Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Bored

I know it's almost a crime to admit it but I've been so bored! I really dislike this time of year, all activities are canceled and everyone is so busy nothing is going on. Of course with all the holidays the library deliveries are few and really slow so I'm just about out of books (our library is only open 2 days a week).

I'm going to make myself put up the Christmas tree tomorrow, it takes about 10 minutes to decorate since it's about 2 feet tall. I'm debating whether or not to wrap the presents, it seems like a huge waste of paper and doesn't exactly fit with my desire to use less resources. Our plans for going to church on Thursday aren't looking good, we're pretty reigned to the fact that we aren't going because of the weather. In one way I'm really disappointed but not having to get up at 4:30 in the morning so we can be there by 9 is really nice. I have to admit that I rarely look forward to going for that reason, it makes for a long and exhausting day.

On the up side I've gotten lots of reading done and I've cleaned the kitchen from top to bottom. Since there isn't much of anything going on for the rest of the week I figure I should be able to deep clean the rest of the house.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas Gifts and more

I've finally finished all the Christmas gifts I was making. I think this is a record since it isn't even Christmas day yet!

I made these place mats for a gift exchange for our gymkhana club.




I thought they turned out really cute. Unfortunately both sets ended up with men who didn't seem all that thrilled. I don't know how common it is but both parties we went to play a game with the exchange gifts. The gifts are all placed in a pile and everyone gets a number. When it is your turn you can either pick a gift from the pile or you can steal a gift from someone else who has one. If you steal a gift then that person has to either pick from the pile or can steal from someone who has a gift. The game can go on for quite awhile. Once the last gift is taken from the pile the game is over and you are stuck with whatever gift you have at that time. It's a lot of fun.

I also finished two other gifts but I can't post pictures of those until after Christmas.

Lorna finished her sampler this evening. This is a project she has been working on for an entire year. When we were studying the 1800s we talked about how girls at that time would do a sampler to practice their embroidery skills. Lorna was interested in trying one for herself so I checked out a few books from the library and made up a pattern using her confirmation verse. It's finally done and looks wonderful. I can't wait to get it framed and hung on her wall.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Snow!

We woke up to this.



I think it's just beautiful. Since we've lived here we've had a few storms that dropped an inch or so but nothing like this. When we got up the snow was about a foot deep, the snow has continued to fall and the weather service is reporting the possibility of up to 20 inches by tomorrow morning. An acquaintance who called this morning said she's lived here for 9 years and never seen anything like it. Since it is so unusual the area wasn't prepared. The power has been off and on all morning and the entire valley is basically shut down. The lake level and the towns are at about 1500 feet and they got almost as much snow as we did. We are at about 4000 feet up a one lane road which doesn't get plowed so our community will be stuck until the snow melts off the road. We aren't really all that concerned so we are really enjoying being unable to go anywhere.



Malachi has been having a blast playing in the snow. Although he was a bit disappointed that it's too deep to sled in since all he does is sink.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Disappointments

It's times like today that I wish we had never gotten involved in activities.

Gymkhana was canceled for the third month in a row. The October and November shows were canceled due to pigeon fever at the facility we normally use. Today's show was canceled due to wind (which is really ridiculous since our valley is always windy). The problem is that Lorna got up in the dark to get the horses ready, we all ran around yesterday cooking extra food and getting everything prepared for today's show. I should feel lucky that we got a call as we were getting ready to load the horses but it's difficult not to be angry and frustrated.

Last week I found out that we could have been using the rodeo grounds for shows all along. When the first show was canceled I asked about using the grounds and was told that there wasn't a tractor available, which I found out isn't correct. It seems there was a falling out between our club and the rodeo grounds people a few years ago. The people who caused the mess are long gone but no one could put the hard feelings aside long enough to find that out the actual details. Small town politics are really frustrating!

Ultimately my kids are the ones who are hurt by all this which makes me really angry. Our club really only has a handful of children who ride and I think the adults who make the decisions forget what it's like to have an activity you love be so inconsistent. Lorna has stopped planning for future shows and won't even put the dates on her calendar anymore. At this point she is of the opinion that no one outside our family keeps their word and I really can't blame her. I put out over $100 for year end awards, the money cannot be refunded. In order for her to actually qualify for those awards we are going to have to travel 50+ miles to shows in other districts. This means more money for fuel and more planning since we will be gone longer. All of this could have been avoided if the people who run our club had been just a little more forgiving and proactive.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Veggies

I'm still struggling with cooking with our weekly produce delivery. So far I've found that I absolutely loath yams and I really like braeburn apples. There are just a lot of things that I don't know what to do with: kale, long choy, turnips, radishes, and such.

We tried a few recipes over the last week that worked well and a few that I won't be trying again. Radish top soup, also known as snot booger soup in this house, was a failure.



Not only is the color unappealing but it was too salty with the chicken broth. I didn't like the texture either.

The huge success was stuffed chard leaves with homemade marinara. Oh I can't even begin to tell you how good this was, we will be having it again over the weekend.



