Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Birds! Beach! Birthdays!

I haven't let you in on any of my crafty business lately but here's one that's quick, seasonal and good for the kiddos. 

I have a woodpecker that's been visiting my feeder and he gobbled up all of the suet I had out for him before I could buy more. I wanted him to keep coming to the feeder so I did something weird and made my own suet cake out of coconut oil. Now, suet cakes are super cheap and coconut oil is not so this is the best if you're getting some sort of entertainment value from the process or if you need an emergency suet cake. (And who doesn't?)

I had all the supplies I needed on hand. The coconut oil was leftover from when I made my own deodorant. (Works great....but you have to keep it in the fridge after the winter.) 

Step one: Melt the coconut oil for two 30 second intervals in the microwave.

Dump in seed. Why am I even taking pictures? This is so easy. Who do I think I am...the Pioneer Woman?

Pop it in the freezer and go do something else for an hour.

Ta da! It popped out of this in one piece pretty easily.

This would be great to do with kids and easy to make into a seasonal gift with cranberries and pine bits added to it. You could also make them for teacher gifts. (But really you should be giving teachers money or school supplies.)

Keep in mind that the coconut oil is going to melt at about 75 degrees so this is an outdoor, winter craft only. You can use lard if you're more serious about this than I am. The coconut oil is good for the birds though. Keeps em shiny.

This weekend we went to the beach.

I read two whole books and it was pretty heavenly until Blake got food poisoning on our last morning. We're terrible at vacations. I don't know why we even try. We were worried that it was a stomach bug but I'm not sick (yet) and he got better so fast!

Monday, November 9, 2015

The Night Hammock

Now that the big tree has been moved it's a straight shot out the back door to the hammock.

Late at night, right before bed, I let Sugar out back and wind my way through the yard to the hammock. It's a little damp and sometimes has sap on it but I'm in pajamas so I don't mind,  these nights that are cool enough to discourage mosquitoes and warm enough for bare feet are cherished.

I drop myself into the hammock the wrong way so that my midget legs can give it a good push, switch off my flashlight and then close my eyes and wait.

When I open my eyes they have adjusted to the darkness and I can see the stars through the towering pines. Even though it's November the bugs are still singing their knackered summer songs. Some nights the owls are conversing about dinner plans. If I'm lucky the train chugs off through the woods and if I'm luckier I can see a satellite glide past in the blackness.

 Sometimes the coyotes howl and remind me not to get too cozy and linger for too long.

I sway in the hammock and feel the tension drain out of my shoulders, my hips relax and my toes uncurl. I dwell on the fluttering leaves and savor the smell of the pine needles. A leaf spirals lazily down and my eyelids feel heavy. The hammock begins to swing more slowly until it scarcely oscillates.

I treat myself to another good push.

Too often Sugar gets impatient and reminds me that inside we have milk bones and warm beds waiting for us and I am coerced into vacating the night hammock before I'm satisfied but when I ease under the covers I can conjure the sensation of swaying until I am lulled into sleep.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Before and After

Fall in

This last photo doesn't look like much but that's exactly the point. For a year and a half this corner has had a downed tree sectioned into logs, weeds, and occasionally stairs. Now, thanks to B doing hours of labor, it's blissfully empty. It's the little things.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Where Ya Been?

So it's safe to say that we've hit the October busy period where it doesn't seem worth the trade off to work on the house (or post on the blog LOL.) I feel like April and October are the times we spend squeezing fun into our weekends instead of working in anticipation of rough weather. It doesn't help that NC is SO PRETTY right now.

I had fall break this week and I killed it. I totally destroyed my break with FUN THINGS for a change. I probably should've painted the trim or built something but instead, nah, I went hiking.

The first thing we did over fall break was have a tiny party to hang out with some new friends! We made pizza, with some very happy dough, watched Shaolin Soccer and played Space Team. It was amazing! Plus we were forced to clean the house so for the rest of fall break I didn't have to do that.

Sunday hung out at the Eno and then we went to a TROSA fundraiser with amazing food from The Q Shack, Rise, Nana's and Nana Taco. We were totally full when we rolled out of there. It was a gorgeous day to be outside and listen to music for a good cause. The pumpkin spice doughnut from Rise was so delicious it made me reexamine the hype around pumpkin spice thing....I'm not sure it's worth it to have anything else that isn't that doughnut. Except my dad's pumpkin pie.

The other day we went down the spice aisle at Kroger and I suddenly wanted it to be Thanksgiving like, RIGHT NOW. But I also don't cause I have waaay toooo muccch to do before Thanksgiving.

Monday I had a massage and ate lunch with B! Then I spent the rest of the day reading and basically not doing anything I planned to do. I finished The Martian, which, if you didn't know, is based on a true story.

Tuesday I worked with Environmental Science Club on the Nature Trail. It was a sunny and warm day...perfect for stomping through the woods and hacking at branches. We made a big impact in only a few hours by collecting trash and cutting brush.


AND After:

Ok basically they are 
blocking everything they did but aren't my little students just the shiniest? They work so hard. I'm very proud of them.

