Friday, October 31, 2008

Finished by Friday - Halloween edition

Witches hats for A's Halloween party at Scouts. They're yummy - and super easy.

Take fudge stripe cookies and turn them upside down. Make up some orange icing (mine is powdered sugar, milk and a bit of margarine) and use it to stick the Hersey's kisses on. Voila. Witches hats.

Here's A with his quilt. I actually finished this up last week, but I had promised it to him by Halloween.

I actually started this quilt in about January of this year. I even got all the flannel top pieced in fairly good time, but the furry fleece we had picked out as a backing is a real bear to work with. I kept procrasting working with it. Finally though, as it started getting cooler, I decided I had to get my act in gear and just get it done. So, done it is! And A really enjoys it.
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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

My very bad day.

Not today, but Monday, but I'm still suffering (see the end).  
Lost my grocery list, so I forgot to buy ingredients for cookies for Tuesday's party at Scouts.  
Flat tire on D's car (he had taken my van so he could fit long PVC pipes inside it), so we took my mom's car shopping (leading to the lost grocery list).  
Had to take D's car in to the shop - couldn't fix tire as we'd ruined it driving on it flat.  
Walking to 3 different stores (crossing major streets) trying to find said ingredients.
Making chili for dinner, but leaving out the salsa - it's D's recipe and I should leave it up to him - his is always better.
Cutting my finger on the can of tomatoes - yowza, but that hurt!  And it's still making it hard to bend my finger.  And thus to type, put in contacts, write, etc.

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Sunday, October 26, 2008

Saturday activities

The results of our Scout outing Saturday morning:

I had meant to get a photo of the kids picking up trash, but I forgot about it until we were all leaving. There were 6 Scouts and 4 adults and we picked up at least 10 bags of trash. I never would have believed how much trash there was along the shore of the reservoir. We only did one section of the coast (we stopped where it got boggy and marshy).

Then Saturday afternoon, the kids worked on their costumes.  A decided to be the red Bionicle, because he thought it would look better with the red sword than the black Bionicle would (even though the black costume fit better).  M is being a ninja, complete with A's practice sword (M has misplaced his own).  I think we're going to work out a better face covering before Halloween night - this is a scarf that keeps falling off.

Oh, and behind the kids you can see my new van.  purty, isn't it?

Meanwhile D and his robotics team were on the other side of town for a tournament.  They spent most of the day flirting with the top 8 (out of 28), which go on to the semi-finals - and managed to squeak out 7th place.  But then in the semis they could use only their best robot driver and managed to make it into the finals.  They finished in 4th!  They won't go on to regionals, but they did quite well and came home with a nice plaque.  Lots better results than last year, when they finished 3rd from the bottom of the group.  Go Robotics team!

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Friday, October 24, 2008

Almost Halloween

Here it is, almost Halloween and the kids still haven't decided what they want to dress as for Halloween. This doesn't sound like TOO big of a problem, the big day is still a week away. But (there's always a but), the Halloween party at our church is tomorrow night. Oops. Bigger problem. And all morning tomorrow will be taken up with a service project for A's Scout den. We'll be cleaning up somewhere in town all morning, then they provide lunch. Then I want to go to the fall festival for a little bit - they often have fresh apple cider. I hope they have it this year! Last year they said the drought was too bad and there weren't enough apples. Sometimes they have been making it fresh on site and when that is the case, we get a gallon of the fresh to let it go hard and then a gallon of the pasteurized to refrigerate and drink.

It will be interesting to see what Halloween costumes they come up with. For A, there is always the stand-by of Harry Potter. I think one kid or the other has been HP for the last 5 or 6 years, at least at one Halloween event. Yes, sometimes my kids wear different costumes to different events all within a week. The year A was 4, I think, he had 3 different Halloween events - preschool party, church party and trick-or-treating. He wore 3 different costumes (all hand-me-downs or yard sale). A's other choice this year seems to be Bionicle. M is having a harder time as he doesn't have hand-me-downs. We have discussed ninja or some manga figure. Who knows what it will be. I'll try to get pictures.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

You know it's Fall when

you get a sudden desire to bake bread - and in the oven, not the bread machine
you start thinking longingly of soups
you make chicken soup
you have to worry about sitting down - a cat might suddenly appear and not want to leave
you wonder if its too early in the year to turn on the heat
you think hand quilting is very appealing as it puts a warm blanket on your lap
the kids start looking for slippers
and asking where their long sleeve shirts are
the cats will spend a long while on your lap, not jumping off after 5 minutes
you decide its time to put the flannel sheets on the bed
and find the blanket

Yes, its getting to be fall here. Last week we were still in shorts and t-shirts, now its more like long sleeves and jeans and even sweatshirts in the mornings and evenings. I'm sure we still have some fluctuating weather, but it is definitely fall (and sometimes feels more like winter).