Roasted vegetable tarts were just okay. Part of the problem was that I added yams and turnips to the mix of vegetables (I found I didn't like either). The tarts were also a bit too dry for my liking. I will be trying this recipe again omitting the stuff I hate and adding a bit more liquid to the recipe.



We also had Greek style spaghetti squash and a veggie casserole with cheese. Both of these were good and will be made again when the ingredients are available. Poor Malachi thinks the world is ending since he hates the idea of all fresh veggies. I'm struggling with all the extra cooking this requires. Cooking with so much fresh produce means a lot more work and many more dishes. Where dinner used to take me 30 minutes or so to get on the table that time has at least doubled. I rarely served anything but a main dish but I've found I need to have a side dish for most of our new dinners. I'm also having difficulties using up the box of produce before the next one arrives. So far I've been choosing recipes with ingredients we have on hand or are able to get cheap. Part of the deal I made with Paul was that we would try this service as long as we can keep within our grocery budget. This means that many of our dinners have no meat. The most difficult meal of the day is lunch which is nothing new since we've always struggled with what to have for lunch. So far we've been eating a lot of pasta.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Quiz

This is just about dead on, especially the part about scaring people away with bluntness!

Your result for Are You a Jackie or a Marilyn? Or Someone Else? Mad Men-era Female Icon Quiz...

You Are a Bette!

mm.bette_.jpg


You are a Bette -- "I must be strong"


Bettes are direct, self-reliant, self-confident, and protective.



How to Get Along with Me

  • * Stand up for yourself... and me.

  • * Be confident, strong, and direct.

  • * Don't gossip about me or betray my trust.

  • * Be vulnerable and share your feelings. See and acknowledge my tender, vulnerable side.

  • * Give me space to be alone.

  • * Acknowledge the contributions I make, but don't flatter me.

  • * I often speak in an assertive way. Don't automatically assume it's a personal attack.

  • * When I scream, curse, and stomp around, try to remember that's just the way I am.




What I Like About Being a Bette

  • * being independent and self-reliant

  • * being able to take charge and meet challenges head on

  • * being courageous, straightforward, and honest

  • * getting all the enjoyment I can out of life

  • * supporting, empowering, and protecting those close to me

  • * upholding just causes




What's Hard About Being a Bette

  • * overwhelming people with my bluntness; scaring them away when I don't intend to

  • * being restless and impatient with others' incompetence

  • * sticking my neck out for people and receiving no appreciation for it

  • * never forgetting injuries or injustices

  • * putting too much pressure on myself

  • * getting high blood pressure when people don't obey the rules or when things don't go right




Bettes as Children Often

  • * are independent; have an inner strength and a fighting spirit

  • * are sometimes loners

  • * seize control so they won't be controlled

  • * figure out others' weaknesses

  • * attack verbally or physically when provoked

  • * take charge in the family because they perceive themselves as the strongest, or grow up in difficult or abusive surroundings




Bettes as Parents

  • * are often loyal, caring, involved, and devoted

  • * are sometimes overprotective

  • * can be demanding, controlling, and rigid



Take Are You a Jackie or a Marilyn? Or Someone Else? Mad Men-era Female Icon Quiz
at HelloQuizzy

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Training

Lorna was given the opportunity to assist her riding instructor in breaking one of her horses. This particular horse is a Chincoteague gelding who is around 4 years old. The instructor has done the groundwork with him, getting him used to a halter, being tied, having a saddle on his back, etc. Before yesterday no one had actually been up on him.




She started out with just lifting herself up in one stirrup and petting the horse and then getting down. It progressed from there to actually swinging on completely and then getting off again. At the end of the time she rode him while being "ponied" by the older horse and her instructor. It was a really great thing to watch. Lorna had this huge smile on her face the entire time, which is a rare occurrence for her. Her instructor was very pleased with the way Lorna worked and listened so she will continue helping with the training of the horse.

Lorna is hoping to make this her career when she grows up so this opportunity is just incredible. Weather permitting Lorna will be going back tomorrow to work with the horse some more. This is what I had envisioned for her during her later years of homeschooling, the opportunity to learn skills from others in the community.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Christmas Presents and Whatnot

Here is a picture of the first of the presents I'm making this year.





We need a few gifts for parties and events and this is one such gift. I started with a pattern I purchased from the local quilt shop that I love. I tweaked the pattern a little so there isn't a bottom seam in the lining (it is lined with waterproof material). I'm really excited because this is the first year I've gotten an early start on gifts.

I really started a few weeks ago when I made this apron for my mom's birthday. She actually got it before her birthday!



Life has obviously been going too well since the not so great things are starting to roll in. Paul's car was hit while parked at one of his accounts last Wednesday. It's drivable but it's missing the driver's side mirror and the door doesn't open all the way. It will get fixed but the insurance company that's handling the claim (it was hit by someone at the business he was visiting) doesn't seem to be in any hurry. We really didn't want him driving without a mirror so he took my truck this morning. On the way to his first stop today the check engine light came on. We have an appointment on Thursday to get it looked at. Paul will have to reattach the mirror on the car somehow and drive it until we find out what's wrong with the truck. Luckily Paul is on vacation on Thursday so he has time to drive the 60 miles to the dealership to have the truck looked at. I'm really glad we purchased the extended warranty when we bought the truck!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Christmas Parade

The annual town Christmas Parade was this morning. We were lucky that the weather was nice even though it was a bit too warm for my tastes.

