Monday, October 26, 2009

Prepping for Halloween

We've been trying to get our Halloween/Fall decorations going around here, and I think we've finally got a start! The kids have been itching to decorate their pumpkins since we picked up these little "Mr Potato Head"-type pieces to use on te pumpkins this year. Jack-o-lanterns are always a bit lost on us out here, because no one sees them but us! We're too far back from the road. So we thought our pumpkins would last a little longer this way. I also ordered these cute mums in jack-o-lantern pots called "Mumkins" from Kendall's school...they are so cute!

Here are Noah's creations, with a big old yellow mumkin and our wooden witch behind him...
And here is one of Kendall's...isn't she goofy?
And just for shits and giggles, here's what the front of our house looks like right about now. I gave up on the hanging mums this year. We just get too much wind. They get totally dried out and lopsided and just plain UGLY.
Now, on to the decorations INSIDE the house. We'd better get moving before we miss it! LOL!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Chicks are Moving!

This weekend we decided to move the 4 month old "baby" chicks from the brooding pen over to the big coop. It was time...they were getting big, and boy was it ever crowded in there! So it was time to take an afternoon to do some major work in the pens.

First, we had to collect the eggs and fill up their food and water.Then we had to clean out the big coop. I'm using "we" a little loosely here, of course...I didn't do any of it. Barry scoops the poop in the coop! I'm just here to document, photograph, and give orders. No, seriously. :)After the coop was clean and had new bedding, and the coop poop had been dumped on our garden, we began transporting the chicks one by one, over to the coop and placing them inside, showing them where the feeder is. Kendall was in charge here, and here is her method for transporting chicks: Open the door to the brooding house and wait patiently for the chick to get curious enough to come out. Then grab her...gently, of course...chickens don't like change.If the chick is too spooked and won't come out, go ahead and climb into the brooding pen, scoop her up, and give her a quick snuggle so she knows everything's gonna be A-OK.Then slowly and gently, climb back out of the brooding house carrying the spooked chick and murmuring to her the whole way that she's going to be just fine...
Turn around and smile at your camera-wielding mama and say, "See, Mama? No biggie!"Then head off to the big coop on the other side of the yard, with your little brother and your big dog following closely behind...Noah and Kendall took turns, but of course, Kendall is much more comfortable with "her" chicks, so she moved a lot faster, therefore transporting more of her babies. Noah did really well though, considering it was his first time and he really isn't very gentle by nature.
Scout sat and watched, for the most part. I wonder what was going through his head, though...maybe how good chicken might taste for a snack??
After we got all of the chicks situated in the new coop, Barry had to get our light timer all set up to start turning the light in the coop on every morning at 5:00. As the days get shorter, the chickens will stop laying if we don't supply additional hours of light. They need a certain number of "daylight" hours to produce eggs. We learned that the hard way the first year we had layers. I actually had to buy eggs at the grocery! The nerve!! :) Anyway, now that we've figured out the timer trick, we are good to go for the short days of winter.

The chicks seem to be adjusting well to their new home, and the roosters are being quite nice to them so far. Let's hope it stays that way!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Fabulous Fall!

Fall is such a busy time for it for you too?

Between getting all of those "summer" projects finished up before the cold weather hits to cleaning out closets, trying to take advantage of the apple farms and pumpkin farms, carving jack-o-lanterns, bonfires, school parties, and getting your garden put to bed for winter... there just isn't time for anything else, is there?

Here I was, feeling like I was finally back in the groove with my blogging. I had been so good about writing every other day and taking pictures to go along with our adventures...and then fall hit. But hey, that's ok. Ya'll are probably too busy to read every other day anyway, aren't you?

So let's see...what's been going on around here? Well, my brother is still living with us, and that is going well. He started a new job a week and a half ago, and while it is not his "dream job", it will do for now until he gets settled here in central Ohio. The kids are really enjoying having him around, even though he can be a bigger pest than them most of the time!! And of course, Barry is enjoying having someone to sit and drink beer and watch football with, as well as talk hunting and practicing shooting their bows...deer season is upon us, you know! The hunters have to be ready...especially if they want to each bring 3 home! What will we do will all that meat?!?! LOL!

Remember this project??Well, Barry has been hard at work on the finishing touches of our new woodburning stove and getting the basement finished. I'm not going to show you any recent pictures, because I'm waiting for at least the stove to be finished. All in good time! This week he has been trying to get all of the stovepipe installed, and tonight he should be finishing the chimney. Then we are ready for our first fire, which we have to burn with the windows open to let the fumes out. After that, we are all set for the cold weather...YIPPPEEEE!! There's nothing better than wood heat in the middle of winter. I will probably live in the basement for the next 6 months...and I can hardly wait!! And these are the big boxes the various sections of chimney pipe came in...My kids have been coveting these for weeks, and are driving Barry crazy asking him if he's done with them yet. I think he's almost done, kids!!! I can't wait to see what they make with these!

