FavoriteDaddy reading The Hobbit to PinkGirl last night.
Termite Guy: “I added 8 new bait stations and put these little flags at each one. That’s a total of 31 stations all the way around the house.”
Me: “I’m not a big fan of the orange plastic flags on wire sticks. I can put something more subtle and decorative at each station if you need them marked.”
Termite Guy: “I’ll just push them all the way down to the ground. You’ll barely notice them.”
Me: “I’m just going to pull the ugly orange plastic flags out of the ground after you leave.”
(I actually said that to myself. There was really no reason to say it to him, he didn’t listen to me the first time.)
oh, you get to see the ugly now. My last few 5 minute posts have been in line with my goal to spring/deep clean my kitchen, but today’s post is about a DAILY struggle.
I have to believe that my kitchen counter is not the only one with magical magnetic properties. Magical in that it attracts all materials, not just metal.
We’ve got paper, plastic, wood, glass, medicine, vitamins, food items, cleaning supplies, a doorknob (don’t ask), even flat out GARBAGE. Maybe if I put the garbage can ON the counter…
But I digress.
I decided to find out if I could clear it in 5 minutes. If so, maybe it won’t seem like such a daunting task in the future. Maybe if I SEE that I can do it in 5 minutes, I’ll be more likely to do it every day.
Bwahahaha! (in our house, that would be referred to the Zack and Cody laugh. a statement, followed by a brief pause, and then a burst of mocking laughter.)
Did I make it within 5 minutes?
I’ll admit right now that this was challenging, simply due to the distance I had to travel to put some of this stuff where it actually goes. Which is probably WHY it got dumped on the counter in the first place.
Nobody wanted to go the distance.
I did cheat a little bit and put the items that were supposed to go upstairs ON the stairs to carry up the next time I go.
You watch, the next 5 minute post will start with a picture of my cluttered staircase.
What can YOU clean in 5 minutes?
And I just want to state right now, that I am confident that I can not clear my minivan of CARbage in 5 minutes.
UPDATE @ 2:34pm: Right now, there’s only one thing on my kitchen counter. A crock pot full of Cream Cheese Chicken
Works for Me Wednesday posts prior to February 2009 are archived at Rocks In My Dryer.
We’re long time Disney freaks and I adopted this idea YEARS ago after seeing it at Walt Disney World.
I LOVE me a Disney Christmas and I’m REALLY missing Candlelight this year! But it wouldn’t be frugal. Best time EVER? Front row, smack in line with the sign language interpreter. My FAVORITE narrator is Marlee Matlin.
AFTER getting all my Christmas mugs DOWN from the attic. I do NOT stop drinking coffee in December!
We just don’t have room in the cabinet for all of them at the same time, so I switch them out. (I know I have two Cupids in the picture, Vixen was already in use.)
We hang jinglebells along the stairwell for easy whacking as we go up and down. Not surprisingly, PinkGirl does the most whacking. Sounds of the season.
We had some for the front door knob, but they broke. This post may have prompted their replacement this year.
Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise…
I’m on a freakish quest to lower and/or eliminate our expenses in an effort to become debt free.
First thing on my list? Significantly reduce the number of times I have to apply the category “restaurant/dining” to an item in our checking account register. So far, so good. And I haven’t burned anything yet – food, pots or pans, myself…
Next up? Lowering our monthly bills.
“Reducing your living expenses so they fit within 80 percent of your income requires scrutinizing every expense and then finding the best way to reduce it. By reducing everything a little bit, you may be able to avoid eliminating any spending categories. This is going to require creativity and discipline.”
I feel like I’ve been on the phone for two weeks! I think I’ve called every vendor we deal with. Here’s how the conversation starts:
“I’m doing an expense audit, going through every bill we have and making sure we’re spending our money wisely. I’ll be getting quotes from some of your competitors and before I do, I just wanted to make sure we’ve got your best price. I also need to know what sets [insert company name here] apart with regard to services so that when I get quotes from your competitors I take into account any special or unique services you provide.”
With only one exception (our AT&T land line phone), in EVERY case, with EVERY vendor, they lowered my bill during that first phone call. Most lowered it so much I’m not even going to get quotes from other vendors because I can already tell from advertisements and web pages that my current vendor is lower. With some companies, I changed the terms of our services to fit our needs better. In some cases our payment stayed the same, but our service was better. In some cases, changing the terms of service also lowered the bill.
I’ll be writing about this process and updating this post with links to those posts. I’m also creating a category called “debt free living.”
First up? Phone service. (Saved $839.28)
Works for Me Wednesday posts prior to February 2009 are archived at Rocks In My Dryer.
