Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Computer Savvy People Wanted

HELP!! I let Middle play some games on the computer this morning and she did something-- pushed a button or clicked on a link, something-- and then I tried to undo it and I think I made it worse. I know enough computer to get around but I'm not computer savvy so when something like this happens, I have no clue what I am doing. And why can't computer prompts be in english?? Or at least in english I can understand?!?

I need some help-- PLEASE. Somehow I did something and I lost everything. I mean everything-- all my pictures that I've downloaded and have no physical copies of. I could care less about the other stuff I've lost, but not my pictures! I have no printed pictures of Baby and it's basically 4 years worth of pictures gone. I refuse to believe they disappeared and I'm convinced that they're buried in the deep, dark recesses of the computer's files.

Can someone help me recover my pictures? Anyone willing to guide me step by step into how I can check? I'd be ever so grateful. I was a mess today and am so glad that the husband had the day off today so I didn't take out my frustrations on the kids. Leave a comment if you think you can help me and we'll see what we can do.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Happy Happy Happy!

It's a gorgeous day here! All week long I'd been looking forward to today. The Husband is off today and we planned to go back to the strawberry farm we went to last year for some strawberry-picking. Plus, it's Memorial weekend, so yard sales are in full swing! The local paper is chock-full of yard sale ads with some sales starting today and some all the way up till Monday.

On our way to the strawberry farm, we saw several yard sales and picked up a few things here and there. The kids had to take a bathroom break, so we stopped at a well-known farm stand and after we all relieved ourselves, we took a look around. Kind of pricey-- I guess it's more of a tourist trap/farm stand than it would be a place for locals to shop at. They did have some fun things for kids to do, though and we got a cute picture of all 4 of the kids in one of those murals where you stick your face through the hole.

Oldest is the lamb, Youngest the goat, Baby is the pig and Middle is a sunflower. Kind of hard to see her, but she's there.

We picked 27 pounds of strawberries! As soon as we got home, I made a batch of strawberry jam, 9 pints worth, and then froze 2 gallon-size bags of berries. I'd like to try to make strawberry sauce for pancakes and ice cream, and then make some strawberry yummies like bread, shortcakes, rhubarb-strawberry pie, smoothies.... Mmmm!
I've got good news to share! I made my first sale over at my Etsy shop!! Whoo-hoo! I haven't posted any more items yet, and this sale have given me some encouragement to get busy and post more sale items.
I can tell this is going to be a great weekend! Hope yours is great, too! :o)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

My New Shop!

I finally did it! I opened a new Etsy shop called 'Mountain Mama Wares'. You can see on the sidebar on the right there, my new store. Click on the link on the bottom and it will take you over.

I only have a few things listed so far-- mostly vintage items I have found here and there. I'm trying to list at least 5 new items daily, so that the shop will have plenty of inventory and a wide variety of interesting things.

Nothing handmade-- yet. When I have the time, I plan to make a few monsters and see how those do. I'll also post some of my handmade bibs and burpcloths sets and I also have a few baby blankets as well.

Mostly, this shop will sell vintage items. I listed a really sweet pink melamine dinner set, the cutest apron and a cool turquoise platter.
Go on over and check it out! :o)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

2009's First!

Seems like when one cans and preserves one's own food, it becomes addicting. I don't know about you, but I'm always itching for canning season to begin! I won't have to wait much longer-- around here, the strawberries are just about to come into season, the rhubarb has already begun to offer more stalks than I can use up in a pie or bar and next month, the mulberry tree branches should start to hang low from the weight of thousands of ripe berries.

I cleaned out the pantry the other day and came across a big bag of walnuts I meant to turn into walnut syrup for Christmas giving. I was down to my last jar of walnut syrup, so it was the perfect time to get an early start on my 2009 canning and preserving!

First, make the syrup. I've been making my own maple syrup lately-- from brown sugar, corn starch and maple flavoring and I've just about perfected the ratio of ingredients for thick, yummy syrup. No where near as good as real maple syrup, but it'll do. At the rate we go through syrup, the real maple stuff would put us into debt! I decided to change up my walnut syrup recipe and use the maple syrup as the base.

Oh my! I couldn't keep myself from sneaking a walnut every 2 seconds! Quality control, you know? The kids kept asking for a sample, too, and I knew I had better hurry and can it or there'd be none left to can!

I ended up with the equivalent of 9 pints of walnut syrup. Might have been 10 or 11 if not for the quality control. I was happy to sample some on ice cream that night and just about every night since! I think I'll try it with pecans next time.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Eleven and One Day

That's how many years my husband and I have been living in wedded bliss. sigh...

It feels like I have been married to him for much longer and 11 years just seems too short.

After we exchanged our vows, kissed, celebrated with guests and ate cake, the wedding seemed like it was over too quick. We were home by 6 and our drive to our honeymoon destination was not until the next morning. It almost felt like we had just gotten back from a fancy party and not our wedding. We changed into regular clothes and looked at each other as if to say, "What now?"

