28 April 2015

No. 39: Grow a Vegetable from Scratch AGAIN!

No. 39: Grow a Vegetable from Scratch AGAIN!!!


Last year about this time I attempted to accomplish No. 39: Grow a vegetable from scratch. Planted some seeds and hoped for the best.

The best did not happen.

The seedlings withered and dilly-dallied and did everything but grow. And then they up and died.
A very unsuccessful challenge.

But it's Spring again and I'm running out of time so here I am at vegetables again.

This time I am trying potatoes. Got a big patch of really good earth behind a rock in the garden. So somewhat hidden from my view but easily accessible with the water hose. I've got the starter potatoes and they will go into the ground tomorrow.   Cross your fingers.


 I'm also going to try tomatoes on the patio along with some peppers. But for now, potatoes.

In other garden news, I have some daffodils up.

 Two varieties this year.

 The poppy is up also and it needs some friends.

 It also needs some weeding....

 The peony -which I was SURE was not going to show- has sprouted.

Doesn't look like much but this year I am convinced there will be flowers. 
Maybe.

 There are tulips waiting in the wings along with another as yet unknown group of bulbs that have foliage but no blooms yet. Part of the 200 pack of bulbs I planted last fall. Once again, I forgot to label what went where.


 The little volunteer grape hyacinths have come up too. Last year I was weeding and realized..oops!... those weren't weeds, they were tiny bulbs. Fortunately plenty survived.


Not only have they survived, they have naturalized. These are popping up in the grass. And from the looks of the grass, I need to invite Martha and Maizie over.  They are the neighboring goats and always in search of a meal. 


And the grass is in search of a haircut!

Happy Spring everyone.

23 April 2015

What?

What Would You Grab? 

Sunday night Bunny and I decided to go to dinner. First we headed to the restaurant at the bottom of the hill. Closed. At 7:15pm.

Okay, we'll just drive into town.

Almost into town we notice smoke billowing into the air.   Around the curve and past the McDonald's we realize the smoke is coming from a neighborhood right off the highway.

Pulling into a hotel parking lot we could see flames leaping from a roof across the way. Firetrucks were everywhere, police had the roads blocked, people were standing and staring, all while a house collapsed into itself in a puff of cinders and flames.

The view from the highway.

It's a small town. Everyone standing around seemed to know whose house it was, how the fire started (chimney fire), how long it took them to get out of the house with their treasures (30 minutes) and what they were doing as their house burned (watching).

Photo credit: Brian McCabe/ The Mountain Mail


After a few minutes of rubbernecking,  we headed on to our second choice in dining establishments. Closed.
Again we were just a few minutes too late. (Too late being 8:00pm on a Sunday night.)

Third times a charm and so was our third choice.

After ordering I asked Bunny "If our house were on fire, what would you grab?"

It's one of those questions you think about occasionally but not too hard. Because if you think about it too seriously, you are acknowledging that this is something that might actually happen. And no one wants that. So let's just not think about it and then we won't have to deal with it.

Bunny, being 17, thought for a minute and then said "Well, it's not like I have a lot of treasures. I don't know."

We both agreed the animals first. The cats might be a challenge. Would they hide? Or come running?
Ruby, the chinchilla, has wheels on her cage- she'd be out in a flash. The turtles could be scooped out of their tank quickly, too. I assume Carlos would be smart enough to come when called.

Ruby. She's a treasure.

And then what?

For me, my first thought is the picture of my father when he was one. It's almost life sized, framed with a convex glass over it. A hand tinted photograph. It was taken when he was one and had entered a baby beauty contest. That would make this photo and frame 91 years old. I have had it hanging in every apartment and house since I was maybe 20. Rescued it from my parent's attic.

The photo albums. Because even though it is on my list, I haven't digitalized all my photos yet. Mostly because they are in Texas and I am in Colorado.
(I guess we were both thinking of what to save from Texas at this point, since that is where all the photos are.)

Bunny said she would help me save my jewelry. Mostly because she has her eyes on some of it. (Like the earrings of mine she wore Saturday night to prom, possibly.)  I want my grandmother's sapphire and diamond wedding rings. But the good stuff is in the wall safe which requires a combination stored in one room and a key stored in another.  That safe is supposed to be fireproof. All the important papers are in there, too. Do I trust it?   Can't imagine anything surviving a fire like we saw Sunday night. But also can't imagine running from room to room and then still having the presence of mind to carefully dial a combination and jiggle open a door while fire is spreading around me. Let's just hope that safe really is fireproof.

