Just planted three trees and walked over to the girls who were supposed to be watching Gertie.
Just planted three trees and walked over to the girls who were supposed to be watching Gertie.
We’ve always joked that this little house is preparing us to live in a log cabin in the woods because we pretty much already spend our lives within 20 feet of each other.
Ruthie was very mad when I sold the bunk beds and asked if she could have her own room. We said nope. I follow a mom on Instagram who recently posted that the majority of the time she and her husband make their five kids share everything, from cotton candy at the fair to bedrooms. And they can certainly afford not to have to do that. So it’s the principle of it all, and I dig it. Annie, on the other hand, was extremely excited to share a bed with her big sister so she could cuddle and do other things like watch Ruth trace her hand and write addition problems in her bedside journal. Ryan’s now reading Chocolate Fever to them which was one of my favorites. Gertie gets out of her new floor bed at least thirty times a night, we sometimes find her curled up next to the door, and then also wakes up for the day before six which she’s never done. We are plumb tired but determined to stick it out.
Ryan, tonight, reading to his three girls. A new book about two cats on the run.
We’ve changed their room around again. I just couldn’t get behind the practicality of bunk beds. I wanted to be nostalgic. So we got an antique full bed and now Ruth and Annie sleep together. I shared a bed with my sister, my mom did with hers, and I know for sure my grandma Gertie did with hers. The thought of carrying this on feels right.
Little Gertie will be transitioning to a floor bed this summer, right next to them. I’m a little nervous, but am hoping it’s one of those things where I’m lowering the standard too much. She loves being close to her sisters.
We got a new water table and spent all Friday morning, right up until lunch, outside.
The older two played hopscotch and Gertie, after getting frustrated at not being able to reach a rubber duck across the table, finally stuck her head under the waterfall and pulled it back, then kept throwing it to the other side so she’d have to stick her head under again. Hearing her laugh at herself made me smile. We’re getting closer, she and I. A lot closer. Like, I wanna nuzzle her neck and kiss her cheeks all the time closer. Something is changing and it’s probably (annoyingly) me.
Last Friday was a scorcher, so they scrubbed down the van. The day before, Ruthie begged to go through a car wash but I just couldn’t justify it.
After a good 45 minutes wiping it down, they spent another 45 on the porch filling buckets and playing with the hose. I live for mornings like these.
Annie has been on a love note kick, painting pictures of us then writing the sweetest things on them, folding them up and pretending they’re pieces of trash she randomly found. On one of her last days of school this year she’d painted me a self-portrait and her teacher framed it. She put it by my bed and said “This is me. If you wake up in the night and are scared, just look at me.”
Fair warning, this is being posted purely as a proud-blog-mama moment. You can roll your eyes at any time. I won’t mind. Mostly because I can’t see you. If I could, I’d probably blush and hurry to make fun of some aspect of my life so you’d like me again.
Anyway, for those of you who didn’t know (which I don’t know how you couldn’t know because I basically pinned everyone’s arm behind their back until they ‘liked’ my blog on facebook), I used to write a second blog called The Mobile-Homemaker. Well, because I lived in a mobile home and thought it’d be fun.
And it was! When all Ruth did was nurse and sleep. When she got busier, I started slacking. And then I moved. So I stopped. Partly because of the move, partly because I pressured myself to write every Tuesday and Thursday, and partly because I was feeling a wee bit over-exposed. The facebook page had almost 700 ‘likes’, which in blog world is piddly… but I was still surprised. So after moving, I decided to take down my blog and going private on my personal blog.
Before that happened though, apparently someone wrote a ‘review’ about it. My parents recently sent this to me from an online magazine my uncle reads. It’s been fun to look back at The Shack… so, enjoy!
The Mobile Home Maker
Sometimes I feel as if we are the only family in the world trying to live debt-free in an older manufactured home. Thankfully, there are people like Carolyn to remind me that we aren’t alone. There are thousands in the country doing the same thing, we just haven’t met them all, yet.
Carolyn is the woman behind 2 wonderful blogs called The Mobile-Homemaker and Cue The Banjo. She has a great wit about her and her comedy and straight forwardness is refreshing. Within 3 posts, I ended up feeling as if I had known her my entire life.
Her story is very typical of most living in a single wide. It’s either a stop along the way to a bigger home or it’s the finish line for living simple and debt-free. In her case, it was a stop along the way. She has since moved from this single wide into a town home but we still have the photos and her witty posts to share.
Here’s her story, in her own words:
I’m a 30-something stay-at-home mom who writes Cue The Banjo and forgets people’s names as soon as I meet them. Just warnin’ ya, it’s horrible.
I live with a mustache that has a man attached to it, my husband R, and we have one child (so far), her name is Ruth.
This is our journey of living lean and becoming debt-free. It’s also my personal
swan dive belly flop into homemaking – aka, the most interesting job I’ve had to date. (And that includes selling dismemberment insurance at a telemarketing company).
I feel like I’ve started over from scratch as far as my mindset goes. Re-learning what should be valuable to my family and un-learning the Keeping Up With The Joneses mentality. Who do these Joneses think they are, anyway? Someone needs to give them a good kick in the rear, because they’re wreaking havoc on people’s psyches. Not to mention I bet they’re really boring with no imagination at all. Good riddance.
That didn’t sound jealous at all.
So, let’s start with the exterior of the mobile-home, or The Shack, as I call it.