Sunday, October 19, 2008

Boy Scout cooking (or lack thereof)

M went to the local district camporee this weekend.  Either he nominated me or it was his turn or something, but I got to buy the food for his patrol.  Fine with me.  It would have been nice if M could have gone shopping with me, but between his homework and my other plans, it didn't work.  So, I was left trying to decipher a food list made by 3 pre-teen/early teen boys.

As I recall, the menu looked like:

Breakfast: cereal (Fruit Loops), milk
Lunch: ham, turkey, cheese sandwiches
Dinner: hotdogs, ketchup, mustard, chips
Dessert: poptarts - chocolate and brown-sugar cinamon (their spelling)
Breakfast: OJ, poptarts, rice crispies (which I am told means premade rice krispie treats)
and somewhere in there, kool-ade* - specifically fruit punch, lemonade and one other type

The only cooking involved was cooking hot dogs.  I guess they boiled them because it turns out that they didn't have any skewers - and didn't ask me to pack any.  The kool-ade was to make "nectar of life", only I found out after the fact that it should have been individual serving size packets that they can mix together (and only Koolaid brand), not the packets you add sugar to.  I guess they need to learn to specify things on a list!

This is fairly obviously not a menu I would have ever put together, but I did buy what was specified.  I was pleased, though, that M added bananas to the list - and that 4 got eaten over the weekend.  At least there was something fruit or vegetable consumed over those 4 meals.  I wonder when they will decide to actually cook food?  D thinks it might be high school before they decide that they can make something tasty for themselves.

When D told me what food they came back with, I was rather surprised - they (ended up being 4 boys in M's patrol) had eaten (with perhaps some help from various other Scouts) 20 oz of lunchmeat (I thought for sure I had overbought on this), a loaf of bread, 2 boxes of poptarts (all before dinner on Sat), the whole box of Fruit Loops - but only 5 hotdogs.  M reports that he ate 3 because 2 of his patrol mates weren't hungry (maybe too many poptarts?)

They ended up coming home with OJ, milk, 3 hotdogs, and condiments.  Maybe I didn't overbuy too badly - or maybe they all shared things around - or maybe I don't have a clue what happened.  But they didn't starve and they didn't drown (it was raining Friday night), so overall it was a success.

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Court of Honor Haul

M and A both recently had Scout awards meetings. M's Boy Scout Court of Honor ceremonies come along only about twice a year, so they are fairly rare and rather ceremonial.  Here he is getting his badges from summer camp:
M didn't get a rank advancement this time, but he did get quite a few badges:  top row: canoeing, archeology, leatherwork, reptiles and amphibians and at the bottom, basketry.


Meanwhile A got 7 pins: forestry, art, readyman (first aid), naturalist, traveler, aquanaut (swimming) and outdoorsman.  He earned traveler on our vacation this summer, but all the rest were with his den, mostly in summer camp.  A had at least one dad look admiringly at all his pins and wonder how he got so many.

These are actually from several weeks ago and now A is getting ready for another pack meeting.  This time he won't be getting nearly as much, though.  One pin that I know of, but its a great start towards his Webelos badge - at the rate they're going, a handful of the boys should have their Webelos badge by Christmas!


Sunday, October 12, 2008

Pounce helps with quilting

Pounce has been very interested in "helping" me quilt lately. It seems that every time I head down to the sewing room, here comes Pounce!  Here she is on the cutting table, where I was able to do a little cutting with here there.
But here, she has moved and I couldn't get any cutting done without disturbing her.
So, I decided to work on my other project, A's blanket (that is long overdue - I started it probably in Jan of this year).  Do you know how hard it is to sew with a cat holding down the fabric so it won't feed properly?     VERY hard.
I did finally get the animal lap quilt done.  I'll post a picture later (cat in my lap right now, so I can't go take a picture).  A's quilt, well, I finally got all the machine stitching done and now I am working on hand stitching down the binding.  It's going slowly, but it is happening.  I'm about 1/4 way done with the binding.  I'm trying to stitch a little bit every day.

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Saturday, October 11, 2008

The end of the camping trip

I'm not sure I've ever seen a sign for this much grade on a road. Look closely, it says 25% grade! Yes, it was really, really steep. Coming down the mountain, I downshifted to 2nd, then 1st, and still had to use the brakes at times.

Some sort of interesting fungi:

For the most part we had beautiful weather for camping - cool, clear, crisp fall weather. A little chilly in the mornings and evenings (nice to have a sweatshirt and a campfire), but beautiful during the days. I was fine in jeans the whole time, but D and the kids wore shorts some times too and were also fine.

