Monday, August 30, 2010

Organize :)

or-gan-ize /awrgeniz/ 1a give an orderly structure to. b  make arrangements for (a person). 2 (often absol.) a enroll (new members) in a labor union, political party, etc. b form (a labor union or other political group). 3  (esp. as organized adj.) make organic; make into a living being or tissue. DK Illustrated Oxford Dictionary

Sometime in the past year (I can't pin point the exact moment) I became that chronically late person, who forgets their own doctor appointments, never calls anyone back, and empties their inbox into the recycling bin.  My kids, on the other hand are never late, always clean & fed, and rarely miss a planned activity.  So it's not like I'm absent minded, my priorities are just very clearly defined (in my mind at least), the kids come first.
With school and fall activities starting, everyone seems to be struggling to "get organized".  After having made myself aware of the formal definition of the word, I'm convinced it's one of the most popularly misunderstood words in an average persons vocabulary.  Being one of those people who thrive on chaos, I'm not sure I'd want to inflict myself with "orderly structure" or "a labor union".  So rather than be organized I'll instead strive to achieve some sort of balance that accommodates all the demands of family, work, and my child's education.
To get this "balancing act" up and rolling, I picked up a salon appointment book from our local beauty supply house. These types of schedule books are very efficient for us, ours has a column for each member of our family.  I know the idea of an actual appointment book sounds old school, but trying to manage four peoples lives on a cell phone just doesn't work for me (just making a phone call with a rambunctious baby on my hip is a challenge)   Next I figured out what can be eliminated from our tight schedule to make room for the new activities that are starting, then I filled in the "etched in stone obligations", and we'll just work on it from there.  Within the next few weeks, I fully expect that each little 15 minute interval of time will fill in, and before I have time to acknowledge that I've achieved a balance, summer will be here again :)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Birthday Party Craziness

This year I am going to combine the birthday parties of my two children, I expect this won't go well, but I intend to follow through with my plan anyway.  Why would I do such a thing? it's very simple, I need to preserve my sanity so I'll be able to endure their teen years in a dignified manner.   Planning an event for roughly 50 adults and approximately 35 children is something I only want to do once a year, it's a huge expense (and until I'm halfway through my 4th beer during the party) an enormous headache. 
So we started this planning process by selecting a date, and now we've moved onto trying to agree on a theme, cake, and food.  I really have no say in anything, so I just take notes and "make it happen".  So far I have: a request for a pig roast, no moon bounce. a half asst guest list, a request for a pony cake, moon bounce, and a sushi platter, an Ugly doll theme, and I also have a request that a pig NOT be roasted.
When I think back through all the events we've hosted, It surprises me that I still get overwhelmed, I should have this down to a science by now. I'm also amazed by how much our family has changed, our fantastic collection of friends is growing and out numbering our family members, and many of our family members are crossing over into the Friend category,  the unpleasant ones disappearing from the guest list.  Bringing everyone together to celebrate our children is a big deal for us and I'm looking forward to seeing the event come together :)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Chick-lets & Zi

Our little girl loves her chickens so much, she's willing to sit out in the rain all afternoon to keep them company.  Zi's BFF chick-let right now is Sophia the Buff Orpington. I feel that chickens have been unfairly labeled as "dumb barn yard" animals, its pretty obvious to me that they make interesting, fun, responsive pets for kids.  Zi's looking forward to sun down so she can tuck them into their nesting boxes.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Chicklets :) Big News

Napoleon invades
The girls suddenly learned to navigate the porthole to the outside world all by themselves, I can't imagine what I was doing wrong, I must have been going about it all the wrong way :) Or maybe Napoleon is a poultry motivational specialist, I guess we'll never know.......

Chick-lets :) My chickens are "special"

My girls were very excited to see me this morning!  A few of them had figured out how to use the nesting boxes and perches, but some of the slow learners were still huddled together on the floor.  Not one of my little ladies was willing to venture out to the run yesterday.  I made several attempts to help them understand how the little door on the side of the coop works, but they just don't seem to get it.  So this morning I took advantage of their willingness to be snuggled, and walked a few down to the run and set them down.  The six I brought out started doing normal chicken type things immediately, (ya know scratching the ground, flapping wings, pecking at stuff) so I attempted to back slowly out of the enclosure, as soon as they noticed I was leaving, they grouped tightly together and frantically huddled around my ankles.  I stood there for a few minutes wondering what I did wrong, (I had very clearly taken on this project intending to raise strong, independent, confident ladies).  Just as I was about to give in and sit down, Ti-he spotted a bright green grasshopper a few feet away and they were off!  While they were chasing the poor grasshopper around I was able to escape without being noticed.  I'm going to keep an eye on them the rest of the day, I'm worried they won't go back in the coop for water.  There definitely seems to be a pronounced learning curve present in my flock, but overall they all seem to be a bit "special"   (I know because now that the grasshopper is gone they're all huddled together standing in the last place they saw me :)