Unfortunately the parade started off on a bad note as one of the spectators got run over by a float. The rest of the event, the part I actually saw, turned out really well. Our club received an award for best equestrian group.




Paul and I walked with the gymkhana group as they rode their horses. We were in charge of picking up any lost decorations. The walk down the parade route was fine, the walk back to the beginning through traffic with our horses wasn't too much fun.

This was the first parade for Amigo and Malachi. They did great and we are really pleased that both of our kids' horses are so calm.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Jeans

On Wednesday Lorna and I hit our local thrift store looking for jeans. She found 2 pair that were almost brand new and fit perfectly. I was not so lucky. I've been buying Wrangler Blues which are inexpensive but fit perfectly. The problem I've found is that a few of the pairs hold up well while other are horrible. I have 3 pairs, all 3 have a different fiber content. One pair ripped on a seam right after I purchased them, the company replaced them free of charge but the new pair ripped again in the same spot. I've had them too long to get them replaced but not long enough for me to feel that I got my money's worth out of them. I don't think I'll be buying anymore of their jeans.

I have a habit of saving jeans that are either worn out or unwearable for whatever reason. Last night I remembered that I have 3 pairs of jeans with broken zippers, the jeans themselves are still in good shape. I sat down and ripped the zippers out of a few worn out pairs and replaced the broken zippers in the wearable ones. I feel like I went on a shopping spree, I have 3 "new" pairs of jeans that didn't cost me anything but effort!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Weird

That's a word that has described our life for awhile now. I thought I'd blog about our continuing weirdness.

I posted last year about how we don't do an average Thanksgiving. This year we are doing even less, I just don't want to spend the day in the kitchen. In fact it's 9:30 and I'm still sitting in front of the computer in my jammies listening to Paul snore. Yes, we are weird in that we aren't morning people...

I've been told by a few people that I'm hurting my kids because we don't celebrate holidays like "normal" people. But I guess I question the idea that being normal is healthy. We don't have the stress of making a huge meal, we don't overeat, and we don't spend a lot of money on one meal. I've always thought that the big traditional dinner around a beautiful table with family all sitting there getting along is nothing other than a TV fantasy. Maybe there are families out there that really do that but I've never seen it.

So we will spend the day reading and just hanging out and we will have a simple dinner tonight. Since we do everything late we will have dinner around 8pm. We are having a roast tonight because I found it really cheap at Sam's Club. It'll feed us for at least 4 meals so I'm excited. We will be having our favorite appetizer earlier in the day, homemade crescent rolls stuffed with cream cheese and roasted red peppers, because even weird people like us have some traditions.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Medical Insurance

I know I posted before about the fact that Lorna was denied private medical insurance due to pre-existing conditions. After that happened we broke down and put her on state medical because she needed surgery. All my beliefs about not taking government assistance went out the window when my kid needed medical care I couldn't provide. We are losing that coverage at the end of this month and I was perfectly fine with that until yesterday.

She had a follow-up appointment with the surgeon who wants to do a quick, 5 minute, outpatient scope to make sure everything has healed nicely. The scope is something that has to be done under anesthesia. The cost that was billed for the first scope prior to surgery was around $6,000. With the employer provided insurance that the kids are being added to we would be responsible for $2,100. When I asked about getting exact amounts and making payments I was told that it wasn't possible. The surgeon's office has put in a request for an extension of coverage with the state for this procedure and a follow up appointment. I'm frustrated that they won't take payments and can't give me actual cost amounts for the procedure.

I feel lucky that we have an medical coverage but I long for the days of the past when major things were covered with the payment of a small co-pay.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Award



Morgan has given me the Marie Antoinette Blog Award.

It seems I was given this award because she likes to read about my crazy life and of course because I put up with an even crazier husband :)

I'll leave you with this little bit of wisdom from Malachi today just to prove that my family is not sane...

When I asked him why he didn't wipe his mouth or face while eating he told me, "Cleaning your mouth is what your tongue is for."

Monday, November 24, 2008

Soup

We received our first box of veggies on Saturday. Of course nothing ever goes right for us, there was a small problem with our box as it was missing a number of things. The organization we purchase from said they would replace those items in our next shipment though so everything will eventually get straightened out.

The amount of stuff we did get is a little intimidating. This one incomplete box contained more fruit and veggies than we have purchased in the last 2 months. One of the things I was a little concerned about when we initially signed up for this program was that we would get things that no one would want to eat. The first shipment contained a number of yams and lots of broccoli. Lorna and I like broccoli in Chinese food but we won't go out of our way to eat it, Paul really dislikes it (I think he'd rather eat the horse manure outside), and Malachi hates all fresh veggies.

On Saturday night I made broccoli au gratin to go with some chicken wraps. We are still getting lots of tomatoes out of our garden so I'm still trying to come up with ways to use them up. Amazingly Paul really liked the broccoli. I have never cooked broccoli before so I was just glad it came out okay.

