Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Movin' On

Right now, I should be working at the kids' consignment shop. The shop opened yesterday and I was all set to work the next 6 weeks. I gathered up all the clothing the kids can't wear, the toys they don't play with, the books they don't read, and some of the maternity clothes that I won't need anymore. I sent an email to the Boss and told her of my intentions, that I planned to work for her again and was looking forward to seeing her and everyone else.

She replied back and said that things were different now, that the store space was changed and would probably be difficult for me and the kids-- no heat and no bathroom anymore. She also said she had a new policy that staffers had to work 20 hours per week to qualify for first crack at shopping and the freebie clothes at the end and the 100% profits in the sale of your own items.

I was half disappointed and half expecting it. The last sale didn't end well and I had a feeling that it was going to be my last time working for her, but I admit, I had hoped it was because she was sick and that things would go back to the way they used to be. I had hoped that since I worked with her for 6 years that she would make an exception for me, especially since I have to drive 3 hours round trip just to get to the store. There's no way I can work 20 hours per week for her with my Husbands' schedule and not take the kids with me. And driving all that way, for only 50% of the profits?

So it's settled then. I won't bother pricing the rest of my items and we are going to try and sell them ourselves-- either at a yard sale or a flea market booth. We use the money to pay our car insurance, so it's not an option to donate them. I have to say, it's a load off my mind knowing I don't have to work for her and make the long drive to get there.

My kids get stressed out by the store, too. Middle starts to pull her hair out and leaves a small bald spot on her head until a few weeks after the sale is done and then finally her hair starts to grow back. All the girls pick up bad behavior from the other kids there, and start back-talking, getting sassy and picking up language that the Hubby and I don't use. Plus, our eating habits go out of whack and we all end up feeling poorly. And usually, the kids get sick from the other kids there, and our family has been lucky in that we don't get sick very often.

I'm a little sad to see it end, it's been a great sale to participate in all these years, and I have managed to make quite a bit of money selling stuff there. I've met some great people and made new friends, but nothing stays the same forever. It's just my time to move on and start something on my own. I'm content with my decision.

Monday, March 30, 2009

The Yard Sale Gods Are Shining Upon Me!

I had very good luck at a yard sale this past weekend.
It was my first yard sale of the year and I really needed a fix.

I spotted this table in the corner, a yellow tablecloth on it and things piled high on it,
but the stripey green and white legs called out to me.
I lifted the tablecloth and I knew this was going to come home with me--
as long as the price was right.

It changes from a square table to a round one.
In fine shape but eventually I will have to re-do the top,
by way of removing several layers of paint and then repainting it.
The legs are in perfect shape.

I asked the lady, "How much?"
She looked at the stuff on it, made a face and then said, "10 dollars?"
"I'll take it! Add the tablecloth, too?"

I hung the tablecloth on the line when we got home, then it rained shortly after and all those stains you see on there? Gone! I'll wash it and see how clean it gets, but it's a lovely tablecloth, don't you think?

Friday, March 27, 2009

Is it time yet?

We had a bout of warm weather last week and we got quite a few garden preparations done. Then it went all chilly again and that just frustrates me like crazy. I wake up every morning and check the thermometer to see if it's above 40 yet, but no, it stays in the 40s the whole day.

During the warmer weather we had, we tilled the kitchen garden area we have outside the sunroom and dining room with a new (to us) tiller. We bought it from a friend for $75 and it runs perfectly. It did an amazing job and it isn't so heavy that I can't handle it. I thought we did a good job last year tilling the soil by hand and hoe, but the tiller uncovered a buried plant pot from the previous owners!

When I was pregnant last year, I planned for a smaller garden and planted tomatoes, snow peas and broccoli here. The corn, potatoes and peppers went in the bigger garden in the back field. This year, the kitchen garden will be mostly herbs and a couple of tomato plants for salads and snow peas. Can't wait to begin work on the bigger garden. Just waiting for a warmer day when we can hook up the big tiller to the tractor and start turning over the garden.

I've got serious garden envy when we head out and I see people's gardens already tilled over. Makes me want to turn around and head back home to do ours! We still have time though, and here in the panhandle of West Virginia, it just isn't time yet. Soon, though. Soon...

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Roll, Roll, Roll (say it like Teri Garr)

In the spirit of keeping it real, I have a confession to make: I don't like to mop.

In the almost 4 years we have lived in this house, I have not ever mopped the whole entire floor.

Oh sure, I've spot-mopped. I sweep and I vacuum. I even get on my hands and knees and use a towel to wipe a large section of the floor. But I have not mopped the entire floor.

Until now.

