Monday, August 31, 2009

Monday Garden Club

Last weekend my brother took my grandparents up to the cottage in the woods for the weekend. I love having them here don't get me wrong but it was nice to have a weekend off of full house guest mode. With my grandparents here, we're always doing something and it usually takes much longer than if I would have done it myself. Which is why I decided to get my act together and can veggies all day Saturday as the Gardener fixed the washing machine.

Binny and Mae helped peel the blanched tomatoes for salsa. Besides all of the salsa, I also made dill pickles, dilly wax beans and dill zucchini and summer squash slices. Garden photos:And check out these peaches. My in-laws were out of town for the weekend so we stopped by their house to pick peaches up their mail and feed the fish. This was a branch that was so heavy with fruit that it broke off. They are all ripening in a paper bag on my counter. Hopefully there will be a ripe one to pack in Mae's lunch tomorrow.

Now for all you gardeners out there who wish to participate, either leave a comment on what's growing in your yard, or post a Monday Garden Club update on your blog. Don't forget to drop your link in the comments, I'll add you to this post.

At Least Someone In This House Listens To Me

*This post is full of crossed out words, links, parenthesis and ranting. I wouldn't read it if I were you.

I may not be Dooce and I certainly don't own of those fancy front loading DO NOT BUY A MAYTAG steam washers, but I have had my share of washing machine related headaches. So exactly 6 months to the day after writing this post telling my washer to DIE, I waltz into my DIY nightmare of a laundry room, throw in two wool sweaters (I hate hand washing and avoid it all costs even if I have to buy a new sweater because the sleeves wrap around the agitator and stretch it way the hell out), not that I've worn either one of those sweaters in the last 2 months, because well, it's SUMMER and that's how procrastination works. Anyhow, I move the temperature dial to cold cold, spin the cycle control knob (the big one you have to push, turn then pull out) to DELICATE, pull the knob and she fires right up, filling and gently agitating. I walk away and start watching Days Of Our Lives doing something totally productive when I start to hear a loud clicking noise coming from my DIY nightmare of a laundry room and I realize that my washing machine no longer spins, just makes an awful noise and also won't drain the water. Now what? Before long my grandmother walks in to see what the hell blew up and agrees that "yeah this might be it." I was then forced to remove the wet, soapy sweaters and hand wash them in the kitchen sink.

Now I know what I said about my washer and I still stand behind that (and all of my posts even the one that turned me into a non-believing, leftist red commie), but really now is not a good time for us to be ponying up big money for a new washing machine. The Gardener is still only working 32 hours a week (since November) and there is talk that he may be laid off soon due to the crappy economy. Mae's medical bills have used up what little money there is after all of the household bills have been paid, our car just cost us $200, Mae had some unexpected Dental work and today I have to take the girls shoe shopping because tomorrow is the first day of school and be damned if they are going to go back wearing "last year's shoes." (That last part was a direct quote from Mae, the house fashion snob.) All that said, we don't have money for a new $1300 front loading steam washer or even the modest $700 washer I picked out months ago. After the Gardener declared our washer un-fixable, he suggested we buy a cheap top loader to replace ours. I hate that idea and refuse to spend money on something I will be pissed off about for the entire lifespan of the cheap washer. Instead we go out to the barn and look through the pile of appliances that we happen to be storing for a certain displaced hippie I know. Luck has it that there was a washing machine out there and it happened to be an almost exact match to the one we had except it was white in color rather than pukey tan. So the Gardener did the only logical thing and removed the white outer shell of the replacement washer and and slapped on our pukey tan one so our stolen washer and semi-operable dryer match of course. Sounds simple enough right? Wrong, you see the reason I call our Laundry room a DIY nightmare is because the washer and dryer may not be moved in or out of the room without taking all of the knobs off the cabinet doors and removing the toilet. So once again he pulled off the toilet as I ran to town to get another wax ring for the toilet. Never a dull moment around here I tell you.

After all of that, we once again have clean clothes and a washer that doesn't hop around and screech... yet.

