Monday, January 31, 2011

Only in Kansas

Only in Kansas. . .
can you find a forecast like this one. .
As I checked the weather on Friday. .you can imagine my shock!!
And yes. .
Our systems are rightfully shocked today!!
We REALLY enjoyed the 70 degree weather.
I watered lots of plants, shrubs, and trees.
The kids played on the swings and trampoline.
D and I made a 2 mile bike ride (and I have bruised butt cheeks to prove it)
Jeremy and Tristan participated in a coyote calling contest on Saturday.
I left my house windows OPEN for hours Friday and Saturday afternoons!
We even went to our friends Tim and Shelly's and shot our bows yesterday. .when the high was 36. Thankfully it felt warmer because of the sunshine and lack of wind!
And today. . .
I have hurried like mother mouse to make sure that everything is in order in case of a snowstorm!!
The ball games have been cancelled for tonight.
And now I have to fix supper.
By the way. .they have lowered the high for tomorrow to 9!!
Only in Kansas!!
Stay warm!!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Goin' On a Treasure Hunt

I love junk. .nice junk. .crappy old junk. .any kind of junk!! So flea markets are exciting to me!! You can find really nice things. .and really good junk! Good prices, good deals, fun bargaining and bartering and it is ALWAYS different!! It intrigues me the way that things catch your eye and hold your attention.  I love looking at things and trying to envision different ways to use them in decorating or gardening.  Or envisioning how and why they were used in the first place. This past weekend was no different.  My best antiquing buddy and I kidnapped my new neighbor girl (who also happens to love antiques. .and junk) and ran away to Wichita for the day.  I usually do not go with a list of things to check out. .but I did on Sunday.  Soon we will be remodeling our bathroom.  When we were "picking" at my great grandparents homestead several months ago, I took one of the glass paned kitchen cabinet doors.  My notion was to have Jeremy build me a display case using the door as the front.  I planned to put in a lot of bathroom collectibles that I have scavenged onto in my past. .but wanted a few more things to make it look complete.  I can excitedly say that I was able to complete that mission on Sunday!! I won't spoil my future post by telling you what will go in the case. .but I am hoping that I can convince J that building this box should now be a priority!! And that within a few weeks I will be enjoying my new wall art!!
What I would like to share today are a couple of things that I wasn't looking for. .nor would I have considered them things to be high up on my wish (I have been wanting one of these for YEARS) list. .but boy would I have been wrong to have left them there!!
This huge crock was Mary's big purchase from the flea market!! The price was incredibly low for what they normally sell for. .probably because it weighs like 2 tons and I'm sure they just didn't want to load it up and take it home again!!  As she was preparing to pay them for it. .they told her they would even throw in this smaller one. . .
for $10!! You can do lots of stuff with crocks. .so when she asked if either of us were interested in that deal. .I didn't hesitate.  It looks right at home on the top of my entertainment center across from a slightly larger crock that I got from my grandparents!!
As for Mary's huge crock in the first picture. .she needed a little stopping off place for it before she could get it home. .I'm thinking that I might tell her I broke it. .pay her for it. .and continue to enjoy it in MY living room :-)

After the flea market, we headed to west Wichita and visited the two antique malls on Highway 54. .Flying Moose on the south side of the highway. .and Paramount on the north side.  Oh my gosh!! We hit the jackpot!! We stopped at Paramount last. It took us about 2 hours to get through it the first time. .and I think we could easily have started over a second time and still not REALLY have seen everything.  I found my best treasure on the first row of that mall. .and tried talking myself out of it for the next 1 1/2 hours!! But I couldn't shake the images of it. .and by the time we were ready to leave. .I had it mentally placed in my room AND decorated!!
And though I changed it's final location slightly within my bedroom. .
this little mission style child's desk is quite at home in MY home!
After 16 years of marriage and all the things that go with that. .it has seemed that both of our "decorating styles" (if possibly he HAS a decorating style) have settled on mission style furniture. It has been the one type of style that we both agree look cool.  I suppose that this little table struck me because I so rarely have seen mission style anything.  I knew that it would be perfect in my bedroom
I would SO love to put my old kerosene lamp on the top. .but with the speed that people move through our house. .I decided that the lamp is best left on something VERY sturdy.  Instead I decided on Jeremy's worn bible (that he traded out for another one), some old spectacles from his grandma's family, the red vase that got replaced from the entertainment center by the crock, and an old photo of my mom in her first communion dress. 
Perhaps the most interesting part of this piece to me is the round swiveling "tray" on the left hand side. It was marked on the tag as a lamp stand?  I plan to try to google the desk and see if I can find more information. .but if anyone out there happens to know anything about a desk like this. .I'd love to hear more.

