Thursday, March 22, 2018

An outing to see Ivan

Spring break is in full swing. So far it's been far superior to last spring break since last year the kids were throwing up all week. The weather has been beautiful and we decided to go on an outing with my parents to see The Museum of World Treasures. They have a T-Rex skeleton they named Ivan. Ivan was quite impressive.


Greta and couldn't resist taking a selfie with Ivan.


They had quite the variety of exhibits including local fossils, Civil War, Ancient statues,  Vietnam War, Geology, Berlin Wall and WW2. There was a little of everything for everyone. The kids had fun, as did I.


















Thursday, March 15, 2018

Cucumbers, Reading and Science Fairs

I am so excited and ready for spring! I find myself just lying out in the sun whenever I have the chance. My indoor gardening is going well. The cucumbers are still growing like crazy with several big ones nearly ready to harvest. After three months I feel like I'm getting the hang on this Tower Gardening thing. I'm experimenting with many different plants to see what grows best and have several winners in the spinach and herb department. It's very cool to walk over there and harvest your salad each day.




We've been battling some behavior problems with the kids lately (mainly Greta). They have gotten very used to have regular screen time, whether that's computer, tv or tablet. I don't have too much problem with computer time as long as it's educational but usually it's not educational and more Roblox (their favorite online game). It had gotten to the point that it was a constant question coming out of one of their mouths..."Mom, can I play on my tablet?", "Mom, can I watch a show?", and so on. I hit a point where I couldn't take it anymore and Sean and I decided they needed to earn their screen time. So now they have to read for an hour to have an hour of screen time. This has been particularly helpful on the cold weekends when we are stuck inside. So far so good!


Wesley has made his way through the Harry Potter series and is now on the last book.

This year Wesley entered the Science Fair. It's open to all fourth and fifth graders. He had to research projects and pick one and then present all of the information he gathered on a tri-fold. He chose "How much salt will it take to make an egg float?". He did the experiment and took pictures and then typed out all of his findings to present. There were around 10 entries and he took first place. I'm so proud of him!



Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Catch Up

It's February, it's cold. The kids are home again for a snow/ice day (the second or third this school year). I thought I'd sit down and write a catch up post since I haven't been posting regularly.

I am dreaming of spring. I'm sure you are too! I am so tired of being chilled, even in the house. I broke down and bought a king sized heating blanket. Sean and I wrap up with it on the couch in the evenings and watch Netflix. It sure makes the winter bearable. So do these beautiful Valentine flowers that my sweetie got me.


My sculpting business is going well. I used to have to sell on eBay just to attract customers for custom sculptures but the word is out and I have a steady flow of customers just through word of mouth. I feel very blessed. I did take a couple of weeks off after Christmas to give the old hands a break. We went and saw the new Star Wars movie and as soon as I got home I got the bug to sculpt one of the cute creatures. Here is a little Porg.


Wesley has had a big month. One of the major school projects is called The Wax Museum. They get to choose a famous person and research that person. Then they dress like the character and resite a memorized speech when someone pushes the "button" on their hand. The whole school and parents are invited to this event. It was well done and all the kids really did a great job. Here is Wesley as Harry Houdini.




He is also doing really well in karate. He started last fall and has been learning his moves. He got his first strip two weeks ago, which is a big deal! We are very proud of him.


Wesley started an instrument this year in 5th grade. My parents were nice enough to let him use my old saxophone from when I was in middle school. It's still in good shape and he's able to play well with it. We are planning on having some pads replaced this summer so he can go into middle school with an instrument in tip top shape.  


The dogs got a nice new dog bed for Christmas and they all like to pile into it (except Winston). Chance will be turning 15 years old this spring and is pretty spry still. The addition of the two young boston terriers seemed to have brought out his inner puppy. We hope to have him around for at least a little while longer.



The first crop of lettuce in the tower garden has has come to an end and the second round is already growing. The instructions say that flowering crops are not recommended for inside growing. I figured this was due to the lack of pollinators (bees & butterflies). I'm always up for a challenge so I planted eight cucumber plants in the base of the tower. Here we are two months into growing and there must be 80 flowers. I was clueless as to how to hand pollinate so I went to YouTube and learned all about male and female cucumber  flowers. It was pretty easy to tell the female flowers after watching a video. They have a tiny little cucumber under the flower and if it gets pollinated then the cucumber continues to grow bigger. If unpollinated it dries up and falls off. The flowers are open for about 24 hours so once a day I go over there with my little paint brush and hunt for the female flowers. There are usually about 2-4 a day to pollinate, it takes less than a minute. Now I've got 20+ cucumbers growing and am looking forward to fresh cucumbers soon. Have I mentioned how much I like the tower garden?



A couple of weeks ago we finally got some beautiful weather and we all got to get outside and enjoy some sun at the park. It was a welcome change. Come on spring!


Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Basil

The Tower Garden has been planted for over a month now and is growing like crazy. The lettuce is nearly at its end and new seeds have been started to replace them this week. The cucumbers are all full of flowers and baby cucumbers which is super exciting (yeah my life is pretty dull). When you grow flowering plants that need pollination indoors you don't have all the bees, moths and butterflies that normally do the pollination for you. So each morning I get up and take my small paint brush and brush the male flowers and then brush the female flowers. I had to watch a YouTube video showing me the difference between the two flowers but now have the hang of it. I'm excited to have fresh cucumbers to eat.

