Monday, November 30, 2009

I Love the Smell of Sawdust in the Morning!

I spent my Thanksgiving holiday with my DH and my parents reconstructing an I-can't-believe-it-hasn't-been-condemned house that my parents bought.  It's a great house that I love, but it has massive termite damage and has been neglected for a L-O-N-G time.  The floor joists are so termite eaten that they look more like corrugated cardboard.  Scary!  Thankfully my family is very handy and can build anything.  My dad can even do all the electrical.  Most of what we did while the hubs and I were in town was try to get some of the flooring completed.  You can see in this picture how we had to use jack stands and galvanized pipe to hold up the second floor as we worked on replacing the floors in the first level.  I didn't actually get to work on this section of the house.  It was done before I got into town. 

I did get to work on some though! This picture shows the area before we did any demolition.  You can see the hardwood that we were able to save, and a damaged section that shows all the nasty termite damage!  We had to pry the entire floor up off the joists (subflooring and all) because the supports were too soft to give us the leverage to pry up the hardwood panels.  So we just pulled it all up in two big pieces and will pull the hardwood off the subflooring later.  Then we got to rip out all that damaged wood, clean up the crawlspace, and then put in new supports and joists. Lots of power tool fun!  I love nail-guns the best, but we mostly used the power screwdriver.  This is what it looked like after all the old flooring and joists were removed (and one new joist already in place!):

Once demolition was done and all the damaged flooring and joists were removed we went in and replaced the supports and joists and put down new subflooring (plywood sheets).  We've been able to save most of the beautiful oak hardwood that was used, so eventually that will go back down on the subflooring and will be refinished like the other floors in the house that didn't need to be replaced.  Here it is with the new joists and then the subflooring:

This is all a lot of hard work, but it's so much fun!  I really enjoy it.  I finally get a chance to help "flip" a house like all those shows I watch on TV.  Except of course they aren't planning on selling this house.  I can't wait to see it finished!  It has a lot of charm and character, and even with it looking as rough as it does right now, I can see its potential.  Thankfully not all of it is as rough as these areas are.  Much of it is just needs very basic repairs.  I'm hoping to get back up there this month to do some more work.  This is fun!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I hope you all have a wonderful and safe holiday.  Enjoy a little Thanksgiving music today, and remember to be thankful for having a sense of humor to help you get through the tough times.  :) 

I love how the maker of this video timed the placement of the photos.  It added additional laughs to my viewing and listening pleasure.  Enjoy!

Adam Sandler's "The Thanksgiving Song"

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Because Sometimes We All Need An Angel

Have you ever heard of Angel Food Ministries? This is the place to go if you are struggling with your finances and need a little help with the groceries. AFM was founded in 1994 and is now helping out over 500,000 families every month.  One of the best things about Angel Food Ministries is that there are no qualifications or applications necessary to buy from them!  You don't have to prove that you are struggling financially or meet an income limit.  They want to be able to help everyone.  And there is no limit on how many boxes you can purchase, so if you have a small family or a very large one, you'll be able to get what you need from Angel Food Ministries. They even accept EBT (food stamps)!

Angel Food Ministries has a "menu" that changes each month. There are a few different options available:

*The Signature Box contains several kinds of meat, fresh or frozen produce, shelf stable milk, and eggs, plus some other items. It is designed to feed a family of four for one week. The cost is only $30.  The value of the average Signature Box if all the items were purchased in the store would be $65.  That's a lot of savings!

*Senior/Convenience Boxes contain premade meals that you just heat up. It provides 10 meals, plus juices and dessert. Currently $28.

*Allergen-Free Boxes have 5 pounds of food - usually breaded foods like chicken nuggets, fish sticks, or cubed steak. Chosen to eliminate the top serious allergens such as peanuts, soy, eggs, milk, etc. The price has been lowered to $23.

*Assorted packages of meats. There are usually two or more choices here, ranging from mixed meat types, all chicken, or all beef for example. Prices vary but are usually $20 or a few dollars above.

*Fruit and Veggie Boxes have only fruits and veggies, no meat. I believe these are always fresh, not frozen or canned.  (But I could be wrong!)  This month's box is $23.

They also offer special seasonal options, such as for Thanksgiving and Christmas! 