We certainly had a great time looking at the antiques and collectibles. .admiring. .contemplating. .learning!! And if any one lives near Wichita and enjoys this hobby. .I urge you to stop by. .but PLEASE don't be in a hurry!! I'll also tell you that Paramount's biggest sale of the year will be March 12-13. .when they will be taking 10-30% off store wide. .and the owners will be IN-STORE. .wheeling and dealing!! Wishing I could go back. .but it probably won't happen! Hope someone can take advantage of the sales. .and if you go. .be sure to let me know. .There were a couple of other little things I'd LOVE to own :-)
Wishing everyone a fantastic weekend!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Planting Notebook

A couple of girl friends and I took Sunday off and went to the flea market in Wichita.  We then spent the afternoon visiting 2 antique malls in west Wichita that none of us had ever been to.  Every time I have driven past them for the last 10 years I vow that I will stop someday and check them out. .and BOY am I glad we finally did!! That was where all the action was and we had a great time!! It was certainly a great mood lifter for me. .and got my mind off the lack of spring for now! Hoping to do a post soon showcasing my fun purchase!  But for now. .I wanted to share with you the project that has beens sitting on the floor of my bedroom closet since our trip to Oklahoma for pond supplies early last fall. .And before that. .was crammed in notebooks, closet cubbies, and desk drawers!!
Now, I'm not a hoarder, usually. .but I can not bring myself to throw out garden planting tags unless the plants are really dead.  A few years ago on Gardening By the Yard (once on HGTV, but now no longer produced), The gardener guy, Paul James, showed a segment about the notebooks that he kept with his plant tags and garden layout.  For his own information, and to pass on to the new owners when he moves.
What a GREAT idea, I thought!!
You can see the mess I started with. .plant tags. .pictures. .articles clipped from magazines. .highlighted gardening catalogs. .and old invoices!
I bought a cute 3 ring binder. .and then some vinyl dividers with tabs and folder space.  I made sections for garden ideas, plants I have, wish list, and holiday ideas--but you could customize it to your own needs.
The section that took the most time to create was the "plants I have" section.  I had cut out many catalog pages with my plant list highlighted. This will help me remember plant names when my mind gets feeble.  It will also remind me about what conditions the plant likes, hardiness, bloom times, moisture needs etc.
I also added my plant tags to this section.  I taped the tags in. .and added photos of the plant in my garden if I had them.  I also tried to add the year it was planted if I could come anywhere close to remembering.  Since the bulk of my plantings have come from the last 5 years. .it wasn't as hard as you might think.  I think it will be fun to pull the notebook out in 10 years and see how the landscape has changed over time!
Here's a page of my little plant tags for the rock garden by the pitcher pump.  I never knew how many varieties of hen and chicks there were in the real world. .a LOT!
The wish list section is exactly that. .a wish list!! I started to name it "plants I NEEEEEEd" but that just sounded greedy to me :-)
Note the dog-eared magazine page. .most of my gardening magazines look like this!!! I finally resorted to removing the pages that I just had to have. .because I never have time to re-read old gardening magazines. After 6 months or so, I drop the old magazines at the recycle center. .so if you are a magazine picker that locates one of my magazines there. .it may be a page or two thinner. .sorry!
Is that not the most beautiful bleeding heart flower you have ever seen?? I will be on the lookout for that baby this spring!!
I also read once that you should clip out pictures of ideas that you love. .for that is the way you can actually make them happen!! I loved the succulent gardens in San Diego. .and would like to try to replicate one to some degree in my own garden. The bottom picture was snapped at the Wichita garden show years ago. .it just LOOKS like something that you should see at my house!! I can't quite get J convinced to drag one of those old buzzards up in my yard. .but someday I WILL win!! And it will ROCK!! (no pun intended) There were succulents and plants thriving on the truck bed and under the hood!! How cool IS that!!
I also had some ideas for cool things cut from magazines. .like this living wall created using simple posts and a wire. .the climbing roses were trained along the wire. .creating a privacy fence!

