Saturday, October 31, 2009

Do you see what I see? And my first ever contest!

Yes, ladies, we have a new little one on the premises. Time will tell if it is a boy or a girl (or even, sadly, if it will survive), but in the meanwhile, we need a name. Now, given that it is the Vigil of All Saints (Hallowe'en), I was thinking something in a religious mode...Of course, Faith, Hope, and Caritas (Charity/Love) either one would have been fine, except for the fact that this could be a wee lad. A rooster named Hope? Uh, no. Sounds better on a hen, tyvm! So it needs to be gender neutralish, but still something...autumnal? Saintly? Religious? Come up with something people, because I'm coming up blank! LOL So, what is the prize, you ask? Well, aside from my eternal gratitude in taking the whole naming thing out of my hands, I'm not sure. Maybbeeee I'll just come up with something. Its not as if I don't have a whole slew of potential prizes on hand! Let's just say that it will be something fairly small. Light-weight (and hence, cheaper to mail). Probably vintage. And possibly multiple pieced. I'll post a picture when I've decided exactly what shall constitute the prize in this, my very first ever, "NAME THAT CHICKY-BABY" contest! The winner shall be determined by the children, so you'd better make it good! The contest ends Thursday, November 5, 6pm Central Time. So put on those thinking caps!
See the weeeee little beak and eye? Yep, Momma is "baby sitting"!!
Here we are, exploring the tiny chick coop a wee bit...
Being introduced to food and water...Big Momma is good at this!
A bit of "mother love"--accompanied by lots of clucking! She is an excellent brooder/mother, and hopefully, with having only the one to care for, she'll get it through to maturity. Just keep your fingers crossed that it is a pullet/hen! We need more egg layers, badly! This one will be coming into maturity right at the end of the winter, early spring, so hopefully, we'll be getting some eggs out of her while we wait on Big Momma to brood out another batch. Rather than listening to our roosters crowing each other down!
Today's big event is of course not eclipsed by the necessary house work--laundry, dishes, vacuuming--since #2 has decided that chores are optional, she has been given more, very...distasteful..ones to do. Like cleaning off the wall at the back of the cabinet where we keep our trash can. Yeah. Not pretty. I vacuumed off the floor in there (not pretty, either, but at least I wasn't up close and personal, if you know what I mean!), and so we've got a pretty well scrubbed out cabinet. I think it needs some more work on the more "scrub resistant" spots, but that can be done this next week, when I am looking for tasks with which to occupy her hands and mind. I think scrubbing out the trashcan is also on the agenda for this next week. She'll just love that, I am sure. But there are times when harsher measures are called for, and this is one of those times. And, it gets some of those chores off of my list done and over with--and not by me! WOOHOO! Hopefully, it will teach her a lesson she will not forget any time soon.
We're tidying up the various baskets of books and magazines, getting them sorted out, and shelved properly. We've vacuumed the more public areas of the house once again, switched over more laundry, fed the chickens, chased small children around the house (#4 & 5 did a Houdini and disappeared out of doors while I was vacuuming the dining room. Fortunately, we caught them before they got nibbled on by Percy and Co). We're almost done with everything for the moment.
Since El Husbando kindly took me out to dinner last night (woohoo! Night off for Momma!), tonight will be our lasagna night. We'll make it something a bit "festive", since we aren't trick or treating.
I have some more photos to post, but we'll see what the rest of today holds as far as picture posting opportunities! Hopefully, your weekend is off to a good start, and you are well prepared for tomorrow's celebration of all the saints--known, and unknown, and Monday's rememberance of all the departed souls..saintly or otherwise.

Friday, October 30, 2009

A tiskit, a tasket, one thrift-astic payday!

Today was our big once a month payday, which means it was errand day, too. And errand day equals thrift store shopping, among other stops. There are some small thrift shops in town, and one larger Salvation Army shop. I usually try to hit the SA, and however many of the smaller ones, that #4 & 5 will tolerate. Today, I hit the SA and one more. Not bad, considering #4 is more interested than being within arms reach of me, than in the stroller/cart. Today's expenditure was $16.3o+. $13.30+ in the SA, and another $3 in one of the smaller, locally run ARC-type stores.

Now that I've teased you, lol, here is today's haul (not a record, but not bad, either!)...
A lovely outfit purchased in separate pieces for #3. She was thrilled to get something "new"--and was very appreciative of the double ruffle on the sleeves and bottom of the shirt. And the flowers/embroidery on the jumper. Oh me oh my, my pretty pretty princess got pink clothes !!!
These two lovelies were $1/ea at the SA. I'm probably going to keep them white (although I am still thinking about a can of black/ORB spray paint!), and use them outside in the summer time, as well as indoors as a centerpiece, on occasion. They are very pretty, and definitely going to fit in well for seasonal decorations from winter through summer.
This is a tall, slim, straight-sided vase, and a blue glass urn-shaped vase/candleholder. I've been trying to build up a stock of the straight-sided vases, as well as seasonally colored glassware and accessories to use around the house (blue is the winter and summer color, btw). I saw a wonderful centerpiece using the straightsided vases, over at Thrifty Decor Chick a while back. Considering that El Husbando is going to be building me (us) a new, verrrry large dining room table very soon (hint hint honey--we're having company for Thanksgiving!), I want to have something versatile that I can use for special events, as well as for other things year round. And these straightsided vases definitely fit the bill! So far, I have this one, and a wider, taller one--both gotten at the local Salvation Army, for $.50/ $1 each. Not too shabby! The blue urn is currently in the china cabinet (yes, the one that is too small to hold all of my good china, safely). It will come out in early January to do duty as a candleholder on a table. Which one? I'm not too sure yet, but I know it will come to me! This cute little planter, appears to be hand-thrown, hand-glazed, and it has this cute little painted on design. It has beautiful berries, in a delightful bittersweet color, and the leaves are that perfect shade of greeny-brown...perfect for caching small bits on a vanity, a table top, a desk, or whatnot. The little ruffled top, hard to see at this angle, has a brownish glaze on it. The weight and smooth feel of this still has the appeal of the hand thrown. There is something different about handglazed pottery. It feels...warmer. More...earthy. More human. As much as I like my poured and molded ceramics, there is a certain elemental appeal to the hand-made...I spent $.50 on this one...

