Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Grout Scrubbing

I've decided that posts will be on Wednesday this year, it's just working out that way.

It's been kind of a dull week. Not much to report, which means that while I've not been working through outside stuff a lot of my thoughts have turned inward, hence the grout-scrubbing.

We did get our first presents from the Satellite of Love. I got 12 postcards, though for aesthetics, I only put up 11 of them and gave hubby the poster-postcard for "Manos the Hands of Fate," because it's his favorite.

I've moved Ted (the bread machine) into storage since I really only make bread these days on special occasions, but I use my grill and Little Bertha (the electric pressure cooker) every week. So they got new stations in the kitchen, and I've also cleaned it to the point where Gordon Ramsay will only yell at me and make me clean it all over again rather than vomit and throw me out. I call it progress.

In the lull of the new year and the return to routine it is important to soldier on.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Busy, snowy week.

I didn't take any snow pictures, weird, I know. I did take a pic of the lead-in. This is how you know when a little snow is on the way.

No eggs.

After this it did snow a little. The Diva got to experience it for the first time in her memory and like any good scientist, she was cautions before she delicately touched it.


I did try to make mittens for my Diva, but I ran into a snag. Literally. Since I knit 2-in-1 which saves me from having to knit and measure a second mitten. Really, I have second sock psychosis* like you wouldn't believe.
(*Not a real name for a real thing.)

So one little mistake, where the wires got crossed, turned into a frogging event. I'm restarting them, and since it will be warm this week, hopefully, I can have it done by the next time it snows. I am using a self-striping wool/bamboo blend yarn which makes a fun little pattern, and I'm starting both mittens in the same part of the pattern so they match.

I could have fixed the
mistake at this point,
had I checked it.

I don't give up. Just means I have to try again. I've thought about making a little hat or maybe a scarf out of the spare to match, depending on what I have left. Though she already has a lovely hat to wear.

Waiting to pick up Big Brother.

Anyway, I'm finally getting my house back. I haven't seen my kitchen counter since Thanksgiving, so it's nice to have a clean kitchen to work with. I still have a lot of work to do, but I set up a reading corner for the Diva, cleared out a lot of the baby clutter in the living room, and I've even done some laundry.

Curling up with a good book.

We are still working on the concept of "on the shelf" as opposed to "on the floor," but she's still little. That shelf is filled with all of Big Brother's old Baby books, so He'll need a new "big kid" shelf but she was in desperate need, and we can replace his shelf to give him a place to put all his new programing books.

As for my difficult to photograph elder child, we have been at odds for a while over his YouTube habits and there's still the work we have to do on his dexterity, but I think he and I have come to a compromise. He can still watch YouTube, but he needs to use it as a reward for himself, which hopefully will help him flex his mental muscles again.

In unrelated news, Santa (my mom) brought me a second pressure cooker, a smaller one, and I have used it about twice a week. I'm a huge fan of home cooking, and since we're a tad strapped after Santa (my husband) spent too much on Christmas for the kids, it's helps our grocery dollars go a lot further, and chicken and dumplings made with pressure cooker stock is AMAZING. I used to be scared of pressure cookers. Now I'm in absolute love with mine: Big and Little Bertha.

Just imagine a picture of a little electric pressure cooker here. Mine is in my still very messy kitchen.

Now to get back to trying to rescue my house and re-do the mittens.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Happy New Year!

I know, I haven't posted since before Christmas, it's been super busy, so here are lots of pictures to make up for it. It's long, so grab a coffee.

 My baking can boldly go
where no baked goods
have gone before.

Totally not a fruitcake.
Okay, maybe a fruitcake.
It's really spicy though,
and made from a British ration recipe.

My little artist, keeping busy while I cook.

Gluten Free Chocolate Cake.
(From a mix. I'm not insane.)
I used this to make a GF yule slab.

Sugared mint leaves and raspberries.
(Well, okay, maybe a little insane.)

Making a sponge cake from a wartime recipe.
In the end, it actually almost overflows my mixing bowls.
I would love to have a matched set of about 4-5 2qt mixing bowls.