But then.... in the middle of the last night came the rain. The camp host had warned us the night before that there was a good chance of rain, but it was supposed to be only half an inch. That's not much rain and we weren't worried about our tent. (oops, famous last words) It started rained 2ish in the morning and by 3 am D was getting drips on his forehead! Through the rain fly! So, we got up and shifted the air mattress a bit so he wasn't getting hit, but then I noticed the drips on the sleeping bag too. By 4 or so, the drips had made it through the top of the sleeping bag and now the bottom layer of the bag was wet. Ugh. But of course it was still raining and pitch black dark out. Not much to do other than wait it out. Besides the kids were still asleep (even though when we did get up, A complained that his bag was rather wet).

I suppose I dozed off and on, but not a true sleep, but when M woke at 7, I was ready to start dealing with things - even though it was still almost as dark as it had been at 3. The kids and I packed up while D made dashes with the stuff to the car (in the rain still). We discussed what to do with the tent - its probably 8 years old and obviously leaking in more than one spot and we really didn't want a soggy wet tent in the car (and I won't really trust it for camping anymore) - in the end, we left the tent there and told the camp host. He said he would take care of it once things dried off a bit. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

And then, since it was still raining and chilly and we had a cold breakfast planned (bagels, yogurt, fruit), we decided to take that all back home with us and go eat in the nice dry lodge, where they had a very reasonable hot buffet breakfast.

I think all the sleeping bags have finally dried out here at home and are ready to be put away again, but its been cloudy and damp here too the last few days. All the smoky laundry has finally been done and the last of the dishes washed (one pot wouldn't quite come clean at camp). I still need to restock the camping box with paper napkins and FIND the silverware we used to have in there. Luckily we had a bag of plastic, but we used to have a collection of cast off silverware from our parents that lived in the box. Wonder where it went??

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Friday, October 10, 2008

gold mining

Our first full day of camping we actually left the park and went into Dahlonega. We went to see the Dahlonega Gold museum, which was quite interesting, but not very photogenic. Then we had a choice of 2 different gold mines. One was a tour of a gold mine (getting to go into an old mine), with panning and the other was looking at some equipment, but mostly panning for gold and gems. D and I agreed that while we would probably prefer the gold mine tour, that the kids would rather do the gold and gem mining. So that's what we did.

Here's M and A at a (fake) mine entrance.
Panning for gold.  We each found 6 or 8 flecks of gold.
The gold is actually from this mine, which is still being run, albeit only for generating sand for tourists to pan.
D and A are still panning for gold, while M has finished that and has moved on to screening his dirt for gemstones.  The gem mining was definitely the kids' favorite - enough so that we bought an extra, large bucket for them to do some more.  They both ended up with a nice collection of various rocks, including some emerald.

What's funny is that the gem dirt is from Franklin, NC - which is where we initially took the kids gemstone mining back when A was about 4, so probably 5 years ago.

As a final bit at the mine, they had a still.  D is trying to explain distilling to A.

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at the campsite

Some scenes from around the campsite:

M is reading and A is playing on his DS.  Other times they switched activites, but both were pretty popular!

Toasted bagels for breakfast, anyone?  They're quite tasty - and warming to toast them.

It was quite windy one evening and the plates of spinach were threatening to blow away while I tried to open the can of mandarin oranges.  M decided to just go ahead and eat his spinach, but his hands were full trying to keep mine from blowing away - so he just grazed on the spinach like a cow!

A is trying to hide from the camera.  All you can see is his hand here.  I did get some pictures with him, but I thought this was a good one of M.
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Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Amicalola Falls

We're back from our camping trip to Amicalola Falls State Park. The falls are the highest east of the Mississippi. They don't fall the whole distance at once, but rather in several (many?) bits. Here's A at the top of the falls:

Looking over the railing behind A:
Just a few of the many (MANY) steps to get down to an overlook:
See - lots of stairs - 425 of them.  Ooof - both my legs and my lungs complained going back up.

The view from the overlook.  I had a really hard time getting the falls and the kids in the light.

View of the falls from the very bottom.  See that vertical line at the top of the picture - that's the falls!

A very interesting bug - some sort of caterpillar that we found.