Check out the AFM website to find a local host site near you.  You can order online, or you can contact your local host site to order.  There is a deadline for orders for each month, and there is one day when all orders must be picked up.  You can also apply to have your church become a host site for Angel Food Ministries! 

So if any of you out there are having trouble stretching the budget to fit in groceries, check out Angel Food Ministries.  You can get great, healthy, restaurant quality food (no "seconds" or "day old" food types) at a great savings.  And in this economy, we can all use a helping hand now and then!

MckLinky Blog Hop

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Pumpkin Shortage? Noooooo!

Say it ain't so!  According to this article Nestle won't be packing any more pumpkins this year.  As a major fan of pumpkin pie - pumpkin anything for that matter - I'm pretty bummed.  I guess I need to go raid the grocery stores and stock up while I can.  I don't even know if I've ever seen any other brand of packed pumpkin in the stores.  Libby's is all I've ever used, and we don't have a Whole Foods or a Trader Joe's in my area. 
One of my favorite uses for pumpkin is for Yum Yum Brownie Muffins.  I got the recipe from Hungry Girl.  Super easy, and super tasty.  They are really moist and so good!  They taste like a cross between brownies and cake.  I'm going to try this with a different cake type one day.  I think a spice cake would be good.

Why is it that knowing there might not be any pumpkin when I need it makes me want to get up and make a whole lot of yummy pumpkin goodies?

My brother has this ginormous pumpkin in his garden right now. I might have to hit him up for some canned pumpkin once he gets it processed!  He estimates it weighs about 75 pounds.  Woohoo!

PhotoHunt: Birds

Bird of Paradise!

Taken outside of our cottage in Maui where we vacationed in Dec 2006.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Making Dreams Come True Since 1977

Okay, not really.  I'm still working on that "winning the lottery" one. 

When I was a kid, we had a small pond in our backyard with little fish in it.  I dreamt (dreamed?) once when I was really little that I almost drowned in that pond.  It felt like a pretty vivid dream, and I always remembered having had the dream, even if I didn't actually remember any details.  One day when I was much older (possibly high school), I happened to mention the dream in front of my mom.  She looked at me like I had lost my marbles and said, "That wasn't a dream.  You really DID almost drown in that pond!"

So I'm waiting for the night I dream about winning the lottery, so I can wake up the next morning and BAM!  Instant multi-millionaire.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Soap Magic - The Dispenser for Morons!

Maybe you've seen this commercial. According to the makers of this product, we're too stupid to use regular soap dispensers or bar soap to clean ourselves or wash dishes.  But that's okay!  They're going to save us with this motion-activated soap dispenser. 

I really hate commercials like this.  First of all, I use bar soap plenty, and it NEVER looks all nasty and slimy like the one they show in the commercial.  And if I'm washing dishes and decide I need more soap, I'm smart enough to pick up the bottle with an empty hand instead of using a wet apparently-not-soapy-enough-sponge to grasp it.  Although I'd be willing to bet I could still pick it up just fine even with a sponge in my hand.  That moron in the commercial probably wouldn't have gotten splashed quite so badly with all that water if she hadn't been holding the bottle 2 feet above the water.  Who does that?  And then there is the bathroom scene with the pump bottle of soap that for some reason is all wet and covered in soap bubbles already.  What the heck?  Where do these people live? How would you get all that all over the outside of the bottle?  If there are any people out there who are that messy and sloppy that they actually have these kinds of problems, I don't think even Soap Magic can help them. 

Do they really need to make people look 100% incompetent in order to sell their product?  Are there people out there who see those commercials and think, "Say, I have that same problem every time I need soap!  What a relief that this product exists.  THANK YOU, Soap Magic!"

And another thing - that dispenser sure does dispense a LOT of soap.  Most soap they make now is super concentrated.  That's WAY too much soap! And what happens when you accidentally set off the sensor when you don't WANT any soap.  Like if you are rinsing a dish in the sink or something and the dispenser catches your movement - now you're going to have a big mess of soap on your counter.  And I bet that thing drips too.  They even claim that because kids will think it's "fun" they'll wash more often.  Not likely.  It may be fun the first couple times they play with it, but that won't last.  And if any kids think it's fun, that just means they're going to be playing with the motion sensor and getting soap all over your counter. 

