Sunday, May 31, 2009

Frugal Saturday...Dinner And A Movie!

In keeping with our attempts to further "frugalize" our life style, we're working towards cutting our food bill. In addition to economics it's important to maintain, if not improve the nutritional value of our meals as well. One of the ways we've found to fulfill both these goals is to cut back on our meat consumption.

One thing I do want to note is, cutting back does not mean cutting out. We all enjoy our meat too much for that! Last night Pa fixed dinner, and we all agreed he did a fine job of cutting back on the meat, while retaining nutritional value, and just as important, he didn't sacrifice taste!

He began by thawing two moderate size pork chops. In the past that would have been the beginning of a meal for two, but he was planning dinner for four, so he made some changes. Rather than just popping the two chops in a pan and frying them up, he cut the meat away from the bones, then into bite size pieces. He chopped up an onion,half a red bell pepper and minced some garlic, sauteing the vegetables in a small amount of olive oil til the onion was tender. Then he added the prepared meat. He quickly fried that then added rice he had cooked separately, fried it up a bit, seasoned it with a bit of soy sauce then let it warm through. (The only thing I would've done differently is I would've sauteed the dry rice a bit, then added water and let it all simmer together in the pan.)

Come dinner time we set out the Soy and Teriyaki sauces so everyone could further season their portions as desired. We all enjoyed this simple and frugal, yet quite tasty creation and we're looking forward to more variations as Pa and I take turns donning our thinking/chefs caps in the future!

After dinner we all gathered in the living room and settled in to watch this weeks family friendly film

Saturday Night At The Movies

Last nights feature was one I had watched before, but it had been so long that I really didn't remember any of the details, so it was rather like viewing it for the first time. The Bear was thoroughly enjoyed by all! It is a foreign film, but has the English language option which we utilized, rather than depending on the subtitles. Set in Canada in the late 1800s it is about an orphaned bear cub, the bear that takes him under his wing, and their struggles to survive, which includes dealing with some hunters. It is a fictional film, and includes some rather improbable situations, but is both educational and entertaining all the same. It also contains some pretty fantastic scenery! Younger children may be disturbed by a few of the scenes, especially if they are fond of dogs, so PG does seem a fair rating for this film. Older children may appreciate the note at the beginning of the film stating no animals were harmed in the making of the film. We all enjoyed this film so much we gave it a rare rating of 5 out of 5 possible.

Hope you all are having a fantastic weekend!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

What's So Special About The Dragonfly?

Wings 2
Originally uploaded by boondockma
This is for SonyaAnn's son, as well as anyone else who appreciates the uniquely beautiful being we call the dragonfly.

So, just what is it about the dragonfly that inspires awe in so many?

Perhaps it is the wings, which are almost web like, yet in many species somehow manage such a colorful state. Or maybe it is their long bodies, trailing behind them, with such a variety of colorful markings.

Then again, it could be their remarkable abilities of flight! With two sets of wings which they can work together in one direction,amazingly moving in most any direction they choose, forward, backwards, up, down, around..... or they can choose to hover by instructing the two sets of wings to move in opposite directions at the same time. It's no wonder man has chosen to study and emulate the dragonfly in our own flying machines!

As well as it's ability to maneuver in seemingly limitless flight patterns, the dragon fly is fast! It has been estimated to fly anywhere from 30 to 60 MPH. So, if you spot a dragonfly outside your car window, and you manage to outrun it, you might want to check your speed... Not only are they fast, but they really get around!. They have been known to fly a full hundred miles in one day!

The Dragonfly has been around for a very long time.The current estimate of it's existence goes back as far as 300 million years! That means the Dragonfly was buzzing around with the dinosaurs!

The largest recorded wingspan of the dragon fly is from a fossil. The wingspan of that particular fossilized beauty was a full 30 inches. That's 2 and 1/2 feet! Fast forwarding to current times, the largest known Dragonfly's wingspan measures 7 and 1/2 inches. Still pretty impressive if you ask me! That particular species is found in Costa Rica.

If you include the Damselfly in the countdown, there are just about 5,000 different species in the world today. Most of that population resides in tropical areas, although you can find them most anywhere, with the exception of Antarctica. There are approximately, 450 species known to live in the United States, which makes for some pretty good photo ops for us!
Dragonfly Profiled
The Dragonfly's diet consists of smaller insects, including that pesky mosquito, as well as gnats, ants and termites, so they're handy fellows to have around!

As we have personally observed here on our property, Dragonfly's mate in flight. It is truly an amazing sight to see! I'm keeping fingers crossed that we'll have the fortune of observing this again, hopefully when I have my camera handy ;-)

With eyes containing a full 30,000 lenses, the Dragonfly has some pretty amazing visual capabilities. For that reason, I'm rather surprised at the photo opportunities it allows. Perhaps they somehow know, and are just gracious enough to pose long enough for amateures like me to capture their images on "film".

As always, clicking on the photos will take you to full size images :)

Friday, May 29, 2009

Family Fun Day!

The Water Beckons
Originally uploaded by boondockma
The sun was out. The kids were restless. What else to do but declare it Family Fun Day and head to the beach!

The beach we chose to visit is only about 45 minutes away so we were able to finish our morning routine and still make it to our destination by fairly early in the afternoon.

The kids strolled around a bit, breathing in the refreshing salt air, enjoying the roar of the ocean, all the wonderful sensations being at the beach brings to life.

