Leaky Pipe

A few days ago, we noticed that the kitchen floor was wet. It turns out that the grey water/sewage line that goes under the house and connects to the sewage line is completely corroded. As I type this, a company that primarily deals with flood and fire damage is assessing the damage, pulling up our floors, and preparing to put giant fans around the house.

I’m fairly certain that we are going to end up at a hotel for a week or so. I’m a little bummed about it. I am glad that we discovered this problem before we sold the house, I would hate for someone else to have to deal with it. It is still a little frustrating. This house was build in the 60s, and over the years we’ve noticed that the people that lived here before us never took the time to properly complete projects – corners were cut, and ‘adaptations’ were made almost everywhere.  We’ve spent so much time and money trying to fix everything that’s wrong that we can find.

It’s making me wonder if it’s worth it to find land that already has a house on it. We’ve noticed that it takes more time and money to fix something than it does to just do it right the first time. I know that time will break things, and that houses need regular maintenance; but I also know that we will put more care and thought into building our house than anyone else.

I guess we need to pray about it and figure it out. At least we can figure it out while we’re sitting poolside at our hotel.

Canning Jam

This was my first year canning anything. I received a water bath canner for Mother’s Day – and since then, I’ve made a lot of jam. Blueberry, Blackberry, and Strawberry. I love it all. My mom came over and we replenished our stock yesterday. She took some home and now I’ve got about 36 half pints of canned jam and an additional 12 half pints of freezer jam. Yummy!

Freezer jam is so easy to make. If you have never made jam before, try this recipe from inside the box of pectin. You don’t even need any special equipment. It makes about about 6 half pints.

Ingredients Needed:

2 cups crushed strawberries
4 cups sugar
3/4 cup water
1 box pectin

Directions:

Add sugar to the crushed strawberries – stir and let sit for 10 minutes
Mix 3/4 cup of water to 1 box of pectin over high heat, stir constantly.
When it comes to a boil, keep stirring for 1 more minute, then take off heat
Add pectin/water mixture to the strawberry/sugar mixture.
Stir well,at least 3-5 minutes.
Add to clean, sterilized freezer safe container.
Cover and let sit for 24 hours until jam is set.
Store in Fridge for up to 3 weeks or store in freezer for up to 1 year.

Simple, right?

As for all of this jam – if I want it to last until next Spring, I’m going to have to ration it – one spoonful per person per day. It’s seriously better than chocolate. Maybe I should just make more…

Powdery Mildew

I pulled both of my zucchini plants. They were developing a white moldy substance on the leaves and the plants were dying. I did some research and found that my plants had powdery mildew. In my situation, this was caused by lack of air flow. I simply planted too many things together in the corner of the garden and the fence that surrounds the garden was preventing adaquete air flow.

My cantaloupe started to have the same problem. It wasn’t killing the plants yet, but it was obviously a problem. I discovered a cheap, easy solution. Milk! We added 1/2 cup of milk to a gallon of water, and sprayed it directly on the plant. The next day, I could see an improvement. A week later, it looks like nothing ever happened. I wish we would have tried it on the zucchini.

Simple Living

I have always been very imaginative. My husband laughs at the songs I make up. He says I’m undiscoveredly talented. I’ve always enjoyed amusing myself. This imagination started when I was very young – much to the chagrin of my parents.

When I was in preschool, I had friends that had imaginary friends. Not me. I had imaginary pets. My poor parents were quite shocked when they learned that my imaginary boy dog, Sandy, had puppies. Every night, I would say my prayers, and then I would take out imaginary buckets and feed my imaginary livestock. Most of my livestock looked like a cross between My Little Ponies and Transformers. I was a very good caretaker, until I realized that not only were they invisible, they were completely made up.

When I was in middle school, I used to walk and/or ride my bike to and from school every day. I remember that I would film imaginary reality TV shows in my head on the mile and a half journey, featuring myself as the star. I titled my creative shows, “Country Girl.” The theme song was very interesting. I’ll spare you the details, but you can be sure that you are not missing much.

In these reality shows, I would show the viewers how awesome I could walk up a hill, or how fast I could ride my bike. I’d also have heated debates with myself about the proper way to name horses. It would have been a riveting show. It’s a bit of a tragedy that puberty forced me to cancel it.

Now that I am an adult, I miss the days of sitting around and pretending. I miss playing dress up. I miss the simple life I had when I was a child. I used to think that I wanted to move to the country so I could somehow revamp those simplier days; instead of imaginary livestock, I would have real livestock, instead of starring in a made up television show, I would live my own reality show and write about my real adventures.

It’s not true, you know. The country life is not the simple life. In fact, most of the people that used to be farmers moved away from the country because the city is so much simplier. Here, we can sit around and watch TV. We can sleep in. We can buy whatever groceries we need or want at the store. We can be lazy. You can’t really be lazy if you have livestock depending on you in order to survive. You can’t be lazy if you have a vegetable garden that is going to feed your family for a year that needs tending. The country life is not a simple life.