Last night I made a creamy veggie soup that used celery, potatoes, broccoli, and carrots from our box. I've never made soup before and the recipe seemed to be kind of basic, assuming you knew what you were doing, so I wasn't sure I was cooking everything correctly. I thought the cut up veggies were kind of pretty so I snapped a picture.



The soup came out great. Malachi even said it was okay although we did have to fight him to get him to finish the little bit I gave him.



One of the things we've noticed about the shipment we received is that all the produce tastes different than the stuff we buy at the market. The celery actually has a flavor and the carrots are really sweet. I guess there is a very large difference in fresh organic produce when compared to regular grocery store produce. Now I just have to figure out what to do with yams...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

More Projects

We are still working through all that scavenged building material we picked up. We skipped a weekend of projects because of rain but last weekend we were back to work.

We finished the washer and dryer enclosure. It needs a few little things like expanding foam in the cracks and handles on the doors, but for the most part it is done. We will get around to painting it soon.




The metal rack we built the enclosure around is large enough that I was able to fit our plastic tubs full of sheets and blankets next to the washer (we only have 1 closet in the entire house). All of our extra possessions (out of season clothes, blankets, Christmas decorations) sit in plastic tubs underneath our deck. The sun has been beating down on the edges of the tubs for 2 years now and the tubs are starting to disintegrate. It makes me wonder about the idea that plastic doesn't break down very easily.

The second project for the weekend was the floor in Lorna's room. Since the room is tiny (9.5x7.5) it only took us 3 hours to actually lay the floor. We finished up the moldings just as it was getting dark.



There are only 2 rooms in the house that are left to be replaced, ours and the bathroom. Because our house has a post and beam foundation the ceramic tile the previous owner put in the bathroom is popping up. Due to the height of the fixtures and the condition of the sub-floor, we've decided to replace the tile with some of the left over laminate from the hallway. We don't take baths (too much water) so it's not like the floor gets that wet. I need to texture the walls and repaint them first so it'll be awhile before that room gets finished.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Happy Birthday



Today Lorna turns 13. Many people seem to dread the teenage years but if the last few months have been any indication of what the upcoming years will bring then I'm looking forward to it.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

You win some, you lose some

Yesterday was a day where we made a positive step forward in our quest for eating better and a step backward in not wasting resources.

Our step backward occurred due to a broken printer. It never fails that the printer will break right after you change the ink cartridge. A major paper jam broke one of the rollers inside the printer, part of it actually snapped, and the carriage mechanism that moves the ink cartridges along could no longer move. The printer was only 1 year old. These things are just not made to last which doesn't do much for my desire to not waste resources. Since we scan lots of stuff for both my store and Paul's work we decided to just purchase a scanner and a separate printer instead of getting an all-in-one. Problem is, no where we visited yesterday sold them separately. We ended up with another all-in-one, one that uses different cartridges then the old one. I was really excited to see that HP offers recycling of the old printer until I saw that I not only have to ship it to them but I also have to pay them to recycle it, so it's going to the dump. I tried to shop locally for my new printer but after calling around I found that no place in our valley sells them. I know there are many people up here that don't even own a computer but I'm still surprised none of the stores carry even one kind of printer.

The positive step forward in eating occurred because I signed us up to receive a produce shipment from small farmers. It's a service that is newly available here in our valley and it's cheap! For $33.80 we will get enough fresh produce to feed the four of us for at least a week, it's all certified organic (not that this is a major deal for me), and it's "local" (as local as we are going to get at 50-200 miles from here). The boxes average 30 pounds a week so I'm going to have to change the way we eat in order to use it all before it goes bad. More of our money will be going to small farmers and less to Sam's Club, that alone makes me excited. Since that amount of money is about half of our food budget for the week there will be lots of changes made around here in what I cook. I'm excited to see what our first shipment looks like next Saturday.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Busy

The last week has been absolutely insane with stuff going on. Yesterday was the annual show for the Sweet Adeline's group I'm a member of. This is my first year so I had no idea what a big deal this was going to be. We've spent the last few weeks practicing at the location of the show but we had 3 straight nights of rehearsal before the actual show day. We sold out for the evening show yesterday and everything went really well. I'm really glad it's over though because I'm exhausted! Now we will be getting ready for contest in March.

The second half of the show featured Ready, Willing, and Mabel. This group was absolutely incredible, I can't say enough good things about them. Paul and I enjoyed them so much we purchased one of their CDs. If you like acapella vocal jazz with 4 part harmony you should check them out.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Fear

I told myself I wouldn't write about the election anymore but I just had to write about something that came to me today as I was responding on another blog.

As the election draws near I've noticed the arguments for a particular candidate are increasingly focused not on what he will do for the nation but what he will not do. We are being asked to vote for this candidate because of fear. Fear of what the opposing candidate will do. All that matters to some people is keeping the other guy out no matter what their supposed "lesser of two evils" will actually accomplish while in office.

I constantly read blogs bemoaning the state of our government. Freedoms are being eroded and the government just keeps growing. Taxes keep rising and socialism abounds. Is it no wonder these things are happening when people refuse to vote for the candidate that they believe will to do the best job and instead vote for the "lesser of two evils"?

