Monday, October 31, 2011

BLOG Parking Only

I saw this at at Rancho Park and Rec building in Simi and though it was hysterical.  I had no clue the meaning of it but had to take a picture.

What is BLOG Parking?

I asked my sister and she didn't know but really wasn't interested.  I knew it had to mean something else but could not fathom what it meant.

 Just then an elderly gentleman walked by.  He had salt and pepper hair, was in his late 60's (guessing) and had a navy blue coveralls outfit on with the park district name on a stitched on white rectangle.  I stopped him and asked him what BLOG Parking meant and he just chuckled and shook his head and pointed to the building in front of him

It really is BLDG Parking, not BLOG, Parking.  He said it meant Building Parking, as in parking for people going into that building only.

Ah.. the laugh of the day for me!

Lizard In Garbage Disposal

I have seen tiny lizards all around the yard the last few months.  Smaller than I have every seen a lizard before.  Most are blue-bellied alligator lizards.  I don't know if the large population of them has to do with an increase of insects, mild summer or something else, but I see more each week then I usually do in a whole year.

One day, a few weeks ago, I was taking out the trash and saw a tiny one and decided to catch it.  I brought it inside to show the kids and take a picture of, since I was amazed at how cute and small it was.
So, as I am taking these pictures, one handed, I decided to move over the sink, so that if it falls, it will be a shorter fall and it won't fall all the way to the ground.

Well, it doesn't fall, it jumps.  Instead of landing in the sink it falls straight down the hole into the garbage disposal.

I can't think of any way, at all to get it out.  Daeton comes to help me and shines a flash light down the hole and verifies that he sees it.  I'm afraid if either of us reach and try to grab it, we either would squeeze too hard or not be able to pull our fist out.

On top of all of this, we have to leave the house.

I put a butter knife in the sink, diagonally, so it could have a 'ladder' to climb out and we leave.

We get home from football practice a few hours later and I don't see the lizard (I don't bring this fact up to the kids so that they aren't reminded).

I don't know if it is still down there or got out and is anywhere in the house (not safe with the kittens around).

I don't use the sink at all and we go to bed.

The next morning I am doing something in the kitchen and go to wash my hands in the sink and on the OTHER side of the sink (it has two basins) I see the lizard in a saucer.   Alive.

WHOOO HOOOO!  I grab it, take it outside to one of the planters, and release it!

Thank you, God!  I was really worried that the lizard was going to be stuck there until it died from the elements or lack of food.

Vegetables Growing In The Yard

I have some plants that I planted a few months ago that are doing very well.  I planted some vegetables this year that I knew the kids would eat and enjoy.  I have had tomatoes growing in the past and they are easy to take care of, little maintenance and grow fast but the kids only like tomatoes if they are in spaghetti sauce, ketchup or mild salsa, so the idea of me planting a large bounty of tomatoes isn't going to be fruitful for them.

This planter has (right to left) birdhouse gourds (I thought it would be neat to grow, dry out and do some art with them), crocked-neck squash, sweet peas, artichoke (this will be huge when full-grown), and another squash-family plant but I can't remember what it is. I think it is pumpkins or watermelon.  We have flowers on it but no vegetable at all.  On the very left, not really showing, is night-blooming jasmine (it has been in the planter a few years).
 I wanted to 'fill' the planter with plants so that it was all green and pretty and have little dirt showing.  Once the cold weather hits most of them will die but the artichoke should be fine.
 This sink is a project I've wanted to do for a while but been slacking at.  I want to get 3-4 bricks and put them around the bottom of the sink.  This will make it surdy yet have it where the hole in the middle will drain out.  Right now, just setting it down on the ground, I think the water will back up from the dirt below the planter, and the plant or dirt will get soggy.  So, after I get the bricks, I will fill it with dirt and put something in it.  I think flowers would be pretty but I also heard that this is a great way to plant potatoes so that they are easily harvested.

Small Area Gardening

I have a relatively decent sized yard but not much in terms of planting vegetables.  I have a few long strip-planters that are really meant for flowers.  I love flowers but I'm trying to grow more vegetables and have the kids eat healthier (so we can actually eat what we grow).  I've also had gardening on the 'chore list' when Daeton has had negative behavior.  Not that he really minds gardening, but I think it is also good for both of them.

