Thursday, December 31, 2009

Should auld acquaintance be forgot

It's been quite a year but don't count on me to do any recaps. I'm much too lazy to go back through my blog and figure out just what I did during the last year.

I don't think I'm going to keep track of the books I've read next year. It was an interesting experiment but it's not necessary to continue it. I know I read a lot.

I don't make resolutions per se...all right I make all kinds of resolutions but not necessarily New Year's resolutions. I tend to view each day as a new slate, one that I can start over on. So I do. Repeatedly. It's a good thing I don't keep track of all the broken ones. Otherwise I'd feel like a failure for not keeping them.

So...I have ambition, but not resolutions.

I managed to get to town today only to find the library and credit union closed. Drat! So I went to StuffMart and fought the crowds there. It was actually worse than Christmas Eve. Mostly because they were restocking shelves and you couldn't get to anything because of their huge carts and lack of desire to accommodate the customers. I bought a bunch of stuff ahead so I won't have to shop every week except for basics like milk. I hope it works out. Otherwise I spent a small fortune that will cost me even more next week.

I did buy some Caron Simply Soft in bulk on sale. Not sure what I'll do with it but I have 33 ounces to work with for only $12. It's an olive green-ish, which works for me. Maybe another sweater or something.

The birds haven't been near the feeder all week. I'm not sure why. Maybe they travel around sampling and haven't made their way back to our cuisine yet. Who knows?

Well, Zach and I have to get outside to shovel the sidewalks because we got an inch or two of snow last night. But I'm resting a bit from the store. It really was exhausting and I was limping because of my bad hip (I see the rheumatologist next month) and so tired I wanted to break down like some of the screaming kids I heard today.

Off to knit and watch more Farscape. I have the dvds for two more weeks thankfully so I can watch all the commentaries and the special features. I love it!


Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Minor accomplishments and a recipe

I ended up having a bit more energy last night before curling up under the covers to watch Farscape, season 2. After fixing a supper of baked macaroni and cheese with cut up hot dogs on top for garnish, brussels sprouts and corn bread, I went outside to take care of the bird feeder and the compost. The bird feeder was a breeze, just re-filling the feeders. I notice a lot of rabbit pellets under the feeder. I figure they're getting the spillage. It was obvious from all the bunny tracks from all over the yard converging at the village meetin' place. It occurred to me that rabbit pellets might be good in compost. I'll need to check that out before I scoop it up.

Which brings me to the compost bin. I'm using a large plastic bin with a lid to it. The bottom has several very large holes drilled in it so it's open to the ground. I needed something to contain the compost because we have a lot of critters in the yard: squirrels, rabbits, chipmunks, etc. And I don't want them getting into it. So last night I went out there and, having my arms full of 3 containers of compost, I just reached out with my toe to lift the lid off the bin. Unfortunately there was about 6 inches of hard-packed snow on it and with the frigid temps, the effort to lift it resulted in a complete shattering of the lid. Oh, bother.

As soon as I emptied the containers into the bin, I went back inside and found some wall-board that Tom had removed from the bathroom when he replaced the toilet and it was a perfect fit. But I'm sure the bin won't last beyond this winter so I'm already plotting and planning for a better structure for the compost.

I also needed to get the clothes out of the washer and onto hangars and the wooden rack but when I went downstairs, there was a small pond in front of the washer. I tiptoed over to the laundry sink, which was clogged up with lint and such, took my wire hangar and poked holes in the drain so the water would empty out. But what puzzled me was the floor because there is a huge drain in front of the washer. Sure enough, it was covered over with lint and dirt, too, so I used the trusty hangar and cleared it off. Then I had to re-spin the clothes before I could hang them up.

Fortunately most everything was dry by morning. Just a few things on the rack and they should be dry by now.

All in all it was a pretty good week considering I didn't do a lot. It's mostly what I didn't do that was important to me. I didn't jump in the car and run to the store when I ran out of things. I put them on the list and then found a way around it. I didn't run to the library when a book I was waiting for came in. I'll do all my errands tomorrow at the same time, saving gas on trips into town.

And because we didn't run to town every time I thought of something I needed, we didn't stop by for something off the dollar menu...or worse.

Yep, all in all a good week.

I knitted away on the right front of my cardigan (which looks small in spite of knitting to gauge and using the correct size) but I had forgotten to add the pocket so I had to rip back a couple of inches and fix it. The first couple of rows are fiddly, especially since I'm using a circular needle rather than a stitch holder for the front where the pocket is going, but I'm past that now and am knitting happily. I located a pair of mittens I had been working on last winter. I had needed my size 3 dpns so I pulled them out thinking I would just frog the whole thing anyway, but they look good to me again so I might work on those instead of starting another project. It will be easy to slip the needles back in again. Finding the pattern and my place in the pattern might be harder.

Last night as I was snuggling down under the covers to go to sleep, I heard some really strange noises coming from under the blanket at the foot of my bed. Further investigation revealed Hannibal meowing in his sleep. Of course, both pets snore. I can hear Hannibal in the next room sometimes.

I have a pork roast in the crock pot and will have roasted potatoes and carrots to go along with it. I might make up an apple dessert of some kind. I'll have to make up some powdered milk first. We ran out of the store-bought kind last night and because I was being a good girl and didn't run to the store for more, we've just made do.

Here is my recipe for corn bread. It's easy to use because each ingredient is in the form of one measure so there isn't the bother of half cups or quarter teaspoons.

Easy Peasy Corn Bread

1 Cup corn meal
1 Cup flour
1 TBS baking powder
1 heaping teaspoon salt
1 TBS sugar (optional)
1 TBS oil
1 egg
1 Cup milk

I mix the dry ingredients first, then add the liquids (which I mix in a large measuring cup).

I use an 9X9 inch pan, well greased, in a toaster oven (or larger one) at 400 F for about 25 minutes.

I have to admit that I cook by smell rather than by time. If it smells done, it usually is but I checked last night and it was about 25 minutes.

I found a set of curtains downstairs last night when I was cleaning up the basement pantry. It was an old pair of Zach's, black and mostly sheer, but being there are two panels will fit better on the curtain rod above the foyer opening. I've been using a single panel curtain that I had bought to cover an old bookcase that I was using for pantry storage but is now down in the basement so I don't need to cover it up. I'm going to switch them and use the single panel on the back door once I get an expansion rod to go over the door. I saw some period movies last week and they had a curtain right over the door that they pulled back whenever they went in or out.

Everything old is new again.

Well, off to get some things done. As I'm going to town tomorrow, I'm going to take one of my two weekly showers. We bought a new shower head that is more efficient than the old one, which was supposed to be an energy saver as well so I don't feel guilty about taking 2 showers a week. Plus, by leaving the water in the tub instead of letting it drain immediately, I can measure how much water I'm using. And I have a clock radio in the shower that we got for Zach's Christmas last year.

And I do hope I can get some sleep tonight. I'm in another insomnia cycle, getting only about 3-4 hours a night. But I'm so glad I don't have to travel in the car and sit in a booth all day anymore.


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Time sharing the computer

I meant to post last night but Zach is having trouble with his wifi card so I let him use my computer last night. Which meant I never got back online. I'm okay with that. It's really better if I limit my online time anyway so I'll just make sure I post in the morning when the computer is mine to use.

I got nothing done over the weekend. Didn't even go to Tom's family party because of...well, one of the in-laws who has been particularly nasty to me was going to be there so I was excused from going.

Monday I woke with intentions of much productivity, but having gotten only 3.5 hours of sleep I was dragging. After an afternoon snooze of half an hour I was energized enough to bake a loaf of bread in the toaster oven and do a load of clothes that I hung on racks and hangars all over the house. I was surprised to discover most of them dry this morning when I woke up. I guess the difference between 55 degrees and 60 degrees is significant.

But other than that I got nothing done in the way of housework. Half an hour of sleep didn't revitalize me that much.

I did get some knitting done on my cardigan though. I finished up the back, knit the pocket inserts and started on the right front. I've been debating what I want to knit up with the Caron Eco that I got on sale. It's a lovely light brown and I have 4 skeins of it but I also have 2 skeins of green and 2 skeins of blue that I could use with it if I find the right pattern. I'm not sure I want to crochet that shawl yet, but I might. It looks absolutely lovely but I'm not sure what I would do with it. I'm not sure it would work as a comfort/prayer shawl being round like that. And I don't have a table or place to use it as a throw. Maybe a gift for my mom; she has lots of tables and places for throws.

I'm making another loaf of bread. I use the bread machine to mix it up and the toaster oven to bake it. If I had use of my oven I would make more than one loaf at a time (especially as the boys seem to eat one loaf a day.) But for now I'll do it this way. Fixing the stove is low on priority right now as Tom has to fix the truck so the headlight points in the right direction so Zach can get a job so he can pay his upcoming Cobra next month. Plus it would be nice to have transportation while Tom is at work. Not that it is essential right now, but I have a doctor's appointment next month in Fond du Lac and it would be nice to not feel rushed getting back in time for Tom to go to work.

A little thing we started doing to save on energy/heat. It was a doh! moment for me because I know I had read this before but never implemented it. Even Tom is onboard with it because it makes just so much darned sense. Instead of letting the water from the shower run down the drain, we plug up the bathtub and let it sit in the tub until it cools off. Seriously I can tell a difference, since Tom showers every day. The air is moister and therefore warmer. We were just letting all that heat run down the pipes instead of using it to heat the house. Doh!

I've got all the Tightwad Gazette books and the Encyclopedia of Country Living but I've read them so many times, I don't think of them as sources when I want to look at frugality. I need to re-read them again because I'm sure there is so much more we can be doing.