These two images are of the same dish. It is a Hallmark piece. The fruit design is raised, and the red glaze on the outside surface matches the red on my kitchen table, and the various red pieces of furniture through the public areas of our house. It was a perfect, $.50 addition to our fall decor line up.
Milk glass. Ah, I do so love me some milk glass. Now, I know, that one piece is just a lid. BUT I also know that there are many many pieces out there, without lids. And I happen to have one. So, for a pittance, I have a lid, in a pattern I reallllly want to start collecting/using, as well as a small goblet, in the same pattern. I can't tell you exactly how much I paid, because I spent $3 total at this other, local thrift shop, and got a TON of stuff (more to come!)....
Three new tins to add to my collection--I'm planning on using them on shelves over my craft area, for storing things like trims, buttons, zippers, you know--all sorts of things. It is slow going, but I'm gradually getting enough. The girls are having fun helping me figure out what sorts of things out to go in which tin. Of course, I've told them "hands off"... these babies are *mine*! (besides, they get their own money, and can buy their own tins and hatboxes, if they want them!).
This stash of fabric right here was hanging outside the small local shop. Marked "Fabric, $.10-$1 each). The background stack, is two larger wonderfully soft "grandma" sheets (you know...those delightfully soft, cool cotton, percale sheets that grandma used to have...I snag those where ever I see them. They are sturdy, comfy, and if there are stains, or rips, then the fabric will be great for skirts, patchwork, or other crafty ideas. The bottom of the stack is a similar sheet, but it has already been cut a wee bit, and so I've already gotten it earmarked for summer skirts for the girls. The front, the beautiful violet print, is actually two long cotton valances. I'm torn on these. Part of me wants to carefully take them apart, and use them for parts of #2's quilt (#1 gets lilies, #2 gets violets, #3 gets roses). But the rest of me, wants to keep these and use them as...gasp...valances. I have windows that they would fit. But oh....I'll have to think on this for a while. I got all of this fabric at the local shop (part of that $3 I spent)...
Now on to the clothes. Here are two, mens wool sweaters. On the left is a green vest (it has some small holes), and the right is a long-sleeved, argyle chested model (also with small holes). Perfect for felting and crafting. These two were found at the SA.
Here are some clothes for #4 & 5. The left is a 3T John Deere hooded sweatshirt. In the background, a longsleeved red shirt that they can wear now. The front right, is a very much too large for them right now, size 7. It has winter 'embroidery' on it (wolves. Trees. Manly stuff, lol). Part of the SA haul....
Here are my two stacks of boys clothes, for upcoming years for the gruesome twosome...12 shirts total that ought to be in these stacks (I missed one shirt, it fell into the chair, lol). These were both SA hauls.
I just remembered I completely forgot to get a picture of a pretty red velvet pillow I bought a the small local shop. It is very nicely fluffed, and has a neat almost a cross between a gather and pleat on the four sides...it is square, no piping or cording or other trim...not huge, but very comfy. It is currently in another, long-time ago rummage sale find, my big mongo oak rocking chair.
The weather is clear and cool today, folks, and we are definitely drying out--but the water is still running. Yesterday's rains ripped a neighbor's culvert up and out of the ground, and the water is still running high and fast in local drainage culverts. As El Husbando and I discussed this morning, we're getting just enough time between rains, that the surface water drains off/dries up a bit, but much below the surface, it is still wet/damp. And it doesn't take much for already wet soil to reach the saturation point...we are glad for the rains, most definitely. Build up the resevoirs, refill the aquifers, replenish the wells and ground water. But a week and a half between rains would be GREAT. Then I might have enough time to get things into the ground for the fall garden...
One might think that a week would be fine. And, in many places, it would be. But the soil here, as I believe I may have mentioned before, is very. very. very. clay. Black. Thick. Clay. Some folks around here call it "Black Gumbo". It is ugggglllly. And it holds. the. water. for. days. and days. and days. After the almost two inches of rain we got yesterday, we will be lucky to dry out enough by Monday, to do anything at all out there. If it will warm up a wee bit, and the wind sustain itself, at least we might be able to mow the garden down before then, even if we cannot plow it up til Monday or Tuesday. But then we will need to let it set for a day or two to dry some more, then we can consider tilling it. And then, and only then, assuming it is still dry, we can plant. Which means I am looking at 2 weeks of needed dry weather. I am hoping that we will get the mowing done tomorrow. Assuming we can get things dried out enough. Wind, and warm sunshine. We need it. Badly. Pray please!
Tonight's dinner, instead of our family Friday Fun Night standard, pizza, will be lasagna. I'm debating about making some more of the 5 minute artisan bread to go along with it, or if the heaviness of the lasagna will make the bread redundant. An email is in to El Husbando to ascertain his opinion on the matter (cause we all know, if Daddy ain't happy, ain't nobody happy! ).
There isn't too much else on the agenda for today, a few errands remain to be done, before we pick El Husbando up at work this afternoon. #4 & 5 are down for their nap (wish I was!), and so #1-3 are eating lunch. We'll clean up from that, do some math work (flashcards and worksheets) and then some more house chores, before we need to go run our errands and pick Daddy up from the office. I *may* even see if he would let me run into another thrift store or two on Main Street, after we get him in the car, that way I'm not having to drag the children in with me. Some of these places are *not* big enough for a double stroller, don't have carts, and are decidedly *not* small child friendly.
Hopefully, the weather where you are is sunny and warm. Or even better, sunny, warm, and you're sipping a cup of something delightfully delicious, with someone you love (or at least, like and tolerate passably well, lol!).
There will be more later. I am sorry about the lack of a Diva post yesterday, because my computer decided that Internet Explorer could not show this page (or any other!) after late-mid afternoon. I could, however, get my email. Don't ask me, I just live here. :-D I will do my best to get one up today, although it may be a while, thanks to chores and schoolwork.
Until then, buck up, keep a stiff upper lip! There will be a Diva, if I have to go on to El Husbando's computer and get this thing done that way...Where there is a will, there's a way!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Rain rain rain

Well, apparently, the winds and rain that were due to hit us overnight, chose to slow down and wait until after we got up this morning. You know, it sat just to our west, until I got up and needed the satellite for the computer, the ability to go let the birds out, etc. Nope. Not doing it in a torrential downpour. The power flickered, the children are working on letters to one of their friends back in North Carolina, #4 & 5 are playing with their sisters' small beanie sized stuffed animals, their Fisher Price farm, and the (can't remember the brand) little child's heavy duty plastic dollhouse. Fortunately for me, they are well able to play together (except when they both want the same toy. Then it is time for screaming...the "I am being ripped apart by rabid wolverines" screaming...the "Wolves are ripping into my abdomen" screaming. Joy. Just joy).

We'll be getting hit off and on with this rain, for most of the morning. I don't have a problem with that, but I need to go get the birds out, so I'll likely make my way out there shortly, since it seems we are having a break in the weather..

Tonight's dinner, fortunately, is already in process. I soaked the beans last night, overnight. I need to drain them again, though (I drained them once last night before bed, and did another soak overnight). Cornbread can--and will!--wait until the bean soup is almost ready to go onto the table. I want to make something delicious for dessert, but I'm not quite sure what, yet. Since the cupboards are a bit low on some things, I know that some recipes aren't going to happen. I'd thought about cookies, of course, but I'd really rather make something more involved, especially as dinner is so simple. Ham and bean soup. I'll be using some of El Husbando's home-cured bacon (too salty for regular bacon use, not bad for a first bacon making attempt, but still) instead of ham. But we have it on hand, so it will be used. I do wish we had a good meaty ham bone, though. Between the buttery deliciousness of the navy beans, the slight hint of onion, and the smoky bits of ham scattered here and there in the soup broth. AHHHHHhhhh. Serve it with a big slab of buttery delicious warm cornbread...What else does one need in life? (we're thinking small here, folks, not cosmic and eternal).

--My father would say we need a bunch of good buttermilk, and another plate of cornbread to crumble in it, but that's a whole 'nother post for a 'nother day....---

I don't know if ya'll have been following Ree Drummond (aka, Pioneer Woman), but she is now on her book tour for her cookbook. I would really like to see this book. Actually, I'd really enjoy going to OKC this evening for her stop tonight, but I know that I cannot afford it. Gas, time, etc. Nope. Just can. not. do. it. But go check out her blog--she has a book tour schedule on there, and it is updated frequently. So, go see if she is coming to a city near you!

I know I've not done a Diva in a few days. Life is...well, life. Things happen (like, taking pictures of waterfowl and barnyard critters) and rainy mornings. However, I will say this. I will *try* to get another Diva up there today. There are so many to choose from!

I am hoping to have my shawl finished *this* week. I was hoping to have it done last week, I know, but it was just not going to happen. And if I need to add a whole 'nother skein onto this sucker, it will be a quick job for me to finish it by the end of the weekend. I will, however, make sure that pictures of this red wooly behemoth are taken and posted.

In some good news, I got my power bill for last month. Let me tell you--I am thrilled. It dropped over $100 (and last month's bill was $50 less than the month prior). NIIIICEEEEE. And even better, since I've not had the propane tank refilled, I've not been using that money. So it is even cheaper, and I am one happy happy woman. I was at the local grocery store last night, and one of the ladies working there was saying (as she left work for home) that she hoped her daughter had turned the heat up some more, but that she doubted it had been done. After she left, I kind of laughed, and said that we hadn't turned ours on yet. The cashier kind of looked startled and said we'd had some chilly nights. Then I told her we had some of the windows open still (only the one in my bedroom stays open all the time, cracked, but open--the rest are opened based on need/temperature/winds). She looked really shocked then. I'm sorry, but the temperature being between 60 and 65 inside, as long as one is properly dressed, is not a problem. Really, so many people are coddled to believe that the temperature had best be 75 degrees year round. I'd much rather the children be used to actual, genuinely seasonal temperatures, than to be acclimatized to some artificially set temperature. Now, we will turn on the heat when it gets sufficiently cold. But keeping the house in a 60-65 degree range is not difficult, it isn't hard on the body, and is certainly gentler on the wallet than cranking it up as high as you can.

That being said, we will undoubtedly turn the heat up when/if my grandmother comes to visit around Thanksgiving. The woman is cold when it is July and 100+ degrees outside, so we'll turn the heat up a bit and throw an afghan on her lap. She weighs about 80 lbs soaking wet. She doesn't eat much (obviously), and is a walking advertisement for why you should take good care of yourself NOW, not waiting until you are already sick and weakened and elderly. I love her, but I can also see what not to do.

What are your plans for Thanksgiving? Any good recipes you want to share with the world? Or just with me? I would like to try something a bit different, and since there may be a crowd around here, well, I can use all the help I can get. We are hoping to have my grandmother and aunt, as well as potentially some of El Husbando's family in for the day. I am not sure if we are doing a ham or a turkey, or a chicken. But whatever it is, it will undoubtedly be delicious. I definitely prefer to put out a feast for a larger group. It gives me an excuse to try out some different recipes (guests are more likely to eat something even if they aren't thrilled with it, than regular family), that may not be an immediate hit with the family. I don't try anything terribly exotic. But every once in a while it is good idea to try something a weeeee bit different. I am hoping to have a crowd I can really cook for, though. That always makes me happy. The lead up is stressful, but there is nothing like seeing a table spread with homemade, home grown goodness, with family gathered around it, a pretty cloth spread underneath, candles, good dishes and flatware...that is enough to make it all worth it.

Of course, to make that vision a reality, I need to get my good china out of the shop and unpacked. I only moved here 18 mos ago, you know...and haven't quite decided where I want to put the good dishes. There are certain places that are "out" because they are too easy for #4 & 5 to access. Other places are harder to get to, and therefore not ideal, since that may well lead to breaking antique, hard to replace dishes. I know where I would *like* to put them, but that is within toddler reach (we have some child safe latches on them. They don't help. The gruesome twosome will get through anything, working together). I have a china cabinet. It is not only not big enough, but it is easier than the kitchen cabinets for the boys to get into. It is quite a quandry. But one I really do need to tackle, if only so that my good dishes are not sitting in the shop, still wrapped and boxed.

