofy enough way that it somehow worked. It also contained a few chuckles. But, in between the chuckles were plenty of laughs. I would not rate this as a "must see". I am not suggesting you all rush out to rent this one. However, if you're looking for a lighthearted comedy, and nothing is presenting itself to you, this one just might get you by.

This morning I slept in a bit. It felt good, but it has left me feeling like I started out behind schedule. I have plenty on my list of things to do for the day, but am hoping to find a little time in between chores to sit back, breathe deep, and just enjoy being who I am, where I am, and most importantly, who I am with. Life is good :o)

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Trailblazin' In The Boondocks

Yesterday, Nathan decided to take the loppers and clear a path through the overgrown brush, down and around the Golden Delicious Apple tree. Lindsay was a big help, picking up the fallen branches and piling them in as neat a pile as possible off to the side. They did a great job! Now all we have to do is beat the Blue Jays to the apples, so we can fully appreciate the fruits of our children's labor.

Afterwards, Lindsay had a brilliant idea! She decided if I can't find her, then I won't be able to call her in for school. What better way to hide from Mom than to employ some natural camouflage!

This morning, there's no need to hide from Mom. My children are both lounging in front of the TV watching their weekly shows as they consume their weekend cereal of choice. Who knows what great adventures await them this afternoon?

Friday, August 15, 2008

In Case Of Rain...Keep Your Roof On!

As a family, we all look forward to Thursdays, our traditional Library and shopping day. Yesterday, the kids had a fine time at the library, choosing the weeks reading material. Nathan loaded up on several gardening and wild edible books, in addition to a few fiction books. Lindsay picked up a couple books about dogs, and some fiction books.

As the kids were checking their books out, one of the wild edible books Nathan had chosen caught the Librarian's eye, and she commented on it. Of course Pa had to say something, this time about Nathan's mother being a witch. That comment took the librarian off guard (Pa has the effect on folks), She paused a momemt before asking if he meant I had a working knowledge of herbs and medicinal plants. Pa remained silent, with a smile on his face. I commented that best be what he meant! The Librarian laughed. The older fellow who was checking out next to us was smiling broadly, looking like he was trying not to laugh. If this keeps up, I just may have to ban Pa from the library when the kids and I are there! ;-)

When we left the house, the sun was shining brightly, and the temperature was quite warm, although there was a bit of a breeze. Just the same, something told me to grab my jacket and tote it along. By the time we left the library, clouds were gathering in the sky, and it seemed a bit cooler. As our day in town progressed, the sky became more and more crowded with clouds, until it was looking downright gray. By the time we returned home I was glad I had thought to bring my jacket along.

Pa and I were both sure the forecast had called for bright sunny days lasting through the weekend. What had changed? Then it dawned on me. Not only had I given both my garden areas a nice long drink of water that morning (which seems to have the same effect on weather around here as washing a car does in most neighborhoods), but the kids had both done fantastic jobs of drawing rain birds in math that morning. We had jinxed the weather! I think we'll keep that secret to ourselves. We don't want the locals upset with us!

The local folks do tend to get a bit huffy about weather related "oopsies" around here. A few days ago, one of the more celebrated radio DJ's provided the daily weather report. This DJ doesn't have a lot of faith in the professional meteorologists predictions, but that's the info he has, so that's what he reports. On this particular day, late in the afternoon, he made it quite clear that these were not his predictions! He then proceeded to explain that he had just received a phone call. Seems one of the locals was upset. He had listened to this DJ's weather report, which just happened to call for a bright sunny day, took it to heart, removed the roof from his house and left for the day. Upon returning home, he discovered it had rained, and he now had a wet house. Obviously the DJ was at fault!

The sky is gray again this morning. The ground is damp. Looks like our summery weather is over for the week. Hope everyone has their roofs securely affixed to their houses. If not, you might want to consider throwing a tarp over, just to be on the safe side...;-)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

One Potato...Two Potato...

Yesterday the kids and I had fun playin' in the dirt. My bagged potatoes were looking wilted and yellowing, so I decided it was time. We donned our gloves, ripped the bags down a bit, and with guarded optimism began carefully sifting through the soil. Nothing.. nothing.. nothing.

As we reached the center portion of the first bag, I heard a happy squeal coming from Nathan's direction. There he was, holding a small. round tuber. One potato....Daring to hope, we all began scooping a bit faster, though still carefully sifting the soil through our fingers. A few minutes later Lindsay jumped up, excitedly waving another small orb in the air. Two potato....Nathan found another slightly larger specimen. Three potato....As we dug through the first bag, and then the second we found more potatoes of various sizes and shapes. 16 potatoes in all, not counting the itty bitty that was really rather cute but so small it'd be dwarfed by a petite pea sitting beside it. Not exactly what we'd been hoping for from our previously rather lush looking plants, but, at least it was more than we'd planted, and as is the case each year with our gardens, it was an experiment, and one that we will learn lessons from, hopefully resulting in better crops in the years to come.

