Tuesday, November 25, 2008

the anticipation is mounting....

we're all looking forward to a momentous event- M is coming home for thanksgiving! we go pick her up this morning at 2AM, and despite what is sure to be a sleepless night, on top of a very busy day, compounded by crack-of-dawn-rising little girls, we are eagerly anticipating seeing her again after 3 months. she'll only be here for 5 days, and according to her, much of that time she would like to spend sleeping. she has been run ragged with homework, finals, work and just general college stuff, so she's really in need of some rest. that is, as much as it is possible to rest in this busy, crazy household!

I've been cooking and cleaning like mad all day, trying to get ready for turkey day. i guess it's an indication that M is growing up- it's the first that I've cleaned the house for her.

go figure!

Friday, November 21, 2008

guest friday- all the way from South Carolina!

Hello all! It’s me, M. You know, my mom’s daughter who went off to college and has been buried ever since under a pile of homework?

updated to add new information below:

that is a slight exaggeration, although it feels true sometimes. Life has certainly been busy since I arrived here at Bob Jones University, located in Greenville, SC, and home to about 5,000 students.

As a freshman nursing major, I am taking a variety of classes: chemistry, biology, orientation, English, math, and Old Testament Messages. I am enjoying my science classes a lot; I really enjoy learning all the details of God’s creation, and how and why it all works. Right now in biology we are learning about genetics and inheritance. Chemistry isn’t quite as interesting at the moment; we’re working on reaction equilibriums. Another thing that makes chemistry less than enjoyable is the impending lab final, where we have to memorize all the procedures and equations for the entire lab, which will take about 2-3 hours to perform. Of all my classes, I dislike English the most. However, I am enjoying all the wonderful chapel speakers. I also like the fact that each class starts with a prayer. it reminds me of what’s really important.

My days generally go something like this- wake up, get ready, eat breakfast, go to classes, work (3 days a week),chapel, lunch, classes, dinner, homework, sleep. On the days that I don’t work, I either have classes or do homework during that time.

My roommates are great. We all get along and actually enjoy being around each other. We have fun, motivate each other, and provide excellent pieces of advice, along with a sympathetic ear and shoulder to cry on.

that was just a quick overview of all that goes on here. We’re all also in a society (there are 45 different ones). At a minimum, we go to our society meeting every Friday, and society Sunday school. Society also offers the chance to become involved in sports, prayer meeting, and extension ministries. Although I would love to play basketball for my society, I decided that it would just be too much this year.

There are couple of big events coming up right now. Besides the fact that these next few days will be pretty busy for me (multiple quizzes and three tests) we also had Artist Series Tuesday night (a required event) and the Turkey Bowl on Saturday. Artist Series occurs every semester, and is an activity designed to expose us to culture in order to help us appreciate it. This time it will be a production of “The Pirates of Penzance”. I am very excited about going. I’ll be attending with two of my friends. From what I’ve heard, it should be really good. Plus I’ll get the opportunity to hear the famous “I Am The Very Model of a Modern Major General” in context, and if nothing else I will enjoy getting all dressed up, since this is a formal event.

Then there is the Turkey Bowl on Saturday, which is the championship game for the guys' society soccer. I am told that it is the Super Bowl down here- the stadium will be packed with people from the school and the surrounding area, and the excitement level will be high. What I’m really excited about is halftime. This year they are doing an Olympic theme for halftime, and I qualified for the women’s 100meter dash, and the team I am a part of qualified for the women’s 4x200meter relay. It will be a nice break from all the studying. It’s getting really hard to study anymore- my body and mind miss physical activity.

we just received a rather excited and breathless call from M- she was so excited to tell us that she placed first in the 100meter dash, and her relay team placed third in the 200meter relay. there was an award ceremony at halftime, and she received a gold medal, as well as a bronze! she will also be featured in the campus newspaper, sometime next week. she called to talk to us as she was walking back to her dorm- she has a lot of studying to do, and wanted to get started right after she took a shower! what a girl!