We moved into The Shack in the summer of 2010 and it has taken me until now to upload photos of it, let alone come to terms with living in it. Not gonna lie, it looks like druggies live there. And the scary thing is, we don’t do drugs.
Yes, my friends, we have chosen with sober minds to live here.
Why? Well, I’ll tell ya. Take a seat.
It all started when I was a twinkle in my mother’s eye… too far back? Okay. In 2007, less than a year into our marriage, R and I bought a house in the cutest little area called Prairie Village, a suburb of Kansas City, because that’s what you do, right? Get married, buy a home. The neighborhood was built in the 1940s and huge oak trees lined every street. Another young couple had just moved in next door and everything was quaint.
THEN. Then, less than two years after buying it, R got a job opportunity in Arkansas. Like, we had to move down within a month type of opportunity. And so, with the help of our realtor, we managed to get out of that mortgage within 2 months of listing it despite the already down-shifting of the housing market.
That’s when everything changed.
And when I say everything, I mean We changed.
We realized that our first apartment’s rent was 56% of our mortgage payment with just as much square footage and started paying off R’s undergrad & masters with that extra dough. I also came to
appreciate obsessively salivate over passing the buck when something broke down. [In a British aristocratic voice] “Excuse me Landlady – I dropped a crumb on the carpet, please send someone up to shampoo it. Thanks.”
Look, replacing a 60 year old sewer line that broke, while guests stayed for the weekend, will do that to a woman.
When we moved even closer to R’s job, we made the decision to rent the cheapest apartment available… putting us at 40% of our mortgage payment. We called it The Dorm Room because of the shoebox-size and, yes, slept in a loft bed slightly larger than a twin. This allowed us to pay off more of his loans, all the while going on trips, eating out, and donating to charities without feeling pinched.
That’s really the thing of it all, I don’t want to feel pinched. If that means living in a Dorm Room or The Shack, then so be it. It was cozy up in that loft anyway (read: hello Ruth!)
A year later, this beauty showed up. At a whopping 32% of our mortgage payment, we ran around like wild turkeys.
No literally, there’s a turkey farm 100 yards away.
Living off only one income now, that small rent payment is so incredibly worth the ugly exterior.
Carolyn’s single wide was a typical mid 90’s model (I think). Since they were renting, I’m sure she had to abide by certain rules. Yet, she ended up with a very nice home that was extremely affordable.
I’m sad to see they moved! It was nice to know that someone out there could make a house a home and laugh about it all the way.
No, the druggie reference didn’t offend me (it takes a lot more than that to get me offended). It is a typical association of manufactured homes but we do need to work on getting it gone as soon as possible. She was being funny and honest and I commend her for it.
Some manufactured homes are nicer than others, some just needs a little work and love to make them a great home. As witnessed several times on this blog, you can turn a single wide into a small mansion worthy of an HGTV feature. A home is what you make of it, whether it be a shack or a multimillion dollar estate.
You can still keep up with her through her 2 blogs The Mobile Home-Maker and Cue the Banjo.
As always, thanks for reading Mobile & Manufactured Home Living!
This week has been one for the record book, my friends. For one, I took a shower every day. Amen. Secondly, I’ve never seen Ruth as sick as she has been. On one hand, you like the cuddles. On the other, you just want to go play outside while yelling to Stay on the sidewalk! like the good ole days.
We’ve been bed mates, this girl and me, and usually we’d just tuck in at her normal time around 7:30. But one night we stayed in the living room to watch Survivor with Ryan. Don’t judge. You watch Downton Abbey and from the sounds of it, it’s become just as cut throat on the surviving side of things.
So while we watched, Ruth let me cradle her. Don’t forget to check out the bleached out towel look displayed in the drafty window. It’s so in this season, and I’m ahead of the curve.
And it reminded me of a memory stuck in my head of being cradled by my mom. I must have been in 2nd or 3rd grade because I was big on her lap. I remember being rocked with a glass of Sprite offered every now and then. I don’t think we had a rocking chair in the living room, maybe it was a rocking arm chair? Or maybe it was just mom rocking her body? Anyway, it was dark with the only light in the room coming from the TV. It was quiet too, so everyone must have been in bed.
And I could almost guarantee that we were watching David Letterman. I’ve no idea why I’m so confident in the matter. Maybe because another memory I have is not being able to sleep and walking into the living room to find my mom eating crackers with cream cheese and salsa. She didn’t tell me to go to bed, she let me sit with her and shared her plate. And David was on.
I told Ryan about my memory and he also shared one, from about the same age.
He remembers laying on his mom and listening to her talk on the phone, and was comforted by the sound of her voice.
Okay, she probably wasn’t that crazy-looking. But just so everyone knows, this is how I look whenever I laugh at what you say. That’s if we talk on the phone, because I’m not a phone-talker. I know I’ve shared this before, but it’s because people actually listen to what I say while on the phone. I can’t distract them with facial expressions or hand movements. And that intimidates me, so no, I’d rather not thankyouverymuch. It’s no offense to you.
I remember my mom saying, There’s no one like mama when you’re sick. Ruth will run to the door when her daddy gets home and basically ignore my existence. But once that sickness comes on, she’s all mine. And that’s just fine by me.
According to my dad, if I start to show signs of nesting then I’m about to go into labor in 10 minutes and to please call them. He was pretty emphatic about it too, you know.. from his birthing experiences.
