Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Etcetera, Etcetera

Almost there.
One more week, and (knock on wood), l will finally have some slower days. I have no idea how it all happened, but this fall was absolutely too much. Too hectic, too full, too over-committed, TOO MUCH!

Among many things, our house was on a charity house tour, in which 1,300 - THIRTEEN HUNDRED people came through our home. That was a ton of work.  In order to be ready, there were endless large and small projects. Some of the bigger things included re-working the living room and family room, painting the stairs, the landscaping and my least favorite- professional asbestos removal. Yikes! All is ok though, glad we got it taken care of.

We also had wedding(S), including one in New York, and one this coming weekend. Jon is a groomsmen, Noah a ring bearer, and I am a hostess. School began, and so did my volunteer duties. This is my fourth and final year as the "Vice President to Lower School New Families", which is just a way too fancy way of saying "The Welcome Wagon".  I did some public speaking at orientation, and most recently, threw the annual new parent dinner, which my Mom and Dad VERY graciously helped to host AGAIN. Unlike them, I can not fit 60 people in my house! Well, not very comfortably.

We've also had various other projects going on in and around this old house. Our ivy covered wooden fence was collapsing in on our poor neighbors. We were able to save the fence by having new posts laid and securing the existing fence to them. It worked out great, and most of the ivy has been saved! Woo Hoo! :)
(By the way, have I ever told you that we have the best neighbors in the world? They're all great!)

Squirrels. SQUIRRELS have moved in......into our WALLS! This has been going on for a little while. In hopes of not shelling out some big bucks to a catch-and -release wildlife company, I scoured the web, trying to figure out how we could humanely remove these furry dudes. After careful observation, we know that they are a the small, American Red Squirrels. These little guys, ugh. I see them out the window. They have been carrying walnuts, still in their green husks, into a big hole underneath the eaves. Sometimes, like the Plinko game on "The Price is Right"..........


....... you can hear the plink....plink.....plink.....of the round walnuts as they bounce down the INSIDE of the walls. OH.MY.GOD.  Interestingly, this always seems to happen when I'm peeing in the downstairs bathroom. Do you think they're trying to mess with me?

Long story short, the wildlife company that I finally gave in and called, wants $800 to fix everything- squirrel proof the house, and to build a couple tiny one-way doors so that the existing squirrels can get out, but can never get back in. Apparently, they feel, if you catch and release, more animals will just move in. It does kind of make sense. But, who has $800 laying around for squirrel emergencies? I'm still trying to figure out a homemade plan B.

Also, because I am afraid of everything always. Upon my instance, we tested for Radon. It's come back borderline "Do Something!" So, I need to panic and get that fixed too. Although, I hear it isn't very difficult. Half of our basement is a "Michigan Basement", being that it is more like a dirt cellar. So, I could see how, without cement walls, our reading might be a bit elevated. Fingers crossed that this is an affordable and easy fix!

We were also busy with lots of meetings and appointments, a new, little stray cat. We've had some out-of-town visitors, and I've been really really working hard to cook dinner everyday vs. eating out. It's nice to save money instead of spending it. On squirrel evacuation..... Which reminds me, I need to spend some money on storm window putting upping. Did you know, when you live in a very old house, the storm windows are A.) VERY needed as you might have old straw for insulation like us! And, B.) the old storm windows are two panes of glass, held in a heavy wooden frame? Our buddy and handyman extraordinaire, Robert, will come twice a year with his big ladder, to put our storms up in the late fall, and down in the late spring.

With everything going on around me, I've also been working very hard, to run this home like a well-oiled machine. It tends to easily become dusty here, so I spend a lot of time sweeping and vacuuming, cleaning and keeping everything in order. As most of you might know, the heaps of laundry and dishes, the meals to be made, the homework, it never ceases. But whether the following is crazy or not, I find a deep satisfaction in this particular kind of busy, so it's just fine with me. :)

All of that said and done, beginning in November, HOPEFULLY, we will be past a lot of the extra doings. I CAN'T Wait! Woo hoo! There are so many projects that I've been meaning to find time for this fall, like finishing up a crocheted fall/winter bag to use. I love the challenge of making a new bag when I need it, vs. buying one. We'll see how it turns out, I'm not so sure it will work!
I'd also love to blog more, don't I always say that? ;)  
I don't think it will happen, but I have dreams of making homemade holiday gifts for everyone. Checkout my Pinterest board about homemade gifts. How much fun!
Wee mouse tin house

Our house can be REALLY cold in the winter. Since moving here, when trying to solve problems, I always say "What Would Ann Do?"  Ann Stickney was the first person recorded to have bought this house. She bought it in 1868. (Although, it was built around 1860 by a mystery family!) If Ann was cold, she probably knit, crocheted or sewed herself a blanket. My hopes are just that. If there's time!

Oh! And there is SO MUCH backyard birding that I want to prepare for. STOP LAUGHING. I really mean it. We saw things like this last year, right out our window!

This year, I must prepare, making affordable and good, homemade feeders. Pine cones and peanut butter. That's all you need. Also, I want to figure out better ways to contain the lose seed, and what kinds of mixes to go with.

Who am I kidding though? I suppose I know realistically, things won't slow down all that much come November 1st.  Jon's 35th birthday is the first week of November, Noah's 8th birthday is the third week. Then there's Thanksgiving, Chanukah and Christmas to shop and get ready for, holiday parties and New Years. It's never going to slow down really, is it?

