Saturday, October 31, 2009

Camera Critters (#82)


Last month Cory had to work at an event at the zoo, so Jeffrey and I spent a few hours walking around and visiting the animals.  That means I ought to have Camera Critters posts for months!  Especially since I have to post pictures of our resident critters, too.

For this week I’ll start with the first animal we saw at the zoo, the penguin:

Camera Critters is a fun weekend meme hosted by Misty Dawn.Visit the Camera Critters headquarters and join in.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

I'm Needing Some Sleep

Cover of "Barn Party (I Am Reading)"Cover of Barn Party (I Am Reading)

I'm watching the weather, and they're calling for all night rain and morning showers. What that probably means is no walking in the morning. Since there's no school tomorrow (Teachers' Convention) I don't even have to get up if I don't want to. I'll probably still get up when Jeffrey does because I still have lots to do tomorrow. I only got one of the bathrooms cleaned, so I need to clean the other one, and I need to make a big pot of chili for the Barn Party and maybe some caramel corn, too. And finish putting stuff back in the living room, or at least put it away for the weekend. And figure out something for dinner and something for breakfast on Saturday, and...

Just thinking about it all makes me tired. As soon as Jeffrey finishes copying the music from his portable hard drives to his computer, and as soon as Cory's friends go home, and as soon as Tim goes home, I can go to bed. I hope that's soon.
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So Many Cookbooks

I got all my cookbooks moved back into the dining room and shelved today. I moved them to a different shelving unit and went through them as I pulled them out of the boxes, hoping to get rid of a few. I love my cookbooks. It's really hard to let go of any of them, but I did manage to fill a box with some that I've never used and probably never will. I had about 5 microwave cookbooks, and I've never actually cooked anything in the microwave. Microwaves are for heating frozen vegetables and leftovers, right? So I boxed up all but 1 of those books. Yep, I had to hold onto 1, even though I'll probably never use it, but just in case. I got rid of a few others, too.

I need some more time to go through all the cooking magazines I have, though - Taste of Home, Vegetarian Times, Food and Family - so many magazines with so many great-looking recipes in them. But, do I really need all the magazines? Couldn't I just tear out the recipes I'd like to try and toss the rest? Except that takes time. It would probably be easier to just toss them all and get all my recipes from the internet, but I'm going to have to ease myself into that. When I get tired of going through all the magazines, maybe. I mean, I know you can find recipes for anything you want on the Internet, instantly compare term life insurance quotes, find the best route for your trip, watch TV shows, and all kinds of other things, but there's just something more real about having an actual recipe in a cookbook, with pictures.

Of course, if I could have a flat panel screen mounted into a cabinet door in my kitchen so I could bring up the recipes I wanted to use, I might be more inclined to toss the cookbooks...

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Looking at the Sky on Friday - 34


I’m so glad there’s a meme like Looking at the Sky on Friday, because it means all the time I spend looking at the sky, and taking pictures of it, has a purpose! Click the badge for more info.

While we were hiking at Starved Rock State Park a couple weeks ago we noticed this dramatic line across the sky – light on one side, dark on the other.

I’m not sure exactly why it looked like that, but it was cool to see.

If you enjoy skies as much as I do, be sure to check out Looking at the Sky on Friday.

I A-Salted my Flowers

I read somewhere that a good way to dust silk flowers is to put them into a bag, add some salt, and shake. So, this morning I tried it. I think it was supposed to be a paper sack, and I'm pretty sure there was some specific measurement of salt, but I just threw them into a plastic bag and poured some salt in on top. Then I grabbed the stems and closed the top of the bag around them and shook. Holding onto the stems is important, especially in the plastic bag, because otherwise they poke through, make holes, and the salt comes out. I still lost a little salt, but I was out on the deck so I didn't worry about it too much.

The end result is - cleaner silk roses than I've had in months, maybe years. This works really well.

Now if I only had some great tips for cleaning my bathrooms. I need to get the tubs and sinks really, really clean so I can use my Turtle Wax ICE on them, and hopefully keep them clean and shiny. I'd much prefer staying here on the computer waiting for you to share some great tips, but I really do need to go clean the bathrooms now. Go ahead and leave those tips, though, because you know how it goes - the cleaning is never done. Clean it now and, before you know it, it's time to clean again.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

It's Wednesday Night Already?

I just realized I haven't posted anything here since Saturday morning's Camera Critters. Where has all the time gone? I'll tell you. It's gone into cleaning and organizing and trying to get the house back into shape.