So if this is it, then you better come on down ya’all. And don’t forget your side dishes. We’ll need them for the BBQ.
R is excited. I, on the other hand, am getting worried. About important things too.
Like seriously, what if I forget to shave my legs/bikini area before going into labor. That one’s high on my list. So high, in fact, that I brought up the subject out of nowhere when over at a couple’s house for dinner. Right in between bites of cake. A charged silence ensued and utensils clattered onto plates around the neighborhood. I think I even heard a faint scream of horror a couple streets up. It was awkward, but I pushed forward. People have got to know. Forget about the baby’s or my health, if at any point I realize that I forgot to shave, someone had betTER GET A FRICKIN’ RAZOR, please, CAUSE I’M GOIN’ DOWN.
Hopefully I’ll stick in the ‘please.’
That’s another important worry, (but obviously not as crucial as being well groomed): How nice am I going to stay throughout it all? Last night, R sat with his arm butted against mine during our bible class. A voice came out of me that sounded straight from The Exorcist, “Your arm hairs are irritating me. Back. [pause] Off.” He looked into my eyes, widened his own, and quickly scooted halfway down the pew to get away.
I mean, really?
Poor R. I think the relaxation techniques we’re practicing are more for him than me. Who knows what force of nature will emenate from the depths of my being while in labor.
But man, will my legs look GREAT or what!
Another worry I had was baby clothes. My sister has been hoarding all of their clothes for when one of us finally got pregnant. Let’s just say, they’ve been down in the basement for a long time. So when she and her three kids visited last weekend, I begged her to bring some along.
It was immediately opened, and I pulled out a newborn outfit. Then promptly fainted. So I’m not going to have an 8-yr old, then? They really do come out that small? This whole, ‘I’m going to carry a fragile little body in my arms’ thing is being taken a bit too far. They’re like nerf footballs, though, right? Don’t answer that.
Along with clothes, the tub was overflowing with receiving blankets. Just those generic ones, which I plan to turn into baby wipes.
If we’re diving into the world of laundering cloth diapers (worry #4), it makes sense to do cloth wipes too.
I mean, I love laundry! Cough, ahem.
At first I debated about making my own solution, which generally includes baby shampoo, tea tree oil, and some other ingredient that I can’t think of right now. I wish that last ingredient were distilled vinegar. Have I mentioned how much of it I have? I’m sure it’s safe on a baby’s skin…. Or at least on a nerf football.
But then I found Lusa Organics “Baby Juice”. The name made me uncomfortable, which is why I just had to have it. (If only to holler in front of company, “Honey!? Could you grab the baby juice!?”) That was a joke because anyone who knows me knows I can’t stand terms of endearment. Well, at least the overuse of them. Once in a while they’re sweet, but if I have to listen to a constant barrage of them, I’ll grab the nearest thing to stick in my eye. Hopefully that nearest thing is string-cheese or something. Then it won’t hurt, and I can eat it afterwards.
But anyway, supposedly the bottle of baby juice lasts a year if you mix a bit with water and spray onto the wipes as needed. Sounds good to me!
So I guess this is where the nesting bit comes into play? I soaked the clothes with light stains in OxyClean and then washed them, along with the other 0-6 mos old outfits. It does make me feel good to reuse all of these. If it’s hard for me to buy new clothes, there’s no way my child will stand a chance. Poor thing. It doesn’t know what its getting into.
After I put those away, I turned to the diapers.
…and washed those as well. The newborn disposables caught my eye and I repeated to myself, “nerf football, nerf football.” Those are TINY.
By the way, I do like when a random garage sale item finds its way into being useful. Like the old clothesline hamper I bought for a pricey $10.
The lady threw me off by asking how much I would like to pay for it. I never know how to handle those people. All sorts of thoughts go through my head: should I lick my finger and feel the breeze, what is the weather like, are they hot and want to go inside – so are an easy sell, will I offend her if I go too low, but it’s a garage sale – I want to go low, but I don’t want to offend her, does she get offended easily, will she laugh it off, if she does – will she still be my friend, I know I only met her seconds ago but I think she’d be fun to play parcheesi with, did I put on deodorant this morning, hurry and make a bid – she’s staring at you.
And then I blurted out ten dollars. She was a little too quick to take me up on that offer, which means I failed. Oh well, I love it. Plus, it came with a matching cloth bag of clothes pins which are holding up the curtains behind it. Love details like that.
And then finally, the toy box. Get a good look at your life, kid. You’re obviously going to need one heck of an imagination because toys are not high on my ‘must have’ list right now.
Yeah, let’s give that nerf ball some chalk to play with. Mother of the year already.
I’m sure it will fill up in no time once the endless ‘why’ questions start. I don’t think the “Ask your father” answer will cut it for very long. Instead, let’s play with Cookie Monster!
I know there has to be other worrying things that are suppressed by my subconscious. And I bet they’ll all come out in that moment when labor has begun. Wait, I really did need a crib??
This is starting to get interesting.
This stupid fly.
It followed us in yesterday after spending several hours enjoying the cold front that came through (high of 90 degrees). And now it won’t leave me alone. It literally follows me around and sits next to or on me at all times. Does it want me to tame it like the fox in The Little Prince? Well, I don’t care if it would like the wheat fields because you’re too annoying to tame, little fly.
You tickle my skin with your legs and who know how many times you’ve thrown up on me. Where did I hear that flies throw up every time they land on something. Disgusting. I’d rather tame a slug. At least, then, I could rub in the slug residue as moisturizer. See? It would have a purpose. What’s yours fly?
