Thursday, May 14, 2009

Wow. Time Flies!

I've been busy with life, and totally forgot about my faithful followers! So sorry all!

This week, we're going to talk about the garden again first. I've been running around with a friend of mine and digging up plants that grow native in my area. These are being transplanted into my yard. My plan is to eventually have a lovely sitting area, a veggie garden, flower borders on 3 sides and my mini-orchard along the back of my little yard. Winding through all of this will be a pretty stone path. No grass to mow at all! I hope. However, that does not seem to be working out the way I'd like. Not ONE of my daffodils bloomed this year! Not one! None of my irises even have stalks or buds on them. My day lilies are growing like mad, and are not due to bloom for months yet. So, my beginning flower bed is still a bit sad.

The sunflower bed is almost all emptied out. It used to be an area the former tenants used to burn trash. I've been cleaning all the rubbish and bricks out, so that I can work the ash down into the soil. This is a great spot for my sunflowers now and maybe an azalea later on in the fall.

I pruned back a few branches on the plum tree. It was the wrong season to do it, and it is taking a while for the tree to heal. It didn't blossom out much. I may not get very much fruit from it this year. My neighbors told me the fruit was very sour-I had to tell them it was for making jam with and needed to be sweetened before

The pear tree is taking off wonderfully this year. Full of lovely blossoms, which indicates a good fruit harvest. YAY! More pear butter for me! Yes, Smidgie. I know. You are still waiting for

The naked tree in the back corner of the lot is now covered in little green leaves. If nothing else, it is pretty and provides some much needed shade and resting points for the local songbirds.

The grapevines are GONE! I pulled them out of all my trees and cut them back. Then I cut the stems right down to about 3 inches above the ground. I also pulled up a ton of starts. Some of them have to be mailed out to people on my homesteading board. Others are going to be relocated along the new trellis when it goes in, so they are in a pot. The old vines will come back in a few years and bear fruit again. I will be able to control where they go by espaliering them to the trellis while they grow and keep them pruned back out of the trees.

Last week, on trash day, I scored some gorgeous antique metal fencing for the edge of my butterfly garden area near the stone wall. Neighbors were putting it out, so I knocked and asked if I could salvage it. YAY! 6 sections of it, 4 feet high and 4 feet long!

The veggie bed is currently a holding place for all the yard waste, as we are hoping to rent a chipper and turn it into mulch. At the end of the month, my seeds will be safe to put in and we will have food from our own back yard. Beans and peas and squash and tomatoes. I"m going to make and can salsa, tomato sauce, pickles, beans, jams...all kinds of great things for my pantry.

Stay tuned tomorrow for news about my on-line custom crochet business~

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Back By Popular Demand

Well, after a long hiatus due to financial constraints, I am finally back online. I really missed having my internet friends to chat with and working on my pattern collection.

Right now, I have spring fever like nobody's business. I've done some prep work in the yard, contracted a pair of young men to do some landscaping work for me, installed birdfeeders, repaired the birdhouse and taken down a nasty wire fence thingy.

I'm getting ready to prune back my grapevines and pull all the prunings out for soaking. Then, I'm going to coil them into wreaths and sell them!

The majority of the housework is done, and spring cleaning has begun. I'm washing walls in the kitchen this week, and then I am finally going to paint over that horrid pink wallpaper. A nice shade of pear green. YAY!! After that, the living room walls are getting painted. Cafe Au Lait.

My food storage program is coming along nicely. I've begun doubling up on certain items each week and stashing the duplicates. In a year or so, I should have a full storage pantry. We've also ordered a pig and are considering half a beef for the freezer. With our garden providing fruits and veggies, that should make things a lot less expensive.

We are now the proud parents of 2 cats-a siamese named Jaz and a himalayan named Skyler. Both are females and are about to be bred. I have orders for 3 kittens, and 2 offers of deposits. So, I'm going to have kittens in time for Mother's Day. Gorgeous, pure bred babies to spoil. Since we no longer have a dog, I feel a bit more comfortable filling those orders.

I'm finally taking time to get myself back into school, too. I want to get my degree (or certificate or whatever) in medical billing. I can do that from home and not screw up my disability too awfully much. An opportunity to be self sufficient and not push my body beyond what it's capable of is a great thing.

Off to do the laundry and then my housework is done! Ahh, the benefits of being an empty nester!!

Friday, December 26, 2008

It's Over!

The holiday madness is now behind us. Thank goodness! After having what is quite possibly the worst Christmas ever, I am glad to see it over. I'm taking down my decorations starting today. After that, I'm back on track for food storage and home redecoration.

My big project is the living room. It's all dark panelling, and really absorbs what natural light we get from the windows. Which is a real shame, because it opens out onto a great sunporch that is loaded with windows. I want to wash down the panelling, prime and seal it, then paint it a soft color that will reflect the light and open up the space a bit. I'd LOVE to put a larger window in, or remove the front wall altogether and insulate the porch. The conversation with the landlord over that one should be interesting. If I can make the sunporch usable year round, he might just go for it. It would make such a bright and airy space, but still feel cozy in the winter. We'll see how it goes.