Racing The Waves They chased and were chased in turn by the waves

Tall Dark and HandsomeThey wondered at their fellow beach goers

A Boy And His Trowel They dug in the sand

Surf's Up! Pa played chicken with the tide

Rock Hunting And we all scrambled up on the jetty, in search of the resident Orcas. Pa and the kids all managed a brief peek of two of them as they sped by. I didn't quite make it up in time. Too bad I was the one in charge of the camera! Oh well. Maybe next time.

After a couple hours it was time to head home. We stopped off in Charleston on the way and picked up some fresh fish for dinner. It was the perfect ending to a perfect day!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Attitude Of Gratitude

Tuesday, as I visited my friends at their blogs I was surprised, and tickled to note one of my newest friends had left me an award! A.Marie, at My Money Mission is a really nice gal who keeps a great blog! She's frugal, she's fun, she's full of life and, as the title of this post, and this award indicate, she possesses the true attitude of gratitude.

I am truly honored to accept this award from her, as well as to pass it on to a few folks who I feel are equally deserving.

First off SonyaAnn at A Mom Money And More
. SonyaAnn is just a fun gal. She, like A.Marie is frugal and fun. She does an incredible job of posting current events in her life interspersed with past life experiences. She has a great sense of humor, and somehow makes you shudder and laugh all at the same time.

My daughter, Kimmi at Musings Of A Pastry Case is another I'd like to pass this award on to. Kimmi has such a wonderful outlook on life. This is something she has possessed since she was a youngster, and I am so pleased to note she has held on to the Attitude of Gratitude throughout her life, in to her adult years. She meets the challenges life hands her, greets them and embraces them, manipulating them to suit her needs, and nearly always manages to turn them in to positive events. She amazes me, and makes so very proud!

Bev, at My Little Room is another amazing lady, who is more than deserving of this award! She has pushed her way through the haze the clouds of life have tossed her way, finding the sunny spots hiding within. She makes the most of the sunny times, jumping in, allowing it to pour over her, then reaching out and grabbing whatever more may be contained within. She's also incredibly talented both in the kitchen and with her knitting needles! I am so grateful I met her, and that we have stayed in touch, getting to know each other even better through time.

Marcia at HDMacs Crafty Blog And More is another good friend I've had the good fortune of knowing for quite awhile now. As with the others I've mentioned, she isn't willing to let lifes lower moments get her down. She simply shoos those clouds away, gathers her family about her, and soaks up all the warmth that magically appears from within that circle. The love and the resulting strength within that family are evident in her posts and the photos she shares. And her crafting ideas are really cool too!

Then there is Dorothy who authors a truly inspiring blog, Grammology. The first time I visited her blog I was torn between emotions. First, I felt sorrow at all she was going through. None of it seemed fair, or right. She was literally in the fight of and for her life. Her body had waged war against her, and the insurance company, with all it's political and financial greed seemed to be joining the fight against her. She wasn't about to just sit back and accept all that though. With all the cards seemingly set up against her, she rose up and she fought back. When she managed to win one battle, another rose up, and she fought against that foe. Over and over again she fought her battles. Over and over again, somehow, against all odds, she won. In doing so, not only did she reign victorious, regaining her health, but she made some big steps for the rest of us as well. Her story is as inspiring as they come, and I am truly blessed to count her as a friend.

As the rules of this award state, I am to pass this on to 10 people. However, seeing as that would be pretty much everyone I know in the blogging world, I am choosing to keep it to half that number. For to simply pass it out to everyone would somehow seem to cheapen it. There are others I feel are worthy, and it is my hope that they will be similarly awarded by those who pass it on, and that no one will feel left out. I am truly grateful to all my readers, followers, and especially those who take the time to leave comments!

Then there is another rule for this award that I really had to think about, for there is more than one person, more than one experience for which I can attribute my "attitude of gratitude."

After thinking about it awhile I realized it is life itself that has and continues to make me grateful. I was fortunate in that my life began in the late 50s, when life was simpler. Neighbors still visited over the fence. As children we were pretty much allowed the run of the neighborhood, and that neighborhood was extended to encompass most all of our town!

My family played a huge part in my ever developing view of life, as well as my friends. From my parents I learned about love and cheerful sacrifice for those you love. My Grandparents continued that theme, and added their wisdom, which is gained only through time and experience. My sister taught me patience ;-) and a special kind of love that only siblings can share. Then there were and are my own children, who have provided me with more joy than I ever thought possible. There are no words to describe the love, the joy, and yes, at times the pain that goes with parenthood.

My friends and acquaintances over the years have also helped shape my view of life. Even those I may have met oh so briefly, and those who may have been or become more negative have served to enrich my life. I have learned from them all and, in turn I am grateful for them all.

Growing up, we went to Church every Sunday, and I learned to appreciate all God's gifts, from the clouds floating by in the blue sky, to the trees, the flowers,the birds and the butterflies that greeted me each day. The sunshine, and yes, even the rain were reason to smile.

As I went through life, I realized, like the rain that must fall, to feed the plants, and provide water for our wild cohabitants as well as ourselves, and to cleanse the air, sometimes we need to shed a tear or two, to cleanse our souls,to learn from and to help us appreciate the joys of life more fully. Sometimes we need a storm to shake things up, rearrange our thoughts, and perhaps provide us with a slightly different view.

