Saturday, June 29, 2013

Movies, trim and gardening

I thought I'd get an update in while I have a spare minute. It's been such a busy month! I've been trying to keep the kids happy and busy this summer and so far so good. We went to see Monster's University last week. This was Greta's second movie to see in the theater and she did pretty good. She lasts about half an hour and then starts getting antsy, could be the movie or it could be because she's three years old. It was a cute movie, I don't know if the kids were more excited to see the movie or if I was.

House projects are moving right along. We decided to finish the trim on the back of the house, which is needed to reattach the gutters which have been gone since Sean redid the siding last fall. Last week I took the truck into Lowes and loaded it up with cedar trim which I then 103 degree heat. It was miserable but it's done and now we are blessed with a cool spell (today it was 89 degrees). So hubby was able to get a large majority of it hung today and will finish up the rest tomorrow. It looks lovely. Next thing is framing of the deck.

I've been doing a little landscaping lately and needed to find a good, inexpensive source for river rock. In the past I've bought the 40 pound bags from Lowes and they don't go very far. So I called around and found a local garden store that sold river rock by the skid loader scoop for $98. One scoop is a ton so I had to have half a scoop since my truck is a half ton truck. Half a ton of rock is actually a pretty decent size pile and I filled up the dump cart four times. I'll be back for more soon I'm sure.

The garden is growing well. The grasshoppers and I have an understanding, I let them have my broccoli, carrots, onions and bush beans and in return they aren't going to eat my squash, cantaloup, tomatoes or sweet corn. If they do, they will die. It will be war. I still go out weekly and spray with the neem oil. It's tiring and takes about an hour, and now that the garden is growing larger and larger it's taking longer. What's sad is that I sprayed the onions, beans, carrots and broccoli with neem oil weekly and the grasshoppers still ate them down to the I don't know if the darn stuff is even doing anything. Oh well, I feel like I'm doing something. We are drowning in squash. Every kind of squash you could ever want, we got it. I've made zucchini bread, sauteed it, made fritters and even zucchini brownies (which were a huge hit). I'd hate to say I'm squashed out, but I think I am. And I haven't even figured out what to do with the patty pan squash. Perhaps next year I'll keep it to two varies instead of five.

The kids are there for scale and silliness. They love to make faces for the camera these days. The zinnias just started to bloom and I just love em. They are, by far, my favorite garden flower. You know why? Because I think a monkey could grow them. You put a seed in the ground and forget about them. Four weeks later a happy little flower blooms. They bring wonderful pollinators to the garden which up your yield. It's a win win. next year: more zinnias.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Silly Stashes

Yesterday I had to take the van into the west side of town to get new tires put on and an alignment done. It was about an hour away and I knew it would take a few hours. I google mapped the location and found an awesome shopping center about a mile away. So I dropped off the van and went shopping. I didn't have the kids with me so it was just killing time in an outdoor mall. I must admit it was one of the most relaxing days I'd had in some time. I didn't have to be anywhere by a certain time, it was just walking and shopping. It was lovely.

I was in Old Navy and happened to come across a package of stick-on mustaches. I picked them up and immediately could hear my children's laughter in my head. They would get a kick out of something as silly as stick-on felt mustaches. I was not disappointed. They ran around the house laughing and making silly faces in the mirror. One of the best two dollars I've ever spent.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Weekend Update

Do you ever just feel like you hit the ground running in the morning? I sure do! Summer is a busy time around here and this weekend was just that. The deck project is moving. On Sunday Sean and Rich had finished up the holes for the footings, the sonotubes had been placed in the holes and they were ready for concrete. I took the truck into the rental place and they mixed up a yard and a quarter of cement, dumped it into a cart and I towed it home. Well, I attempted to tow it home. My poor little truck was was out of its league pulling a load of that size. I did get it home but couldn't get it up the (tiny) hill in the back yard so we had to unhitch it and replace it with Rich's truck. We figured it up and a yard and a quarter of cement plus the cart was around 5000 pounds. Way out of bounds for my trucks towing capacity. I took it easy and don't think I did any damage (here's hoping). Lesson learned though! You think we would have towed it home with the 1 ton van in the driveway. Doh.

Anyways, the boys got to work with a wheel borrow and got all 18 footings poured, leveled and the j-bolt inserted. They look great! Renting the cement cart is definitely the way to go for future cement jobs. We'll let them cure and start the framing on the deck soon. Thank you Rich for all of your hard work, we sure appreciate it!

The garden has given me my very first produce yesterday. All that work is finally starting to pay off! The squash is starting to produce in huge quantities. I think in about a week I'll be swimming in zucchini. I planted a few interesting varieties that have been fun to watch grow including the Golden Egg yellow squash (you can see it in the top left pic), they look like a little yellow egg. Also the Eight Ball zucchini is producing (bottom right), they are little round green balls about 3 inches in diameter. They are supposed to make great stuffed squash recipes. Yesterday I sliced up a few of each, seasoned them well and sauteed them in some butter then topped with a little feta cheese. Oh so good! The cucumbers are growing, the strawberries are ripening every day (and eaten every day by Greta), there are baby tomatoes everywhere and I can already taste the sweet corn (please don't be ready while we are on vacation!). I love gardening.