As for my food storage? I am starting from scratch there too. There is NOTHING in my pantry now. I even need the basics, like flour and salt and such. I'm hoping to start rebuilding my pantry, beginning in January. If one or the other of us can get work, it will be easier, but it is still possible, even on unemployment. I'll be revamping the cabinets in the kitchen to organize the food. I think that the shelves in closet A can be moved and have more added so that I can use one side of that for a good pantry.

One thing I'm getting next month? Space bags. I'm putting up all the off-season clothing into the top of my bedroom closet, and this will make it much easier to do.

What are you doing to reorganize your home over the winter? Are you seriously considering starting your food storage yet? Have you looked at the state of the economy and cringed yet? Get started, girl. The world won't wait for you to get on board. When TSHTF, will you be ready? A crisis can be anything, even the loss of an income. Are you ready? I wasn't, even when I thought I was. Look closely at the past year, project for next year and make your list. Resolutions be dammed-it's time for some serious life changes!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Christmas Memories

It amazes me the things that become important as we age. This past week, our home was broken into. Not the one we live in now. One that we own and are moving out of. Someone actually took the time to sort through our Christmas ornaments and steal just what appealed to them. We lost 20 years accumulation of Christmas ornaments. Even though I repeatedly tell myself that it is just "stuff", I am hurting. I can always replace "stuff". I am not defined by what I own. But my heart is sore from this loss. It's like losing my home again. Christmas has always been my favorite time of the year. I decorate EVERYTHING! Even the bathroom! This year, it's going to be hard to do that. We've lost almost everything we had to decorate with. All the lights, the garlands, the beads and balls and baubles we've collected over 20 years. Some can be replaced. Others can't. Even if we were to buy the same items, they just wouldn't hold the same memories for us.

Lovely mercury glass ornaments we purchased for our children. Some with golden tinsel hangers and tiny little companion ornaments hanging from them. Beautiful nutcrackers and angels and santa's.

Crystal santa bells and santa figurines from around the world. These I had saved for my youngest daughter for her first Christmas. All she'll have now is the knowledge they were meant for her. I'll be haunting the Salvation Army store to see if I can find them for her. She so loved to move them around and change the display when she was young.

The train set for under the tree. Mark wanted one for years and finally got one from his best friend a few years back. He loves having a train under the tree.

The Hallmark Keepsake ornament from the movie "It's a Wonderful Life.". The tree is not complete without that one. The key ornament for the first Christmas we spent in a home of our own. It was cut to fit our door lock! The Avon carousel tiger ornament. Which happens to be the only gift in 20 years that my husband didn't know about in advance. I'll never forget the look on his face when he found it on the tree. I had told him they were sold out and then stashed it until the following year and hung it up! He was astonished!

The Dan Marino football hero ornament. We searched for 5 years to find that one. And dozens of other Miami Dolphins, Dale Sr. and Dale Jr. ornaments as well. Some that were one of a kind, brought back from vacations his family took.

A veritable blizzard of crocheted snowflakes in many sizes. They usually hang from the ceiling. Mark won't miss those, but I will. I shopped ebay for a year to collect those.

The tree topper my brother-in-law bought just for me one year. A lovely crystal finial that holds lights from the tree inside the top. I wanted a topper that was different than the one everyone else had and Brian listened. I loved that thing.

Every single beaded ornament my grandmother ever made for me or my children. That one breaks my heart. My grandmother died a year and a half ago. There will be no more ornaments from her. I saved every one and never let them leave the house. I'm scared to death to tell my mother these are gone.

The ornaments I bought each year for Cody. Every year, I've purchased another miniature ornament for him and stashed it away special. I wanted him to know, someday, that he was remembered every year along with his siblings. That whole box is gone. I can't stand it. I have nothing of his, but those were something that was meant to show him that I never stopped loving him. Someday, when I find him, I'll have to answer for the time we spent apart. I was hoping to share those with him then. I cannot understand why anyone would take those.

What really throws me is that someone actually took the time to take the string of lights off of our artificial tree!!! They were lights in motion, purchased at CVS in 1990. For Kevin's first Christmas. They stole every single ornament meant to go on the tree. Even the little shoebox sized storage tote of ornaments marked for my husband and myself.

I can comfort myself that some vitally important sentimental items are still here. The child's nativity set bought when the kids were very small. That baby Jesus has been in more places than you can believe. For years, that set was never put away because Jesus had school to go to. The dog chewed off the bottom of one king, and the shepherd never did stand up very well. Mary and Joseph look a bit frazzled from stress. The sheep and camel have been teethed on by every grandchild we have, now. That set currently occupies a space right at child's reach in our living room. My grandchildren will play with the same set their parents did. That comforts me.

