Wednesday, October 24, 2012

 Have I said before how much we like our new heater we had installed in March?  Yes, I know everyone is probably tired of hearing that, but check out the thermostat from this morning.  The 32 deg is actually up about 5 degrees from when I got up at 5am.  Ahhhh, so nice and warm in the morning.

We used to get up early, come downstairs and build a fire in the wood stove.  After a couple hours it would be more comfortable, but cold downstairs and too hot upstairs.  Unfortunately the little wood stove was placed just at the bottom of the stairs and all the heat went directly up stairs.  Love this so much more!

 Here's a picture from this morning around 10am.  If the lawn looks a little frosty, it is.  Our driveway heading down to the gate was really frosty but I got outside too late to get a picture before it melted away.  Our maple trees haven't turned any pretty colors, just froze, dried up and are in the process of falling off.  Oh darn.

And the last pic is what I have left of the indigo leaves.  The plants didn't do very well, either in the garden or in the flower beds at the front of the house.  Dexter apparently liked them because he would drag one of the flower pots they were planted in all around the yard until the root ball would fall out.  Then he would chew the stems off, spread any leaves left everywhere and completely destroy the plant.

I have replanted these so many times.  I'm really surprised I had any leaves left.  So rather than using them fresh I dried them and will have to make a paste later to use as a dye.  We'll see if it turns out.  A lot more work than using fresh, but it is the old fashioned way to a gorgeous color.

Monday, October 22, 2012

 Night before last I was doing dishes after dinner.  As I rinsed the two last plates I just happened to see a small flash in our sink.  I finished rinsing the food off, cleaned out the sink and as I reached for the garbage disposal switch, something made me stop.  What was that tiny little flash I saw?  Out habit, I reached up and touched my ear ... only to find my diamond earring was gone!

So that's what I saw.  Thankful I hadn't turned on the disposer, I bravely stuck my hand down there and started pulling out what was left of our dinner.  We only run our disposal when absolutely needed so there was quite a bit of stuff down there (ugh!).

I was not able to feel it but was sure it was there, unless there was a bigger hole than the diamond and it had gone down with the water.  So I stopped and prayed God would allow me to find this very precious thing, a gift from my mother-in-law several years ago.

Stuck my hand in again and there is was!  Thank you Jesus.  It means so much to me.  Even though it is so tiny.  Must be kind of like we are to Him.  Small but precious and worth finding.

While I was taking pictures there was Bella, our Great Pyrenees in one of her favorite spots in the kitchen.  She acts so innocent, but we know she's just hoping some morsel off something tasty may drop on the floor just in reach of her nose and tongue.  She is big and lumbering, but also Very quick when it comes to treats.

She can't catch them in the air like our border collie used to, nor as quickly as Dexter our border collie lab puppy can, but with her weight and size, all she has to do is insert herself in the middle of any situation and well, you get the idea.  She's there and she's in charge.

She's a love though.  She's been sleeping in my bedroom at night now.  Since its turning colder  (low 20's now), I'm glad and even though she prefers the cool air, I think she likes it too.   The dogs both come in at night about 10:30pm.

The first 30 minutes she's in she thinks its our time to spend together, snuggling in my bed with her big head on my chest.  She's so big (about 110+ pounds) and takes up so much room, 30 minutes is about all I can take.  About then, she gets too hot and starts panting so hard it shakes the bed and I can't hear the TV.  We are both ready for her to retire to the floor where she plants herself directly in front of my closed door.  Keeping out anyone who may want to come in, I guess.

I love her!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Our weather folks are calling for        *s n o w* by Saturday.  I can't believe it may be here already.  Its way too soon as far as I am concerned.  I took this picture just this week and I was calling it 'the gathering storm'.  It has turned much colder (29 degrees at night) but our days are still fairly warm, in the 60's most days.  I still have to mow our yard one more time before it does snow but every day I hope to prolong this much loved task.  In the summer I love mowing.  I always have enjoyed it.  Especially when we got our first riding mower, but even before that.  Just being outside, the smell of the freshly cut grass and seeing how much better our yard looks after its done is so pleasing to me.  We've had such a dry fall this year that our maple tree still has leaves that have not turned color but they have turned dry and brown, still on the tree but curled up and crisp.  Too bad, that little tree usually turns a beautiful golden color.

Then yesterday I took this picture on my way home from town.  Its still part of that gathering storm but seems to be heading the other way.  We were all hoping to get a little more rain before it goes away.  And the clouds keep our weather so much warmer.  Oh well, it is what it is I guess.

Finishing up today the picking up our hoses and furniture from around our pool.  We like to leave it all out as long as possible so we can at least look at it from inside the house and maybe pretend a little longer its warm out there.  Got to put our garden to sleep for the winter and make sure no tools have been left outside.  This is one of our busiest times of the year.  Always so much to do both inside and out.