I can't help but wonder how well the motion sensor works.  They've put all those motion sensor sinks, toilets, and even paper towel dispensers in public restrooms, and there's always at least one that doesn't work.  You have to wave your hands around all over to try to get it to turn on, and then if you're lucky it does.  Otherwise you have to work down the row trying to find one that does! Where's the magic in that?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

She's Bouncy, Trouncy, Flouncy, Pouncy, Fun Fun Fun Fun FUN!

I was Tigger-ish on Saturday! The high school where my husband teaches had a fall festival this weekend, and they had one of those Bungee Trampolines there for lots of bouncy, trouncy, flouncy, pouncy fun! They often have these things in the middle of the mall, but I've never tried one before.  I certainly would never have tried one there with a bajillion people watching!  As I mentioned in an earlier post, I'm adventurous ON THE INSIDE, but the outside part of me is a big fat weenie.  And since the outside part of me is much bigger, it usually wins!

So today I was watching all the kids and teens playing on the bungee trampoline and thinking how much fun it looked.  Then later that morning my husband hands me some tickets and tells me he bought them so I can do the bungee thing.  Crap!  Now I can't get out of it.  He smartly didn't ASK me if I wanted to jump, since he knew I'd be too chicken.  Bok-bok!  Thankfully one of his co-workers, Lynn, also wanted to jump and didn't want to do it by herself, so I at least had some moral support. Two cowards equals one almost-brave person, right?

I have to say, it was JUST as scary as I thought it would be. And also, it is NOT as easy as it looks! You'd think having all those bungee cords to pull you up would make it easier to jump, but it doesn't.  And all those people who do the flips and fancy stuff?  Not me.  I tried to do a backflip and it just wasn't happening.  Some of it (okay, most of it) was probably because I was a scaredy-cat and being so high up didn't exactly make me feel any more daring.  I was clinging to those bungee cords for dear life!
This thing is a workout too!  Either that or I'm just super-duper wimpy and out of shape.  Even my arms were tired.  (Probably from the bungee-grasping.)  But I was brave enough to do the Bungee Trampoline for a SECOND TIME!  (Again because someone bought me tickets. Heehee!  Thanks Lynn!)  The second try wasn't any easier, and neither of us ever did get the hang of the flips.  Oh well.  We both decided we'd get in better shape and work on some strength training so we can master the Bungee Trampoline next year! Even if it IS scary and harder than it looks, and even though I couldn't do a flip, it was still a lot of fun. 

Bungee Trampoline: So Fun, It Makes Your Clothes Fall Off!

Safe and sound on solid ground:
Me and my new Bungee Buddy, Lynn:

PhotoHunt: Music

Rockin' the Lisa Frank stickers.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Eeek! There's Something in My House!

When the weather is nice, my DH and I leave the back door open so our two dogs can go in and out as they please and neither of us has to continually get up to let them outside and back in again.  Sometimes they get bored during the night after a long, hard day of sleeping and napping, and decide they need to go outside every hour.  Every. Hour. This happens often during the times of year that it's too hot or too cold to leave it open.  They love making sure Mommy doesn't get any sleep.  For added fun, one will go outside, frolic for a few minutes before coming inside, and we'll both settle back down to sleep.  At which time the other one will promptly jump out of bed to run to the back door and demand to be let outside. Lather, rinse, repeat. 

It's been pretty mild lately, so last night we had the door open and both girls decided to go outside at the same time.  Since the door was open I didn't bother to get up.  That is, until they both let out these frantic, ear-piercing barks and would not stop.  Of course it's nearly 2:00 am, so I have to get up to get them to be quiet before my neighbors form a lynch mob.  They don't normally bark at night, so I didn't know what they were going on about.  They were on the back porch trying to get behind the BBQ grill, and they obviously thought they had something that required a full frontal assault.  Have I mentioned that it was raining and the back porch was partially flooded?  (Thanks, Ida.)  My little prima donnas do not like getting wet, so for them to be standing in a puddle while trying their hardest to get at this mystery prize really meant something. I'm looking all over the place and can't figure out what in the world they are going on about.  There's nothing there!  Do they see dead people?  It was kind of starting to freak me out. 

