Thursday, September 27, 2012

Fall ?

I am so ready for Fall!! Though the calendar says that this is now officially the season our weather and temperatures do not reflect this in any way, shape or form.  We do have a very slim chance of sprinkles this weekend so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

I keep seeing all these blogs in areas where the weather is changing and they are busy decorating and baking to reflect.  Don't know that I've ever had fall envy before, but this year I really do!  Maybe it's these never ending days of 90's and 100's that I am just tired of.  I looked for signs of fall around our property and really found none.

October 2011

So I've pulled out some more of the frozen pumpkin puree I made from all the pumpkins we got at Bates Nut Farm last year.  Plan to make some of the incredible bread that comes from this recipe.
(Click on "recipe" for Maine Pumpkin Bread recipe, it's delicious!!)
Tried it for the first time last year and the family absolutely LOVES it!!  Since we like things with LOTS of flavor I double the amount of spices and as this cooks the house smells incredible.

Ok, I'm done whining, I should enjoy the beautiful weather while we have it right?  I will say the other evening an unusual glow was coming through the kitchen shade.  I grabbed my camera and walked out front to see this:

The sunset is in the Fall colors mode at least!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Fire Near Amber and Eddie

Amber texted us last night to ask if we knew exactly where the fire near them was.  They were getting a lot of smoke and then had helicopters pulling water to drop from the warm springs pond next to the home they are living in.

Information of the exact location of the fire was initially scarce, but we learned more today from a local source and even national news that the fire was in a rural area very near where they live.  The brush is dense so it puts up some pretty intense smoke and flames.  So far just over 150 acres has burned and the fire is currently about 40% contained.  Barring the winds really picking up we are hopeful they should get this completely contained fairly quickly today.  The intense heat and lack of rain has made everything tender dry and plants that are native to this area tend to have naturally occurring oils they produce to survive the elements of Southern California, which is a desert environment.  So when these plants burn it's intense, they can explode and send the sparks in all directions sparking new fires, plus even when out they will smoulder for weeks leaving the threat of future fires that crews will have to watch for until we finally get rainy weather.

I've accessed some photos from the local source where various residents have contributed their pictures from their vantage points, including Amber's photos of the water dropping helicopter that refilled by them and had lots of neighbors standing in their yard to watch the process. 

Fire getting close to a home

Water dropping helicopter to the rescue

Successful drop

More homes threatened on another front of this large fire

Phoscheck being dropped by plane suppresses fires advancement

Amber took these photos of helicopter refilling at the pond next to their home

The helicopter and planes that offer air support for water and chemical phoschek drops are a true blessing for putting out fires in rural areas or fast moving large fires.  Have personally been on the recieving end on several occassions during my many years in California when our various homes have been spared as a result of these efforts from fire fighting agencies.  The sense of relief when your home is immently threatened and a helicopter or plane drops and suppresses or puts the threat out is wonderful!!

(photo credits by others found at Murrieta patch site)

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Side Business

Kevin has had a consulting business he's operated for several years now.   His company called
KPC Environmental, Inc does air quality analysis, initial studies, noise studies among the services
that are offered.  These are for individual land owners, companies, cities and counties that want to do projects that will require these studies to be presented and approved by city councils and building departments before they are able to move forward. 

His company recently received a contract to do a full noise study that requires 24 hour data collection to determine the types and extent of noise the facility planned could expect to encounter on this particular piece of property.

Cameron was very excited when this came through because he is Kevin's assistant in these field studies and can look forward to compensation as such. So they went to the site to take readings with hand held units at various spots on this lot, then determined the best location to set up the tripod and meter that would remain to record the data for the next 24 hours.

Cameron taking sound readings

Meters location needs to capture human noise

Traffic noise also needs to be monitored

The unit remained there the full 24 hours, then needed to be collected the next morning and the process of data review for a full report done.  I had Kevin take my camera to get a few photos for me of them at work.  It was quite hot again even at 9 in the morning when they began the process then returned the next day to collect the equipment.  Fortunately all went well and now the data review and study will be put together. It's a handy unit that has a small computer to collect the information received through the attached microphone.  Then the information is downloaded to computer for  processing.