I’ve never cursed so much in my life and it looks like I have severe seizures every 15 minutes trying to get it out of my personal space. Forget trying to swat it either. I’m just not fast enough and, plus, I think this one is different. I think it understands English. So when I mutter I’m getting that damn fly swatter, it mysteriously disappears until I forget why I’m standing in the kitchen.
Hey, remember when PETA went psycho over Obama killing that fly? That still makes me giggle. It’s a fly. I could use those fly-killing skills right about now.
But I’ll put up with it if we could have days like yesterday everyday. It was fantastic.
R and I spent two hours playing scrabble (I won. Barely.), while he also worked on our financial spreadsheet. He amazes me with his Excel prowess. I make one click and three billion things turn red. Sigh. That’s temporary though.
Has anyone done the Dave Ramsey envelope thing? We’re not used to handling cash, as we have airline miles on our credit card… putting everything on the credit card and paying it off at the end of the month. This was my first official pay period with no incoming money and the first time that we’re starting to watch what we buy.
No more buying things because we either a) want it or b) would get a bunch of miles.
Doesn’t everyone work our their finances with a dry erase board in bed? (Side note: Notice the painted toes. Yesterday was the first day R had to paint them for me due to size of belly.)
But Dave is helping. We’re still using our credit card to buy fixed expenses (i.e. buying a Walmart gift card for each vehicle’s gas, because you get the 10 cents discount as well as miles. Shush it. We still like getting the miles.) and also for any other major expenses (i.e. car problems, trips – we are committed to keep this an important part of our life, etc.) But now we’re using cash as well. And that hurts at the moment, because we’re paying off our credit card bill that’s due as well as taking out cash for the current month.
I’ve also become a coupon extraordinaire and have found the trifecta of stores to tackle: Walgreens, Harps, & Walmart. Walgreens has some great cash back programs (Register Rewards that can make you money), Harps doubles coupons up to 50 cents, and Walmart will match any competitor’s price as long as you bring in the flyer.
I’ve even enlisted my mom to look at the flyers and tell me what are good meat deals. So last week I bought a roast. My first time ever.
And it was awesome.
So this is where I give thanks that R supports me staying at home, because this aspect sure isn’t easy. But I already feel us working together to accomplish something that we never had to think about beforehand. It feels good. I feel good making his lunch/dinner that stretches our dollar, I feel good keeping the shack clean & tidy, and I feel good taking care of little errands that we used to argue who would have to do next. I have the time now to focus on that, and I’m so grateful it’s a possibility to do so.
And yes, I do take naps.
But before I do, if anyone has done Dave Ramsey and would share their experience, I’d love to hear it. Right now everything feels a long way off and any little bit success stories help.
Also, check out Passion For Savings, if you’re interested in couponing. She lists out great deals for you so you don’t have to think about it. She also lets you know when freebies become available. I’ve already subscribed to three magazines for free based on her directions (Shape, Everyday Food, & Bloomberg Business Weekly). Love it!
I always love to point out how much I hate to shop. And I do… for new things. Give me access to pre-used, bargain deals, then my mouth salivates at the thought of going store hopping. It’s to the point where I can’t even stand being in regular stores, because I think, “Oh I’m sure I can find a better deal on this.” or “Who would pay that much for this?!”
In effect, I’ve become a snob. A reverse snob, I guess.
There’s a thrift store trifecta that I hit every time I’m in the neighboring town. Even if it’s for a quick run-through due to limited time, I cannot not stop. They all help satisfy my different needs, so the steering wheel literally takes on a life of its own and plops me right in front of the door. It can’t be helped.
First stop, Goodwill.
Here I get clothes, books, bric-a-brac, and occasionally a piece of furniture.
It was at this place that I landed on a pile of discarded Eddie Bauer sweaters. If you know me or R, then you know of our love affair with EB (or Ed, as he likes us to call him.)
Then onto the Salvation Army.
Here you can find a great piece of furniture and bric-a-brac. The clothes are still too pricey (can you believe me!?), and the kitchen ware is slim.
Okay, I’m not a complete imbecile.. where I refuse to buy anything new. It’s just become a knee-jerk reaction to question the need to pay such inflated prices. I mean, yes, I will buy new and unused underwear. (However, I did buy and wear a vintage 1940s swimsuit for a summer. Discuss.)
A hairbrush? New. (This has especially been cemented in my head after working in an elementary school where those insects whose name rhymes with ‘mice’ tend to congregate. Shudder.)
If I were to jump out of a plane, then yeah, I’d pay extra to make sure the parachute was new and in working order.
See? I’m not demented.
The last stop on the holy trinity trail is just a generic THRIFT STORE (per the sign). I found this puppy while getting lost one day.
It feeds my do-it-yourself projects, my kitchen ware, knitting, and occasional piece of clothing.
It was there that I bought these bushel baskets. R thought it was a great idea, since we have an orchard not growing anywhere near us. (He never appreciates my purchases).
And who could forget the great book buy of 2010: a Gardening Encyclopedia set. The cashier rang up each book at 25 cents when I thought they’d be a dollar. Will I read them? Probably not. But I saved almost $14 people.
And I love how they look in our eames style TV stand. We found that curbside in our old KC neighborhood and I made R carry it three blocks home. You know, instead of me running ahead to get the car. I was afraid it would be snatched.