We’ve made a big change here at Casa Aqua (the name Casa Aqua is a long story. Suffice it to say we are no strangers to dehumidifiers and industrial carpet fans). We ditched our straight backed wooden slat chairs (as comfy as they were) and have purchased four office desk chairs for our kitchen table. Take a look:
Last year we experienced a shift in homework time-continuum as FavoriteSon tried different locations to complete his homework. Neither of my kids likes to be isolated during homework time. Neither of them want a desk in their room to do said homework. I’m sure it’s because they just can’t bear to be apart from me.
(convincing and heartfelt pause)
But seriously, this is a good thing. Because they both tend to “daydream” (code word for mild ADD) and I find myself asking “Are you distracted?” “Whatcha doing?” and “Status report, please.” when I see them doing anything BUT homework.
By the end of last year, FavoriteSon’s homework location of choice was MY reading spot:
He complained that the chairs at both our kitchen table and our dining table made his back hurt. I couldn’t disagree with him. So, we sometimes let him do his homework while sitting here. By the end of these evenings, he was sprawled across the loveseat, eyes drooping, pretty much useless. We would send him to bed and wake him up early to finish in the morning. On the days we forced him to sit at a table, the whining was frequent and escalating, extending the time he spent doing the homework in the chairs of pain. (physical pain for him, a whole NUTHER kind of pain for us.)
This year, we had a plan. We took the kids to Staples and Office Depot to pick out chairs. FavoriteSon settled right into a $90 chair. A little steep, but we agreed with the condition that he N E V E R complain about the seating for homework again. And that he MUST A L W A Y S sit at the kitchen table to do his homework.
PinkGirl kept picking out cushy velour chairs FirstHusband and I vetoed every one, envisioning a daily task of removing crusty food from an increasingly hard and stained surface. ewww.
We finally found a $70 chair for her that was COMPLETELY adjustable. The seat goes up and down and tilts forward and backward. The back goes forward and backward as well as up and down. The entire chair moves up and down. And the arms are adjustable.
Of course, it didn’t match FavoriteSon’s chair. And while I’m not opposed to the quirkiness of this “office chairs in the kitchen” idea, I DO have some sense of aesthetics (aka decorating), so we opted to get two and two. FavoriteSon and I have the same chair and FirstHusband and PinkGirl have the same chair. (So what do you think? Do I need a more contemporary table now? I can’t decide.)
Two evenings of homework and so far, so good.
And yes. I am sure I see scratches on the floor already. But I do not care. This floor has had “character” for years now. When my kids are grown and have moved out, I will have a beautiful kitchen floor. But in the words Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen): “It is not THIS day!”
And I’m okay with that. This works for me – and my family.
Works for Me Wednesday posts prior to February 2009 are archived at Rocks In My Dryer.
Peggy at The Simple Woman’s Daybook is taking the summer off, but I decided to go ahead and post a Daybook entry anyway.
Outside my window . . . the mailbox flag is still up. The mail
man carrier is two hours late. Probably due to extra deliveries because of the July 4th holiday on Saturday.
I am thinking . . . about all I need to do. And then pushing it all aside for a little prayer and Bible study time in between dropping off and picking up two kids at two day camps in two different locations.
I am thankful for . . . our abundant blessings. Too many to count:
All in my little family have faith in God and strive to live in His will.
Our physical health.
My husband’s job stability and my loyal clients.
Our material blessings – our home and its air conditioning.
Electronic appliances we often take for granted – our cell phones, computers, mp3 players, microwave, dishwasher, washer/dryer, game systems. Ice maker.
Reliable, paid for vehicles.
The comfort, companionship and humor of our cats.
From the learning rooms . . .
My Utmost for His Highest, July 5th entry: “The one thing that keeps us from the possibility of worrying is bringing God in as the greatest factor in all our calculations.“
Psalm 37:5 “Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in Him; and He shall bring it to pass.“
From the kitchen . . .
No baking bread. Nothing in the crockpot. Leftovers tonight. Flowers on the table. So far. Soon, I will walk into the kitchen and hear a cat scramble off the table. I will then see half-eaten flowers on the table next to the vase. Later, the cat will puke flowers somewhere.
I am wearing . . . bermuda shorts and a tshirt. Hair up in a knot. Flip flops. It. Is. HOT. The tshirt is too hot. I need to change into something sleeveless.
I am creating . . . a computer macro for one of my clients. Fun. In a geeky sort of way.
I am going . . . to get the mail. I just heard the mail truck.
I am reading . . .
My Utmost For His Highest: Limited PB Edition by Oswald Chambers
Practically Perfect in Every Way: My Misadventures Through the World of Self-Help–and Back
Three to Get Deadly (Stephanie Plum, No. 3) by Janet Evanovich.
I am hoping . . . to find “delight” in something today. Like a rainbow. Or the smell of baking bread. Or . . . whatever. I’m looking for delight, so I know I will find it. That’s why I put flowers on the table.