Perhaps we didn't leave them in the ground long enough before harvesting. That is a distinct possibility, although I really don't think it would've made that big of a difference. The potatoes may have a grown a bit larger, but the numbers would've been the pretty much the same. I think the biggest problem was probably with the soil itself.

The soil we planted the seed potatoes was good enough. It was dark and rich. It held water well yet allowed for drainage. Same with the second layer of soil. After that though, I was digging down far enough that the soil I was adding to each layer was less and less ideal. As time went by, and layers of soil were added I noticed the water I provided my plants wasn't soaking in. It was merely sitting there for a brief moment before rolling off and into puddles below. Next year I plan to take more care in the soil selection for the multiple layers. I'll be doing some more research as well, learning as much as I can from successful potato gardeners. I expect Nathan will be doing the same. Hopefully between the two of us we can come up with a more successful ending next year.

In the meantime, I think Nathan still has a few potato plants in his garden, and I still have two that I planted in my garden area, so there's still hope, and we did manage to harvest enough yesterday that we can add them to a dish of some sort so we'll be able to say we did consume potatoes we grew ourselves ;-)

As an added bonus, between scooping soil with my hands, and later shoveling the soil up into the wheelbarrow, then out again into the chosen spot in my garden, I got quite a workout! Afterwards, Pa informed me that I was "glowing".

I slept good last night :o)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A Tree By Any Other Name

I wore out early last night. Tried to stay awake but it just wasn't happening. Ended up going to bed early, and of course, that resulted in my waking up early this morning. Naturally, that means I'll wear out even earlier tonight, and the cycle continues, unless I find a way to break it. In other words, one way or another, I'm going to have to force myself to stay up late one night. Amazing how just one restless night can mess things up so much!

Earlier, Nathan was looking through one of his gardening books, and came across a tree that he thought might be the mystery tree in our front (?) yard. I looked it up online, and we all discussed it. After much discussion, and searching for other similar trees, we've come to the conclusion that it may be a variety of the tree he discovered, the Tamarind. If so, we figure it is a "wild" or "false" variety. It also may be an Acacia, or perhaps a Persian Silk, or.... At least we have finally found some trees that closely resemble our rapidly multiplying, fast growing mystery trees, currently known to us as "the tall skinny trees".

After spending a good hour on what was beginning to feel like a wild goose chase, I decided our best option may be to simply snap a photo now, and another in the Spring when the flowers are blooming, print both photos, and take them, along with a sample twig to the extension office and just let them tell us once and for all what kind of tree is propagating itself so freely in our front yard. Then again, if we wait until Spring, we could probably just break off a flowering twig, and save the ink... Now there's an idea! See! I really can come up with a common sense idea on occasion! Sometimes, it just takes me a bit ;-)

This morning when I awoke at such an early hour, the house was surrounded by a thick cloud of fog. Within the hour it had cleared off, revealing clear skies, which have remained, and been joined by the bright sun. It seems to be turning into an oddly summer like day! Nathan is watering his garden, and this afternoon, after we've finished with school for the day, I think I may harvest my first bag of potatoes. Keep your fingers crossed that there are actually some tubers to be harvested underneath those previously healthy looking, but now wilted and rapidly yellowing plants!

Right now, I'm going to grab a quick bite to eat, and start getting the days school lessons together for the kids. I'm just sure they're more than eager to get started!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Feels Like Sunshine

Last night was a restless one for me. Not sure why. When I awoke during the night, I heard raindrops outside the window. When I got up this morning the sky was gray, and there was a fine mist in the air.

Yesterday was sunny, and we enjoyed our bonus trip to town in the sunshine. I had such a good day yesterday, that the clouds and the moisture aren't bothering me one little bit today. The happy sunshine feeling from yesterday is still there, keeping me smiling today.

After Saturday's shopping trip I wanted to do a bit more shopping yesterday. I seldom splurge on brand new clothes for myself, usually feeling more than satisfied with my thrift store finds, but sometimes it's nice to get truly new, if for no other reason than to detrmine once and for all just what size I wear. I also had another gift card to spend, so it seemed the perfect excuse to head to the Mall.

Clothes shopping at the Mall is not high on the list of pleasurable things to do for Pa or my son, so Lindsay and I had them drop us off at the Mall and sent them off on a couple short errands, and to find things more to their liking to take up their time, instructing them to collect us in about 2 hours time.