We had our friend Tom, not just a friend but a professional remodeling contractor, lay tile in our kitchen, dining room, and front entryway last week. Then he came back Sunday and put tile in the hall bathroom, with a little help from Jeffrey.

Then, once the tile was done, it was time to move the furniture back in - except that we had to have our other friend Mark come in and stretch and fasten the carpet so it meets up with the tile nicely and also stretch the carpet in the bedroom to get the wrinkles out. So, we moved the living room furniture into the empty dining room and moved the bedroom furniture and everything we could into the kids' rooms for that. After that, everything needed moved back into the proper room, starting with the bedroom, into the living room, and then the dining room. And while we're at it, dusting and cleaning everything and throwing out things we don't need. We're still not done, but it's getting there.

It's no wonder I haven't had time to blog about colon cleansing or anything else!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Camera Critters (#81)


It’s hard to resist this little face:

It’s our little Weasley kitty!   He’s such a little sweetie.  He’s also a very persistent beggar who thinks we should share anything we have to eat or drink, and he doesn’t take No for an answer very easily.  With a face like that, I guess it would be hard to understand how anyone could actually say No to him, let alone mean it.

Camera Critters is a fun weekend meme hosted by Misty Dawn.Visit the Camera Critters headquarters and join in.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Organic Dark Chocolate Gift Baskets

It's the thought that counts.

You've heard that saying, right? Someone gives you a gift that you may or may not actually like, but 'it's the thought that counts' and it's nice to know someone thought of you. If you get a gift of Intentional Organic Dark Chocolate though, it really is the thought that counts.

All Intentional Chocolate is embedded with this intention:
“Whoever consumes this chocolate will manifest optimal health and functioning at physical, emotional and mental levels, and in particular will enjoy an increased sense of energy, vigor and well-being for the benefit of all beings.”
I don't understand exactly how it works, but trained meditators, some who have trained with the Dalai Lama, somehow infuse this chocolate with positive spiritual energy, and it has been shown to reduce stress, increase energy, and enhance focus. Read the Intentional Chocolate Blog for more info.

Along with all the good thoughts and benefits to this pure Hawaiian chocolate, it's also naturally organic, gluten free, kosher and ethical.

And, guys, if you're looking for a gift for your wife, you're going to want to try this:
5Dramatic Uptick In "The Bedroom" Feb 08, 2009
I bought a bag of the Pistoles for my wife for Christmas, and told her that while this was infused with loving intentions, we should only eat it while consciously intending to have a wonderful day.Among other things, our sex lives picked up dramatically...Truly amazing.
(customer review)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Looking at the Sky on Friday - 33


I’m so glad there’s a meme like Looking at the Sky on Friday, because it means all the time I spend looking at the sky, and taking pictures of it, has a purpose! Click the badge for more info.

I wish I could soar through the sky like this:

If you enjoy skies as much as I do, be sure to check out Looking at the Sky on Friday.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Does the Room Look Bigger?

This tile floor is going to look amazing! Tom got the tiles in the dining room laid today, and now I can really see what it is going to look like. I'm really going to like it. Of course, it's a little late to do anything about it if I didn't like it.

He got done laying most of the tiles and said, "Doesn't it make the room look bigger?" He says the running bond pattern he used makes the space look bigger. I'm not sure if it does or not. The room definitely looks bigger, but then there's nothing in it, so that will make any room look bigger. I guess we'll really see once it's all done and the furniture gets moved back in. Whether or not the room looks any bigger than it did before or not, it's just going to be nice not having carpet under the dining room table and having a hard surface to come in onto when we come off the deck. And, more room or not, it's not like I'm looking to fit an artificial christmas tree, or any Christmas tree ever, in there. I'm just trying to figure out what I can get rid of so it doesn't have to go back in the room, and it will really look bigger.

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Monday, October 19, 2009

Heads or Tails – Stop or Go

Heads Or Tails

The theme/prompt for THIS week, October 20, is:

HEADS - "Stop"
TAILS - "Go"
Make any kind of post using any form of either word. You can even use both.

While in Illinois, we went hiking at Starved Rock State Park.  At the beginning of the trail, I stopped to take a picture of this sign. 

I didn’t actually read it, just took the picture.  Obviously, some of the people I was with didn’t stop to read it either:

I wonder if not stopping to read the rules is a good excuse for not following them? (No faces were visible in these pics, right?)  I’m ruining all your fun because, now that you’ve seen the sign and committed it to your system memory you won’t be able to use that excuse, and you’ll have to follow the rules if you go hiking.  Not really, I’m sure you’ll have plenty of fun because the trails and scenery in the park are amazing – just be ready to climb up and down a lot of stairs!