And I would want the sterling silver flatware, formerly belonging to friends of the family and purchased from their estate. When I got married it was the silver I imagined but couldn't find. A few months into wedded bliss, the friend passed and the silver was to be sold to endow a scholarship. Unfortunately it was monogrammed which greatly reduced its resale value. Fortunately it was monogrammed with my new initial. We've been together ever since.

Beautiful sterling flatware. 
Love the silver goblets, also.
Have to grab those too?

But this has me running all over the house, scouring the hiding places and frantically unlocking things.  Not exactly following that "Get out and don't go back in" rule.  And would I remember my treasures or just grab whatever was handy? I hope I never have to find out.

So, what would you save?

•••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

And.... after writing this I realized...duh!.. first grab the computer, the iPad and my purse.  Between those three items I have most of my life. And the kid's lives. And the household info. And Lord knows what else.
Then I'd grab the other good stuff.

22 April 2015

As promised, Prom

As promised, Prom.

Last Saturday night was prom for Bunny.

She's a Junior but the school has a Junior/Senior prom.  And her friend boy was a Senior last year, but he didn't go to prom. Much to Bunny's (and his mom's) dismay.

And somehow my girls have elevated prom to Cinderella-level Ball status.

The dress required multiple trips to Denver for shopping and alterations.

Shoes were stolen from sister over Spring Break.

Earrings were borrowed from my jewelry box.

The day of the dance we drove 2 hours to Colorado Springs in order to get hair and make-up done.

Two hairdressers, 45 bobby pins, 2 hair pins and one rubber band.

The results were worth it, I think.

All dressed up and someplace to go.

Dinner had been planned at one of the local restaurants. Except. Dinner was also supposed to be outside on the restaurant patio. Remember? We had 30" of snow on Thursday. The patio was cold and damp.

And all the prom dresses were pretty bare.

Dinner was rescued by the elementary school principal. He opened up the elementary to all the high school kids. Pizza was ordered, parents brought salad and decorations, tables were set up and dinner was served. Only in a small town. I can no more imagine that scenario happening in our Texas school district* than I can imagine.... what? I can't even think that crazy. Dancing hippos in tutus? Carlos flying airplanes? Me winning the lottery?
But, just like in Texas, the parents were swarming like paparazzi, snapping pictures left and right.

Kids and parents in the elementary school library.
Look at the view out that window.
Lucky books. 

And while Bunny was begging, borrowing and stealing from her family, her date was doing the same.

Somehow he managed to convince his grandpa to loan him his very expensive, very fast, very beautiful car for the evening. (This is a kid who maybe has been known to get a speeding ticket or two.)

I believe Mercedes could hire these two for an ad.

This is my favorite pic of the night. 

Or maybe this is my favorite. 
Aren't they adorable? 


And now, the realization.
Next year will be the last prom at our house.

Not sure I can handle this...............






*I say I cannot imagine it happening in our Texas school district because  of bureaucracy. Not because the principal might not think it was the right thing to do, although they probably wouldn't think of it at all. But because it would need to be cleared with the district and it wouldn't technically be a school function and then there is liability and who pays for the electricity to use the place and janitors, etc.   But here, everyone knows everyone or someone who knows someone else and parents stepped up and a few phone calls can work out the logistics over a course of a couple of hours.






16 April 2015

Friday Follow Ups

Friday Follow Up....

Going to try and post this in between the electricity flashing on and off.  Excuse any inconsistencies in type, format. 

You know how I said Wednesday I wasn't worried about the snow forecast because it won't stick and it probably won't even happen? 
Ha! 
Twelve hours now that it has been snowing (okay, it did take a tiny break mid afternoon) and we probably have had at least 12 inches of snow. 


These were taken this morning.

 This rail was swept off about 7pm. 
This was taken at 9pm.

And tonight!
Briefly it rained and flattened some of the snow down. 
But there is at least 10" of snow on that rail.