Our first stop was Ross. Having acquired 2 new tops at Freddies on Saturday, I was now in search of jeans, and a couple other items I needed. I headed for the womens jeans racks, and the section labeled size 4. Found several pair, then it was off to the fitting room. Imagine my shock when I discovered not one of the size 4 jeans fit. Every one of them hung on me like a heavy set of living room drapes. Back to the racks. We discovered the next size down, size 2 were a bit more difficult to find but we did find one pair, then we spotted the petite racks, and found a couple more. Our second visit to the fitting room was much more satisfying. One of the 3 was too short, one was too long, and one was "just right". I chose the too long (Lindsay has agreed to allow me to use her machine for a quick alteration in length) and the just right pair, and we were off again, with 2 pair of jeans draped over my arm. We found a pair of shorts for Lindsay which she tried on and is quite happy with.

Leaving all the racks of reasonably priced clothing at Ross behind was a difficult thing to do, but we did have a time limit and a budget to stay within, so leave we did, and headed for Penney's where I had a gift card to spend. They had a most excellent sale going on, with many items on sale for near Thrift store prices. Unfortunately, I was not able to find anything on those big savings racks that fit the criteria of being both visually appealing to me, and fitting my lifestyle. I did however find a top that I instantly fell in love with. It was $10 off, and that just happened to bring it within the price range of my gift card. I tried it on and liked it on me even more than on the hanger. Off to the register with my last purchase of the day, and out the door, with 15 minutes to spare!

We found Pa and Nathan looking only mildly bored not far from the store, and our family unit headed out to the car as one, where our two gender specific parties eagerly shared our great bargain finds of the day.

Once home, we unloaded our purchases, as well as the mail Pa and Nathan had picked up at the Post Office. Included in the latter was a package from my daughter for Nathan and Lindsay. We carefully opened the box to reveal 3 packages, all carefully wrapped in bright cheerful paper. These in turn were opened, carefully at first, then with excited rips, and exclamations of delight.

Kimmi could not have found more perfect gifts for her younger siblings! Lindsay is now the delighted owner of a beautiful butterfly suncatcher glass painting kit, which she is eagerly anticipating getting started on as soon as we finish school today. As Nathan opened his first gift, his eyes lit up, and he was jumping up and down squealing. When he finally finished unwrapping it and revealed it to me I understood why. It was a bird house, with a glass back, for hanging on a window so the nesting birds can be viewed from inside. Very cool! And perfect both for Nathan's interests, and for our property since we do have a plentiful and varied bird population. He quickly determined the best place for his gift, and immediately set off, dragging Pa behind to mount the house on the outside of the dining room window. He also recieved a very cool leatherworking set, which he informed us was something he'd been wanting for some time. Honestly, it would be nice if he'd give us a clue as to his desires. It would sure make gift giving a lot easier!

So, there you are. A rainy day along the Southern Oregon Coast, and oodles of new projects to keep us busy inside. It just doesn't get much better than that!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Laundry Woes

Yesterday I managed to get 2 loads of laundry done, sorta.

The first load, basic lights went off without a hitch. I arranged most of those items on the rack inside, leaving room on the outside line for the next load. Evidently my washer decided it didn't like the second load. Perhaps, in it's old age it has developed an aversion to sheets? Or maybe it just figures one load a day is enough. Either way, it made it through the wash cycle alright, and it did okay with the rinse cycle. By the time it had reached the second spin cycle however, it decided it had had enough.

Pa pulled everything out. Everything consisted mainly of a set of king size flannel sheets. After removing the sheets into the basket, he toted the basket outside for me, where we pulled each item out,one at a time, folded in half, and in half again, then we each held an end and started twisting, he to one side, me to the other. Tiger, one of our kittens noticed the activity and decided to plop himself down between us to take a nap. He changed his mind right quick when the rather heavy stream of water began raining down on him. He moved off to the side, shook himself off, and sat down to watch us from a safe distance.

Fortunately, we got started early enough, and the sun was shining bright enough that everything dried on the line yesterday. Unfortunately, I still have laundry to do. The sun is shining brightly once again, and I'm really not sure how many sunny clothes drying days are left in the season, and me without a washer...

Pa's going to take a look at the aging washer today, to see if he can getting it working again. If not, it's looking like we'll be in the market for a new washer. As with most things, I'm wondering what the most frugal way to go would be. We could go with a used washer, but of course there are no guarantees with that, and chances are we would end up with a less than energy efficient appliance. New appliances aren't cheap, but in the long run we may actually end up saving money energy wise, not to mention the hassle of more frequent replacement needs with used.

So long as we're getting a new washer, should we spring for a dryer as well? For the most part my line outside, coupled with the rack inside are sufficient for my drying needs, and I do appreciate this option, both for economical and ecological reasons. However, there are times a dryer would come in handy, and is even needed. There's wintertime of course, and the sheets really don't fit so well on my inside rack. Then there's those items such as afghans, blankets, comforters and pillows, that are not only large and bulky, but they also benefit from a tumble in a dryer.