Heads or Tails is a fun weekly meme created and hosted by Barb (aka Skittles) – feel free to join in!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Busy Day

My dining room is empty now - no table, no chairs, no china cabinet. Jeffrey and Cory moved all those out into the garage. Then they mowed the yard, and Jeffrey cleaned out the shed and moved some of the deck furniture into it for the winter. Cory went to do homework after the yard was mowed, but Jeffrey was busy from fairly early this morning until after 6pm - certainly not a lazy Sunday. If he keeps this up, he won't have to use the fitness equipment in the basement to get in shape!

We still have the big table and 4 rocking chairs out on the deck, so if we get some nice weather we'll still have somewhere to sit. It's supposed to be 60° tomorrow, so I just might have to sneak out there for a while to read my book. I did take some time to read it today, but I was busy, too - cleaning up the kitchen, cleaning out the pantry and the cabinet by the back door so the boys could move it into the garage, going through coats and jackets in the front closet, etc. I even got rid of a few jackets. We are going to have to make a trip to Goodwill soon to get rid of some of this stuff we've got bagged up.

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Saturday, October 17, 2009

Camera Critters (#80)


I can’t believe I missed two weeks of Camera Critters!  I have a good excuse, though.  We were out of town, keeping really busy, and didn’t have regular Internet access.  So this little guy had to wait for his Camera Critters debut until now.

Must’ve been a hard nut to crack!

Camera Critters is a fun weekend meme hosted by Misty Dawn.Visit the Camera Critters headquarters and join in.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Talk for a Change

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Mira Sorvino has teamed up with The Allstate Foundation to encourage people to “Pass it On, Act & Learn” (P.A.L.) about domestic violence.

Facts about Domestic Violence:
  • Each day in the U.S., three women die as result of domestic violence.
  • More than one in four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime.
  • More than three out of four Americans know someone who is or has been a victim of domestic violence.
Even so, few feel comfortable discussing the subject, and the Allstate Foundation would like to change that.

Let’s talk for a change - Visit the Click to Empower website and share a story about overcoming domestic violence or helping a “gal pal” in need, read others' stories, and help spread the word. Each person who shares a personal experience can be entered to receive a limited edition Tell a Gal P.A.L. t-shirt, as worn by Mira Sorvino, as a thank you for inspiring others.

Too Much Stuff

To get ready for the whole tile installation thing, we've been cleaning things out of the kitchen and dining room. Jeffrey cleaned out the china cabinet and moved the bakers rack and short book case out last night. Now I'm looking at the dining room and enjoying the lack of stuff.

Jeffrey's been saying for ages now that we need to get rid of some stuff. I agree with him. I just don't know where to start. First of all, how did we get so much stuff? I'm sure living here for almost 12 years has nothing whatsever to do with it! Books, movies, magazines, trinkets, toys, electronics, auto accessories, dishes, plastic containers, plastic bags... You name it, and we've got it. I know that there's a bunch of that stuff that we don't actually need or use, but the problem is I have to make the time to go through everything and decide whether or not I need it or want it, sometime in between doing everything else that needs done.

I think when it's time to put some of the stuff back into the dining room that might be a good time to go through the cookbooks and get rid of some of them I don't actually use. I know that's going to be hard, because I love my cookbooks, but how many cookbooks does a person need?

Time for the Tile

We finally made a decision and picked out the tile for the kitchen and dining room. It took a while, and I ended up picking something totally different than what I originally thought I liked, but we did it. Not only did we pick it out, we ordered it, and we're supposed to get it installed this next week.

I know it's going to look really nice when we get it done, and I'm glad we decided to do this instead of finishing the bathroom in the basement. We decided that having a ceramic tile shower with glass tile wall in the basement was just too much. Who really wants the bathroom in the basement that's only going to get used once in a while to look better than the other bathrooms in the house? So we decided to put the money into a part of the house that we will use and enjoy a lot more. It will be really nice to have a hard surface to walk into off the deck and not to have carpet under that dining room table any more. Looking back I wonder why we put carpet there in the first place, but we did, and we've lived with it for almost 12 years. It's time for a change.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Looking at the Sky on Friday - 32


I’m so glad there’s a meme like Looking at the Sky on Friday, because it means all the time I spend looking at the sky, and taking pictures of it, has a purpose! Click the badge for more info.