There was a discussion on Ravelry about kitchen aid mixers recently and I swear it was like people were talking a different language. I don't even have an electric mixer because mine broke probably 10 years ago and I never replaced it. I have a blender that I rarely use and a food processor that I never use. I tend to do everything by hand. Wisks, mechanical mixers (we used to call them hurdy gurdy's,) chopping by hand. It's not that I'm anti-machine; it's just that I have no counter space or cabinet space to store them. Or use them. The bread machine lives on the floor in the back hallway because there isn't any space for it in the kitchen.

I do plan on organizing the kitchen so it's more user-friendly, but I don't plan on purchasing any appliances because I'm doing okay without them. Our meals tend to be simple anyway so I don't fix fancy restaurant-style meals that I would need any special equipment for it. That give me more storage for food and other necessary staples.

Today will be a day of attacking the pantry and trying to figure out a better way to organize the kitchen since I don't plan on going anywhere. I'm trying to limit my trips to town to twice a week: errands on one day and church on the other.

On a rather unpleasant note, I had some comments in some old posts from an obvious porn site. I deleted them and I don't anticipate having any problems from it but if I do I'll have to go to moderated comments again. I hope I don't have to do that but if I do, I don't anticipate it lasting long. Just long enough to discourage anymore of the spam.

It's sunny and I know I should hang a load of clothes out but they wouldn't have time to dry before the snow tomorrow so I'll just hang another load in the house since they dried so well yesterday. I have to refill the bird feeders and empty my many cans of compost into the bin so it should be a good day of productivity today.


Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

The chicken is in the toaster oven cooking. It's a perfect fit and a better choice than turkey for us. Turkey is okay but not my favorite meal. Tom is peeling potatoes because mashed potatoes are his forte. Oh, I can cook them well but he has two things he can prepare in the kitchen very well: omelets and mashed potatoes. And I mean great omelets. So if he can do it, why refuse the help? It's just that we can't both be in the kitchen. It's that small.

So I've done my job and the chicken is smelling up the house and now it's his turn in the kitchen. When he's done and the potatoes are boiling, I can go in and fix the vegetables. It's like a tag team event.

Sunday night is his family's Christmas party. I don't usually go because it's crowded and I don't have anything in common with anyone there. I've tried to integrate into the family but apparently my culture (southern Indiana) is foreign to them. They grew up with a father who pitted them against each other and their coping mechanism was to make jokes of everything, including each other. But for me, it comes across as ridicule and mocking so I tend not to hang around them. One event had me sitting in a group of them while they made fun of Christianity. I just got up and left the room.

But Tom wants me to come and I know it hurts him that I don't go so I will go for him but this doesn't mean I'm going to go to every event.

We all did pretty well for Christmas. Tom bought me some gold earrings. They're the real thing (I am terribly allergic to nickel and even the nickel free earrings break me out after a while) and very beautiful, but a bit heavy. I'm sure my ears will get used to them though. They're hoops but not plain hoops and yet something I can wear daily. Nice.

I also got Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince from Zach and a Celtic music cd from Tom.

Tom got a new hunting knife, some sleeping shorts for his hunting trips, and a Bob Dylan cd.

Zach got a head set for his computer, a Loony Tunes dvd, and a heavy weight hooded sweatshirt.

We're not lavish here and some gifts are just practical but it's enough.

The pets actually made out like bandits. They both got some gourmet foods and some toys. It was fun to watch them try to get to them in the wrapping. Of course, Professor had more fun with the wrappings than the toy.

It's still raining on and off today. A lot of the snow is gone but more is they say. I have to go to church tomorrow to set up for morning prayer on Sunday. Our priest is down in Indiana visiting her family. We always do morning prayer the Sunday after Christmas. It's a nice change of pace.

I've got big plans for next week, including a change in the way I eat. I need to focus on lowering my cholesterol. My sugar has been excellent so I most likely won't need to make any adjustments there but I can't do the work I want in the yard and garden next summer with all this weight.

Next month I have an appointment with my rheumatologist and I'm going to ask to go back on the arthritis meds. It's not bad but it limits me.

I haven't ordered any seed catalogs. I'm still reading blogs to see what other people use as I only know of Henry Fields. I've never ordered from them but I don't know if they're a good source or not. I also need to get to reading my Encyclopedia of Country Living. There is much I don't know yet.

The oven just dinged so I need to get supper ready.

Merry Christmas to everyone who reads my blog. And thank you so much for reading it. I really do appreciate people stopping by and love to read the comments. Thank you!


Thursday, December 24, 2009

Lazy Chrismas Eve

I ended up not going to church after all because of the weather. It was raining hard and near freezing and the steps were slick so I didn't feel like driving back country highways in rainy/freezing conditions. I had altar guild tonight but hopefully someone else took care of the clean up. I'll go in before Sunday to set up for morning prayer.

Not much to report as I've been totally lazy all day aside from doing up some dishes. And I'm ready to go to bed now and veg out watching television until I fall asleep. Which won't be long as I woke up early today.

Professor is balking at going out because he can't stand up for long so I'm going to put double potty papers down for him tonight.

Off to be lazy some more.


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The night before the night before Christmas

Still feeling a bit off but functioning. I'm doing laundry right now and need to do up supper dishes and then Zach and I are going to watch both Madagascar movies while wrapping presents.

I think I'm ready for Christmas. Finally.

We're anticipating nasty weather tonight but it should be over in plenty of time for Christmas Eve services. Zach and I went in early (ish) to set up the altar and incense the sanctuary and nave. He plays thurifer while I get the altar ready. The priest asked me to set up the extra chalice and paten with extra hosts because we are usually packed for Christmas. I hope I got everything right. It's my first Christmas Eve service to set up.

I got my beaded scarf pinned and drying under the heat vent in the kitchen. It's not a great job of pinning but my back was hurting and I sort of rushed it. I want to wear it to church tomorrow night. It bled a lot when I rinsed it out. Fortunately I'm wearing black so it won't matter if it bleeds onto my shirt but when I have more time, I'll try to take care of that.

I really need to get back to being organized. I can barely find anything in the pantry because we just shove stuff in without regard to where it should be...or even if it should be upright. Tom will have to work next week after all so I'll have those days to get busy. I also need to start exercising, even though I don't want to call it that. I'm so badly out of shape. I'm sure my back is hurting because of all the weight I carry in my stomach.

Well, off to get another load of clothes out of the dryer. The house is so much warmer right now. I'm able to take my mitts and hood off. Ever since chemo (my hair didn't all come back in...its so thin) my head gets so cold in the winter. Two more loads to go and then wrapping presents. Then I'm off to bed to knit on the last sock. I decided to just go with the red and green striping on the last one instead of trying to incorporate blue into the pattern. It's so festive.

I don't know if I'll be posting tomorrow but I'll definitely try to post on Christmas Day.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

'Twas the disconnect before Christmas

I'm feeling really disconnected the past few days. I'm sure it's the anticipation of Christmas, Tom being home for almost 2 weeks and feeling like my routine has been disrupted. I had to run some errands today and picked up 10 pounds of potatoes and a gallon of milk since I was there. I need to go back to town tomorrow because I don't know what Christmas Eve day will be like and I want to get the altar set up in case I can't make it there because of icy roads.

I need to block my beaded scarf so I can wear it Christmas Eve but I don't see me moving any time soon. I bought a black fleece shirt to wear because I don't have any black winter shirts and I have accessories that would only go with the beaded scarf. I got Zach a black fleece shirt, too, because he hasn't gotten any winter clothes since last year, and then only one shirt. He needs new clothes from time to time, too.

And then I got the pets their Christmas gifts. A dachshund-looking toy and a couple of cans of gourmet food for Professor. One of those round plastic toys with a channel that has a ball in it the cat can "chase" around the circle for Hannibal. And some cans of gourmet food.

But I absolutely have to stop spending money. It will take us 3 months to catch up from this splurge.

I don't know how much work I'll be able to get done with Tom home. Our house is really tiny so working around each other is nearly impossible. Usually he stays upstairs in his room where he can smoke and mess around with the computer but probably not that many days in a row. I'd like for him to put the new/old water heater in. We got it from freecycle last summer. Ours is rusty and leaking and while this one isn't new, it's not rusty and the woman swore it didn't leak. Whatever tasks he does over the holidays it can't cost us any more money.

I'd like to get the pantry organized but it's impossible to have two people in the kitchen at the same time so that might have to wait until he's gone back to work after the first of the year.

I could catch up on reading and knitting and watching dvds I got from the library. Maybe I should take a vacation before the flurry of cleaning and organizing goes on. And I need to order some seed catalogs, too. I could dig into my Encyclopedia of Country Living and the seed catalog and get ready for the February planting of seedlings. Where I'm going to put them is another matter though. The cat does love to eat the seedlings and I have only two windows that I can use for them.

Our water bill is going to monthly, which I do prefer, but they're adding some new fees to it so I'm wondering what other new fees are going to show up. Still working with a 15% pay cut and the cost of living has skyrocketed. We just can't get a chance to breathe.

Well, off to finish up the kitchen and then off to bed for Paranormal State (which is disappointing this season so far) and then more Midsomer Murders. One sock to go and then back to my cardigan. And I found a shawl pattern to crochet that I must start. I have enough yarn to start it stashed away and I do like to have a crochet project going on.