Over time, I've seen a more simple life, of the 50s and early 60s go through a lot of changes. Life is more complex now. There is a sense of loss for those simpler times. With that loss though comes some positive changes. We now know more about the world around us than ever would have seemed possible when I was a child. The dream of owning a computer is no longer a childish dream that would elicit chuckles from parents. We've made amazing strides in human rights. Life is good, and the future is bright, if only because we have hope. Hope in our children, and their children. For all that, and more, I am grateful.

Here are the rules of the Lemonade Award:

1.Put the logo on your blog or post
2. Nominate at least 10 blogs that show an attitude of gratitude
3. Link to your nominees within your post
4. Comment on their blogs to let them know they've received this award
5. Share the love and link to this post and the person who nominated you for the award
6. Tell us how you've come to have an attitude of gratitude

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A "Power-ful" Tale

A Moment Of Reflection
Originally uploaded by boondockma
I loaded so many photos onto flickr yesterday, it was difficult to choose which one to post here. I decided to go with one that included both kids. There was one picture though that really stood out, so I decided to share it today. The neat thing about this one was that it was an impulse shot, and he didn't know I'd snapped until he saw it uploaded.

Our generator developed a problem a few days ago. The starter rope broke, which meant we didn't have a way to start it! Fortunately, the last couple days our electricity was in a cooperative mood. Just the same, we knew that wasn't likely to last so Pa had planned to take our alternate power source in to the shop to get it all fixed up. It was due for a tune-up anyway.

It was nice of our power to hang in there over the weekend. However, as if it somehow knew the weekend was over and done with, and it was business as usual around town this morning, it decided to act up. It was kind enough to hold off until after the coffee was brewed, something I'm sure Pa appreciated at least as much as I did; Not so much because he needs his morning jolt of caffeine, but because he has experienced life with me when I'm deprived of my cup of steaming goodness. It really isn't a pretty picture!

Sufficiently caffeinated, I turned the computer on and proceeded to go on line. That lasted just long enough for my mail to come in. Then my UPS started beeping. I looked and noted the number going down into the low 30's. I also noted that the beeping was constant. *sigh*. Time to shut her down...

While having to shut my PC down prior to even begin to do my morning rounds was a bit annoying, it was when I noticed the UPS was still beeping merrily away as it continued it's downward numerical spiral that I became truly concerned. I shut it off and unplugged it, then proceeded to stroll around the house.

The bathroom light was barely noticeable it was so dim. Okay. Time to light the kerosene lantern in there. I then proceeded into the dining room and kitchen where I noticed the lights were nonexistent. Hmmmm. Pa got the Aladdin going in the dining room, while I proceeded to check the fridge. Huh! The light bulb was on, but it was exhibiting the same dim view as the bathroom light. Alrighty then! Time to keep our visits to the fridge to a minimum.

The one bright spot of the whole power issue was that the water pump was still working. So far as we could tell, that was the only thing that was drawing enough juice to function at an adequate level. This was something worth smiling over. Water is the one thing I dread being without more than anything else during a power outage. Most everything else can be dealt with in one way or another.

Now that we had light in the dining room, I was able to get the kids going on their school lessons for the day. Fortunately, today was pretest day for spelling so I didn't need to stress over my inability to make copies. The math I had planned for the day did require copying though, so math plans changed. I thought about it a moment and decided on one of the two more fun math books that they could work on together. Great! Two subjects down! The writing lesson of the day was journals so that wasn't a problem. I only had one other subject planned for the day which we didn't get to, but that's alright. It'll wait until tomorrow.

While we were busy with school, Pa made a phone call to the place we purchased our generator a couple years ago. Unfortunately, it turned out the repairman was on vacation this week. Naturally.... Okay, any chance we could do a trade in?....Why sure we could do that! But....not until the trade in was repaired. Uh Huh! The fellow on the other end of the phone line was sympathetic though, and he had his thinkin' cap on. He suggested perhaps we might purchase the one generator of the model we were interested in that they had in stock, then bring the used one in for repair at which point they would buy it from us. Yeah, we could do that! He placed our name on the available generator and Pa headed into town to pick it up.

By the time Pa returned with our shiny new power source, we had finished with the days lessons and were outside playing with the cats and taking pictures.

The fact that you are reading this now is proof that this little tale had a happy ending :)

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day In The Boondocks

Silly Siblings
Originally uploaded by boondockma
As the ATM's buzz about in the dunes a few miles away, we're looking forward to another fun day at home, enjoying the sights and sounds around us. The birds flitting about, singing their merry little songs, the cats purring as they rub against us, and trailing after the kids as they scamper about the property, working up an appetite for tonight's dinner.

Yesterday was a similar scene at our house. The biggest difference between the two days was what we dined on at the end of the day. While we did utilize the grill, last nights dinner consisted of meatloaf (another successful grill experiment!), mashed potatoes, and brussel sprouts. A bit of a comfort food meal which did a fine job of satisfying the kids' hunger pangs.

Later this afternoon, Pa will fire up the grill once again. As the cats and the kids take a break from their busy day to gather round in eager anticipation, he will carefully place the chicken which has been marinating since 8 AM on the grill. I will wash and tear the lettuce for the salad, and hopefully, by then will have decided on a second side dish for our holiday meal. I think I'm going to try something different for tonight's dessert. If successful, I'll post the results tomorrow!Of course, that depends on whether we decide we really need a dessert after the meal we'll be consuming!