Info input begins, Cameron does his report then emails Kevin the results

Cooling off once home was also needed : )

Kevin begins his own analysis


Friday, September 21, 2012

Craigslist Adventure

Okay we may be way behind the times, but this past yard sale was our first time using Craigslist.
I set up my account and posted my yard sale info.  I learned how to write my ad so it would show up in various searches.  That actually took me trying to find my own ad to get this revelation!!

I liked that it was free and I could post up to 8 photos.  Truthfully we had more people who said they saw us there than in the local Pennysaver that I paid for an ad in!!   So lesson learned.

Now we are venturing into this arena as we look to sell off larger items that didn't move at the yard sale or that we haven't put out for sale yet, particularly furniture items and later our tractor.

Items listed in our 1st ad and most sold at yard sale

Tractor to be listed later

This is a whole new world so I've been doing some online research for tips.  We've used the craigslist email link so you don't have to give out your email, and Kevin signed up for the Google phone.

This way you can have a link from your site post to your cell phone without others having your number and this has the ability to be blocked if you get a wierdo.  Lifehacker has an article about blocking unwanted calls. (Google and Lifehacker links don't show as well with my background color,
but you can click on those words for site links).

We've already dealt with the annoying "no shows".  People who excitedly contact you and want to get over ASAP to check out the item, only to have them not show up.  Why bother contacting us in the first place is what I can't figure out?  So we'll see how we do and give updates.  This is a new adventure for us and if we learn anything we'll pass it on.  Any tips from knowledgeable Craigslist oldtimers out there?     To be continued....

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Creative Cooking

This falls under the category of  "creative " for me because it's using meat I am not as familiar with cooking as say chicken, turkey or beef. 

Several months back Kevin's brother Patrick blessed us with a care package of venison he had processed and packaged from his hunting success, then mailed in a styrofoam shipping container with dry ice.  It had deer burger, deer hot dogs, deer steaks, deer roast and deer bologna.

I put these in the freezer and over time have been taking them out and introducing them to my family. We've enjoyed the "new" meat in our diets and it's caused me to explore and expand my culinary skills when it comes to cooking this.  The venison has a slightly stronger flavor than some of the other meats, so finding the complimentary spicing to best bring out its flavor has been my challenge.

The hot dogs and balogna are already flavored so no challenge there.  The burger and roast I've served in similar style dishes that I'd use beef for, only I found I added a bit more spice to it.
Then last night I had 4 steaks that were smaller that I was trying to figure out what to do with for dinner.  It was going to have to be a part of some dish since there wasn't enough for each person.

So I decided a twist on the one pot meals I'm known for throwing together in my family would be the answer.  It was later in the day and needed to be done in a reasonable amount of time.

First I made my rosemary potatoes:

I slice red potatoes, place them in a glass cooking dish with diced onion (1/4 of an onion), poured 2 T of olive oil over this.  I grabbed a couple sprigs of rosemary from my yard and used scissors to snip the pieces over the potatoes.  Sprinkled minced garlic and Montreal Steak spice on, add a little water and pop into the microwave for about 20 minutes stirring occasionally.

In the meantime,  I took the venison steaks and pounded them down, sprinkled the Montreal Steak spice on them and dipped them in flour.  I had a pan on the stove with 1 T olive oil and 2 T butter heating then threw in the other 1/4 of the onion diced.  After sauteing the onion I placed the venison in and cooked until done.  Approximately 15 minutes.  I sliced this into bite size pieces then took the leftover peas from the previous nights dinner and the sliced meat and mixed in with the potatoes. I microwaved about a couple minutes more and let sit for a few minutes for the flavors to mingle.