Last week, I finally did something I've been wanting to do for years. CANNING. With my big garden, it seems silly that I don't know how to can, but I was intimidated...what can I say? So last week, Dad and Taffy came down and spend their day showing me how to make and can applesauce. We peeled and cut a bushel of Gala and Yellow Delicious apples, cooked them down, and when they tasted just perfect, canned them in my favorite quart sized Mason jars. I ended up with 11 pints (one jar broke during processing) and 8 quarts. Not too shabby!! I am so excited, I can't wait for my next canning excursion! Who knows WHAT it will be!! And let me tell you was so easy, it was almost laughable. I can't believe I was so intimidated! And homemade applesauce tastes so much better than the stuff at the grocery.I just found out that the kiddos are going to Grandma Cindy's this weekend, and I am SO PSYCHED about it! Not that I want to be away from them, but as you may or may not know, for the past year, I have been on a purging and organizing mission. I've been selling things on Craig's List left and right. I participated in my first garage sale ever this summer and made over $500. (And I still have TONS of kids clothes and other things to sell...can't wait for May!) I would say we've sold close to $3,000-$4,000 worth of stuff in the past 18 months. That's what I'm talkin' about!!! So anyway, this weekend while the kiddos are gone, I will be having my carpets cleaned and also cleaning out closets/dressers and toys. I have a big box of donations ready to go and I can't wait to get all of this stuff out of my house! I am also planning on purging my files and getting my office cleaned up and organized. Oh yeah, I almost forgot...I am also trading services with a personal organizer!!! She gets massage, I get help organizing my house!!!! WAHOOOO!!! Does it get any better than that?

And one more little tidbit...the extra Kitchenaid mixer sold on Ebay on Friday!!! We shipped it off to Arizona, and we are so happy it's done! It's been a good week, peeps. Hope yours has been good too! Now get out there and enjoy this beautiful fall weather before it's gone!!

Friday, October 09, 2009

A Little Bit of Sunshine...and Distraction!

So after I carried my kicking, screaming little boy to the car and got him safely buckled in, we left the apple farm. He continued to sob and chant "I want candy. I want candy!" as we drove away. Suddenly, as Sheri was cruising down the road, all conversation stopped immediately. We had both seen it at the same time. A field of sunflowers. It was gorgeous, even in the slight drizzle that was going on. Hoping for a good distraction for the kiddos, we knew we HAD to stop. Cameras powered up and ready to go, we exited the car and set the monkeys loose. The only thing that could have possibly made this photo op better would have been the absence of rain, but even the slight mist wasn't enough to dampen our spirits!! The kids headed out into the sunflowers, exploring and oooing and ahhhing. Cameras at the ready? CHECK!!

There's my pretty girl....
And here's the boy...talking into the sunflower like a telephone. (That was Sheri's idea, of course!) Looks like he's been adequately distracted and is actually having fun, doesn't it?Is there anyone out there who doesn't feel instantly happy looking at this...?

Of course, kids aren't the only ones who look great in a field of sunflowers. How 'bout my best friend there? Could she look more natural and real? I love this picture...
Of course, I love this one too...but I'm biased. I love every picture of my kiddos hugging. Sure beats fighting!!!
Sheri snapped me as well...though I think I have an odd expression. It's rare to see me without my big ol' teeth exposed in a smile. Or a snarl, I guess. Either way, my mouth is usually open! (Yes, yes, I know. Keep your comments to yourselves please...)
After we packed up the car to head out, we noticed one more great shot that was just begging us to take artist, set up in the middle of the field, painting the sunflowers. What a treat to see! The sunflowers look a little odd from this angle...I think its from the rain and the way the slight breeze was blowing. Anyway, you get the drift. Sheri was all confident that Noah's chant of "I want candy" had been broken. I knew better, but I kept to myself. Sure enough, as soon as we had him buckled into his car seat, the first words out of his mouth were, "I want candy!"

So much for distraction!!

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

A Trip to the Apple Farm

Fall is here!!! WAHOOO!!!! The mums, the pumpkins, the leaves turning color, the apples, the chill in the is by far my favorite time of year!