And it is supposed to snow tomorrow. And maybe on Saturday. If not snow, at least rain. 

So I have been working on my little quilt commission. Triangles that make squares that make strips that will make a quilt top. A good project for a snowy day.

Crappy pic, sorry. In a hurry, racing the failing electricity.
Slowly but surely it will become a quilt.
Need to redistribute some of that red......



Happy weekend. 

Prom pics next week! Hopefully not a bunch of kids all dressed up standing in the snow. 
•••••••••••••••

And....the above was written Thursday night. 
Here I am finally at Friday morning. It was a loooonnng night. 

The electricity kept going off and on, so much so that I just unplugged the computer and printer and everything else expensive. Not sure I have that much faith in those Wal Mart surge protectors. 

And poor Carlos. For such a big dog with such a scary deep bark, he has some major anxiety issues. We knew thunder was a problem but it seldom thunders here. Apparently the electricity clicking is also VERY frightening. 

Bunny and I made the executive decision to sedate him about 11pm last night. That might have been a couple of hours too late. He paced. He tried hiding. He scratched on the door to go out. (He normally never scratches on the doors here. Ever. ) I let him out about 2 am and he wandered, but finally came back after some calling. At 4am he was so desperate to get out I thought he might be having some intestinal distress. Nope. He just RAN! I thought I was going to have to get in the car and go looking for him. Except that the drive would need to be plowed before I could leave.
O yea, it was also PITCH BLACK out.
No electricity in the country on a cloud filled night=total darkness. A shake of the food bowl got him to return.
Finally this is where he settled down.

                           
                                    Carlos! Where are you??

                           
                   There you are! Hiding amongst the shampoos.
             Poor baby. Voluntarily in the bathtub.

The electricity is still iffy. The snow is still coming down. 
This is my world this morning. 
                            

The back deck.
                               
Out the side window
                                                              

And out the front door.
Looks like it snowed all night. And it is still snowing.

My neighbor usually plows but he was over yesterday complaining about his back. And there is so much snow, I don't think he could plow anyways. Looks like we are S.T.U.C.K.  For a bit at least. 

Did I mention this cabin is all-electric?  No electricity, no heat. Fortunately the electricity doesn't stay off for long. I'm trying to get the house extra warm, just in case.

(And I'm thinking anybody on the East coast reading this is thinking "Wah, wah, wah! This is nothing compared to our winter." Which is true. We've had some lovely weather while the rest of the country suffered.  Looks as if we are having our winter in one 36 hour dump!)

So.
Spring has not sprung.
Or maybe Spring has sprung a leak......


                         
(This was finished up on my iPad which is just awful for centering, etc....so excuse the crazy pic placement.)    




                                 
   





14 April 2015

And...

And....

You know how last week I mentioned "I've hated to say it before now, but I think Spring is really here."

I should have known better..

Here is our week's forecast:



Yep. That would be snow forecast for Friday morning.  Saturday night is prom for Bunny. That beautiful gown will be a little bare for 34ยบ temps.  Not that the temperature will stop her from wearing it. Anyway, Friday is a long ways away and forecasts are frequently wrong.


Today I panicked a bit about the rest of my list.  Because, as I have mentioned, I'm at a standstill. 
So I scrolled through and found the time specific ones and put those dates on my calendar. 

I've missed polo season (#55) but it starts again mid-September. There are polo clubs in Houston and also near Belle in Florida. I should be able to fit that in somehow. 

Thanksgiving at the beach. (#13)  Belle has informed me that she loves Florida and is planning on staying there even though she does not love school so much. I am thinking we will just go see Belle for Thanksgiving next year: turkey at the beach.  (And nope, I haven't broken this news to her or anyone else in the family yet, so "shhhhhhh". )

Ice hockey season is also over but I will have a chance next fall. Looks like games start in October.  (#57)

That colonoscopy. (#43) I am so overdue for that. This summer. Waiting until I am in Texas because that is not something I want to do in my little town...and I sure don't want to have to drive two or three hours away for it, either.  

In June I'm meeting up with my friends to plan our 60th trip. (#1) Two of us turn 60 this year, the rest do it in 2016.  The trip most likely will not happen before I turn 60 but if we have it planned, I'm counting it!

