Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Good-Bye 2013... a look back

Good-bye 2013, it's been nice but I'm ready to see you go...

You didn't begin easily... Joe newly released from the hospital, still not feeling well. The ER visit that started it all was a blessing in disguise however, finding an aneurysm that might have otherwise gone undetected. At about the same time we made the decision that M wouldn't be returning to the public school transition program he'd been attending... and he found a volunteer job at the thrift store in town. (What a blessing that has turned out to be!) The rest of January was seriously up and down... happiness that B (dd#2) was moving back to the area, and sadness that K (dd#3) would soon be leaving for her 27 months in the Peace Corps. Shopping for B's new apartment was mixed with going away parties for K...it was a strange month.

February brought K's leaving, and my return to blogging... as a way (I thought) she could keep up with the goings on here... The lack of electricity in her village has interfered with that plan, but she can still catch up from time to time when she's in the city.

Late winter and early spring was filled with fix up projects around the house, including replacing all the moldings and baseboards in the house (except for the upstairs bedrooms) and becoming very close friends with the miter saw in the process. I also painted a couple of rooms, and ORB-ed everything from light fixtures to doorknobs.

Spring took the work outside, and gardens were tilled, enriched and planted. And then I found an old beat up shed on Craigslist for cheap... and bought it... guaranteeing that our summer would be filled with rebuilding the thing.

June was M's graduation from homeschool... and a lovely time celebrating with friends, as well as Special Olympics softball, a trip to the circus, a fishing derby, and working on the shed. July brought a Rockies game, a visit from "Santa Claus" (my cousin who, during the holiday season, is the BEST S.C. ever!), and more work on the shed.

August was M's 21st birthday (gasp!), the big Special Olympics party, the beginning of the Special Olympics bowling season, lots of RCC (Rotary Community Corps) activities, finally finding a good load of hay for the upcoming year... and more work on the shed.

By September the shed was put together and I gave it a little barn art to finish it off. (Whew!) I spend much of the month celebrating Fall in various ways. It's my favorite season and each year I try to celebrate it's coming with little things (taking a full moon walk, decorating the house for Fall, finding the most beautiful of the fallen leaves...).

October brought a bumper crop of pumpkins (the most we've ever harvested from our little pumpkin patch), tracking down the farrier to trim Murphy and Tucker's hooves one last time before winter, and a slew of medical appointments and procedures for M.

November and December were devoted to the holidays... both Thanksgiving and Christmas... shopping, planning, cooking, more shopping, cleaning, more cooking, more planning and more... seemingly endless... shopping.

It's been a year of a few challenges mixed with many blessings... The blessing of being able to keep our connection to S, and see her regularly, of Joe's health being pretty good (for him!), M's volunteer job at the thrift store and the friends he's made there, K's safety and happiness in Ghana, having B, and E and her family, close. So many blessings... too many to list.

We probably won't do much for New Year's Eve... maybe play a game or two or watch a movie, I thought a sundae bar might be fun for dessert. We'll be in bed by 10:00... (yeah, we're really exciting like that!)

So long...see you next year! :)

Monday, December 23, 2013

From our home to yours....





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Merry Christmas...



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Have a blessed joyful holiday... I'll be back next week. :)



Happy Monday

Crazy Casa K

What makes me happy?

As much as I love Christmas, it always makes me happy to have it behind me for another year. There is SO much extra work and planning that goes into the holiday... this after-Christmas time of year always feels luxurious with extra  time and money by comparison. Our Christmas was very nice (much better than last year, which Joe spent in the ER!)... We celebrated with a Christmas Eve brunch at E''s (dd#1) followed by some unwinding time at home. We spent Christmas morning at home, and went to Joe's folks for the annual white elephant gift exchange craziness (which lasted until evening!).

The last bit of Christmas tradition at our house is finishing up our "Christmas Movie Nights"...


...which also make me happy... there is nothing like getting all cozied up, on a cold winter evening, with M and R... two of my favorite people... to watch a funny (silly, or sentimental) old Christmas movie.

Friday, December 20, 2013

magical...

I woke up this morning to find our world transformed by white...

Everything covered with hoarfrost...


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...and it's beautiful.


Even the most ordinary thing...


... a piece of fencing...


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... a scrap of tree netting protecting a newly planted bush from the deer...


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... even a simple weed...


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...become beautiful.







Thursday, December 19, 2013

Thrifting Thursday (V is for vintage)

I found a couple of oldies but goodies at the thrift store last week...

Like this old Password game... as soon as I saw it game ($1.) I knew I was going to get it.