Yes, I am that person. A dumpster-diver.
There, I said it. I’m a dumpster-diver and I love it. During my sister’s annual neighborhood large-item pickup day, she and her husband would grab a six-pack, sit in their screened porch, and make fun of my fellow divers.
They don’t understand.
Then what about the Shack’s mini, almost microscopic wine (and champagne?) cellar. With my $4 wine rack and $2 carafes. I bought the carafes back when we lived in KC and they were next to 12 mini wineglasses of the same decor. Those glasses still haunt me to this day. Why I didn’t buy them, I’ll never know.
I think I didn’t want everything to be mitchy-matchy. I still get queasy about mitchy-matchy, but in this case I would’ve come to love the matching set eventually.
Note Klimt’s and my mutual friend, Judith, gazing longingly for a glass.
And then my ‘Medicinal Plant’s’ poster. At the checkout line, a lady said that she was this close to buying it.
Half of the fun is the competition. There are not several of these in the store, with more in the back storage room. It’s a one and done deal. Who knows when you’d see it again, if ever. So you have to grab fast if you like it, because others are just as quick.
For the record, I have no idea which plants these are, as they are all written in the latin names. I know one day I’ll see something outside that looks similar and then end up with poison ivy on my tongue.
But when you live in a Shack with limited storage, you have to be creative. So when I found this 60s (maybe earlier?) laundry basket, I immediately thought where it could go.
In front of our kitchen window, where I am desperately trying to revive my grandma’s plant. Remember? I said I’d baby this one forever here. Turns out I’m a liar. It’s hanging on by a thread. Sorry Mary Margaret. I’m trying.
It also holds the cute set of vintage mixing bowls, one of which holds our compost goodies.
You need storage, Carolyn? Then voila! That little guy opens up to find all of my awkwardly sized bottles. These have been stashed randomly in the kitchen, bedroom, and who knows where else.. so it pleases me to have them all in one place.
The Shack’s wallpaper & white linoleum, on the other hand does not please me. Oh well. I’m blessed to have a roof over my head.
Happy Thrifting everyone!
Before I write about the throwdown between two restaurants undertaken by a friend and I, otherwise known as the Battle of the Bulge (her bulge from pregnancy and my bulge from that third helping), I thought I’d first talk about some make-up I made.
The recipe called for:
When looking for the color of mica to use, I was a bit overwhelmed. I’d like to eventually make a simple foundation to wear daily as opposed to the schlack I currently use. What’s in that store bought stuff anyway? And why do I love it so? I don’t know, but I do. So I ended up choosing a nude shade.
This recipe can also be used for chapstick and so I picked out a berry-colored mica.
First, you melt the beeswax.
I was home alone that day, and so pulled out a Native-American sushi dish to keep me company. There’s a grocery store in town that sells the most random things. They were also selling canisters with old photos of cowboys cooking alongside a chuck wagon. And yes, I bought all of them.
Don’t know what it is about them, but I have a tendency to buy old photos in whatever capacity they’re presented to me. They’re just… timeless. To think that this guy was breathing when it was originally taken. I like having those moments of life surrounding me, even though they’re long gone.
But if I’m honest with ya, I really only bought these because I have a thing for those chiefs. Prairie fever, if you will.
Watch the beeswax melt until they look like a pair of eyes. This bee apparently had a lazy eye from the looks of the melting.
Who, in their right mind, would want a photo of themselves on a serving dish 100 years from now. I feel sorry for this guy. Do I need to stipulate that in a will or something? “In case of mass-marketing of my face, please use image attached.”
Because you know this is the photo they’d choose otherwise.
Can you imagine serving chicken piccata on that scary face? It’d at least help people stick to their diet, that’s for sure.
Okay, back to the make-up. Pour in the jojoba oil.
It will cause the beeswax to seize up a bit, so just continue stirring until it’s all nicely melted again.
And, lastly, dump in the mica. I’d recommend keeping it on the heat until pouring into the tubes, because the beeswax does solidify quickly.
This recipe made about 12 normal-sized tubes of chapstick (which I also use as blush, since it’s tinted). The bigger tubes in the first photo were used for the brownish mica and are what I’m currently calling “bronzer”.
I’m not yet ready to use it only as a foundation. My umbilical cord to thick, plastered war paint has not been severed. One day, though, I will break free. To know that only three ingredients are on my face at any given time sounds really lovely. Doesn’t it?
We’re off to picnic amongst hoop dresses and war uniforms today. Hope the weather holds out.
Until next time!
Or maybe Boomer? We don’t know, just that the owner across the street yells “Buuubuh” anytime Wilbur comes close to us. Maybe Bubba? Whatever his name is, Mr. Unfriendly, who refuses to return our waves doesn’t like it. I don’t think he likes Shack Dwellers.
My friend is going through a similar experience, except they don’t live in a shack so I don’t know their neighbors’ excuse. What’s up, unfriendly neighbors of America. Is it some sort of club? The UNA club. Is his child receiving a scholarship for being part of the club? For gawd’s sake, Wave.
We’ve had a good laugh, though, watching how hard they avoid making eye contact with us. One guy actually twisted his body in such an awkward way while getting out of the car to avoid facing us. And then side-shuffled along the side of the vehicle to the front door. Oh, how that made us giggle!
Anyway, sometimes we walk out the door and there’s Wilbur/Bubba/Boomer. Like he’s waiting for us to hug him.