The biggest event on campus is a countdown: The countdown of how many days left until Thanksgiving break. This much anticipated event is the cause for great rejoicing as it draws nearer. 4 days to go……………

Thursday, November 20, 2008

my blog. it IS NOT boring, thank you very much!

ages ago, i started this blog at the suggestion of a very dear friend. that was way back when we both had the exciting idea that we could write this very heartwarming, inspiring and touching letter to LOWE'S, and get them to sponsor the fixing up of this old house. as in, this family is a LOWE'S family, they sure would be hugely appreciative, and we relocated to this particular spot because of its proximity to LOWE'S. of course, since we are using almost all exclusively LOWE'S products, it would be a great advertisement and motivation for all those who want to do their own project. just like their motto says-"let's build something together."

well, anyway, turns out, LOWE'S was not interested in building anything together with us, but I've continued writing my blog, and have gained 9 faithful readers along the way! I've really enjoyed being part of the blog-o-sphere! it's a whole world out there, and some of you i talk about as if you are part of my daily life:

"serina isn't planning on getting any pigs. wonder why?"
"Angie is sewing up a storm again. she's amazing!"
"why does pioneer woman post pictures of her feet?"
"octamom really likes our new front door!"
"guess what steph did in her crock pot today?"

I've mentioned before that it's tough to live on one income, so i do whatever i can to make our pennies stretch farther, and most of these topics I've written about at one time or other: making our own laundry soap, hanging out the clothes, raising pigs and chickens, haunting the local thrift stores...

but it didn't take me long to figure out that companies would pay to advertise on blogs. maybe they would pay to advertise on mine! what a thought- and very intriguing. i looked into it, and decided to give it a try. it was quick and painless to sign up for ad sense, and a very simple system. the google robots would troll my site, and related advertisements would be placed in the spots that i had designated for them.

i sat back and waited for the money to roll in. this would be my way of helping out our family, i told myself. well, it's still just me talking to myself, because as of this afternoon, I've only earned $1.23. disappointing. shameful. i can't even buy a gallon of milk. or a box of cereal. maybe 5 bananas, if they're on sale.

but, what i started my whole post about (and there really is a point to this, i promise!) is my advertisements:

Reflective Foil Insulation
Home Insulation Quotes
Insulation Estimates
Radiant Barrier System

woohoo! how exciting is that? i mean, except for my FIL, i don't think any guys read my blog. and what woman knows anything about insulation, or spends any part of her day thinking about it? none that i know of!

so- the moral of the story is "don't judge a blog by its ads!" almost every day i try to talk about something that's interesting and maybe a little bit relevant, and hopefully slightly humorous! and i do it because it's fun! good thing, because we won't be retiring and moving to Florida anytime soon!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

it's not HOT, it's downright chilly!

earlier this week, Dave and the boys finished with the house wrap, and it did make a difference in the warmth factor of the house. that is, until the temperature dropped to below 20 degrees.

then we quickly found out that with the heat not hooked up in the laundry room and utility room, those unheated areas were sucking out alot of heat from the main living areas of the house. more than you would think, actually. it's a brisk 62 degrees in here as i type.

Dave has been working tirelessly on the heat in the back rooms, it's just that there are often so many steps to be completed before he can do whatever project he has in mind. today it was ripping out, at least partially, the wall between the kitchen and utility room. we are moving that wall over 24", to make the kitchen a bit bigger, which will be a good thing, as the kitchen is quite small, given the size of the rest of the house. (but I'm not complaining!) the wall needs to be moved now, as Dave will be running the baseboard heat along that wall. but first, G was given the job of ripping out the plaster and lath on that small wall, and the ceiling above. of course, that has created a LARGE mess in the kitchen, with a fine layer of plaster dust all over everything. (and pretty much all over the whole downstairs. again.) i need to clean that up, and in fact, should really be doing that right now. after the plaster and lath was off, Dave discovered that there is no insulation in the kitchen ceiling, which would help explain why the kitchen is always so cold. so off he dashed to Lowe's, and came home with an insulation blower, and many bags of the insulation, which is basically just shredded up newspaper. which we just paid $10 a bag for. but i digress.... so i helped him do the insulation, and G finished the little bit of ceiling in the utility room with fiber glass insulation, and maybe we are officially, almost all done.


dumping in the insulation. kind of fun, actually.

the huge grinder just whirls it around and around, and it gets sucked through the hose, and blown where ever you want it. also many places that you don't want it. and don't even think about sticking your arm down there!