I did finally get the inside construction type jobs done last week.  The guy did a really nice job covering the heater duct work with drywall and getting the walls textured to match the original.  Now all I have to do is find some paint to match, but that can be done just about any time and I'm not in a hurry to paint right now. 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

At last, my favorite fruit of all summer is ripe (except for blueberries, raspberries, apples ... ), well you get the idea.  But I really do love our purple plums.  The yellow plums have come and gone, we gave most of them away because they ripen so quickly we can't use them all.  But these purple ones are so sweet and tender without becoming too soft.

Daughter went out and picked a huge amount of them yesterday.  We keep most of the fresh picked produce in our carport until I have time to do something with it.  Its cold out there but not frosty.  At least not yet. She also picked pears, a huge box.

Trying to decide what to do with everything.  We will keep a lot of plums to eat fresh but cut the rest in half, remove the seed and dry the halves.  The pears are another story.

I'm not much on canning any more as I've said before.  So, in that case we probably will give most of them away.  She likes pears as does my mother who lives too far away to give her any, but we can save a few for us to eat.  Maybe make some pear butter (yummy!) 

If these fresh fruits and veggies would only last longer.  I'd love to eat them throughout our long winter, but that's not gonna' happen.  So drying is our best bet here and everything tastes so good.

We have two guys over this morning, Alex is splitting and stacking our wood, Chris is working on getting all our outside repairs done before winter hits with a vengeance.  My logger friend Bob was here two summers ago and cut down five trees fairly close to the house.  He cut them in lengths exactly right for our little wood stove and we've left them lay out there ever since.  They have dried very nicely and now are perfect for splitting, which is what's happening today.

This is supposed to be a milder winter, which to me means a little warmer but lots more snow so we should be set for firewood.  I hope we don't need much this year because of our recently installed heat pump force air heater.  But if we have a power outage we will be warm.  We normally go through about two cords of wood in the winter, this year maybe half a cord if we are lucky. 

One of our rain gutters is coming apart at a seam so that's getting fixed as well as our screen doors the dogs also use.  They're not very careful so the doors are sagging.  Chris is remarkable and can fix or build just about anything.  He's also been working on and off building shelves in the kitty room where we can store dog / cat food off the floor as well as putting our snowy winter clothes there.  We just hang them up until they dry.  Lots of those usually.  The new heater was placed in that room too, and he built a nice closet type enclosure to cover everything up.

Now all that's left after today is to finish putting the drywall back in the living room over the heater duct work where they had to cut out our wood ceiling.  What a great job these guys did.  Its been since Feb or March of this year, but I've gotten so used to looking at it, I don't even notice any more.  But who would put in a red cedar ceiling in the first place.  Oh well, its a conversation piece.  And this pic is my ceiling, not the floor ad the ducting is hanging under the ceiling because of the upstairs floor joists that run the other way.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Yesterday we picked three more big boxes of apples.  Two we are giving away and one box is for ourselves.  There is still lots of apples on our trees that will be picked in the next coming week.  We did have extremely strong winds yesterday with rain and frosty 30's temps last night.  I haven't been out to the orchard yet and am hoping we still have some apples left on our trees.

The plums weren't quite ripe as of yesterday and I'm really hoping the wind didn't blow them all off.  I'm afraid to look.

This morning I prepared a dehydrator with seven trays of sliced and cored apples.  We like our dried apples with the skins still on, so they are a little chewy.  I still have a tiny little bit of apples we dried several years ago.  They are still good, the flavor is remarkable.  Wish I could remember just how many gallon bags I filled with those dried apples so long ago.  We snack and nibble on them every once in a while.  I'd make apple pie but my daughter and I have quit eating bread, rolls, pie crust ... anything with flour.  Maybe I could make a crust out of some chopped nuts.  Hmmmmm, an interesting idea!  But it sure has helped us lose some weight.  Kind of hard though, no donuts, no sandwiches, no breading on chicken.  Oh well, I sure feel a lot better.  Its amazing.

The pool guy is coming tomorrow to close the pool down for the winter.  Our pool isn't heated so it does freeze in the winter time.  He drains and blows out the pump, cleans the filter and we put a tarp over the top.  Usually the wind will blow the tarp off so we end up draining it and doing a thorough cleaning job early in the spring before we fill it again for the summer.  We don't drain the pool any more in the fall because it fills up with just enough water from the snow and rain to turn green.  So we drain and clean it in the spring instead.  Its a lot of work but it always looks so nice and clean for the summer.

We're nearly done with our fall cleanup work.  Our temps have fallen into the very low 30's at night now and daytime temps aren't getting above about 70.  Its still nice though.  If it wasn't for the terrible fires around this area, Washington in particular, our skies would be the dark blue that is so nice in the fall.  If the wind is blowing away from us there's always just a tiny bit of wood smoke in the air that makes it really seem like fall.  We don't anticipate using much wood this year with our new heater.  WooHoo.  That's a lot of work and a very dirty way to stay warm.