Psalm 27:4 "One thing have I desired; that will I seek after. That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life."

Today was it. The first day of the 12th year of homeschool. Where in tarnation did all of the years GO???

But before school, there was the end of summer vacation – and canning.

We had a wonderful time in Michigan: no salt, no sharks, no problems. Sigh.  Before we left Kristen & Kurt cleaned my van. The interior looked just as bad as the exterior (translate: I forgot to take before pictures)

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When I went to the car wash, the water jets pushed my new driver magnet right off the van. I walked behind the van at the cheese store and about freaked out. Kristen was planning to drive to Michigan and we needed the magnet. I went back to the car wash and looked everywhere – of course there was a car in the bay that I had used so I’m standing on my head trying to see in while they got their car washed. I can only imagine what they were thinking! I couldn’t see it anywhere, so I called the phone number and a really nice man told me to wait until the other car left and I would find it on the floor – and sure enough there it was, getting the magnet side washed, too. Huge sigh of relief.

When the kids were finished, the interior looked amazing!

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They pulled it into the garage where I couldn’t get really good pictures, but I assure you, my van was a night and day transformation!

While we were chilling at Grandma and Grandpa’s the kids did a lot of reading of “Calvin and Hobbes” books. It keeps them occupied and they have a great time laughing at our family favorite comic strip. Even Present got in on the fun.
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Of course, Present also got her nose into Kristen’s cereal bowl and fresh blueberries – I’m not sure where the picture is. We both got yelled at for that one ūüėÄ

Once we were back home, we had to deal with the garden. There are no pictures of the bounty because the task before us was extremely daunting. 88 tomatoes on the first picking. For 3 days straight (Thursday, Friday and Saturday) Kristen and I chopped, diced, peeled, sliced, stirred and canned. She brought up all of the frozen broth from the freezers so that we could pressure can that and get it out of the freezer to make room for the beef next month. We put up tomato paste, sauce, and diced tomatoes; more pickle relish, peaches and peach jam. Plus lamb and chicken broth. AND Kristen thawed and ground about 12 lbs. of lamb to make sausage. The corn we blanched and froze, but it was past its prime and will probably end up in chicken feed over the winter. I came home to 5 club sized zucchini in the garden and promptly pulled the plants. I also pulled the cucumbers because we have 6 on the counter from before vacation and an overflowing 1/2 bushel since we came home. NO ONE wants that much pickle relish for Christmas!  We still have salsa on the list and that will use some cukes as well.

By the end of the canning session it was obvious that our leaking kitchen faucet had to go; okay, it was obvious before we left on vacation, but Hubby got a real dose of it while we were gone and that was enough! So,late on Saturday, Kristen and I decided the time had come and we would go get the new faucet. Before that could happen, while she was trying to heat water to put in the diced tomatoes – the microwave died! 5 minutes on high, for tap water temperature. Not good. So, we were looking for a microwave as well. I found one I liked at Home Depot.

Off to the store, to find out that they don’t stock their microwaves at Home Depot. They didn’t have the one I found on line, but Kristen found one she liked better. We went to order that. Guess what, that will be $15 to remove the old one and $60 to have the new one delivered-to the store! Are you kidding me? Sorry, fella, that’s too much added on to the price. Lowe’s had absolutely nothing, so I checked Menard’s on my handy dandy smart phone. Well, soil¬†my britches and call me a Gronkel’s auntie, there was my Maytag microwave in stock! Oh, wait, in stock with a stainless steel handle. I just bought a bronze finish faucet for the kitchen, don’t really want stainless steel right there. Ah, here’s the all black option – two weeks to get it in. But, hold the presses! -ships to store for FREE!!! Oh, how I love that word!! ¬†FREE ¬†FREE FREE!! ¬†Order that puppy up and we’ll live with out a microwave for 2 weeks. It will.not.kill.us.

Sunday rolls around and we’re at Menard’s to get a piece of steel that Joel needs for the trailer. I showed him the new microwave with the nice metal handle – no plastic! – he was impressed. ¬†Back home we came to nap and relax and then Kristen decided that she could install that faucet by herself. You Go Girl!!

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Daddy was blown away when he got up from his nap. And you know what the hardest part of the whole process was? Figuring out how to turn the dump thing on!!! We rolled the lever back and forth and back and forth and checked all of the connections twice. No water. Kristen had pulled the hose out and was looking into it when she bumped the handle away from the faucet and got sprayed in the face!! Apparently, it turns on by pushing the lever away from the faucet and then adjust for hot and cold by rolling front or back. I’m telling you, folks, I’m not going gray, I’m going blonde!