Monday, December 21, 2009

Much of nothing not going on

I fear I'm running out of steam. Yesterday after church I slept for 2 hours and then went to bed early and slept for about 9 hours. We didn't stop at the store after church because no one saved us a space in the parking lot so we just went home. After my 2 hour nap and some sitting around doing nothing I went back to the store and while it wasn't crowded, it wasn't empty either. Although the shelves were. I'm talking the food section having empty sections. Amazing. I wanted to get ahead on my groceries because I don't want to go anywhere near that place after Christmas.

So we should be good for quite a while. We can get milk from the convenience store a block away (and it's cheaper, in fact, than the a penny) so I'm good for a while.

Today I had a hard time getting moving. I was dragging after all that sleep, I guess. I did start emptying out cabinets in the kitchen, intending to do some organizing, rearranging and disposing of things I never use. I managed to get 3 cabinets cleaned and organized, a big garbage bag full to throw away and a smaller one started for the thrift store. Including a complete set of metal cake decorating stuff. I have no idea where that came from.

I need to make one more trip to Beaver Dam before Christmas eve when I go in to set up for the Eucharist for the Christmas eve service. The church is breathtakingly beautiful! I need to get a picture of it when I go next time. I need to get Professor's present. I meant to do it after church Sunday but forgot. So...I don't want to wait until Christmas eve so I'm going tomorrow.

Not a lot to report since I've been so lethargic the past couple of days. I need to wrap presents, probably tomorrow. Otherwise, I'm done getting ready for Christmas. I've got a chicken to roast and we'll have potatoes, gravy and corn and maybe some homemade bread to go along with it. Zach wants gravy and biscuits but I'm not doing all that cooking on Christmas. We'll have the gravy and biscuits for the day after.

Chili tonight because it cooks itself while I'm tearing the kitchen apart and since it's almost done, I'm off to find the counters so we can eat.


Saturday, December 19, 2009

'Tis the season to be cranky...

...fa la la la la, la la la la.

No seriously, I stopped off at StuffMart today after swinging by the library where I scored the early seasons of Midsomer Murders complete with a behind the scenes dvd, Doubt, and Monty Python's The Meaning of Life and was met with a full parking lot. I was so overwhelmed by the whole thing I stopped at Wendy's for a chili and soda. Except I got a baked potato instead. I have commitment issues. Yeah.

The manager knows me pretty well so we chatted while I ate. He looked out at the parking lot and mentioned how full it was and with a straight face pondered, "Do you suppose something is going on over there?" I followed suit and said I heard something was coming up next week but I wasn't sure what it was. A woman at the table beside me got really huffy about that. No sense of humor.

I took a book to read in the lines but the cashier I was served by was mighty quick and efficient. I didn't even get a full page read and I was fourth in line. But oh! how people behave in crowds. Amazing! Blocking aisles with the cart in the middle while, holding family reunions. Carts sideways across the aisle. It's a good thing I'm patient. No, I really am.

Thing is I didn't really do much shopping. I'm waiting until tomorrow when I buy some scrip from our church. I just got a couple of things I didn't want to run out of. One bag, not even half full.

I'm planning on cutting out the apron next week. It shouldn't take much to put it all together and it would be nice to have it done when I start with a fury after Christmas. I turned the heel last night on the second sock of the third pair. I'll finish it up tonight and start the multi-colored fourth pair using leftovers from the other three pair. I should have the socks sent off to Tennessee after the first of the year. Then I'll go back to knitting my cardigan.

When I said yesterday that I didn't have a pure agenda, I didn't mean I don't care about the environment. I do, very much. But I think of it as living my life caring for God's creation. Not so much about being green or measuring my carbon footprint. Much like dieting doesn't work for me because the focus is on the process rather than the end result, being green is like that for me. I do much better just trying to be a good steward, taking care of what I can rather than focusing on the process.

And in that vein, I re-filled the bird feeder today. I bought bulk for a few reasons, one being cost. Other reasons included not having to bring it home every week and not having to deal with separate packages. It seems to be a different brand, however, which is good. I need to shake those birds up from time to time.

There was a lone bird out there this afternoon. I'm used to birds by the herd, which is so funny to watch. They hang on the bushes and then all fly for the feeders, of which only a few are lucky enough to attach themselves. Then they all fly back to the bushes. Lather, rinse, repeat. But this guy was all by his lonesome and was able to take his time munching down. It was nice to watch. But I really must find the binoculars so I can see just who they all are. I'm pretty sure the herd is a flock of starlings. It's the loners I'd like to get to know better.

We've got a sprinkling of snow going on out there but it has warmed up enough that the river is thawing. I hope the sidewalks and streets won't be icy tomorrow but we're getting up early enough to deal with it. Hard to believe we're in the countdown to Christmas.

Off to clean up the kitchen after certain male members of the family have been in there cooking.


Friday, December 18, 2009

Twas the second Friday before Christmas

I have no idea what got into Professor last night but me sleeping wasn't on his agenda. I got up with him three times after Tom got home at 12:20 a.m. twice for going outside and once because he didn't want to use his steps to get into the bed. I tried sleeping in but with the activity of the human males who, to their credit, were trying to be quiet, it just didn't happen. So I've been dragging all day. Didn't even get out of my pajamas.

I'm ready to take a pain pill, finish up the supper dishes and crawl into bed. Not to sleep because, of course, I'm wide awake. Just tired beyond measure.

I've been reading blogs today that promote homesteading, both the urban and rural variety, and thrift. One common theme with the homesteading blogs is one of self-reliance, living off the grid, not needing grocery stores or electricity, calling themselves hobby farmers, preaching a lifestyle that just isn't mine. I'm not making a statement with what I do. I do it because it saves us money and because it suits me. I like electricity and cable tv and being able to drive to the library when I want to read a book or pick up a dvd.

I'm not criticizing people who have agendas, but I think some people who read their blogs tend to romanticize the lifestyle and jump in with both feet before really thinking it through. It's not romantic to bundle up inside the house in order to keep the heat bills down. In some ways it reminds me of Y2K when a bunch of homeschoolers on AOL were romanticizing the possibility (remote!) that our civilization was going to crash due to technological failure. They were looking forward to it and had spent a small fortune on survival gear, like propane refrigerators and wood cookstoves, thinking life was going to be like the Little House on the Prairie days.

On January 1, 2000 they disappeared from the forums. I never heard from them again. No word about what they were doing with the thousands of dollars of food they stashed (canned goods, not home-canned) or the generators or cookstoves or propane-powered refrigerators. I wondered, if they were looking forward to it so much, why they didn't just adopt the lifestyle anyway. Why wait for a catastrophe to happen? Because they had fantasized a lifestyle that in reality was a lot of work.

I don't kid myself that plowing up the back yard won't be a lot of work for me. And making more and more of our foods from scratch is a lot more work. If I get chickens or rabbits...even more work. And does the payoff really pay off? Time will tell.

We've been economizing for over 20 years in various forms. The older we get, the less available income we've had due to Tom's pay not keeping pace with the economy. So we've had to adapt each year to a tighter grasp on the money that comes in. So for me this is the next step. Especially since I have the time to do this now that I'm not sitting in a commons area in a college waiting for Zach 2-4 days a week.

I really admire younger couples or singles who are looking more carefully into their future, seeing a bigger picture than I did. It never occurred to me that the economy would tank. Not in a million years. And we were so unprepared for it.

So I do this as an effort to play catch-up. Hopefully this will lead to a way to get ahead but right now that is so far out of reach as not to be considered at this stage.

So...I do what I can, not because I have lofty dreams of saving the world. Just because I have lofty dreams of saving my world.

And what's wrong with that?

Tomorrow the library, picking up some things I didn't get at the store and getting ready for church on Sunday. We have Lessons and Carols and Zach and I are doing two of the lessons. So I want to not throw myself together Sunday morning like I usually do, but actually make an effort to look nice.

I started the second sock of the third pair last night so I'm off to knit on that after I do up the dishes. I might take a shower tonight since I'm really hurting. The hot water helps the pain a lot.

I also bought a pattern to make myself an apron. I've got some denim that I bought when Zach wanted to learn how to sew. I have enough material but I'm going to need some bias tape and some interfacing. Maybe this will save my clothes from now on. I do tend to attract dirt and stains like crazy. And I want a deep pocket so I can carry a notepad and a camera with me so I can get some pictures when I find them instead of having to locate the camera and finding the shot gone by the time I do.

Happy next to the last Friday before Christmas!


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Thursday is for errands

I'm beginning to hate shopping. Not only because of the sticker shock at the register, but the crowds. Why do people decide to have family reunions in the middle of the aisle and then glare at you when you try to pass them. Or make rude comments in a stage you're not supposed to hear that, of course.

It is done for another week although I do have to go back Saturday or Sunday because they were out of a couple of things and I didn't get to the library today because Tom took the car (I can drive the truck during the day as long as I don't need the lights) and my library card is on my key chain. So I'll wait until Saturday or send Tom in my place.

It's a good thing I didn't intend to dry clothes out on the line because it started snowing today a bit. Not much...just some flurries but the sun didn't shine at all and it was an all around crummy day for drying clothes. And tomorrow we are expecting snow. I hate using the dryer, although the house did warm up some and the added humidity felt really nice.

So on errand day nothing much gets done. I'm pretty much wiped out from the energy used to deal with traffic, weather, traveling from place to place, and the energy it takes to find my way through the crowds. Probably just hamburgers and fries tonight as that is something I can just throw together without any effort.

