Aug 29, 2012

Ralph Lauren, Canning and So Much More.

Summer is almost over. It is true. I can tell. My awesome super power just happens to be, "sensing when the seasons are going to change" you can just call me "Seasongirl" for short.  You see the sun feels different and shines in different places. You can even catch different smells if you pay close attention. Okay, and the calendar does say it is the end of August and as I realized that I have also found myself thinking about my exiting summer and what we accomplished.

 At the beginning of summer I had Tatiana and Natalie make a list of what they wanted to do this summer. And we did a pretty good job at crossing things off their lists. We went to Niagra Falls. We went to the hill Cumorah Pageant. We went to New York City. We had way too many sleepovers and friends over... is it even possible to have too much of sleepovers and friends? We went to the beach twice. Their big brother came home for a few days with his wife. We went to our spot on the river a few times. We did not go to Six Flags but it is just about the only thing we did not do.

Then it got me wondering... forget what the kids did... what on earth did I accomplish this summer?

Well, I painted the basement. We bought our house brand spanking new about 4 and a half years ago and the walls in the basement were painted white... I have absolutely nothing against white but this white was the yucky flat paint that for some reason builders and occasionally husbands like to use. Every fingerprint of every person who has ever been in our house was on those walls....they were so dirty...every nerf bullet mark shot onto these walls was still say it was nasty would be a very fair statement. I have been dying to get my hands on these walls and fix them forever. The problem was I had no idea what color to paint them. I bought 6 different little jars of paint samples as I struggled to figure out what to paint this basement of mine. Thank goodness the paint sample jars are super cute. I confess it was not six color samples that were all similar shades...I mean it was not at all like I was trying to decide which shade of one color to paint... oh no it was a green, a blue, a yellow, a tan, a get the idea, right? I was miserable. Painting a basement is so different. You have to worry about lighting, feelings, and such....aaargghhh. Finally in sheer disgust and frustration I called my dear sister Rachel in Pennsylvania and asked her what color her basement was and she told me without hesitation Ralph Lauren Sisal and I said, "Do you like it?" She said she loved it. So I googled Ralph Lauren Sisal and you know how sometimes you just know something is true? I knew that Ralph Lauren Sisal was true the minute I laid my eyes on it. So I marched on over to Home Depot paint department, where they know me way too well, and asked them for a gallon of Ralph Lauren Sisal, in Behr paint, in semi gloss,....or was it satin? Oh well, I am not sure. But the moral of the story is I have a beautiful basement painted in Ralph Lauren Sisal.

I bought a hammock on Craigslist this summer. But I have not spent many a dreamy day laying in it like I had imagined I would....I have been too busy entertaining children and playing real life. Laying in the hammock is going to definitely be a, "the kids are back in school thing" I can just tell. I had never bought anything on Craigslist before and it was very addicting and way too much fun.I drove all the way to Pittsfield, Massachusetts by myself to look at it and did my very own bargaining and even came home with a bike rack for the car that got thrown in free just because I am so gosh darn good looking ....JK...about the good looking part....I would never ever joke about a free bike rack :) The hammock is a LL Bean hammock since name dropping about your hammock is of utmost importance :)  My goal for next summer is to sleep in it overnight outside. That just sounds so perfect.

I had a good garden this summer. Usually something goes epically wrong with my garden each year. But this year the peas were not eaten by bunnies. The lettuce did not get eaten by the bunnies. The beans did not get eaten by the bunnies. Do you see a continuing theme? Yes, fences are true :) I got a wheelbarrow full plus several 5 gallon buckets full of potatoes. WAY TO MANY BEANS were grown, shared, and sadly, even wasted. I capitalized that so you would picture the immense amount of beans I grew this year and know I was serious. Everytime I plant my rows of beans in the spring I worry that I do not have enough. I need to get over that fear. I always have more than enough beans. I even grew a few radishes this year. I canned 65 pints of tomatoes so far and if my math is right that means I can use about five jars a month and it will last me all year :) And the scary news is I still have at least 100 tomatoes left in the garden. Yeah, my summer often consists of picking, freezing or canning food...good times.