Which brings us to today. The first day of school.

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I can’t tell you how precious these pictures are and how much my kids have grown up every year. To see all of the pictures together on Karra’s board for graduation, was something else.

We had a couple of firsts on this first day of school – Kristen threw up, never had that happen before. I recommended that she NOT take her vitamins on an empty stomach in the future. We started at 8 (another first) and both kids were done at 12:00. ALL done, not just sort of done. And I sat in the school room and worked on stuff right along with them. Amazing.

One of the things we noticed with the leaky kitchen faucet and all of the canning was a funny smell in the laundry room and kitchen. We thought it was under the sink, or something from the canning. Turns out it’s the washing machine. THAT is all I need right now. But, Kristen and I did look at them at Home Depot and decided I’d like a stacking set, to maximize room in my laundry. That will be a post for another day and another time (I have a baby blanket to make today!)

And That’s What’s Happening on the Hobby Farm.

We are finally getting some much needed rain tonight. Things have been so very dry here. Despite the dryness, or maybe because of it, my jalapeno peppers have been quite prolific. We’ve been drying them in batches to reconstitute when the the tomatoes finally ripen and we can make salsa. My cucumbers are also ready way ahead of salsa making. We did do a couple of batches of zucchini relish and a batch of hamburger dills for Joel. I’m really pleased with how well the garden is doing. I need to pull the zucchini plants before they bless me with more bounty to go with the more bounty I already don’t know WHAT to do with! Need to plant peas and broccoli soon, too.

The little kittens have been growing and growing. The runt, Tommy, was the first to figure out how to get out of the table cage (3 tables on their sides against a basement wall). Once they all figured out how to get out, we moved one of the tables, but left the cage mostly intact (to keep Luke from eating their food every morning – the same Luke that got upstairs and opened the tub with Catnip’s special food and ate half the tub!!!!. That dog will eat ANYTHING.

Now I have 6 half-pint-sized fur bombs terrorizing my basement. Oy, vey, the mess they have made in my sewing room. Not to mention the attack of fleas that went from the basement to the upstairs and the dear, fat Catnip. Countless bottles of flea & tick spray and many, many kitten baths later, I do believe we have them under control. And every time the dogs scratch I tell them to “Stop it!! Scratching makes me nervous.” ¬†After every bath the kittens go into the powder room to dry off and stay clean. Upon opening the door the other day we discovered that the kittens had trashed it like a little rock’n’roll band! They played in the dogs’ water dish, got into the trash and tossed toilet paper rolls everywhere – apparently those are some particularly joyful toys to play with. I could not believe the mess those clean little bodies had left on the floor.

We are still trying to find homes for 3 of them before they’ll have to go to a rescue. Tommy Trouble and his look-alike sister, Tonya, are going to the horse barn to charm people and chase little mouses. Mozart (formerly, Matt’s Cat) is going to stay right here with us (so much for NOT KEEPING ANY OF THEM!). ¬†The kids have pooled their money and are going to pay to vet and feed him. Sweet, fluffy, little thing with a contagious face, is going to compete with Luke, Lexi and Catnip.

Joel and Kurt made it to Tennessee and back with our new tractor – and the manure pile is gone!! And Joel cleaned out the cow stalls, too. Last night he went and bought a trailer so that the tractor can go traveling to make hay! After we buy hay equipment, of course.

We are headed off to The Mitten soon for a long weekend and a family wedding. It will be nice to get away for a bit before school starts back up (on the 22nd!!!!!AAAAUUUUGGHGHGH). It’s supposed to rain the day we’re planning to go to St. Joe and shop and stare at the beach. Y’know how that really translates? IT’S GOING TO BE HOT AND MUGGIER THAN BLAZES, FLETCHER, SO DON’T EVEN BOTHER TO PUT ON MAKE-UP AND TRY TO LOOK NICE. YOU’RE GOING TO LOOK LIKE A SWEAT SOAKED FRUMP!! But I’m going anyway – it’s the rebel in me. And Grandma always buys Kilwin’s ice cream for us.

And That’s What’s Been Happening on the Hobby Farm!

Good Things

Life just keeps scurrying along. This past week Kurt had LEGO Robotics camp. He LOVED it. The kids spoke his language and they were all creative geniuses. Kurt got glowing reviews from his teachers and at the end of the week, he was 1st place champion is his age group!!!!