I keep forgetting that with a dog, we have to adjust the way we do things. We can no longer leave plates on the counter unless we push them far away from the edge. We cannot leave a cup of liquid on the table unless we want it knocked over. We can't leave a sandwich and grab the mustard real quick, or else the sandwich will not be there when we get back.

The other day, we had pancakes for breakfast. Middle put her plate up on the counter, too close to the edge and I didn't see it. Too occupied with Baby and Youngest. By the time I went into the kitchen, it was too late, an overturned plate that was pushed around all over the kitchen floor by Maisie attempting to turn it over so she could lick the syrup. Now my whole kitchen floor was a sticky mess.

Someone please remind me why we got a dog again?

*sigh* I resigned myself to the mop and bucket. I dragged out the bucket. I filled it up with water; added vinegar and a few drops of essential oil- basil and lemon. Then I started mopping. And mopping. Maybe it was the scent of basil or the lemon. Whatever it was, something clicked inside of me and I had to mop another room.

I pushed all the furniture out of the dining room and mopped that floor.

Then I pushed all the furniture out of the living room and mopped in there, too.

I stood back and looked at my clean floors. I felt such a sense of satisfaction. I felt giddy. I wanted to lie down and enjoy my clean floor. Roll over and over and glide my hands over the floor and revel in the cleanliness of it. ~ahem~ I know, I'm talking about the floor.

Look, even Baby is happy with the clean floor. I can't let him crawl on a dirty floor, what would people think?

I'll be breaking out the mop and bucket a little more often. I haven't done the bedrooms yet and I am eyeing those floors next. Gardening season is here, and pretty soon there will be muddy footprints to mop up. oh joy!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Chicken Nuggets

On Saturday, after the Husband got off work, we went out to a farm about 2 hours away from us. We saw this silo painted to look like corn on the way over. Cute!
We met up with a woman that I'd been emailing back and forth with for a couple weeks and walked away with some new friends.

What did we get, you ask?

Chicks!! Or as we like to call them, chicken nuggets!
We finally got chicks after I'd been talking about them for awhile.
I'm hoping these will be my egg producers in the near future.
6 Buff Orpingtons (yellow)
6 Speckled Sussex (striped)
3 Rhode Island Reds (rust)
They are so much fun to watch and the girls just love them. They are busy naming them, though we can't yet tell them apart so we're probably naming the same one over and over!
Here are some of the names we've come up with so far--
Blackhead, Petunia, Kayla, Sophie, Rocky (in case we have a rooster in there), and Henry, plus a few others I can't remember.
We're chicken farmers!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Inside Connections

There are advantages to my husband working at the Mall. He's the friendly sort, the kind of guy that can strike up a conversation with just about anybody. I love that about him. He has made friends out of a lot of the other people that work at the Mall: the security guard, other sales clerks from the shops, the janitors, even the regular Mall walkers.

Because of these friendships, he comes home full of new information about all kinds of things; interesting tidbits from conversations held with people of all ages and cultures; and sometimes, pretzels!

Oh, yes! Pretzels! The kind you find only at the Mall. The big, soft, warm kind of pretzels that cost an arm and a leg to buy. Mmmm, pretzels!

A friendship with the janitor has proven to be very smart, indeed! Turns out that the pretzel place does not throw away the extra unsold pretzels at the end of the day and instead, they give them away to the Mall workers. Mr. Janitor has connections to the pretzel place. One of the other workers told Husband that if he wanted free pretzels, talk to Mr. Janitor.
"Mr. Janitor, I hear you're the guy to talk to about pretzels."

"Why, you want some? How many you want? I can get you as many as you want."

Thus began our love affair with the pretzels.

The Husband only gets pretzels when he and Mr. Janitor work the evening shift. Then, just before closing and the Mall shuts down, here comes Mr. Janitor with a bag full of pretzels! Just the other night, Husband came home with 20 pretzels! Mmmm! What am I going to do with 20 pretzels? Well, freeze them, of course!

I got a Foodsaver for Christmas from my Dad and his Wife and I've been putting it to use, saving those extra pretzels in the freezer. (Thanks for the Foodsaver! I love it!)

Thanks to Mr. Janitor, we now have a nice stash of pretzels in our freezer. Inside information, it's priceless!

Thursday, March 19, 2009


I love the way Youngest holds onto those flowers.

The way her little fist tightly wraps around them, taking care not to drop any.

She is my nature girl.

Whenever we are outside, she has her nose to the ground,

searching out little bits of nature's treasures.

Fallen acorns or hickory nuts;

lost feathers or crinkly leaves;

flowers or pretty rocks.