After a couple hours of choosing, cutting, taping, and making notations. .the book was finished. .just waiting for the new tags and photos of the season! I think it will be a great way for me to track my garden plans and plants. .and a fun thing to cruise through in the middle of a looooong winter! Enjoy your week.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Signs of Spring

So, while many of you have been recieving lots of wonderful, wet snow. .
we are getting tiny amounts of dry snow or drizzling ice.  Enough to be a pain and very little fun!
However we are probably also enjoying warmer weather too. Today it topped out at 58 degrees. While Cami was napping, I couldn't resist taking a walk through the yard to see what was going on. 
I found a few things that looked hopeful!
Here's a tiny sprout of Autumn Joy sedum making a comeback from beneath the leaves! 
I was really surprised to see how many of my plants have remained green, even after 3 months of cold and freezing weather.  This snapdragon near the pond is still green at the base. .as are all my other snaps in the various beds.  They are sold as annuals. .but seem to be tender perennials in my area. Many of the shastas, hollyhocks, lambs ear, honeysuckle and butterfly bushes still have green leaves at the ground.   And the butterfly bushes actually have nice, green, tender, pliable leaves all the way to the top of the bush.  Hmmm!
And what have we here??? Yes. .a BLOOMING dandelion at the end of January!
There were actually two blooming in this same spot! Now we KNOW they are indestructible!
Some of the new grape hyacinth bulbs are putting up foliage.  I wasn't able to spot any tulips, daffodils, or hyacinth peeking through, but I expect them to start showing within a few weeks.   
The tomatos continue to grow. .and have probably 20 tomatos in all, with LOTS of blooms.  Several look like they are thinking about turning red. .and they better hurry because I am thinking about frying them up green!
I just can't stand it any longer. .and am planning to sow a flat of perenniels including butterfly weed, red poppy seeds from my friend Becky, purple cone flower, more black eyed susans, and some sweet autumn clematis that my aunt gave me. .the clematis seed have been chilling at the bottom of my refrigerator since Thanksgiving. .and no one has even tried to eat them.  I got my seeds ordered this week. .and will plan on starting the peppers and tomatoes in a couple of weeks too.  My mind has been in overdrive trying to plan the landscaping of the pond and surrounding patches of dirt.  At the risk of sounding crazy. .I am planning on adding a little soil back into the pond at the south edge, held in by rock, in the hopes of it looking more natural with marginal plants planted in SOIL rather than in pots.  I can see it in my head. .just hope I can carry it out in reality. 
We are enjoying the slower days of winter. .by watching a few more movies. .doing a little extra reading. .playing a few more games. .catching up on some projects. .But I still just can't help dreaming of the colors and sounds of spring! Wishing you all a lazy weekend!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A Little of This; A Little of That

Life continues to march on!!
We're into the final stretch of junior high basketball!
The boys hated it to begin with. .but as I told them would happen. .
they continue to practice and improve. .and both have really enjoyed it.
Tristan even said he would probably try high school BB next year!!  They didn't play pee wee ball, so have found themselves at a little disadvantage because of it. .but they are learning quickly and making big improvements.
We were so glad for the moisture. .and have enjoyed a little rain yesterday. .and have hope of some more moisture tomorrow in the way of rain or snow.  Right now, we'll take it any way it will come!
The pond has thawed out and the gold fish are visible again!

