Admitting it is the first step, right?

I may have a problem……………….

 

…as in an addiction….

 

 

 …to my spinning wheel……

 

But the yum yums that I make……oh there is no turning back now…..

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Yummmmmmmmm

 

 

 

Posted in Spin me baby | 2 Comments

Painting

Greeting from seriously the most gorgeous July on record.  Again, we have been blessed with mid 70′s breezy beautiful days that it just puts such a zip in my step.  I mean seriously…the 4th of July was in the low 70′s……..my makeup didn’t melt off my face for the first time in YEARS!

Now, if someone could maybe do something about the abominable mosquitoes in our yard…..jeez they are just thick this year.

The kiddos have been thankfully quite busy thus far this summer.  They did their yearly camping trip with the hubby and it was so much fun to hear them re-tell their tales when they returned.  Someday I will hopefully be able to coax the man into guest blogging about their trips….

Then the kiddos went and spent a week with the grandparents in the southern part of the state.  They had a ball and got lots and lots of attention and again had stories galore of all their fun.  In a few weeks they head to grandma and papa’s up north where no doubt they will be busy busy busy.

So when we finally found ourselves with an afternoon at home, I got the ‘we’re so bored’ blah blah blah

So I had to come up with a plan to find myself some sanity….and get the kids out of my hair….

And boy did I hatch a plan…..

“How about you paint a mural on the side of the storage shed?” I asked them.

*****SILENCE*****CRICKETS********

“Um, really??” they replied.

“Yes, absolutely!”

No one sees this side of the shed except for us and I thought it would be fun for them to plan out and paint, and would give us some color during the ucky winter months.

The great thing about paint these days is you can go to the hardware store and for a few bucks they will mix up tester pots of any color you want…..so we were off to the races……and some poor high school kid got to mix up a lot of paint…..

The girl planned everything out…..photo 1.

Then the fun began….

photo 2

And of course everyone decided they needed to get on on the action…

Check out the tooties on this pretty lady

Check out the tooties on this pretty lady

 

And WOW! Now we have water front property…with a VIEW!

photo 4photo 3Hope there have been lots of sunsets to your days as well!

 

Posted in Around the House, Family Time | 3 Comments

For the Love of June

I think I have decided that June is officially my favorite month. Who doesn’t love a nice sunny, breezy 70-ish day?  I feel like I have boundless energy and so much finally gets done in June.  In WI we have had some extreme weather as of late but really what it has equated to is rain, then sunshine….rain, then sunshine….which means the garden is exploding with life and growth!

Here is a recap in pictures of what we have been into the past month.

This is one of the garden boxes that we put in a month ago on Mother’s Day….

IMG_0365And here it is now:

IMG_0402Here are the tomatoes on the day we put them in:

IMG_0366One month later:

IMG_0407All I can say is…chicken sh*^ compost is worth its weight in gold when it comes to the garden!

Here is a peek at my favorite corner on the deck….it just makes me so darn happy

IMG_0399This tuberous begonia is one of the most spectacular flowers I have ever had

IMG_0396The boy and I set up a ‘keep out the chickens’ area in the backyard as they just scratch the poor hostas into the ground….and they love to fling mulch with wild abandon which drives me batty.

IMG_0412In addition to spending lots of time in the garden, the boy, girl and I participated in the Race for the Cure a few weeks ago.

The girl joined the girls running club at her school and they trained to complete this race…which she did!  The boy and I walked with my work team and really had a great time.

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Then a few weeks later, the girl graduated from 5th grade and is now officially in MIDDLE SCHOOL!

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Then onto this past weekend’s extravaganza……the Summer Solstice Celebration.  How we have lived on the east side of Madison for 11 years and never attended this is beyond me as it fully encompasses all the wonderful quirkiness of our dear city.

The celebration begins with a ‘procession of the species’ which of course is lead by none other than Charles Darwin.

IMG_1661IMG_1662IMG_1658IMG_1652The evening was spent with friends and a lovely picnic and then rounded out with a HUGE bonfire all while drumming and dancing.  I can think of no better way to usher in summer!

And then Sunday we took things down a notch and spent the afternoon fishin and knittin

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And it is with a sigh and yawn that we tumble into Monday……

Hope you are all finding June as magical as we are

 

Posted in Around the House, Family Time, Victory Garden | 2 Comments

Last Year in Single Digits

Today marks the day the boy turns 9, and thus we begin our last year with kiddos in single digits.  This realization leaves the hubby and I scratching our heads wondering where the time has gone and how these kids have gotten so BIG!  We just recently watched videos from when the boy turned 1 and oh how things have changed.

Here is what I can tell you about this boy of ours.  He is just one of those kids that everyone wants to be around.  He is FUNNY (oh so funny…I mean seriously really funny) and such a helper I am not sure what we (or the chickens) would do without him.  He is incredibly chill and as a result the cat is generally found in the vicinity of him. He is smart as a whip …just quiz him on his multiplication facts…..!!!!  All in all, he sure is a cool dude so we wanted to make sure we squeezed as much as we could out of turning 9…..

