Monday, May 27, 2013

Home Again

Hope everyone had a great weekend. 

We are back from camping and I've put up two new posts at Haphazard Homestead on the Road.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Ready to Roll

It's Memorial Day weekend here in the US. Though not the original reason for the holiday, it's usually considered the unofficial beginning of summer. For us, that means camping season is finally here!

There are new tires on the RV, and it's clean and ready. Our clothing, personal items and food have all been packed, so we're ready to roll as soon as Shane gets home from work.

Unless things have changed in the past few months, the park where we will be staying has no wi-fi service, so it will be likely be Monday evening or later before you hear from me again. Considering how few my posts have been lately, that's probably comes as no surprise.

Anyway...I hope all of you have a safe and fun weekend, wherever you are!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

What the...?

Have you ever seen anything like this?  We found it in our back yard earlier this month, right after that freak snow on May 2.

It's dandelions...a dozen or so...but all the stems were conjoined. 

One of the strangest things I've seen since the circus came to town when I was a kid.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Garden Pics and Stormy Weather

Our garden is finally beginning to look like a garden. 

That's great, in general, but the late growth is presenting a few problems.  Our early crops, like broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cabbage, are just starting to take off.  They are cool weather plants, so not only do we wonder if they have time to mature properly before really hot temperatures arrive, we were counting on them nearing harvest by now so that we could sow other seeds in their place.

What to do?  What to do?

As they are still rather small, we are considering transplanting them back into pots and trying to over-summer them and put them back in the ground as large bedding plants in late August for a fall harvest.  I'm thinking this isn't the best idea.

We could just sacrifice them so we can use the real estate to plant our summer crops (i.e., zucchini, peppers, etc.)  It would work, and monetarily we'd only be out a few seeds, but I just hate the idea.

Or, we could leave them be and add more beds (raised or in-ground) to plant our summer crops in.  This is probably what we will do.


We had thunderstorms with strong winds overnight.  Here is a limb from a small maple that has broken and is draped over the power line running from the pole to our house.  Our electric utility has been notified, but because we still have power, we are not on the priority list (apparently lots of folks lost power in the storm).  We've been told a crew will come out soon, but probably not today.

Problem is, more storms are on the way.  In the 15 minutes it's taken me to write this since taking the pic, the skies have grown dark again and the radar is turning red.  If there's much wind with this next round, we could easily lose power.

Still, I'll take this weather any day over the snow we had three weeks ago.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Unfortunate Weekend Events and A Week of Ham

Our weekend didn't turn out at all like we expected.  We had planned a nice visit here at home with my sister and brother-in-law on Saturday afternoon, with them staying overnight in the RV, then on Sunday we were going to join up with my niece and her family, as well as my daughter and son-in-law and spend the day at the zoo.

Instead, shortly after they arrived, my brother-in-law fell ill with some episodes of dangerously low blood pressure and he and sis spent the entire weekend in the hospital, with us making a few trips back and forth ourselves.  My BIL is 68, and has a known serious heart problem, but they ruled that out as the cause right away.  He is also diabetic and I think they have determined that some late and missed meals on Friday and Saturday, as well as some late medication, were the main reason his blood pressure was plummeting.  His blood pressure has since stabilized and he should be released today after one more precautionary test on his heart.

Because of the sudden change in plans, I have a ton of food in the house.  In anticipation of our weekend, I had baked a large spaghetti casserole for our meal on Saturday, prepped ahead a big pan of breakfast enchiladas, and I had thawed a half ham to cook today.  I also bought several kinds of individual-wrapped snacks that I had planned to take with us into the zoo.  Of course, very little of the prepared food was actually eaten, and I still have that ham to bake today.

I invited my daughter and son-in-law over for supper last night, so that took care of half the spaghetti casserole, and I individually wrapped half the breakfast enchiladas and stuck them in the freezer.  They'll go with us on our first camping trip in two weeks, along with the pre-packaged snacks.

Here's what I plan to do with the ham:

Monday:  Baked ham, mashed potatoes, peas and carrots, asparagus, rolls.

Tuesday:  Ham with parsley sauce, boiled potatoes, green beans, salad.


Wednesday:  The rest of the Baked spaghetti casserole, garlic toast, salad, home-canned peaches.


Thursday:  All-American Ham and Cheese Roll, potato cakes, corn, asparagus.


Friday:  Hawaiian Ham Quesadillas, tater tots, salad.


Saturday:  Ham and shrimp pasta, garlic toast, salad.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

April Resolution Review

I'm a week late with this post, but April was a whirlwind for me, and I'm just now catching up.

I set some goals at the beginning of the year, so I thought I'd give a quick monthly update on my progress in April. 

  • Goal - 18 Books and more than a year of Mother Earth News and Hobby Farm Home back issues (and yes, I've let the subscriptions to those magazines expire).
  • April Progress - Read 2 books (9 books of 18 total), and none of the  magazines (so still at 10 magazines of 38 total). 
The books I read were:

  • Goal - 12 completed projects, preferably one a month, with one being a quilted item and another being knit socks.
  • April Progress - Quilted a table runner for my dresser ( 4 projects of 12 total)

So, I finally quilted something.  So many people (I'd venture to say they're mostly women) say quilting is their hobby of choice, so I wanted to see what the fuss was all about and learn a new skill.  I enjoyed the process, but I didn't love it.  On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being a crafty project I hate, like mending clothing, and 10 being a project I love, like crocheting an afghan, I give quilting about a 6. 

