Monday, March 19, 2018

The In Between Period

We've been having beautiful, sunny days above freezing so the snow is slowly melting.

Not the prettiest time of year around here, but we have to go through it to get to warmer weather and the beginning of another glorious, green, gardening season.

Speaking of which, I'm actually starting to work on the layout of this year's garden.  As much as I fight to hang on to my winter hibernation period, I'm actually getting a little itchy to see green plants and colorful blossoms where a solid blanket of white has been for several months.

I feel a good organizational kind of day coming on for tomorrow.  Lots of must-dos were taken care of today.   Laundry and ironing, I cleaned out the refrigerator (yay!), made some good food that will serve as yummy leftovers tomorrow so I won't have to do much cooking.  

Sunday night I baked an apple cake that isn't totally obliterated as of this hour so that should serve as a sweet should it be needed.  

I started to get out Easter decorations today but realized they just "don't go" with the winter ones still scattered in every room.

Yep, even though it's a long time before real spring hits us in our northern clime, I'm going to pack away all the blue and white snow-flaky decor tomorrow and put up some light and bright spring things.  Then I'll feel I can finish placing the Easter ones around, too.

The above shows the beginning of our driveway (just to the right of the big snow bank on the left) leaving our yard area.  Truth to tell, we haven't had a snow flake fall on us for a couple/few weeks now (sorry, Susan) and the slow melting that has been going on has enabled the moisture to seep into the ground without forming as much mud, puddles and ice as usual.  Not a bad way to slip into spring up here in the north woods.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The Kitchen Tour

On her post of Friday, March 9th, a new favorite blogger of mine, 
wisps of words, took us on a tour of her kitchen.  She asked if we readers would do the same by taking pictures of our kitchens to post on our blogs.

So here goes.  I grabbed my camera and started shooting with the sun streaming in through the south facing windows which proved to be not the best lighting for my pictures . . . as you will readily see.

Here I'm standing in the doorway of what we call our entry room.  Before we started adding on to our little hacienda here, it was the door that went directly outside.  The wood stove on the left is situated between the kitchen, a small hallway and our bedroom.

Without moving but turning to the right, you see down the kitchen in that direction.

Looking directly across the room from the same spot, you see our kitchen table and the south facing windows. 

Walking ahead and getting closer to the table, I start to turn right past the back side of the work island in the middle of the kitchen.  You can see just a corner of it on the right.

Now you see the refrigerator and more of the back side of the island.  To the left of the refridge is the door going into our living room.  That door is most often open but has proven to be handy to shut out noise from either room. 

As we keep veering right, you see the stove past the refrigerator and then the sink. 

Directly across from the island is the counter area past the sink.  The windows you see on the right look out on our unheated, enclosed porch.  When we remodeled, I wanted to take out the windows and build in a floor-to-ceiling storage unit.  I was out-voted and the windows stayed.  I still don't like looking out onto the porch though.

Moving down the "work" side of the center island.

Now we're almost back where we started.  The doorway past the two windows is where I was standing to begin.  The door at the far end of the little hallway leads into our bedroom.

When you look at wisps of words' lovely kitchen, you'll see it looks "magazine ready" which mine does not.  I didn't take the time to tidy up before taking the pictures.  As they say, "What you see is what you get!"

It's a comfortable size which I appreciate since the space, before we started our remodeling and adding on, used to be both kitchen AND living room.  My kitchen has turned out to be very convenient for me, and I love it.

Now how about a tour of YOUR kitchen?

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

I Am Good At Some Things

No, really I am.  (I just can't think of any of them at the moment.)  You see, my head hurts and I'm feeling extremely stoopid.  Why, you ask?  (I thought I heard somebody ask.)

I am in the process of trying to learn to use a laptop computer.  And the learning curve is HUGE.  (Pshaw, you say.  If you can use a computer on your desk, there's no reason you can't use a laptop.  Well, that's what you think.)

First off, there's no way on earth I understand enough about computers to set up the laptop with the info I need to make it actually usable.

The only thing saving me at this point is my computer guru, otherwise known as my extremely intelligent and competent daughter.  However, there's a good chance the whole process may cause her to divorce me before we're done.  (What's the legal term?  Emancipation, I think it is, when a child becomes free of his parents.  Or in this case, just one parent.  Me.)

To say I have a short circuit in my brain when it comes to understanding computer-eeze is such a gross understatement.  The language is foreign, the reasoning (you can't convince me there is much of any rhyme or reason to it, frankly) is beyond me.  I'm not even good at coming to grips with not having a stand alone mouse to use with the laptop!