And it’s why I just took a break from drafting this post and asked FavoriteSon to bake bread. (in the bread maker – it’s his “thing” in the family – He is such a great guy!)
I am hearing . . . my son. The kitchen timer went off and he immediately stopped playing his video game to unload the dishwasher and bring in the recycling bins. I didn’t even have to remind him. I told you I told you he was a great guy!!
Around the house . . .the wall art lettering came in the mail today!
One Two of my favorite things . . .
These Pentel pens. Easy flow, quick drying. My FAVORITE pen.
Cobalt blue glass. This sits next to my reading spot in the living room.
A few plans for the rest of the week:
Bible study and prayer time every day.
To NOT SPEND ANY MONEY all week.
Kid chauffeur duties.
Purging the house of STUFF.
Finishing up a client project.
Walk every day.
1. Conversations with PinkGirl.
PinkGirl: “Mom, when I’m on Broadway, I bet I can get you in to see my show for FREE!”
Me: “I’m sure you can get free tickets (because I am SURE you will be on Broadway!) but I think we would have to pay for our airplane tickets and hotel.”
PinkGirl: “Mom. I will be on BROADWAY. I will have thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars. I think I can pay for your hotel.”
Me: “Well, thanks!”
2. I Need a Replacement Pantech Breeze Cell Phone for My Dad. If you have one – or know of someone who has one and doesn’t need it anymore, let me know! He lost his cell phone yesterday. We just got it for him in January. The Breeze is marketed specfically for retired people and it was really the PERFECT phone for him. Big buttons, large font on a good size screen, good volume . . . PERFECT for him.
Unfortunately, since he’s not eligible for an upgrade yet, it’s $279 to replace, but AT&T can give me an “exception price” of $179.00. OUCH. So I look on eBay. I found 12. 12? On EBAY? And the prices are not much better than AT&T.
Me: “I can’t believe I only found 12 of these on eBay! What’s the deal with that?”
Me: I suppose, since it’s marketed to retired folks, it makes sense. I’m thinking there are a lot of retired people out there who (first Husband chimes in) don’t know how to use eBay. arrgg.
My dad was so upset when he called me to tell me. I could tell he was feeling bad about himself for losing it, saying things like “I knew better . . . ” I kept telling him how losing and breaking cell phones is jut something that happens. To EVERYONE. FirstHusband’s Blackberry survived a ride on Space Mountain, although in 3 pieces (one of them missing). FavoriteSon let a girl “see his phone” and she dropped it from the very top row in the bleachers at a track meet. I threw my Treo at the floor once during a mom meltdown. I dropped my Centro while fumbling to answer it and broke the LCD screen two months after buying it.
Last year, after my mom left, I put my dad on my plan. We have AT&T and it’s only $10 a month to add a line, so it really helps him out because he’s on a limited income. I’m going to replace my dad’s phone for him. He feels really bad about losing it. But I don’t have an extra $179 either. So after calling the phone all day and having it go immediately to the “the AT&T customer you are trying to reach is unavailable” message, I figure one of two things. It is broken. Or it’s at a place of business where their policy is to turn off the phone and wait for someone to claim it. (Disney’s policy, by the way.)
(That second one it just not nice. I understand they are concerned about privacy and being sued and all, but seriously. Everyone knows the easiest way to return a found cell phone is to immediately look for the address book entry marked “home” and call it – or a frequently dialed number that looks like someone the owner might know well. It’s like finding a wallet and opening it to find the person’s id.)
So after a few hours of calling the phone and having it NOT ring, I suspended the number. I checked the usage online and it was 0 of 0 on data and 37 minutes on talk, so no one is using it. I’ll go to AT&T today with an old sim card and see if they can use it to get my dad’s number on FavoriteSon’s old Razr while I find my dad a new Breeze. If they can’t use the old sim card, it will cost $25 for a new one.
3. Still Decorating . . .
Finally used my $25 eBay gift certificate from Christmas! I bought this for the Laundry Room door because it is NEXT to the bathroom door downstairs and I do NOT want ANYONE who might be visiting to mistakenly open said laundry room door accidentally while looking for the bathroom door.
I bought this for the bathroom door – again to correctly steer visitors to the correct door.
This is for FavoriteSon’s room:
Notice there is no photo of the laundry room? Thank goodness I didn’t put my camera in there or you might not ever see another photo on this blog again.
4. Wearing White? The “color” I’m supposed to wear this week for Praise Team is white. WHITE. Remember when I said I had to wear PURPLE and I didn’t own any purple? Well, trust me, given my gynecological history, other than a few casual shirts, I do NOT own any WHITE.