I remember my folks having this game when I was a little girl. I don't remember playing it, I think I was probably too young to be able to be understand the game well enough to play. But it does bring back memories. This game is in beautiful shape, complete with "leatherette" sleeves for the password cards, the full set of cards, score pad and spinner.



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It even still had an advertising insert for the game "Stratego" which must have been new at that time (according to Wikepedia, the  Stratego game was introduced in 1961).



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Another clue to the age of the game is the address on the advertisement, it's a pre-ZIP code address (zip codes have been used since 1963).



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Remember this guy? It seemed like he was on EVERYTHING when I was a kid... :)

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I also found another old cookbook. I do love vintage cookbooks... I love how the recipes are from scratch, without a lot of processed ingredients, which is how I try to cook, and I love the old photos and illustrations (not to mention the yummy recipes!).



I believe this one dates from the 60's (the page with the copyright is missing, but the pages and index match the same cookbook I have that's copyright 1968). I think I'm going to save this one for K (dd#3) and give it to her when she gets back home from the Peace Corps. She may not want to suddenly do a bunch of from-scratch cooking... but I think she will enjoy it for it's age.



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Christmas preparations are winding down here... the house is decorated, packages are wrapped, cards are sent... It's my favorite part of the Christmas season, the time to just enjoy the holiness... the anticipation... of this special time of year. Today we're off to work at the thrift store this afternoon, and I might start repainting M's room this morning. His sister gave him some great new bedding, including a new quilt that he loves... but seriously clashes with the teal he choose when we painted his room last year. Honestly, I never cared for the teal... so it's kind of  nice to have an excuse to repaint. :)

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Murphy('s Law)

Our big klutzy horse has done it again...

Remember the lovely new warm coat I bought Murphy at the beginning of the cold snap we had a couple of weeks ago?

The one that cost more than my winter coat? (Probably more than all my coats put together?!)

Here it is, just in case you forgot...



It lasted eight days...

It made it just barely over a week before he broke the latch holding one of the leg straps... meaning it was no longer very practical, as it seemed to take on a life of it's own and was no longer content to just sit on his back, but kept trying to slide around here, there, and all over the place... everywhere except where it was supposed to be.

Equine coats can be tricky things when they don't have all their straps... as evidenced by our sweet donkey Tilly's (Tucker's mama) dilemma one cold, windy, spring day back in 2009. (This coat was missing the leg straps, but had the belly strap... I have no idea how Tilly ended up like this...)



Murphy's (first) coat lasted longer than Joe thought it would... he only gave it two days.

We probably should have started a pool...

But anyway... he broke it so back to the store it went. Fortunately, it came from the BIG (chain) feed store in town... the one that gives refunds.

And off to the other (little) feed store we went to replace it... because they had their horse coats at 25% off.

So I ended up with a better coat for less money.



I really hope Murphy doesn't destroy it... the little feed store won't take it back if he does. (They have his number!)

R forgave him his awkwardness...



I'm just praying the new coat lasts longer than the last one.... If it doesn't he's going to be a cooooold horse if the Arctic air makes a reappearance, because this is his last coat for a while.

It's a good thing he's so cute...

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Five things...

My friend Liese posted on her blog about her family's Advent activity yesterday, to think of 5 things they are thankful for... and invited others to do the same.

Here's my list...

1. I'm thankful M made it through the night last night without getting sick. He wasn't feeling well, and I think his gastroparesis might be starting to flare up again. But he made it through the night!

2. I'm thankful for the beautiful full moon...

3. I'm thankful I live close enough to my grandchildren to be able to see them often... to be a part of their lives.

4. I am thankful for health and strength... to be able to do the things I want to do.

5. I am thankful for a nice warm cup of milky chai in the morning.



What are you thankful for today?

Monday, December 16, 2013

Happy Monday

Crazy Casa K

What makes me happy?


Having daughter B home to decorate the Christmas tree with us this year...


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It's probably been close to 10 years (when she went away to college) since B (dd#2) has been home to help decorate the tree.

She's been home for Christmas during that time, which has been wonderful... but it was lovely to get to share the Christmas tree decorating with her this year as well.  I put one of my "new" old Christmas albums that R got me on the record player, and we had fun going through the boxes of ornaments... remembering where they came from, hanging special ones in special spots, finding handmade ones from years ago.  I was so happy B  was home to share the day with us...