When I served this my families only complaint was there wasn't MORE!!  Think I've found a winner and it has stretched me to try something I'm not as familiar with using.  That's good because Patrick is really anxious for Kevin and Cameron to go hunting more once we move.  Think I'll be getting a lot more opportunity to try my culinary creativeness in the future  : )

For dessert we enjoyed the Zucchini Brownies I made in the afternoon. You can find the recipe here:

Zucchini Brownies

Monday, September 17, 2012

Side Effects

In all the preparation for our yard sale, then the sale itself and now cleaning up and preparing to move out the left over things our busyness didn't allow a lot of time for dealing with behaviors that have been increasingly out of balance. I'm speaking in regards to the girls.

Hannah has had a bout of moodiness that finally was expressed when we pressed her on what was bothering her.  She is able to verbalize that she has mixed feelings as we prepare for our eventual move to our Florida home.  She could express that while she's excited about it this is the only home she's ever known. And seeing that she was 18 months old when we brought her home from China it is the only one she really remembers.  By being able to talk things out it helped her fears and concerns and gave her permission to know that her fear of missing this place was okay.  Then when she had a dream about being in our new home and "Goodwill flew us with all our boxes, then after a treasure hunt showed me this was home I was happy",  Hannah seemed to accept the current activities as a positive.

Lauren still hasn't really processed this because it's all unknowns for her.  Having a "new house" she sees in pictures, but we are still here.  Watching items she's familiar with leave and not being able to give verbal expression to her feelings and fears, she has reverted to old behaviors of misbehaving and inviting correction.  We've extended far more grace because we recognize this is disrupting to her sense of security.  When she finally pushed the behaviors to where correction was needed and she lost toys over it the melt down was inevitable and the wailing came in full force.  We learned from her early days with us that there are times you just have to let her sit in her room and cry it out.  It's like the steam valve on a pressure cooker it just keeps the whole thing from blowing!!

Art print by Yin Jun

Then after she's cried herself out, you can begin a conversation.  She actually did much better this time expressing that she really didn't know why she did the things she knew were wrong and would be in trouble for.  At that she apologized without being told she needed to. Now that was progress!!
So, after a good hug we asked if maybe she was worried about this move.  She immediately launched into a dialog about being scared because "I like this house and my stuff, and I don't want to leave my
baby doll here".  When I explained that it was coming with us to our new home, her eyes got huge and the revelation was clearly more than she'd realized.  We said we still have awhile until this happens, but there is alot to do to prepare with all we have here.  Then an explanation that if she was worried about something she needed to use her words to let us know not misbehave and have to get in trouble to get our attention.

These changes can be disconcerting as an adult who has a greater understanding and appreciation for what the plan is.  I find myself up and down for different reasons, mainly a bit overwhelmed with all that needs to be done before this change.  But, for two little girls whose life experiences are so limited and whose emotional tanks need a lot of filling up, this feels earth shattering if they can't process it as a positive.  So this life lesson for Kevin and I is not to assume they understand what seems obvious to us, but to take the time to get them to express from their perspective what's going on so we're all on the same page.

Who knew all this would come from putting together a yard sale.  Guess it's better to shed light on this subject now and be able to move forward with each of us operating from a position that this is a positive.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Good Day

There's the old adage "there's light at the end of the tunnel".  That's how we feel after all the work to prepare for todays yard sale. It was a good day and was nice to see our efforts pay off, plus we have the ability to move out the items that remain on Craigslist, and others we'll take to donate.

We started really early getting our signs out to lead to our property since we are located off the beaten path.  We were not overwhelmed with a large number of buyers, but those who did show up were really looking and buying we are glad to say, so we moved a lot of what we had set out onto new homes.  We made a decent return for our efforts, and some of the tools that didn't sell, Kevin has listed on Craigslist.  We still have two people who will be returning on Monday for their purchases that were too large for their vehicles and they want to look around at whatever was left.  So our cleaning up and clearing out continues.

Shade canopy up to help with afternoon sun. So glad it was 105 out yesterday!

Almost all items in this photo sold at the beginning of the day.

Amber came over to help this morning and Hannah and Lauren did a good job of keeping themselves busy playing so we could concentrate on taking care of business.  I had planned to get some more photos, but got so caught up in our activities that I simply forgot.