How often would I use a dryer? After giving that some thought I've decided I may find it necessary to use a dryer 10 - 12 times a year. That's approximately once a month. If we chose to get a dryer, I'm thinking with that small amount of usage we may be better off going with used for that particular appliance.

Ah well. I guess I don't need to make the decision today. Who knows, maybe Pa will be able to work his magic with the cranky old washer, and we can put it all off for a bit longer...

We're going to town again today. Need to go to the post office anyway, so figure we may as well make the most of our trip in to town. No telling what fun and exciting happenings I may have to report tomorrow! Purt near anything's possible with my little family!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

To Market, To Market

This week's Backyard view photo by Nathan, features his recyled bird feeder mentioned in yesterday's post.

As mentioned in that post, we are working on going green. I have discovered that a big part of going green includes making more healthy choices for my family. One of those things includes cutting back on the plastics we use for food storage and preparation. The milk jug, while being a good thing as far as recycling/reusing goes, may not be so good as a food container.

As I mentioned in the comments section of yesterdays post, we're on a learning curve, and I honestly don't believe anyone can be expected to jump in and do it all in one fell sweep. We're taking baby steps, and with each step we can feel good about making forward progress.

Yesterday turned out to be a busy, but fun day. After the kids finished watching their weekly morning shows, we headed to town. Our goals for this trip included spending Nathan's and my gift cards we recieved for our Birthdays at Fred Meyers. First we searched the entire store in search of Nathan's gift of choice. He got some good ideas, but decided to hold off a bit, and think about it, before making his final decision. He's real excited about using a gift card to make his own purchase, and wants to be sure he's making the right choice. We did have to convince him that no, he was not going to spend it on kitty treats, or family groceries, although we did appreciate the thought. LOL

My gift card did get spent yesterday. Although I wasn't sure what I wanted to spend it on at first, that decision was easy to make when I noticed the racks and racks of clothing for sale. I headed straight for the BOGO racks. These were items that were already marked down,so basically they were more than half price. I spent probably an hour of pure bliss going through the selections, and then the real fun began. My trip to the fitting room was one of the most delightful fitting room experiences I've ever had! Every one of the tops I had selected, size small, fit great, with the exception of one that was actually too big! I had a heck of a time choosing between all these tops, but finally narrowed it down to 2, one sweater that I just fell in love with, and another warmer weather top. I now have 2 new tops,originally priced at over $100 (together), for which I spent just under $30.

After leaving Freddies we began driving about town in search of Garage sale signs. We were continuing our week long hunt for a bike for Nathan. Once again, we came up empty, but he's okay with the knowledge that the search is continuing. While we struck out on our main objective, we did find some great craft supplies for an excellent price, a Bingo game, brand new, still in it's original wrap, and a plastic horse for Lindsay. We also met a very nice gal who recently moved to the area. All in all a good day.

Saturday Night At The Movies

Last night's feature event was Are We There Yet ? , starring Ice Cube. We were pleasantly surprised with this film. Lots of comedic adventure to keep the kids entertained, no foul language that I can recall, and just a fun movie for the whole family.

The sun is making a rare appearance today, and I plan to take full advantage of that solar energy by getting an extra load of laundry done. Hope you're all having a great weekend, and, if you have a moment, please visit yesterdays post, and add your "personal recycling" tips!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Frugal And Green

I'm adding another site to my list today. Normally, I do that without commenting, but this site, combined with the Green Mom Finds site are an indication of one of my biggest goals, to become as green as possible, while being as frugal as possible.

Greenmomfinds is a great site with links and reviews of some pretty cool "green" products, as well as some real handy tips on becoming more green. There is also a forum with real people requesting advice, and providing answers to real life questions, from gardening, to infant care and just about everything in between. Both sides of the site also feature some pretty cool contests. The focus, other than green, seems to lean more towards parents of younger children, but there's something there for everyone.

Next up is my newest addition, Hillbilly Housewife. Perhaps, like me you've heard of this site before, and even visited there in the past, but somehow the link got buried in your favorites. Yesterday, as I was browsing through my ridiculously large list of favorites I came across this link and followed it. There are some changes there since the last time I visited, but basically it's the same great site. Some great info there, and some excellent ideas on how to live more frugally, while not feeling like you're making huge sacrifices. She also has a biweekly newsletter, which I signed up for. I love the feel of this site. It reads like a real person, speaking from her real kitchen, swapping recipes, and sharing freely what she has learned through time and experience. I also discovered on my most recent visit that she has a blog, which I visited and plan to return on a regular basis.

Regarding my Frugal/Green goals; Is there a way to be both green and frugal? Is it possible for these two streams to not only meet, but to merge, joining together in harmony, merrily gurgling and bubbling down their now shared stream bed towards their common goals ? I'm thinking, while it may be a challenge at times, employing some basic common sense could actually result in a satisfying meeting of the minds.