I spread mulch. I kept up on my two landscaping jobs better than I did last summer...yeah, remember last summer? Hopefully not :)

I did not get to hike as much as I wanted to this summer. I did not have a campfire every gosh dang night like I wanted you think there are awesome people out there who have a campfire every night? I need to meet these people and become their best friend. Six Flags New England amusement park was on my to do list also but never worked out :) I even have two kiddos who had enough money to buy their own tickets and it still did not work out.

OH well I guess there is always next summer :)

Aug 25, 2012

Okay, Remind Me Again.

Do you have things in your house that you love because of what they remind you of? I do. Tons. I love to be reminded. Did you know that the synonyms of remind are retrospect, emphasize, reminisce, and remember? Yeah, all good times. Okay, well most of the time I love to be reminded. I guess we all have some reminding that makes us sad but lets not talk about those times or things will make us sad :)

Tonight I grabbed my camera and wandered through the house taking pictures of things that remind me and enjoyed remembering what they remind me of.

The first thing I took a picture of is a blanket. I have owned this blanket a little over a year. I bought him in Utah last July. I have this group of friends that I met in Kansas many years ago and we formed a little sisterhood that I do not think can ever be broken and when we can we meet somewhere and spend a few days causing trouble shopping, eating and solving life's problems. This particular time we met in Utah. One night we were downtown Salt Lake City shopping and we wandered into a Coldwater Creek store. While I was wandering I found this blanket/quilt on super duper clearance and I adored it. I showed all the girlfriends my find but we all knew that I was not going to buy it even though it was under $20.00. I am just not that kind of girl and I can not explain why but trust me I am not and the girls know it. But they worked their magic and before I knew it I was purchasing the blanket (secretly thinking I would return it later) and guess what? They were right I still own the blanket and I needed the blanket. I honestly use it everyday. It went to girls camp with me. It went on the pioneer trek with me. And every night I sit on my couch reading or computering (yes, computering is definitely a word) with it. When I use it it reminds me of Julie, Shannon, Kathy, Alyson and Kristy. It reminds me that I do have friends that unconditionally love me or at least fake it well :) It makes me smile when I think of all the excuses they gave me to help me justify the purchase. Usually a blanket has reminding qualities because someone made it for you and put work into it but let it be known that that is a myth and that a store bought blanket can conjurer up some good reminding all on its me.

The next thing I took a picture of was rocks. I have a very special jar full of rocks and sand dollars, sitting on my bedside table, that all mean something to me. I started this annoying rock collecting habit when I was a kid and we were at a beach in Washington State and I found these rocks that looked like M&M's. Why would finding M&M rocks not inspire someone to start a lifetime quest to gather important rocks? I have a rock from an old boyfriends grandma's lake house driveway (whew that was a mouthful). I have rocks people got for me from special places they went. I have rocks from hikes. But the ones that started it all and remind me of my awesome childhood are these M&M rocks. I wish you could hold them in your hand and feel their perfect smoothness and perfect likeness to M&M's. I remember the beach was covered with them and oh how they delighted me.

This candle reminds me of Princeton, New Jersey. We lived in Princeton University housing on Bayard Lane in Princeton. It was our first unfurnished real world housing after leaving Provo. I really had not yet gathered many of the kinds of things that do not have a function but are simply in your home to gather dust. We invited my husbands boss (head of Princeton Library) and his wife over for dinner one night and they brought us a gift and it was this candle. I was fascinated with this concept of bringing a gift when you go to dinner. I assumed it was an east coast thing. I was fascinated that the candle came with a snuffer. Do you know what a snuffer is? It is a way to put out the candle without blowing on it. And strangely having something like this made me feel grown up. Oh yeah I had some candles laying around but not all the candle accessories...the stand...the snuffer....the candle...and the clear piece that fit in the stand that the candle rested in. It left me needing nothing. It was complete. And I do love that feeling.....complete...yeah, good times. None of that needing to buy something to complete something. I had it ALL :) I have carefully moved this candle, its stand, and the snuffer from house, to house, to house. And it reminds me about bringing something when you go to dinner. It reminds me of Princeton. It reminds me of colonial times which I have always had a fascination with. I should probably get over it and light this candle all little more often than I do....I mean I have had it for 20 years after all :)

I actually took pictures of several other things that remind me of some seriously good times, places, and things but I think I will save them for another time so we do not overdo the reminding theme. I would hate for my blog to remind you of misery :)

Aug 23, 2012

All You Ever Wanted To Know About The Ladies.