I told Tom today I think we should try to fix the stove since we don't have the money for both the stove and fixing the truck and we do need the truck. We also need a new freezer. The one in the basement hasn't worked for 8 years. It's a huge chest type and needs to go to the landfill but getting it there has been the obstacle. Having a big garden is pointless if I have no way to save the food for winter. I hate canned vegetables so I'll need to freeze them. And I'm trying to talk Tom into hunting around here in addition to his hunting trips up north. The license is good for the whole year for various seasons so why only use it a couple of weeks out of the year. We could use the meat.

And he found out at work that he won't be getting a bonus this year (no surprise there) OR a raise next year, which means we'll still be operating for the second year on a 15% pay cut. As the cost of living soars. A year ago my grocery bill was around $80. Now it's at $120 and that's with me cutting out some of the processed meals and cooking more from scratch. I wonder if we'll be able to afford heat at all next winter.

Raising chickens and rabbits is starting to appeal to me more and more. But my luck it won't be legal in this small city.

I got a 20 lb bag of bird seed today. Cost-wise it was much cheaper than the 4 lb bag I usually get. I hope it lasts me the winter but the way word of mouth is getting out, I'll be feeding the entire population of birds in Wisconsin by January.

Off to fix supper so I can jump into my jammies and crawl into bed for some more Farscape and knit some more socks. I've got 2 pair done and have turned the heel on the first sock of the third pair. No other knitting getting done though.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Waking up Wednesday

I was going to take pictures of all the bunny tracks all over the back yard, particularly the path Tom shoveled for me leading to the bird feeder, but they don't show up. White on white, you know. But it is unusual for us to have that many tracks all over the yard. I wonder if it has anything to do with the bird feeder and the spillage from it.

I got a bit more done today but I'm still taking things easy-ish. I baked a loaf of bread in the toaster oven. I made up a 3/4 lb loaf instead of a pound and it fit much better into the toaster oven. And I like the size better for sandwiches. So from now on that's the size I will make...until I get a new stove. Part of me is wondering if I can fix the door on the oven because, while the stove looks cruddy, it cooks wonderfully. I would hate to have to break in a new one.

I'm doing laundry but decided to use the dryer this winter instead of hanging them out. I just don't think the weather will be conducive to using the clothes line on a regular basis. And because our house is so tiny and so full of furniture, I don't want to have racks that I have to keep moving just to cook supper or walk through the living room. The dryer will help heat up the house since it's vented indoors. A little bit anyway.

Yesterday we were so cold even with the thermostat sitting on 60F so I gathered up my candles and set them on the coffee table and we enjoyed our "fireplace." Maybe it was psychological but it did feel warmer. Zach has been spending more time out of his room lately. Mostly because his wifi card isn't working at peak efficiency but it's good to see him.

Tomorrow will be errand day: banking, library and shopping. I'm trying not to go to the store more often than once a week but so far it hasn't worked out. It does help that I've come to really dread shopping, where before I used to love it. I'll try to do better in the future and plan ahead better.

It also helps when people write what we're out of or going to be out of on the list before I leave for the store instead of while I'm gone. Just sayin'.

I've been reading a lot of gardening/homesteading/urban farming blogs lately and saw a recommendation for a magazine: BackHome magazine. I went to the site and saw they had a free 16 page plan for building wind turbines so I subscribed. Can't get the plans that cheap anywhere. I know because we looked extensively last summer. Plus the magazine looks good. At least I hope it is. I'm not a magazine person but I do get tired of doing all my research at the computer. I need hard copies sometimes.

Well, off to put the clothes in the dryer, wash up the lunch dishes and scan the cookbooks for something interesting for supper that uses hamburger.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Comatose Tuesday

If yesterday was lazy, today was positively comatose. Well, I did up the dishes and am getting ready to make some soup for supper but nothing...and I mean done today. And I liked it!

I slept well last night. And long. Maybe it's the single digit temperatures out there (with wind chill of -7) but I just cozied up in my housecoat and sweats and did nothing.

So tomorrow I have much to do including laundry. I'm hoping I can just walk on top of the snow so I don't have to shovel it to get to the clothes line but I know that's a dream. I will have to shovel while the first load is washing. It should be near 20F tomorrow with temps in the 30s the next two days so my clothes should be dry in a day or two. Most likely 2 days. Heaven knows I have plenty to do in spite of my intention to keep up better and dry the clothes inside on racks. But the outdoors was too seductive so I held off.

I was going to bake bread today but I'll do that tomorrow as well. And cleaning up the basement pantry.

Today is for lazing about and not driving to Fond du Lac. I'm really enjoying that more than anything else.

And watching Farscape season 1. And the great commentaries that go with it. I might end up having to watch around the clock to get done in time to turn it back in since I can't renew it. Too long a waiting list.

Off to fix supper and early to bed.


Monday, December 14, 2009

Lazy Monday

I finally finished the beaded scarf in time for Christmas. I have enough yarn left over to knit a very thin version of this so I might do that. I loved working with the yarn and if I still had the band for it I could tell you what it was. But I do know it was a silk/wool blend. I haven't blocked it or woven the ends in yet.

The lovely crystal dish in the center was my great-grandmother's butter dish. My mom sent it to me and I just received it today.
Men's socks that will go to a friend of my sister's. I did a mini double cable up the sides.

One pair of my aunt's socks done (on the left) and a pair of socks that will go to my sister.

This has been a lazy day for me...intentionally. I am taking a well deserved day off. Well, day off being subjective as I still have dishes to do and meals to cook. But no heavy duty cleaning or baking today. I got some reading done and plan on doing some knitting as well as soon as I finish up this entry. Tomorrow there is much work to do.

Zach and I went Christmas shopping last night so as to avoid the crowds. I just don't do well in crowds and will avoid them whenever I can. It was lovely to have the store nearly empty. As well as a near-empty parking lot. It started snowing on the way home but we only got a dusting. It did snow a bit this afternoon: about an inch or two. Not worth bundling up to shovel although it will most likely have to be taken care of by tomorrow. Still...the lazy day is nice.

As you can see above, I got the butter dish my mother sent. It's so beautiful; makes me want to churn some butter to put in there. But as this is an antique it will go into a niche in my hutch and be there as a reminder of generations gone by. This belonged to my father's grandmother. I never knew her, I don't think.

I'm planning on blocking the beaded scarf tomorrow. Now I need to focus on socks and my cardigan...exclusively. I must do some catching up, especially since, after the first of the year, I'll be teaching knitting to some people at church. I've never taught it to anyone but Zach so I'm not sure how well I'll do. It's a woman and her two daughters so I've got to plan projects they'll enjoy rather than the boring garter stitch scarf thing I learned on.

Off to knit while I can and maybe take a snooze before I have to fix supper. Baked chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn and stuffing. Comfort food!


Sunday, December 13, 2009

Gray skies, clear roads

I would take pictures today but the world is black, white and gray and not particularly photogenic right now. At least to me...right this minute. If I wasn't so tired, I might see something that I wanted to share, but I'm dragging my hind end. I got to bed fairly early, for me, but also got up way too early. Even for a Sunday. I don't know why but I woke up at 6:30 a.m. and couldn't get back to sleep. I had been up at 1 a.m. to let Professor out but went right back to sleep afterward. And the sleep was really good. It just wasn't long enough.

We didn't get any freezing rain but we did get a trace of snow, which wasn't slippery at all so going to church was a breeze. The weather has warmed up enough that the roads are clearing up. Tom is going to try to find another right corner panel for the truck and fix it over the Christmas holidays. He's relieved that he doesn't have to get it done by Tuesday as he thought that was Zach's last day of school. It takes some pressure off of him. I told him to take some time off in January to recover from the stress of working with stressed out people and he's going to do that. Especially as there is an ice fishing camp at that time at his brother's cabin. Hopefully he'll bring home fish for the freezer.

I got a pork loin roast on sale last week and am cooking half of it in the crock pot right now. The other half is in the freezer waiting its turn. With just three of us we can usually do with half a roast. Well, we could eat the whole thing but we shouldn't. So I cut them in half. I'm thinking store bought noodles with this as I'm too tired to make them from scratch and I'm a bit tired of potatoes. I need to make sure I get some down time during the week. I can't really take a day off but I can make a day lighter than the others.

I was knitting socks at coffee hour after church today and the organist's granddaughter was watching me very intently (around 7 years old). Finally she just said it: "why would anyone knit socks?" I gave her some answers and she did like my black and yellow socks that I had on but I don't think I convinced her. But another woman at church is fascinated and wants her and her daughters to learn how to knit and has asked me if I would be willing to start a knitting circle. I'm agreeable and would love to teach them to knit.

I also got another commission for socks from a friend at church but I need to wait on more details and I need to finish the socks for my aunt first. If I have enough yarn left over I'm going to knit her some mitts because the socks are for her morning walks around the lake and she could use some mitts for that, too.

I saw another crested bird on the suet feeder this morning while I was getting ready for church. It looked a bit like a blue jay but I'm pretty sure they go south for the winter so I watched him for a while and when he flew away I saw a yellow spot on his tail so I think this one is a nuthatch. I'll keep a watch on the feeder. I wish it was out front so I could watch it all the time but there is too much activity in the front yard. So out back it is.

Well, off to knit and maybe doze a bit. Then knitting socks while watching Farscape. My PBS shows aren't on this weekend due to holiday specials so there's nothing on regular tv I care to watch. I do have tons of reading to catch up on so I might do that when my eyes can focus again.


Saturday, December 12, 2009

The end of an era

I thought that after driving Zach to school for his last class I would be over the moon but it was rather anti-climactic. Maybe it will hit me next week when I don't have to drive him to school on Monday and Tuesday.