At our house we regularly employ something we call "personal recycling". That would be the middle "R", Reuse. Empty cereal boxes are carefully broken down and saved for craft projects. Empty yogurt containers are cleaned and saved for later use as seedling pots. A plastic milk jug has been transformed into a popular feeding station for our feathered friends. A plastic Folgers "can" is used as a crochet project tote ;-) Old clothing, depending on the type of material, and the overall condition, is either recycled to the local thrift store or consignment shop, turned into rags, or even saved for turning into new articles of clothing or other craft items. Of course there are more examples, but I'll refrain from excessive elaboration.

However, I am going to invite you to share some of your "personal recycling" ideas here! How do you utilize those items that otherwise you would pay for the "convenience" of adding to the landfill?

Friday, August 8, 2008

There's A Book For That

Another fun trip to town yesterday, even though I did get in a wee bit of trouble at the Library.

Our library has an ongoing book sale, and those racks and shelves are usually my first stop. This week I found an encyclopedia of sorts about Nature. 11 of the 13 books were there, and after looking through the first one I decided this was a must have for my library. Of course I didn't stop there. After loading my arms up with these 11 books, I continued to browse in my favorite book store. I found a great Science book. "Project Learning Tree: Environmental Education Activity Guide" put out by the American Forest Foundation. This thing is packed full of great lessons, including fun activities for grades K-8, and most of the lessons include multiple grade level activities. I was reading through it last night and am just tickled with my purchase!

12 good sized books were becoming a bit heavy, so I grabbed a basket and rounded out my shopping with a hard cover "Clan Of The Cave Bears". The kids thought it odd I would purchase this book, as we already had the paperback at home, but I'm fond of hard covers, and besides, I figured this way Nathan could have the Paperback in his own library.

Toting my basket of books, hoping the handles wouldn't snap off from the weight, I headed over to the DVD section where I was in search of the kids' movie of the week. A short while later the kids, finished with their book browsing, joined me. Of course the first thing they noticed was my basket brimming with books. "You're gonna be in trouble!" "Dad's gonna be mad at you!" I shushed them, telling them not to say anything, I'd be hearing about it soon enough. The fellow perusing titles next to me was smiling.

A few minutes later Pa showed up at the end of the aisle. Naturally, the kids both rushed over to him. "Look what Mom got!" Geez! They just couldn't wait to tattle on me! Pa snarled, saying he'd seen it, and something about me having to wash a lot of bottles and dishes to pay for my purchase. He then told me I'd have to find a way to pay for it all, as he sure wasn't going to. At this point,the fellow we shared the aisle with wasn't even pretending to look at movie selections any more. He was kind enough to at least attempt to muffle his laughter behind his hand.

I did get my books, and Pa gave in and payed for them. The Librarian asked if I needed a bag to carry all my books. Thanking her for the offer, I declined, saying it was a short walk to the car. Pa grumbled again, saying something about the walk might be longer than I realized. The Librarian wasn't so kind as the stranger in the DVD aisle. She knew us well, and wasn't afraid to smile broadly and chuckle out loud.

Last night, Pa was still grumbling about the 13 additions to my ever growing book collection. I told him we just needed a new Book case. Perhaps that would be a good project for him and Nathan. Oddly, he didn't seem quite so enthused at that idea as I was ;-)

Hmm. It's beginning to look like I'll be adding woodcrafting to my list of skills. I bet there's a book available that would help me out with that!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Good To The Last Drop

Yesterday's post about my choice of containers for toting my crochet project, and the reaction it recieved got me to thinking about coffee, the choices we have, and the prices we pay for this magical brew.

There's the good ol' ground that many of us grew up around. That which our Mother's measured into the basket, placing in the top of the pot filled with water on the stove. Then we stood back and watched as the heat did it's magic, forcing the water up into the bubble in the top of the lid, where it merrily danced, and sang before descending back through the coffee grounds awaiting it's attention in the basket below, resulting in the perfect cup of pick me up for our parents.

Of course, by the time I was old enough to fully appreciate the benefits of this brew, the coffee pot's design had changed a bit. Mr. Coffee had made it's debut.It was no longer called a coffee pot, but a coffee maker. I still had to measure my water in, although it was in the back of the machine, rather than in the pot itself, and I needed to measure the grounds into the basket. Then it was just a matter of pushing a button and the machine performed it's magic. I gotta admit, although I did enjoy the convenience, there did seem to be something missing in the experience. I didn't get to sit back and watch the water pulsing up through the magic bubble, nor did I experience the familiar sound of percolation. However, it was kinda nice to have the coffee ready for consumption within a few minutes time.

These days we have more choices, both in our coffeemakers of choice, and in the types of coffee we purchase. No longer is it merely a choice between brand names. We have various grinds to choose from, multitudes of flavors, and even whole beans, for which we pay a premium price to take home and grind ourselves.