But now, two months post-op, the fact that I can now boldly wear white is sinking in. Not sure what I’m going to do with that.
5. Macy’s Buy One Get One 50% Off! Went to Macy’s yesterday, looking for something white to wear (no luck). Standing there, sifting through the sale racks, I hear “Yes, ma’am. You buy the first bra, the second one is 50% off.”
Last week, I wrote about my “find a new bra experience” and that I bought two. One for $34 and another for $36. I didn’t mention that I was going to go home and get a few more on eBay, cheaper. Found them on eBay for $20, plus shipping. This sale made them $25 each and since I might actually FIND something white to wear, I might need a white bra on Sunday, so I bought them – no waiting.
And as a follow-up to last week, I’m not in love with the a Bali “Passion for Comfort” Full Coverage T-shirt Bra. The elastic tends to curl inside the fabric on the sides. Still LOVE the other one, though!
6. Bought a New Mattress! FirstHusband has been complaining about our mattress for months. So yesterday, when he had the day off, I suggested that we buy a new mattress. (I think I can sleep on anything – I don’t know from good mattress to bad mattress.) Anyway.
When FirstHusband started complaining I asked him to note the mattresses he slept on while on travel. (Yes, he had to travel to get a good night’s sleep.) He liked the Serta Perfect Sleeper something or other model – at the Hampton Inn. Further research found that the Serta Perfect Sleepers sold to consumers are NOT the same sold to hotels. Hotels get double sided, FLIPPABLE mattresses. Consumers do not. You want a Serta mattress like you slept in at a hotel? You have to buy it through the hotel! Who knew?
But that requires shipping. And waiting. And I don’t even want to think about a possible return. We happen to have, in town, a mattress factory. “The Original Mattress Factory.” Their standard practice is to make double sided, flippable mattresses. And you can even sign up for their regular “It’s time to flip/turn your mattress” email list! (They even have a pretty good return policy – up to a YEAR and you pay 25% of the lowest of the mattress you pick instead. Unless you buy a more expensive mattress, in which case, you add the difference.)
I wasn’t home when FirstHusband and FavoriteSon dragged/pushed/hauled/wedged/squeezed the mattress up the stairs, but I understand it was an experience of the $10,000 AFV variety. When I got home, they were taking the old mattress and box springs to Goodwill.
I sent a text to FirstHusband: umm. I can’t get in my own bed.
FirstHusband: Get a stepstool.
HOLY BIG GIRL BED, Batman! That thing was HIGH. Last night, FirstHusband lowered the rails about 4 inches and I STILL need a stepstool – no kidding! I’m not sure if I’m going to need the rails lowered again. I wouldn’t need a stepstool, but the dust ruffle would puddle on the floor.
And you know I need a dust ruffle. There’s some serious storage under that bed.
7. 3 Day Weekend! FirstHusband is smoking ribs and chicken. We’re taking a load of meat and some dirty rice over to some friends later as they settled into their new house. They’ve been living in an RV and their kids have been sleeping in a small apartment on their property for months. We met them through FavoriteSon, his friend is their son.
They raise butterflies. Is that COOL or what? They sell mostly to weddings and schools. Here’s an interesting tidbit. Do you know how to pack butterflies for shipping? (Gently) Close their wings and slip them into an envelope. I still don’t understand why their little legs don’t break.
We went to the movies last night. PinkGirl begged us to see Ice Age. In 3D. It was painful. We even had to pay EXTRA for the glasses. Which they wanted us to “recycle” (give back) at the end of the movie. I don’t think so. We took ours home and can now throw away all the paper 3D glasses we’ve kept to watch the 3D movies we have on DVD.
I feel the need to fill boxes with stuff and go to Goodwill. After I go to our friend’s new house, I will feel this need even more.
The Saturday before last, we learned we had critters invading our back porch. Little critters. And not cute critters like squirrels or chipmunks or hamsters. Bigger than hamsters. We had foolishly left birdseed on the porch in their original bags. First, we vacuumed up LOTS of sunflower seed shells. Then, after blocking up all the possible entrances to the porch and laying out a few appetizing cubes of poison, we discovered that critters were not INVADING our porch. They were LIVING IN IT.
So, Sunday afternoon was spent COMPLETELY purging the porch of critters and their warm cozy home – which happened to be underneath an old portable hot tub. The hot tub was buried under a mountain of junk and clutter. These photos are from August of last year, so add about 2 feet to the height of the junk and clutter:
Amazingly, after a only a few hours of digging through the pile, it was clear. I went inside like a total girl, and watched as FirstHusband tipped the hot tub on its side. The critters immediately ran out and scurried around the porch before finding the open door. FirstHusband and FavoriteSon rolled the hot tub out right behind them and it sat in the back yard for a week.