First up…a roller skating party with some friends from school.

The boy learned how to ice skate this winter and was HOOKED, so it didn’t take him long to get the gist of roller blading.

010The girl went all ‘old school’ and got her some roller skates, which made her about 6 feet tall

006The kids had such a fun time and it really took me back to roller skating in grade school with my friends.  I mean seriously, isn’t this what YOU remember? Disco lights, people whirring past you while Thriller is blaring?

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Next up was a party at the house attended by friends and family galore.

There were cousins by the dozens

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And family and friends mixed together

030The adults took to the shade where beer beer and beer was consumed (it was darn hot that day) along with lots and lots of yum yums

033It was so darn hot the kids had to cool off

039036035037And there was even a secret meeting of the kiddos that put together a play for the adults

041I can’t tell you exactly everything that happened in the play, but I confirm it was great and hilarious and we were all thoroughly entertained.

048051053But the best part was seeing this kid so happy to turn 9.

Happy Birthday dear boy of ours!

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Posted in Around the House, Family Time | 1 Comment

Slowly but Surely

Well, I think I am confident in saying that Spring is almost here…well, just about here….um, kinda here…..We seem to get bits and pieces but yet I still seem to have to run the heat in my car in the morning…but I finally took my mittens out of my purse.  Yup, that is probably what was holding Spring up…my mittens…so we are good to go.

At least we have been able to take the yard cleanup at a steady pace since there is no planting to be done yet.  The kiddos and I got the raking done a few weeks ago when Spring peaked her head out for a half day. (Oh and I got to hang my sheets out on the line….dear lord is there anything more glorious than sleeping in sun soaked sheets?  The boy and I confirmed you can most definitely SMELL SUNSHINE!)

Last weekend we had some semi-nice weather albeit breezy and I decided it was the perfect time to paint our outdoor furniture.

11 years ago when we moved to the ranch a dear friend of ours gifted us her iron furniture and while I attempted to paint it once, I ran out of steam and it has sat mostly unpainted for the better part of a decade.

It is a GREAT set of furniture but has SO MANY pieces (6 chairs, 2 tables and a loveseat) I had the great idea of having a auto body shop paint it, but making 10000000 trips hauling back and forth didn’t really trip my trigger. (I still think this is a great idea and may pursue in the next decade)

Here are what the chairs looked like before:

furn6Here was the ‘peanut gallery’ who watched the whole thing unfold and let me tell you, they had some comments all along the way.

Yup, they claimed front row seats, got all nice and comfy and then kept saying “you missed a spot”.

furn7And here they are in all their glory:

furn8Yup, I went with bold color and turquoise seems to be a fav these days (paired with orange and red, it is really really lovely).

When I lamented to a co-worker on painting all the pieces…”oh it is going to take sooo long”…and “oh I am so whiney because of it all”….she wisely proclaimed “paint a few and do the rest later”. Well yeah, why the heck didn’t I think of that?  So I did 4 chairs and a table.  And for now, that is just fine.

Also a new edition to the deck is this lovely beauty that I found on a thrifting spree….reclaimed barnwood, door handles and such had me at hello….

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And this beauty is ready for summer cocktails!

furn3Let me tell ya folks….the deck is shapin up to be an ever greater spot than it was last year.  Bring it on Summer!

 

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Giving Back

One of my most beloved values that I take from my childhood and strive to pass on to my children is the notion of volunteerism. Growing up, our family participated in distributing meals once a month at a downtown Milwaukee church and I recall this being one fun night. I still remember watching my dad goof around with the folks who were there eating and having a ball. He would sneak extra portions (which was a strict no-no) and just walk around chatting everyone up. My mom was usually with the gaggle of other ladies doing dishes in the kitchen and running interference with all the food. There was a core group from our church who went to this function every month and they are still some of my parents closest friends. It was a true sense of community that I felt when I got to go along and it is that feeling that I have carried with me all these years.

Finding the ‘right’ activity is really critical and I think it is what keeps many people from participating in volunteer activities. It only takes one bad experience to really thwart feelings of good will and I too have had my bad experiences. One year I sat on the board of the girl’s preschool and it was one of the worst decisions I ever made and it has kept me from PTA events to this day. I also worked for several months with a local children’s organization that was so mismanaged that I finally had to walk away from the weekly frustration I found myself in.

The next hurtle is finding a volunteer activity for a family with small children-which quite frankly is no easy task. Google searching “volunteering with kids” brings up ideas like ‘penny drives’ which are great, but wasn’t quite the hands on experience that we were searching for. In this day and age, kids aren’t allowed in many places (albeit for good reasons) but I happened to mention my frustration to my girlfriends one evening and my lovely friend Mrs. Traveler exclaimed “You should do meals on wheels! The people would LOVE to see the kids!” And you know what…she was completely and utterly right.

Four years ago our family started our journey of volunteering for Meals on Wheels through Independent Living. I can tell you with all honesty this is the perfect fit for us because it hits the main points we were striving for.