*** As I was writing this, my grandfather walks in and asks what I'm doing. "Computing?"he asks. I tell him that I'm writing on my blog (and explain to him what a blog is) about my broken washing machine. He gives me a puzzled look and says "It doesn't work? Honest?" I swear sometimes I think he wouldn't notice if the house were on fire.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Wardrobe Wednesday

Not much Wardrobe in this photo but I love how the sparkle from Mae's pink flip flop contrasts with the gravel driveway and remote control race car. A sweet surprise when I uploaded the 700+ photos from our recent family vacation.

Click the Wardrobe Wednesday button on my sidebar for all of the WW info.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Family Vacation- Part 2

After spending a weekend with my family in North Dakota, we crossed the border into Minnesota on Sunday and spent three days with the Gardener's brother. When we arrived the rain was still coming down hard and heavy. The gravel road that my brother-in-law (Uncle B) lives on was muddy and covered with water in some spots.
North Dakota and western Minnesota is in the heart of farm country. Not livestock, but field after field of wheat, corn and sunflowers as far as the eye can see. And I thought we lived in the middle of nowhere!The sunflowers are always my favorite but with all of the rain some of them didn't look too happy.
I think it's funny that the rural roads are labeled "street" and numbered avenues even out in the middle of nowhere, on gravel roads!

Uncle B has a cute little cabin in the woods right on the river which is usually great for fishing but with all of the rain the river was rushing too fast to do any fishing.
Uncle B is a bachelor, no kids, no pets, no woman* and spends most of his time in the garage restoring old tractors and it was very obvious taking a look around his house.
I'm not sure how long these houseplants had been dead, but from the looks of it quite a while. For a fun activity one day while he was at work, the Gardener and the girls made him some new flowers out of old scrap metal that never need watering.
Uncle B had been promising to take the girls out to bait for bears. Bear season doesn't start until the beginning of September but hunters are allowed to set out yummy treats for them 2 weeks in advance. We went out into the woods one afternoon between rain showers, cleared a path and made a little spot to dump buckets full of day old pastries covered in burnt honey, and sprinkled some smoke scent into the air to help attract hungry black bears.
On the way back to the truck, it started raining so the Gardener and Uncle B drove fast on the ATVs to get out of the rain but in the process we drove through some big muddy puddles.
Binny didn't mind too much though.
During the rain Binny and Mae played pool on Uncle B's dining room pool table.

The day before we left the sun finally decided to shine so the girls played with the very remote controlled cars that the Gardener and Uncle B played with as boys.
Mae had a great time changing wheels and racing her sister.
We had a great time even with all of the rain. Thanks Uncle B!

*I am accepting applications for a new sister-in-law. Contact me if you know any single, tractor loving women in western Minnesota.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Monday Garden Club

Get your gardening gloves and knee pads ready. It's time for another installment of Monday Garden Club.
After a week of being out of town I was a little worried about what I would come home to, but I was pleasantly surprised. I had my brother come over one day to pick veggies from the garden and water everything and that seemed to help keep everything alive. As soon as I had a chance I went out to the garden and started picking. I picked an entire ice cream bucket full of beans, a big pile of ripe tomatoes and peppers along with a couple of giant zucchinis, squash and more broccoli.
I picked again yesterday and came in the house with all of this...
I have been blanching and freezing as much as I have room for in the freezer and the rest I have been giving away to family and friends. Speaking of family, guess who's here?
I picked up my grandparents at the train station yesterday and first thing when they arrived at my house, they both took a walk through the garden to see what was growing. Binny and Grandma Dee picked and snapped a big pile of green beans for dinner last night.
Today we spent most of the morning on a hunt for plain cake donuts, my grandfather's favorite. We went to 2 grocery stores and a bakery and the only cake donuts we could find were either glazed, sugared or frosted and being a picky Norwegian he only likes the plain. He settled for some glazed crullers but I'm sure we'll be back on the hunt again tomorrow. Keeps life interesting!
Anyhow, back to gardening. While we were traveling through Minnesota last week, we stopped at my Mom's house and she showed off her little unauthorized condo garden, proving that you don't need a big space or permission to grow your own veggies.
My brother-in-law also has a garden but the entire 3 days we were there it was submerged under water from the relentless rain.
Just look at those sad looking kohlrabies.
Now for all you gardeners out there who wish to participate, either leave a comment on what's growing in your yard, or post a Monday Garden Club update on your blog. Don't forget to drop your link in the comments, I'll add you to this post.
Particpating Bloggers