 Sponge cake in a jelly roll pan.

Spread with whipped cream and rolled up.
This is the Yule log skeleton.

Finished product, though the ganache
was not cooled at the time of this picture.
Neither Ganache nor whipped cream
were ration friendly unless I had been
saving my ingredients and points
for months.

These are gluten free popovers made from scratch.
It was not, as Jet Propulsion would say,
"A delicious failure."
It was just a failure. A pretty gross one.

Christmas day shenanigans.

Hubby and his favorite new shirt.

Santa brought a new TV,
So I set up a new video game/media center.

That glowing streak comes from the eyes of a troll
hubby and I have wanted since before we met.
The store where we bought our trolls was closing
due to new ownership of the mall,
so we bought him with our Christmas money.

This is a pie bird.
They have been used for 2-300 years,
and mine worked quite well to ensure the bottom
crust of my chicken pot pie was done.

I didn't know this was a thing
until after I saw Frozen.
I thought about getting it,
now I might make it when it snows
just so I can serve it hot.

My living room still looks like this.
Kids had a great holiday,
but I foresee the declutter tornado coming through
soon to clear out a bunch of unused stuff.

Hope you enjoyed the photos. I'll get back to my regular posting next week when the boys are back at school and I fight to get my routine back in place.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Pulling it out of my... hat.

I have learned at least one important lesson this week: staying up until after midnight may be fun, but it makes the next morning is a bear. But with Christmas on the horizon, it's time to focus and work harder than ever.

Also, so far none of my growing efforts seem to be doing much except the millet, which is a grass. I'm thinking of seeding the whole yard with it. Then when my husband has to tend the lawn, it's not mowing, it's "harvesting."

I joined the women's land army.
Now I farm dirt.

The biggest news of the week is that I ordered new glasses through my insurance, so it only cost me $100 rather than $500. I love that the insurance covers so much and a yearly exam. I am proud of my eyes and their health. I am sad that I won't be able to get transitions this time, since I have had them since 2000, but as they say, groceries come first!

And these are completely covered by my insurance!

In other news Mr. Tardigrade had a little abdominal surgery. His middle seam split and had to be repaired. I used quilting thread which is lighter than what they used. To be honest, I don't even know how the split happened. But being a tardigrade, he made it through with little scarring and came out of recovery just fine. (Warning: Surgical pictures below. Those of you with weak stomachs may want to click through to cat pictures.)

The original split. 

Checking the sutures. 

In recovery.

Also, the Diva picked up Mr. Smith's cold and got a fever yesterday, but it's just a boring old cold, treated with snuggles, apple juice, and naps. But just this morning, I managed to fix the broken door of the Diva's play kitchen. I have tried superglue, tape, and everything else, so today I used a dowel rod. Getting it in place was a bear, which makes me wonder how in the name of St. Sneaky Pete (KoL) I got the other one in. Maybe I broke it before she finished it off.

American ingenuity meets Chinese toy.
I win.

But to top off the week, I got a christmas postcard from some great people who are putting the Love back into the Satellite of Love. #BroughtbackMST3K I'm so amazingly excited! Cambot, give me Rocket #9...


You'll find us in the credits... under BERT Lowe.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Tumbling towards Christmas

So it's been a roller coaster of a week. Starting on Wednesday, I installed the brand new potty. Three hours of the grossest thing I've probably ever done, but it's all installed and ready to go.

I still reach for the handle to jiggle.

It's a push-button, dual-flush. So instead of using 7 gallons, it uses 1.1/1.6 which is an immense savings, even if we were to use the big button every time. Because of our leveled water bill, the 7 CCFs of water we used ever month is likely going to go down to 4 CCF. In a year, it will pay for itself. Not only that, we are saving water!

We're working on it.

In other news Mr. Smith and I ditched the kids at Granny's house and went to Blowing Rock, NC in search of his weather balloon.

My view on the way to the crash site wasn't so bad.