Bunny's friend took her out and taught her how to shoot a pistol. I thought she was pretty good until she told me she was only about 20 feet away from the target. 


Anyway, I discussed with her that possibly he could also teach me. (#28) This kid is methodical and safety conscious and has been around guns his whole life. We can go to the shooting range on the other side of town.

Red Rocks Amphitheatre has their summer schedule out. (#4)   Just need to schedule a trip to Denver and con someone into going with me.  Easy.  

And as soon as the vegetable starts come out, I'm grabbing a few. (#39) Last year I was not successful because it is so dry here. Miss one day of watering and Poof! those plants are dead.   
So I'm thinking a potted veggie garden on the patio will work best. Close by, I can see them and, more importantly, water them every morning easily. No shoes required to walk out into the big gardens. (This ground is pretty rocky. Even though I am a total barefoot kid, I need shoes to walk in the yard.) Crossing my fingers for success this year. 

Cozumel, well, that may not happen. (#15) Not many people want to go to Mexico with me. I think I would be totally safe but.....   I can come up with something else.  I've been a million times and it is just one of my favorite places. Not saying it won't happen eventually, just maybe not in the next year.  But maybe I can go to Cuba instead. That has been a lifelong dream and it looks closer and closer to becoming a reality. Cross your fingers. 

Soooo...... there's hope.  And putting things on the calendar makes them more likely to happen.

I think I can, I think I can, I think I can. 

















09 April 2015

And one big bad thing

And one big bad thing that pisses me off...

Wednesday I talked about some things that make me happy.

Today I am going to talk about one big bad thing that really makes me unhappy.

I tried to e-file the taxes.

And look what I got back!


Your Federal Return Has Been Rejected
This happens from time to time.
Don't worry, we can help.
Here's the problem with your return:

R0000-902-01 - Taxpayer TIN in the Return Header must not be the same as a TIN of a previously accepted electronic return for the return type and tax period indicated in the tax return.

What do I do now? 
Open this return. You'll see details on what caused the problem, and we'll walk you through fixing the return and e-filing again. You won't be charged to e-file a second time.



And you want to know why it was rejected? Because someone else, using the Hubs Social Security number, has already filed taxes in our names and received a refund. No idea what kind of refund they got, what W-2s were used or anything. But since in theory the Hubs has already filed a return, our current (and real) return cannot be filed.

I spent a nice hour on the phone this morning with the IRS (35 minutes just waiting on hold) and got a very kind woman who gave me all kinds of instructions.

Then I called the Hubs and explained the situation and what he had to do.  Because it was his SSN compromised, he has to do the calling and alerting.

Then he remembered that he had just received a letter from Anthem, Inc explaining "O yea, back in December apparently our computers were hacked and you're screwed."    Don't even know who Anthem, Inc. is beyond they have something to do with health care or insurance.

For some reason Anthem, Inc is just getting around to notifying people.  O! And they have kindly offered to "protect" us with AllClear SECURE for two years at no charge.  

Ummm.  A little late for that, no?

And for us?

Six months before we get that nice refund check we were expecting in three weeks. And six months is if we are lucky.   Pretty sure the IRS will not be paying interest to us during that six months either.
(But OH! if the tables were turned and we owed the IRS money, you can bet interest would be expected. Probably some penalties for being tardy, too. Grrrr.)

No one will be reimbursing the Hubs for his ENTIRE day that was shot calling the credit bureaus, going into the banks, calling Social Security and calling the FTC.

We were also told to file a police report which the Hubs tried to do.   The police station informed him that he could not file a report unless he had the name and address of the person who stole his information.    Everyone laugh out loud now.    Silly us. We thought that was what the police department was for, to find the criminals.

the local police???

I will spend this evening changing all the passwords on all the online accounts.

And I am VERY VERY UNHAPPY.

And if this happens to you, here is the IRS's website link which will tell you exactly how to handle things. 

07 April 2015

Things...

Things I Am Thankful For 
and That Make Me Happy...


First off, Tuesday and Thursday postings seem to have shifted.  Now they are coming up on Wednesdays and Fridays more and more so you know what? We are just going to roll with that. Expect me on Wednesdays and Fridays now.  Flexibility is important, at any age.