This takes me to my big question of the day. Does it not stand to reason that the less work a manufacturer performs to provide a product to the masses, the lower the cost would be? Although the whole beans, ground fresh daily at home is my preferred choice, it has always struck me as odd, that I need to go out and purchase a grinder for this purchase, perform the work of grinding myself, and pay at least twice the price for the pleasure.

I've seen the old fashioned coffee grinders in antique shops, and as decorative pieces in restaraunts and such. There is a warm, nostalgic feeling that rushes pleasantly over me as I view these pieces, even though I never actually saw one being used. I have to wonder how the folks who did use these things on a regular basis, as part of their daily morning routine would view our current coffee rituals, and the price we willingly pay to do it ourselves.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Spinach 'n' Peas ... Eye Charts 'n' Coffee

Yesterday, we made a trip to town for Lindsay's eye checkup. Previous appointments had taught me that sitting in this particular waiting room tended to be a lengthy experience, and the reading material provided not always the best, so I decided to take along a little something to keep me occupied.

My diversion of choice, of course, was a yarn related project, in this case, my crocheting. The project I chose was a small one, so I really didn't see the need to take my big ol' knittin' bag. Rather, I took a clean Folgers coffee "can", one of the newer plastic varieties. It turned out to be the perfect size for my small project, although it did recieve some curious glances, beginning with my dear Hubby. As I hopped out of the truck with my coffee can he looked ever so confused, and inquired as to why in the world I had elected to take coffee into the eye clinic. I'm thinking my next project might be one that would result in covering my handy coffee can so I'm not looking like a walking advertisement for Folgers...

Last time we went in for Lindsay's eye appointment, 2 months ago, the Dr. noticed some small improvements. She said that was encouraging but wanted to see if we could bump things up just a bit, so she upped Lindsay's patching time from 2 hours to 4. Lindsay was not thrilled with this new developement, but she went along with it. She's been so good about it, even choosing to go as long as 5 hours a few times. Yesterday was the pay off. She'd been saying she could see better, and I'd noticed she didn't seem to be holding her face as close to the screen when playing her computer games, but none of us expected to recieve such an excellent report as we did yesterday.

The first time she read the chart, back in April, she couldn't see the chart at all. Basically, she was blind in the one eye. Two months ago, she was making it out in the 500 range, the largest scale she was shown. Yesterday, she had improved so much that she was nearing the 100 range. The Dr. was happy. Ma and Pa were happy. Lindsay was happy. When we stopped off at the little store down the road on the way home and picked up some extra little treats for the kids to celebrate, Nathan and Lindsay were both happy!

We were just one happy family!

More good news on the homefront! You may recall my rather unhappy discovery of the canine intruder in my garden last week. Well, I re-sowed the area he had spent most his time in. Of course, those seeds havent had time enough to sprout, at least not to the point they would be visible to mere mortals but, yesterday I noticed the doggies romp about my spinach bed hadn't been completely devastating. Although there are some bare spots, there is also quite a lot of little green spinach sprouts popping their little heads out, looking happy. Now, if we can just keep the slugs at bay, I could end up with quite the mess of spinach! Nathan has been busy looking through all his gardening books, and is ready to begin his anti slug experiements, so I'm daring to hope...;-)

We've harvested the first of our peas. The kids had fun picking and shelling them, then I blanched them and stuck them in the freezer so we can add to them when the next batch is ready. In the meantime, my green beans have sprouted and are looking quite happy. This year's garden isn't going to be nearly so fruitful as I had hoped, but at least we'll get enough out of it to keep our hopes alive for next year.

It was early to bed last night, and early to rise this morning. I'm thinking I may as well take advantage of the extra time and get something done around the house today. And with that, I'm off! :)

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Yet Another Mystery ...

Last night, after tucking the kids in, Pa and I were relaxing in the living room when Lindsay, our youngest came striding into the room. While not all that unusual, (there are times she gets up and asks for a drink of water) it did take us by surprise when she announced, with a smile on her face, that her tummy hurt.

Hmmm. She doesn't look sick. She seemed just fine an hour ago when I tucked her in. Just the same, immediately all sorts of causes for her sudden illness began running through my head. Had she perhaps had a hard tummy bump when she fell off her bike earlier? Maybe she picked something up when playing with the neighbor kids the day before? Nah, That'd only been one day ago. Then again, we had gone to town on Saturday...Perhaps she'd picked something up then? For that matter, had she washed her hands when we returned home from town on Saturday?

My imagination now switched to high, I began to question her.

"What kind of hurt is it?"

"Sick hurt."

"Where does it hurt?"

"Right here!"

"That's your belly button!"

"Yeah, that's where it always hurts when I get sick."

"What kind of sick?"

"Just sick!"