So we do. Apparently he likes giving kisses to pirates.
It doesn’t help that N carries dog treats in his car for random “leeedull dowggies” in the town. Seriously, without even owning a dog. He’s like that weird guy getting a little to close for comfort to kids on the playground, only it’s dogs.
I get up to go, and Wilbur asks me not to just yet. Please rub behind my ears some more. I don’t care if you live in a Shack.
But I have to get dinner started, Wilbur. We’ll play another time. Promise.
And as I was prepping my food, I watched him slowly make his way back home across the street. He’d walk a little bit, then lay down and stare at The Shack, walk, lay down a bit, stare.. walk, lay down a bit, stare, all the way home.
Oh, Wilbur. How you make up for your owners.
Hope everyone had a good Labor Day. I spent the weekend with friends while wind blew in our faces. It was nice and my sunburnt nose agrees. As fun as it is to leave town, though, it’s such a breath of relief to finally arrive home after a 8 hour trip which normally takes 5.5 hours, but you decided to stop in every stinking town on the way home “to break it up” which actually just made it seem more unbearable than it really would have been to begin with.
And breathe one-two-three-four. Again two-three-four.
R and I did get some good talkin’ in, though. And I needed that after he had been working late for most of the past few weeks.
Plus, we missed our livestock… which is what we’re calling our rabbits since, well, you know what we’re gonna have to do.
Next to them is the compost pile that we’ve been adding to over the past month. We positioned it close so that the transfer of, ahem, poop is quick and easy. They tend to “read the paper” in the same spot, so we put some buckets underneath to catch it all.
I get excited over rabbit poop. What have I become.
But I do.
Along with free wood pallets from Lowes. The manager shot me down the first time, but I’ve learned from past experience that you just need to find the right person. So I asked again, and they hooked me up.
N sawed off part of the front pallet and we were in business. Poop business.
And also quickly-rotting-food-from-Walmart business too. Man, it has been a race to eat all of our bananas in time. So I’ve been making mucho banana bread, because it’s not working. The racing, that is.
But guess what, it all mostly goes into the compost! And since we don’t have a garbage disposal, this is a win-win. Not that I normally put banana peels down the drain, but you get my drift.
In a couple months, we’ll have to leave this compost alone and so I’ve begun my search to find some more pallets for a second bin. While this one rests and decomposes until spring, we can start adding to the second one.
Who knew The Shack could produce such goodness!
Did anyone else walk outside today and immediately start skipping to the car?
After finally admitting to myself that my favorite season is Spring, the feeling of Fall in the air downright filled me with happiness. The heat wave over the past couple months had just sucked every ounce of energy out of me.
But tonight. Yes. Tonight the roommates and I were able to eat our spaghetti dinner outside The Shack with cold drinks and warm sunshine on our faces.
Glorious, glorious, glorious.
I think I may just turn into a Fall person, after all. That is, until Winter hits.
This is literally what we do almost every night during the week. Don’t be jealous.
N sits on one couch, I sit on the other… and we watch R try to beat Mike Tyson in Nintendo’s Punch-Out. It has become a very sad event to witness, R coming so close and then getting knocked out every time. He turns into Million Dollar Baby and won’t move until time for bed, he becomes so distraught.
Was that an inappropriate joke?
Anyway, N & I want him to beat Tyson just so he’ll quit obsessing over it and *we* can play some games. Like Dr. Mario or Goal.
You will know when R wins. You’ll be able to hear him he’ll yell so loudly.
And, yes, we’ve finally hung those pictures leaning against the wall. The Shack is coming along.
I was headed out The Shack’s back door to bask in the 110 degree heat index, when my hand closed around something large, wiggly, and with many legs.
Neighbors probably thought someone got murdered in The Shack, so they put down their knitting and shook their heads at their spouse saying, “It was only a matter of time…”
Shacks get a bad rap.
(can you see the turkey farm?)
But it really wasn’t a 300 lb spider that my brain told me it was.
In fact, it was just our friend Twiggy, the stick bug.
Since our initial spotting of Twiggy, we have seen him roam around the property, popping up here and there.
Until recently, that is.
We haven’t seen him in about a week and have come to the conclusion that a dog is playing catch with him. You had a good run, Twiggy. And so did that dog..after he caught you.
This weekend R and I are moving into our new digs. On a turkey farm.
It’s actually a really cute shanty. R thinks it looks like the quintessential country home to generations of meth users, whereas I think it could easily be used in a movie. You know, like in the last scenes of Silence of the Lambs.
Quite adorable, really.
But it is excruciatingly cheap. Making us one step closer to buying our own bit of starry sky.
And it has space. And quiet. And breezes. And trees.
Put those together and you have the most delicious sound that even an iPod can’t rival.
R and I are loving our new roommate!
I don’t know if the same could be said for N, considering the fact that we are always in his personal space. When he wakes up, he hears “Hi N!!! Just Making Some Coffee!!!” When he goes to sleep, he hears “Go ahead and sleep, N, we’re just going to finish up this 3 hour movie.”
Ugh. I’d go crazy.
He has a good attitude though and makes fun of the annoyances, so that helps. Like when we were all discussing the book The Five Love Languages, I asked what his language was and he said, “being left alone.”
Soon, though, we will be moving into a new place. And all will be well.
For the record, R is wearing pants. And yes, those are overstuffed slippers on his feet. He makes me smile.