Many things recently that I have been thankful for, grateful for or have just made me happy.
In no particular order:

Disney World:
Over Spring Break Bunny stayed with Belle and they drove to Disney World for a few days.

Love the Runaway Train.

Their second morning they were in a restaurant before heading to the parks. As they seated themselves, they realized someone had left a bag at the table. They told an employee, sat with the bag and waited to see if someone would return for it. Eventually the owner came for the bag.

The Disney restaurant employee then came to their table and asked if they had Fast Passes. They assured him they did and he said "Well, then you can use these." and handed them V.I.P. Fast Passes which allowed them into any ride without waiting, with no time restrictions and no rides excluded.   They were nice girls, did the right thing and were rewarded. So many times good deeds go unnoticed. It made their day and also made their day more fun. (Does that make sense? It made them happy and made them have even more fun than they would have in the first place. If that's possible at the Happiest Place on Earth!)

And a special bit of thankfulness goes to my brother who fronted us the airline points to get Miss Bunny off to Florida and me to visit with the parents.

Friends:
The girls had so much fun over Spring Break that Belle was worn out and finally got sick. Very sick.
Two Urgent Care visits, one regular doctor and one specialist sick. Ten days sick.  Belle is probably my hardiest child. She never runs a fever. She seldom gets sick at all.  And she was 2000 miles away.

So I am grateful for the friends who emailed me every morning while I was totally fretting about my baby. "How's she doing this morning?" "Is there anything I can  do?" "What did the doctor say?"

I am grateful for the friend who called and said "I checked flights for you in case you need to go there."  

I am very grateful for the friend (the former airline employee who can fly discounted standby) who sent me these messages:



Seriously. She was volunteering to fly to Florida (from Texas) to check on my Belle or fly to Colorado and stay with Bunny so I could go to Florida. Right before Easter.  Amazing.

Strangers:
Bunny works as a waitress. She's the only waitress at her restaurant which usually isn't a problem, but sometimes it is. The place is big and can get busy, although usually it doesn't on the weeknights that she is there.

Last Thursday, it got busy. She seated six large tables and then one lonely couple came in.  Bunny knew that the big tables wouldn't notice if the couple's food came out first, but the couple might really get tired of waiting for six other tables to be served before they got their food.  So she moved the couple's ticket up front to be served first.

She was busy but said she managed. Finally she got a break and sat down to sort her tickets.
She noticed the couple talking to her boss and went over, concerned there was a problem. Instead she was handed this:


A $100 tip on a $19.40 tab. And the nicest note ever. She said she cried. The couple cried. The money was great but truly I think she was overwhelmed by the note.  So a very big thank you to kind strangers.

Spring:
I've hated to say it before now, but I think Spring is really here. Things are greening up although not quite blooming yet. But the tulips and daffodils are sending up shoots.

Bunny went to school in shorts today.
When I go out this afternoon, I will be wearing flip flops. Because I can!

Carlos is grateful, too. He's been spending a lot of time on the decks, basking in the sun. I've been out there with him quite a bit, myself. It's lovely.

Watching for squirrels in the sun.

And with Spring comes flowers, although as I said, not in my yard yet.
But these are on my table:

The entire house smells divine because of these beauties.

Delivered by this nice young man:


Bunny's friend brought flowers for me and a bunny for Bunny when he showed up, spiffily dressed I might add, on Easter morning for breakfast.
Let me throw in that I am also very grateful for well raised young men, period.

Work:
Work is dignity and freedom and (a tiny bit of) money. It's also mind blowingly entertaining!
I love my regulars. They light up my life. Honest.
I love the weirdos who were out in full force yesterday. "Yea, I'm 53. Just sold my old Chevy truck for this Ford Fusion. Want to see the engine?"  Seriously? Do I LOOK like I want to see the engine of your car? Then he told me about all of the isolated places he used to live, off the grid, in the back country. (Probably the same places that the bodies of the unsuspecting souls who DID look at his engine are buried.)
I love reporting to my daughters, who both work for tips, exactly how much I make each day. Fortunately I am paid a decent wage and am NOT working for tips.
Yesterday I got $1.56 in tips.
It gives them a good laugh.


So there you have it.
What has been making your day recently?

04 April 2015

Hoppy Easter

Hoppy Easter to all....