Fill me in on your plans for the Thanksgiving holidays--do you have any plans yet? Traditions set in stone? It may seem like I am planning wayyyy too far ahead, but, well, it is the last big holiday before Advent starts (more on that later!). And since I am traditionally a HUGE Christmas girl, I'm trying to revamp my mode of thinking as far as the winter holiday season...

I know that Halloween is this weekend, but since we live so far out in the country, we've not bothered with it the last two years. None of our neighbors have children (unless you count the fall calves!), and to drive 20 miles so that the children can run around and get candy for half an hour, so we can drive 20 miles back home..no thanks. I'll just buy a couple of bags of candy and we'll sit home and watch movies. I've not even hauled out the fall decorations yet. I know, I know. Sad. I'm trying to revamp the decorations I have. I don't have *that* many, thank goodness. But I am wanting to head in a different direction. I suspect that when I bring the china over, I'll grab my fall decorations as well. Hopefully, I can convince El Husbando to help me with that this weekend, and that way it will be done and over with--at least, the hauling part. The decorating part will have to wait until after I get the walls painted in the family room, to match the dining room (a soft yellow). I will try and remember to post some pictures of that, as well. It is definitely a work in progress, that is for sure.

So, fill me in on *your* plans for this fall--are you doing Halloween? Do you have plans for Thanksgiving, and recipes to share (if you do, you can email me, and maybe we can do a big blog post on reader recipes--not that there are that many readers, but hey, it is a new thing for me! LOL).

Hopefully, if you are getting rained on, you are someplace warm and dry in the midst of the storms...if the weather is fair--enjoy it for the rest of us!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Prayers, please

A friend of a friend died last week, a kind, gentle, vivacious woman named Becky M. She was generous, and loving. And unfortunately, went mis-diagnosed, and untreated, with pneumonia. After a three week battle in the hospital (some in the ICU), she passed from this life last Tuesday.

Prayers are needed, for Becky herself (as Our Lord is outside of time, and prayers now are just as effective for her final moments, as they were that day, as well as for the repose of her soul), for her beloved husband, Al (who has already lost two wives to cancer, and now, has lost a third to another illness), and their myriad of family, friends, and business associates, who will feel the loss of her presence.

Thank you, everyone. While I knew Becky only a little bit (well enough to say hello to in passing, not well enough to call her up for a chat), having spent the time I did with her, as well as the stories of those who knew her better, proved her to be a fine woman. I am sure that she, and her family, would appreciate the prayers, even if they never know who is offering them.

The Birds (minus Hitchcock)

This lady, we call "Little Bit". She's the youngest of our hens, part of this year's hatch (on my birthday no less! Almost spelled birthday, "bird-day"...silly me). She's pretty quiet. She was hatched out by our next lady, "Big Momma". You will notice how large she appears, especially considering that she is a Buff Orpington, and not a large bird by any means. She fluffs up nicely. When she is setting, she acts as if she is meditating...just in her "zone"...would you believe she only has one egg under there? I almost figured it wasn't worth the effort, but if we get another chicken hatched out this year, I'll be happy, especially since we're down to only 6 birds total, as you will see, the rest are in the next photo...
These four, are our remaining birds. They were currently enjoying the summer garden leftovers, having no problems picking things out. I'm glad. Free food for them, and bug/seed clear out for me. The Black and White one (a laced Wyandotte), we call Spot, for obvious reasons. Originally, we had Spot, Dot, and Patsy. Patsy went to live with some friends, and Dot got eaten. Next in the line-up is a sorely-used hen. Lucky and all of the other roosters we have had, have rather enjoyed her, um....'charms'. Poor dear. Looks a fright. And yet, they keep coming to call. I think I need to tell her all about cows, and free milk, lol. Next, of course, is Lucky. Our rooster. The only one we have left now. Fortunately, he is a gentleman, and has not attacked any of us (roosters can and will do that). We are still careful about him around the children, but he is a good boy. So far. He is a cross between a Buff Orp rooster and a Black Australorp hen. His tail feathers are lovely black with an orangey-gold outline. I may see if I can get a better picture later on...And lastly, we have our one remaining Black Star hen. She's a good, reasonably reliable layer. Not much in the way of personality, especially since she pecks when you go after her eggs, but that's bearable--and normal.

I'm sorry to say that there are no pictures of the steer and heifer we have out in the front pasture. I'm not going out there to try it. Its just too windy. I do hope you enjoy what I've managed to photograph and get on here...
And for now, I'm off to get dinner on the move (it may only be 1pm, but I've got to plan ahead). Hopefully you are having a nice warm snuggly day where you are (mercy, typing that makes me want to go crawl back under the covers and take a nap!).



Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!

These five 'darlings' scare the heck out of #3. Send her running, screaming in terror. Of course, they give chase, which reinforces it. And, to top things off, she's just the right height for them to think she's someone that they can take down. Last year, she got caught between an irate rooster and an irate gander. The one jumping at her and the other hissing and grabbing at her and twisting. Needless to say, she is not the family 'goose girl'. We got the first two right off last spring, and named them (properly) Percy and Abigail (for a while, we thought it was Amelia and Abigail, like the Gander sisters in The Aristocats...then it became obvious we had a romantic couple on our hands). They are very British, being Embdens. They have a tendency to look down on we colonists. But they tolerate us (except for #3) and they have learned that when I come out in the evening, they had best high-tail it to the coop. The other three, we got a month or so later, so while there is not so much age disparity, there definitely was already an Alpha male and female on the premises, so the newbies took second place. Percy has an occasional 'fling' with Penelope, but Cyril and Adelicia seem content to just be Beta Male and Female...and put up with Percy and his attitude.



This little lady, is Tuck. Originally, we had Tuck, Lenny, and Ming Ming (can anyone say "The Wonderpets"?). Unfortunately, Lenny got hauled off by a coyote, and MingMing (who turned out to be male) committed suicide by minivan--was clear of the van, and then turned and ran right underneath it when I was leaving home one day this spring. Very difficult. But Tuck bravely manages to waddle on through life, without him. She's a Khaki Campbell, and is, as KCs are, a great egg layer, but a horrrrribbble mother. Goodness, she just waddles around the yard leaving her eggs...where-ever! I'm glad of the times I can find them in the coop, simply so it isn't a guessing game as to where she has dropped them off this time!


This lovely, is Sheba. She's our almost 8 mos old Great Pyr. You can perhaps see by the way her ears are blown back, that the wind is pretty high. That is kind of hard to show in photos, unless one has a tornado blowing through (no thank you, not even for blogging history!), but she was in the right place at the right time...She is very shy around people, but she has always been very very good with the animals, and while she takes a backseat to our other dog, Mel, she is beginning to give as good as she gets. I think it is only a matter of time til he learns to leave her alone...
And this...this is Mel. Our hyperactive, part Border Collie, part Blue Heeler dog. He loves the children, thank goodness (although he tried to herd them, too, until we taught him not to). The chickens, well, he'd probably rather eat the chickens, but at least he seems to have learned not to herd them. Our cows (not pictured), however, are a whoooole 'nother story. And the geese don't hesitate to take him on. Grab, yank, and twist, is what they do to him. He leaves them alone, unless he's just looking for a fight. He is a year and a half old, and already a good bit smaller than Sheba is now (she was a teeny bit smaller than he was when we got her, and she was almost 4 mos old at that time). He was very reluctant to be photographed, so what you see, is what you get.
Next up, the chickens...but we'll need another post for those...hope you've enjoyed the little glimpse into the animal life around the place...



Its a rather blustery day....

If Piglet were out here, he'd have long since blown off towards Amarillo. But tonight bids to be just like Pooh's, after his rather blustery day--rain, big time, in the forecast. Stormy weather, winds, big bad ju-ju. So today is a "battening down the hatches" kind of day around here. Corralling up anything left outside that could potentially go flying, making sure that the water buckets are put under the drip line so that they can catch as much water as they can, as this will save on watering time later in the week...I need to move the porch furniture around, as the winds this morning have already flipped my old-fashioned glider (one of those old, two seater models that look like grandma's yard furniture?) It isn't very heavy, and the wind came from just the right direction, caught it underneath, and flipped it up and over and up again.

I've already made a run to the gate to get a package from the Fed Ex man, finished the homeschooling, done some laundry, fed breakfast to everyone, struggled with the copier/printer, and gotten #4 & 5 down for their nap. Whew. And I knit a bit. I'm almost done with my fourth skein of yarn (100gm), and I'm stillllllll going. El husbando thinks I need to add another full skein on to it, but I am not so sure. It is already as tall, almost taller, than I am (and I'm over 5 feet tall) I will post a photo, so you all can see what this thing looks like, when it is finished. It isn't anything fancy, and it sure has made a nice lap blanket while I've been working on it. I've yet to get on to any machine sewing, though, so I need to get this stuff D-O-N-E! LOL. I want to have one project finished before I move onto anything else. I am persnickety that way. :-)

Since I don't have any new sunset pictures, I'll have to wait til later--I want to get up some pictures of the critters we have scampering around here, so I'll be back in a bit with some thing for you all!