I missed last week because we were out of town.  We packed up everything but the stone sink and headed to Utica, IL to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles with a wonderful group of people.  We stayed at the very nice Grizzly Jack’s Grand Bear Lodge and enjoyed lots of great food and fellowship.

The clouds over the cabins were nice, too!

We especially appreciated the blue skies, because it did rain quite a bit while we were there.

If you enjoy skies as much as I do, be sure to check out Looking at the Sky on Friday.

Time Out

CHICAGO - SEPTEMBER 18:  Author Dan Brown's ne...Image by Getty Images via Daylife
It's a rainy day, one that calls for curling up on the couch with a good book and maybe a cat on your lap. Instead I've been trying to get the house straightened up - where does all this clutter come from, and how does it pile up so? I'm pretty sure I'm never going to get caught up with all the junk mail, newspapers and magazines, so I'm just going to take a time out and read my book. I just got the new Dan Brown book, The Lost Symbol back from Cory, and I really want to read this before I have to take it back to the library. It's not like anyone is watching, though I always tease Jeffrey about the video surveillance equipment he has in the house, because he always seems to call me at the most inopportune times like when I just get my hands into the dish water or just get into the bathroom.

Weasley climbed into my lap when I sat down just now, and he's strongly encouraging me to put the computer down and read the book. Actually, he's probably trying to tell me that there will be more room on my lap without the computer in the way, and he doesn't care about the book. He'd rather have me put everything down and give him my undivided attention, but I'll pretend he wants me to read.
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We Have a Health Insurance Gap

Since Beth is 19 now and not going to school anywhere, she's no longer covered by our medical insurance. She's joined the over 47 million people in the United States that are un-insured, and now she has to figure out if there's any such thing as affordable health insurance. She doesn't work enough hours to qualify for any benefits, so that's out. We did get some kind of prescription discount card in the mail that's supposed to at least save her a little if she needs a prescription.
For now she's not really doing much about it, just letting it go and hoping for the best.

Have any of you had 'kids' in this situation? What did they do?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

This is NOT the Way to Clean Out Your Closet

OK, our closet is pretty full, and it's a good idea to clean things out once in a while. The 'experts' say you should get rid of anything you haven't worn in 6 months or a year, but I have a hard time with that. Why? Because all my clothes still fit, and because every time I get rid of something I suddenly need it. Well, not every time, but it's happened at least a time or two. Also 6 months is not a good time limit because that would mean getting rid of the summer clothes right before summer and getting rid of the winter clothes right before winter. Maybe that's what the stores want, and the 'experts' are working for them? Still, I probably ought to get rid of some of the dresses I've had since the kids were little and some of the sweaters I don't really wear anymore, and definitely the high wasted, straight-legged 'mom' jeans. Those probably won't come back into style, right?

Jeffrey cleaned his side of the closet out a little on Monday, but not in a way I would recommend. You're supposed to get rid of things you don't like or don't wear anymore, like those old breeches or the sweatshirts you've had since college, NOT the shirts you actually wear all the time.

Shortly after we left the resort where we were staying, I noticed someone behind us flashing their lights, so we pulled over. They told us that the top was open and something fell out. Oops! Jeffrey forgot to latch and lock the cartop carrier, and it had come open. His garment bag, with all of his shirts in it, was missing. So he latched the top and drove back the way we had come to pick up the garment bag. The only problem is that it was nowhere to be found. We hadn't gone far (maybe a mile?) so it couldn't have been long before we turned around and went back. We drove slowly back and forth, and then Jeffrey got out and walked both sides of the road - no garment bag. Cory ran into the resort and asked at the front desk to see if anyone had found it and turned it in and left Jeffrey's name and number just in case someone turned it in later. Jeffrey also left a note at the police station in town and called the nearby Starved Rock Lodge. Nothing.

The thing couldn't have gone far on its own, so the only thing we can guess is that, in the short time before we got back, someone stopped and grabbed it. Maybe they needed some new shirts?

Clean and Green Eliminates the Odors

Spoiled CatImage by bcmom via Flickr

You all know Tillie, right? She's just the prettiest, softest, sweetest cat around, and it's a good thing she is or she wouldn't be living here any more. See, Tillie is really picky. If her litter isn't absolutely perfect, she's likely to find somewhere else to pee. Sometimes it's the boot tray by the front door or the bath mat in the bathroom, both of which aren't a big deal to clean up, but sometimes she pees on the carpet. That is definitely not a good thing, and it means we need something to clean that cat urine smell out of the carpet. That's why I jumped at the chance to try this CLEAN + green Carpet & Upholstery Cleaner. Not only is it supposed to do a really good job cleaning and eliminating odors, but it's also an all natural, pet safe, eco-friendly product. I have been trying to use more natural cleaners around the house, mainly because chemicals and smells bother me quite a bit. The question always is: Do the natural cleaners work as well as the others?