The tree skirt that my mother-in-law made one year is still here. It's covered in gingerbread men, which are my favorite part of the season. Even the smell of gingerbread can make me smile. I'll be making gingerbread ornaments with my grandchildren this year. I can't wait.

My collection of Christmas music-which was found tossed into the trash can in the house, was saved. I can still listen to the Lettermen sing Christmas songs.

The village houses and accessories that we have collected over the years are still here. That one surprised me. If I were going to steal something, I'd have taken However, the totes were kind of heavy. I'm glad we still have those. They are a tradition started just for my husband. He loves those buildings and all the fun of setting it up each year.

The shoeboxes of ornaments purchased for the rest of my kids. Those, thank heaven, are still here. I cannot imagine having to explain to my kids what happened to their decorations. They are all moving out and starting their own lives. Lisa has already lost hers in a move. The other kids would be devastated to lose such an emotionally charged item right now.

The train rug my grandmother made. I thank God it is still here. It is all I have left that her hands have touched. I'd have totally fallen apart if it had been gone.

And the stocking collection. I know my family laughs and says I'm obsessed. For me, stockings and gingerbread are the things I like most about Christmas. I don't think anyone can ever have too many stockings. Last year, I got a 7 foot tall stocking shaped like a bear for my brother-in-law and filled it with his family's christmas gifts! I love stockings and everything about them. I have some that are as old as my mother! Some that she made, some that I made. Some that I collected and some that were gifts. I'll be buying more, but I share them now, as well. My stocking collection is still here. I think I can make them the focal point this year and get past the loss.

But I am staggered by the importance we attach to these "things". Especially me. I am the one who always says that "it's just stuff and we can always get more stuff.". Now, my heart is breaking over losses I just cannot understand. Things taken by people who actually know us, and know I would give them the shirt off my back if they just asked for it. Neighbors who lived in the same community with me for years have stolen my Christmas memories. Well, some of them. And they stole the ones I can never replace.........................

Friday, November 21, 2008

Losing a Grocery Store

I just found out that one of 2 grocery stores in the next town over is going to close. Two days from now, they will be out of business. They are not even going to stay open until Thanksgiving!!

It's sad, because that leaves only 1 store to shop in for that area. There is another one here in town, but I rarely shop there as the prices are noticeably higher than the one in the next town. And the store that is closing is the only place I can get my Kids n Pets carpet cleaner. (I LOVE that stuff!!)

The good news is, the owner of the other grocery store is buying the one that is closing. He intends to install a Dollar General or Family Dollar store in that location.

It's a sad sign of the times, though. That location has held several grocery stores in the last 10 years, and none of them can seem to compete with the other store in town. Now it's going to hold another type of store entirely. It won't have to compete with the supermarket. I'd be thrilled to pieces if they put a store in there that carried yarn and craft supplies. I'm not holding my breath, but I'd really love it.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

New Addition To The Family

Wow. My friend Monika gave me a pure-bred Himalayan cat as a gift! Her name is Schuyler and she is just gorgeous! The first night she was home, she slept on DH's chest all night long. When he woke up, he had the worst sore throat. I'm going to have to overhaul the vacuum cleaner so that I can vacuum more often. Having a long-haired cat in the house is really going to be an issue with his allergies.

I'll add a picture of Herself, just as soon as I can get her to sit still for one!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Hand made Christmas

This year, in the interest of frugality, we are trying to do a totally home made Christmas. As usual, we will not hit the mark, but we are getting closer! I've made several purses and tote bags as gifts, as well as started on hat and scarf sets for my grandchildren. Mittens and slippers will round out their home made items. Yesterday, I finished the hat and scarf set for Angela. I'd love to make her a pair of mittens to match! Since her favorite color is purple, her set is done in lavender, with white trim on the scarf and white spirals hanging from the top of the hat. It sort of looks like a ponytail on the hat! I still have to trim the hat brim for her, then connect them at the collar, so they don't get lost. I'll need more yarn to do her mittens, but I'm going yarn shopping this weekend anyway. I need about6 skeins of yarn and a mitten loom. And that still doesn't do the boys. It only does the girls, and finishes a purse. (note to self-buy 2 zippers for purses, and some buttons for kitchen accessory set)

I still have more canning and baking to do to complete our home made Christmas. As usual, there will be some shopping done, for stocking stuffers, toys for the grandbabies, etc. I'm even thinking of getting a few board games while they are on sale. We always need more of them!

In spite of everything, there are still a few people whom I have no idea what to make or buy for them. One son in law says he doesn't want anything. The other doesn't need anything! How on earth do you shop for people like this? I'm thinking that they both need good wool slippers. I have no other ideas, other than tools. Which I gave one of them last year!

I'm sure it will come to me. I just have to stop worrying so much.

I'm also participating in a Holiday RAOK program on Crochetville. I've seen several wishes I want to grant. Christmas cards are the easiest, as well as a few items I have in my Christmas stash that I can share.

I love this kind of Christmas. I'm already working on a few ideas for next year. With any luck at all, every gift I give next year will be one made by my very own hands.