Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Memorial Day Weekend 2015

Hi! I hope you all had a great Memorial Day weekend. Can you believe we're already staring at the first of June!? I can't wrap my head around that!
 
We had one of the most productive weekends we've had in a long time. We did a ton of manual labor, our bodies were very sore and sunburned, but it felt so good. Do you get a lot of satisfaction from working your tail off in a manual way? I certainly do!
 
The first thing I did when I woke up on Saturday morning was head to the garden! My goals were:
1) Re-plant the corn and peas. I planted them too deep the first time.
2) Transplant my pumpkins.
3) Plant zucchini seeds.
4) Transplant tomatoes and peppers (purchased as starts).
 

One of my pumpkin starts.
 
Hendrix was off running around, but Jameson was my garden helper. We took a selfie with our matching mosquito hats. Ha.

 
After the garden was done, we took a lunch break, then set up the pool we got!
 
I really wanted to get the 48" deep pool, for my own selfish desires. But after thinking about it, I decided against it. I got the 30" deep pool. This way, the kids can both touch the bottom, and while they still need supervised 150% of the time, there's less of a risk and it will be more enjoyable for them.
 
In a couple of years, we can get the deeper pool, as long as it's something we will be using a lot. And I foresee much pool usage in this crazy humid Midwest.

 

 
We got the pool filled up, and it was green. Ugh. I balanced it, chlorinated it, shocked it, and it was just green. Very frustrating. So we turned to the googles and learned that we most likely had an iron problem. I took my fourth trip to WalMart for this silly pool, put a dose of Metal Control in the water, and it cleared up very nicely.

 
At the end of the day on Saturday, I was fried. No sunscreen was a big "oops" on my part. It's now Wednesday and it's just now starting to turn from pain to itching. Ha.
 
Saturday evening, we grilled some pork ribs and relaxed.
 
Sunday morning, we went to church, and when we got home, Matt got busy....
 
...building this!!!!!
 
 
In my garden research this year, I learned that what the soil needs most is compost. I learned that it's difficult to find, and when you can find it for sale, it's really expensive.
 
So we're going to start making our own! Hopefully, next spring, I can amend my soil with nutrient-rich compost and it'll produce an even better crop of homegrown veggies. My soil this year is lacking it, I purchased a couple bags of mushroom compost and some chicken manure, but I feel like that's barely going to suit it. We'll see.
 

 
Looks gross now, but it's going to turn into some mighty fine black gold!
 
 
Small pile. But don't worry. It's going to grow. :)
 
We are re-training ourselves to put things into the compost bucket in the kitchen now, rather than the trash or the garbage disposal. We're using everything from fruit and veggie peels, egg shells, coffee grounds, basically anything that isn't meat or dairy! I've also added paper towels and shredded junk mail, along with yard trimmings, twigs, and dried leaves. Good, good stuff.
 
After Matt finished the compost bin (which was made 100% out of stuff we already had lying around the house, by the way), he got to work on our "thicket" as we call it. We don't have a bush hog or anything like that, but there are a ton of little stick-trees growing out by the garden. He pulled them up by hand (they came up easily), then mowed that area to make it much more pleasing to the eye.
 
The kids like to play back there, and I worry about all the bugs and possibly snakes in the overgrown grass.
 
Sunday evening, we had dinner and relaxed some more.
 
Having lived in the Black Hills for a little over two years (which are amazing, by the way), I had forgotten how GREEN everything is in the springs and summers of the Midwest.
 
Our woods have bloomed like crazy, and you can't even see the road from our backyard anymore. Love it.
 
Well, except for the mosquitos, of course. Turns out, West Michigan is the 12th worst place in the entire country this summer for mosquitos. Awesome.
 
 
Monday equaled much relaxation.
 
It was a very busy and exhausting weekend, but one I'd LOVE to repeat soon!
 
 
 
This coming weekend, our friends from South Dakota are bringing our camper to us! I could not be more excited to get the camper back, and am already planning a camping trip for the following weekend, hopefully.
 
I also have big plans for the interior of the camper, so stay tuned!
 
What were you up to over the holiday weekend?
 
Do you have any friends or family members who gave all in the service?
 
What are you most excited about for summer 2015?
 

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Imagine With Me, For A Moment...

If you aren't aware of the high level of racial tension in this country, you've been living under a very large rock. Racial tension so thick you could probably grab a butter knife and slice right through it.
 