If you follow Party in the Pantry, you know that Sheri and I are part of a group of ladies that get together once a month to taste various foods. We've done chocolate ice creams, nut butters, breads, cheeses, wines, tomatoes, etc...and this month we tasted apples. LOTS of different apples...12 varieties, in fact. This month's apple tasting was held at my house, so Sheri and I took a field trip (with my kiddos) to an apple farm for a bit of research and to pick up some apples. We were hoping to get some great pictures and have some fun picking apples, but it wasn't meant to be. The weather turned just yucky enough to be annoying...a constant drizzle and a little chill in the air. But still we persevered in search of some yummy apples! There were so many to choose from! Even though they had a basket of free "kid-sized" apples sitting out, Noah had already spied the candy. This was a recipe for disaster, as he was a little edgy anyway that day. By the time we left, he was throwing a huge fit in the middle of the barn because he wanted candy and had decided he wasn't leaving without it. After trying to remain calm and explaining to him over and over that we were not getting candy, I ended up having to carry him, screaming, to the car. It was such a lovely moment...wish you all could have been there. LOL!!! Sheri assured me that all of the people were laughing at him and recalling the days that their children used to act that way, but I was still disappointed in his behavior. Of course I was...I'm his mother, right?

Anyway, I digress. Although Noah refused the small "free" apples, Sheri loved them, because she loves all things small...small ketchup bottles, small ice cream tasting spoons, small salt shakers, small cakes, small apples...I often wonder if her husband will be small...hmmmmmm. Just kidding! :)

My favorite apple is and always will be the Honeycrisp...look at it in all it's glory!!! Isn't it beautiful?!?!

And this picture was taken before the famous fit, while the kids were sitting and trying to be good while Sheri and I sampled the various apples and took some pictures for PIP. They really are sweeties...every kid has their moments, don't they?Our day was somewhat productive, but the best part of that trip is yet to come...tune in on Friday to see what perked us up after the "Apple Farm Fit of 2009"!!

My Husband ROCKS!!!

Reason #5,792 why my husband rocks:

I was in the kitchen cooking dinner...I don't remember what, but I'm sure it was something yummy. Barry called to say he was on his way home and that I would be VERY excited to see him. Hmmmm...really...more than any other day? But he assured me that yes, that was possible, especially since he was bringing me a surprise. A surprise?!?! Oh, how I LOVE surprises!!!

When he arrived, I was in the office, printing something off the computer. He was giddy...grabbing my hand and pulling me out of my chair. And then he handed my a piece of paper. I looked down to see what it was, and was surprised to see that it was Kohl's cash...and the amount on it was $80!!! "WHAT did you buy?!?" I asked, my eyes wide. If you are not familiar with Kohl's cash, it works like this: When Kohl's is offering the Kohl's cash, you earn $10 of Kohl's cash for every $50 that you spend. So do the math, peeps...he spent $400. Naturally, I was a little concerned what on earth he would go out and spend that kind of money on, just out of the blue!

Still grinning, he pulled me out to his truck, told me to close my eyes, and I stood there, waiting, while he dug around in his truck and found what he was looking for. "Open your eyes!", he said...and I did. There sat not one, but TWO Kitchenaid 5 qt Artisan Stand Mixers. One in Empire Red, and one in Metallic Chrome. Dumbfounded, I stood there, my mouth gaping. Finally, when I found my voice, I started giggling and doing a happy dance...and then I thought to ask the question..."Why two?"

Well, first off, he wasn't sure which color I would want. And secondly, he got such a good deal, that he figured he'd just buy two and I could sell one on Craig's List. So guess which one I kept and which one I'm selling. If you know me at all, this should be easy...but I'll give you a hint...
Isn't she pretty? I love her so so sooooo much!!!! I've been coveting the almighty Kitchenaid mixers for years, but wouldn't spend the money as long as my trusty old Sunbeam was still kickin'. And guess who else was totally excited????
That's right, my favorite little cooking buddy. He could not WAIT to get his hands on her! Since we got her, we've made a few things, and he will not let me turn her on and off. He figures that is HIS job.

But anyway, let me give you the breakdown of Barry's good deal. Ok, the mixer usually retails for $359.99. It was on sale for $299.00. They were running one of those deals where you scratch off a card and it has a certain percentage off, and he got 15% off. Then he also applied for a Kohl's card and got another 15% off. Now, Kitchenaid was also offering a $40 rebate per unit, so we'll be getting another $80 back, and we got $80 in Kohl's cash as well!!! Plus, my plan is to sell it for $250, so the overall total for my beautiful red mixer should be around $120. WAHOOO!!!!
Now I've just got to sell the chrome one... :)
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