Friday, October 24, 2008

Voting

Since we live in a rural area we are automatically sent absentee ballots. I really like voting in this manner. We can take the time to look at the issues and candidates with the ballot in our hands. Once we make a decision, we vote, seal it up, and have the option of either mailing it or dropping it off. We always drop the ballots off at the elections office for our county to make sure they aren't lost in the mail.

Usually Paul drops them off while out and about for work but today I had a few errands to run in the city so we went with him. As we walked out of the office Paul was stopped by the local news station who wanted to ask him a few questions. He said it was really difficult to come up with answers off the cuff but I think he did a good job. They asked things like why we were voting early and if we thought this election was more important than any other. They mentioned the record number of people who have registered and asked if we thought the lines would be long on voting day.

I'm not sure that his answers were really what they were looking for. We didn't vote early in anticipation of long lines. We really don't think this election is any more important than any other. All elections are important and I feel that as long as people keep voting based on who might win as opposed to who really reflects their beliefs than things will never really change for the better. I know those of you who think the world is going to end if your candidate isn't elected are probably shaking your head right about now, but I really believe there isn't much difference between the 2 major candidates. It was interesting to be asked these questions though and good to see so many people taking their civic duty seriously.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Flooring

If you are tired of reading about home improvements and my scavenging go ahead and skip this post.

Since we don't have a garage to store our recent finds in I feel this pressure to get things installed or used prior to the next big rain. Luckily we live in the high desert so rain isn't all that common. The October gymkhana was canceled due to an outbreak of pigeon fever at the facility we use, so I figured this was a good weekend to install that flooring we scavenged.

Here is a picture of what our deck looked like right after my wonderful stepfather closed it in for us.



It was really nice but since we were replacing the carpet I wanted the siding taken off the outside wall of the house. A number of months ago we found nice wood siding under the vinyl and had decided at that point to remove all the vinyl siding. Luckily we never got around to it. You are probably wondering why I said luckily, well when we took the siding off in the deck this weekend we found this.



The siding has holes in it from woodpeckers and the paint is really peeling. We figured we would have to sand and repaint but due to the age of the house I figured I should test the paint first. Of course it is painted in lead paint. So we decided that we had no choice but to cover the siding with plywood. We had taken apart a plywood covered wall in the same building where we pulled up the flooring so we had more than enough nice 1/2 inch plywood to cover the wall.



It actually looks really nice and will look even better once it's painted sometime in the future.

We spent a day and a half prepping everything and we haven't even started the floor. Well it took until 8 pm yesterday night but we finished the flooring. It looks wonderful! It really takes the enclosed deck and makes it look more like part of the house.



As we were working on the floor we talked about a number of ways to rearrange the furniture to give Malachi more room but still leave us with enough room for the dinning room table and all my sewing stuff. We turned his bed around and put it against the wall which really opens things up. It will also mean that I can easily see into his room so he won't be able to pile stuff all over the floor.



We still need to put in moldings but that will have to wait awhile. I'm so pleased with the way everything turned out and even more pleased with the cost to us which was $0!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Frugality vs. Green Living

I've taken to reading a lot of "green" blogs to fill time freed up by permanently unsubbing from Loopers and also to get away from all the political "the sky is falling" kinda posts on the other blogs I frequent.

I see being frugal and being green as two things that don't always go together. Turning off lights and buying less stuff certainly fall into both categories but that seems to be where the similarities end. So I was really excited by the title of the book Go Green, Live Rich. I wasn't looking for a book to tell me how to become rich but I was looking for some advice on how to be both green and frugal. I saw the book mentioned on a few of those new blogs I've been reading. It was a complete waste of a library request, although I did get a few chuckles out of it.

The book mentions things like CFLs, buying a hybrid vehicle, getting rid of a second vehicle, walking/biking to more places, etc. Like buying a hybrid vehicle is going to do us any good when Paul's commuter mobile gets 35-40 mpg. Not to mention the fact that buying a brand new vehicle when you really don't need one isn't green because of the resources used while building it and it certainly isn't frugal. The other ideas like taking a vacation and volunteering at the same time were interesting but hardly useful for our family. Maybe we aren't average but we don't take yearly vacations, in fact we've taken 1 family vacation together in the last 13 years we've had kids. All total that vacation didn't cost even 1/4 the amount this book was advocating for a less expensive vacation while volunteering. Maybe we aren't an average family but still the ideas were next to useless.

This brings me to the blog that I've been following that said it was going to prove that going green could be frugal. The very first post in the series talks about how this family purchased a dining room set used from someone in their area. They figure they saved around $6000 because they only paid $2300. Wow, I don't think we've paid that much for all our furniture combined but I do have to commend them for buying used since that is a frugal and green thing to do. But the rest of the post talked about how using dishes to eat off of is green and frugal. Ummm, isn't this how most of America lives though? Does the average family really eat off of paper plates and use plastic cups everyday? How can you prove to doubters that going green can be frugal when you use examples that just don't apply to the average person? I'm still waiting to be convinced that being more green can be frugal.