I tend to shy away from politics and current controversy on this blog here, but when I read about a news story and I'm sitting here with tears literally rolling down my face, I can't just ignore it. I also don't like to use the word "unfair," as it sounds kind of childish and immature to me. But I can't think of many better words that describe this situation.
 
Maybe you saw the article about the group of teens who brutally attacked a 61-year old man and beat him within inches of his life.
 
Oh, what's that? You weren't aware of this story?
 
I wasn't either, until today. (Granted, I've been on social media a lot less lately, and this is exactly why.) It happened on April 22nd. That was 20 days ago, if you don't feel like counting. Almost three weeks ago, yet I hadn't heard a word about it until today, when it randomly popped up on my Facebook newsfeed. I decided to check Yahoo and MSN. Nothing, without a somewhat extensive search. The articles I did come across were anywhere from 15 minutes to 11 hours old. Brand new articles, mostly speaking of the charges these kids are facing now, rather than articles that reported what happened WHEN it happened three weeks ago.
 
Hmm, interesting, isn't it?
 
All we've heard about for the last five weeks are the riots in Baltimore, how these citizens are so angry and want justice. (Which they appear to have gotten, since the police involved in the case were charged with murder, manslaughter, illegal arrest. But I digress. What do I know?)
 
Yet, a group of teens who almost kills a man for no reason at all goes without reporting?
 
You'll notice that the article I linked above doesn't mention race of the teens. And it doesn't need to. Whether these kids are black, white, hispanic, or yellow with purple polka-dots, they're still a bunch of worthless punk-a** jerks. #notsorry
 
 
 
But imagine with me, just for a moment.
 
Let's say a couple of Caucasian teens were fighting outside the home and on top of the truck of a 61 year old African-American. The owner of the home simply walks outside to try and break up the fight, and a mob of 40+ Caucasian teenagers attacks him and beats him within inches of his life. He is put into a medically induced coma because of the amount of damage that is done to his body.
 
What are you seeing?
I'm seeing complete, utter, un-controllable CHAOS. More of Baltimore. More of Ferguson. More of whatever else is to come - because you know more is coming.
 
But the teens that did this to this man were African-American. The article doesn't state that, but follow-up articles that explain the charges against some of these teens do state that and they show pictures of these teens.
 
What happens? Three weeks pass and no one even knows about this story.
Does this make your blood boil? My chest is literally pounding with anger as I write this post.
 
The media skews, over-reports, under-reports, hides things, and is basically as corrupt as you can imagine. Don't rely on the media. However, facts are facts. This happened, and we SHOULD be angry that it was all but covered up. We should be angry that this man's life was all but taken, and that he'll never be the same - physically, mentally, or emotionally. We should be livid. But I do not recommend burning down our neighborhoods, or going out for "retaliation" on anyone. I do not recommend breaking into any stores to loot and steal from people who had nothing to do with any of this. I certainly do not condone throwing rocks or anything at other teens, just because of what happened with a group of them.
 
But anger? You sure as hell better believe I'm feeling ANGER.
 
There are unfortunate exceptions, as there always are. But generally speaking, my fellow Americans - the racists in this country, of which I USED to be proud to be a part, are NOT the Caucasians.
 
Have a good day.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The Current Mayberry Routine

We don't have cable.
 
For the past few weeks, after we get the boys to bed, Matt and I sit down and turn on the classic TV channel that we do receive via our $13 rabbit ears (best investment!). The Andy Griffith Show is on every night between 8 and 9, and we watch that.
 
 
I just adore the simplicity of this show. Language is never a concern, the jokes are always tasteful, and it has us belly laughing without fail during every episode. Love it!
 
Do you watch any classic TV?
 
What's your favorite show?
(I Love Lucy is mine!)
 
Happy Hump Day, friends! Hang in there, the week's half over!
 
 

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Garden 2015: Prepwork!

If you read my post where I shared photos of the exterior of our new house in Michigan, you saw how excited I was about that little 500 square feet of garden space!
 
Ok, 500 square feet is significant, but I'm super excited and am going to do my best not to get overwhelmed or over-do it.
 
As with any undertaking, there is always prep-work involved.
 
We had some pretty nice weather this past weekend, so I rented a Roto-Tiller and got to work breaking up the compact soil that had had feet of snow sitting on top of it for so many months (before I got here, thank goodness - but I have a feeling I'll get my share this next winter....).
 

 
Pre-tilling.
 
You'll need to move, sir.
 
Post-tilling.

 
After I smoothed it out a bit, and broke the rake into two pieces. Didn't know my own strength, it appears. Oops.
 