Hopefully, your day is going well, and the weather isn't socking you in some place. And if it is, stay warm and dry. Have a bowl of soup. Make something fresh and yeasty and delicious. Slather some real butter on it, and enjoy something fresh and yummy for lunch...

(Can you tell I'm hungry? LOL).

Have a good one, til I get back!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Ahhhh...I can already feel a difference...

I mentioned a week or so ago, that I was going to be getting back on the wagon as far as my nutrition, etc, was concerned. And wow. I already feel better. More energy and a better outlook. I wish I could afford the vitamins I really like, but right now, its not in the cards. But even the ones I am using are having an effect for the better. Twice a day, I take a multivitamin, 2-3 GNC multi-oils, a couple of alfalfa tablets, an extra B vitamin, my metformin (I have PCOS, and this is a standard treatment for it), and if I have it on hand, a couple of cinnamon capsules...

And so far, wow, I feel better. I've gotten a couple of small crafty projects done, or in process, my shawl is almost done, I'm working on doing some deep cleaning in the laundry room (ugh--the tops of the washer and dryer always get loaded down with 'stuff')...I've got dinner planned for a couple of nights ahead this week...so yeah, I feel good.

The weather today is sunny, and a little cool--low-mid 60s. Not bad, especially not for October. We've yet to turn on the heat, and the a/c has been off for over a month. I am actually looking forward to seeing a heating bill for this past month. Yes. Actually looking forward to it. LOL. When the past three months bills have been aggravatingly high to me (keeping in mind, the house is not tiny, and the windows need replacing), I am sooooo looking forward to seeing how the bill shakes out this month. Oh yesssssss....

Go ahead and laugh. I'm planning on trying to keep the heat turned down to about this temp all winter long. Yes, it will be cool, but hey, it is called a 'sweater'. :-) El Husbando is at work all day. We are here. We have nice warm tights, soft fuzzy sweaters, turtlenecks, etc, to layer and keep warm with. Life--and God!--are good. We are very blessed to have had such a nice moderate fall, and for that, I am immensely grateful. I'm just keeping the children used to the weather, so they won't expect it to be warm-warm. We'll use the fireplace from time to time, I am sure, and with the blower system we have on it, it will certainly help.

Hopefully, the weather where you are has not been driving the bill up. But if it is, my prayers are with you. We have a propane heater (that's all it runs), so while we have *some* gas left in the big tank, it isn't enough for a winter like we had last year. And this winter is supposed to be colder than last. And we only have about a cord of wood, and we of course could use some more...I am so glad we don't live any farther north. Brr.

Enjoy the fall while you can. Snuggle together with those you love and put on a sweater. Love and wool will always help to keep you warm..

God bless...

An Oklahoma sunset..








Just a few pictures from yesterday evening, an incredibly beautiful sunset (even for us here, where we are rather used to lovely sunsets like this...)...

Have a good day!










More art I love...

These are a few of my favorite works of art for the home. I like to put artwork on the walls that shows the kind of life I want for us, for our family. Kind of an inspirational, "keep where you want to end up before your eyes"...



The first painting is by Pierre-Auguste Renoir...the rather obvious "Two Girls Reading"....






This painting below is one I like...the ocean in the background, the detail in the light curtains at the window...you can feel the breeze coming in, smell the ocean...a delightful looking spot to sit and read a spell...painted by Charles Lewis, this one is entitled, "Reading by the Window Hastings"...



This one below, by Sir Walter Firle, is a print I actually have framed, in my home. It goes by a few different names, it seems, but one of the most common seems to be "The Fairy Tale". I especially like this one, because of the three girls. Having three daughters myself, I can see this happening all the time...on my couch (although it isn't as pretty as this one, it is green. Ish.). And I have geraniums. Although my girls aren't blondes. But they are cuuuuuutttte (if I do say so myself).


I've got some other art, that when/if I can find them online, I'll post them here. But here are a few of my faves, that I thought I would share...hope you enjoyed them...





Monday, October 26, 2009

A favorite piece of art, and some thoughts..

This piece of art, "Women Taking Tea", by the artist Albert Lynch, has been one of my favorite paintings for some time now. The colors and simplicity of the dresses, the lovely landscape just outside the door, the sense of friendship and amiable peace...it makes me think of a gentler, kinder time, when we women weren't a horde of harpies and fishwives (not that there is anything overtly wrong with being a fishwife--just when you act like a screeching termagent, that is the problem!). When we were brought up understanding that it isn't what we get out of life that matters, it is what we put into it. When a successful day isn't measured by how much we got done, or what business deals we made, but instead by how we bettered the lives around us...

A friend of mine, Diane, at her blog, Tomato Soup Cake, has a post up today...it has to do with some vintage advice. I think it still holds today...here's the advice (although you can certainly go over to her blog--she's in my blogroll!--and read the comments, etc...).

"Every woman owes it to herself to cultivate a pleasant manner. Genuine friendliness, interest, good manners, and a nice voice will do more to cultivate an impression of charm than beauty, good clothes, grooming, and any amount of intellectual power. Furthermore these qualities are well within the reach of any woman who is willing to make the effort to acquire them."
Excerpted from The Homemaker's Encyclopedia,Personal Beauty and Charm, 1954

I don't know how many women I've met that were just...horrible. Pretty on the outside, but because of their manners, tone of voice, or general attitude, came across as women I wouldn't want to be around for any length of time. As I've told my children, it doesn't take any more energy to slap a smile on your face, and be polite, than it does to be a rude sourpuss. It may require more of an act of the Will, but that is a matter of self-discipline than it is of destiny, Fortune, or Divine Providence.

I've had the great blessing to meet many women whom the world would not call beautiful, talented, or gifted. Indeed, most of them would be regarded as plain, or certainly 'wasting their gifts', by being at home with their family (and therefore, obviously not as intelligent as their run-about 'sisters' in society). But these women have an inner spark. Oh, they may be vivacious, or more quiet. But they all have this...glow. They make the world around them a better place for simply being in it. These women quietly make the people around them happy--and the best part is, the people around them are usually not as aware of it as they would be were they to go without.

Sometimes, especially these days, being at home seems to be a thankless task. Being a woman, in general, can be a rather...toilsome charge. But I think we discount that certain indefinable 'something' that a gentle, generous, happy woman adds to her family and friends, simply by being. There is no price that can be paid, for such an atmosphere. Putting others before ourselves, can wear on the soul, and certainly on the mind, when we forget that the impact we have, is not so much meant to be seen and commented on, but better yet, to be felt, and noticed, and enjoyed, without the fanfare, without the parades of self-congratulation.

I know that there are days when I feel as if no-one notices, or even cares. So much of my day-to-day life involves simply keeping the chaos at bay for one more day, and perhaps, maybe, making some headway in the long list of projects I have to do. So much is done just to maintain the status quo, and it is one of those Sisyphean tasks, never finished. I know, however, that if I stopped...if I went on one of those "strikes", demanding, by my inaction, a little notice, a little attention for the work I do put in, that it would cheapen me and my efforts. Yes, a little "thank you, honey" is very much appreciated. A day off every now and again, without worrying about coming home to a disaster, is needed for simple sanity. But love doesn't need a parade. And that, I think, is the key.

Love. As Christians, we know that of Faith, Hope, and Love, the greatest of these, is Love. And love is what must drive our actions. It isn't love of self, though, that should be our motivation, but instead, the love of others...of our vocations as women (in general), as wives, as mothers..God calls us to be women...to be the very BEST (insert your name here) that you can be. He doesn't want us to be men, to ape them, to act like them, dress like them, talk like them, etc. He made us uniquely wonderful. In all of our various shapes and sizes, He wants us to love being a woman. He made us that way for a reason. Why do we have hormonal crying jags? Devour every Hershey bar in the bag of Halloween candy we bought two days ago (and leaving the KitKats!)? I don't know. But I know I've yet to see a man do that. God made us male and female. Different, yet alike in that He made us in His image. We are supposed to be different. To be a counterpart..the other half of the puzzle...the complement to each other...I know I wouldn't want my husband to be just like me, and I know he wouldn't like me to be just like him (although having someone to knowledgably discuss ham radio, Basic/C computer programming, and military "stuff" with, would undoubtedly be nice)...

Why are we, as women, so discontent with being uniquely, wonderfully, female? Why do we listen to the dis-satisfied women, unhappy with the blessing of womanhood that God has given them (some who deny God entirely), when they ply our ears with their sad tales of woe and misery as regards the lot of women the world over...how we are handicapped by our very innate femaleness? Why oh why do we let these...sad, misdirected (directing?) women...why do we let them guide our minds, our lives, our culture? I know, we are busy caring for our own. But so many women do *not* agree with them...so many of us out there, silently, go about our lives, serving families and others quite happily, whether it is in the home or the workplace...