The NEXT Sunday afternoon, FirstHusband hauled the hot tub to the dump. My porch is so CLEAR!
Now I need to clean and organize the shelving unit behind the teak screen – but the screen has been pushed back more than 4 FEET! I was finally able to move my chair under the ceiling fan! It has been very peaceful sitting out there this last week.
The evacuated little critters have been munching on poison cubes every night for the past week. We’re pretty sure they ran into a shed on the side of the house, so unless they politely go off somewhere in the forest to die, finding their remains in the shed should be fairly easy. FirstHusband bought some stackable bins for the bird seed, so hopefully, the temptation to invade our porch is gone.
2. Speaking of birdseed. FirstHusband is still working on his raccoon learning curve. He has once again modified bird feeders with zip ties in an effort to thwart the raccoons and squirrels. I’ll let this photo serve as his notice that we’re down to three zip ties on this bird feeder.
And we did buy a new bird feeder for thistle. The label said “Squirrel Proof.” Shhhhh. I think I just heard a bunch of squirrels laughing. Yes. I’m sure of it.
We did figure out a way of preventing the raccoons from dragging the suet feeders up into the tree. We hung a big ol’ wooden birdhouse to the bottom of the suet feeders. Raccoons may be smart, and they may be persistent and they may have some chewing capacity – but they cannot lift this bird house unless they join paws and pull together.
Short of taking down all the bird feeders – which I REALLY enjoy having, due to all the BIRDS they attract, we’re not going to get rid of the other visitors to our yard. We back up to a small pond and beyond an embankment, a RIVER. There is a forest behind our house. At night, we get deer, raccoons – and last night, for the first time, we saw a possum. Unless we leave cheap feed out on the ground – AWAY from the house and easier to get to than the bird feeders – these visitors vandalize the bird feeders. If they don’t find any food out in the yard, the deer will come right up to my porch and eat my rosebushes down to stumps. Very rude.
So, we usually buy a 50 pound bag of cracked corn for $6.75 and leave the corn in bowls under the tree – again – AWAY from the house. We’ve learned that when we are diligent about that, the bird feeders stay intact, the more expensive seed remains in the feeders for the birds and I have roses in vases in my kitchen window (for the cats to eat, of course).
This week, I learned where the spare tire is stored on a 2000 Honda Odyssey. Could have lived my whole life without learning that. What I DIDN’T learn? How to extract the tire from its storage location. Once I saw the diagram in the owner’s manual, I thanked God that my husband was not out of town and went back into the house while he taught FavoriteSon how to change a tire. I’ve previously engaged in that learning experience.
This week, I learned what happens when I forget to leave corn in the squirrel feeder for for the raccoons. They just pull the bird feeders up into the tree to empty them. I also learned that I can not fill the bird feeders when they are wedged up in the branches of a tree. I had already learned that corn is cheaper than birdseed.
Check out What I Learned Last Week!
Two of my favorites visited at the same time this morning – a tufted titmouse and a woodpecker. A red bellied woodpecker from what I could see. The titmouse is my true favorite, but he is so much cuter when he’s fatter. I’ll have to work on that.
This is why I filled the squirrel feeder last night. The raccoon left all the bird feeders up and full! He didn’t even raid the suet! Of course the shriveled blackberries I left on top of the squirrel feeder are long gone this morning.
So anyone know how to attract blue jays? Do I even want to? I just love the different sounds they make. One in particular reminds me of an old school yard swing. You know, the noise those old metal swings used to make as they went up and back? Wikipedia refers to it like this:
“One of the most distinctive calls of this type is often referred to as the sound “the rusty pump” owing to its squeaky resemblance to the sound of an old hand-operated water pump.”
I like my nostalgic reference better.
White chicken chili, that is.
I think it may be cold every where in the U.S. right now, and I don’t pretend to be whining. I actually like it. But of course, I have heat and snow doesn’t blanket Florida. I grouse about hurricanes and humidity, not cold weather.
The freeze warning last night? You know, take in your plants, blah, blah, blah. No need.
Basketballs don’t die.
We had a fire in the fireplace last night and the first chili of the season. I wanted to have white chicken chili, but as I was doing my impression of a short person trying to see on the top shelf at the grocery store, the manager stepped up behind me and asked if he could help me find something.
“White chicken chili mix?”
He copied my impression of a short person, made a “sorry” face and apologized.
“I guess I wasn’t the only one who thought of chili tonight.”
Another (taller) manager was with him and, after sliding her hand across and back the top shelf (show-off) she said:
“Well we should have thought of it too – it’s only freezing outside. Of course people would want to make chili.”
So I made the standard “Chilio” chili instead. (They were out of those packets too, I just had some at home.)