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Please pardon the goofy grin. He used to smile so well when he was a toddler. And he looks so cute with his braces too. At his elbow is the trophy he won and beside the trophy is their team robot. His team was 4th overall in the final robot challenge.

Also this past week, we finished the baby changing table!

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I took the close up of the fabric liner so no ¬†one would think I put flowered fabric in a little boy’s dresser! The Mom and Dad are so happy with it. Unfortunately, it was too wide to go through the bedroom door!! We never thought to ask about that before she made it. So, the chest and one of the drawers came back home for a shrinking event. ¬†I got to hold their sweet new baby. He slept the whole time that Kristen and I passed him back and forth.

On Friday night Kristen treated us to a delicious dessert.

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I had found a homemade chocolate syrup recipe and she wanted to try it. What better way to try chocolate syrup than with strawberries and ice cream? Oh, it was so good!

Kristen tried to sneak off to church this morning like this:

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This was supposed to be her friend, Matt’s, cat. Matt’s Mom decided that this is not the right time to welcome a new cat into their family. Even though the little guy is litter trained, she stayed firm. So, we rechristened the kitten from Matt’s Cat to Mozart. Matt is a musician and Kristen was so excited for the little guy to be a musician’s cat – she even played music for him – aw. ¬†This guy’s little face is contagious.

And That’s What’s Been Happening on the Hobby Farm.

Who was the little guy on “Fantasy Island” that always said “The Plane! The Plane!”? That’s what I keep hearing in my head – The Island! The Island! It is finished!!!! ¬†Yeah; Happy Dance!

Once Kristen started pushing me (and her friend, A, did most of the sanding), well, I had no excuse not to get painting. After a 3 hour session standing on my head to paint the inside, I wasn’t terribly eager to get back to it, but I persevered. One coat of paint on the inside, 2 coats on the outside and on the top and shelves and one coat of 3x Polyurethane later, it is finished. Bumble bees, spice racks and all!

Here’s where I started:

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It’s lying on it’s back because reaching in was the best way to paint the very back slats. If I had a paint sprayer this would have been a MUCH easier and faster job. But I don’t. So it wasn’t. I came away with very few painted gray hairs, so I’m happy.

Here she is right side up with one coat of paint:

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Two coats of paint and the bumble bees soaring away:

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The poly is supposed to cure for 24 hours and thoroughly  harden in 7 days. Kristen is very impatient and I let her talk me into moving the island upstairs while Dad and Kurt are gone fetching the tractor (more posts this weekend!!!). So, we brought it upstairs and the admonition that we wait a few days before we pile everything on it lasted for about 2 minutes!

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Finally, a place to store my wheat bucket where it is out of the way but accessible! Apples, potatoes, coconut oil tub and the box with the meat grinder – all on one shelf! Upper shelf has a cool metal tray that I found on clearance at Meijer to hold all of the “extra” knives that don’t go in the knife block, onion basket, and the acrylic and plastic cutting boards (that I dearly want to leave my kitchen forever). And the freshly oiled wooden cutting boards on the top. But it gets better

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When we went to IKEA, I bought spice racks (the $3.99 one), but I bought NINE! Well, I have a LOT of spices and seasonings, what can I say? We decided that two of them on the back of the island top would be a great place to put our most frequently used spices. There was even room between them for the olive oil bottles and Kristen’s jar of kosher salt.

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There is still an amazing amount of workspace on this island. And what became of the other 7 IKEA spice racks? After some hissy fits because one of the boards on the back of the island would not accept nails or screws, and even ATE a drill bit in the process, we got those racks mounted to the back of the island just as planned. Of course, everyone that I did needed most of the screws moved over 1/4″ or less because I’m not the DIY Queen, but she was having the hissy fits and someone had to do the job.

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I told you I have a lot of spices. What’s really funny is that I still have more in the cupboard – all things that we actually use! I ran out of jelly jars and the fancy spice lids, so somethings are still in whatever they were in before. I have room for one more jar on the bottom rack on the right – I just need a jar. All of that after I told my Mom that I have plenty of jelly jars and that I would bring her some. Well, I have plenty of 4 oz. jelly jars! I’ll be making a lot of tomato paste, applesauce, and canned chilies this year.

I made my lunch salad on the island and Kristen mixed up pancakes (yeah, for lunch. She’s a teenager) and the island has been christened. We are so excited. I’m especially excited to see my future cabinet color in the kitchen everyday. I’m hoping it will motivate me to get painting on those cupboards!