Wednesday I met with Space Team at Respite and managed to not talk for most of it. Space Team has a new name that they voted on but I'll probably always call them Space Team. They are working on a project to send a weather balloon to near space with some very strict parameters and a little room for a creative science experiment. I can't believe how fantastic the team is and how great they work together. We're applying for another NASA grant and a big chunk of time this week was spent trying to get that application sorted out.

My main roles as part of Space Team are to schedule rooms, take paparazzi style photos and keep them from blowing anything up. Basically I'm, "The Man" keeping them down. 

Thursday we picked up a new piece of furniture for the den. I've been watching tooooo much Fixer Upper. #shiplap #frenchdoors Now I want them to come over and fix my house in one fell swoop $50,000 of equity. OH WORD? I spend a lot of the time watching Fixer Upper yelling at the screen but I have to confess that I love it and I'm really just super jealous. I have learned a few things from the show, well, besides that I am dissatisfied with my Fixer Upper and the pace that it is fixing upping. 

Thursday night we celebrated National Grouch Day with our favorite grouch who brought us banana bread....cause he's not really a grouch at all, he's just drawn that way.

Friday I hung out with my folks. We ate lunch and shopped. 

Saturday we had a big birthday breakfast for Mr. Gavin! Now he's 18 so I feel comfortable using his name on the Internet because he's an adult and you don't want to steal him. 

Ok, maybe you do want to steal him. He's pretty cute and he can reach all the tall things. We made french toast casserole and tater tot casserole and then we went on a hike for hours and hours. We hung out on rocks in the river and enjoyed the sunshine. I have no pictures of this because my phone was at home where it belongs. 

Afterwards we ate at Alpaca and then went to the ReUse Warehouse and I wanted one of everything. Instead, I bought a $10 window for a future project and we picked out some other stuff  that we need to go pick up. Super awesome old stuff for the house! For when it's not October! 

Sunday we went to the State Fair. I freakin' love our State Fair. We don't ride the rides, because yikes....but there's still so much to do. Here's my Must Do list at the fair, basically in order:

1. Visit the blacksmith and tour the Heritage Circle.
2. Listen to bluegrass or as B says, "The best free gospel I've heard all year." People watch. 
3. Visit the Forest Service planes.
4. Visit the soil tent and Tunnel of Soil. Take one of alllll the soil posters and doodads but don't bother with the soil trivia because it's wrong and makes you mad.
5. Check out the giant, talking Smokey the Bear. Scratch his foot so he chuckles.
6. Watch the saw mill. Smell the saw mill.
7. Check out the award winning gardens and get free gourd seeds. Pick a favorite.
8. Eat roasted corn. Optional: Take a break in the old fashioned farm implement exhibit...the one empty building at the fair.
9. This year we ate fried fish and it was awesome. Do this from now on.
10. Think about getting NCSU ice cream but don't actually do it cause the line is too long.
11. Visit the giant bunnies in the bunny house and poke a couple even though you're not supposed to.
12. Hand sanitizer.
13. Check out the hand made wooden boat/ giant sand sculpture.
14. Loop around the Village of YesterYear. Think about buying handicrafts...but then don't. Use the Ladies Room of YesterYear.
15. Wait in line forever for Hot Wisconsin Cheese and eat it in 30 seconds.

16. Check out some giant veggies, bees, and pretty cows with long eyelashes. Slurp a honey straw.
17. Get some free peanuts and admire the incredible quilts and decorated cakes in the competition. Pick favorites.
18. Use $0.50 for a spicy pickle and the other $0.50 for chocolate covered peanuts.
19. Buy maple cotton candy but save it for later because you still have a pickle the size of a banana to finish. 
20. Roll eyes at the Republican table. Decline a newspaper subscription. Ignore sales of high tech mops.
21. Ogle two lb owl. (If available.)
22. Visit all the stuff for sale and don't buy anything except for a muscadine slushy and/or chocolate milk. Get a sheriff's badge. Take a sample of honey cotton candy which is not as good as maple but is still pretty damn good.

23. Check out the crashed cars and State Trooper cars at the police set up. Marvel at the hotness of the State Trooper's present but don't make any eye contact with them. Be cool.
24. Tour the NC food tent and eat all the free samples.
25. Realize that everyone and their mama is now at the fair and decide to leave but snag some hushpuppies from the old Grist Mill on the way out.
26. Walk 25 miles to your car.
27. Come home and take the best nap of your life.

Monday, not technically part of fall break, but still a day I'm not at work I tackled the things I said I'd do at the start of the break and didn't. I KonMari'd my winter clothes and chucked whatever didn't, "spark joy" and recorded some audio lectures to bring joy to my online students. 

Woo hoo! Fall break!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Happy 2 Year Houseaversary

This year we finished The Wall, started a shed, built a one week shed, re-did the laundry room, put a new ceiling in the kitchen, built a pantry, replaced the HVAC, fenced in and expanded the garden, got a snazzy new front door, added an old fashioned bed, messed up the downstairs bathroom, gussied up the upstairs bathroom, built a ramp and Pooch Porch Perch, added some carpet, installed new light fixtures AND FINISHED THE SIDING.