I made them come inside and closed the door, and tried to get them to come back to bed.  Then they started yip-yapping again!  And they were aiming at something.  So I got on my hands and knees to try to see what it is they were barking at now.  We were currently in the Why-Do-You-Have-a-Dining-Table-When-You-Only-Eat-in-Front-of-the-TV? room.  I finally got them to stop barking while I inspected the nooks and crannies of the room, and I realized that my dogs were finally being quiet, BUT SOMETHING WAS STILL GROWLING!!  Holy crap!  I finally caught site of something fuzzy, and it was growling up a storm.  This was no dog growl or kitty growl. 

There was a freaking wild animal in my house!

My DH had heard the commotion and realized when I got "serious" about herding the dogs back into the bedroom that Something Was Going On.  So we locked the girls in the bedroom and tried to figure out what the furball with the deep, creepy growl was and how we were going to get it out of our house.  I pulled the baby gate out and put it up so that the animal couldn't get to anywhere other than the kitchen and dining room.  By this time my husband had seen enough of the critter to realize it was a POSSUM! (Opossum, whatever.)  Thankfully it was just a baby and probably only weighed about 3 to 4 pounds.  My girls are only 4 to 5 pounds each, so if it had been a big possum they'd have been snack-meat.  Normally I'm one of the few people who actually thing possums are cute (especially the younger ones!).  But this thing was IN MY HOUSE!
I imagined this huge ordeal in trying to get the thing out the door.  Would it be all snarly and attack-y?  Would we get all scratched up and bitten?  And at the same time, I was thinking how this could make a really good blog post!  I restrained myself from getting out my camera to document the event.  

It turns out the actual removal stage was pretty anti-climactic.  It didn't howl, hiss, or growl anymore now that the girls were locked away.  It didn't even play dead!  DH, who had donned jeans and boots just in case, stood on top of the dining table and used the broom to gently nudge the possum towards the door.  It didn't seem to care much.  It just did a slow-motion saunter around the room, silently guided by my kitchen broom until it was back outside.  It disappeared behind the grill again, and we have no idea where it went.  It's like the ghost coon from the book Where the Red Fern Grows

Another thing I kept thinking of as I was watching my husband herd the possum out of our house? SeafoodPunch's lovely depiction of possums.  Check out their site for more fun! 

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

My Nightstand is an Armchair

So I was searching for good blogs to read the other day, following the links of blogs that other people are following, and I stumbled upon a blog by Spleeness with a catalog rant.  This blog ripped the JC Penney catalog a new one over their chosen interior design style - which basically was a theme of impracticality.  All those pretty bedrooms and living rooms were nice looking, sure.  But who could live in them? All those neat living rooms and clean, bare nightstands - they'd last maybe a day in my house before they were all cluttered and "lived-in". 

This got me to thinking about my own nightstand.  My nightstand is an armchair.  The chair was originally in the living room, but when the hubs and I bought a recliner, there wasn't room for it anymore.  So I thought it would be a good idea to put it in the bedroom and have a nice little sitting area for reading. I imagined it being a pretty, cozy space like the pictures in the catalogs and magazines, of course.  But you know what they say about the best laid plans...  My armchair sits right next to the bed, and it didn't take long to realize what a great place it was to lay my books, stereo remote, magazines, notebooks and pens, and everything else that I'm too lazy to get up and put away. So now it's too inconvenient to excavate the chair if I want to read and I just end up sitting up in bed to read anyway. 

But hey, at least if I fall out of bed and crack my face on the "nightstand", I won't poke my eye out on any sharp corners.  Unless there's a hardback book in the line of fire of my face, of course.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Blog Hop: What Would You Do If You Were More Brave?

This week's Blog Hop theme is "Ask a Question".  What I want to know is this:

What would you do if you were more brave? 

My inner child is an adventurer.  I always imagine all the fun and daring things I wish I was brave enough to do.  Some of them I eventually work up the nerve to try, others I doubt I'll ever be brave enough to attempt, even if I'm working on my "bucket list"!  I could actually provide this question with a whole list of answers.  But I'll just name two.