I feel like I have owned chickens forever. But then I count back to May 8 and realize they are not even four months old. They arrived on a much anticipated Tuesday and Tatiana happened to be home from school so she and I grabbed a cardboard box with some pine shavings in the bottom of it and hurried to the Feed store in our hometown. We left the Feed store with two golden chicks, one deep red chick, two black chicks and one white chick. They were so fluffy, they made that peeping chick sound, and we were so excited to be chick mommies. We rigged up their heating lamp at just the right height above the chicks enormous, blue, Rubbermaid box home. We figured out the food. We figured out the water. We added pine shavings. And then we stood around breathing down their necks watching their every move. Everyday was an adventure. We proudly showed the chicks to anyone and everyone.

I was so amazed at how fast they grew. And I also was amazed at how devoted my 10 and 12 year old have been to these chickens. Everyday when I wake up I think to myself, "Will today will be the day they grow tired of the chickens?" But it has not happened yet. Maybe in the dead of winter when it is miserably cold? Time will tell. But for now, the first thing they do in the morning and the last thing they do in the evening is chicken related. And many times in the middle of the day I will look at the window and see one of my girls or both of them wandering the yard holding a chicken or sitting in the hammock holding a chicken, or chasing a chicken. These chickens do not know any other life than being constantly held and played with by Tatiana and Natalie. I can imagine what would happen if they ever met other chickens and chatted and found out that their little chicken lives are not normal.

The chickens have a coop that the man of the house made for them. They have a little chicken yard. They even have a chicken playpen....yes, chickens apparently need accessories. The playpen was necessary because they ate every bug and every piece of grass in their chicken yard and they need to be able to scratch and eat bugs to occupy their time. I have tried letting them roam the yard and the woods but they can not keep away from my neighbors blueberries and my perennials. So we find ourselves moving the playpen from spot to spot in our yard and in our woods  so that our royal chickennesses are not bored to death in their chicken yard. I can not believe I am worried about my chickens being bored. But I am. A bored chicken is not a happy chicken. It happens to be a chicken that starts to pick on its friends.

The chickens have a fearless leader and her name is Henrietta, she is a White Leghorn chicken and she is a very bad chicken. She is the one who we found nonchalantly sitting on the neighbors fence. She is the one we found mockingly sitting on the top of the chicken coop. She is the one who daringly ate the neighbors blueberries. She is the one who is always out of the pen while everyone else is in it. She is the one who is always on the back porch peering through the sliding glass doors at the humans in the house. Chickie, Frango, Kip, Pepper, and  Grace all love to tattle on Henrietta. They run along frantically clucking trying to tell anyone who will listen that Henrietta is breaking all the rules. One day when I was laying in my hammock in the back yard I sensed it was not the force.... I opened my eyes and there was Henrietta the white leghorn chicken walking carefully along the top wooden bar of my hammock. I just stared with my mouth agape as she carefully moved each chicken leg along the wooden bar and then flew down when she reached the end of the bar. She is a very cocky chicken and I have to keep my eye on her. Can you just tell she is trouble by the picture I took of her. She just marches right up to the camera.

I never meant for these chickens to be free range chickens but I love the joy it brings them to be let out of their pen. They all burst out of the pen and run as fast as their fat chicken legs will allow. Hurrying to see who will get the bugs first. I feel so bad when I see them longingly looking over the fence at the greener grass and more plentiful bugs. I cannot deny that they are causing a little bit of trouble by scratching by the roots of some of my dear perennial plants which is why I am looking very forward to the time when the garden will be done producing veggies and I can throw the ladies inside that fence and let them scratch all around to their hearts content knowing they are not harming anything.

The chickens do not lay eggs yet. The word on the street is that they will start laying them when they are about six months old. We are looking forward to that time. We already have customers lined up for their eggs. And I have seen the most adorable egg cartons that have six egg spots not 12 or 18 just an adorable 6.

Now that we have these chickens I have become very aware of all things chicken....why did the chicken cross the road jokes,chicken art, and of course all the chicken sayings that are a part of all of our that I have observed these chickens I understand all these sayings.....

fly the coop
birds of a feather flock together
walking on eggshells
nest egg
scratching out a living
hen pecked
rule the roost
not everything its cracked up to be

the list goes on and on and on.