If you have any great ideas how we can be more green and still be frugal I'd love to hear them. But please don't include buying less stuff and turning off the lights because I think I've got that down.:)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Bricks

I finally remembered to get outside during the day to take a picture of some of the pavers we picked up. I know it's really abnormal but I'm excited about our find. We still have at least one more load to pick-up.



Here is a picture of the wood holder we built out of old recycled plywood we had lying around and one of the industrial racks I mentioned in my last post. Now it's Paul's job to split enough wood to fill it.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Scavenging

I've been so busy scavenging things for the house that I just haven't had time to blog.

Of course, I'm now sitting here ready to blog and it's dark outside so it's difficult to get pictures of all the things we've acquired. I'm on this kick to clean up the property and the house. At the same time I just don't think it's a good idea to buy new stuff to do this with. I joined the local freecycle community in the hopes of getting an old bathtub to use as a water trough. At the same time the opportunity arose for us to get some free stuff around here. Being part of the freecycle community really made me think outside the box.

We got 4 industrial racks with 3/4 plywood. The racks are or have become: a firewood rack (it can hold up to 1.5 cords), a washing machine enclosure, and a storage shed for all the extra clothes and bedding that are currently under our deck. I'm very excited! The fourth rack is either going to become a greenhouse or a chicken coop. Maybe I'll combine the 2 ideas and put a green house on the roof of the coop.

We also picked up 2 truck loads of brick pavers. Those are going to become a new patio under the carport.

We were able to get an awesome vanity, mirror, light fixture and toilet.


Our last load of stuff out of the building we cleaned out was a heavy shelving unit that is destined for our shed and 400 square feet of high quality laminate that will replace the cheap stuff we currently have in the house (the old flooring will be moved to the bedrooms).

The only cost for all this was time, labor, and fuel for the truck.

I've also redone our closet and my sewing area by reusing stuff we already had lying around. The plastic shelving that was sitting mostly unused by the washer was put in my closet to hold clothes. The hooks we've moved from house to house during the last 4 moves were hung in the back of my closet to give me more hanging space. The hope chest that was originally sitting in the closet has been moved to the sewing area to hold fabric and stuff I use for my business.



The house is beginning to look like a whole new place. I'm really hoping to have a number of projects to blog about over the coming months. The hardest part will be to keep the momentum going and actually complete all these big plans.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Coupon Codes

This is a great site I've used a couple times recently. I was able to find coupon codes to knock $10 off of an order at an online equine store a few weeks ago and today I used it to buy new checks for less than half the normal price the company charges. As opposed to other similar sites these codes seem to be current and there are lots to choose from.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Dan in the Real Life

We watched this movie this evening and I have to say that I was really disappointed. The story could have been good if not for the large part the main character's daughters played in it. They spent the entire movie being rude, argumentative, and just generally horrid. Their father and their entire extended family encouraged them in their disrespectful behavior. I spent the most of the time ignoring the plot because I was in horror at the way these girls were speaking to their parent.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Differences

There is something that just jumped out at me as I've been reading blogs over the past week or so. There seem to be huge differences in the blogs of people who support McCain and in those who support Obama. Now this isn't a scientific study but I read a number of blogs that fall into the camp of one or the other based on the banners I see. In fact I think I read more blogs of overt Obama supporters than I do for McCain supporters. The difference is that McCain supporters seem to be more vitriolic in their writing. Political posts seem to be more prevalent and they want to point fingers more. They seem to think that life as we know it is going to cease to exist if Obama gets elected. Obama supports don't seem to see it quite the same way. They may occasionally post a link to an article or make a statement or two, but they post about a multitude of other things. They don't seem to be pointing fingers as much and they certainly don't feel that life is going to change much if McCain gets into office. They just seem less in your face. I find it interesting that the current talk about the economy has less finger pointing for Obama supporters and focuses more on changes that should be made to fix the economy. As anyone who has read my posts here knows I don't support either of these candidates so I'm not leaning toward either camp, I'm more a third party voter. Just something I found interesting...

Monday, September 29, 2008

No good reason

I'm going through one of those spells where I'm unhappy with almost everything for no good reason. Many times I get a pile of fun books with little substance and just immerse myself in those for a few weeks and the feeling passes. Unfortunately I can't seem to find enough books to keep me immersed this time as the interlibrary loans are really slow in being processed, budget cutbacks are the reason.

We finally started school last week and I'm ready to just give it up. It was a long and difficult week which added to my feelings of unhappiness. I just hope this week goes more smoothly.

The one really great thing right now is that our garden is producing lots of tomatoes. Last year the tomato plants died before we got anything off of them. This year we can barely keep up with eating them before they go bad. Since they are ripening at the pace of 1-2 a day there aren't enough read at one time to can them.

Since I don't want this to solely be a whiny post...