She has her own drawer in our art cart and like a squirrel

she stashes away all her finds.

I've peeked in it and she has put in there

all her favorite little people characters

a vintage hot wheels car pilfered from Daddy's stash,

pictures her sisters drew;

and if I didn't know better, I would have cleaned it up

and thrown all her treasure bits away.

If only she could know,

she is my treasure.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Spring has Sprung!

Yesterday was a perfect Spring day..
slightly warm with just a bit of chill on the edges.
We spent part of the day outside, basking in the warm sunshine and reveling in the fact that Spring is a l m o s t here.

Youngest picked flowers,
her trusty friend Woody always at her side and dressed in her princess gown.

Oldest and Middle had races up and down the yard- note they were dressed in green for St. Patrick's Day.

And look! A sweet crocus popping out to say hello!

Any signs of Spring where you are?

Monday, March 16, 2009

Crayons and Quilt WIP

Having 4 children (well, 3 really) that like to snap crayons in half while they color and a dog that likes to steal crayons and chew them to bits, we have lots and lots of little crayon pieces all over the house. I remember reading somewhere that you could melt the little bits and make one big multi-colored crayon. After a search on the internet, I found several sites that show how to make them.

The basic instruction is to heat your oven to 350*. Then take your little bits of crayon and use a foil-lined tin or use a silicone muffin pan (as I did). With a metal pan, the foil makes it easy to pop out, and the silicone doesn't need foil. Anyway, I put the girls to work peeling the paper off the crayons and then sorted by color. You don't need to sort by color, but I thought it would be nice to have all the purples in one block and so on. Pop the muffin pans in the oven and it takes about 10-15 minutes.

This is the result after 15 minutes. One site said you could use a toothpick to swirl the colors, but I didn't do that. After they cooled, we popped them out and voila! heart and flower shaped crayons! These would make great party favors for little ones and it's a great way to recycle all those broken bits of crayons. Keep away from the dog though, not too long after this, Maisie grabbed the purple one and chewed it to bits again! I'll just save them and when I have enough little pieces of crayon, I'll do this again!

I goofed on my quilting project. I have been ironing my seams open and I found out that with quilting, you should iron to one side. Oh. Well, at least I haven't gotten very far, and it won't be too much trouble to go back and iron all the seams to one side. I also ran out of a particular blue fabric (that blue that's peeking out on the bottom left there) and when I went back to the fabric store for more, they said it was all gone. dang it! I'll figure something out. I already have an idea for what I'll do, I'm just not sure how it will look until I have it laid out. Now, excuse me while I go and do some major ironing!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Testing Her Limits

Oldest is my, well, oldest. She is 6 going on 16. No, really. Her behavior lately has been putting my patience to the test and I have moments where I just might explode with frustration.

How can a girl with such lovely blue eyes and the sweetest smile make me want to pull my hair out? She is kind and helpful one moment, then defiant and mean the next.

I hope it is just a phase, and she is testing her boundaries and limits, poking and prodding to see how much I can take before I snap. Like a dog testing the invisible fencing, crossing the line and getting shocked back onto the right side of the line.

Maybe she is checking to see if I am being consistent in my rules and what I allow them to get away with.

With 4 children, I sometimes have to pick my battles and I let some stuff slide, choosing to deal with the more serious offenses, which, really, aren't that many. But now and then, it seems like they feed off each other and they all go crazy at the same time and Oldest is the ring leader. Middle and Youngest see her do something, and they follow.

sigh.. Monkey see, monkey do.

My biggest issue these past few days are the older two girls telling me "No" when I tell them to go and do something. And they say it in such an irritating tone! The body language is strong, too.

"Pick that cup up and put it in the kitchen, please." No.

"Give me the bag and I'll put it away." No.

"It's almost bedtime, go and put your jammies on." No.

Or, I ask them to do something and they completely ignore me! Hello! I actually start wondering if I need to get their ears checked and see if any of them have a hearing loss (they could, since it's hereditary for me).

Thank goodness Spring is just around the corner and we will all soon be busy in the garden, tilling, planting, weeding. I'm planning to keep the kids busy all day long and by bedtime, they'll be too pooped to say "No."

We also have a surprise in the works... I can't tell you now, but they'll be here in a week! Yay!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Night-time Antics

Every once in awhile, we have family time in our bedroom before bedtime. We'll all sit on the bed and read books, the husband will have the music playing and sometimes there will be dancing. If I am folding the laundry, the girls will dress up in our clothes and pretend to be mommy or daddy.
It's always funny to see them dressed up in our clothes and watch them mimic our behavior.