Friday, December 13, 2013

Busy, busy... and a few Christmas ponderings

I love and hate the Christmas season. I love the holiness of it, the time of preparation for the gift that we celebrate on Christmas day, remembering that tiny baby born so long ago in such primitive circumstances. I love the decorating, the trees, and feeling of good will... I love people saying good-bye with a "Merry Christmas". I love choosing (or making) gifts for people who are special to me. I love Christmas carols...

I hate the rest of it... the endless shopping, the shameless advertising with the push to always buy more, buy bigger. I hate Black Friday (which now starts on Thursday... Thanksgiving!). I hate the gaudiness we've created around what should be a holy day.

But now with less than two weeks before Christmas, the shopping is done, the gifts are wrapped (except a few that haven't arrived yet), and I feel the real Christmas spirit settling upon the house. I've been a little surprised this year at how much easier all the preparations are now that the kids are older. When K was 4 (she's now 26) we started taking foster babies, and got M the next year. From the minute he entered the house life has been challenging... he's been high need (HIGH need!) and his needs didn't decrease as he got older, they just changed... But now, finally, he's mostly stable psychiatrically (in other words most days he's stable... reachable... reasonable... with just occasional bad spells) and medically he's doing ok (we've finally figured out ways to mostly manage the gastroparesis with diet and OTC products) and he's become a fairly predictable, agreeable person. It's been amazing to me how much easier it is to shop for a Christmas gift (or 10!) or get some wrapping or decorating done with him older and doing well. It's been decades since I've had this much freedom...

It's very  nice, I could get used to this. :)

On today's agenda? Call Grandma and Grandpa (Joe's folks) and find out when the big white elephant exchange is (it's a big family, with just kids and grandkids there are 54 of us!), call my cousin and invite her to Christmas dinner, and call S's foster mom to confirm those Christmas plans. With the rest of the day I have a little upcycle project I've been excited to start working on....

No,  I can't say what it is... it might end up under the tree on Christmas morning, so it has to stay secret!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Thrifting Thursday (my cup (plates and bowls) runneth over

Remember back last March when I blogged about my mismatched dinnerware?



I was collecting dishes with similar borders, in different colors. It started with a partial set of plates with green borders that I found at the thrift store, and loved, but it was only a partial set... there wasn't enough plates and bowls for our family. But then a few months later I found some very similar plates with a brown border, so I grabbed them.

I had it in my head that it would be fun to have a mix of plates with different colored (but similar toned) borders, so I kept looking (at thrift stores, of course) and found my favorite pattern of all time last March... when I found the red bordered plates that I blogged about.

These are still my favorites, I love the red against the ivory background...



At that point I had a nice collection of green, brown and red bordered plates... but was still looking for plates with blue borders to round out the "set".

So when I found these blue bordered plates (4 dinner plates, 4 salad plates, 2 bowls) the other day... I knew I had to buy them and that my "collection" was complete.



I even have enough of my mismatched set for big family dinners. (With some left over!)

At the same shop I found the blue bordered plates, I also found this sweet little gravy boat that also kind of matches. We used it on Thanksgiving...



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Of course I had to hang a plate shelf in the dining room to display a few of my plates...





I love how they look together...



I don't pick a plate from each color when I set the table of course, they just come out of the cabinet as they come... Both kids have favorites, and I'll often see some plate switching (to get their favorite) after the table is set.  (Please ignore the glowing-eyed dog photo bombing the picture... Quin is always underfoot!)

Total investment for the entire "set"?

About $30.  :)

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Lunch and a ride on the Polar Express...

Granny (R's foster mom before she came home to us, and now adoptive grandma) lives in a lovely senior apartment building/campus just 30 minutes or so away. The kids love to go visit her and have lunch in the restaurant in her building...  the food is always good, and we love getting to see her and catch up a little.

Each Christmas season some of the building residents design and build a very detailed model train set up, complete with Christmas shops, tiny houses... and even tinier little people populating the town. Each year this Christmas display is a little different, and each year we look forward to seeing the newly designed village.

This year was especially wonderful, as they created The Polar Express in miniature.  Here are a few pictures...

R is front of the display:



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I love the silhouette of the hobo on top of the train...



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Yes, the caribou herd is complete with scat!



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Thank you Granny for such a lovely afternoon....

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Five Acres and a Dream...

... is the name of a blog I've read regularly since...

Well, I don't know when.

I looooong time.

The blog chronicles Leigh and Dan's life on their 5 acre homestead... everything from the ups and downs to livestock, to how to make really wonderful mozzarella cheese from goat's milk, to the challenges (and joys) of renovating their 1920's farmhouse. I love reading it because we've followed some of the same paths... fixing up an older home (on 5 acres of land), raising goats and chickens, and growing and preserving our own food.