I've been reading a number of "green" blogs lately. I really want to do more in our home that is environmentally friendly. We conserve water and electricity, I recycle as much of our garbage as possible even though it's not convenient, and Paul does most of our errands after work to cut back on trips to town. But I'm running into a problem, how can we be more environmentally friendly without going over our food budget? We buy most of our food from Sam's Club but the over packaging is just horrible. Many times the items in a case are individually wrapped. I'd love to buy more of our staples from bulk bins at the store we purchase other things from but it would be much more expensive. We try to buy local produce that is in season but sometimes it's a lot cheaper to buy what's on sale. It's tough to balance my desire to cut our waste and still put good food on the table. As we change more and more of our habits I find that the changes are becoming smaller and more difficult but I never fail to find more things to work on.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

September Gymkhana

I hadn't realized how much I missed having gymkhana shows over the summer. It was a good first show of the season. We had almost 40 riders so it was a long day but the weather was nice.

Malachi and Amigo did great, completed every event and even earned a few ribbons.



video

Lorna and Ginger did well even though they had a few minor stumbles. They improved a number of their times which bumped them up into the next division in most cases.



video

Friday, September 19, 2008

Planning

I finally got the school planning done, it took 4 days because we had some unexpected stuff come up. I tried to avoid planning much on Fridays so it's still our free day to finish things up and do some fun projects. The planning sheet looks like there are a lot of subjects but when I tallied up the number of hours we will actually be doing school each day, it is still only 2-3 hours. I'm planning on starting school next week which is really late for us, but life just got in the way.

I have good news for those who are missing all the horse photos, there will be more after tomorrow. The first gymkhana of the season is tomorrow. We are all really excited and Malachi is very nervous since it will be his first time riding. Lorna has some times to beat and a title to uphold. She was #10 overall in our club last season, she won High Points Champion in her division, and she won awards for the best times in 7 events in her division. She walked away with a plaque, a new breast collar, and lots of gift certificates. Her goal for this season is to beat her own best times and, of course, her little brother :)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Vacation

Two weeks ago the kids and I left for Washington to visit my mom, stepfather, and grandmother. We had never been up there so even though we had seen pictures we weren't prepared for how beautiful it really was.



I just loved the trees and all the green everywhere. It is such a contrast to our area with it's sand and scrub. We spent a week and, except for missing Paul who had to stay home to work, I didn't want to come home. The weather was spectacular with temps in the 70s and 80s, Paul was stuck with triple digit temps while we were gone.



We took a train trip, visited a wildlife sanctuary, saw a grist mill that is powered by water, and drove up to Johnston Ridge to view Mount St Helens (which was awe inspiring). Of course we also spent lots of time visiting and just enjoying being with family.





When we were at the house visiting Lorna amused herself with painting and Malachi just had to run. He drove the tractor, ran around, welded a bit, and ran some more :)





The week flew by for us but Paul was very happy to have us back. This was the first time in the 14 years we've been married that the kids and I have left without him for more than a night or 2, it was hard and not something we are going to repeat.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Weird Advice

I had an interesting doctor's appointment this morning. I generally stay away from doctors unless I'm really sick but once a year I have to have blood work done in order to get a prescription for the medication I'm taking.

The doctor was a bit sneaky the last time I saw her and did a few extra tests. She was very unhappy with my results, to say the least. Her answer, I need to eat more meat and less rice and pasta. When was the last time you heard of a doctor telling you that you aren't eating enough meat, specifically red meat? To my surprise she also insisted I start eating 3-4 eggs a day.

She said to cut out all cereal, chips, candy, etc. Which is hilarious since I don't eat those things on a regular basis. She didn't expect or really appreciate my honesty that my diet won't be changing.

Over the last few years I have cut almost all processed foods out of our diet with the exception of rice and pasta. I have increased the amount of fruits and veggies that we eat and I have cut my portions in half. At the same time I have decreased the amount of meats we eat to about 2 ounces in the evenings. I don't drink coffee, tea, or alcohol and only have one caffeine-free soda a day. Those are changes that I'm really happy with. Our grocery bills fall within our budget pretty easily these days so I'm not enthusiastic about making changes that will impact that.

So when asked what types of things I should substitute for rice and pasta, the doctor responded with zucchini and cauliflower. That's not exactly realistic in my mind and I told her so. I guess she doesn't get a lot of honest people that walk through her door since she didn't seem to know what to do with me :)

Election

I was tired of hearing about the election last year, so the increase in the frequency of it is being mentioned now is even more frustrating. I'm tired of hearing about the fact that you have to vote for one of the two major candidates or you are wasting your vote; and I'm tired of people who are supporting a candidate not because of their platform but because they dislike the other guy.

I will be voting for a third party candidate. I think the only wasted vote is one that isn't cast. I going to vote for the presidential candidate that has a platform closest to my beliefs on what I'd like to see happen in this country. So I'm going to vote for someone, not based on their likelihood of being elected, but on what they want to accomplish while they are in office. Then I'm going to sit back and relax because ultimately God is in control and will use whoever is in office for His plans. If God can use Pharaoh, He can use anyone.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

They arrived

This is what arrived just a few minutes ago.



It always feels a little like Christmas when I unpack the school books. The wonderful smell of new books. The pretty new covers that will look great for about 3 weeks...



I told each of the kids to pick their favorite thing.