Speaking of posting results...Yesterday's meatloaf may be worth posting about! Although I preferred the flavor combination in our previous meatloaf experiment, I was much happier with the consistency of our latest concoction. There were two things that I believe made a difference. First was the liquid content. This time I limited my total liquid (not counting the eggs, which I kept at 2) to 8 oz. Secondly, we tried cooking it in the loaf pan this time. It came out perfect! After letting it stand for 10-15 minutes I placed a platter over the top, and carefully turned it over. It plopped out in one perfect loaf shape, and sliced beautifully. I highly recommend this method of cooking if you want to keep the kitchen cool, or if you think you might like that hint of smoky flavor added to your masterpiece ;-)

This time I used
1 lb. grnd beef
1 medium onion, chopped
1/4 lb. mushrooms, sliced
1/2 each red and green bell pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
1 sleeve soda crackers, crushed
2 eggs
8 oz. tomato sauce
about 1 1/2 tsp. each oregano and basil
salt and pepper

mix it all up, pop in a loaf pan and bake in the kettle grill (covered) over indirect heat for about 1 1/2 hours, or til juices run clear.

Note: Next time I'll probably increase the basil to 2 or even 3 tsp. Also, I usually like to add shredded carrot and/or zucchini to my meatloaf, but I didn't have any on hand this time.

For another variation , refer to my East Meets West Meatloaf recipe, and vary according to your families taste preferences. That's one of the things I really like about meatloaf. The variations are endless!

We will be taking some time today to stop and reflect on the meaning of this holiday. We honor all those men and women who served our country.Our thoughts and prayers are with those who lost their loved ones during that service, as well as those who's loved ones are even now, across the sea, unable to join their families today.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Happy Weekend! ...And A Movie!

We're having some problems with our power today, so am not on as much as usual. Maybe that's not all bad, as it will give me a chance to catch up on a few things around the house....

I was so excited over the arrival of the sun this last week, and the resulting Laundry opportunities, that when the sun emerged yesterday morning I forged ahead and did up a nice heavy load of darks. I loaded up all of Pa and Nathan's jeans, and a few of Lindsay's, and set to washer to heavy duty. About an hour and a half later I frowned at the clouding over sky as I pulled my freshly laundered clothes out of the washer. At least it didn't rain. However, the sun never seemed to manage to come out again for more than a few minutes at a time. Fortunately, the humidity was low, and there was quite a breeze so by the end of the day my clothes had managed to attain at least a partial state of dryness.

As the day began waning, and the (already filtered) light faded from the sky Pa helped me bring my laundry in and I hung them on the rack in front of the woodstove. Last night things cooled down enough that we opted to fire the stove up and as a result my load of jeans managed to finish drying by this morning. Hopefully this time Nathan will choose to wear something other than his best jeans for playing around the property, saving the good jeans for our next trip to town.

Last week, the very next day after I had washed those jeans he donned them, coming in at the end of the day with a big smile on his face, and covered head to toe with dirt. *sigh* Ah well. Boys will be boys... And Mom's will keep cleanin' up after them!

Saturday Night At The Movies!

Our children are both rather fond of critters and nature. This week they spotted a movie at Netflix that they thought might fit right in with those interests. Last night we all settled in to watch their choice of the week, Escape To Grizzly Mountain, starring Dan Haggerty.Briefly, it is about a boy, who along with a couple helpers works to free a bear cub who is being abused in the circus. While I'm certain this film will never receive any awards for acting, it was an entertaining and certainly family friendly film. I enjoyed seeing Dan Haggerty again, and was surprised at the (brief) appearance of Jan Michael Vincent! At first I wasn't sure it was him. It looked like him (although a bit older than the last time I saw him) but the voice seemed much more gravely than I remembered. At the end of the film though, when they ran the credits, there was his name! There were others in this film that pushed a memory button for me, but, as with the aforementioned, they were older, and I just couldn't quite place them. The scenery in this film was nice, there was some decent acting, and the bear cub was just adorable!

While not a film I would declare a "must see", it was enjoyable for the adults, the kids really enjoyed it, and we're glad we rented it.

My UPS is talking to me again, so I need to head on for now.

Hope you all are having a good and safe Memorial Day weekend!

Our heartfelt thanks go out to all who are currently serving our country, and we remember fondly, and gratefully all who went before them.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

But The Price Was Right !

We needed to make an extra trip into town this week. Due to the long weekend, and the resulting tourist traffic in our area, we decided it would be a good idea to head in before the weekend officially started.

The bank, one of the reasons our extra trip was necessary, was our first stop and it just happens to be in the same area as The Dollar Store, so we stopped by there before heading on to The Grocery Outlet. One of the things I'd been wanting to pick up was a new fly swatter. I like to get those at The Dollar Store as I just can't bring myself to spend more than that for such a lowly item. I searched and searched, and didn't see any. Just as I was about to give up, I spotted something hanging at the end of an aisle. I'm pretty sure I'd looked right at them several times but it hadn't registered what they were.


Sometimes I think we go a bit too far in our attempts to make things aesthetically pleasing. As I grabbed my purchase, both my young'uns exclaimed their disbelief. "You aren't really going to buy that !?!!" "Are you really going to use it???" Hehe. Well, yes. I did actually buy that. And I do intend to use it. The gal who checked us out chuckled when I commented on what a pretty fly swatter it was. Honestly, I'm thinking fly swatters are one of those things we really don't need to "pretty up". At the very least they should be readily recognizeable for what they are when we go in search of them at the store.