Who doesn't have time for a couple sunny selfies when they're working in their garden?

 
The last frost date in my zip code is May 19th. I hope to plant very close to that, if not that day. But I want to make sure the soil is warm. To assist with the warmer soil temperatures, I covered the soil with this black plastic. This creates the black t-shirt effect - heat gets in and can't get back out. (I purchased more plastic and covered the middle strip a couple days later.)
 


 
On Sunday, I went back out and just planned and schemed. I have drawn up a plan, and know what's going where. We'll see how close to the drawing everything is when it's all seeded and sprouted, though. :)
 
 
I'm VERY excited about the whole process. The boys and I started sunflower and pumpkin seeds Sunday afternoon. I can't wait until we can direct-sow our seeds, and buy our tomato and pepper plants from the greenhouse and get those into the ground.
 
I feel like it's going to be therapeutic for me to work in the garden. It's so quiet and peaceful out there, with birds chirping and the breeze blowing.
 
I'm looking forward to sharing it with you!
 
Do you garden?
 
What's your favorite vegetable to plant?
 
Any advice for a semi-beginner?
 

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

I Am Done.

Over the years, I've thought that it would be cool - with the proper knowledge and preparation of course - to just take off deep into the woods somewhere remote, and live the life of the Alaskan Bush people. (I'm sure you've at least seen a preview for that show on TV.)

Little to no contact with society, grow our own food, raise our own meat, be survivalists. But mostly just not to be a part of mainstream society.

Kind of "out there," I know.

But as I read the news stories of these demented idiots in Baltimore, it sounds better every day.

As I hear Bruce Jenner being called a hero, it sounds better every day.
(SIDE NOTE: Bruce Jenner wants to be a woman. Fine. That's his deal. But there are policemen, firefighters, and soldiers putting their lives on the line every day. There are young children battling deadly illnesses. There are children and adults alike simply trying to stay alive in poverty and war-torn lands. Let's please re-define the word 'hero.')

And as I see the sheer HATE that is spewed all over everywhere just because someone's opinion differs from some else's, getting away from all of these people just looks better and better.

Does anyone out there have a lot of wooded acres that might be able to spare a couple of them?

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

I'm Done.

Over the years, I've thought that it would be cool - with the proper knowledge and preparation of course - to just take off deep into the woods somewhere remote, and live the life of the Alaskan Bush people. (I'm sure you've at least seen a preview for that show on TV.)

Little to no contact with society, grow our own food, raise our own meat, be survivalists. But mostly just not to be a part of mainstream society.

Kind of "out there," I know.

But as I read the news stories of these demented idiots in Baltimore, it sounds better every day.

As I hear Bruce Jenner being called a hero, it sounds better every day.
(SIDE NOTE: Bruce Jenner wants to be a woman. Fine. That's his deal. But there are policemen, firefighters, and soldiers putting their lives on the line every day. There are young children battling deadly illnesses. There are children and adults alike simply trying to stay alive in poverty and war-torn lands. Let's please re-define the word 'hero.')

And as I see the sheer HATE that is spewed all over everywhere just because someone's opinion differs from some else's, getting away from all of these people just looks better and better.

Does anyone out there have a lot of wooded acres that might be able to spare a couple of them?


Out With the Tub!

Sometimes, impromptu projects are the best projects.
 
We had a big hot tub sitting in the space - it came with the house. The sellers clearly stated that they did not know the condition of the hot hub, and there was no guarantee it would work.
 
We had a technician out and it was going to cost over $1,000 to get it up and running, with no guarantee it wouldn't break or leak again next season. No thank you.
 
I advertised it for free on Craigslist and it was gone 2 days later. Score for us!
 

 
What we were left with was a very visible air conditioning unit as well as a random corner of lattice and a couple oddly placed 2x4's.
 
I have a fun vision for a comfortable sitting area down here. It's nice and shady with a breeze under the deck, and I think it will feel fabulous on a hot summer day.
 
So, I grabbed the electric drill on a whim and started taking screws out!
 
I think it opened up the space a lot, and I'm anxious to find some outdoor furniture pieces to makeover, perhaps a porch swing, and a hammock to make this a nice little place to sit and read a book on a hot Saturday or Sunday afternoon!
 
 
And this picture of the boys is just cute. Look at Hendrix in all that camo. Love him.
 
Stick around - I'll share our Michigan adventures and house projects with you as we complete them!
 
Happy Spring, friends!