I think the boys are enjoying living together again after so many years.
Here’s a taste.
There’s been an update in the dorm room bedroom.
Yes, we are still sleeping in a loft bed a la an eighteen year old child in college.
But we didn’t feel we were utilizing all of the wall space possible.
These are the dorm room dressers before. We ended up selling the dark brown and keeping the white one. The trunk had been moved to the living room as a coffee table. We created a makeshift recycling center under the loft.
I’ve finally admitted that I am quick to sell items when I’m bored with them and then I replace immediately. Why not try to find another use for it and save money? For that reason, I kept the white dresser and moved it to a new resting place.
We bought a bakers rack and some storage boxes to fill up with both of our clothes. The rack fit perfectly in the corner next to the loft bed and opened up the room.
Plus, later, when we have real dressers (which at this point, getting out of this darn apt is a pipe dream), we can use the storage boxes for, dare I say, vegetable storage?
You know, right next to our dairy kitchen and north-facing cellar. Sigh. I want a mini-farm so badly.
Here’s the new home for whitey. I’m not a fan of the detail on top of the dresser, so I hid it with the bread box. Not sure if it’s going to stay there, but I’m too lazy to move it right now.
I’m using this dresser for linens and blankets. And it has opened up the trunk to store less-used items.
Go Dorm Room!
Okay, before we get started, I want to make sure you keep your eyes on R the whole time. Otherwise, you’ll go stir crazy. Our local library has a little corner in which they sell used books, so our bookshelves have kind of exploded and we’ve yet to organize. Also, there’s a little wire behind our computer that I cannot seem to keep tucked into our 50’s style roadside find.
(psssst, that is one of my favorite styles in furniture).
Anyway, that darn wire haunts me. It’s like the little spider in the Bernstein Bears books.
So now that you are focused on R, I have to mention how much I like watching games with him. When he gets excited he does this little karate kick, double punch thing while yelling our alma mater’s name. I wasn’t fast enough to catch it, but it happens.
Last night we played KU. And we lost. The game gave me an ulcer.
R’s emotions ranged from jubilation to hopefulness to disbelief to annoyance.
This map haunts me. Because of that, it drives R nuts, even though it was his idea to copy this idea from his brother.
We’d mounted the map onto foam core and waited the appropriate number of days until Hobby Lobby’s frames came on sale. Then we framed it, hung it on the wall, and have been staring at it every day for the past six months.
It. is. torture.
If it had been just a plain ole framed map, it would’ve been no big deal. But we put pins in it. And those pins have meanings.
Sigh. If it were up to me, the entire map would’ve been a sea of white. But I edited my choices to a select few.
I’ve been staring at the Peru pin for the last few days because I found tickets to Lima round trip for $222. Can you believe that? But it falls during the school year (which equals no time off). Plus, logistically speaking, we could not have made it to the Inca Trail and back in just three days. And believe me, I researched every detail from every angle. Maybe four, if you were pushing it and ran on a tight schedule.
R even hung a carrot in front of me asking if the deal landed on a holiday (it could have been the pain killers talking). And of course it didn’t. So, I’m chalking this one up to patience. And boy do I need some.
I research trips probably once a day. Am I addicted? And I’ve seen the show, people, I know the drill. If any of you invite me to a hotel room to “talk”, I’m not coming.
Oh, you white pins. How you laugh at me.
R is out of town for a few days, so guess what that means? Girly time … with myself!
Hello, my name is Carolyn and I’m an introvert.
There, I said it.
R and I had gone to some friends’ (T’s blog is here) house last weekend. We were sitting around talking about, well what else..ourselves, and T mentioned that his wife had said “Oh good! She’s an extrovert for me and you’re an introvert for R.” Immediately, my palms got sweaty and I started to tremble. Extrovert, extrovert… oh lord, does that mean I have to talk to people? After smelling salt was waved under my nose, I woke up to declare that R was more of an extrovert and to please not give me a debutante ball into extroversion society because I’ll be expected to reenact a scene from the Crucible where they pretend to see birds and my part is one of the girls that screams and cries and, really, I am just not prepared nor do I have the lines memorized even though it’s mostly screaming nor do I like to have people’s eyes on me and no one will clap and everyone will laugh even though it’s a drama and not a comedy, so please.. please!
Anyway, by the end of the discussion, it was decided that T and I were functioning introverts. I like to write, I observe and absorb, I don’t mind giving up the spotlight, I can interact with people despite my sometimes clumsy conversation, and maybe when I get comfortable with you, just maybe, you’ll mistake me for one of those extroverts.
So I took myself to a museum in the next town over. They were having a “Cabin Fever Reliever”, complete with three speakers and they’re normal museumy stuff. The presentations were of the historical trails that went through NW Arkansas: Trail of Tears, Butterfield Stagecoach Route, and a Civil War Troup. It was nice. So were the free cookies and cider.
I skipped the Civil War talk to look around the museum with no one else around (Introvert Alert!!). I wanted to shoot everything. Everything. But was worried I’d do a repeat of my trip to San Juan Capistrano, in which I took about 300 photos of various chairs and pottery. So I made an effort to include myself in photos, if only to make it more interesting to look back on.
My parents are recovering non-self-includers. Now, every time they come back from a trip, they like to point out to me where they are in each photo.
Hang on though, I’m not saying I don’t enjoy interesting pictures from a trip without people I know in them. But that’s the key word: Interesting. I mean, look at this: I could never do this.