Friday, August 20, 2010

Chick-lets :)

For some reason I thought they'd be excited to get out of the little cage and run, I was wrong.
Well they're finally in the coop!  It wasn't easy to convince them to leave the safety of their old familiar cage.  We tried a few different motivational tactics, and then gave up and manually removed them from the old cage one at a time and released them into the run.  They're all in the coop now and I haven't seen any of them venture out into the run this afternoon.  Hopefully they'll acclimate quickly and get out there and stretch those wings!

My girls look so tiny in there.

The new rental rehab project: Before

back porch
out front
The family picked up a new rental property, and it needs ALOT of work! but over all, it's a good solid structure, great location, nice wooded lot. It's defiantly got potential.  These are before renovation but after clean out photos, my father removed approximately 60 pick-up truck loads of garbage out of this house, removed all the wall paper, old carpet and gutted the bathroom before he'd even let me in for photos.
living room
dining room
the gutted bathroom
neat octogon shaped hallway connecting the three bedrooms


Thursday, August 19, 2010

Chick-lets :)

It's looking like today's gonna be the day for our girls!  The coop is almost ready for them to move in!  We picked up plastic waterer from Tractor Supply last night, mounted the feeder on the wall, and buried chicken wire fence around the perimeter of the run to keep predators from digging under. They've been out in the fenced in area of our yard in their wire pen for the last few days, Always under the watchful eye of one of our dogs.  Amber refuses to leave her girls, so she's even out over night with them.   I admit that the idea of having them so far from the house is scary, so introducing them to the new coop will be bittersweet. But we know they need more room so we're all looking forward to seeing them enjoy their new home.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The fence project: Hell or high water

Between the rain and the humidity I'm not sure how he can stand to be out there, but he's determined to wrap this project up so we can move on to other things. The ponies are happy to have their run back, and the fence looks good.  I have to admire his ability to persevere, and that fabulous short sleeve raincoat/ tool belt ensemble is noteworthy as well.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

New pasture fence project:

Oh my... there's always one summer project that turns into a fiasco, and it would seem that this year, the new fence is it.  We're about 40 hours in (over a 10 day period) and haven't really made as much progress as we would have liked.   Stifling heat, down pours and work obligations are going to make this project drag out for another week or so I'm afraid.  Our awesome neighbor came over and drilled some holes for us with this incredible machine (he works for cookies) but then it poured and the holes filled back in before we got the cement poured.  Today we hope to get the holes cleared and all the posts in before it gets to hot.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

My Holy Shit I Look Old Exfoliating Facial Mask

After seeing some un-doctored photos of myself at a recent photo shoot, I concluded that perhaps it's been a while since I did anything nice for my skin. This mask will literally rip a few years right off your face.  But beware, it's not for people with sensitive or sagging skin, and keep it away from your hairline and eyebrows!  if you spread it too thin it won't peel off nice, so slap it on thick! 

  • mix 2 tablespoons of unflavored gelatin with 2 tablespoons milk
  • microwave for 10 seconds
  • apply to face (avoiding your hairline and eyebrows)
  • let harden for about half an hour, then peel off
  • do not, under any circumstance, answer your door with this stuff on your face (unless its trick or treat night)

Friday, August 6, 2010

What the f@%k am I gonna do with all this ham?

Leftovers are the bane of my existence, they crowd my refrigerator, inhabit all my favorite containers, irritate my husband (he has no place to put beer). I cook constantly so my stove is very seldom cool enough to even wipe off. And oh, did I mention, no one that lives here will eat leftovers! The divas that I cater to will stick up their noses at anything that's been re-heated. So I've had to devise a few ways to disguise "recycled" food. Back to my ham problem, I've already done all the usual things with it, omelets, raviolis, cold sandwiches and I still have a gallon sized zip-lock bag in my freezer. Anyway, so I'm making Ham Croquettes with a side of Cucumber Salad, and whatever is left I'm feeding to Sullivan, our lovely yeti of a Saint Bernard.