Other nights, Daddy pulls out the puppets. We have a couple-- Animal from the Muppets and a funny googly-eyed monster. The girls absolutely love it when Daddy makes the puppets come alive. They interact with the puppet and talk with it as if the words really are coming from its' mouth and not Daddy.

We enjoy these moments before bedtime, a time to wind down from the busy day and catch up with each other. It seems like the days get busier and and go by quicker than ever and these pre-bedtime moments become precious to me. Maybe this should become a nightly ritual instead of once in awhile.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Modern Bartering

My husband and I have been fortunate in our experience with consignment stores. I used to think consignment places were overpriced and filled with junk, until we moved close to one that happened to be next door to our favorite chinese food place. Looking in the windows every time we picked up our order, we saw that there was some really nice stuff in there. Long story short, we started consigning with them and we made some nice money selling old stuff.

Then we discovered used books and music stores. We got lucky with our timing and we got rid of most of our cassette tapes before stores stopped taking them. The same with our videos, we sold or traded in a lot of our movies on tape before it was too late.

We are now trying to get rid of most of our music CDs before places stop taking them. With the popularity of downloading music onto various devices, CD sales have gone way down and we are trying to make a little money off our music before they are worthless. I've been holding onto my music for sentimental reasons, even though I no longer listen to them, and I have been working up the courage to get rid of them (so not my husband's taste in music!!).

There's a great big used bookstore that we frequent, which also has a music and movie section, too. We often trade in our books, music and movies there and it's a good feeling to walk out with an armful of "new" books and movies without ever having to take out the wallet.

Because we cut off our satellite service, and there is no TV here in the mountains without it, we have been expanding our selection of movies. We check out movies at the Library and if there was a movie we saw that we really liked, we try and get it at the used bookstore.

A couple of weeks ago, the Hubby and I went through all our music, and we got rid of a bunch (almost all of mine!) where there was maybe one song on the whole disc we liked-- wrote the title and singer of the song, for future downloading (when we can afford to buy our own music device) and traded it in for store credit. You get more in store credit than cash, so we always opt for credit and then we turn around and get movies or books. The last trade-in brought us over $150 in store credit, so we have been having fun picking out movies to watch.

Movies are priced (depending on how recently released it was) between $2 - $9, and most of the time, if you wait a little longer, the prices drop even lower. Most of the movies we get average $5 and we can expand our library of movies really nicely that way. The place we go to has a really nice selection and we have picked up movies ranging from classics (Bullit, Hell In The Pacific) to children's (Spongebob, Mouse Hunt) to comedy (Porky's, Monster-in-Law) to romance (Music and Lyrics). Granted, they don't have it all, and sometimes it takes a while to find a particular title, but we don't mind waiting and usually in our hunt for something, we find something else we weren't looking for. So it all works out.

If you haven't been to one already, check your local directory for a used books or music store near you. You're recycling by trading in old movies and books and not buying new. Plus, you're keeping money in your pocket when you opt for store credit.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Work In Progress..

So, I've never made a quilt before. I've sewn lots of things:: a robe, curtains, stuffed dolls and toys, pin cushions, tailored pants, dresses, bibs and burp cloths.. but never a quilt. I've bought fabric meant for a quilt, even cut up squares to make a quilt, but never actually began to sew one. I bought a quilt kit on my honeymoon, thinking that when we got home, I'd start sewing it and it would be on our bed in no time at all, and looking at it would remind us of our lovely honeymoon in the mountains. I ended up selling it.

The past few months, I have been really anxious to make a quilt. I see all the lovely quilts that other bloggers have made and get even more inspired to make one of my own. I've been searching for a pattern that I like, something that won't be too difficult for my first quilt, but I don't want an easy one either. Log cabin? Maybe the brick path? No... none of them seem right.

I've been gathering fabric here and there, saving the ones I really like and setting them aside. Last night I went crazy searching for my rotary cutter and mat (found the cutter in a basket on top of the craft closets and the mat in the cellar). I finally bit the bullet and started cutting into my stash and I'm going to make the quilt that is in my head-- no pattern, just what I am picturing in my mind.

It will be a little bit of this, a little of that and hopefully, in the end, it comes out the way I am imagining it. I've got a few strips sewn and I did the zig-zag bit this afternoon, while Hubby kept the kids at bay and even made lunch for us. He can appreciate the need to get something out of your head before it drives you crazy.

I like how it looks so far, and I hope I finish it and it doesn't get added to my pile of unfinished projects. That's partly why I am talking about it here... saying it out loud: I AM MAKING A QUILT! may give me the incentive to finish. :o)