I took 151 up because the city roads here were packed snow over ice so I didn't want to have to face that each time I went through another city on the way up there. Thankfully the freeway was clear until we got to Fond du Lac and then only a couple of bridges had some snow on them.

But I've spent the day on my bed dozing and thinking about taking a pain pill now or waiting until later. Later won. I just finished supper (bacon and eggs...the lazy meal) so I'm planning on a scalding shower and then the pain pill and a relaxing night in bed, knitting socks and watching Farscape season one (finally got it from the library...took me a long time to get it.)

We're going to have to leave early tomorrow for church because more snow is predicted tonight along with the possibility of sleet. I'm going to need time to shovel the driveway apron if the snow plow comes through.

I've decided against any animals in my urban farm. It just wouldn't be a good fit for us and would limit my choices in the future. As it is, I think the garden will be plenty of work for me as I plan on using a huge chunk of the backyard, including the slopes for fruit bushes and the area behind the garage for herbs. The notion of chickens is romantic but not practical considering the cost versus income. I don't know a lot of people so I can't imagine who I would sell the eggs to, plus we have some large dogs in our neighborhood who have been known to run loose, not to mention hawks and coyotes not too far from our neighborhood (we live near the edge of town.) I feel like I just got my freedom after raising my son and don't want to be in bondage to animals (beyond my lord and master, Professor.)

I have plans for much baking next week. I've got a taste for apple/walnut cake and I need to make up some tortillas and a loaf or two of bread. And I've been thinking about chicken and home made noodles, too. I can remember my mother making noodles when I was a little girl. I've made them several times in the past few years but not lately.

I've been keeping the thermostat sitting on 60F in the daytime because I just can't take the cold this year but I think I'm going to keep nighttime temps at 55 because Zach was really cold last night. I woke up shivering and had to locate the top blanket that had fallen off the bed. The car will be paid off in a month or two so we might be able to catch up then. In the meantime, we'll have to either bite the bullet even harder or dip into savings. We won't have the extra $80 or so gas money to drive Zach to school so that will help. And hopefully I can catch up next summer and replenish savings.

Off to do up the dishes and get ready for bed. It's not even 6 p.m. but one of my favorite things is to finish up my work and crawl into bed and knit while watching television.


Friday, December 11, 2009

With no clear direction in mind, I ramble...

It was another night of interrupted sleep so I slept in until 10 a.m. I'm not sure why I kept waking up but I guess it was just one of those nights. I had some pain early on but a pain pill took care of that in good order and I didn't have any more pain the rest of the night (a rarity.)

It was a bit warmer this morning and Professor went gladly outside to take care of personal business but he didn't stay long because warmer is a relative term. The wind chill was only a minus 2 and not a minus 15 like it was yesterday. Numbers are in the teens but I didn't have the gumption to work outside today at all. We do need to do more shoveling but as there isn't a deadline on it, I'm waiting for the weekend when the numbers are in the plus 20s.

In the meantime, I'm working on things indoors. I did a bit of re-organizing in the kitchen because some of my creative stacking of things on top of appliances resulted in the sugar bowl upside down on the kitchen floor. It's a tiny galley kitchen with limited counter space and even less cabinet space. I haven't attacked the basement pantry yet. I'm waiting until next week when school is definitely over and I have each day that will be mine. Until we get the truck up and running Zach can't go job hunting unless I want to drive Tom to work and pick him up again and that takes up a huge part of my day so I'm not up for that. Not to mention this isn't the best time of year to get a job. I'll give him a bit of a vacation. He's gone to school nonstop for almost 3 years (summers included) so he deserves a break.

I think supper tonight will be homemade potato soup, cornbread and a veg of some kind. I'll make the guys some hamburgers because Zach can't eat potatoes without throwing up (OCD again) and Tom needs something a bit heartier than just potato soup. I'm happy with just the soup and cornbread since I sprinkle cheese over my soup so I'll be fine.

I've had the thermostat sitting on 60 the past two days and yesterday we needed it but today it feels a bit warm so I turned it down to 56. Tom slept upstairs last night. He said it was too warm down here (50F) so he took his hot water bottle upstairs and apparently slept very happily.

I'm still spending too much time online but most of it has been reading up on gardening and maintaining a small farm in the city. I'm not sure how much I want to commit to and I certainly want to take it slow so as not to overwhelm myself but I also want this to pay off. Even if I don't plant a big garden this spring, I want to cultivate a big enough area that I can prepare a bigger garden for the next year.

And still debating about bunnies or chickens. I might end up finding I can't have chickens so that would solve the debate but I also might decide that is a commitment I'm not ready for and just go with veggies and fruit. It's going to take a lot of work to clear out the garage next summer because so much of it has to go to the landfill and we have a motorcycle in there that isn't operational that we've never gotten rid of and now can't find the title (California...which should tell how long it's been sitting in the garage since we moved here from there over 12 years ago.)

I ended up doing 4 loads of laundry last night. I got my mojo going after supper (having taken a pain pill that relieved that problem) so the trips up and down the basement stairs weren't too much trouble. I hated using the dryer but as there is 16 inches of snow under my clothesline and it's still barely above 0 I'm going to have to bite the bullet this week and not let the laundry build up that I need to wash 4 loads at once. And I'll have to keep a better eye on the forecast in the future.

I got the Christmas decorations up last night. It's not much: a small tree on a tv tray, a snowman my Dad made out of a log, a wooden reindeer I bought at a church bizarre some 20 years ago and a Velveteen rabbit. And a couple of garlands, including one I crocheted over 20 years ago. I have a cloth nativity set but I'm not sure if I'll set it out because I don't have a lot of room. And a beautiful nativity set in a delicate glass globe I got as a gift several years ago. We don't spend a lot on decorations. I do want to find another ornament for the tree. I only have about 10 ornaments but I love each one of them.

Tomorrow we drive up to Fond du Lac for the last time. Well, not the last time as I have medical things going on up there and we have his graduation in the spring. But the last time for school days. I'll be so happy when it's over. Not only will the gas bill go down for the month but our expenses will go down significantly. We might just make it.

I need to get more knitting done in the course of the day or my aunt's socks won't be done this winter. I fell asleep last night when I sat down to knit so I didn't get much done at all. I haven't even finished one sock and I usually can put out a sock a day. I do need to organize my days better but I'm considering this my vacation prior to Zach's school being done and my real job starting.

Off to mop the kitchen floor, scrub the bathroom and start supper. It's 3:30 and the sun is low on the horizon. By 4 p.m. it will be dark enough to shut the curtains and turn on the lights. I love this about winter!


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Wiped out and worn out

It wasn't my best day although it started out with promise. I tried to be quiet when I woke up early because Tom was sleeping on the couch made into a bed but it's just not possible. But he did manage to go back to bed and I hope got some more sleep after I left.

Poor Professor wouldn't wee outside because of the sub-zero temps last night. Fortunately he used his papers so it was easy to clean up. Yet when I let him out this morning he wouldn 't leave the porch but frantically started clawing at the door. It was 4:30 p.m. before he would venture outside again, having managed to "hold it" all day. He was one unhappy dog when he went out though.

I got an early start because Tom needs the car right now and the truck needs some repair before we can drive it at night. And with night coming at 4 p.m. that doesn't leave much time after Tom goes to work. The snow plow had been by and left an 18 inch barrier to the driveway. When I went to shovel it while warming the car up, I discovered it was solid ice and couldn't budge it with the shovel. I managed to break though it and had planned to just park on the street when I got back but the neighbor, who is getting a Christmas present this year, had cleared it by the time I got home.

I got the groceries and my four prescriptions and took a huge dent in the checking account but I was a good girl and didn't stop for breakfast even though my stomach was growling. Made it home without incident and then I don't know what happened but I just crashed and burned. I started aching and got so sleepy that I went back to bed and slept 2 hours. I just took a pain pill that I hope will take care of the problem. It's a flare-up (fibromyalgia). I know them like I know the back of my hand. I'm amazed I've been as active as I have lately. I just hope this doesn't slow me down too much as I still have so much to do.

I had to buy a new shower head because the repair we had made to the present one didn't hold. If it was just me, I would just hold the darned thing while I showered but not everyone is comfortable with that.

I'm going to put Professor on a diet and he's not going to like it. He's always been a nibbler. Won't eat dog food but will nibble on snacks. He doesn't gorge himself and really doesn't eat much a day but he's eating the rich, high fat stuff as food and not as a snack. He's gained so much weight that he's almost waddling so I'm going to be strict and force him to eat food. He's gone days before without eating but I've got to force the issue. I can't walk him now because the sidewalks aren't safe due to ice and snow so we've got to do this.

I decided to just dry the clothes in the dryer because it would take days for them to dry outside even if I had the gumption to brave sub-zero temps and the wind chill that drives it into the double digits. I don't have room to dry more than one load at a time inside and it would take a couple of days to dry them inside as well. So I'm going to help warm up the house (the dryer vents inside) and just do it.

I've kicked the thermostat up to 60 F today because I just can't get warm. We'll just have to suck it up and maybe dip into savings to pay for it but with this pain, I can't handle cold, too. I guess it's partly because I'm not active today. But at any rate, I'm not going to suffer.

My mother called last night to see if I got the package she sent. I hadn't. I didn't know she'd sent it but she's giving me my great-grandmother's cut glass round butter dish. It's breathtakingly beautiful and I can't wait to get it but now I'm a bit anxious since it's not here yet. I'm sure with all the extra postal traffic, it's just waiting it's turn on the truck.

Which reminds me that I need to get my sister's socks in the mail so she gets them before Christmas. I was going to mail it out this week but I'm not walking six blocks in -4 temps with a wind chill of -12. Sorry. Not gonna do it.