Ah well. Now I guess I need to find a way to display my latest "art" acquisition. It will need to be an easily accessable spot though, as this object d' arte is intended to be used!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Rock Fishing...Kinda Sorta

If You Can't Go To The Lake....

Go fishin' in your driveway!

Armed with the knowledge that our weather was soon going to be changing, the kids decided to make the most of what sun they had left and have a good ol' time outside.

Lindsay had fishing on her mind, so Pa helped her get the rod and reel out, and she set out to do some serious fishing.
Cat Fish Aren't Biting

She tried cat fishing, but the catfish weren't biting.

So she decided to try rock fishing.
Casting Out
She cast out as far as she could. There were some pretty impressive casts.
What A Cast!
It looked like she might have caught a big one at one point. But, alas, it was the one that got away.

Ah well. No fish for dinner, rock or otherwise, but both our children had a fine time in the sun before we headed into town where they both scored some great books for their weeks reading.

Hopefully the weather will clear, and the wind will die down a bit before the end of the weekend.

Hope you all are having a fantastic Fun Friday!

Note: As always, you may click on photos for full size versions ;)

Thursday, May 21, 2009


Originally uploaded by boondockma
Today is library day, so I thought it fitting to feature a photo of the kids doing one of their most favorite things.

On any given morning, with the exception of Saturdays, you will find my children sitting by a window, or on the couch, under the Ott Lite, reading. Once breakfast is consumed, and morning chores taken care of, they usually spend some time outside, running off some energy before school begins.

School out of the way, weather permitting, they're back outside, making the most of all our property offers. By late afternoon, it's time to slow down and recharge the batteries. That's when the books come out once again.

During late fall, winter and early spring, that usually means we'll find them in pretty much the same position we found them first thing in the morning. This time of year though, things change.

Yesterday afternoon, as they settled down in their usual spots, Nathan glanced up and realized there was a much better booklight available, and with it, fresh air, not to mention the always welcome kitty visitors. As he announced, "I'm going outside!" both he and Lindsay grabbed their books and headed out.

By the end of the afternoon, they had followed the suns lead and changed position 3 times. In the final location, as the shadows were taking over, and the cooler air was replacing the sun's warm rays, the aroma from the kettle grill reached them. Pa was preparing the grill for dinner. Between that and the cats' not so subtle requests for attention,IMG_0430 the afternoon's reading session came to an end.

Hope your midweek day was as pleasant as ours was!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Damsel In Blue

Damsel In Blue
Originally uploaded by boondockma
Now that's what I was lookin' for!

If you get a chance, stop by my daughter, Kimmi's blog. She posted some great photos of some cakes! *

Bugs 'N Bumps

Be Ye Dragon Or Damsel?
Originally uploaded by boondockma
Yesterday, I had more fun with my camera. The birds weren't cooperating, and none of our plants or flowers were speaking to me, so I wandered around until this little fellow caught my eye. He was on the move, and I can't catch and snap so fast as he was moving through the air, so I chased him around the yard for awhile, until he finally decided to pose for me.

Unfortunately, by the time he decided to cut me a break, I had managed to stir up quite the coalition of mosquitoes! I waved them off as best I could while attempting to shoot this fellow's profile. I was just getting ready to snap what I'm sure would've been the perfect prize winning shot when a rather large mosquito landed on my arm.

I briefly considered going for a shot of the mosquito as she dug in, but my aversion to big red itchy blotches took over and I gave her a well placed swat. I watched as she tumbled off my arm, then glanced back to my original prey. Naturally he had taken off at the sound of flesh slapping flesh and so my photo shoot was done for the day.

It didn't take long for me to realize the mosquito I had managed to beat to the punch wasn't the only one who had managed to land on my body during my pursuit of the lovely blue fellow. I began to itch, and when I looked it came as no surprise to note the red bumps emerging from the itchy areas.

Fortunately, in my 50+ years on this planet I've managed to learn a couple tricks to deal with these sorts of incidents. The first I learned long ago, when my now adult children were young. That would be an ordinary tube of toothpaste! While I suppose it's possible the gel would work, I've never tried it, opting instead for the regular, good old fashioned paste. As it dries it takes the itch away and, as a bonus, if you catch it early enough, and let it dry completely, it even takes the bump away! The only drawback to this method is it can get a bit messy, depending on where and when you need to apply it. A well placed band-aide can help you out here, but, naturally this slows the drying process down. I've also found toothpaste is good for other insect bites.

Then there's the second option, which is even more fun than the first! This one I learned from my Stepmother several years ago, and has turned out to be not only an excellent, immediate source of relief for the itching, but a fun application for the kiddos! This would be good old fashioned Mrs Stewart's Bluing. Yup! You read that right. Just head to your laundry aisle at your friendly local grocers and grab a little blue bottle. When the beastly mosquitoes attack your little darlings, squeeze a bit on your applicator of choice (I ball up a square of toilet paper for this), being careful not to allow it to spill on your carpet, clothing, etc. Dab it on the bite and your young'un will be proudly sporting their itch free, blue polka dot until you wash it off.

Hope you're all having a wonderful itch free Monday!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Slugs, Copper, And A Lion Named Elsa!

My apologies for leaving you in the dark in yesterday's post regarding slugs. The two things we are planning to try this year in our attempts to keep the rather prolific beings at bay are egg shells, and hopefully copper wire.