We have an obligation, ladies, to take back the word woman. We have a job, one that can be done within our every day spheres, that will show the world at large that the word "lady" is not one of those taboo four letter words that should never be used. We have a hope, in that 'the hand that rocks the cradle, rules the world'...we mold our children, boys and girls, with an understanding of what it means to be a Lady. What it really means to be a woman. That being a woman is not merely a 'defective man'. That a real woman is not one who chases after every masculine affectation, who seeks to blur the line between the two genders, but instead, is one who lives being a woman to the hilt. Who does, by her every day life, inspire and uplift, bring a greater understanding of the God-given joy and beauty that surrounds us every day.

I'll admit, there was a time when I thought (eons ago, in high school, in a galaxy far, far away) that it was better to dress/act more like a boy (and not a particularly good one, either). That was, I must say, after some rather traumatic experiences. Instead of demanding respect for me as a young woman, I let those experiences, for a time, shove my feminity back into the back corner, and cloaked it over with a drab masculine blanket. It took a while, but eventually I came to the conclusion that the Good Lord didn't make me a woman for no reason, and it was obvious HE had a plan, even if I didn't know what it was. So I'd better play along til I figured out what it was. Now I am not playing along, but making my way down the road He has laid out for me, trying to stay within the very nicely placed guard rails...wide enough apart to allow freedom, but knowing that while the views over the rail may be very pretty, outside of the rails lies danger, not only physical, but to my very soul...

I suppose what I am trying to get at, is that we as women have a rather sacred obligation, a calling, to be a woman. I would suggest that we all remember how wonderfully He made us. Male and female. Together, we make a whole, but yet, we are whole, in and of ourselves. And isn't that wonderful? That alone, we are whole, and yet, when two are made one, we make a whole new creation, something lovely and beautiful and totally different than either of the two alone, before. Why are we trying to be something we are not, when we have already been given a beautiful wonderful gift in our femininity? Why not find some way to take back a piece of your femininity, to grab a moment to do something selfless and beautiful, born out of love? It may be something as simple as a bunch of fall leaves on branches, in the middle of the table, a ribbon in your hair, a small basket with some baked breads for a neighbor or a co-worker...

Be glad of your womanhood. Be grateful for the feminine. And enjoy the day!


A new day




And a new week...


To start things off, I'll just go ahead and give y'all the Diva of the Day!


Today's Diva, Tina of http://cherryhillcottage.typepad.com/, has such an incredible beautiful home. I'll admit, if I didn't have five little people sharing the house with me, my home would look a lot more like hers, and a lot less like the "early homeschooling/broke NCO family chic" we have going on right now. I am, however, trying to do what I can where I can, and she is another great inspiration for me. For some reason, I keep forgetting that I have walls. I always think of horizontal surfaces--which are a big no-no if they are within arms reach of anyone shorter than five feet tall (and keep in mind, I'm only a little bit above that myself!). I'm working on that 'blind spot' in my brain, though, and I'm trying to remember it when I am out and about on my thrifting and yard saling junkets.


Right now, Tina is showing off the home of her (in her words) "bestbestbest friend", Monica. Those two appear to be two peas in a pod! Great minds think alike, maybe? Regardless of the reason why, I love the way Monica has done her kitchen. Not something I can do on such a scale, but I did enjoy looking at her kitchen windowsill, and decided I needed to do something similar with mine. It is perhaps the one horizontal surface that I can regularly enjoy looking at, and yet not have it within reach of the gruesome twosome, #4 & 5. So I "shopped the house", and rearranged things a bit, and prettied it up somewhat (you should have seen it a few weeks ago--eeeeek! A real horror story which I have no pictures for, thank goodness!).

The picture above is of my 'house shopped' windowsill. Those dark blobs are papier-mache apples. They actually look like real apples. One of my children tried to take a bite out of one of them :-). Fortunately, I only paid $.50/ea for them, so a little damage hasn't hurt the wallet too much.
The curtain is a red and white toile, with a checked border on the bottom. I took it from a used bed skirt. Yes, a bed skirt. Gathers already built in. I cut, did a bit of sewing on the edges, and added the curtain clips. The light is a newer one, we got it at Home Depot. It was a bit bigger than I thought it was going to be at the time, but I think it isn't too bad, now. The faucet is a new one, too. It was part of my birthday present from El Husbando. A delightful thing, that faucet! Nice high neck, the spray pull down nozzle (which makes filling my biggest canner a breeze!), and I especially love the oil-rubbed bronze finish. And the single lever handle is also a bonus. We have a sink, to replace this one, once we get the money together for countertops. But that'll be a while, because of the length of the countertop on the sink side. That stretch of countertop, as well as one elsewhere in the kitchen, has to be specially manufactured. And that costs more money. Unfortunately. But until then, the bland white will have to do. We've also considered replacing the backsplash with some of those faux-tin ceiling tiles, but the more I think on it, the more I like beadboard. I'd really like some nice subway tile, but El Husbando is not a big fan of it, having spent way too much time in military facilities (where subway tile has been used a lot). Oh well, we'll hash that out when we get there, I suppose. Countertops, then backsplash. Then floor. Actually, we might do the floor before we do the other two, simply because of the dining room flooring, but that saga is a story for another post...
Do you have any renovations going on? Big? Small? Somewhere in between? Are you diy? Or hiring it out? Are you 'shopping the house' to decorate, or are you 'shopping the sales'?
I am, as I mentioned, trying to grow out of my 'merely surviving' decorating life-season, and grow into something a bit more 'me', than my current 'well, it landed there, so it stays there'. It is slow going, but it is folks like Tina, and Monica, who are helping to drive my train out of the station. It'd be way too easy for me to just live with the status quo. After all, I've got a great 'excuse'--small children in the destructive years. But I am tired of living in 'blah land', so you'll be hearing a lot more about the changes hereabouts, as time passes...
Hopefully, you will go check out Tina's--and Monica's!--lovely homes, and get some ideas for feathering your own nest...





Sunday, October 25, 2009

A call to thoughtful research, or, a long ramble that eventually tells you something about me!

Ever had one of those times where a topic you had thought was passed and not going to be a problem, came back up and smacked you upside the head when you weren't prepared for it? And worse yet, people you respect and like are on the opposite side of the thought process?

Yeah. I had one of those kind of moments last weekend after Mass. Our altar servers 'class' is just getting started for this year, and the call was out to the entire congregation to bring your children (3d grade and up, having received their First Holy Communion) at 330 Sunday afternoon. Well, there is a considerable amount of debate amongst the faithful, as to whether female altar servers ought to be as standard as they are, or if they ought to be (as I believe) a rarity, something only in extreme and exceptional circumstances (as in, there are no boys in the parish of age/mental capability, etc). Some friends/neighbors of ours, *wonderful* people, have two teenaged children. A son and a daughter. Both of whom serve at the altar. I haven't thought less of them, or, honestly, much about it at all--what they decide for their children, is their decision for their family. But they approached me about #1 joining the class. Ugh. I had honestly hoped to avoid this conversation. So many people, when you take a stance opposite theirs, get their hackles up and think that you are disparaging their choice..

Fortunately, these friends are/were not like that. They may not have agreed with me, but they didn't disparage my opinions on the matter. I explained why our daughters won't be serving at the altar during Mass. That the serving at the altar, being *that* close to the Consecration...to the moment of the changing of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ (while maintaining the "accidents" of bread and wine, they are completely and totally, the flesh and blood of Our Lord), that the soul can be touched. A vocation can be called...heard...sensed in the depths. As I explained it to #1, "Do *you* hear better when you are right next to the person speaking, or do you hear better in another room, or even outside, when they are inside? Think on it...when Christ is made manifest in the Eucharist, could a young man hear the call to the priesthood better if he is right there, close to the altar, serving the priest? Or would he hear it better if he was sitting in with the congregation? If a boy is chased off from serving at the altar because there are too many little (or not so little) girls serving already, are we doing him a service? Are we helping him? Yes, God will still be calling him, but will the young boy/man hear the call as easily, away from the side of the priest?"

There are many many ways for individuals to serve the parish, to do the work of God. But for me and my house, we chose to let the boys/men serve at the altar (and preferably, only them within the sanctuary--sanctuary meaning something different to Catholics and Protestants)...and let we ladies serve in many other ways. I will have no problem with the boys serving when they come of age, provided that they are interested (and it is an interest I will strongly encourage, mind you). I would have no problem with any of my children having a religious vocation, or one to Holy Orders. I would rejoice, in fact. But I know that the call to the service of God, as a priest, may indeed come easier if one is exposed, early on, to the work of God at the altar. In seeing some of the work of a priest, in assisting him in his duties...a young man may gain a greater appreciation for that which he receives in the Eucharist, and for the work of a priest.

For my non-Catholic readers, let me give you a bit more background on me...lol...here's where it gets long, but I think it is worthwhile... :-)

I was raised in a non-denominational protestant church, in the Deep South. I married a laid-back, not-really-actively Catholic man from lovely fly-over country. I decided that I had better research what it was that the Catholic Church taught, so I could better discuss things with my husband (perhaps with the intent of turning him in the direction of my church--to be honest, I don't remember). If nothing else, I learned "know your enemy" from my study of history (which I *love*, lol). How best to know where to pick away at a weak point, than to learn what your 'enemy' believes?