Ok, I'll just breath, go day-by-day, and know it's all about balance. :)

At any rate, here are some things that's been doin'............

My sweet, wonderful friend Anna-Margaret sent me this recipe. She knew that I had some dinner events coming up, and her "Caramel Dip for Apples" recipe is PERFECT for a fall desert! I ended up making this for my friend Laura, and my family,  in a tiny crock pot that I have. Super easy to make, just cut up a few apples and dip! Try it, so much fun for kids too!

1 can eagle brand milk ( the sweet one )
1 tsp. cinnamon    
2 Tbsp. cider vinegar    
6 oz. butterscotch chips
Melt over low heat, pour into fondue pot or other
Serves 4-6   * the apples can be cut in wedges or cubed for the dipping*
Can make ahead and reheat slowly.  Don't microwave
I had this at a friend's gathering and she made it in a cast iron skillet (small)

Sadly, our dear friend Mrs. Muir passed away several weeks ago. She is my friend Laura's Mom. Mrs. Muir was much more than "Laura's Mom" to us. She was an incredibly thoughtful and kind friend to Jon, Noah and I too. I've known Mrs. Muir since I was about 13 years old! She was fun and funny and smart and caring. We will all miss her very very much. 

Laura flew home from her home in London. Noah and I have tried to keep her company, and let her know that she is certainly loved by us too. One stop that we made was our mutual favorite, the cider mill!!!! I only have one photo to share, but picture a beautiful old mill from the 1840's, a giant water wheel, a babbling stream, some ducks, some pumpkins, and lots of cider and donuts to go around.

We've spent some time outdoors. The weather has been wonderful and unseasonably warm! I am enjoying it, but after the incredibly hot summer, and the eerily warm WARM, snow-less winter before, I am worried. All I want is a white Christmas and some snow to snowboard, ski and sled on!

Oddly, (because I just spoke of Christmas), we've also had a couple of Shabbat dinners! Growing up, my family was a mix of Jewish and Christian. Although, everyone was purely secular, we did not have religion. I only know of cultural things. Jon, Noah and I identify as being a Jewish family, basically along the same lines....we're pretty secular. Pretty humanistic. I am spiritual though. I don't claim to know exactly what is out there, but I feel it is something greater than us. Who knows!
Once in a while, I prepare a shabbat dinner. It's nice to slow down, light some candles, talk about our week and sing some songs.

We also laughed..........

A lot............

Noah was out of school from a Thursday through a Monday. I had to think of ways to help keep him busy. This is where the magic of Pinterest comes in. I'm telling you people, even if you never pin anything on this site, just having an account for the sake of finding fun ideas, it's so worth it! Here is my board where I pin neat ideas for boys .

I found the following idea from THIS "pin" on Pinterest. I've made a few changes, but a roll of tape, some exciting twists and turns and "bridges", and you have a fun "raceway"!!!
Noah and I used a roll of fairly low-tack packaging tape. I ran it in a track around the room, over furniture, and made sure to span the tape across a few spaces. I think he really liked it. Bring out your cars and other vehicles, and you're ready to go!

This is the vehicle that I chose to race. Noah was NOT amused. 

Hey, did I ever mention that I love fall!? Just kidding. You already know that.... Look at the fall colors out my back window.  Kind of pretty, huh? I'm loving looking at all of the colors. I feel lucky to live in a place that has them. When we lived in San Francisco, I missed the changing of the seasons SO much!!!!!

Speaking of fall......... ( I CAN'T BELIEVE I AM POSTING THIS PICTURE.) Speaking of fall, I decided to make a homemade face mask. It included honey, milk and nutmeg. You can see the recipe here. BUT, because I LOVE FALL so much, I decided to tweak the recipe, and add some cinnamon! Because, you know, everybody wants to smell like autumnal potpourri! Well, not really, but I do. So, I added a small truckload to the recipe, mixed it up and slathered it on. Within a minute, my face began to burn. BUUUURN. Within three minutes, I could barely stand it, and started to notice a shade of beet red, slowly spreading across my face. Ladies and gentlemen, DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT add cinnamon to this wonderful homemade face mask, or you will be left with a burning, bright red face for two hours. Honestly, after it was all washed off, it was still painful and cinnamon-y for a long time. In fact, I would have to bet, if I drank a latte, it would taste like a cinnamon latte, just through osmosis or something.

I noticed a BEAUTIFUL, golden sunset the other day. It turned the inside of our little upstairs bath, all warm and full of light. This might sound corny, but it made me think that, if there is a heaven, it must be like my bathroom right now.

The pictures really don't show how beautiful the light was. Even Noah stopped to look for a while.......

I enjoy the old windows.

Priya the cat is still herself. She's starting to be more ok with Willow the cat.  

 Bike rides and walks.

Oh! and the best one. Ninja costumes made from a robe.

Hi-ya! It was a GOOD week. :)


Lindsay Collins said...

My new favorite apple dip!

Lauren said...

Hey Lindsay, thanks! It was so much fun to make. Thanks for the comment. :)

Judy said...

Aw, I've had fun this evening, catching up with you on here! LOVE Pinterest, too - I pin oodles of stuff and then never go back to look at it! HA!