Well, Sunday is Easter and I have been preparing.

 Love these big white bunnies from Target.
I got a couple of them.

 These strawberries have nothing to do with anything, but they are just so pretty.

 O wait! The peeps have infiltrated the strawberries.
Don't you LOVE the Peeps in half egg shells? 

 Another Target find- a bunny garland.
But, wait? Doesn't it look a little Playboy Bunny-ish? 
Or is that just me? 

And this Bunny platter. 
To die for.

Bunny has requested an Easter egg hunt (because she is only 17 and some things you are NEVER too old for).  And of course there are hopes that the Easter Bunny will bring an Easter basket.

But mostly she has requested Easter breakfast for her and the friend boy.
And a specific breakfast.

French Toast Roll Ups.
Never heard of them? Me either.  


So I looked them up and practiced and Wow! That girl is on to something.
They are yummy.


French toast filled with strawberries and cream cheese.
Or cream cheese and cinnamon/sugar.
Yum.

And in the interest of making everyone's Easter morning happy- or at least sugar filled- here's the basic recipe.  Pretty much you can fill these with anything.  Nutella? Bananas? I'm doing strawberries and blueberries.


French Toast Roll Ups

Ingredients
  • 8 slices white sandwich bread (For some reason I have a loaf of sliced Italian so I'm using that. Sourdough might be yummy ,too.)
  • softened cream cheese, diced strawberries, blueberries, or whatever
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 heaping teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • butter, for greasing the pan 
Instructions
  1. Cut the crust from each slice of bread and flatten it out with a rolling pin. (Or a wine bottle if you are at my cabin.)
  2. Place about 1-2 teaspoons of your chosen filling 1 inch from one end of the bread in a strip. Roll the bread up tightly and repeat with the remaining pieces of bread. The cream cheese really gives it that added Yum so don't leave it out.
  3. In a shallow bowl whisk the eggs and milk until well combined.
  4. In a separate shallow bowl mix the sugar with the cinnamon.
  5. Heat a skillet set over medium heat and melt a tablespoon of butter.
  6. Dip each bread roll in the egg mixture coating well and then place them in the pan seam side down. Cook in batches until golden brown, turning them to cook and brown on all sides, about 2 minutes per side. Add butter to the pan as needed.
  7. Add cooked rolls immediately from the pan to the cinnamon sugar and roll until completely covered in sugar. Serve with maple syrup for dipping or just on their own.



Have a wonderful Sunday!

02 April 2015

Thursday on a Friday, Again

Thursday on a Friday, Again
or
What I've Been Doing While I'm NOT Working on My Challenges.


I'm at an impasse.

The rest of the challenges either have time specific, place specific or budget unavailable constraints.
So I'm just sitting on them for a bit.

In the meantime, I am kind of back to No. 8: Make Baby Quilts Again.
(A side note: The babies that I made those original quilts for turn two this week. Wow!)

At work one day a regular was asking whether we carried any baby gifts. We don't.
But I mentioned I make baby blankets and sell them on Etsy. (Ok, they are listed on Etsy. Occasionally they sell. I've been more than lazy about promoting them.)

And he brightened up and said "Perfect! Make me one for my great niece."

So I did.

In pictures it didn't look like much, but in person it was very sweet. White flannel on one side, tiny pink floral print on the other and quilted with large, randomly placed, stylized flowers.   I loved what my buyer said. He wanted one side of the quilt plain white so as to show off the baby. He wanted the baby to be the focus, not the blanket. Isn't that a lovely idea?

 Some randomly drawn on flowers- waiting for the disappearing ink to disappear.

Sweet little blanket-waiting for a baby. 

And while I haven't heard whether the baby loved the blanket, my buyer did. So much so that he had another idea. 

He has some old flannel shirts. Loved and worn. Frayed collars. 



Could I make a quilt for the toddler brother of the newborn great niece, using his old shirts?



Why yes, I could.
And so I am.

It will be simple, squares. Probably four rows by six of  7" squares.   At least that's what it's looking like at this point.  The squares will be made of two triangles.


A couple of the triangles will still have pockets. A toddler should like that- a place to hide things. 

It's a nice little project to keep me busy.

And soon I will be back to my list.