I’m hoping to score some white chicken chili packets today at another grocery store. This is how easy it is:
It needs to simmer a little, but the prep is only 5 minutes if you use the canned chicken (from Sam’s Club) and the canned beans. I’m hoping to make a double batch. A little corn bread, some s’mores and smears over the fire for dessert . . . that, combined with no athletic practices and some family night American Idol watching.
Shoot. We might even take the Christmas tree down. Yes. Yes, I said it. No judging. Our family rule is “if you’re not willing to help, you’re not allowed to complain.”
I don’t mind him raiding the squirrel feeder as long as he leaves the bird feeders up.
Cute Little Creep, isn’t he? PinkGirl thinks so too.
That would be the raccoon who took down all my bird feeders last night. And the night before.
Here’s the backyard scene on Thursday night:
We call this the “Love Tree” because the boy squirrels like to relentlessly chase the (seemingly) ONE girl squirrel in this tree during mating season. From left to right, we have a sunflower filled bird feeder, a suet feeder, a bird bath, another suet feeder, a safflower filled bird feeder and a thistle sock. On the tree itself is a squirrel feeder which gets filled either with sunflower seeds or cracked corn. I use a lot of safflower because the squirrels and the blackbirds don’t like it. Something about it being bitter. Good. We have a red wing blackbird community behind our house and they can be pretty territorial sometimes. The bullies.
In the winter, we usually put out corn for the deer – in containers on the ground. We live in a subdivision, but our house is in the back of the neighborhood and there’s a river just past a pond and an embankment behind our house. After Hurricane Charley, the fence was down for about a year and during the winter months, the deer used to come into our yard almost every night. When they started nudging the bird feeders, we bought a 50 pound bag of cracked corn and put it out every night and they left my bird feeders alone. The same with the squirrels and the raccoons. When there’s corn, nobody messes with the bird feeders and the deer don’t eat my roses – which are in the flowerbed lining the porch.
Obviously I haven’t gotten the corn yet this season, because this is what the ground under the Love Tree looked like this morning.
And the proof that the culprit is a raccoon? Found in the (no longer needed) sandbox sand we dumped in the yard to fill a low spot.
Little creep. I’m off to buy a 50 pound bag of cracked corn. And more safflower seeds. And more suet.
So why am I NESTING? I’ve had this massive surge of momentum and have been clearing out and re-organizing for weeks. I’ve even been . . . decorating.
I don’t decorate so much.
Not in the traditional sense of the word. My method of decorating is seriously pragmatic and often involves shelving and containers (square, of course).
Merchandising a shelf? I don’t think so. I would have to later dust the “merchandise.”
Here’s a little sampling of what I’ve been up to:
Clearing Land. I can’t say weeding because I believe when the “weeds” completely obscure the ground and have grown higher than my waist, it constitutes land clearing. The word “weeding” just doesn’t cover it. I haven’t actually tackled these cornstalks yet. They grew from the droppings of my neighbor’s bird feeder, which was attached to our shared fence.
I wish I had taken pictures of this area before, but here’s a mid point:
This is a strip of . . . flowerbed? that runs along the back of our porch. I moved the grill and the smoker from the patio to this area because the basketball hoop is on the patio and the grill has been taking the brunt of all missed shots and rebounds for years. Notice the broken handle on the grill?
This flowerbed strip connects to a handmade paved area which, for years has been the home of a big red, crab sandbox. That picture above? This is the “before” shot.
We convinced PinkGirl to allow the pitiful, hole in the bottom, bent in half, faded sandbox to find a new home at the county dump – in exchange for a fire pit. FirstHusband found one he liked and it just so happened to be on clearance at Target for $55.00. He hasn’t put it together yet.
While I was clearing land, FirstHusband, FavoriteSon and PinkGirl built a “clubhouse” atop her swing set:
I’ve also begun purging the back porch of stuff and trash. This area was HORRIBLE. You know that tagline above? “I breathe, therefore I organize?” Yeh. Well, it appears I haven’t been breathing on the back porch for months. I didn’t take a picture of the before, but here’s the work in progress:
Pay no attention the pile of junk behind the dried out, $5, garage sale teak screen that I should oil up. Definitely do not step behind the screen, lest you perish in a freak junk avalanche.
I bought the furniture at a local thrift store about 10 years ago have have been through a number of foam pieces, covered with a bunch of different materials, including bedsheets. The foam just completely deteriorates in the Florida sun (even though it’s on a covered, screen porch). It’s never been all that comfortable either. And the cats have ruined a few pieces as well. For some reason, they prefer foam to cat litter.