We've used eggshells combined with slug bait with limited success in the past. This year I plan to grind them much finer before applying. For those who may not have heard of this option, the crushed eggshells act like glass for bugs and slugs. Since it is applied on the ground it doesn't affect the beneficial bees, but the slugs tend to turn the other direction when they encounter it. I've actually seen ants making a beeline for a plant and do an about face when running into the eggshell barrier!

The copper wire is an idea I came up with after Nathan informed me that slugs don't like copper. Evidently, according to a gardening book he read, it acts rather like an electrical current, giving them a shock and sending them on their way.

A while back the kids informed me they had found some copper wire, and I was thinking that would make for a fine gardening experiment, perhaps making a line around sections of garden plants, but when I inquired as to it's whereabouts yesterday, I was told they had decided it wasn't good for anything so they had tossed it. *sigh*. Now I'm daring to hope that if there was some in one place, perhaps I will find more elsewhere on the property. I'll keep you posted!

In the meantime, It is Sunday once again, which means Saturday has come and gone and it is time for my weekly....

Saturday Night At The Movies!

This week the kids were all excited to see Born Free as an option at Netflix. Last night we all sat down and enjoyed it together. What a fun blast to the past (all the way back to 1966!) for me, and I think the kids enjoyed it even more than I did! That in itself was thrilling for me, as the older films don't always appeal to them so much. This one, like the book it was based on definitely stood the test of time! Odds are you've already seen this film, and like me, more than a couple years have passed since you saw it or, unless you happened to hear the title song played on an oldies station, even thought about it. In my opinion, this is a film worthy of resurrecting for family viewing. After discussing it last night we all agreed it was a 4.5 star event (out of 5 possible). A pretty high rating for our family!

Happy Sunday! Hope the sun is shining in your neck of the woods!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Sunshine Days

Yesterday was such a beautiful day! The sun was shining bright, and the thermometer was climbing, yet it never managed to climb quite to the point it was uncomfortable. The kids celebrated by spending plenty of time outside, running from one section of the property to the next, hunting for slugs,
Kids On The Prowl EEK!
climbing on whatever they could find to climb, soaking in the suns rays, even stopping to pose for the occasional picture.
Jump N Shout!
Naturally, all that beautiful sunshine, along with my smiling children caused me to grab my camera and make the most of the situation.

That took up a couple hours. Then came the photo uploads. First I had to go through the numerous shots, choosing the best of the best, then it was off to flickr for safe keeping. Since we're on dial-up, that took several hours. 2 photos at a time, then going off line so my ISP wouldn't get cranky. Back to load 2 more and repeat.... Amazingly, I managed to get them all loaded by 7:50 PM. Just enough time to get the kids all snuggered in bed and hand the keyboard over to Pa at 8.

Things did warm up quite a bit in the early afternoon, so we waited until things started to cool down just a bit, and the shade began taking over before planting our tomatoes. We didn't want them to get stressed out from too much heat.

In years past we've had some major problems with slugs. Today we plan to try some different techniques for dealing with them, in hopes that our garden will stand a better chance of actually making it to a reasonable harvest condition.

Normally we like to get an earlier start on our gardening. Last year was so disappointing though. Folks around here called it the Summer that wasn't. I think we may have managed a week's worth of summery days, and those days were not consecutive. Those days were also quite late in making their appearance, which resulted in some real sorry garden yields. We're keeping our fingers crossed that this year will be different. At least we seem to be off to a good start!

Happy weekend!

Note: Click on photos for full size

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Singin' For His Supper

Once again, I'm havin' some fun with my newest toy. This morning, after Pa refilled the bird feeder, we had some feathered visitors, including 2 of my favorites, a pair of Towhees.

After carefully sliding the dining room window open, as quietly as possible, I had a fine time photographing these two as they sang their sweet little songs. They're quite fond of the sunflower seeds in the mix we provide.
Singing For His Supper

Shortly after the first bird left, his partner stopped by.

In addition to regaling us with their song, and being kind enough to pose for the camera, these two feathered fellows also provided me with the opportunity to get to know my camera just a bit better. As I suspected, an additional feature (or 2) allowed me to better utilize my zoom. Still need to play with it a bit though, as well as figure out how to control my tendency to "shake".

Hope you all are having a great Thursday!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Pa Climbs A Tree

Makin' The First Cut
Originally uploaded by boondockma
For the last couple years Pa has been eyeing a particular tree in our yard. This tree had been dead for some time, and was starting to lean. The biggest problem with that was that it was leaning towards a power line.

Now Pa is pretty good at eyeballing things, figuring out what direction trees might want to fall, and how to manipulate them to fall another direction. This particular tree though, had an added element which made things a bit more difficult to deal with. There was another tree nearby, which was quite healthy, and had a branch which grew out in front of the dead tree. This branch would have caused the dead tree to fall in to the power line, which would not be a good thing at all!

Yesterday, Pa decided the only way to deal with the situation was to climb up the healthy tree and cut the offending branch off before proceeding to cut down the dead tree. And so the adventure began....

Healthy tree is a very tall Spruce, which does not possess a multitude of lower branches for climbing, and the ladder Pa owns , while fine for scrambling up on the roof of our house, was not tall enough to reach the first available branches on the Spruce, so he had to find another way. This is where the old Willow tree came in.