Problem was...I didn't find any points to pick at. Oddly enough (you can insert a sarcastic eyeroll here), I didn't find what I expected, at all. I had had several questions, throughout my (albeit, short--I was only 21 when we married) years...when it came to certain particular scriptures...and no one answered them. Even when asking directly. No one could explain why, in a church that believed "When the scriptures speak, we speak, where the scriptures are silent, we are silent", we didn't believe that there was a way to have the Body and Blood of Jesus, "today". Why it was a one-time only deal, that the bread and wine were changed into the flesh and blood of Our Lord. And yet, He never said it was a symbol, He never turned it around into another parable (as He did in other instances, where folks weren't getting the meaning of what He had to get across)...no. He instead let them leave. That He knew it was a hard thing to hear, much less believe.

When I started finding the answers to my questions, well, first off, I was concerned. I mean, after all, Catholics believe in all this man-made nonsense. I mean, really! A POPE?!? Celibacy for their priests? NUNS?!?! The whole fol-de-rol of the Mass? But my research led me (over 6 years of on-again, off-again research--hey, I did three pregnancies in there, and multiple 'geographically single' periods when my darling El-Husbando was deployed), to the point where it seemed like domino after domino would fall...and soon enough, I realized that my arguments were for naught. It was pretty obvious where the Truth was. And I wasn't there...and frankly, who wants to be on the wrong side in *that* fight? Really?! There really was a reason behind priestly celibacy, behind the liturgical aspects of the Mass...a reason for a pope, and yes, that he actually does have a mandate, handed down from St Peter, to lead the Church (a job no man who ought to have the job, would want, let me tell you)...that Catholics don't worship idols, just because they have statues and pictoral representations of the saints...that 'praying' means two totally different things, depending on whether you are speaking to a Catholic, or to a protestant. That respecting the role the Mother of Christ plays in the role of our salvation is not putting her above, or even on even footing with Christ and His sacrifice. Talk about some earth shattering, mind blowing revelations! I knew maybe two or three Catholics in my southern suburban up-bringing. It wasn't as if I grew up surrounded by them in Little Italy, or anything! :-) I just came to a few realizations....

I realized that historically, the mass is very very similar to the services in the synagogues of old...that the Church doesn't bend and sway with the whims of a given era, but instead, quietly (or sometimes, less quietly), investigates, ponders, researches, and debates internally...the 'experts' very very thoroughly research through the scripture, through the writings of the Early Church Fathers, before ever saying anything on a given subject...the fact that the first Mass we still have a copy of, was written in, get this--the 160s, AD? Not 1600. Not 1000. Not 600. No, the Year of Our Lord, 160 (ish). I mean, hello? No findings whatsoever for any protestant forms of...well, anything!...that far back, but yet, we have a mass from St Justin Martyr written, from that long gone time--130 yrs, give or take, after the death of Christ. And there was sooo much more, in early writings of the Church...from the men who were the spiritual sons and grandsons of the apostles and disciples of Christ...they got their spiritual education at the feet of the men who walked and talked with Christ...and their writings, taken as a whole, are terribly Catholic.

I know so many folks who have dismissed, out of hand, the claims of the Catholic Church. Who have done no research (and remember, research isn't simply reading something from someone who already holds your view--I wouldn't go to a Baptist to learn about being a Buddhist, or a Muslim to learn about being a Methodist--so why would I turn to Calvinist to teach me about what the Catholic Church teaches, and why? It makes no sense...but I digress a bit...)...

So I highly recommend (and not just in this area, mind you--although it is one near and dear to my heart! :-) ) that whenever you are doing research, don't just look at sources that back up your perspective, but actually look for sources that run counter to your view...see WHY they argue that particular point...it may not change your thoughts on the matter, but if nothing else, you will come out with a better basis for why you hold your beliefs.

Believe me, I read many "the Catholic Church is the Whore of Babylon", "Catholics are simply misguided, and aren't really Christian", "101 reasons to be any sort of Christian but Catholic", etc. Between that and my upbringing (and believe me, I was a champion Bible Bowler!), I knew the arguments. And found them baseless, when I did my research. It nearly made me ill, to be honest with you. There is plenty of false-flag type information out there, supposedly proving that the Catholic Church is nothing but some trumped up man-made nonsense. I've btdt, got the doggone teeshirt, thank you very much. LOL. I do wish, however, that all of those who want to convert me, by reading their Chick tracts (Lord, have mercy on us all...ugh), would stop for a minute and actually find out what the Catholic Church teaches before they try to hand that poorly written nonsense into my unwitting children's hands.

I know that this is rambling. And I hope that I have not offended anyone...just trying to explain where I'm coming from...doing research on these sorts of issues is something definitely up my alley. I am, after all, the same woman who, in spite of being able to exempt out of her college US history requirements (I took AP US History in high school, and got a 4 out of a possible 5 on the exam), went ahead and took more than two US History classes in college. Yes. I am pathetic. I had more history credits when I left college, than I needed for a major--but it wasn't my even my declared major. I am that bad. Bear with me, if I push the whole "research, research, research!" tack. :-)

Sorry that there has been no Diva for the last two days. I tried to put up a new post yesterday, but it got lost somewhere...and then I spent the rest of the day, trying to put a different background for the blog, and it didn't work. All that work, for nothing. Grumble. I promise, tomorrow, to link you to one HECK of a Diva! I absolutely LOOOOOVE her house--shoot, I even like her friends' houses! I know my DH would absolutely have a conniption if I did some of the things I see in her house (and I have also accepted that this is not a season in my life where I will have a coffee table, or decorations on lower, horizontal surfaces). Two year olds are not friendly to bric-a-brac, or breakable objects of my affections (milk glass, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways....). I don't have empty spaces on my bookshelves to make displays *except on the very tippy top, and even there, it is more books*. My home is currently decorated in 'distracted homeschooling mom chic' crossed with 'early marriage broke NCO family', combined with 'Oh Please God, let me do *something* in this house that is not by the book/box store'...kind of an eclectic look, that is for sure.

Maybe tomorrow, I can show you the latest kitchen windowsill look. It is really the only window sill that #4 &5 cannot reach. So I am trying to prettify it...a little milk glass, a few candles, a doily or two (I absolutely LOOOOVE old linens!), some papier mache apples I got at the city-wide yard sale a few weeks back, and I've got a good start on a look. Now I want some small plants. An asparagus fern. SOMETHING living, besides the science experiments that we have occasionally going in the fridge.

But until then, I hope you have had an absolutely blessed Sunday. May it mark a great start, to a fresh week.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Well, the sun is finally out.

I know it seems that I post a good deal about the weather, but it has been going back and forth and back and forth so much, it is the most changeable thing happening around here lately.

We got right at 2 inches, from late afternoon Wednesday into Thursday morning sometime. So now we are more than double our monthly average, this month.

Today was a payday, so we went and ran errands and paid bills, and then made our way home. Goodness knows, the money has to stretch a lot farther these days. I think something that I am going to try and do is post some of my favorite money saving ideas...I've got a few that actually do save me money, believe it or not...lol.

But not today. Today is a Diva posting day (something I have let slide, I'm afraid, sorry about that!). I know. The six of you have just been eagerly anticipating the next Diva post....

Okay, okay, you can stop laughing now. I mean, really--you need to breathe! At least occasionally!

Today's Diva, Sarah at Thrifty Decor Chick ! (see the sidebar). Truly, in spite of having a small child, she manages to get so much done, it boggles the mind. And not only that, it is *good* stuff, on the cheap (for the most part, lol).

One of these days, I hope to post some "look what I did" posts, but until I can/do, check out Sarah!

Hopefully, ya'll are having a great prelude to the weekend. We're having homemade pizza, ice cream, and a movie for our Friday Family Night. Pizza is our standard Friday night meal. One with cheese only for the children and myself, and one with at least a pound of meat on it, for El Husbando. I'm not sure what if anything we'll be able to get done this weekend outside, between the cold and the wet ground (no sense bogging the tractor in while trying to mow/plow). But for now, I'm going to pull out my shawl and do some more work. It will help keep the feet warm while I sit in my recliner continuing to work on it. If this cold keeps up, it will be nice to wrap up in, that is for sure...

What are you all up to today? Any good plans for the weekend? Fill me in!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

An online "store" you have *got* to check out!!

http://www.smallmeadowpress.com/

I just got an email from Lesley at Small Meadow Press. After a summer hiatus, while she cared for her mother (who is now getting situated in an assisted living facility), Lesley has re-opened her store with new items.

Now, let me tell you...I *love* her store. Vintage feeling, handmade, and just plain pretty! She even decorates the boxes she mails all of her lovingly-wrapped products...seriously, getting a package from her, is almost as good as the stuff inside it! I've gotten lots of things from her, and they are all the most delightful! Everything from stationary, to calling cards, to a sort of grab bag of odds and ends pieces, all of them wonderful...I especially love the scalloped edge on the stationary. Just the little small details that really make a piece of paper more than *just* a piece of paper.