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Family Vacation- Part 1

We made it home. Where should I start? Well, we left last Thursday afternoon as soon as the Gardener got home from work. I had everything packed and ready to go so we buckled up and started driving. Only about an hour from home our car started to act up. I didn't think much of it at first and just thought it was my husband's aggressive driving that was causing the rough running and the check engine light to come on when he would smash down the gas pedal. I just turned up the music and hoped for the best. Then it stared raining, hard and the car started running worse, much worse. So in an effort to get all of us to my Mom's house (a 6 hour drive) without being stranded in the pouring rain, my husband kept driving, and driving and driving while I held on for dear life in the passenger seat. The kids were none the wiser in the backseat and only spoke up when their DVD needed to be replaced. We finally made it to my Mom's house well after 11pm, coasted into her driveway and decided to wait until morning to assess the problem.

The next morning the Gardener went online (thank you Internet!) typed in our car and our car's symptoms and within seconds he had figured out what was wrong. The catalytic converter was plugged which was causing the rough running. The only fix for a plugged catalytic converter is replacement. The factory warranty on a catalytic converter is 80,000 miles. The bad news was that our car has 82,000 miles on it. Go freaking figure. The gardener hates to pay anyone for anything that he knows he can do himself so after deciding that we couldn't keep driving it this way and eliminating the possibility of changing the thing in my Mom's driveway, we decided to take it in to the nearest Chevy dealership and have it replaced. My mom sent us to Friendly Chevrolet in Fridley Minnesota (say that three times fast), only about 5 miles away. We haven't had much luck with our car or the dealerships around here so I didn't have much hope for the crew at Friendly. We didn't qualify for the factory warranty but they shocked us when they knocked off $500 from the repair costs and had us back on the road in under 2 hours for only $200. Thank you Friendly Chevrolet in Fridley Minnesota, you saved our vacation!

My mom watched the girls while we were at the dealership and somehow convinced them to ride with her the rest of the way to North Dakota which was absolutely fine with me and the Gardener. About half way to Grand Forks, ND the rain started again and actually continued to rain the whole weekend and into the next week. I had hoped to spend more time outside (taking pictures) but we had fun hanging at the hotel with family. Most of us stayed at the hotel so we enjoyed visiting with family and friends,

and of course swimming Even the Birthday girl went for a dip but only after the party as not to spoil a fresh hairdo

The party was great. Grandpa rocked the banjo and Sister Elaine accompanied him on the accordion for a few waltzes, but no one danced. The rest of the family presented Grandma Dee with Our 80 Favorite Things About Our Favorite 80 Year Old similar to the 90 Things we made for my Grandfather when he turned 90. My Aunt also did a silly little skit for Grandma that embarrassed the crap out of my Mom which in turn made her the favorite Aunt once again.

The rain slowed just long enough for us to get a few family photos outside.

That's me wearing the red maternity dress and my brothers who were less than thrilled that I insisted we pose for a photo together. Suck it up boys!

Here's one of the whole gang

minus this little guy who was fast asleep in a chair for most of the party. I think at one point someone suggested waking him for the family photos but we all thought better and let him sleep.

After the party, the children went back to the hotel with all of the grandparents and the cousins went out to a favorite family hangout. We drank beer, played bar shuffleboard then had the grand idea of buying my Grandmother 80 scratch off lottery tickets.

She scratched, and scratched and Grandpa scratched and scratchedand looked From 80 $1 scratch off cards my grandmother banked $28, but an hour worth of fun scratching them all as we cheered her on.

This is what Binny and little RC did during all of the commotionBinny didn't even wake up when RC rolled right on top of her

The next morning my Grandma's brother and sister-in-law had us all over to their house for a very lovely brunch, and of course it rained the entire time After brunch we all went our separate ways and said goodbye until the next big family gathering.

Part 2 to come...