I chose colors that coordinated with our bedroom, and I think selecting the fabric was the best part of the process.  I also enjoyed doing the machine quilting, which in this case was simple diagonal lines.  Cutting and piecing the top was okay, as was sewing on the binding.  The part I didn't like was, that as careful as I felt I was being, there were still glaring mistakes.  I've read that it's to be expected with a first quilt.  I chose to leave the mistakes in, because I just didn't have the patience to rework any of them.  That is the main reason I may not quilt anything else.  Then again, maybe I will.  It will probably depend on the type of project and my mood.

All that said, here it is.  It's a simple hourglass pattern, without border, but with binding I cut myself.  I did all of it on the machine.  If anyone is interested, here is the pattern, and here is the websites I used to teach myself the basics of quilting, and how to get the diagonal lines straight.

  • Goal - Organized planning, leading to an organized garden.
  • April Progress - We completed our spring planting sometime early in April, but I don't recall taking time to fill in what we did in my garden organizer.  I really need to do that before I forget entirely.

    And I'll just be blunt.  Three mornings of frost in late April sucks.  Snow (yes, snow) during the first week of May sucks more.  So far, everything has survived, with the help of tarps and upended buckets for cloches, but growth has been very slow for this time of year.

  • Goal - To switch over to less harmful types of sweeteners and/or reduce sugars in our foods.  To grow more of our food in our backyard.
  • April Progress - We switched away from buying granulated white sugar in March and were able to stick to that decision in April.  No other changes were made.

  • Goal - To join a local yoga class better flexibility, balance and overall health.
  • April Progress - Again I say, gardening is great exercise!  Reach high for the tarps, carry them to the garden, spread them out, haul firewood to hold them in place, wait out frost and snow, then reverse.  Repeat approximately once a week, well past last average frost date.

  • Goal - To pay off our RV.
  • April Progress - Shane continues to work out of town several times a month, so we are continuing to pay extra each month toward the loan principal.  A noticeable dent in the balance is being made.

Monday, May 6, 2013


Over the weekend, Shane and I laid the new wood laminate floor in our kitchen/dining room. By new, I mean it had never been installed. But it wasn't actually new, since we bought the supplies a couple of years ago when we bought the back door. Like I mentioned before, things get a done around here but it can take a while sometimes.

We started around 9:30 on Saturday morning. It took us about an hour to move appliances and furniture in to our living room. It looked like a flea market or some used furniture stores I've been in.

The demo work started around 10:30. Here is our old floor:

It was in pretty good shape, but had two qualities I didn't like. It showed every speck of dirty and drop of a spill, and it only looked good if I cleaned it by hand, buffing it dry as I did. It didn't matter what I used to clean it, if I didn't buff it out, it looked streaky and felt sticky. Of course, having to hand-mop it meant that I didn't clean it as often as I should have.

But the real reason we ripped out the old floor was because our old sliding patio door had leaked and caused water damage to the first couple of feet of flooring in front of the door. In this pic, you can see the floorboards had warped and lifted, and we had screws in them to try to hold them down. The board farthest to the right is chipped, too.

We knew the brand of the floor, but were unable to match it because it was an older style. We tried to save the good parts of the old floor as we took it up, but the slats had been glued together per old-school installation practices, so it came up in broken pieces. Oh, well -- we tried.

Underneath, we found vinyl. Looks like a 1980s pattern to me. It was in surprisingly good shape, but not our style.

It was 11:30 or so when we started the de-squeaking phase. Close examination in the basement revealed that hardwoods were under the dining room side of the room, while the kitchen had plywood sub-flooring. We aren't sure if it was always that way, or if the kitchen floor had been replaced. In any case, all but one squeak was in the old hardwoods.

To eliminate them, we located each squeak by foot, then Shane sunk screws through the vinyl and into the hardwood in the general area until the noise was gone. Some areas needed just 1-2 screws, while other squeaks needed many.

De-squeaking took a couple of hours, at least. Normal people would have stopped for lunch right about now, but we worked through.

We put down the underlayment, then began laying the floor boards at around 1:30. We started at the back door and worked our way in, cutting boards at the end of each row, and cutting in around cabinets and the niches where the stove and fridge sit. The first few rows were slow going, but we found our groove toward mid-floor, and were experts by the time we reached the inside wall.

Still, with all the cuts, this was a time consuming job. The last board went down at 9:00 p.m. We promptly changed clothes and rushed out the door before the restaurants closed. Fajitas and margaritas hit the spot!

I guess we could have stopped there, but when we got back at 10:30, we swept up the sawdust and mopped, then moved the appliances and furniture back in. I was so happy to see that I could use a stick mop similar to an overgrown Swiffer and have a clean, streak-free, non-sticky floor!

Here is the finished product:

Okay, so it's not a dramatic change, but it's a nice one for us.  Just being able to mop the floor from a standing position will make my life so much easier!

We finished up the day's work and headed to bed around 11:30 or so. Sunday we moved all the small stuff back in (plants, small appliances, etc.) and cleaned the living room and vacuumed up the sawdust in the garage, where all of the cutting had taken place.

We went to the home improvement stores and bought the new door trim and baseboard that we decided needs to be updated as well, but Shane had no time (or energy) to attach those. He's out of town this week, so the trim will have to wait a while, but hopefully not a year or two.
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