The new cushions are a salvage. At the end of the Whale of a Sale this year, there were a few couches that didn’t sell and the charity pickup didn’t take. I stuffed my van with all the cushions before they were sacrificed to the dumpster gods. I took the denim covers off of the couch cushions to wash them and sliced off an extra curved, corner type piece from the foam cushion with an electric knife. I couldn’t figure what to do with the extra fabric on the cover, but in the end, I just tucked it around to the side. Now I have to figure out what to do about the chair cushions. I bought some slipcovers at Target a few years ago and I’m hoping to use the material to make covers for the chairs. I’m also hoping the cats don’t ruin the sofa cushions. I covered them with a tarp and found cat urine on the tarp the next day. The litter box had also been used, so maybe there’s hope. I’m going to be safe and either keep the cushions covered up or store them in a box when not in use.
There’s also a rocker, but my dad took it home to paint it. He’s going to paint all the pieces for me. I’ll post photos when the rocker comes home.
I’ve also been painting my bedroom. A few years ago (okay, four years ago), we had the ceilings repaired after Hurricaine Charlie. We supplemented the insurance money and switched from popcorn ceilings to an orange peel texture. That left the top of the walls white. I picked a paint color and started painting. Never finished.
Then, the next year, we had to get the house re-piped. Holes had to be cut, patched and re-textured. That left big white patches on the walls. I tried to color match the paint from the year before – THREE times. No luck. The manufacturer had changed the base color. So my room has been 5 different colors with a white “border” at the top for THREE years. A giant ladder has served as a towel rack in my master bedroom for three years. Not kidding. Last summer, I finally picked a new manufacturer (Behr – I LOVE Behr) and a new color. By December, I still hadn’t started painting.
One night after Christmas, around 7 p.m., I pulled a box out from under the bed and it got stuck. I took a look and discovered all the supports had collapsed. FirstHusband tried to straighted them, but in the end we had to take the bed apart. That’s when it turned into a scene from “If you Give a Mouse a Cookie.” I said, “You know, since we have the bed apart, we really should paint.” By 10:00 p.m., my room looked like this:
Even though FirstHusband tripped and fell carrying an open can of paint, we were able to put the bed back together by 1:00 a.m. He decided to sacrifice his body and not the carpet – and he did a pretty good job. He only spilled a little bit, but gashed his knee. PinkGirl was very brave and bandaged him up like a little nurse, while I kept painting. Then he did a great job cleaning the paint spatters off the carpet, followed by cleaning up the blood that soaked through the bandage while cleaning paint splatters.
The area below is where the wall was cut open and patched the most. A beautiful sweater chest is supposed to go here. This started as the “purge” waiting pile. Over the last year, I put everything from upstairs that is to be given to charity HERE. In my room. Then, I just started throwing other things on the pile, like luggage from a trip, boxes, towels.
The sweater chest? It was next to my bed, suffering the same fate.
Now, the sweater chest is back where it’s supposed to be and stuff is either put away or boxed up and lining the hallway for a trip downstairs.
I’m almost done. I doubt I’ll finish this weekend. Friday night our family is going to a Magic game, Saturday, FavoriteSon has two basketball games, Saturday evening, FirstHusband and I are going out with friends. Sunday, we hope to take down the Christmas tree.
Oh, and just before I started all this? I made an appointment with my doctor to have my blood tested because I was exhausted. Sure enough. Iron stores down again, back on a supplement. And if you’ll notice – in the post that link goes to – back in February, I wrote:
“I took my first iron pill yesterday. Why don’t I feel better yet? How long is this going to take? I need to finish painting the bedroom and the lawn needs mowed.”
paint the bedroom. lawn. February. see? WAY over due.
I’ve been up to much more – but if I wait to post this before I finish listing everything, it will be ANOTHER week.
So . . .Happy New Year!
I’m back! And I’m ramping up to meet the holiday scheduling “challenges” in our lives. It’s December 3rd!!!! There are currently only two advent calendars taunting me as they count down the days till Christmas in my house – with at least one more to be unpacked as we decorate for Christmas.
I mentioned a few weeks ago that my color coded calendar looked like a rainbow and I’m seriously focused on keeping things “normal” (whatever that means). We traveled to visit family in Georgia last week and I had to work Monday and Tuesday, so this is my first blog moment in nearly a week. I’ll be catching up on my blog visits in spurts. Oh. And while in Georgia, my windshield got whacked by a rock and now needs replaced because the crack is smack dab in front of the driver’s seat. I’m told that it will only take an hour and can be fixed in my own driveway. I REALLY hope that’s true.
But now it’s time for a little stress relieving stream of consciousness. oops. cold coffee. need to nuke (for the second time this morning and it’s only 9:13 a.m.)
Okay. Here goes.