And That’s What’s Happening on the Hobby Farm!

 

After a brief scare in which Joel thought the cordless drill was DEAD, he decided to buy another one and let Kristen have the old one. The old drill has built the barn, drywalled the workshop, fixed up the business venture, worked on the bonus room, and done all of Kristen’s recent pallet projects.

Joel mentioned that the drills needed to be marked so that they weren’t confused. Each drill has two batteries and it’s own charging station. I don’t think there will be any confusion between Dad’s drill and Daughter’s drill

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What do you think?

That’s What’s Happening on the Hobby Farm.

Photo Montage

Life has continued at a breakneck pace here at the Happy Palace. I’ll update with photos which include a new winner from the Queen of DIY as well as DIMS from me; the garden and the kittens!

First, the DIY Queen.

We gave a baby shower for two couples that were in our old Life Group. It was great. Such a wonderful peace in our house afterwards. I miss Life Group. So, the next day one of the couples asked Kristen if she would make their crib and changing table. Oh.My.Gosh! What an honor. What a challenge. One week later, the DIYQ had the crib done.

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We delivered it the next Sunday (6/26) Here’s Kristen with the eager Mom-to-Be. The crib fits their baseball nursery to a T. They treated us to lunch ( forgot to load the picture). On Tuesday I picked up Kristen from the barn, she opened her phone to a Facebook update and Baby Troy had been born! Phew! Crib just in time. The changing table is still under construction. It will be the prototype of all future changing table/dressers, and our dear friends will have it forever. We can’t wait to visit them this Sunday and see that new baby!

I’ve been working on learning to make a box lining. I failed miserable making a lining for a crate that Kristen made for her friend (who did all of the sanding on my island!) ¬†I had success making interior liners for two boxes. The first box started this way – yes, we’ve bought our share of store beef hamburger patties; I’m ashamed.

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But the box ended up looking like this:

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I’m a sucker for old-fashioned floral prints and have quite a stash of them just waiting for me to use them. Maybe someday I’ll make a quilt with lots of old-fashioned floral squares.

My second box started out like this:

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Yep, good ole Milk-Bones. I’ve been promising the dogs to make homemade peanut butter treats, but they are suffering for my lack of time like everything else! This box became this:

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I’m really happy with the way it turned out. It holds all of my 8×11 cardstock and my shape cutter. I’m thrilled.

I used this tutorial for the outside of the boxes:  here

And this tutorial for the inside liner:  here

I looked at a LOT of tutorials and I messed up plenty of times. I have LOTS of boxes in my stash, so I’ll be using these tutorials until I have them memorized. Measure once, twice, thrice, quatros; then, MAYBE make the cut.

On a more successful note, my garden is looking great this year. The straw has made an amazing difference in the weed level. It’s so nice to look out and seed the garden growing instead of three years worth of weed seeds sprouting.

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And the last little update is our little kittens!

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The best I can do: Back two faces are Zoe and Boston; Middle three are Tonya, Matt’s Cat (going to a friend of Kristen’s), Tammy Rose (who may be a Tommy); front kitty is Pepper Pott. They are the most adorable little fuzz balls. Tammy/Tommy talks and talks. You can hear it meowing upstairs and you’d swear something was trying to eat it. The minute the kitten is in your hands, it’s as quiet as can be. If money were no object, I’d keep all 6 of them. But it is. And I’m not.

On top of all of these wonderful things, it’s Camp Meeting at church this weekend and the girls are both volunteering. Joel’s spending time with his Mom, brother and cousin, and Kurt and I are hanging out together. I’m going to try to start painting my kitchen island – and maybe I’ll make another covered box, too. Daytona Saturday Night under the Lights!

And That’s What’s Happening on the Hobby Farm.

 

 

 

Meow Meow Meow x 2

Rosemary (the baby herself) had SIX kittens yesterday!! She was a real trooper and handled everything like an old pro. We’re so proud of her. Since this will be her only litter, I guess she wanted to do it right. I kept hoping there were only 2 or 3 kittens since she’s so young, but she got awfully big. Kristen came upstairs and said she thought she was done at 4. A little later it was 5. ¬†Kristen put them into a clean box with new towels and darned if she didn’t have one more!

Rosemary's babies - one day old

This was a few minutes ago; they’re about 27 hours old. Mommy wants to be picked up and held every time we visit and the kittens are just a little jumble of sleeping bodies. ¬†Oh, they’re so cute!!

And That’s What’s Happening on the Hobby Farm.

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