Could you? You probably could, huh. Well, I can’t. So I might as well throw me in the scenery mix. What has it got to hurt? (I heard that.)
After gazing at my future dining room table, I turned the corner to a dress-up area and squeezed into a 12-year old’s hat….
…looked at old 3-D photos.
And then I saw it. An entire area devoted to cleanliness in the olden days, which included a replica of an outhouse, of course.
So I tried it out. What you don’t see is the lady standing behind the camera pretending not to watch me set the self-timer and run into the outhouse. Apparently this is the face I make when someone walks in unannounced and stands there staring at me. I mean, hello lady, I’m having a private moment with me and my 1905 Sears catalogue and you are breaking my concentration.
In the end, I outran her to the real deal outside, after which I took a tour of a small cabin and barn.
After a quick stop at a thrift store, I drove home, changed into pajamas, fixed myself a nice cocktail as well as a plate of cheese and crackers (Do you see any green on that plate? I was getting wild and crazy last night, people), and plopped down to my netflix account.
We had a couple days off from school this past week due to weather, so I ice skated my way to some antique stores. I always try to have a game plan before entering these fun-filled edifices. If not, I’ll wander aimlessly and you’ll find me in the corner many days later overdosing on other people’s memories. It’s not good.
One of the items on my list was a crock. My co-worker gave me a recipe for biscuits and gravy, but she suggested I use leftover bacon grease.
You see, it’s these little things that I just never think of. This is just one more way to extend the food I eat. Another similar idea is the sourdough starter for bread. I’ll be trying that someday soon once I get some courage. I don’t know why it intimidates me so. But absolutely no yeast needed. Kneaded is needed. But not yeast, and the starter just grows and grows and grows. A new deliciously informative blog I found has already helped at least prepare my mind for this feat. Here’s her post on sourdough.
So, anyway, I found two crocks and immediately strained the grease into one of them through a cheesecloth.
And there she be. I know, I know.. you’re wondering why I just don’t wash my hair for a day and use that grease. That wouldn’t taste good on biscuits, silly.
My other crock I used on the side of the stove, where I store utensils and other frequently used ingredients. Remember, we live in a teeny apartment, so any space is crucial. Above is how it was before…
And here’s the after. The new crock just freed up an entire drawer in the kitchen. Sweet!
Oh, and guess what else I bought? A pressure cooker/canner. A co-worker owns 100 acres and has offered to set up a garden this summer.
I. AM. STOKED.
I’ve been on a mission for the past year now: to learn new skills and find out what I can make I on my own. It makes me feel connected to the past when I do this. Connected in a way that antique stores and period-piece movies can’t quite capture.
Besides, if Netflix’s movie suggestions for me continue to be Historical Drama featuring a Strong Female Lead, then I better act the part.
If I could be any super hero, it would be a farm woman wearing a floured apron, who kills bad people by spraying paralyzing liquid on them from a well-pump. I guess there’d have to be a well-pump every 10 feet in order for that to work. Unless I invent a portable well that I carry on my back, then flip the pump over my shoulder like a machine gun and pump… pump… pump.. (“just wait right there, bad person, I’m almost ready“) pump… pump..
But I’m not.
I do have their forearms though.
So my next task was making bath soap. I felt comfortable with bread and dry washing detergent, so why not bath soap?
Oh, I remember. LYE. The scary powder that can burn you in a millisecond as soon as water hits it.
I was scared. But I donned those blue gloves over my farm forearms anyway and let it rip. Hey, what did I have to lose? Except for maybe some skin burnt off? Big deal.
I didn’t realize how relatively easy soap making is. Time consuming, but simple. You basically heat up oils and cool the lye until they are the same temperature. Then mix! Are you surprised? I was.
The recipe I used were from these posts on Down To Earth. Ah, love that woman. Her calm writing has helped me through all my bread drama, so I knew I’d be in good hands.
You spend an hour or so mixing and waiting, as well as hoping that “a ventilated area” really means a dorm room with a barely working stove fan.
Neither of my batches came out correctly and I’ll tell you why. On the first batch, I was pretty lazy with the measurements. In cooking I sometimes just throw things in the pan (especially when it comes to adding oil). But with soap you need to be on the money.
And I wasn’t. So the oil to lye ratio was off and the soap dried extremely fast. Too fast for me to cut it, even. Instead I had to break it apart.
On the second batch, the timing of the temperature was wrong. Because I knew from the previous experience that lye cools relatively slowly, I put the oils on the backburner. Literally. To the point that when I realized the lye was getting close to the right temperature, I cranked that burner with the oils up high. They heated up too fast and too high and could never cool down to the same temp as the lye.
Before the lye got too cool, I combined them and the mixture never acheived “trace.” You’ll hear that word thrown around a lot. It’s just the point in mixing where you can see little ripples on the mixture…and they stay on top of the mixture.
Anyway, so this batch hasn’t completely hardened yet. And it has been two months. I’m just scooping it out in balls and using it in that manner.
Here are the two batches. The first is the browner-looking soap and the second is the cream-colored one. I added peppermint fragrance to the second one which is a nice shot of ‘wake up!!‘ in the morning. Can you see how smooth and hard the first batch is and how the second looks like you could mush it with your finger?
I’m sure I’ll get better each time and I can’t wait to try out different recipes.
Forearm Farm – signing off.