Malachi absolutely loves encyclopedia type books. He has looked over our Usborne history and science books so much the covers are falling off! He wanted to show that he was crazy about history. I think the fact that he is crazy may have come across really well.



Lorna loves science kits. This year I splurged on a Chemistry kit that looks like it will be a lot of fun. Can you tell she hates having her picture taken?

I admit just seeing the books makes me a little more happy about starting school, although I did cringe a little when I took the writing book out of the box. I really do think the kids will learn to write just fine by reading lots of good books. But I caved into the pressure of buying something a bit more structured :(

It's funny, this will be our 8th year of homeschooling and each year my orders get smaller and smaller.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I don't want to!

I just don't want to start school. I put off ordering books until last week, they should arrive either today or tomorrow. At least I ordered books this year, last year I never got around to it! I'll have to spend a whole day doing the planning for the year once they arrive. I figure we will have to start the third week of September after we return from visiting my mom in Washington.

This is the first year I'm just not excited about doing school though. As I read various blogs in the morning I have to say I feel so guilty. Everyone seems to have either already started school or they have these really intensive schedules. I've really relaxed the way we do things over the last few years, so it takes 2-3 hours to accomplish everything I plan for a school day.

Here is our short list of subjects per kid:

Malachi

Catechism
Math
Handwriting
Spelling
Grammar
History
Science
Dictation (this is a new addition for him)

Lorna

Catechism
Math
Vocabulary (new this year)
Writing (new this year, although I have doubts that I'll actually follow through)
Grammar
History
Science
Logic (new this year)

I don't count reading or exercise as part of school since I don't generally do anything special. The only structured thing the kids do is ride their horses once a month in gymkhana. They ride at home just about every day so I figure that's enough exercise. We all read constantly, I do add certain books to the kids' piles but that's as structured as we get with that. Lorna would like to start learning more about singing and music so we may work on those things on Fridays (our free day). You'll notice there is no foreign language in those lists. Lorna has done Latin for the last 5 years or so but she just doesn't want to continue and neither do I. Every year I have these hopes of studying famous artists or composers but we never get around to it, I'm not even putting it on the list this year.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Farmer's Market

I've been lamenting the lack of a Farmer's Market in our valley for a couple of years, so when I saw the notice in the paper last week about an informational meeting to get one started I had to attend. I guess I wasn't the only one who wanted one in our valley! There was at least 40 people there and they've decided to start one this weekend. We already had plans to expand our garden for ourselves but this gives up that much more motivation to expand it a bit further next year. Also they are looking for people to sell handmade crafts that are "green" or eco-friendly. I have doubts about whether the items I sell on my store would actually sell but I thought I might give it a try in a few weeks. I'm thinking that reusable cloth grocery bags might be a good thing to add to my line-up.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Pitas

I wanted to share a link to this recipe for pitas.

I tried them a few days ago and they are wonderful! I've made 2 batches and they are almost gone. Malachi and Lorna have used them for pizza crusts and I've filled a number of them with fresh veggies. I love the fact that they are so easy.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

What now?

Why does finding a church have to be so difficult?

I think we must be too picky but I don't have any idea how to change that. The church we've been attending for the last few months just isn't working. The past 2 sermons we have heard have contained things that just aren't Biblical. There is always little to no law and lots of fluff. That combined with other less important things is just too much. None of us want to go to church anymore, we all dread what will be said or happen next. We are already driving over an hour and I don't want to even consider going any further. Our best options are 3+ hours away but when church starts at 8 or 9am that option becomes too much for even once a month, and that's not even taking into consideration the cost of fuel. I know I'm whining but I'm just so frustrated!

Caffeine Free!

I've been caffeine free for one whole week. This is a major accomplishment in my life. It took 4 days for the headache to go away but it's finally gone. Yeah for me!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Apathy

The following images my be a bit disturbing, so don't say I didn't warn you...

Have you ever wondered what apathy looks like? Have you ever driven by a house and thought to yourself, "How do they live like that?" If you have, then you may have driven by mine. Here are some pictures so you can get the full effect, I didn't pick up anything so it looks just like it normally does.







Does it look like no one in this house cares? I do but I need help. We don't have a garage which is a big part of my problem, there is nowhere to store those things I would normally put out of sight. Beyond that I just can't seem to keep up with both the inside and outside. The inside of the house is somewhat cluttered but clean. I can see the surface of all workspaces and there are no piles of papers or books. It is all the energy I have to just keep the inside looking that way though.

It never works for me to tell the kids to go outside and pickup trash that has blown on the property. I can give specific instructions to put the stuff in the carport away but it is just thrown somewhere else. The front "porch" is only as clean as it is because I've made a concerted effort to keep it cleared off the last 3 weeks. To be honest I can't even step into the shed you see in one of the pictures because something fell over in there. I've cleaned out that shed at least 4 times this year but it seems that it's impossible to keep it clean.

So I need some constructive thoughts on what I can do to get this place cleaned up. I'm having a difficult time motivating myself and my family. I would love to build another shed or something to contain some of the mess but we just don't have the money right now. We have to get the washer into an enclosure by winter so all of our monetary resources need to go towards that project.