The four little chambers of basil I planted produced a ton of basil leaves. Far more than I use fresh in my cooking so I was trying to figure out ways to preserve the crop so it didn't go to waste. It dawned on me that I have a dehydrator sitting unused in the cabinet so, once again, I went to YouTube to learn how to dehydrate basil. It looked simple enough, put the basil leaves on the dehydrator trays and let it run at the lowest heat (95 degrees) for 12-24 hours.


I filled all 6 trays, cramming all the leaves in there. Twelve hours went by and they were just limp little leaves. So I left it going over night, the next morning still limp leaves. That next evening I checked it and it was still the same, limp not crispy. At this point it had been 36 hours and I was about to give up. I got online and found a site that said to just pop it in an over at the lowest temperature (which on ours is 170 degrees). I put them all on a cookie sheet and popped them in the oven for 20 minutes. They came out nice and crispy and beautifully green. I crunched all of them up and put them in an empty spice container. This is what a big mixing bowl of fresh basil produced.


I do have a newfound respect for the price of organic spices. :)

Monday, January 29, 2018

El Sicky

Last week was a long week. Friday morning Wesley looked a bit off. It seemed to come out of no where as he was fine eating his breakfast and then when we were leaving for school he looked tired and said his head hurt. I should have kept him home in retrospect but sent him anyway. The school called at 2 to say he had a fever, so I went and picked him up. The school nurse said to go have him swabbed for strep throat as it was going around the school. He was swabbed for both strep and for the flu and the test came back positive for Influenza A.


Since it was caught early the nurse practitioner prescribed him Tamaflu. I was a little uneasy about the Tamaflu but still went and had it filled at the pharmacy. $116 later I was home with a packet of pills. Then I remembered Wesley had never taken pills before. Yep, there was no way he was going to swallow pills. So we just decided to skip the Tamaflu.

He was pretty miserable for two days, Saturday and Sunday. Then Monday morning he comes bounding down the stairs declaring he feels great. No fever, no congestion, nothing. We watched movies Monday and Tuesday. Congestion started up Tuesday night which produced gallons of yuck but for the most part it was extremely mild in the world of flu symptoms. I'm very grateful. Plus nobody else in the house got it. Woo hoo!

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Fudge


The kids and I were getting into my car and my drivers door handle just fell off. I let out some choice words which consisted of "Oh FUDGE!" (my kid appropriate F word). Both kids let out an audible gasp and looked at each other with their mouths open. I looked at them incredulously and asked why the gasp, stating that I didn't say the "F" word I just said fudge. Greta looked at me and in her quite little voice said "I thought fudge WAS the F word".

Monday, January 8, 2018

Tower Garden

I've become pretty obsessed with tower gardens. What is a tower garden you ask? Well, it's a hydroponic tower that circulates water around while growing tasty vegetables. I was intrigued the first time I saw the gardens at our church (they have three) and then the gal that tends to them asked me to help. I was hooked. Once a week we would meet at the church and add water, plant seeds or harvest goodies. It was fun!

I started researching them and after running the numbers decided we needed one at the house. It will take about a year of growing my own greens (and not buying them from the grocery store) to pay for the unit. It is a large investment up front ($525 for the unit plus $250 for the grow lights) but growing your own food is so satisfying.

Right before Thanksgiving we arrived home to a giant pile of boxes on the porch.


It was like Christmas! That is all the components to the tower garden including the base, LED lighting, extension unit, minerals and rock wool.

Thanksgiving day my parents were over and helped us put it together. It went together a lot quicker than we all thought it would. There isn't much to it.




 Here is the unit built but without the lighting. I did opt for the extension which makes it two rows taller (an extra $70). I waited to order mine until the new LED lighting was released. I didn't expect the lighting to be so bright! It was blinding! Should grow some great food.




We pushed it over where we wanted it and ordered a hot water heater pan to put it in (in case of drips or leakages). I filled it up and added the mineral blend and let it run for a week. I started seeds after a week. I started them in their own rock wool in a tray and once they were coming up I popped them into their own little chamber on the tower. I planted the top two rows with kale, then a row of romaine, a row of basil, two rows of black seeded lettuce and the bottom row is cucumbers.



It's been growing for a month now and I've harvested lettuce for the first time this weekend. I made lettuce wraps and used these big old lettuce leaves for the wrap. Growing food in your own home in the middle of winter is very cool. I really love it!





Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Christmas 2017

Well another great Christmas over and done and I wouldn't change a thing. My parents were here along with my sister and her family. It was nice to have a full house for the Holidays.

We did all of the traditional things like make sugar cookies:



Our elf, Christopher, came for a visit. He likes to hide every morning in a new place. This was our favorite hiding place. He seemed to be missing Santa Claus there at the end.



All of the kids had a great Christmas morning unwrapping their treasures. Greta finally got a Hatchimal which she is super excited about. It plays all sorts of games and even mimics you as you talk. We had a great time watching it hatch.




Wesley was so excited to get a video camera as he wants to start making YouTube videos. He's been shooting video and is busy reading all about techniques.


He and the nephews were also excited to get some Nerf guns. The new Nerf Rival guns shoot little foam balls that are (in my opinion) more fun. The boys and Grandpa went out and had a Nerf battle.



Even the dogs got to unwrap some new toys. Winston loved his new ball he even went to sleep with it in his mouth.


The other 3 all enjoying the new dog bed.