I sighed at this response, beginning to understand how my Mother felt when I was a child and my response to her query of what my "sick" felt like was, "Lettuce"...

I resumed my questioning, "Do you feel sick anywhere else?"

"No, just my tummy"

She looked like she was beginning to enjoy this game of twenty questions.

"Does it feel like throw up sick?"


"Okay, that's good. Does it feel like diarrhea sick?"

That got me a blank look.

"Do you feel stinker sick?"

Laughter, "NO!!!" More laughter.

Okay, so just how sick could this giggly child with no fever be?

"Do you feel hungry sick?"


I was running out of options here! "Do you feel too full sick?"


Aha! We hit paydirt!

"But, you didn't eat that much dinner..."She agreed. "Then again, you did eat quite a large portion of dessert.."

"Yeah! And it was filling!"

"But, you ate a lot, and you ate it fast!"

"I had to! It was really, really good!"

Uh-huh! I glanced around the kitchen briefly before informing her, "We don't have any 'too full sick' medicine."

"Oh! Darn!"

"I'm afraid the only thing I can think of for 'too full sick' is to go to sleep, then when you wake up in the morning, you won't be 'too full sick' anymore"

"Oh! Okay!"

She smiled and skipped off towards her room, leaving me standing there, shaking my head, as Pa stood off to the side, laughing. I'm thinking, in the future perhaps some portion control for the "really, really good" desserts would be a really, really good idea.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Boondock Mysteries

Yesterday evening Pa treated us to a fantastic meal, of round steak, which he had pounded, sprinkled with tenderizer, then marinated for several hours before popping it out on the BBQ. Along with that we had rice and green salad.

After that exremely satisfying meal, we waited a bit before having dessert, which was something I came up with to utilize the yogurt cheese I'd created earlier in the week, as well as a few other ingredients I wanted to use. After dessert, but before I informed the kids of the "mystery" ingredient (they'd tasted the plain yogurt earlier on and declared it "yuck!"), my family chose a name for my creation:

Boondock Bog Puddin'

*Yogurt Cheese, made from 1 quart (give or take 1/4 cup) yogurt
About 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
About 1/2 tsp. raspberry extract
About 2 tsp. sweetener
1 8 oz. tub whipped topping
1 banana
1 (14.6 oz.) can raspberries, drained, reserving a small amount of berries for garnish
Your choice of Vanilla wafers, Angel Food Cake, Pound Cake, etc.
Optional: Salamanders, frogs, and other slimy bog creatures (personally, I don't recommend this option but, Pa thinks it would be entertaining :-) )

*To make the yogurt cheese, place cheesecloth in a colander over a container large enough to hold the colander. Dump approximately 1 quart yogurt in lined colander, cover and let it drain over night.

Melt chocolate chips over low heat. Let it cool a tad bit and add to yogurt cheese, along with raspberry extract and the sweetener. Mix well. Fold in approximately 1/2 (or a little more if you desire, please see note) of the whipped topping. Set aside.

Generously cover the bottom of a good sized serving bowl with broken Vanilla wafers, or pieces of cake . The juice from the berries will find their way to the bottom, so the more generous you are with this layer, the less soggy your finished product will be.

Pour about half the chocolate mixture over the bottom layer, carefully spreading out. Slice banana over top, arranging to pretty much cover. Spread raspberries over banana slices, then top with remaining chocolate mixture. Before serving, spread more whipped topping in center of puddin', then top that with the reserved raspberries.

Note: If I were to make this again, and I probably will, as it went over really well, I think I would add closer to 2/3s of the whipped topping to the chocolate/yogurt mixture. Also, if I had fresh raspberries I would have used them for the top for a prettier presentation. If I were to use fresh or frozen raspberries within the puddin, I think I would use a bit of raspberry preserves as well, so the bananas would be completely covered.

Note 2: Sorry about the "approximate" amounts. I've got this really horrible habit of just grabbing and dumping! ;-)

Just as we were finishing up our dessert the kids asked, "What's that noise?" Neither Pa or I heard anything, so they tried to describe it. Still didn't hear anything. I walked into the front room and then I heard it. I followed the mysterious noise and found myself gazing into the corner where the kids keep their school books. It was an odd noise.It sounded a bit like a small motor whirring, but missing some beats, and it seemed as though it was coming from Nathan's Binder. I looked a bit closer and determined it was coming from a small jar tucked in with their books.

At that point Lindsay came rushing over and grabbed the jar. We were all amazed to discover the jar, which contained a cocoon we had given up on quite some time ago, had indeed finished it's life cycle, and there, fluttering away in the jar was yet another "beautiful" moth!

Lindsay took the moth outside, and after it had stretched it's wings a bit he flew off, with Adventure Cat, eyes wide, chasing and jumping after it, until it disappeared, far beyond her desperate reach, in the trees.