Bottom line, she's working hard at getting me set up and hasn't lost patience with me and my computer lame brain (yet) nor given up on my repeated questions, over and over, since I can't seem to remember what I need to remember from one hour to the next.

When (and if) I can muckle my way through this challenge, I'm hoping having a laptop will enable me to do (more conveniently) what I want to do.

She's also doing some moving around and cleaning up on my main computer that has been long overdue.  Feels great to have some changes made that I've wanted done for a long time but, again, don't have the smarts to figure out how to do them myself.  Please don't tell me I could learn to become computer literate if I just tried.  (Refer back to admission of that short circuit in my brain as mentioned above.)  My daughter can testify that she's had to come talk me off the ledge get me out of big computer trouble more than once when I got big and brave (fortified with a glass or two of wine) and tried to learn, change or fix something myself.

Dear daughter is the one who found the nice (reconditioned) laptop for me at a very reasonable price (very reasonable, but that's another long story) in the first place.  

She just left a few minutes ago after trying to teach me (i.e., d-r-a-g-g-i-n-g me along) for a few hours.  That strange noise I heard as she went out the door may or may not have been the sound of her grinding her teeth.

Wish me luck.  No, better you wish her luck.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Here's A Question For You

Would having adequate amounts of money make you happy?

I'm not talking about having so much money you couldn't possibly spend it all in your life time, but rather enough so you could purchase all the fencing materials to keep your vegetable garden and orchard safe from hungry critters, or enough to get that much needed tune-up on your main vehicle (and why not get those rust spots on the body taken care of at the same time?), or even enough to hire (gulp) a professional to power wash and paint the house this summer rather than spending the time doing it yourself.

My better half and I have been struggling with achieving that elusive balance between work and time off.  You know, time off to spend the day (days, even?) recreating, relaxing, pursuing personal goals, doing nothing if that's what seems needed.

Try as we might, that balanced life doesn't come as easily as we would wish.  I tend to think it would be easier to achieve if we didn't feel it necessary to put in our own time and labor on certain tasks rather than making them go much faster and easier by, for instance, being able to purchase all the best of needed materials for a job at once or enlisting the aid of a professional who could do the job probably better and certainly quicker.

I'm not for a moment suggesting we're suffering from lack of funds to provide us with the basic needs of life.  But we do have to keep a close eye on the money we have coming in and the way it goes out.  Therefore, we tend to do whatever we can in the way of home maintenance and improvements to our property using our own time and labor.  We're careful in the purchases we make.  We make do with equipment and supplies that are recycled or purchased ones that are "not exactly" what we would choose if we could buy the top of the line.  We take care of what we have so it lasts a long time.

Looking at our To Do List for this coming spring/summer/fall season when weather up here near the tundra is conducive to nearly all projects without risking frozen extremities (or slipping ladders --- let's not even think about that), we fantasize about ordering new fencing materials (sorely needed) and hiring a crew to come in to install same.  'Twould be done in a day's time, I betcha.  Wow.  Super.  Let's do it.  Then rather than spending the week (or so) doing it ourselves, we could take the time off and go canoeing, hiking, sight-seeing.  If I had the time, I'd love to volunteer at our wonderful library.

The one stumbling block to creating this kind of scenario, of course, goes back to the financial dilemma.  So much in life seems to go back to the financial dilemma.

Would we be happier if we had adequate amounts of money to use in any way we wished?  Would the money enable us to create an environment in which we felt we could have more of a balanced life?  Would I have a more restful night's sleep if I didn't wake, as I did this morning, from a stressful dream of agonizing over buying a new set of bathroom towels?  (In my dream, I was in a large department store and after spending too long comparing the price of towels, I finally purchased a set and then was devastated when presented with the bill of over a thousand dollars!)  Silly, I know, and small peanuts compared to the problems many folks have.  (I'm aware others are struggling to put food on the table, and I don't mean to make light of that.)  But I'm sure in my subconscious this all relates back to feeling the need to "count pennies" when dealing with finances.

So how do you feel about the question, "Will money buy you happiness?"  We frequently hear the saying, "Money won't buy you happiness," but I'm curious to hear your thoughts on the subject.  Wanna share?

Friday, March 9, 2018

A Room with a View (of a Sign)

A couple of years ago I saw a wooden sign in a gift catalog that I really wanted to have to hang in our bathroom.  But being rather frugal (ahem), I thought the price asked was too much.

I kept thinking about the sign and even searched online for one like it more than once.  No luck.

A week or so ago I decided I could make the sign as a small quilted wall hanging.  And so I did.

Here it is in place over the window at the far end of our long, narrow, small bathroom.