Dave is blowing the insulation in between the joists in the kitchen ceiling. now it even says LOWE'S LOWE'S LOWE'S LOWE'S LOWE'S LOWE'S on the inside of my house. these people should really be paying us some serious money, i tell you! big, mucho money.

i digress again. so now, instead of just plaster dust all over, there is also a layer of shredded newspaper dust. all over. but i should be glad that i had not finished started cleaning up the plaster, since i can just do it all at once now. yippee. because i just really LOVE to clean.

so I'm off. and I'll be busy for awhile. it's not looking good for my list in the utility room. but at least i have a good excuse...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

why didn't i think of this before?

Northern PA can be very cold, as we're finding out. tonight the outdoor thermometer reads 24 degrees and dropping! we live in a huge old house, with the heating system still in progress, so sometimes our house gets a little chilly, too. to keep both little girls, A and B toasty warm, I'll often dress them in leggings or tights, even under their overalls.

we have a drawer full of tights, in several sizes, and sometimes it gets hard to tell the difference between the white tights and the cream colored ones. so I've started a system to help me tell what color the tights are, no matter how many times they've been washed, or even if they are hand-me-downs.

all the cream colored tights that i buy (or wear) for the 2 little girls, are either ribbed or cable knit. the white tights are all plain. that makes it so easy to tell the difference between the similar colors! hey-it works for me!

before you dash off, take a moment to check out my bloggy give-a-way. you have a chance to reiceve a handmade gift from me!

feeding the pigs on a cold, snowy morning

winter is finally making an appearance around here! today it is cold, with a dusting of snow on the ground. i took A out to feed the pigs, and made sure that she was all bundled up.
the pigs were sure glad to see us. they like it when i bring them a bucket of slops- i think that they are getting tired of all those pumpkins!

we had some leftover peas from our church Thanksgiving dinner, and i brought them home for the pigs. they seem to be really enjoying them!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

just for fun- and just for you!

i stopped by Angie's this evening, and noticed that she was doing something really cool. i don't normally do this kind of thing, but it looks like fun, and i figured, what the heck? why not?

3 easy steps:

I will send the first three people who leave a comment on this post a handmade gift within the next 6 months.

I will happily post anywhere in the world.

The only catch is you have to have a blog and be willing to do the same thing. you also need to link back to me in your Pay It Forward post.

So if you’re interested, committed and would like to receive a handmade gift from me, all you have to do is leave a comment with a link to your blog!

have fun! now, I'm off to brainstorm: should i knit, quilt or craft something? hmmm... you'll have to wait and be suprised!

Friday, November 14, 2008

the door is in- and nearly done!

Dave decided that he'd like to put in our front door much earlier than we had originally planned. that way they could finish insulating and house wrapping the front and sides of the house, and do it right, with not so many seams. i was glad that this job got catapulted to the top of the list- it really looks nice- both inside and out! of course, it was a big job, with lots of little, and not so little tasks that needed to be done in order to complete the door, making it into a 2 day project!
Tuesday night G, A and i got the hallway ready. we cleaned, moved all the stuff that has been stored there for many months, and did as much prep work for Dave as we could.

G removed all the old trim, being careful to save it. we'll use it around the new door, or if there is any extra, around some other doors in the *grand* hallway.

Wednesday morning, Dave is beginning to remove the transom and side lights, as well as the old door. i did save the top window, thought maybe i would do something with it, but not sure what, and Dave wanted to save the door.

remember the huge hole i told you about? well, here it is. and it really is huge. i was not exaggerating! but Dave and G quickly got it closed up, so it never got cold in the house.

now they are framing out for the door. we've had this door for almost a year. it's from Lowe's, of course. it was a special order door, $2,500, that was knocked over and the one sidelight was broken out. Dave used to have his own door business, so fixing it was no problem. and the fact that we only paid $300 was no problem either!

B and A are helping daddy and brother to insulate.

N is helping Dave on the outside to finish with the insulation. it was a windy day, so he's keeping the foam board from blowing away. or as Dave said, just being the "straw boss"

here's that huge hole again. this was the only time that it was actually open to the outside, with no house wrap or insulation over it. i stood in the door and waved to all the cars going over the bridge. many people are naturally curious about our house, and the history behind it, so i was just being friendly.

here it's in, with a bit of help from A.

this is a really bad picture from the outside.

here's the outside in the daylight. nice front door, but watch that first step. it's a doozy! the plan is to wrap the side porch/deck around to the front, just to the left of the door. it won't have a roof, but will have a nice deck and railing. now that the house is halfway insulated, the boys and Dave will be able to hosuewrap it early next week. we are really starting to feel a difference in the heat in the house. it's definitely warmer, and not as many drafts.