I hope the chickens don't think I am going to hold them the whole time the kids are at school. I hope that Henrietta learns to value choosing the right. I am uber excited about the compost possibilities that have arrived with the chickens. I also love knowing they are chowing down on bugs in my yard. And I love what my kiddos are learning....about chickens....and life :) Okay, and I am having a bit of fun with them too. I went outside the other day in my apron with my hair piled every which way on top of my head to dump some stuff in my snazzy new compost bin and I came upon a chicken who looked like it needed me so I picked it up and it laid its head on my shoulder like it was trying to tell me that it longed to rule the roost or maybe she was telling me that living with Henrietta is like walking on eggshells all the time. Whatever it was my kids caught the chicken snuggling with me and insisted on taking my picture. UGH...caught paying attention to the chickens :)

Aug 21, 2012

Mein Hut.

How can I catch you up on my life since I last blogged in May? Where to start? Where to start? I have been sitting here on my couch, ever so still, attempting to grab the first thought that comes to my mind and blog about it. It is nearly impossible to grab just one thought....sigh, especially when you are me and especially when you have the handicap of recently learning that you simply can not share all of your thoughts with just anyone. I think I have decided I could tell you about my new hat that seems like a very safe place to start communicating again :)

I have always wanted a hat but was never quite sure what kind I would look good in. I think that I was in high school when I discovered the joy of hats. I am drawing this conclusion because I know I had one in high school but I have no idea where or how I got it. Yes, I wore it to high school. There are a few pictures of me in the yearbook wearing it if I would need to ever prove it to you. Sadly all it proves is that I had absolutely no fashion sense. It was a plain straw hat with a ribbon. And my memory and the pictures I found tell me nothing more about it.I wish I knew when and how and where I bought it and if my mom tried to talk me out of it. I cringe a little when I distinctly remember wearing it to a very important high school basketball game where our basketball team played in the state tournament at an arena in Seattle. All of us who wanted to go to the game went on a big bus and everyone else on that big bus knew to wear our high school colors in some basketball game appropriate attire but I was in some other land and I wore a dress and my hat...yes, to the basketball game. I think I had a brief moment while walking down the bleachers to my seat that the thought that I was possibly a spectacle and not normal flitted through my mind but the thought definitely did not hang around and make itself comfortable in my mind. Which was a huge blessing. I think the saying is, ignorance is bliss :) I have no idea where this hat went or when I decided it was a fashion faux paux. I do wish I could remember.

My next hat owning experience was just a few years ago when I had the notion that if I had a hat to wear to the beach it would protect my head from getting sunburned and my face from getting too much sun. These are notions I should have had years ago but hopefully better late than never is in my favor. I am not sure where I got the hat I ended up with but it was not very well made and looking back on pictures of me in it it was not the best looking hat.

Finally we arrive at Summer 2012 and this summer the pioneer trek that I got to go on was the perfect excuse to finally put a lot of effort and thought and possibly even money into buying a hat. Once I freed my mind of the possibility of there being a rule that I would have to wear a pioneer bonnet I immediately found myself thinking of the display of hats that I had often walked by at the lawn and garden store in our town. I have been known to stop by this display of hats and stare longingly at them. There are all different shapes of them and all different sizes of ribbons on them and I have wanted to try them on but the display has a small problem..its mirror is a very small rectangle "fake" mirror that is way too high for me to ever see myself in it. I  know I tried. I confess, I finally did something I have never done before and ever so carefully unattached the mirror and set it down lower but it really never could give me a clear view of the hats I tried on so I finally decided to chance it, just choose a hat, and take it home...a very crazy thing to do :) I put this crazy moment off until a few days before Trek since it was a $24.00 hat...shhhh don't tell anyone I am a little mortified about this fact :) But let me tell you when I got the hat home and tried it on in front of my enormous, real glass, mirror from Ikea I knew I had Jennifer's hat. It did not even matter what others saw when they saw me in the hat all that mattered was when I put the hat on all my dreams came true.

My hat had a busy summer. It went with me on Trek. It went with me to Girls Camp. It attended fireworks in Springfield....yes, it was dark but I just needed to wear it. It has been to the beach and to an outdoor performance in Chicopee. It even got to see Niagra Falls and Palmyra, New York. I have several pictures of me in the hat but none of me alone with the hat. So here is one with some of my peeps...I am int he one in the hat :)