We were hungry. I didn't want to cook. He didn't want to cook. My favorite place to eat at the time was a pizza joint in the local mall. So we went to the mall for dinner!

We drove in our car with 'Just Married' written all over the back window and parked in the mall lot and we ate at the mall. On our wedding day. I still think that's funny.

Here's to plenty more years of wedded bliss, baby! Mwah!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Memory Lane Mondays

I watched my girls play in the living room not too long ago. They were shrieking and jumping from couch to chair to window (not something we permit-- the jumping). I was about to tell them to cut it out, until I realized what they were playing: the floor was water-, filled with imaginary sharks and they had to leap from surface to surface to keep from being eaten by a shark. I decided to join in and play, helping them with shark-spotting and telling them how to make a raft to get to the chair further away.

Oh this brought back such memories for me! When we lived in southern Louisiana, the land of swamps and gators, my sister and I used to do the same thing, except we imagined the floor to be swamps, filled with hungry alligators! We played for what seemed like hours and we'd shriek and pull each other back from the snapping jaws of an alligator just in time.

My mom got bit by an alligator. We took our visiting uncle to an alligator farm and the "farmer" took us in his big flat-bottomed boat through the "farm", a huge swamp, and showed us the gators. He knew them all by name, the young ones and old ones and they would swim towards the boat when they saw us coming. Mr. Farmer brought out a 5-gallon bucket of chicken parts, stuck pieces on the end of a long pole, then passed it to people who wanted to feed a gator. You're supposed to keep all body parts, arms and legs, inside the boat, and when I went to take my turn to feed an alligator, both of my arms were sticking way out over the rails so I could feed one. When it was my sister's turn, her arms up to her elbows were over the rail. When it was Mom's turn, she only had her hands over the rail, but it was just enough for a sneaky little juvenile gator to come up from underneath the boat and lunge up to take a bite out of Mom!

When the gator grabbed Mom's hand, it's grip slipped when she let go of the pole and the teeth left a long gash on Mom's fingers. There happened to be a doctor or someone with a medical background (I can't remember now) on the boat and her hand got looked at and then the tour was quickly over, the boat turned around, so we could go to the Hospital. Mom was ok. We were told she was lucky it was only a juvenile alligator, because a full-grown one? Well, she could have either lost her hand or have been pulled overboard and being surrounded by hungry gators? That would have been very bad.

Not too many people can say they have been bitten by an alligator. For years afterwards, relatives would send alligator-related items to Mom, and she would shudder and get rid of it. My sister grew to love alligators and started collecting alligator items. It's faded now, but you can still see the long scar on her finger.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

There is Always One

Middle is the picky eater of the family. Almost every meal is a struggle to get her to eat what is on her plate. I had a particularly hard day with her when she refused to eat all 3 meals that day. I get frustrated when she gets like that and she slouches in her chair, or turns around to look out the window, or slips out of her chair and tries to disappear from the table.

I made spaghetti this night. Usually a winning meal with all the kids, but not this day and not this kid. I pleaded and raised my voice, I tried negotiating and threats, all to no avail. She turned her back to look out the window and so I closed the blinds. Even Baby ate more than she did. All she did was play with the noodles, but not one passed her lips.

Maisie the dog seemed to be telling her that she'd eat her spaghetti if she didn't want it.

I try to be reasonable, I know what foods she loves and what she doesn't care for. We tell all the kids that they are not allowed to say "eww" until they taste it first. If I make something they don't like, they have to eat at least 3 bites. If I know they like it, but won't eat, then they have to eat bites according to their ages-- Middle is 5, she has to eat 5 bites.

I'm aware that sometimes kids go through periods when they don't eat much. They'll eat when they are hungry. I try to have healthy snacks for in between meals and they are not allowed to eat 2 hours before a meal. We usually eat around 6-6:30, so no snacks after 4.

Today, we had cantaloupe for breakfast. Usually devoured by all the kids instantly. Middle sat there, pouting over her plate. I got busy, took the scraps out to the compost pile, checked on the chickens, came back in the house. Middle came to me with tears in her eyes. "I don't want cantaloupe, I want cereal". Fine, I put the cantaloupe in the fridge, gave her cereal. I'm picking my battles. I'm not going to force her to eat something when she is willing to eat something else. It's too early in the morning for a battle of the wills between Middle and I.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Pallet Chicken Coop: part2

Remember this? We had put a second row of pallets up and I was getting ready to work on the door frame when I realized that I really wanted the chicken coop closer to the house. The location we picked was out in the open, no shade, and behind the shed/pole barn where we couldn't see it from the house. Had I known how much fun it would be to watch the chickens and put more thought into location, I wouldn't have put the coop where I did.

So-- I made the tough decision to semi-dismantle the coop and we moved it closer to the house where we can see it. I hated to knock down all the hard work we put into it, but better now than to complete it and realize were not happy with where it was.

This is currently how it looks now. It is off to the side in the back of our house and pretty close to a mulberry tree. The chickens will be able to gorge themselves on berries come June. I can sit in the sun room and see the coop or when the girls play outside, I can also keep an eye on the chickens, too. Much better than when I couldn't see it at all.