another bad picture, this time from the inside. I'll get a better one another day, when all the construction debris is cleaned up, and maybe it will be drywalled too. this is the south facing side of the house, and I'm anxious to see how nice the door will look with the afternoon sun streaming in.

just wanted to give you a little update on what we've been up to the last couple of days. i didn't write a huge long list for myself this week. i figured I'd better concentrate on laundry and stuff like that. last week Dave ran out of clean socks and underwear. not a good thing! so household management has been at the top of my list for this week. not that you could really tell, or anything!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

enjoying the simple things of life

we enjoy feeding the birds at our house, and have several feeding stations for the birds and squirrels right where we can watch them from the window. it's a pleasant breakfast time routine that we enjoy, and we've seen many different kinds of birds from our kitchen window, including wrens, chickadees, cardinals, blue jays, woodpeckers, tufted titmouse as well as our squirrel and chipmunk friends.

this tufted titmouse is enjoying some home made suet that A and i made together. the green mesh bag is actually a bath scrubby puffy thingy. i cut the string that was holding it together, and then cut the long mesh tube into 12-14"pieces. . i tied a knot in one end, spooned in the suet, and tied the other end shut. i also tied a string into the knot so we could easily hang them outside. there are 7 more suet balls in the freezer.

here's the recipe that we used:
1 cup EACH- crunchy peanut butter
lard (i used Crisco)

2 cups EACH-quick cooking oats

corn meal (we used the corn we feed the chickens)

Mix together, (we used the kitchen aid, and that worked very nicely) and put into your bags, or whatever you will be using. hang, and enjoy!

we also have some other birds that regularly come to our feeder, but they are not in our Peterson's guide to north American birds book. they are a very large, buff colored bird with red markings on the head. their sound is a soothing "cluck cluck". they seem to be domesticated, as well. if you can help us identify them, just e-mail me at countrybumpkin@clueless.com thanks!

for more great tips, click on over to Works For Me Wednesday hosted by Shannon!

Monday, November 10, 2008

we have visions of donuts dancing in our heads!

N has been looking for a job for well over a month, and applied to dozens of places. finally, his diligence has paid off. he received a call from Dunkin Donuts on Saturday, asking him to come in for an interview. the interview went well, and now he's thrilled to say that he is Dunkin Donut's newest employee. (or, as A says, McDonuts.)

you might think that DD is known for their donuts, and you'd be right. but they also have quite the coffee selection. cappachino, latte, mocha, iced, chilled, hot... N has been learning the fine art of coffee preparation. and he's become the newest fan of their coffee, too.

so if you're in the area, just stop by and ask him what he recommends. he'll be glad to serve you your caffeine with a smile.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

it's starting to get HOT in here!

we are slowly dragging this old house into the current century, with all manner of new-fangled modern inventions. this week we updated our electric service to 200 amp, and have a new service box down in the basement. Dave spent most of Friday working on that, after the electric company came and installed our new service.

he and the boys also are working on insulating the outside of the house, while the weather is still warm enough to work outside. we are still amazed that after 200 years, the house never had insulation. we shudder to think how cold and drafty it must have been. obviously previous generations were made of hardier stock than us!

just getting started. this is 1/2" insulation board- Dave keeps telling me that half of the heating battle is keeping in the heat that you have. this should do the trick.

for now we'll have this piece of house wrap over the old door, until the weather is nice enough to put in the new door, as it will involve a rather large hole in our hallway for a few hours.

these old clapboards were too far gapped and rotting, so Dave pulled them off, made sure the gaps were insulated well, and continued putting on the insulation.

G was a big help with this project. N helped one morning, too. so for now the house looks really ugly, but it's a warm and ugly house! when they start putting the siding on (white with green shutters) that will make a big difference in a big hurry!

our week in review

it's been a very busy week, made even more so by the huge list of tasks that i wrote for myself last Sunday night. but due to the added accountability of blogging about it all week, I've done almost all of it, with the help of everyone in the family. after I'm done typing, the boys and i will spend some time sorting the 10,683 Betty Lukens felt pieces, and hopefully make a large dent in that pile.

this is the field of pumpkins- AFTER we took out 3 trailer loads. it didn't even make a noticeable difference in the amount of rotting pumpkins lying about!