The old Willow tree stands quite near the Spruce, and seemed climbable enough to Pa, and so he began. Although it wasn't nearly so climbable as he had imagined, he did manage to make it up far enough that he could reach out and transfer himself to a branch on the Spruce. He then spiralled himself up and around until he reached the target branch. Way Up In The Sky He settled himself in on the branch, about 30 feet above the ground, and let down the rope he had taken up with him. Nathan then tied the hand saw onto the rope and Pa pulled it up and went to work.

By the end of the day, my 50 something year old husband had finished sawing off the limb in the big spruce tree, proceeded to cut down the dead White Cedar, and had cut it into rounds which our young 'ns transported to their appointed places. I must admit, while I, being the concerned wife, had my moments of worry, and holding my breath, I did rather enjoy seeing (and hearing) Pa's banter last night. His eyes were sparkling. His face was lit up. He sounded 20 years younger.
You Did It!
He really enjoyed himself! And we all enjoyed the heat emanating from the woodstove.

Unfortunately, I haven't found a way to post more than one photo at a time here, so I had to choose one from the set of four I posted on my flickr last night. Rather frustrating in that I really had fun putting that set together. Thank you, Bev, for explaining how to post more than one photo! It worked! Once again, I was amazed at what my little Canon could do. You can even see the sawdust clinging to the blade of the saw, and flying up in the top picture!

And so it was...just another day at our boondock home..

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Feels Like New !

Thanks to all who commented on yesterday's post! After reading through the comments, then rereading what I posted, I realized that I gave the impression that we had acquired a brand new camera!

Actually, the camera I'm having so much fun with is a couple months old. It just took me awhile to get up the nerve to get to know it beyond the basic point and shoot level. Although a couple months still seems pretty new to me, after becoming better acquainted it really does seem brand new again!

For those who were wondering what camera this is, it is the Canon Power Shot A470, one of Canon's moderately priced, "lower end" cameras.

The photo I took yesterday was utilizing the super macro function.I've been using that function quite a lot the last couple days, and am amazed at the results I can get with it! Another option I've been playing with a bit is the zoom. If you stop by my Flickr site, you can see shots of the moon I took last weekend. They're particularly exciting, but, they represent the beginning of my new familiarity with my camera. The first shot is taken with the regular point and shoot method. The second one was taken by zooming in once. At the time, that's all I thought I could do. Now I'm eagerly anticipating next months full moon, and keeping my fingers crossed it will be a clear night, so I can give it another try!

The next day I got to playing around with my camera and, quite by accident discovered I could zoom in to multiple levels, anywhere from 3.5 to 14. I'm still experimenting with this feature, and expect if I pair it with other features I may be able to find applications where the highest level might work for me. For now though, I've found 8.5 (or in some cases, 10)is about as far as I can go without experiencing some rather annoying "noise". As I recall that's pretty much what one can expect in most any of the AA utilizing cameras though, so for the price, I figure I really can't complain.

The biggest negative aspect I've found with this camera is the problem with glare on the viewing screen. There are certain situations where the the sun gets in the way, and I just can't see my subject. Honestly, I can't understand why some sort of a shield couldn't be installed on this otherwise great little camera with nominal cost adjustments.

Digital photography is new to me, and I was never an expert in photography anyway. I think this is an excellent camera for beginners, like me, and/or for those (again, like me) who are on a budget. I'm quite pleased with this camera, but have no doubt I'll be looking to upgrade at some point. Of course the kids are both looking forward to that point in time, as they know who this little gem will be handed down to ;-)

Monday, May 11, 2009

Monday, Monday...

Rain On White
Originally uploaded by boondockma
It's Monday once again and, after several days of appreciated sunshine, this morning, we awoke to rain.

I had so much fun this weekend, getting to know my new camera that the morning rain threatened to bring my mood down a bit. Then I thought why not take pictures of the rain?

To be honest, I didn't take pictures of the rain as it fell. Rather, I waited until it stopped raining for a bit, then I headed outside armed with my little camera, and started snapping away. Among other features, I've discovered the "macro" setting, and it didn't take long for me to realize that using features such as macro, and zoom, the batteries tend to wear out rather quickly! I'm now on my third set of batteries. Hmmm. Maybe we'll need to rethink the longer lasting, rechargeable batteries we'd decided we really didn't need ;-)

In the meantime, I'm managing quite well with the regular AAs, and I have added several new photos to my flickr collection. If this keeps up, I may find I need to upgrade my account there! LOL

I do hope you all had just as wonderful a day yesterday as I did! The kids and I spent most of the day roaming around the yard in search of photo ops. Pa treated me to a wonderful dinner. He fixed chicken out on the grill that he'd marinated in a combination of soy sauce and a fresh lime. He also prepared rice, which I enjoyed topped with sweet chili sauce, and then he steamed some asparagus. All this was further enhanced by the salad I made from the fresh organic greens our neighbors brought over. What a fantastic meal! I was still thinking about it as I fell asleep last night.

Saturday Night At The Movies

Since yesterday was Mother's Day, I opted to wait until today to post my weekly movie review. This week the kids chose to watch Superman with Christopher Reeve. It had been awhile since I'd seen this film and so had forgotten bits and pieces, which made it enjoyable for me to watch a second time. I must say, the larger digital TV we have now certainly adds another element to it! If you haven't seen this film, it's worth checking out, although there is a bit of violence so may be more appropriate for older children.

Hope you all are having a fun Monday! And remember...If life gives you rain...take pictures! :)

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Flowers For Mother's Day

More Rhodies
Originally uploaded by boondockma
Flowers in Spring always remind me of my Mother. Perhaps that's because my childhood memories are full of flowers around the yard. There were the 4-o'clocks along the back of the house. The Irises on the side of the house, and in front, just below the living room window, were the Geraniums.