I know not to expect simple when we move to the country. I am however expecting it to be a happier, more fullfilling, joyful, and quieter life. My family has already started making the transition to a quieter lifestyle. We turned off the television. Have you ever realized how loud a television is? We’ve played a dozen games of Risk in the last week. My kids like to form secret alliances and gang up on my husband and I. It’s a blast. I take time to sit outside and enjoy my coffee in the mornings. We read books, and share the funny parts with each other. We limit our computer time. We have family Bible study on a regular basis.

We are trying to make memories each day, instead of moving so fast that the days rush into each other. Life is so short. We are all one day closer to no longer being here. We really need to remember what we are living for and what we want our legacy to be. I don’t need a simple life, nor do I want it. I do, however, want a life filled with joy and love and family. What do you want from this life?

Hot Summer

 

Dear People of the North,

Yes, 110F sucks. It’s hot. We understand. We are a little more prepared for heat, so we don’t mind it as much. We have cooling stations at local parks equiped with misters. We drink gallons of water each week. We buy sunscreen in bulk. Our roads and homes are built to withstand 100F+ degree temperatures. Our AC’s work fantastic because we would shrivel up without them.

We know that you aren’t used to the heat. Feel free to complain as much as you would like. Feel free to post the 10 day weather forecast and gather sympathy from your long distance buddies. We will commiserate with you.

In exchange, we ask one simple thing. Stop laughing at us when we whine about trace amounts of snow and ice. We might be used to the heat, but the cold is a different ball game down here. It shuts us down because we aren’t prepared for it. We don’t have snow tires or snow blowers.  In fact, the Texas Department of Transportation does not even keep snow plows in the Dallas area, because they are so rarely needed. So, let’s show each other a little more consideration when it comes to weather.

Stay cool up there. We are rooting for you.

The People of the South

Decluttering

The five of us live in a 1250 sq foot house. We’ve lived here since October of 1998. I am constantly decluttering, rearranging, and making our space work for us. It might seem small, but it’s worked well.

I don’t like clutter. I can’t stand the idea of having knick knacks everywhere. It took me awhile to get used to seeing a picture hung on the wall. I’m not sure if I have a decorating style, but I do know what I like. I like Simple. Rustic. Interesting. Quiet. Peaceful. Homey. Comfortable. That doesn’t mean boring.

I love color, texture, and shapes. I love the look of exposed brick, antique wood, and textured pillows. I love couches that you can sink in to and handmade quilts you can cuddle up under. I love the hanging light in our entry way that looks like a lantern from a ship. I can’t stand frilly window coverings and smelly candles give me a headache.

Not everyone shares my tastes though, so I have to depersonalize our house before we can sell it. I need to paint over all of the colors on my walls. I need to pack up the pictures of the kids. I need to copy and then paint over the measurements I’ve taken of the kid’s in the laundry room. I need to patch a few nail holes, and recaulk a few sinks.

I’m trying not to get overwhelmed with the amount of work I need to do. It really isn’t too much if I break it down into steps; but, if I don’t get started on it soon, I won’t give myself enough time to do it right. I’ve procrastinated long enough.

I think I’ll just take one room at a time and go through the house until I’m done. That should allow me to finish in time to put the house on the market in mid-September.

One room at a time won’t be that hard, right? I’m more worried about the budget than I am about the work. I’m trying hard to make our finances work for this move. I really want to be able to pay cash for our future acreage (*praying and crossing fingers*), so I’m going to have to really crunch numbers before I let myself dip into our savings account.

I think I will start with something simple – the closet in the entryway counts as a room, right??

Homemade Laundry Soap

I’ve been making my own powdered laundry detergent for a few years now. My husband is a mechanic, so his work clothes get GROSS. He comes home covered in transmission fluid, grease, sweat, and oil. With this detergent – I am able to wash his clothes right along with everything else, even my (non-wool) handknits, and my children’s clothes.

Start up ingredients needed:

Grater ($1 at most dollar stores) – Please don’t use your normal kitchen one unless you want to ruin it.

Fels-Naptha Laundry Bar Soap (Can be found in most laundry detergent isles. It costs about $1 per bar)

Ivory Bar Soap (Can be found with other bar soaps. Usually costs about $2.50 for 3)

Box of Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda (Can be found in most laundry detergent isles. About $3)

Box of Borax (Can be found in most laundry detergent isles. About $5)

You will only use a fraction of the Borax and Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda per batch. I very rarely need to replace these items, and I wash 2-3 loads of laundry a day. The bar soap I buy in bigger quantities to keep extras on hand, but you don’t need to do this to just try it out.

This recipe makes enough laundry soap to last us about 2 months. It takes me about 15 minutes from start to finish to make this soap and it costs me about $0.02 per load (less if I buy the items in bulk and/or with coupons).

–  –  Grate 2 bars of Ivory soap and 1 bar of Fels-Naptha Laundry Soap – this is a great arm exercise.

–  –  Measure out 3 cups of Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda

–  –  Measure out 1.5 cups of Borax

Mix everything together really well, and store in any container you’d like. (I use a tupperware container.)

Use just like regular laundry detergent, except only add 1 TBSP per load. (I add 2  TBSP for large or heavily soiled loads.)