I started buying from her, when I actually started writing real letters, and not just resorting to emails and phone calls. After all, don't we all enjoy getting a newsy, chatty letter from a friend? One you can read and re-read again and again? Penned in their hand, on pretty paper? It makes one feel...special. As if the letter-writer actually put some thought into writing a letter--it wasn't dashed off in a moment's hurry, before the postman arrived. No, they sat down, and wrote the letter from their heart. Perhaps they thought about what particular stationary design better reflected their mood at the time, or one they thought you might like...it definitely has a way of making a day more cheery, and gives a momentary 'escape' from the toils of everyday life.

So please, go check out Lesley's shop. Absolutely wonderful--wish I could afford to spend more money there! And it is always nice to know that she's a WAHM....I'd much rather spend my money with someone like that, than with Hallmark or Walmart....

Check in at her website, and come back and tell me what you think. Oh, and she's just as lovely to deal with as her website is to browse... ;-)

Getting there...

I've got, as I have mentioned before, a great many projects and crafty things I want to do, or to learn to do. And I am trying to get some of them actually *done*, instead of just bought, talked about, and put on a shelf. So what I think I am going to do, to make it easy on myself (and my family, lol), is to go ahead and do project at a time.

Right now, I'm continuing to work on my wool shawl--a bright cherry red merino wool. Delish. Warm on the lap while I am working on it (which is nice of an evening, when the children are in bed, and it is just me, the knitting needles, the wool, and "King of the Hill" at 9pm). I think next, I want to tackle a small, not too terribly difficult, machine sewing project. Either slips for the girls, or maybe some coasters. Or a window quilt for #4 and 5's bedroom. I've got a small throw blanket to use as 'batting', and I've got fabric to go over it on both sides. So that would work well (and give me 'batting' to use in the coasters. Hmmmm...).

Today has been rather slow. Gotten dishes and laundry done/going, schoolwork is done. The youngest two are taking a nap, a loaf of bread has been baked, and lunch is heating on the stove (leftover vegetable beef soup from last night). Warm in the belly, and light on the wallet. El Husbando is home today--his injuries from the years in the army are acting up. This weather is undoubtedly not helping.

We got more rain yesterday and overnight. Not unexpected. But it is just cool enough, and wet enough...well, you know how the weather can affect joints and such.

We got over an inch yesterday, and I don't know how much more since midnight. I'm not complaining. Every drop of rain is precious. But this will enable me to get the garden mowed and tilled over the weekend, and God willing, planted on Monday/Tuesday. We've got a chance of rain on Sunday, but it is below 50%, so I'm not *too* worried about it. If we can get the mowing done on Saturday, maybe just maybe I can get El Husbando out there to till on Sunday afternoon or Monday evening. We'll see. But I want/need to get the plants into the ground, pronto. And we still need to mow down the potato patch and see what if anything we got from that. The potato beetles got a lot of that, I'm afraid, in spite of the dusting and picking and dusting and picking we did. Whew. 20 something rows of potatoes. And we may not get anything. 20 rows that were 200 feet long, I might add (I once picked the beetles off all by myself. In one morning. Not gonna do that again, no way Jose). Keep your fingers crossed on those potatoes...we can definitely use them in the pantry, not rotting in the ground...or almost as bad, not formed at all...

I'm not too sure what we're doing for dinner tonight. El Husbando is having an acid stomach, on top of his back troubles, and so I know what he won't be wanting for dinner.

I'm going to be looking to get some work done on my shawl this afternoon, assuming that I can with #4&5 running around...

Hopefully, you are having a great day!

A little later, I'm going to see about posting about one of my favorite online stores, run by a WAHM! You ladies who love the pretty vintage things, will love her products...

Til then, have a great day!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

How do you get motivated?

I really have an "issue" with getting motivated. There are times I am full of energy, and ready to go, and I can crank out the projects and the weight loss and the daily minutiae of life without a problem. And then there are times (more often than not, I am afraid), where I am just not quite...there. Where it feels as if I am juuuust shy of the drive to go and do the many many projects I *want* to do...I mean, I have the majority of the materials needed. I have the time (in the evenings, once the boys are in bed--some I could do during the day). I just don't have that certain, special...'something'.

I am hoping that by getting myself into a better frame of health, I will rediscover that drive, but in the meanwhile, what else can I do to push myself to the actual point of production?

Added to the mix is my frustrated perfectionist mindset. I know I can work on that, and I need to. I'm getting a good deal better than I used to be. But it is a never-ending process. Especially, when a project involves something that simply cannot be replaced. Either it is a one-of-a-kind thing, or they no longer make it, etc. Having butchered some silk suiting years ago (a beautiful shade of slate blue, btw, which looks really good on me), I realllllly don't like tempting fate. Being careful will take of at least the cutting issues, but oh, I hate the waste...

Suggestions? Any "btdt" kind of experience to help me? What motivates you when the drive just is not there, but there are lots of things to be done? Help!

Monday, October 19, 2009

So, what do you think?

This is the view of to the north west of the house..I thought I actually ought to have a header of something in that direction...garden, pig pen, windmill...and of course, a tinge of the sunset.

The house garden is closer to me in the picture than it looks, but the building in the background is our pig shed (you cannot see the fence, I don't believe, that separates the pig pen from the garden). The stump of our windmill is in the background. We'd love to have the head replaced and get it into working condition, but for now, it will have to wait. More pressing matters to attend to, what with only moving here a year and a half ago. We've come a long ways since then, but we've got a long ways to go, yet--it is a verrrry long "to do" list!

Anyway, this is a little piece of my western view. Hope you like the change!

Things to do, and things already done....

Well, today was a good day. Warmish, breezy, and...we had dental cleanings for the first three children. Fortunately, all is well. Whew. Given that there are a whoooole lot of teeth in those three mouths, the potential for some problems is certainly there...now, to make it through the next six months problem free..lol.

We're doing the usual--laundry, floors, dishes. Going to go get El Husbando from work in a few hours, and generally keep the chaos at bay one day longer. The yard only got half mowed yesterday thanks to an over-heating tractor. So hopefully, we'll get it running smoothly again this afternoon, and get that all done. Goodness knows I need to get the garden taken care of, especially given the rain we are expecting the rest of this week...

Since the rain will preclude a lot of things (gardening, window washing, etc), I'm going to continue working on my shawl, tidying up and decorating the public areas of the house for fall, and hopefully, starting on some sewing for the girls. They need some warmer things to layer. That, on top of the normal household maintenance and homeschooling, will be taking up my time.

Dinner will be a "let's get these leftovers eaten, folks" night--we have soup, soup, and Tex-Mex. Boy, what a variety! :-)

I've decided to try and really get back on the wagon regarding my health. Since we lost #6 (at 11 weeks) last September, I've gradually let it slide, until I was not doing much of anything except the absolute bare minimum for myself. Not a good idea, at any point. And certainly not something I would recommend. I'm sure it has contributed to a number of difficulties I have had lately. So I'm trying to cut the caffeine back out, getting back on my multiple pill regimen (I am on metformin for my PCOS, but this is on top of that), and generally trying to take better care of myself. Even after only a couple of days, I am feeling a bit better, and I am hoping that it will continue. I definitely need to feel better, especially when it comes to taking care of and raising these children we've been entrusted with...wish me luck. If I can get things going more regularly, then it will mean some weight loss, as well as generally better health. And neither of those are a bad thing at all. Just requires some motivation...consistently.

I've got some upcoming posts with pictures, so bear with me...

Today's Diva is a really interesting woman. A mother of 12, some special needs, some biological, some adopted...a homeschooling mom with the Montessori method....who has gone from leftist liberal protester, to conservative mommy blogger with a mission--keep the rest of us up to date on what is going on out there. Yes, her blog has a decidedly conservative stance--if you don't like that, well, you've been forewarned. :-) She does not, however, just focus on the political. She talks about homeschooling, special education issues, some religious topics...definitely an interesting read...Her name is Barbara, and her blog is Mommy Life

http://mommylife.net/

Go give her a look see. It is definitely hard to stop reading at one post, and you'll want to read back and back and back...deep into the archives.

Hopefully your day is going well, and that you are getting some chores marked off the never-ending 'To Do" list!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

I've been tagged!

Therese, of Aussie Coffee Shop fame http://aussiecoffeeshop.blogspot.com/ , has tagged me with the 8 question meme...

Six names you go by:

Mom
Hunny Bunny
Rachel
Rache
"Food Lady"
Wifely-type

Three things I am wearing right now:
Denim skirt
white beaded tank top
black-on-black embroidered cardigan

Three things I want very badly right now:
My old house to sell
No headaches
My boys to start talking

Three things I did last night:
Posted on my blog and other folks'
Knit on my red wool shawl
Did laundry and dishes

Two things I ate today:
Pancakes
Homemade Tex-Mex

Two people I last talked to on the phone:
Hm. This one depends...
-House phone: My mom (this morning), and this afternoon, one of our neighbors, and fellow parishoner
-Cell phone: El Husbando, and...I think it would have to be my youngest sister. Days and days ago (because most folks just call me at home--I keep the cell phone off unless I am out and about).