Flowers make me feel good. They are like comfort food for my eyes, evoking the same feelings I had as a child when I felt loved and comforted, knowing my Mom was always there for me, ready to sooth hurt feelings as well as any cuts, scrapes or bruises I may have suffered.

I can close my eyes, breath in the sweet aroma, and be instantly transported back to that time of my youth, back to the house I grew up in, with flowers all around. The scent alone is enough to make me feel better when I feel ill, reminding me how my Mother was there for me whenever I was sick as a child. Her mere presence was enough to make me feel better.

I'm thankful for flowers and for the warm, loving memories I have of my Mother. I'm also so very thankful that I have the opportunity to see my Mother at least once a year. Those are times I get to make more memories with my Mother. The difference being that I'm no longer a child, and those memories are now shared with my own children as well. I hope they cherish those memories as much as I do.

I Love you, Mom. Thank you for the wonderful memories. Happy Mother's day!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Weird But "True"... From An 11 Yr. Old Boy

This morning, as I was gazing out the window, enjoying the beautiful spring colors the sun's rays were enhancing, my son decided it was the right time to provide us with his latest revelation.

This was really quite an astonishing bit of trivia and I knew immediately it was a fact I needed to share with the world, or at the very least, those who might choose to drop by my blog.

Did you know that one of the causes of Global Warming is a combination of termites and rotting houses? That's right! According to Nathan, "It's true!" It seems when old houses rot, the termites get in there and start munching away. Evidently termites really like old, rotting houses, and they tend to overindulge, which it may surprise you to learn, results in gas! Yup! I heard it straight from the mouth of he who knows all, my 11 year old son. The termites eat the rotting old houses, and in Nathan's own words, "They fart!", and this is one of the reasons for global warming.

Now, aren't you glad you stopped by today?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Feelin' Good!

After more than a week my body and I finally seem to have found a way to get along! I do find it rather irritating to note that when we have these little disputes my body always seems to win the battles. I remember a time when I was on the winning side of those disagreements at least half the time. I guess those days are behind me now. Ah the joys of getting older... At any rate, I am feeling better today. Just trying to power my way through the low energy level as I fully recover. I also discovered that there is one good thing about getting sick. Once you recover, you really appreciate feeling good!

The sun came out today! What a fine treat that is! The kids have been outside enjoying themselves, playing with the cats, collecting bugs, and running off at least a portion of their pent up energy. I expect my visits outside to suck up some fresh air may have helped with the recovery business as well.

This morning we all gathered at the dining room window and watched as a squirrel entertained us with his antics. He had discovered two of the bird feeders we have set up in the trees. He would scamper up one tree, climb out on the limb and do his best to reach the feeder hanging down in front of him. He'd give up on one, scamper down and across to the other tree, running up and out then stretch way down, as far as he could in an attempt to get a good hold on the second feeder. At one point we thought he may have finally met his objective. It was the milk jug feeder. He stretched way down, and somehow moved his little body out to grab hold of the lip. He let go of the tree with his hind legs and managed to hold on for a nano second. The feeder swung wide as that poor little squirrel swung and tumbled back the other direction. He managed to grab hold of the trunk of the tree, ran down and headed off without missing a beat. I think we watched that little fellow for a good hour before he finally gave up. We were really wishing our camera had a zoom option so we could've caught at least a bit of his antics to share, as well as being able to watch it all again ourselves.

We're hoping to finally be able to make our way into town tomorrow. It's been two weeks and, though we could probably make it another two weeks with no problem,we're looking forward to replenishing our supplies, not to mention, pick up some items to liven up our meals a bit. I'm thinking some fresh fruit and vegetables will find their way into our cart. Perhaps another fruit salad would be nice...or I have my eye on a pasta salad that utilizes fresh vegetables I thought might be fun to play with. Hmmm. Now that I think about it, why do I have to make a choice? There's really no reason I can't do both! Yeah, I'm really looking forward to our next shopping trip ;-)

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Foggy Days 'N Restless Nights

This last week has been a rough one for me. Just haven't been feeling on top of my game. As the title says, my days have been foggy, no energy, and just not feeling good in general. I even took a couple naps throughout the week, which is really out of the ordinary for me! Had a hard time keeping up with even the most basic of tasks, and really didn't feel well enough to go in to town. Fortunately, I do my best to keep us stocked up in case of emergencies, so we had plenty to eat, and Pa was able to run down to the little local store for those perishable items we ran low on.

Saturday Night At The Movies

This week's feature presentation was Dr. Dolittle: Tail To The Chief. As with the previous movie, we missed seeing Eddie Murphy, but Kyla Pratt
is a fine actress, and this film was more entertaining for both the guys and the gals than #2 was. There were lessons to be learned in this film, which, as parent doesn't hurt my feelings in the least ;-). The Dr. Doolittle films are obviously not based on high reality, but make for fine family films, when you're looking for a more fun, light hearted fare but may be yearning for something beyond the animated choices in kids films. We're giving this one a 4 out of 5 stars rating.

Today, I'll be concentrating most my time on getting the weeks lessons together for the kids. Hopefully, before Friday arrives I'll have enough energy (both physical and mental) to think of something entertaining for "Fun Friday".

Hope y'all are having a great weekend!