Kitchen Tip Tuesday – LATE
If I’m not careful, we will eat out or grab takeout for the rest of the month. Monday, I had to work (thankfully, on Go To Meeting, and not on client site) and then I rushed to pick up PinkGirl from school at 3:00 p.m. (late) and then waited for FavoriteSon to saunter on over to the van at 3:36 – 6 minutes after 2nd grade bowling began (His punishment for being late was to ride past all his friends in my festive holiday “carstumed” van.)
I fed them snacks in the car to avoid buying food at the bowling alley, dropped PinkGirl off at bowling, took FavoriteSon home as he did homework in the car, changed from shorts and sleeveless because it was getting cold, put on some make up because I looked . . . asleep, took FavoriteSon – still doing homework in the car, back up to the bowling alley to pick up PinkGirl, drove to pick up FirstHusband at a nearby parking lot where he left his truck while we picked up dinner at Wendy’s (dropping my driver’s side Rudolph antler in the drive-thru) on the way to FavoriteSon’s first basketball game – across town – an hour before the game started because they had to hand out uniforms at the last minute. Got in the van to come home at 8:30 or so, drove 45 minutes home stopping for McDonalds for PinkGirl and at Checkers for FavoriteSon because they were “starving,” (again dropping my driver’s side Rudolph antler in the drive through) arrived home with PinkGirl asleep in the back seat . . . it’s December. See what I mean? And we only allow one extra curricular activity per kid at a time. I can’t imagine life with kids involved in multiple activities.
Oh, and it seems I stepped off the bleachers a little too vigorously after the game. I felt my neck “jar” as my foot hit the ground, so, while I’ve not suffered a complete setback, I did take a few steps backward on the road to ruptured disk recovery. I’m going to schedule another massage for Friday afternoon after a few more traction and inversion sessions. We are taking PinkGirl and three friends to Magic Kingdom on Saturday for her birthday and I’ll have to be standing on hard surfaces all day, so I’m going to be a little proactive. I’m also going to be good and NOT ride any roller coasters either. Bummer.
So . . . those are a few of our recent scheduling challenges. I said this was stream of consciousness.
I need some serious meal planning, which is what I’m doing today. Yesterday I went for a tried and true favorite, Cream Cheese Chicken. Today, we have leftovers and for tomorrow, I’ve already pulled out my “easy” cookbook.
I know Cambell’s soups aren’t the healthiest ingredients in a meal, but they’re a whole lot better than Wendy’s. Or McDonalds. Or Checkers. So, here’s the crinkliest page in this book:
Chicken-Broccoli Divan (click here for a printable PDF version)
4 cups cooked broccoli florets
1 1/2 cups cubed cooked chicken
1 can (10 3/4 ounces) Campbell’s® Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup (Regular or 98% Fat Free)
1/3 cup milk
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
2 tbsp. dry bread crumbs
1 tbsp. butter, melted
Place the broccoli and chicken into a 9-inch pie plate. (I use an oval Corningware casserole dish.)
Stir the soup and milk in a small bowl. Pour the soup mixture over the broccoli and chicken. Sprinkle with the cheese. Stir the bread crumbs and butter in a small bowl. Sprinkle the bread crumbs over the cheese.
Bake at 450°F. for 20 minutes or until the chicken mixture is hot and bubbling.
It’s fast, it’s easy, and the kids like it too! In a bind, I can use frozen broccoli florets and a large can of cooked chicken breast. I use lowfat or low sodium soup, skim milk, lowfat cheese, and Smart Balance margarine. So . . . not SO bad for us.
This morning, I forgot to eat breakfast, so three hours later I just made:
5 minute Oatmeal.
One cup water, 1/2 cup old fashioned oats (not quick or 1 minute oats).
Nuke on 50% power for 5 minutes (I put a paper plate underneath because there can be boil over).
Fast and easy.
Okay – I stepped away from the computer for just a minute – and it’s 4:40 p.m. Again. It’s December.
I saw a termite swarm in the back yard and our “termite guy” stopped by to check it out. There’s nothing near the house, thank goodness and while he was telling me how many termite colonies there are per acre in Florida and how the ones who fly are just looking for a girlfriend and not eating anything important, I got a client call and had to work for a while.
And if anyone remembers reading “With layers, I can choose to blow my hair out straight if I want, but I still have the option of wave or curls.” I’ll just tell you now. I did NOT blow my hair out straight today. I needed the 10 or so minutes for something else. I just don’t remember what the something else is right now. I’m going to have wavy hair for most of the rest of the year.
In other news, our new shower is almost done. I understand the only thing left to do is buff the floor. Check out our “broken” shower photos HERE. And now, our new shower:
Next, I paint.
But first, I take PinkGirl to children’s Christmas choir practice (we broke the one activity rule for this one), walk for an hour with a friend, attend my own Christmas choir rehearsal and then come home.
At the moment, there’s nothing on my calendar tomorrow. Maybe it’s a catch up day? I love catch up days.