Think we all will sleep well tonight after today's busyness.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Memories and Things

As preparation for this weekends yard sale continues I found a lot of memories in some of the items we are putting out.  I had been putting price tags on these and was struck by the amount of time we'd had some of them, what their original purposes had been and the pleasure we'd had in the use of them for the time they were with us.

Then there are also a lot of things that we picked up along the way used temporarily or some not at all, just had them with the intent that we were going to do something with them.  I've actually found as I get these together a certain feeling of being lighter as we clear out stuff that has just been sitting around or sadly collecting dust.

There's the teak cabinet Kevin and I bought as part of a collection of teak furniture for our first home that was a townhouse in San Diego. The old Smith and Corona typewriter I wrote many school reports on. Kevin's old golf clubs and bag he's had since High School. An old excercise trampoline that I'd used for awhile until I got my eliptical.

My old typewriter.

Teak Cabinet from first home.

Then the airplane shelf my dad made for Cameron that was originally painted in primary colors, and later lightened up and used when Hannah first arrived.  The box of army men that entertained Cameron for hours over the years.

Items used for Amber and Eddies wedding last year, that served to help make their day special and decorative and now lives in memories and on the pages of their photo albums.

Craft items like the spice shelf I picked up at a thrift store that was a dark wood and that I painted and used for a time in our old kitchen, then in Amber's room as the color matched her color choices.  Some scarves left from my days of hand painting silk and doing art shows with my wares. And a light fixture from our old house I'd always intended to do something with, but never got around to it. It's time for a new life for all of these.


Monday, September 10, 2012

Yard Sale

In the process of cleaning up and clearing out that we are continuing from our initial New Years resolutions, we have taken on the task of preparing for a yard sale.  This has become a much bigger project than when we first tossed out the idea.

As I began looking through our rooms, garage, shed and generally around the property I was excited about all we could put out and perhaps give a new life to in someone elses home.  Then as we actually began moving and cleaning this became a HUGE effort. We decided to move everything out of the front sunroom and set up a "display" area for the items that might get damaged or blow away outside. 

Our items outside are still being set up as we've had to group them together under tarps right now since the weather is threatening to rain from this "tropical depression" we are experiencing.

Amber came over two mornings last week to help me pull out and set up some of these things. She said my front room "looks like a thrift store".  Great just the look I want : )   It is temporary and will
be a great help for clearing out many items that we don't use any more and don't need to keep storing.

Sun room and temporary "store".

I've made arrangements for an ad in the local Pennysaver, and am preparing my notice on Craigs list garage sale site.  Cameron and I will be making signs this afternoon, and this week we will continue to pull out stuff, clean it up and set up for this next weekend when we plan this shindig.

Anything that doesn't sell will be donated, so one way or the other we will be reducing the sheer volume of stuff that has just been taking up space.

There  is still a lot to do before this weekend, so once again we will have a busy week, but I know our efforts will be really worth it to continue  this process of  really cleaning up and clearing out!!!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Chicken Snacks and Revenge

I know wierd title, but read on and you'll see what I'm talking about.  With the heat I haven't spent as much time tending my garden, just running out to get some water on it and picking the items I could see were ripe.

I initially thought the lack of tomatos lately was due to the extreme heat as well.  Until today when I ventured into the garden and noticed the tops of the plants were completely defoliated!!  Only one culprit I know does that kind of damage, so the inspection began.  It took several soakings with water until I began to notice some strange movement on a few branches and there they were - the disgusting tomato horns worms!!

Took them off branch and all.

Leaves are completely gone on the tops of my tomato plants

This poor plant looked positively naked, these stems should be full and green with leaves

I dislodged about 7 that I could find, and each one I took revenge on by delighting my chickens with these treats. It is amazing how much damage these things can do in such a short time.  I'll be back out earlier in the morning to inspect from now on so I don't let them return and get this bad.  Then maybe my tomatos will start producing again in the amounts they should be.

Chicken treats - they loved them

Horm worm about to meet it's end!!
Maybe the extra protein will help my poor birds get their feathers back sooner. Rooster still remains in isolation for this reason : )