Two things I am doing tomorrow:
Homeschooling (duh!)
Dental cleanings for #s1-3

My three favorite beverages:
A fountain style cherry Dr Pepper, light on the ice, heavy on the cherry syrup (no real cherries needed)
A homemade chocolate ice cream coffeeshake (chocolate ice cream blended with cold strong coffee--preferably chocolate coffee or Caramel Truffle coffee)
Sweet iced tea

*Note: Yes, I know, I know. I seem to prefer all of my beverages cold, dark, and caffeinated. LOL. Would you believe I don't really care for hot drinks of any kind? Hot cider, hot cocoa, coffee? Won't touch coffee by itself anyway....blech. Gotta add sugar and milk...lots of both, lol. And even then it still tastes like dirty water...blech.LOL

So now...who to tag? I'm supposed to tag five people...drat. Do I know five bloggers who actually read *my* blog?? I don't think I do! LOL. Sad, yes, so sad. But hey, I'm new around here. Give me a few more years...months, whatever...LOL :-D

I'll pick who I can, and who I know will actually do something...I hope!

1-Diane (Tomato Soup Cake)
2-JoAnn (Creamer Chronicles)

So, ladies, Tag! You're it!

And Therese, thanks for tagging me... (where's that cloud nine emoticon when I need it? Sniffle... ;-) ).

A beautiful morning...

Today started off nicely. Pancakes for breakfast. Yum! Then I got dressed and made it to church in time for Mass. Not a problem, it was just me today. It was a wonderful homily, on the characteristics of a good leader, and how important it is for we parents to really carefully raise our children. That contrary to what "they" would have us think, we parents have the power in shaping tomorrow's world, by the way we parent our children. Compare the lives and "fruits" of people like Stalin and Hitler, to those of Pope John Paul II, Mother Theresa, or (for my protestant friends) Billy Graham. How powerful is the upbringing, the "training up in the way they should go"! How powerful can one person's life be? Look at the past, and you will see. It is hard to imagine a little boy Adolph, or Josef, or Karol (Pope JP IIs baptismal name), Agnese(Mother Theresa's baptismal name), or Billy. But they were once young, too, like the little ones (or not so little ones!) entrusted to our care . And one day, it will be *our* children, who are shaping the world. The big question we need to ask ourselves, is "What are they going to model that world upon?" Where are they going to look, to see what the world should become?

So many of us (myself included, believe me!) let the days roll by, without giving much thought to the way we are bringing up our children. Oh, we think of it in the generalities..."I want them to grow up to be strong Christians", or "I want them to value a good education", etc, etc. The big question is, how do we do that on a daily basis? How does that "end result" shape *our* day-to-day parenting choices?

One thing that Father mentioned today, was the question, "How is this going to make you the best 'you', you can be?" (he prefaced this by stating that by being the best "you", it was in learning to know, love, and serve God, to the very best of our abilities). In parenting, we need to be (effectively) drilling this into our children with greater emphasis than the times tables, the alphabet, the periodic table of elements. Our greatest responsibility is to make sure our children know how to be the best Emily/Jonah/Jennifer/Matthew that they can be--in the godly sense...not the worldly. We were given the example, in the homily, of that teenaged child, looking to go to a party...knowing that they are likely going to be immersed in a sea of alcohol, drugs, potentially s*xual encounters...ask them, "Is going to this party, going to help you be the best 'you' you can be?" It cannot be done, easily, unless there has been years of preparation (this is when that drilling into their heads part comes back to help you). Paddling upstream is not easily done, and sometimes, is totally impossible.



It was certainly a very convicting homily, let me tell you. For all the emphasis El Husbando and I have put on making sure our children know the tenants of their faith, as well as they know their math, phonics, and history...we need to be certain to place their character education at the top of our 'curriculum vitae'. It cannot be an on again, off again pursuit. It must be every single day....



A Biblical chapter that many religious homeschoolers cite for being a main reason behind their homeschooling, is Deuteronomy, chapter 6, most notably, verses 6-9.



"6 Take to heart these words which I enjoin on you today.
7
Drill them into your children. Speak of them at home and abroad, whether you are busy or at rest.
8
2 Bind them at your wrist as a sign and let them be as a pendant on your forehead.
9
Write them on the doorposts of your houses and on your gates. "



(Scripture copied from

http://www.usccb.org/nab/bible/deuteronomy/deuteronomy6.htm )



Indeed, the biblical injunction is already there...it is just too easy for us to let the days roll past, doing some things...but it isn't just a matter of rote memorization of scripture and verse. It is a marrow-deep inculcation of everything that that scripture embodies. The sacrifice of Christ is for nothing, if it is not inculcated in our daily lives. If our children do not understand the why, and the how, behind the instructions that they are given, then how can we expect them to hold strong to the truths when temptation comes knocking?

Ah, sorry for the ramble. :-) Even though it was a good homily, and such strong injunctions to parents are sorely needed in this day and age--I don't think you all are coming around here for a redux of my pastor's Sunday homily! :-)

So, to move on with my day thus far...

I came home and made some Tex-Mex. Yes, again. We like it. :-D

El Husbando is mowing the yard, #1 child is in the shop working on a project, #2 finished sweeping the carport, and #3 is taking a nap. #4 & 5 are running around the house, watching Daddy out the doors and windows, as El Husbando tools around the yard on the tractor, pulling the bush-hog. I may manage to get some time to work on my much-too-long project list (not including the shawl). I want/need to make some window quilts, especially for the childrens' bedroom windows (one in each room). The windows are on the north side of the house, and we need to replace the windows completely with some double paned ones...but for now, we have to make-do. So window quilts it is. Especially the boys' room, since I would really really like to have them sleep in on occasion...whew. Who would have thought that sunlight from the north east would wake someone so easily.

I've got some needlwork projects I want to work on, as well as some larger sewing projects...I finally got some 3/4 inch no-roll elastic, so I can make a few slips and flannel skirts for the girls. It is not really cold--yet. But the nip is definitely in the air. And I am holding out on turning the heat on as long as I possibly can. I'd rather have them put on another layer, than to turn the heat on/up. They are capable of doing that. :-) And it keeps the propane bill down somewhat.

In less exciting news, I've got another headache coming on, I think. I've pre-emptively attempted to treat it with a double of Tylenol, more water (after having had caffeine for lunch), but there is this nagging twinge up there. Right side. Upper quadrant of my face. Please pray--I've got the older three's semi-annual dental cleaning tomorrow, then on Tuesday, an appointment for 4 & 5 at the doctor's office. I do have some Tylenol 3 I can take, if this regular Tylenol doesn't work...but I am saving that for if I need to pull out the big guns. I know El Husbando doesn't want to have to take over completely, for the rest of the day (even though it is going on 5 pm here now)...

So prayers would be appreciated. Even if you read this later, I know God doesn't work on our time, so a prayer tomorrow, or even later, would still be helpful. I do *not* need a headache again this week. I actually felt really great Friday and was able to get a good deal done. I would like to continue that process, if you know what I mean. Not to mention what I won't be able to do with the children that needs to be done. And yes, if this does turn into another headache, I will be talking with the doctor about it on Tuesday, since she is our family doctor, and I will be in there anyway. Never fear on that one.

Okay...enough about me! :-)

Today's Diva is a wonderful woman. Really. Talented, witty, and I really need to have her come do my windows. LOL Her name? Well, you may know her as The Nester , of The Nesting Place ...dang it if I don't feel like I ought to be able to do some of the projects she is doing, in my own home...I could...but I'm not quite as driven as she is, I think...

http://nestingplacenc.blogspot.com/

I soooo need her to come here and mistreat my windows. Well, really, I could do it myself, but I need curtain rods. The sales here, the stores, thrift or otherwise, either don't have what I need, or they are too darned expensive. I mean, really. I can go get a dowel, and add some finials on the ends (although some large sized drawer knobs might work, too), and hook it up. But I need to actually DO it...and we all know what a bear procrastination can be (especially as I don't have neighbors who can see into my windows, there is no external force making me do it--just my own "Well, we *ought* to have something up there" feelings). I've got the fabric. I'm making valances. That's it. Since I have a herd of small children, I don't want to put panels in yet. Not in most of the rooms, and the rooms I *would* put panels in, are the rooms I most specifically will *not* be putting panels in, for a long long time (they are public areas of the house, where the children spend most of their time). The way the bedrooms are, panels would be a wrong fit, design wise. So for now, it will be valances and finials and the room darkening, insulating, window quilts...

What do *you* do to save energy in the winter time? Just keep the heat down? Wear more sweaters? Use supplemental heat? Eat a lot of soup, drink a lot of tea? Or just turn the heater up, and deal with the bill later? I am sure that there are lots of folks out there looking for ways to save on the power bills this winter, so every tip, is a possibility! Please, share! I know we have a big fireplace with a blower, but we need more firewood (we've got about a cord), and the propane heater is our main heat source....But I don't want to be draining the tank any more than I have to, if you know what I mean! So, fork over the ideas, the tips, the btdt experiences of what you have done that actually WORKS! Especially if you have children (keeping one person warm, is a bit easier than keeping 7 or 10 warm...one person can sit in the chair, with a heating pad on their back, and an afghan over their lap, with an extra sweater on....7-10 or more, requires a bit more creativity...).

So please share! All of us want to get some new ideas, fresh eyes on an age old 'problem'....