I might dig out the Christmas stuff tonight and start setting it up. I'm getting in the mood finally. Although I can't get excited about spending money on gifts this year. We're giving one per person though. And we're talking under $20 per gifts here. We don't spend much on Christmas because we can't.

Well, I'm off to throw the clothes in the dryer and start a new load.

Oh, and according to the Beaver Dam paper, we got 16 inches of snow. I can believe it!


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Wild, wind-whipped Wednesday...with pictures

The birdbath and feeder out back. Unfortunately all the birds left when I slipped out the back door.
One of our trees and our across the street neighbor.

Southern view from the front yard.

Some collateral damage from the snow. It was so wet and heavy that it knocked down some branches. I thought had lost our burning bush because it was on its side when I got outside but the snow blew off of it and it's now standing proud.

Boy, howdy! it did snow last night! I'm sure we got at least 10 inches although it was up to my knees in the back yard. Must have some drifting back there.

Poor Professor wouldn't step off the porch this morning for his morning wee so I had to get dressed quickly, bundle up and head out with my trusty snow shovel. I got the steps cleaned off and a large sidewalk area and he still didn't move off the porch. Further investigation revealed that his leash was frozen to the porch. Upon release, he scampered down the steps and, with eyes watering, wee'd to his heart's content. I also cleared off some grassy areas for other bathroom issues, which he promptly took advantage of.

Back inside to put some bacon on the stove and then out the back door because the bird feeder was inundated with birds who were unable to access the bird food because it was covered in snow. I wore Zach's boots because mine, for some reason, are super snug this year and his I could just slip into. And slide out of, I discovered while I was outside in 10+ inch snow. I uncovered the feeders and knocked most of the snow out of the bird bath but I'll have to trot out there later to give them some water. Which will promptly freeze as the temps are dropping pretty quickly.

Oh, and my crested bird came back today but this time she brought her mate and it's a cardinal. I didn't know they wintered over but it sure was a sight to see this morning. All these different brown wild birds and that splash of red. I'm debating filling up the feeder again because tomorrow will be brutally cold and I'd rather re-fill it in temps that don't freeze my fingers off.

So...back inside to turn the bacon and start the pancakes. I wasn't crazy about pancakes two days in a row but I was out of milk and oatmeal and I'm trying not to go to the store more than once a week. Tom is going to get some bags of milk from Kwik Trip on his way home, but we'll make do with other things until Friday. Or Thursday. I have to go pick up my prescriptions tomorrow so I might as well do the shopping while I'm there. That way I don't have to leave the house again until Saturday when I take Zach up to Fond du Lac for his last day of school. Sounds like a plan.

Then after breakfast, Zach and I headed outside to clear off the sidewalks and the driveway so Tom could get to work. Thankfully our neighbor (which one, I don't know) used his snow blower on our public sidewalk and our elderly neighbor's as well (we usually shovel hers off) so the job was not as burdensome. Still 10 inches of wet, heavy snow in the driveway was hard. We didn't have to do the apron or get rid of the wall from the snow plow either because our next door neighbor had taken care of that as well. We sometimes will clear his apron off if he's gone because there is an incline into our driveways (shared access) and it's hard to get in if the snow is deep and slick. That's how neighbors are supposed to work together. And it's nice when they do.

I think Tom starting to get onboard with this urban farming thing. I'm not sure about chickens for a number of reasons. I'd love to have them, but it would be a choice between chickens and my clothesline and I won't part with my clothesline. I just wouldn't have room otherwise. I am thinking of raising Angora rabbits for their fur, or to sell. There is room on the north side of the garage for a hutch and it would easily move into the garage in really bad weather. I could put a pen behind the garage so they wouldn't have to live in the hutch exclusively, and in really, really bad weather, put them in the basement. It's just a consideration right now. I would also consider getting a spinning wheel if I were to do that since spinning the fur would be necessary and I don't think my kick spindle would be up to the task. But we'll see. I can't afford either rabbits or spinning wheel right now.

I also looked into raising tobacco. I'm not sure if we could do it in this climate but there are ways to extend the growing season. I don't smoke anymore but he still does and just isn't going to quit. Since it costs so much, even though he rolls his own, I've been looking into this one. The garage is a perfect place for curing it and we have a wood stove we're going to install in there next summer (maybe) so that would be another option we have. Apparently you can grow your own but you can't sell it.

It's nice to feel productive again. Even though yesterday was a bust, I still managed to get more done than I normally do on an off day. So I am off to be productive by finishing up the lunch/breakfast dishes and starting a loaf of bread in the bread machine (I bake it in the toaster oven but mix it in the machine...soon I will stop using the machine and go back to mixing it by hand.) I'm also working on my aunt's socks and hopefully the beaded scarf will be done by Christmas eve.

But tomorrow we have to scrape 10+ inches of snow off the garage roof or we won't have one come spring.


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Bracing for the storm

Today has been a total waste. Well, not total. But close. I didn't get to sleep until after 5 a.m. because Tom didn't get home until after 2:30 a.m. because some of his guys stayed to finish a job but in light of his accident, I was picturing him in a ditch, unconscious, unable to phone. Or worse. His reasoning was sound...he didn't want to call and wake me up...but under the current circumstance, not the best choice. Still, he was trying to do the right thing. I told him in the future, I'd rather be woken up than pacing the floor all night.

He was still shaken up when he got home last night. I've never seen him that pale or unable to focus before. He didn't stay up long..just ate his supper and went right to bed. At 4 a.m. he came downstairs to make himself a sandwich so I'm guessing he didn't sleep well either. I decided to make a big breakfast this morning as a meager compensation.

Aside from doing up the breakfast dishes, I've done nothing else. I need to walk to Kwik Trip to get some milk but with only a few hours' sleep I'm having a hard time pushing myself. I don't really need milk tonight; I can make powdered if I need to do any baking. If I get to bed early tonight, I can get up early and walk to the gas station to get the milk. And set the trash out.

It will be pointless to set it out tonight if we're going to get 8-10 inches of snow. The snow plow will create a barrier three feet high and the truck won't be able to get the can out to the street. Truthfully, I suspect they won't even make a garbage run tomorrow. They didn't last winter when the weather was this bad.

I've got all the curtains closed since there isn't any sun and the curtains help keep the drafts out of the house. We use compact fluorescent lights so it's not expensive to keep the lights on. I'm feeling particularly cozy as a result. In fact, I might crawl into bed and stay there. Except I still have to fix supper and do up the dishes.

We've got to be at the Fond du Lac campus by 9 a.m. on Saturday for Zach's last day of school (his make up class) and I'm not really good with mornings so I guess I need to start working on that, getting to bed early and getting up early. I don't mind mornings. I love the peace and solitude. But I have been a night owl since Zach was born, due to his sleep disorder and just haven't managed to shift. Now that he's mostly outgrown it, I should work at it since I do feel more productive when I get up early.

Some thoughts I had last night while I was busy not sleeping. I think the fundamental difference between mine and Tom's thinking is that he thinks we need to bring more money into the house and that me working at a fast food restaurant for minimum wage will solve that problem. He doesn't see that me working crappy hours in a crappy job won't bring home all the money I earn. I won't be home to do the frugal things I'm doing now, won't be cooking the frugal meals I'm cooking now. I'd use the dryer instead of hanging clothes out. Because I've done this for all of our marriage (or at least since I got out of the Navy) he's never seen just how much money we would be putting out if I used convenience items. He has said he would share in the cooking, but he doesn't cook from scratch, nor does he cook really balanced meals. Or frugal ones.

Not to mention the upkeep of two cars in really good condition would take up more than I would make. In 23 years of marriage we have never had two cars up and running consistently. If I had been working, I would have lost my job due to lack of transportation. Me being at home has enabled us to manage with one vehicle when we needed to. Granted, I was making huge sacrifices by driving Zach up to Fond du Lac, then coming back to drive Tom to Hartford, then back to FDL to get Zach, then back to Hartford to get Tom. Or staying home because I didn't have a car to drive. So it would take years to pay for the cost to either fix the vehicles we have or buy something newer and more reliable. Why do that when there is another way?

My thinking is that we take the money we've already got coming in and manage it frugally (even moreso than we've been doing) and in the long run, we'd end up with more money. There is always more I can do and now that my time is my own again, I will make a very concerted effort to do that. Already we're managing on a 15% pay cut and so far haven't had to dip into savings. We're squeaking by, mind you, but we're managing. I've had to up the heat a bit because neither Tom nor I can handle the 55 degree F temp another winter. I've got it sitting on 58 right now and it's a bit more comfortable. Come Thursday when the temps are at minus 10, it will definitely feel better and I might have to crank it up to 60. But no higher. As it is, we will have to dip into savings for winter utilities. Unless I can bring down the grocery bill, which I think I can...but not enough to cover all of it.

Part of me feels like I'm jumping onto a band wagon and I hate band wagons. I'm not into trends because they're so fleeting. But I've been living frugally since we got married and it seems with each year, I learn and apply more frugal attitudes to our way of life. For example, as a homemaker, I just don't shower daily. If I've been outside working or have gotten particularly dirty while scrubbing down the house, I'll shower but I don't think we need to shower every day just because. Showers are for when you're dirty, not for making yourself feel fresh. A sinkful of water can wash all the necessary bits (including your can then wash the rest of you in the rinse water) and the amount of water used is a tiny percentage of what is used in a shower. Do that daily and you'll be clean. And fresh. The skin doesn't need the assault of soap and water on it every day unless it's dirty. No wonder there is a huge market for body lotions out there. We've dried out skin out by abusing it with soap and water.