Sky diving!  I love the feel of a free-fall.  Walt Disney World's Tower of Terror is one of my favorite rides.  Falling is fun!  It's the landing that sucks. If I ever am brave enough to try this in my lifetime, it will probably only be as a tandem jump.  I don't want to be responsible for pulling the ripcord at the right time or "driving" the thing to the landing spot.  Plus I'm hoping landing would be easier if I were attached to a pro.  I'm not fond of breaking both my legs or bruising my pancreas.  But then I remember that news item I read about how someone was on a tandem dive and the pro had a heart attack and DIED in mid-air!  And even more unnerving?  I just pulled up the article and the instructor is from my hometown!  (Is that a sign?)  This is a bit worse than tossing a kid into the pool to make them learn to swim!

SCUBA diving!  The closest I can get to this is snorkeling. And that took some baby steps to happen too.  I just can't get myself to breathe underwater.  It's not natural!  My husband is always trying to get me to get certified for SCUBA, and I would love to be brave enough to do it.  There are so many beautiful places underwater that I'd love to see!  Seeing it in on TV just isn't the same.  But I get freaked out even imagining it.  Having to worry about all that gear, whether you've got enough oxygen, whether your equipment is working properly or is faulty, whether you're going to get your airline caught on the shipwreck you're diving and DIE, and even something as "simple" as coming up too quickly and getting the bends.

Now it's your turn!  What would YOU do if you were more brave?

MckLinky Blog Hop

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Boy Scout Fail

I went camping this weekend and there happened to be a Boy Scout troop sharing the campground.  Apparently this group had yet to learn anything about caring for the environment, because one kid was hacking on a live tree with a hatchet!  My husband called the kid over and told him not to do that, and the kid was like, "Oh, uh, okay."  Like it never occurred to him that you shouldn't do that.  Dude!  You're a Boy Scout!  You should know better!  And this troop of Boy Scouts had their campsites set up with enormous, "Holy Crap, I'm Afraid of the Dark!" spotlights.  Whatever happened to roughing it?  Lanterns and flashlights?  Stumbling around the campsite by the light of the campfire is the way to go. 

When I was growing up my little brother was in the Boy Scouts, and his troop was full of wimpy little momma's boys.  They rarely did any REAL outdoors events because the other boys' moms wouldn't let them sleep on the ground or even outside.  Come on!  Sleeping indoors is not camping! Why do you think they call it camping OUT?  And heaven forbid little Johnny sneeze or sniffle.  Then mommy wouldn't allow him to go on the trip at all.  And lest you be confused, this is not a group of small children.  These are teenagers!  What a bunch of pansies.  Needless to say my brother soon lost interest and dropped out.  Our family did more hard-core camping and outdoor adventure type stuff when we were in middle school than this Boy Scout troop did ever.  So sad. And having been coddled the way they were their whole lives, they were also devious little brats.  Scout's Honor my arse. 

Saying "He's such a Boy Scout" takes on a whole new meaning when you've encountered the caliber of Scouts I have.  Where are all the honest, survive-in-the-wild Boy Scouts who fathered the stereotype of Scouts being a goody-two-shoes? 'Cause I'm just not seeing it.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

PhotoHunt: Veterans/Military

USS Arizona Memorial
Pearl Harbor, HI

This photo was taken from the back of the boat as we were being ferried back over to the visitor center.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

My Dishwasher Hates Me

My dishwasher used to work just fine all the time and never gave me any problems.  It's old as dirt - we've lived in this house for 5 1/2 years and it was several years old then.  It is the LOUDEST dishwasher I have ever heard.  When it's running, you can't watch TV in the living room because you can't HEAR it over the dishwasher!  You can actually hear the dishwasher running when you are standing outside in the yard, even with the windows and doors shut.  Honest!  I tested it once. 

Then one day it decided to get screwy.  The door sensor doohickey - whatever it is that turns the machine off if you open the door while it's running, and then turns it back on when you close the door - has gone all wonky on me.  It shuts off in the middle of a cycle because it thinks the door is open.  At first it would do that, and all I had to do was push against the door and it would start back up and finish the cycle.  No big deal.