My parents went on a train trip this weekend with my sister and we got to watch their hounds. I thought three dogs kept me on my toes, five were crazy! We had fun and anyone that sat down was guaranteed a lap warmer. I had all three on me one day and thought it warranted a picture.

Hope you had a great weekend!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Wednesday Write-Up

-I've been one mad waxing fool for the last several days. That van was taken good care of and it's in good shape for it's age but I don't think it's been waxed ever in its life. Therefore there is quite a bit of oxidation on the fiberglass top of it. Feels kind of like a chalkboard. So I took a slightly abrasive rubbing compound and spent today rubbing and buffing the top before applying a wax. It's looks better, it's smooth now but not too shiny. Might have to work on it some more when it's not 94 degrees out.

-The garden is growing like crazy. I've got squash the size of my pinky all over the place (did I mention I planted like 700 varieties of squash?). The kids like to go out there and see what's growing and run around the paths. I'll have to remember to keep the paths through the garden for future years. It sure makes getting around to weed, water and spray easier. I've have to spray for bugs once now. It's an organic garden so I'm not using any harsh chemicals which doesn't leave a whole lot to control the baby grasshoppers which are out there by the thousands. I did my research and decided on Neem oil. It doesn't hurt the beneficial bugs, like lady bugs, but coats the leaves in a natural oil which repels and slowly kills the bugs that munch on the leaves. I say slowly because it takes 3-12 days to start seeing results. I'm on day 7 and am just now starting to see a decline in the baby grasshoppers. It no longer feels like I'm having handfuls of rice thrown at my legs as I walk through the garden. Yea, it was that bad. The ate all my honey dew, marigolds, broccoli and are working their way through the kale (which I was so excited about, grrr). I get to spray again tonight which I'm oddly excited about. Die, grasshoppers, die.

-Wesley had a birthday party for a friend of his this past weekend and they celebrated it at the city pool. It was our first time visiting the pool and the kids had a really great time. I had to practically drag them away. I promised them we would go back to the pool weekly for the rest of the summer which I'm already regretting. I have no desire to go back to the over populated city pool, squeeze my glowing white body into a swim suit and keep tabs on my kids so they don't drown. So, I offered them an alternative that they ate right up. Today we went to the store and bought a blow up pool that I set up in the front yard. They splashed, screamed and had a wonderful time....and I think they forgot about the city pool (at least for the moment).

Catching lady bugs. There must be thousands in our yard, they are literally flying into my face when I'm outside.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

The Family Truckster

My husband has been driving the same car for ten years now. It's a little blue Pontiac Vibe that we bought with 7,000 miles on it. It now has 160,000 miles and many many rattles. In fact we nicknamed it "The Rattle Box". It's showing it's age but it's reliable and gets a fabulous 34 miles to the gallon. He gets to drive the corvette on nice days so the Vibe has been his backup car for nearly a year. But he's ready for a change.

He didn't really know what he wanted so he was looking at all sorts of vehicles. We were hoping this could be a family car, something we could travel in. Which lead him to start looking at RV's. He looked at big rv's and little rv's. It couldn't be a giant motorhome since this would technically be his backup car for work. So he stumbled upon conversion vans. Then, low and behold, he was surfing Craigslist when he found a fairly low mile, inexpensive van that fit the bill. So last week we bought it. Welcome our new Family Truckster, a 1998 Dodge Coachmen van. It's a nifty vehicle with a sink, fridge, microwave, toilet, tv and fold out bed. The kids think it's awesome and climb all over it. They even got to watch a movie in it the other night. It should be quite the experience traveling to Colorado in it this summer. We're all excited.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Big Helpers

What a beautiful, productive day we've had. You can't beat this weather we've been having this spring. It's actually spring like weather. Usually it's 100 degrees out by June and today was in the 70's with a nice breeze. The kids have been begging to go outside right after breakfast so out we go and are usually out there until lunch. They have a fun time playing (have I mentioned how nice it is to have two kids that play well together?). Today I asked if they wanted to help me rake up grass clippings and they enthusiastically said Yes! I ran out of mulch for the garden and have resorted to using dried grass clippings from the lawn mowing yesterday. We let the lawn go a little too long between mowings and it left several large piles around the yard. So I raked and the kids hauled the cart around depositing clipping into it. They got to help me put the clippings around the baby corn. They were big helpers and I'm proud of them. They, of course, wanted to know what they would get for helping to which I replied with a big kiss on the forehead. I wonder if they'll help me again in the future. 

Saturday, June 1, 2013


I just happened to be looking out the back window the other day when two of the young pullets decided they no longer wanted to be in the dog kennel and flew up to the top of the six foot bar. They then perched there and then flew back into the pen. Seeing as the cats will eat anything with a heartbeat I feel the pullets are too little to be safe. So this morning we put a tarp on top of the dog kennel. It's not pretty but it will work. It will allow them access to grass and foraging which is important to their health and important to what kind of eggs they start producing for us to eat.

They are still only 13 weeks old and can't be in with the older hens (and eat the laying feed) until they are 16 weeks old. I read an article about feeding young pullets laying food too early can cause them to get too much calcium too young, which will cause unexplained deaths later in their life. Since I've have five unexplained deaths with my older hens I am following the food guidelines to a T this time round. In the evenings I round up the young gals and toss them in the hen house to roost at night and familiarize themselves with the three remaining older "laydies". I keep the food up at night so nobody is getting the wrong food. Seems to be working for now.