I've had people curl their lips in disgust when I tell them this, but I don't smell (well, don't come near me after I've mowed the lawn, but otherwise...), my hair is clean and even though I'm post-menopausal, I don't use body lotions much because my skin just isn't that dry. I might use some hand lotions because I do get my hands in water a lot: dishwashing, scrubbing and such. But my legs and arms aren't dry at all. And you'd be surprised how your water bill will go down if you just don't shower every day.

Tom, on the other hand, does shower daily during the work week because his job is pretty grimy. He's a foreman at a metal manufacturing plant. Just being there he absorbs a large amount of oils and dirt. That's what the shower is for.

But even a quick shower (unless it's a Navy shower where you get wet, turn the water off, soap up, turn it back on and rinse) will use significantly more water than a sinkful of water.

Think about it.

This is the way I was raised though. We didn't take frequent baths or showers. We washed ourselves daily and took a shower or bath once a week. I'm betting it was that way in most households.

Well, it's gotten all dark in the house so I think I'm going to go take a short nap because going to bed at 8:00 p.m. doesn't work all that well for me and I don't think I could stay up much longer than that tonight.


Monday, December 7, 2009

Light at the end of the tunnel...

...and it's not another train coming.

Tomorrow night (pending the weather of course) is Zach's last day of school. Makes me want to break out in song.

Of course if we get the 10 inches we're predicted to get, then Saturday will be the last day. No way I can drive up to Fond du Lac in weather like that. I'm hoping we can get it all over with tomorrow but not at the risk of our lives.

We woke up to snow this morning. Lovely and slippery. I looked out back and the bird feeder that was mostly ignored all summer is empty again. I just refilled it last Friday. I'm not a birder so I don't know the different kinds but I think we've got starlings. I'm guessing but they're the size of the ones I've seen in movies and they hang about in herds...I mean flocks...or whatever. There were a couple of good sized birds out there today. One was crested, like a cardinal, but I thought they migrated south for the winter. I'm going to have to get some books from the library. I need to know whom I'm feeding.

I normally don't get much done on days I drive up north because the drive is exhausting for me and I don't like to start the trip already tired but things had to get done. Like shoveling the driveway and sidewalks. And re-filling the bird feeders and giving them fresh water instead of ice in the bird bath. Not much for most people, but I was really wiped out by the time I got done. Thankfully it was another good night for sleeping. I got about 9 hours. Seems like feast or famine for me regarding sleep.

I'm baking some homemade macaroni and cheese for supper. We did the McSnacky thing up at Fond du Lac but even though I ate a cheap meal, it still manages to add up so I'm glad we won't be doing this anymore (save one more time.) I'm getting used to my new routine and while not pushing it too much, I'm finding my activity level increasing...slowly...but increasing. So much so that I'm not sitting down to knit during the day. I spend a few hours knitting at night while watching tv (don't do that much at all during the day) but my down time during the day seems to be for reading or researching. I'm learning that even now I'm too late on preparing some things for next year's garden.

I need to start carrying around a notebook with me to jot down things I want to add to my blog because the moment I sit down to write my entry for the day, I forget 70% of what I want to write. And a camera. I want to start adding pictures back to my blog. Especially my birdfeeder with the snow on its roof. And all the birds fighting for the tiny space.

Tomorrow I need to set out food for the ground critters. We've got some mouse and gerbil food left over from our dearly departed mice so I'd rather they got it than to throw it out. There is a mouse family that lives in the wood pile up the hill. They don't bother me and I don't bother them. They're welcome to live in that wood pile as long as they want...until they come in my home. Then the cat will talk to them and show them the error of their ways. So far, only a couple have managed to make it inside.

And then we've got the squirrels that drive Professor to insanity during the summer. They need to be rewarded for their efforts.

I'm almost ready to cozy in for the winter. I could so hibernate.

And addition to this post: Tom just called from work to tell me he had an accident on the way there. He crunched the right corner panel...again...(this was the same one the semi crunched when it ran him off the road in a hit and run...good thing we didn't spend our deductible to fix it) so the light isn't working and the truck is just not good in slippery weather. He's decided not to take the back country roads to work in order to save a few miles in weather like this and fortunately he wasn't going fast at all and a rotten post stopped him from flipping the truck into a ditch. Got a lot to be thankful for.


Sunday, December 6, 2009

Radiant Sunday

I really meant to write yesterday but the opportunity never came. I woke up at 10 a.m. after getting nearly 10 hours of sleep (yes!) and got dressed and stopped off at the thrift store to drop off a coat I had washed and look around at their Christmas stuff. I was also looking for pans that would fit in our toaster oven. I lucked out and got another muffin tin and a donut pan for cake donuts. I found a pair of velour pants for Christmas and wore them today to church. The lining feels like satin or something similar and was cold when I put them on this morning so I retreated and put a pair of legging on underneath.

I also got two stacks of Country Woman magazines, none current, of course. Each stack was $1.50 and I found several good recipes in them, in addition to an article about dyeing wool and several knitting patterns. Also some articles on various livestock care.

But I saw nothing of a Christmas nature that sent my heart swooning so I will probably just knit another Christmas mini-stocking for my little tree. I might put the decorations up this week just because I need to locate them all and I don't want to have them stacked up somewhere awaiting installation.

Then I left the thrift store and headed to the library in Beaver Dam and picked up some things I had on hold. By the time I got there, I had two more items waiting so it was a good trip. I figured while I was in town I might as well do the shopping and since I had my cloth bags with me, headed off to do that.

Note: I didn't stop to eat lunch in spite of my growling tummy. I was so proud of myself.

I got what I needed and picked up some sale items in double quantity just because. I shouldn't have to go back to the store until next weekend.

When I got home, I fixed a baked potato in the toaster oven (I hate microwaved potatoes) and after lunch Tom and I went to Hartford to get some yarn to knit my aunt's socks. I got plenty, enough for 4 pair if I'm creative with the colors on the last pair. I got colors that would be compatible with each other: green red and blue. We were going to stop at his niece's house to pick up his winter flight jacket his brother had dropped off there for him but he never seems to find her home. So we didn't get the jacket. It felt like such a long trip just for 5 minutes' shopping but it was cheaper than ordering the yarn from Lion Brand's shop. Quicker, too.

When we got home, I didn't even take off my coat but got out the harness and took Professor for a walk around the block. He's as out of shape as I am. Coming up the steep hill had him walking slowly and panting a bit. Obviously we need to do this on a daily basis. For myself, though, I want to take longer, slower walks by myself so I can go further afield and don't have to stop at every tree or utility pole.

When we finished that I headed into the kitchen to prepare supper, which was pizza casserole. After supper the dishes had to be washed and put away and then I was ready for my shower and pajamas. I started the socks and watched Taken with Liam Neeson. By the time I was finished with all of that I was ready for bed but once I shut everything down, my eyelids popped open and I ended up awake until 4 a.m. The dog woke me up at 7:55 a.m. wanting out otherwise I would have missed church this morning. I managed to get dressed, including make up, in 20 minutes. Amazing.

The only opportunity I had to write was in the afternoon before going to Hartford but Tom was in the room and I don't like to write when he's around because he tends to walk around and read over my shoulder. It really didn't come to that though because he turned on the tv and was watching Glenn Beck and the show was so disgusting that I had to shut down the computer and threaten to leave the house if he left the show on. I kind of went off on him a bit because the show was so obviously slanted and filled with lies and tons of fear mongering that I was shaking. I told him he could watch it upstairs all he wanted but if he was going to turn it on downstairs I would have to leave the house because I just cannot stomach the lies and hate-spewing that was going on. Not to mention, they were showcasing African American conservatives to demonstrate that not all blacks were for Obama. In fact, their insinuation was that most intelligent people of color thought Obama was a socialist devil.

See, I still haven't calmed down. He thinks Glen Beck is right 99% if the time. And doesn't pass up an opportunity to slam Obama to me. I mostly ignore him because I know he's baiting me, but forcing me to listen to that tripe was over the top.

So...I was barely online yesterday.

Church today was really good. I love the liturgical colors, sarum blue and purple (we use both) and Mary's sermon, while short, was really good. Lots of good times in coffee hour, too.

Then I treated myself to the dollar menu at Wendy's because I need to pamper myself once in a while...maybe even weekly. Zach didn't go to church this morning because he's so stressed out about school that he's not sleeping well so I took a book with me and found myself a corner table and enjoyed my small, inexpensive meal. Part of me feels guilty over it but I think I needed it.

Then I stopped by The Dollar Store before heading home. They had a Vicki Howell knitting book for $1 (the one that has all the children's patterns in it), some toothpaste, tooth brushes, and a half gallon jug of orange/oxygen cleaner refill. I have great plans for cleaning the basement pantry next week so I needed some more of it. And a pair of work gloves so I can wield the pick axe while breaking sod for next winter's garden and maybe some pruning work as well.

Today I'm barely moving because I need sleep so I might take a nap instead of doing a lot. I bought a roast on sale last week and cut it in half so I can stick that in the crock pot with some potatoes and carrots and spices and take a nap while it's cooking.

Two more weeks of school and my life is my own again.

Off to snooze although it's such a beautiful day I should be outside taking pictures of the yard because apparently we have a weather front moving in tomorrow and driving to Fond du Lac might get a bit dicey.


Friday, December 4, 2009

Friday's just another day

I stayed up as late as I could but ended up going to bed at 8 p.m. I woke up when Tom got home, which wasn't his fault, but I couldn't get back to sleep until about 3 a.m. and slept until 5 a.m. and finally got up at 6. I took a mini-nap at 10 a.m. so I don't feel too bad.