The older boys went to a leadership conference on Saturday in western Kansas.  Grant came home complaining of not feeling well and went right to bed. .where he stayed for the next 2 days. He is upright today and feeling better.  Tristan enjoyed the forum. .but mostly I heard about this hot girl with the most "amazing" blue eyes you've ever seen. .Dear Lord. .Please help this mama!!
Camille was sick at the end of the week with tons of snot that precipitated breathing treatments and an ear infection.  She is also on the mend. .and slept in her own bed last night. .all by herself. .for the whole night!! Yeeeees!
Devin's cooking group met last night and we enjoyed making surprise muffins (which may have been a little tricky for 7 kids under the age of 10 with only 1 coach) but they turned out great!! Even surprising me a little, after the start we had (that necessitated me showing them not once, but twice, the difference between the Tablespoon and the Teaspoon--after they dumped it in the bowl.  No wonder they rose a mile high!! The surprise (other than that they turned out. .not burnt. .and tasting quite good) was a small pocket of jelly in the center. .OOOOhhhh. .TRICKY! It certainly impressed the kids. .expressed by the looks of amazement on their faces when they peered in the oven!! Next we made the Peanut butter cups (featured on Our Best Bites blog a few weeks ago).
Only. .
We changed it up a little. .and put our base into mini muffin cups (decorated for Valentines Day) instead of a pan. Then we spooned a bit (or a bunch, depending on which kid you were) of melted chocolate on the top of the cups. Those were delicious. .and I highly recommend the recipe to anyone!! I intended to take some pictures of the kids working. .but my brain was frazzled. .and by the time I got home from my council meeting last night. .there wasn't ONE left ANYWHERE to take a picture of!! However, mark my words. .it's a priceless feeling to send kids home with chocolate on their face, flour and sugar on their clothes, and that sense of pride in their hearts!!
Jeremy has been a very busy boy. .cruising the internet to scout out the perfect place for our vacation this summer!! We have confirmed our reservations in a lovely lakeside home on Grand Lake in Oklahoma for July.  Last year, he was sure that a long 3-4 day weekend was enough. .and I had to talk him into the 4 days. This year he wanted to know whether I wanted to stay 10 days or 2 weeks. .SERIOUSLY! I told him no more than a week. .I have flowers that will need some major water by then!!
So, now we'll be dreamin' of the fun in the sun!!
I have been busy looking through my mountain of seed and plant catalogs. It's soon time to be starting some veggie seeds. .and I must be ready!  I have made lists and checked them twice and hope to order things this week.  Of particular fun will be to do the plantings around the pond. I can hardly wait!!  I am really trying to plant more native flowers that will attract the birds and butterflies. Wish me luck! I have also started the daunting process of updating and editing my family's cookbook.  My mom put the book together years ago with all of her best recipes.  As all of us started having papers fall out of the book regularly with our favorite recipes on them, we decided to put together an accumulation of our families favorites too!  We have LOVED it, and have already updated it once.  Hopefully this will be the last update for a long time.  We are up to nearly 100 pages of the best food you will find. .and I love fixing the food from each cook in the family!! I always think of that person when I fix it for my family!!
Here's a new recipe that we have been fixing at our house. .in fact that is what Cami is working on in our cooking picture above! Try some out for Super Bowl Sunday!!

Zesty Ranch Pretzels
½ cup melted butter
1 envelope ranch dressing mix
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
½ tsp seasoned salt
16 oz pkg (or about 8 cups) mini pretzels
1-2 tsp cayenne pepper

Mix all ingredients except pretzels. Toss mixture with pretzels and place in a roaster pan or large baking sheet. Bake 1 hour at 250, stirring every 15 minutes. If you don't like spicy. .just leave out the pepper. .they'll still be gone in no time!

Think Spring!! It will be here soon!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Grant and the Drumline

Grant is a drummer. He loves the drums. LOVES them!! This fall some drummers from the schools got together and formed a drumline on the vision of one of the moms. .for those of you that don't know what that is (I didn't!!). .it's a group of drummers that drum on. .well. . whatever they can find!! Trash cans, pots and pans, garbage can lids, and buckets--basically, anything that will make a noise.  They have been practicing 1-2 times per week since September. .which can be very tiring if you are a parent of a child that cannot drive yet. BUT, they have performed 3 times now, and they are a ball to watch! They accompanied the high school vocal at their Christmas program in an African tribal song.  They have also performed at both a junior high ball game, and last night at the high school Homecoming game.  I'm a little bit of a moron when it comes to video-ing things. .but last night I was able to get a great video of their drumline performance on my Canon.

So, especially for my mom and sister who haven't been able to open last week's performance on facebook. .
Oh, and I dare you not to tap your foot OR shake your head a little when you listen!
Unfortunately. .my video was WAAAAY bigger than blogger allows. .so after some major cutting. .here is a very short clip of the end of the song.  So if you can imagine how the first 2 minutes sounded. .that would be great :-) Sorry mom!!! Enjoy it anyway!!
By the way. .for those of you who aren't used to looking at my kiddo. .he's the one on very end of the line to the right of the screen facing us.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