So I forgot to use my inhaler that morning, but dressed in five layers, aka Die Hard on a mountain, so I was quite toasty. We drove up into NC, down a winding graded road that was, frankly, terrifying. We searched and searched through laurel thickets and amid 80' tall oak trees until, halfway to an asthma attack, I reclined on the ground and saw:

Just 60' off the ground.

We're leaving it to the engineers to design a recovery system.

Probably a pole.

So we trudged back up the winding road. I picked up a little quartz mixed in with the quartzite, slate and limestone. Nothing outstanding about the geology, of course, it's not always what's under the surface that is cool.

Lovely isn't it? Oh, the mountains are nice, too.

We did the other thing that we love to do, we did the tourist thing and went to see THE blowing rock! In the picture you can see the bottom of Grandfather mountain just behind my sweetie, and to his left is Grandmother mountain. I'm not that familiar with the area. They gave us a pamphlet with a guide.

Sorry, ladies, this one is taken!

We didn't have to rekindle the old flame, ours burns stable and bright every day! But I did rekindle my love of National Geodetic Survey markers. There are a few around here to be checked out and I may start "hunting" them, which in my case is taking pics of them, but I popped up on the blowing rock to check out this well worn beauty.

Two pics for the price of one! 

We bought a new mug, which is going to look great on my mug display. Faces on trees were a thing, a little creepy, but a thing. So I bought a mug that had a tree-face on it. It is perfect for hot chocolate!

All the others had goofy teeth.

In other plant-related news, it's a mixed bag. Two of my sage seedlings died, leaving only one remaining. I have what is probably one peppermint seedling, and still have one parsley seedling. The millet is growing like grass, because, well, it's grass. The dwarf sunflower seeds have split but not put out roots, so I am not hopeful, but I'll plant them and see what happens.

I need a bigger window, and grow lights.

And Steve had three female blossoms in the rush of a dozen blooms, I accidentally picked one, but the other two were pollinated and little Steve now has five lemons. Of course, I'd be happy if he'd keep a few more of his leaves through winter. It's making me nervous.

Steve, noir.

And to wrap up the week, the boy got his magnetic laces in, which is both good, as it only takes a moment to get his shoes on and off, and better because I've figured out that I need to work on developing his dexterity and fine motor control. This is why he has trouble. I've been doing some reading from pros and parents for inspiration. I also managed to win at parenting while trimming the Diva's nails, and trimmed some dermis instead. I called the nurseline, but honestly, it's just fine. She's had her shots and the clippers were fairly new. But from now on, I'm going to file her nails.

Little monkey!

And, of course, the reason the post was late this week was because our previous internet provider decided not to TELL us that they forgot to bill us for three months. We have a lot going on, that's why the online bills are important! Well, we switched to their competitor to get faster, cheaper internet--which will still be cheaper than the previous provider once the special year-long promo ends.

And on Monday, I have an appointment for an eye exam. I'm looking forward to it, and to regular appointments from now on, because I'm a grown up.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Sunshine and Rain

It's Tuesday, and I'm back! Whoa!

So, first the fun:

Last weekend, I spent Sunday decluttering my only shelf under a window so I could attempt to grow things through the winter.

Steve, the Meyer Lemon is doing fine. Out of twelve blooms, I got three female blossoms, one of which I accidentally deadheaded but its sisters are still alive and pollinated. I transplanted the parsley into its own container. One plant survived. I could cry. BUT as the song says, life goes on!

From the seeds I planted and sprouted this weekend, the clover sprouted and was planted in a little green container which is not pictured above. The millet has sprouted from both sprouting containers and will be planted in another white pot. The sunflowers look like they'll sprout and I'll have yet another white pot waiting for them as well. The green pot above is still empty, but I have high hopes for the peppermint seeds which I'll plant there if they sprout. If they don't I might sneak off to the garden center and buy something else green. This is the beginnings of my victory garden, or as I have been referring to it, my Herb Moat.

I am still in need of lavender to replace the hated forsythia, my seeds were a no-go, but I am keeping the sachet stuff. I'm planning for the future.