Well, I just read that Leigh has written a book based on her experiences. You can check it out here...





Judging by what I've read on her blog it should be wonderful!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Happy Monday

Crazy Casa K

What makes me happy?


Nice long talks on the phone with K...

Friday, December 6, 2013

*~*daybook*~*

simple-woman-daybook-small




FOR TODAY

Outside my window... the sun is up, the sky is blue, but it's a cold blue... the temperature is below zero and everything is covered with a thick blanket of snow. The air is so cold it seems sharp and crackly... but the sun holds the promise of warmth.

I am thinking... that a few quiet minutes would have been nice this morning, but despite being up late last night, R is up early this morning, so quiet minutes to myself are not to be...

I am thankful...for the time at home this cold spell brought. We've been so busy the past few months, all with very good, enriching activities.. but busy nonetheless. Being home feels good...

In the kitchen... the last of the turkey is gone (hurray!) except for the frozen turkey carcass which will end up as soup very soon. Mexican food sounds very good to me, maybe I'll make some burritos and green chili for dinner!

I am creating... I'm working on all sorts of little Christmas gift projects... but they are all secret. ;)

I am going... to try and get to town today. We haven't been out since Tuesday and M won't be able to manage much more stay-at-home time.  Joe wasn't able to plow the driveway, but I think the car will make it up to the road.  I just hope it starts after sitting for so long...

I am wondering... how to talk to S's therapist about some things that have come up. It's so hard to find the words sometimes...

I am reading... The Christmas Chronicles by Jeff Guinn. I wasn't prepared to like it, I only bought it because M was pestering to read it. He lost interest in it within 2 days, and I picked it up out of curiosity... and ended up really enjoying it!  It's really three books in one... I've read one of the books and am halfway through the second. If you're curious about it hurry over to Amazon, they are clearing them out for only $2.26!

I am hoping...that M has a good day. He's been so unsettled lately, and even had a major psychotic episode over the weekend. (Maybe why #2 above, wishing for a few quiet minutes, came to mind.) It would be so nice if he was relaxed and settled today...

Around the house... I've been in the Christmas spirit and doing some decorating. Since we haven't been able to get to town, we have no tree yet (we buy fresh each year) but I've braved the cold to clip small branches from the huge blue spruce out back to decorate with here and there in the house, and my big nativity is up on the mantle.

I am pondering... a couple of situations... neither with a clear right/wrong answer. Things are so much easier when they are obviously black and white.

One of my favorite things... the fresh smell of pine in the house (thank you blue spruce,f or sharing with us)

A few plans for the rest of the week... hopefully we'll get to town today so M can work at his worksite and I can pick up a few things at the store. We'll see how the weekend goes... it's supposed to stay cold, and maybe snow again, so we might end up spending a lot of time at home. (Unless M gets too unsettled and we have to make a "mental health trip" to town!)

A peek into my day...

looking up the hill to the east as the sun is coming up...


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Visit Peggy's blog for more about The Simple Woman's Daybook

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Baby, it's cold outside!

Denver broke a record last night... it got down to -13.

I'm not sure how cold it was (is) here, but it's cold.

No, I take that back... It's COLD.

It's so cold that when I was out doing the barn work this morning it felt like my eyeballs were going to freeze...

Brrrr.....

The few things we had on the calendar yesterday were cancelled, and we spent the day at home.  We got a lot of school done, and I started a little Christmas decorating...



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I had a nice fire in the fireplace...



... so the living room was toasty warm.



R and I made multiple trips out to the barn yesterday. When it's cold like this Murphy and Tucker need extra hay and more frequent feeds to keep their body temperature up... We fed them 5 times yesterday (versus twice on a regular day) and they ate roughly twice as much hay as usual. So far they are doing ok with the cold... Tucker is a little tank, with a super fluffy thick coat. I did break down and buy Murphy a coat this year though. He's getting older (he'll be 19 in the spring) and it seemed like it was time. He's a little skittish about his coat (I don't know that he's ever worn one before) but does seem more comfortable in the cold.

Doesn't he look handsome?



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Murphy scratching his neck on the fence I worked so hard to repair after he tore it up... It's looking like fence repair/re-stretching will be part of my spring chores again this year.





Today will be more of the same... Joe wasn't able to plow the driveway last night so we'll probably be home for the day. I'm not complaining though, we've done so much running around this fall that it's very nice to be "grounded" for a few days.

Stay warm! :)