Since most of you won't have a chance to enter our bathroom and get close enough to read what it says . . . 

. . . here's a close-up for you.

I don't care what anybody else in my family says (and they have not all been complimentary . . . just no sense of humor), I love it.

* * * * * * * *

Since we're talking bathrooms, I want to share a little story with you.

A Bathroom Story

Papa Pea and I have been known to bemoan the fact that we have only one bathroom in our house which is kinda sorta unusual these days.  Every time we think having that second bathroom would be very convenient, I think back to my grandma and grandpa and how they managed to survive while raising seven children . . . with only one bathroom.

Actually, in their first home the bathroom was that little house in the back yard known as an outhouse.  Years later while their kids were still all home, they did get "modernized" and gained an indoor bathroom.

Their situation changed and they moved to a new location, a new (to them) house, but still containing only one bathroom.

In the early l940s, some of their kids had grown and left home, but Grandma and Grandpa and three of their daughters still lived under the one roof.  World War II was in full swing, my dad was shipped overseas so my mom (who was pregnant with me) moved back in with her parents.  Shortly thereafter, the husband of one of Mom's older sisters was sent overseas so she and her infant son moved in with the rest of us.

This meant that the members of the household were then Grandma and Grandpa, their youngest daughter still in high school, two other daughters who had graduated and joined the work force, my mom and me and another daughter with her infant son.  That adds up to seven adults and two babies.  Yep, all of us and only one bathroom.  (Plus, no hot water.  All water for dishes, laundry, filling the bath tub, etc. had to be heated on the kitchen stove.)

So when Papa Pea and I think we suffer any kind of hardship (puleeze!) because we have just one bathroom for the two of us, it brings me up short, and I realize we have it pretty good, don't you think?

The end.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Well, Darn . . .

Yep, that is a great big ol' tow truck backing up to load our Suburban onto it.

And there it is leaving destined to be dropped off at our mechanic's garage. 

How did this all come about?  Well, Papa Pea was off early one morning recently to get our resupply of fresh, raw milk products.  He was about four miles from home, going up a steep grade when the truck started to lose power.  He was able to pull into a driveway, get turned around and coast down the hill for a couple of miles before he ran out of "hill" and had to stop.  One more try and, yippee, the truck started again, but ran for only a hop, skip and jump before stopping . . . for the final time.

He was then only a couple miles from home so called for reinforcements.  I didn't want to pull him home with the big pickup truck with the 9' plow on the front so we contacted Chicken Mama who was home and available.  She grabbed a towing strap and other equipment that might have been needed and soon successfully towed him home with her Suburban.

Papa Pea and Gilligan took a cursory look at the truck and after checking what they could here in the yard, decided it was probably a fuel pump or related problem.

Since our mechanic is about seventeen miles away, up and down some hills and twists and turns in the road, and our Suburban currently has little or no braking power, we decided not to chance towing it all that way.

Only way to get it to the garage was to either manually push it . . . or call a towing service.  We opted for the latter.

We're hoping to hear soon what the diagnosis turns out to be.  And that it's not gonna break the bank to do the repairs.  Besides being an excellent mechanic, J is a good friend and will do what needs to be done to get us back in business.  

In the meantime, we're not stuck without options for transportation.  All will be well.  Considering this is the first time in the nearly fifty-five years of our marriage that we've had to have a vehicle towed (other than towing it ourselves), we can't complain one bit.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Done Ahead of Time!

I keep a small wall hanging or sign to the left of the door that leads from our enclosed porch into our house.

I've shown you this one before but it still makes me smile every time I see it.  It usually goes up when I take the "Christmas-y" one down.  Then when spring seems as though it really is going to appear in the north woods, this one comes down and I put up something "spring-y."  Except I didn't really have anything that appropriately heralds the spring season.

But now I do!

I recently finished this small quilted wall hanging, and lo and behold, it's done before I actually need it.  (We had a temp of 14 degrees this morning so unlike some of you with beautiful spring flowers dotting your landscape, there's no evidence spring has arrived here yet.)

The label I gave it is "Spring Piggies." 

Here's a closer view of the
  happy little piggies.

The pigs came from a panel I bought a month or so ago showing different farm animals.  Along with the pigs are horses, chickens, goats, and sheep.  It took me forever to choose which grouping of animals I was going to use for this wall hanging.  I finally cut out the pigs and started winging it from there.  

I wasn't sure how it would end up or if I'd be happy with it.  Turns out, I do like it a lot, and now want to make something using some of the other animals.  Where will I use them?  Probably in my pantry.  I already have a few small pieces on the walls in there for decoration  and color, but I'll bet I can squeeze in a couple more.