I HAVE gotten some amazing help with Mr. Smith's Christmas present. I've been planning it for months, but after hours of trying, I couldn't get it right. I consulted a professional, and she fixed it better than I could have imagined. Thanks mom!

Stock image of a gift.
I'm crazy, not stupid.

So hours of work, but I know he'll like it. This is something he didn't even know he wanted.

I am in need of new glasses, which will be covered by insurance so, that's not even a problem, though finding time for a trip to the optometrist is as always difficult. While decluttering the shelf, I found an old pair that fit better than a new pair, and I'm going to see if the glasses people can't put new lenses in the old frames. They fit better, they suit me better, and really, they are better quality. And of course, reusing the old frames makes me happy in my 40's heart. I never liked the plastic ones.

I recycle every way I can.

To be fair, I probably should have put up a water conservation poster. As water is the name of the game this week. Not only have we had good soaking rains for the first time in ages, meaning we are reminded of all the leaks in our house, but at long last, our 5-gallon flush toilet, which started to spend an extra couple of gallons a day, gave up the ghost in a sitcom style comedic disaster.

It started a couple of years ago when one of the tank bolts gave way. It had been there for 25+ years and was basically made of rust. I replaced it with a drink cap sealed with silicone. Then the flush valve started to stick. "Did you jiggle the handle?" became the daily nag. A couple of months ago, the flush valve started sticking a little, which caused a little drippy leak, so I just tapped it. Today, I came home to find it had bopped the top of the toilet tank up and was flooding through the overflow pipe, and had probably been going for over an hour while I had been dropping hubby off.

Goodbye old friend.

It sounds terrible, but it's been headed for disaster for a while now, so I just turned off the water, and we'll finally replace it in a couple of days when hubby gets paid. It might mean a couple more casserole based dishes this week, but heck, casseroles are a great convenience food when you have a busy life but not a lot of money.

In good news, my doused keyboard has been replaced and a silicone keyboard cover is now protecting it from most future disasters. It also needed replacing. If you'll pardon me, I need to get a new fridge.


Tuesday, November 29, 2016


I have been meaning to come back with a weekly regularity, but to be honest, I don't know how those mommy bloggers do it. They seem to always have their kids making cupcakes or homeschooling or what have you, while I turn my back for five minutes to find this.

Well, how do YOU get your feet clean?

Meanwhile I have been using spare moments to tat, which has taken up a lot of my spare brainpower. Seriously, I haven't had such fits over any piece of the tea cloth like I have this one.

This is the fourth time I've tatted this.

Worked it out last night that I have about 200 square feet in my "Garden Moat" plan. That's way more room than I need just for herbs, considering a few of the gardening websites tout "Grow enough to feed ten people every year in 300 square feet of space!"  Of course, I have ulterior motives for the Garden Moat, as most of the herbs I am looking at are pungent pest deterrents, which means we will send the kitchen ants and possibly even the rats packing.

The Diva is measuring off space for her
own plot of land.

Our house sits on half an acre, which means I have options. Of course I have to leave room for the dog, because we will always have a dog, we've proven that. We also have to contend with the two walnuts and the surviving oak tree, but that will be more of a problem 50 years from now, I suspect. Until then, I have some time to garden.

Or, I could always MAKE flowers.
Lace is hard to resist.

In the spring I would love to plant our apple and peach trees and blueberry bushes, Though I'm going to have to do some more reading on the subject. I must be doing something right, since Steve the Meyer Lemon still has his big lemon, two little ones, and is in bloom right now, and I found a third parsley seedling this morning just poking up. I'm going to have to prepare a second pot soon to separate my sage from my sleepy parsley which took over a month to sprout.

Apparently two years dormancy is a long time to parsley.
Up and at 'em, boys!

I plan on propagating it, so that it won't be lonely in my garden moat. Of course, the parsley, sage, oregano, and green onions--which I haven't decided whether they are an herb or a vegetable in spite of what others have said--will have to be right near the kitchen. And of course, I'll be planting Milkweed in the front of the house, because who doesn't love butterflies, and Monarchs to boot!