On Frozen Pond

Or perhaps that should be One Frozen Pond.
This week has been the big moment that I have been waiting for. .
prolonged cold weather.
I've been wondering how the pond would do with extended Cooooooold.
With our waterfall, we could leave it running all winter long. But, if we had more than 3 days straight where the temperature didn't rise above freezing, we had to turn it off.
By the third day, the waterfall had iced over itself and though the water still ran ever so slowly under the ice, the resevoir was usually pretty low by then.
This past week has been really cold here!  This picture was taken Monday morning during the snowstorm that provided us with a couple inches of much needed moisture.  Sunday was the last day of above freezing temperatures here until today. 
I have been tickled to watch the birds step out on the ice and walk on the frozen spots. They peck at the ice a little, and sometimes walk up to the edge of the ice and water to get a drink.
The far edge of my pond is just a couple feet from a sunflower feeder that the finches, juncos, and sparrows have been swarming the last few days.
They are pretty entertaining to watch.
Tuesday morning the thermometer said -4 at 7 am.  The pond was completely iced over. 
The falls continue to push water under the lip of the ice and the skimmer at the far end is recirculating the water back through the waterfall.
Wednesday morning the ice was a little thicker.  Some of the water is running across the ice from the falls and is icing over the TOP of the ice layer, making for some interesting ice patterns.
I could see steam rising off the water in the falls Wednesday morning, which was an interesting site!
It warmed up to mid 20's yesterday. .which was nice
And these guys appreciated the sunbeams too!!

And the evenings have been creating beautiful pastel sunsets. . which have been striking with the snow!
Here's the pond this morning. .Looks cold!! The last 3 nights have been in the single digits. .and in the 20's during the day time.  Today's forecast is mid 30's. .and in fact, 43 right now.  The ice is melting away nicely. Maybe by tomorrow, I will be able to see the state of the goldfish, though I expect to find them well!
We're glad to see forecasts for the mid 40's for the next several days!!
And I'm sure that these little jewels are even happier than we are about it!
The moral of this story has been that I am SURE glad with the pond's performance in the cold thus far. .and since we do not regularly have that many days in a row with sub-freezing temps. .I am relieved that the pond should continue to function well throughout the winter months!!
Hope you all are enjoying some warmer weather where you live too!
Have a great weekend!

Monday, January 10, 2011

You've got Snow!

We've been anticipating some snow for the last 5-6 days now. .
We REALLY expected to have a snow day today. .
So we were all a little disappointed this morning to wake up to a mild dusting of snow.
The kids got on the bus an hour late and made the trip to school.  It proceeded to snow the rest of the day. .
Until. .
School was let out early. .
Sports, drum line practice, and 4-H were cancelled. .
And everyone could make it home to enjoy a VERY frigid romp in the snow!!
It was about 16 degrees when the kids got home. .
And the whole event lasted less than an hour!!
But very happy children I had, indeed!!
We SHE made snow angels! 
Look Mama!! It's beautiful! 
They rode homemade snow boards (YES, those are old road signs. .I have no idea where they came from. .but remember. .NONE of my crew can drive. .so I know they weren't stolen!--at least not by them) 
They worked slick down the sidewalk. .No pun intended! 
SHE hated the gloves. .and the coat. .and the snow pants. AND I asked her twice to pee BEFORE we made all that stuff fit on her.  She did NOT have to go. .now quit asking!! NOT 10 minutes went by and guess who had to pee?? (and I was already ticked off because we had argued about the pants. .and the boots. .and put the gloves on 4 times--and I know all you mom's can relate to the GLOVES!) We have hit the "I know everything and you can't tell me anything stage!!" She even advised me today that if I didn't stop telling her (giving her orders) she wouldn't be my mom anymore!! I swear I have never said that to her! 
So back out in a completely different outfit. .except for the pink gloves--the only pair that weren't knitted ones that would get cold and wet--she played ever so nicely with Grant! 
The boys walked to Granny's pasture across the road to try the boards down the hills 
And fell off into a huge snow drift. .so they weren't gone long.
Did I mention that the wind was blowing. .so the wind chill was REALLY chill!! 
I enjoyed snapping pictures of the kids and the landscape.  One of my favorite things about the spruce trees has been how pretty they look all dressed in snow!
It's now 11 degrees with a wind chill at -5. BRRR! Temperatures won't warm up much for the next few days.  I think they will be spent in my front window watching the birds eat and frolic on the ice!
Thankful for heat. .and an insulated house. .and comfort food!!
Hoping you are all enjoying the same!!