With this product the answer is definitely yes. All you have to do is shake the can and spray it on the affected area. There's no scrubbing or rinsing required; just make sure the product comes in contact with the problem source and allow to dry. There is no added fragrance, just a pleasant natural smell which I really like. It works best when it's used right away, but I've also sprayed it on some old spots that I had used some other cleaner on. The other cleaner never completely took the smell away and left behind a scent of its own. This just seems to take the whole smell away, leaving nothing behind. An average 16 oz can provides about 20 regular applications. Mine didn't last quite that long, meaning I used more than I actually needed to, so I'll need to get some more of this soon and try not to use so much in the future. I wish Tillie would get her act together so that there was nothing to clean up in the first place, but now at least I know there's something that works.

In addition to the Carpet & Upholstery Cleaner, CLEAN + green sent me a can of the Litter Box Odor Eliminator which I hope will help Tillie want to use the litter box all the time, and a can of the Furniture Refresher which I haven't had to use yet, and I hope I don't have to, but I feel good knowing that I have it just in case.

CLEAN + green products can be purchased from the website or at many local pet stores. Besides cat products, they also have products for dogs, birds, and small animals.
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Friday, October 09, 2009

The Lesson Here is...

...always take everything with you when you're going to be away from home.

I always pack too much. I know I do, but it's so hard not to just throw everything in that you can get in your suitcase, and besides, I never know what I'll feel like wearing or what the weather is going to be like. This year I tried to cut down, but I still packed too much - except I didn't have everything I needed. There were things I should have grabbed but didn't, like kitchen towels and baking dishes. Why a really nice villa with a bigger, nicer kitchen than some people have in their houses doesn't come supplied with towels and baking dishes, I just don't know. But, we made do and went to Walmart. Now I have some new bar cloths and mugs, and Beth has some new baking dishes and a blender.

My friend Peggy is especially happy she brought her Branded flash drive with all her files on it because she found out that she needed to get an ad to the printers ASAP. It would have been a lot more work to start from scratch than to use a file she already had on the flash drive. She also brought a lot more stuff for the kitchen than I did.

The lesson seems to be: Pack everything, because you're gonna need it, but especially bring all computers, files and technology - because those aren't as easily replaced at the local Wally World as a few kitchen towels or 13x9 baking dishes.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Lack of Internet

I'm not around this week because we're out of town. We're having a great time with a lot of wonderful people - good food, good fellowship, etc. etc. However, the place we're staying does not have internet access in the villas, just in the main lodge, lobby and meeting halls. AND, they were having internet provider problems for a couple days, so even in the main building there was no internet or just sporadic access.

Amazingly, I'm surviving. :P

Friday, October 02, 2009

Just a Little Something that Bugs Me

Crest MultiCare Whitening toothpasteImage via Wikipedia

Toothpaste on the bathroom faucet or on the hand towel.

Seriously, I try really hard to be sure I rinse my mouth before I dry it and clean off the faucet when I get toothpaste on it. Why can't everyone else? The kids are especially bad about this. Ever since we got Tillie, it has been Beth's job to clean the hall bathroom, because I don't want to deal with the cat litter. And Beth only cleans the bathroom when it's absolutely necessary, like when people are coming over, and only if she's told. In between cleanings I can hardly believe what a mess that bathroom gets in. Even when I haven't cleaned our bathroom in a while, it never gets that bad.

Maybe it's because I rinse the faucet off at the time, and rinse out the tub after a shower, and wipe down the sink periodically?
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Thursday, October 01, 2009

Looking at the Sky on Friday - 31


I’m so glad there’s a meme like Looking at the Sky on Friday, because it means all the time I spend looking at the sky, and taking pictures of it, has a purpose! Click the badge for more info.

I posted a picture of the moon last week, so I thought I’d share another moon pic, the crescent moon from last Monday evening.  It would have been first visible on that Sunday, but we had clouds and rain here, so Monday was the first chance I had to see it.

It really amazes me how the moon changes throughout the month.  Keeping an eye on it is definitely more fun than buying rv insurance, but if you have an RV, it's something you need. Me, I don't have one, so I’ll keep shooting the moon.  It’s already almost full.

If you enjoy skies as much as I do, be sure to check out Looking at the Sky on Friday.