After all that hiking, we headed back to our campsite for a rousing game of Settlers of Catan - only to discover that the site where we had set up camp had a wicked case of sun-in-the-eyes at the picnic table.  So, mid-game, we decided that this site just was NOT going to work.  We found another site across the road that was much shadier and decided to move.  It was a little close to a family in a camper, but we could tell from their tag that they would be leaving the next day, so we picked up the tent and moved it.  Yes, D and I each took 2 poles and the kids each had one and we just carried the tent, all set up, across the street.  I'm sure it was pretty funny looking, but it was far easier than taking down and re-setting up the tent!  A few more minutes to move our chairs and coolers and then we had to get back to our game - which was not portable.  After the game, we finished vacating the original site (we felt bad about occupying 2 sites, but the campground never got more than half full on Sunday evening) and then had hotdogs for dinner.  So nutritionally sound, I know.  But we had carrots too - one big carrot each!  And A was recording his menu for posterity - or at least for his Cub Scout leader for his fitness pin.  A finally finished his week's food diary - he was at least as good at remembering to write things down as I was.

(more on the camping trip tomorrow...)


Saturday, October 04, 2008

Gone to the Falls

We're heading off tomorrow for a bit of a camping trip.  The weather forecast looks great, mid to upper 70's for highs and low 50's at night - couldn't ask for better camping weather.  We're heading off to Amicalola Falls for a few nights.  We'll see the falls, go visit the Dahlonega Gold mine museum, hike a bit (much to M's disgust - though he generally has a good time once we're actually hiking), sit around the campfire, etc.  Generally relax and not be bothered by phone, computer, chores, etc. 

I'm looking forward to getting out of the house for a few days, even if I'm not enjoying the packing right now!

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Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Not recommended as an exercise plan

This fridge is driving me insane.  Oh, wait, I guess I didn't mention the issues with it yet.  Well, the fridge got delivered on Monday afternoon, nicely within the 2 hour window they gave me.  After some effort, they got the fridge in - the front stairs are too narrow, the door from the dining room to the kitchen is too narrow - they brought it up the back stairs, moved some furniture in the living room so it could go from the dining room into the hall into the kitchen.  Anyway, fridge came in, they hooked it all up and told me I'd be good to go once I cleaned the interior with vinegar and flushed about 4 gallons of water through the water dispenser.  

So, I commenced scrubbing down the fridge.  But, hmmm, it didn't seem very cool in there.  Maybe because I kept having the door open.  Or maybe since its an energy star, it takes a bit longer to get to temperature.  Several hours later, in between keeping A on task with his homework (not usually a problem except when he has to write something), I finish cleaning out the fridge and reinstalling all the shelves.  By this point it's dinner time, so I fish dinner out of the coolers (had to empty out the old fridge).  After dinner check the new fridge.  Oops, not looking good - its still room temp.

I send D off to my mom's to pick up a load of ice while I took the stuff from the freezer down to the garage to put it back into the old fridge/freezer.  We had decided we were going to donate the fridge to our neighborhood pool, so we didn't pay to have it hauled away.  At this point we are REALLY glad to still have the old fridge.

Tuesday morning - get up, fridge still not cold.  Think nasty thoughts.  Make several trips down to the old fridge to get breakfast for the kids.  After they get off to school take the remaining coolers back downstairs and reload them into old fridge.  Everything is sort of hodge-podge as to its location, though, so its hard to find things in the fridge. 

Call the store once it opens to report dead fridge.  Have to wait until store manager arrives before I can do anything.  Get appointment for Wed (today) to get a repair person, anytime between 8 and 5.  Yay.  Lovely window.  They tell me that they can narrow down my window some by calling in the morning.

This morning, it took me 5 trips down stairs to make breakfast.  
1:  Get milk for A
2: Get breakfast makings for M
3: Return breakfast makings for M
4: Get milk for my cereal
5: Return milk for my cereal.

It would have been 6, but A returned the milk from his breakfast.  Each trip is down a flight of stairs and across the length of the house and back.  It's probably good exercise, but its no fun!

The repair guy showed up this afternoon.  He fiddled, he got his tools, he told me he was going to light a fire in my kitchen (!).  I don't think he actually lit a fire, I think he was actually using a  welding torch to heat things up.  Evidently there was some sort of a restriction in the line keeping the coolant from circulating.  The fridge starting cooling some, but he didn't think it was really fixed.  He said it wasn't frosting on all the coils and that he would need to order a whole new set of coils for the fridge.  

D and I decided that we weren't sure we would trust a fridge that needed such major work right off the bat.  So, tomorrow I get to call up Se@rs and convince them that they need to pick up the fridge and return all my money - I don't want to be traipsing up and down the stairs all day for at least another week (minimum it would take to get the new part).

Of course this means the fun of hanging around waiting for someone to come and pick up the fridge and picking out a different fridge and then waiting for someone to deliver the new one.  Hanging around waiting for delivery/repair people is not my favorite thing, but it looks like I'll be doing more of it in the coming week.  joy...

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