1-It is FUN and we get to interact with others. This was really key as we wanted the kids to understand directly who they were helping and why. It has been really interesting to watch the kids grow up doing this activity and how well spoken they are with adults. Let me tell ya, that boy is a real charmer with the over 75 crowd…..!

2-Independent Living is wonderful to work with. They have a top-notch volunteer coordinator who is mindful of our routes and has kept us in the vicinity of our home, which is truly wonderful. Finding an organization that partners WITH you is really key. From my first meeting I was truly blown away by how hard they work to make the process easy on their volunteers and how valued they make us feel as well.

3-The time commitment is reasonable. We deliver meals every other Monday and fill in on other days if needed. We know exactly when and where we need to be so we can plan our calendar around it.The longest our route takes us is maybe an hour (and that is if the weather is nasty). Most times we are done within 30 minutes!

4-It is family friendly. Everyone we deliver to LOVES to see the kids. They know our kids by name as well as our kids know all of them.

I know that this continues to be a great match for us as, to be honest, none of us ever complains about having to do it. After this many years, we have fallen into a rhythm and it is now just part of our family schedule.

The rewards continue to be both plentiful as well as humbling. We take a lot of pride that we watch over these individuals, particularly those without immediate family in the area. We have on more than one occasion been greeted with a person who has fallen down and couldn’t get up, but knew we would be there to help. We have helped deal with icy walks, listened to health concerns and decorated bags with notes of encouragement. We have delivered meals to people who live in tenements barely suitable for habitation and we have walked away and thanked our lucky stars for our tiny house. We have giggled and laughed while scrooching puppies and have made up a remarkable number of jokes that are required to be referred to each and every week (Ok, some of us think that last point is really annoying and wish we had never mentioned the troll who lives at the end of one particular hallway….and the kids will NEVER let me forget it…EVER).

So dear reader, on this National Volunteer Week I ask you to make your mark. Maybe it is walking down to that neighbor you haven’t seen all winter and raking their yard or dropping off a plate of yum yums (or eggs if you got em’) or maybe its contacting that organization that you always thought sounded great, and you always meant to help out but just needed a bit of prodding.

Community. That’s what I feel every time we deliver a meal. We are a part of this community and I will consider my job as parent a success if our kids learn and live one lesson, and one lesson only… and really its a pretty simple one…

…just be nice and respect one another….

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Posted in Family Time | 2 Comments

Curl up and Dye

So it is STILL cold in Wisconsin…I mean like 18 degrees in the morning…hafta start your damn car in the morning and let it run cause there’s frost on the windshield cold.

I needed to heat things up….so what else could I do this weekend but turn up the tunes…dance…..and DYE in the kitchen!

I have some lovely merino roving that I have been experimenting with spinning and decided that spinning natural colored fiber is WAY too boring (gives new meaning to sleeping at the wheel) so I invested in some acid dyes to have some FUN!

Acid you say? Hmm….sounds dangerous doesn’t it? Crazy scientist scary right? Walking on the edge of life I am…

But really, acid by way of vinegar doesn’t really sounds too bad now does it? I mean basically I made salad dressing…really really pretty salad dressing. And even the kiddos got in on the action….

Step number one, soak the fiber in water and just a bit of soap. This opens up the wool and allows it to ‘accept’ the dye much easier than if it were dry….

Since I wanted to ‘hand paint’ the fiber we laid out plastic wrap…which will make more sense in a bit as to why we did this (other than the obvious reason of trying to keep the kitchen from being dyed as well)

photo 1 (48)Step two….mix up your dye solutions and grab some syringes…then you are off to the races. Seriously these syringes are the shizzle….these babies kept the mess to a minimum and cleanup was a snap.

photo 2 (24)So easy a handsome 8 year old can do it

photo 3 (11)When we were all done adding the dye, you wrap the whole thing up in plastic like a beautiful snail and steam that sucker on the stove top for a bit. Heat makes the dye adhere to the wool and really makes the colors POP right in front of your eyes.

photo 2 (25)Then you set it out on the deck and let it cool cool cool (cause its hot hot hot). You know you’re done when any of the liquid left in the plastic is completely clear. That means all of the dye molecules have been accepted by the wool and they are now married for life.

Rinse that pretty lady and let her dry in the sun.

photo 1 (47)photo 2 (23)And wouldn’t you know…..it totally worked and is absolutely lovely ready to be spun wool.

A few areas of note to the process:

1. The Bruno Mars Pandora station is da bomb for whiling away an afternoon of *insert activity of choice here*. Get ready to shake yer booty….

2. If you find yourself in a room adjacent to your deck on a sunny (albeit cold) afternoon and have your window open cause its pretty darn steamy……it helps to have some female cheerleaders outside the window keeping you company. Yup, they hung out with me all afternoon….they are pretty happy to be out in the yard after 5 months of being locked up, and I realized how much I missed their little sounds…..

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That’s medicine on her comb cause she got a boo boo from one of her evil sisters

 

Posted in Around the House | 1 Comment