Then it started shutting off several times in each cycle.  And then - AND THEN - it started messing with me.  The stupid machine would start back up after I pressed on the door, wait for me to walk into the other room, and then immediately shut off again!  It would do this over and over again.  I started waiting in front of the dishwasher for a bit to make sure it wasn't going to shut back off, then when it seemed to be running fine I'd walk out.  Sometimes I'd just step out of the kitchen before it shut off; other times I'd get all the way into the bedroom or hallway before I heard it cut off.  Stupid machine! I swear I heard it snickering at me.  

When it's really feeling feisty, it will stop again as soon as I take my hand off the door.  For one span of time, I had to actually hold my weight against the door to keep it running, and then sloooowly and gently ease away from it.  (I thought maybe I could trick it into behaving!)  One day it just would NOT stay running, and I pulled one of the kitchen chairs in front of it and piled a bunch of heavy stuff on it so it would lean on the dishwasher door and keep pressure on it.  It didn't work.  I get fed up one day after a particularly snarky dance with the machine, and kicked the door.  THAT worked.  For a little while at least.

It's been suspiciously well-behaved recently, which means that some day soon it's probably going to find a way to flood my house or destroy all my dishes.  It's just saving up its energy.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

MckLinky Blog Hop - Favorite Photos

Pixie, one of my Chihuahuas.  (She's missing a few teeth and her tongue tends to hang out of the side of her mouth a lot when she sleeps.  It's so cute!)

Gypsy, my other Chihuahua, who would be having a better nap if Mommy would stop taking her picture!

Now here is one of them together from a few years ago, looking cute (and young!)

And another of them together, looking just little bit wonky.  :)

MckLinky Blog Hop

Wordless Wednesday: Front Yard Visitor

(Picture taken through the window screen!)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Playing Tourist

I spent the morning running around town playing tourist today.  I wrote a lens for Squidoo about Surfside Beach, SC and needed to get some pictures to post in it. It was a beautiful day for it, with clear blue skies and a whole lot of shiny sun.  Of course it's November now, and the offseason, so some of these places are currently closed.  It was kind of nice to get around and pay attention to a lot of places that rarely register on my radar anymore.  I even got pictures of the Town Hall . It's a really small town, so it's actually kind of quaint. 

I'm going to have to start paying more attention to my environment.  So often I notice all the things that annoy me - the crowded stores, the traffic and people driving "like a tourist" because they have no idea where they are or where they're going.  Today gave me a nice chance to see with a different set of eyes, so to speak.  I liked it!  I should start getting out there and enjoying more of these great things that I take for granted.  And since I'm going to be participating in the Saturday weekly PhotoHunt, I'll have to be sure to keep my camera with me! I seriously need to work on my photography skills.  This will be a fun way to do it!

Monday, November 2, 2009

They Make It Look So Easy

All those bloggers out there who never seem to lack a topic, who always have something to say that's worth reading.  All those bloggers out there who can make me laugh till I cry. They make it look so easy!  But I know better! 

My solution?  I'll just blog as if I'm talking to myself!  Sort of like that thing where you write down every thought as it enters your head without thinking about it or having any sort of goal.  I tried that once but I couldn't write as fast as the thoughts were flowing, and even if I could, sometimes my thoughts change course in mid-sentence, so it would have looked like so much gibberish anyway.  Maybe that's the purpose though.  I've never been quite sure...

I've been out of work for a month now, so I've got lots of time on my hands.  I found Squidoo a few days ago and am having a ball with that.  It's fun being able to create a "lens" about anything I want and just post it to the internet!  Of course, I'll probably be able to count on one hand the number of people who'll ever READ them (kind of like this blog).  But I decided I needed a blog too since I'm set on foisting my rambling thoughts onto unsuspecting web surfers.  With a Squidoo lens I have to actually have a TOPIC and a POINT.  That site was made for someone like me.  I'm one of those people who likes to research things and learn things just for the fun of it.  If they ever have a question about something, they come to me even if they know I won't have the answer, because I'll always GET the answer. Now I have somewhere to put my skills to use.  And you can supposedly actually earn money from your lenses from royalties and stuff.  Let's see if I can get a whole dollar by the end of 2010!  Then I could buy a pack of gum or something.  Oooh, or go on a one-item shopping spree at the dollar store!  I've got visions of grandeur now, baby!