Ham Croquettes:

  • 1 lb. finely chopped ham
  • 1 rounded tablespoon each of Onion Onion and Garlic Garlic (Tastefully Simple Seasoning)
  • 1 and a half cups of fresh grated sharp cheddar
  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 eggs
  • seasoned bread crumbs

Put bread crumbs one bowl, put everything else in another, mix up ham mixture and pat into balls, roll in bread crumbs, bake at 375 until golden brown, or fry in oil

Cucumber Salad:

  • 1 large cucumber
  • 4oz. light vanilla yogurt
  • 40z. light sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon each Onion Onion and Garlic Garlic
  • salt & pepper
  • tablespoon fresh dill

slice cucumber then half slices, combine all ingredients and chill for a few hours before serving

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Chicken Project: Chicklets :)

 The rain let up, so we're back to our outside projects, our girls got to spend a lovely afternoon foraging through the grass for unsuspecting insects.  We moved the whole pen out to the grass next to the side yard so they were visible at all times (predators are an issue here, even when the chicks are in a pen).  Outside play time is important for them, it helps them to gradually acclimate to living outside.  They also had a chance to see their future horsey neighbors. :)

Monday, August 2, 2010

Homemade Liquid Laundry Detergent

I stopped buying commercially manufactured liquid laundry detergent over a year ago and started making my own.  I did this for a variety of reasons, it's cost effective, safer for my septic system, doesn't generate empty plastic bottles, and most importantly, none of us get a rash from it.  Also I needed a strong detergent I could put in my high efficiency washer that wouldn't destroy my cloth diaper covers.  It looks intimidating, but it takes less time then making soup once you get the hang of it.
  • 1/3 bar of Fels Naptha
  • 1/2 cup Arm & Hammer washing soda
  • 1/2 cup borax powder (20 mule team)
  • 2 or 3 gallon bucket
All of those products can be found in the laundry isle of the grocery store.

Start by grating the soap into a sauce pan, add 6 cups of water & heat until the soap melts, add washing soda and borax and stir until dissolved, remove from heat,  pour four cups hot water into the bucket, add soap mixture and stir, add one gallon plus 6 cups water and stir, let it stand 24 hours so it can gel. After it gels you'll need to stir it again before you use it. The finished product won't look like watered down store bought detergent, it will be an opaque, with a thick pea soup consistency.

~Use 1/2 cup per a load, the total yield is about a gallon and a half :)

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Garage Organization Project: The best Drive by Junking ever!

Our outdoor projects keep getting rained out, we have the chicken coop project almost completed, and the new pasture fence started.  The weather has really been a bummer, but on the up side, the rain left us with an opportunity to take on yet another project......organizing the garage. (Our house is pretty small, so efficiently using the space we have to accommodate our growing family is pretty important).  We were standing around debating our next move, when my dad pulled up with a truck load of salvaged steel shelving (what a coincidence).  These types of visits from my father are lovingly known as "drive by junkings" around here. He used to have this really bad habit of dropping stuff off at our house without asking us first.  The shelf system was removed from a medical office building by my father ( who fortunately for us happens to be in the salvage business). You don't need to have a hook-up in the salvage business to be able to access great finds, the newspaper, craigs list, free-cycle and the Re Place are great resources. We got enough shelving, to set up a new re-cycling station, organize our gear, and we have lots left over for when we get around to conquering the storage room.
what a great surprise!

new recycling area
Setting it up

Zi's 10 dollar big Bag-O-Swag :)

Occasionally I have to share my lovely little diva with the rest of the world.  It makes me sad but it also gives me opportunities to surprise her with fun girly stuff when she returns.  This weekend she spent some time with her grandparents while I shopped for new fall inventory for Mayzi's on-line vintage boutique.  Because Zi is the world's tinniest eco-chic gal out there, everything needs to be recycled, salvaged, and of course very hip. So needless to say, a surprise from her favorite Goodwill store really lights up her face.  For a few bucks her baby brother and I were able to throw together a very cool gift bag.  We filled it with lots of sparkly little girl swag, all very gently used items.  I do the fashionista gift bags for her every chance I get, all of them themed after a different decade of fashion. This little get-up has an 80's new wave theme.  For ten dollars we got a silver metallic tote bag with coin purse, three belts, three braclets, a black fuzzy boa, studded Hello Kitty Tee, Levi's cuffed denim shorts, and a bottle of glitter hand sanitizer with holder.