A Classical Anniversary

Today, Pa and I are celebrating our Anniversary. We were surprised to learn we share our Anniversary date with Mozart! How cool is that??

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Weekend Roundup

This last week Lindsay decided she wanted to learn to ride a bike. We just happened to have a bike, given to us several years ago sitting out in the shop, so Pa brought it out, pumped up the tires, raised the seat and the handle bars and, within an amazingly short period of time Lindsay was off and riding.

A couple years ago we got the kids some scooters, with which they happily zip around at amazing, and sometimes for me rather alarming speeds. We've had a couple scraped knees, a few tears, and a lot of concern from me, from whom I am assuming my children inherited their rather vivid imaginations...

Yesterday, we made a second trip to town. There were a few reasons we needed to make the return trip, but the main one was to search for a good used bike for Nathan, who, understandable is a bit jealous of his younger sisters newest mode of transportation. We struck out on that search, but we did find a few items which has already helped to settle my nerves.

In addition to a bike helmet for Lindsay, Nathan found a motorcycle helmet that he just had to have. Although it seemed a bit on the side of overkill for a bicycle helmet, we figured why not. If he likes it, then odds are we won't have to fight to get him to wear it when the time comes. We also found a set of protective gear for Lindsay. It included knee pads, elbow pads, and the cutest little fingerless gloves, which she just loves. One child is now happily riding about on her bike fully protected. The other child is happy with his new helmet, and the knowledge that it is the first step in acquiring the wheels he desires. All in all, a good ending to a fun week.

Saturday Night At The Movies

Last night we stepped back in time a bit for the kid's viewing pleasure. Get Smart Again, starring the memorable duo of Don Adams and Barbara Feldon was a highly entertaining romp for the whole family. Don Adams had all 4 of us laughing at his antics. For those, like us who are old enough to remember, it is a delightful stroll down memory lane, and oddly satisfying to note the "Old fashioned" comedy still works, even for the younger set. One warning. The political jabs in the original series are still alive and well in this film ;-)

The second film of the evening, the "late night" after the kids have settled in was The Dream Team. I understand there are those who feel it is making light of, or even making fun of the mentally challenged. We really didn't get that out of it. With excellent casting, including Peter Boyle, Michael Keaton, Stephen Furst and Christopher Lloyd , it was good comedy, and somehow, in the end it managed, for me anyway, to show hope for those characters it portrayed. With some violence, and a wee bit of nudity (Peter Boyle's backside) it is not what I would consider a family film, unless your family consists of teens on up.

I managed to sleep in a bit this morning, a nice ending to our week off, yet it somehow makes me feel like I started my day behind schedule. It's nearly noon in my time zone, so I need to jump in to the day's activities before the day gets away from me. This last week went by so fast, I feel I need to make the most of the one day that is left before our next week begins.

Hope you're all having a wonderful weekend!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Do A Little Dance...

Last Wednesday, as you may recall. we took the day off from school for Family Fun Day, and spent the day at the County Fair. Monday, being Nathan's Birthday was an automatic day off. Tuesday, the kids were practically begging for another day off. Actually, they were trying to convince me that since we had Monday off there really wasn't much point in having school that week at all. That logic didn't quite do the trick for me, but I did realize that Pa and I (youngsters that we aren't) were completely worn out from all the festivities, and it had been awhile since we'd had a "vacation" from school, so I gathered the kids together and ordered them to enjoy their week of Summer vacation.

Of course it took me completely by surprise when both of my children reacted with gleeful prancing about the yard, and big plans of how they were going to spend their week of freedom. For the most part the week was spent at home, Pa and I alternately enjoying our restful times with getting some extra stuff done around the house. In the meantime, the kids enjoyed the extra play time with the neighbor kids.

This morning our children are watching their weekly TV shows. It's hard for me to believe the week has passed so quickly. I will however, resist the temptation to extend our vacation for a second week ;-)

One of the extra things I accomplished this last week was to get my recipe for Vanilla Creamer down just the way I like it. After years of feeling a bit like a martyr, dutifully making do with stirring cheap powdered creamer into my coffee each morning, as I really couldn't justify the expense of the good stuff except for special occasions,I decided it was high time for a personally gratifying kitchen experiment. This is the happy result of the experimentation:

Boondock Ma's Semi-Frugal Vanilla Creamer

2 cups powdered creamer (I used generic)
1 Cup sugar, or equivalent (I used generic Splenda)
2 Cups HOT water
2 Cups cold water
1 TBSP good vanilla

Place creamer and sweetener in a shakeable, pourable, covered container. Add hot water, crank the radio up then shake-shake-shake, as you dance around your kitchen. Add vanilla and cold water. Turn the music up and shake some more. Pop it in the fridge. Next morning smile, as you enjoy your morning indulgence.