We've had 4 days of rain and while I am grateful for the rain, it's holding up progress on the coop. I need to start all over again but hopefully it will go a little faster as most of the hard part has been done, I just need to put the walls back into place.

Semi-dismantled walls. I connected them on the inside, so all I need to do is get them standing and nail them back in, then it's back to where I left off.

The husband scored several packs of new roofing shingles from a friend's new house construction, so I am excited about that. We were going to recycle old metal siding from an old shed, but it was really rusted and holey, so new shingles are great! I even spotted a roll of tar paper in the shed from previous owners! How thoughtful! :o) I think we'll have just enough of everything for the roof. There are old gutters in the rafters of the pole barn, so we plan to use one for catching rain water to water the garden with. All this rain makes me wish we had bigger containers for storing the water in, but that will just go on our wish-list of items we'd like to have.

Hopefully the next coop update will have much more progress!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Memory Lane Mondays

I write this blog as a way for me to keep track of my family and our lives, and it's another way for my children to know me when they get older. I am always asking my mom about stuff from when she was a kid and I see that sometimes she just doesn't remember anymore about certain events. Other people in the family choose not to talk about the past or simply made a choice not to remember.

In that light, I've decided I am going to write a feature every Monday about myself, so my kids will know why I've done something or a tale from my childhood. Welcome to 'Memory Lane Mondays'.

Oldest recently asked me about my tattoo-- why I got it and why I have that particular image. Here's my tale:

All during high school, me and a group of girls always talked about getting a tattoo. No reason why, I don't know if they thought it was cool or not, but I liked the idea of getting something permanent. I knew, though, that I had to make sure it was something I was prepared to live with for the rest of my life, because when I was old and wrinkled and perhaps a grandmother, I didn't want to have to explain why Granny has a skull on her boob.

I'd always been fascinated with the Hippies of the 60's and I started to experiment with my style. In my senior yearbook, the nickname I have in there is "Hippie". I graduated in '91 and I didn't know what to do with myself. If I read my journals from that year, there are a lot of entries stating just that: "I don't know what I'm going to do with my life!" The summer was taken care of though, and I worked with my high schools' Road Show and traveled to Argentina and local venues for performances.

I found my style and dressed in vintage Levi's, white tees and flowered vests, or short baby doll dresses with black tights. My version of hippie style. I wore peace sign necklaces and my hair parted in the middle (when it wasn't in a pony tail or a messy bun) and fell in love with my first pair of brown Birkenstock sandals. I wanted to live in Old Town Alexandria and dreamed of eating in sidewalk cafes and a carefree lifestyle.

Unfortunately, I didn't have the money for an apartment in Old Town and I certainly didn't have a carefree lifestyle. For a year, Mom was patient with me, giving me space to figure out what I wanted out of life, but my sister on the other hand, I think was getting tired of seeing me without a plan and forced/helped me to fill out an application to RIT/NTID in Rochester NY.

I was accepted into school and in August I packed up my stuff and rode with my best friend to our new destination-- SVP '92. I was 18 and I was determined get a tattoo to commemorate that milestone of my life-- 18.

I originally planned to get a tattoo of a hippie that I drew.. long lines that made up a side view of a hippie with bellbottoms. When a friend and I walked into the tattoo shop (above a bar, no less) and I saw all the pictures of different designs on the walls, my little drawing felt inadequate and I crumpled it up and looked around. I zeroed in on the peace sign made up of daises and I knew that was it. I'd always signed my name with a daisy, a happy face, a peace sign and a heart underneath my name, so a peace sign made with daisies? Fate. It was meant to be.

In 20 minutes, my hands gripping the arms of the chair and biting my lips through the pain, it was done. I did it. I got my tattoo.

OhmygodhowamIgoingtotellmyparents??? It was easy when I was 500 miles away from my parents and they couldn't see my tattoo, but sooner or later, they were going to find out. Mom was easy, I could always tell her everything, but my Dad? Oh dear.

One Friday night in the dorms, my best friend and I didn't feel like going to the usual parties or bars, so we stayed in. She found a roll of B&W film and I had a camera. We had a lightbulb moment and turned our rooms upside down into a photo studio. We had a great time and used the whole roll, taking pictures of each other, pretending to be models and photographers. Some of those pictures came out really great and I used one of those pictures to tell my dad about my new tattoo.

When Dad saw this picture, it took a moment for it to register, then he tapped my leg and I showed him. He wasn't too happy about it, but it's done and there was nothing he could do. I remember he asked me if I realized that I'm stuck with it for the rest of my life, and I said I knew.

Nearly 15 years later, I still love my tattoo.. I still love what peace stands for, I still wear my silver peace sign necklace, and I still love daisies. No regrets. And to the best of my knowledge, I'm the only one of those high school girls that got a tattoo.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Would You Believe?

It's 4 minutes before 9pm and all four of my kids are in bed. Sleeping. All of them.

What do I do now??