A came along for one of the trips, but she didn't have as much fun as she thought she would. too much like work, this gleaning of fields!

the first load down, only 2 more to go!

the first load we piled down by the pigs, and the other 2 loads are in the basement, so they don't freeze.

and here are pig and spot enjoying their first of many meals consisting mainly of pumpkin. i think that we will have pumpkin flavored pork chops!

this is our little local story hour at the library, and the kids all making their autumn trees with the leaves that i cut out. they all seemed to enjoy it, but mainly it was because of the glue they got to use all by themselves.

the steps are painted, and although you can't tell it here, they look much better. except for the bare studs, rough plank and bare wire showing, that is.

here I've cleaned and am now painting the base of the butler's pantry. i did the top part too, although i will need to touch that up after Dave is done with putting it back together.

here we've put the top back on. i really like the way that it is turning out, and i love the colors. there still is a fair amount of work to be done on it, but I'm very pleased.

spackling the ceiling was not as bad as i thought it would be. there were only 3 short butt joints, and 2 factory joints, so it went fairly quickly. just 2 more coats on the seams, and then i can paint it. i have a very beautiful color in mind, but will save that for another post...

now, it remains to be seen if I'll write another giant list for myself this week...

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

crazy wild- par for the course

it feels as if it's alot busier than normal around here, and that's why i haven't been posting as much as I'd like. sorry! but i think about you guys alot, all you faithful readers of mine! i thought that I'd give you the list that I'm working from this week, and update it as i get things done.

clean and paint butler's pantry DONE

pumpkin seeds and puree DONE

move pigs DONE

leaves for library story time DONE

stack lath DONE


spackle ceiling in utility room DONE (well, nearly. only need to do coat 2&3 on the seams.)

clean boys bedroom DONE

paint step trim DONE

3 trailer loads pumpkins DONE

sort and file Betty Lukens felt set DONE

grocery shopping DONE

library trip DONE

dust house DONE

clean/organize sitting room DONE

I've been accomplishing the tasks from this list, as you can see. and happy about that too! but this doesn't include all my regular chores like laundry, cooking, school, feeding the stove, stuff like that. but it's good to have a list- it gives me motivation, direction and now accountability!

i would have liked to post some pictures of some of our recent projects, both mine and the ones that Dave is working on, but for some reason my computer has stopped reading my camera's memory card. according to my stupid all-knowing computer, removable disk (H:) no longer exists! hopefully i can get that figured out soon, and you can see all the things that we have been doing!

Monday, November 03, 2008

guess who we're voting for?

N just finished this really cool carved pumpkin! (guess where we got the pumpkin?!) we call it our "John-O'-Lantern", and he's out on the front porch trying to persuade last minute "swing voters" driving by. (although i really like Sarah Palin better, but N said that she has too much hair to make a "Sarah-O'-Lantern" practical.)

pumpkins! have we ever got pumpkins!

every Sunday on the way to church, we pass a field of pumpkins- lots and lots of pumpkins. acres and acres of pumpkins. and every week we wonder- what is the farmer going to do with them all? why did he plant so many? what in the world was he thinking!?

a few weeks ago, i had a brainstorm- what if i could buy some of those pumpkins (very reasonably, of course!) and feed them to the pigs? so last Friday, i went to talk to the farmer. i found out lots of interesting things in my lengthy chat with him- (farmers seem to be very chatty folk!) how to reduce my taxes next year, how he heats his house, what his dog likes to eat, where he works and how his health was that day. but the best part was he told me that i could HAVE all the pumpkins that i cared to haul away! he was just going to till them under anyway when he plants his winter rye.

so today I've made 3 trips to get 3 trailer loads of pumpkins, with N, G, A and Dave helping. the pigs seem to be very happy with their new food source, and we have a pile of pumpkins down in the field next to their pen, as well as another huger pile in the basement. (that way they won't freeze.) i also brought some of the nicer ones up to the house, and have made pumpkin puree and roasted seeds following a recipe that i found here.

as N and i were gathering the last load of pumpkins this afternoon, we were reflecting on how often we have been blessed with the fruits of other's labor. literally. this year alone we have been given beans, corn and pumpkins. all we have needed to do is harvest and process these abundant blessings. for these kind people and bountiful food we are thankful.


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