I started a load of clothes as soon as I crawled out of bed this morning and managed to get 3 loads on the line. I wasn't sure how well this would work out, being in the 20s F but there is a nice wind going on so I thought I would experiment and see how it worked out. The first load was frozen stiff when I hung out the second load but by the time I got the third load on the line, the first load was no longer stiff and felt a bit dry. My hands, on the other hand, were pretty frozen by the last load. I wore my spiffy newly knitted mitts, which helped a lot, but I had to stop and thaw my hands out on that last load.

Oh, and it did snow last night and this morning (actually it's still throwing a few flurries now) but there's been no accumulation. Apparently there was some in Madison because there was a banner announcing school closings. But our ground is still green/brown.

I think I might go to the library today. I have some things on hold there. The temptation is there to swing by the store and pick up the things on the chalkboard (our grocery list) but I'm trying to stop going more than once a week. I was pondering this morning while toasty warm under my covers and reluctant to come out from under them to the room temperature of 50 F, that most of this frugality has to do with a person's mindset. I thought about how easy it would be to throw the clothes in the dryer and justify it just this once. Or swing by the store just this once. I think if you are meticulous about the little things, especially if they require a significant effort, being frugal with the larger things will come easier. I know that justifying eating out because of Zach's school made it so much easier for me to find excuses to buy things we didn't really need.

At least that's the way it works for me.

I'm hoping to get some baking done today in my toaster oven. Muffins or something like that. I might even dig out a cookie recipe. I've got some chocolate I should use up. Supper tonight will be stir fry so I can use up the rest of the chicken I cooked in the crockpot last night. I'm really sick of casseroles so I'm trying to find meals that are thrifty and stretch the meat I cook but that isn't a casserole. It's challenging.

Today is also going to be a mending day. My flannel sheet has a hole in it that has grown over the past couple of months so I'm going to take one of Tom's old flannel shirts and mend it. And I have wool socks to darn. Sometimes I'll re-knit the toe if that's where the hole is and if it's the heel, I've often re-knit the entire foot. That doesn't necessarily depend on whether I have the same yarn or not since that part is covered up by the shoe anyway. But this time they are tiny holes. I caught them before they got bigger and just set them aside so I'll just darn them.

I'm still hoping to get started on the downstairs pantry but today looks pretty full (for me) so I might leave that to next week.

Off to fix lunch and then off to the library.


Thursday, December 3, 2009

Rambling Thursday

It started snowing about the time Tom left for work so I raced outside to bring the clothes in off the line. It was a bit fun to see the snow accumulating on the freshly dry clothes, but I got them in before they got wet.

And then, of course, it stopped snowing.

According to the weather report it should start up again in less than an hour and we might get around an inch or two. I do love snow. I just hate shoveling it.

I'm not getting much done today, but the day isn't over and I might have a surge of energy soon. I washed up Tom's supper dishes (I had washed up everything else and put his supper in containers so all he had to do was pop them in the fridge when he finished) and the meager breakfast dishes. I'm not a huge breakfast eater, sometimes a piece of toast or bowl of cereal is fine for me. Rarely do I ever eat a big breakfast. Tom has oatmeal every single day, Zach a bowl of cereal, so there is rarely any major clean up in the morning unless I didn't do supper dishes the night before.

I put a chicken in the crockpot with various herbs and spices and the smell is starting to waft into the living room. Mmmmmmm....nice!

I was hoping to start the downstairs pantry today but the lack of sleep is getting to me and I'm dragging. I had managed to get to sleep early last night (by early, I mean before 2 a.m.) but Professor woke me up to go out about 3 because I forgot to put puppy pads down for him. He had an accident on the kitchen floor and woke me up to tell me so I put him out and cleaned up, only to find another accident in the bathroom. We're going to have to put the baby gate back in the bathroom doorway. I had a hard time getting back to sleep and it was 5 before I managed. Up at 9:30 for keeps this time. Hopefully I can do without a nap today so I'll be ready for bed early tonight.

Tom was worrying about the money angle again today. And yet he keeps the door open when letting the dog out or has his windows open upstairs when I've got the furnace on downstairs. He looks at the bigger picture and doesn't see that the little things add up much more quickly and cost us much more in the long run. It doesn't help that his frequent trips up north to his brother's cabin cost us more than he realizes. I hesitate to tell him how much he's spent this summer and autumn because he's stressed enough as it is and's's history, and we can't undo it so hassling him about money he already spent is pointless.

The main thing, I believe, is that we start from here and he doesn't spend that way again. I discovered that I do indeed have a backbone so I'm not afraid to say no to him in the future. In fact, I already did when he wanted to buy a new gun. Blessedly he decided on his own that he can't afford a hunting trip down to Louisville, KY with his older brother to go hunting with their younger brother. That would entail not only the expense of getting there, but also a new (and expensive) hunting license and he always feels obligated to pay for food whenever he visits his brothers.

Considering what he's spent so far this year on hunting, if he did manage to get a deer it would be the most expensive venison out there. We could have had a whole cow for the cost of these hunting trips.

I started some mitts for Zach, but I went with a simple 3X1 rib pattern instead of something fancy. I managed to get a few more inches knitted on the cardigan and finished reading Made from Scratch. I can't do all Jenna does, nor do I really feel inclined. I'm content building up to what I do want to have though. And I really would like to know if we can keep chickens in the city limits here.

Since this isn't going to be a real physical day, I'm intending to get a lot of knitting done to make up for the knitting that hasn't been happening over the past month. Saturday, Tom and I are going to Hartford to pick up his coat from his niece's house and I'll go to Banner Crafts to get some Woolease for my aunt's socks.

Tom had a meeting yesterday about our new insurance and it really sucks. Our deductible went up to $1000 per person per year which means that practically nothing will be covered for me in terms of tests I need run. And since hospitals don't let you make payments longer than 3 months, there is no way I can afford to have any of these tests done. I know I need a bone scan, and my dr wants me to have an abdominal ultrasound because she couldn't check me well because of belly fat and I need my baseline colonoscopy. Also now I have a deductible on my prescriptions unless I use their pharmacy (by mail) which won't work because it's more expensive than what I get at StuffMart in generics but they want me to change my cholesterol meds and my cancer meds to something generic. So...I have insurance, but can't afford to use it.

Yeah...we don't need health care reform in this country. I'm a huge proponent of national health care because I can tell you it would be a whole lot less than what we're paying now. Plus, it's an abomination that everyone in this country can't get adequate health care. In a few short years, Tom's company won't be able to supply insurance because of the cost. In fact, it's conceivable that might happen next year. It was a close one this year.

Enough ranting and raving. Off to some zen knitting and Deep Space Nine.


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A good day

I'm taking baby steps in altering my schedule to that of full-time homemaker/frugal goddess. I already have been doing many frugal things and have been a mostly full-time homemaker since I got out of the Navy when Zach was a baby. But incorporating all of that to a full time status and looking at it as a profession rather than as what-I'm-doing-now-while-I-wait-for-a-crappy-minimum-wage-job is a bit of a task. that I mean taking care of my home and family...has always been conveyed to me as a lesser thing. The greater thing is going out and getting a job and having two incomes so we could have more things and a better retirement.

I prefer this.

I got a book from the library that I've been almost unable to put down (obviously I did or I wouldn't be blogging right now.) I'd been intermittently reading a blog called Cold Antler Farm and I just discovered the author had written a book called Made from Scratch. It's really good. Even if I don't want to homestead to the degree she does, it's still very informative and inspiring. I do want to find out if we can have chickens here in town. And while I'm really intrigued about beekeeping, I'm not sure it's a good idea when you've got a son whose OCD issues includes terror of bees.

Still...I'm thinking hard about how to incorporate all of our yard to make it more productive. I'm pretty sure I'm going to scythe the prairie garden since it still doesn't look good at all and use it for maybe terraced gardening since it's such a steep slope. I'm hoping I can get my physical stamina and strength up to speed by spring because I would be the only one really working on it.

I'm trying not to envision this with eyes bigger than my stomach. And yet, maybe it would be good to push myself further than I think I'm capable.

I'm definitely going to use seed catalogs this year because the seeds I get from StuffMart are really crappy and don't seem to grow very well. I'm looking at heirloom seeds, too, for some things.

I didn't get the clothes pegged out until late morning because I was still awake at 4 a.m. and let myself sleep in until 11. They are almost dry except for the coat that is going to the thrift store when it dries so I will have time to get them down before the snow starts falling. If it does start falling.

I started cleaning the fridge today and hope to have it done before bedtime. I need to keep up with this stuff before it gets too bad. No reason I can't do it. Tomorrow I'm going to start working on the pantry downstairs, clearing it out and giving it a massive clean up. I can store some things down there which would make the upstairs pantry (which is just some racks in a cubby that used to house the refrigerator (but our fridge now is too big and is situated across from the sink so you can't actually open the door and get through the kitchen at the same time.)

Zach asked for some mitts today so I'm going to look for some manly patterns for him. My aunt wants thick socks so it won't take as long to knit those as it would fingering weight. I need to get to Hartford for that though because Banner Crafts has Wool ease there and that's what I like to knit socks with. And somewhere in there I need to work on my cardigan and my beaded scarf.

I need someone with a big stick to keep me off line more often!

Okay...not a big stick. A big fluffy pillow.

Well, supper is ready so I must eat while it's still warm. Hopefully this new attitude will grow incrementally and I'll be more productive each day.