Last week I sent Kaela outside and she cut 5-6 small crooked-neck squash (some people call it yellow squash) off of the plant and we ate them 1/2 hour later in our dinner.  They tasted great and the kids got a kick out of eating something that had just been growing.  We have done this with our fruit trees before and have grown tomato plants often but this squash was a first-time for cooked veggies.

This planter that Daeton is planting seeds in is in the front yard and is a raised one.  It was built a few years ago when our next-door-neighbor tried to build the wall we share higher and the city said front walls are only allowed to be 6 feet high.  He said the only way that it can be allowed is if something like this was put in, since the 6 feet is technically 6 feet from the ground, so this planter makes the ground higher.  :-)  Either way, it was a free planter for me since the height of the wall didn't bother me but the neighbor did it without asking or talking to me about it and when I wasn't home.
 This next one is in the backyard, on the side of the house.  It is HARD compact dirt that needs to be dug up and turned over.  Daeton went here on his own and planted seeds. I have only a little bit of an idea of what he planted.  So, when plants grow I am going to have to guess... bulbs?  Broccoli?  Cauliflower?  Onions?  Lettuce?  Flowers?  ... he had a plastic grocery bag of seed packages and I'm not sure which ones got opened!  I guess I can call it my 'surprise garden.'

Creative Crafty Halloween Fun

I have been trying to get a bit crafty and creative to have some 'pre-Halloween' fun.  Meaning the week or month before Halloween and not just the one night of trick-or-treating.

Last week the kids and I carved mini-pumpkins.  I got the idea from a picture on Facebook a friend posted.  Her picture looked great.  It looks like it was from an online magazine or other website since it was a professional picture with great lighting and invisible background.  The pumpkins we carved were a far cry from what I saw on her picture, but the kids were happy with them so I will let it be.

They were simple to make and we had fun doing it.  We carved a rectangle in the pumpkin.  Inserted 'Dracula fangs' and used round thumb tacks for eyes.  Daeton also carved a scar on the side of his.  I had bought a pack of the fangs for the goodie-bags for Daeton's birthday (24 fangs for $1) and had some left over so the only cost of this project was the pumpkins that were $2 each at the store.

So, we did those last week but I had to throw them away because they were getting too moldy.  So, today our friend, Staci, dropped by with 2 of her 3 kids and we all hung out for the day.

I was on Facebook when she dropped by and showed her a cool recipe that I saw someone else post.  
 Meal IN A Pumpkin  I was telling Staci that I could not visualize the end results by reading the recipe (I'm starting to be able to do that the more and more I cook).  She thought it would be a soup but I wasn't sure with so much meat and rice.  We decided to make it.  Staci said she LOVES pumpkin and squash foods and loved this time of year for the pumpkin pie.  

Long story- and three stores later (we got Halloween costumes for two of them too) we had all the ingredients.  I started browning the meat while Staci took three of the kids and ran to find pumpkins that we couldn't find.  She ended up going to two stores to get them.

By the time she was back, the seasoned meat/rice mixture was ready to go in the pumpkins.  I cut the top off, as if I was carving a pumpkin, scooped the guts and seeds out and then we scooped the meat/rice mixture inside.  She couldn't find a big enough pumpkin ( I told her we needed one to old over 50 ozs of liquid plus the meat and rice) so we used two pumpkins.

While we were doing this the kids carved their pumpkins that Staci also bought at the store.

 Our meat mixture on the stove before the extra liquid was added.
 Staci scooping it into the pumpkins.
 In the middle of all this we had to run out again.  We were expected at my dad's for dinner at 6pm.  Staci and her kids came.  This pic was the sunset outside of his house. I love the sunsets from his house.  He is up, on the top of a hill and they are always amazing.
 Pumpkins are 'stuffed' and ready to go in the oven.  Recipe said 1 hour.
 I couldn't fit two cookie sheets inside my oven so I had to fit both on one sheet. It was HEAVY to lift in/out of the oven.
 This is one of the other pumpkins.  A kid-carved one, while we were prepping the others for the oven.
 JJ and his pumpkin.  'His finger is stuck inside its eye.'  (((What a ham))).
 I pulled them out to check them.  The top of them were done but at the bottom, on the inside, the pumpkin was only warm and not hot.  The pumpkin was suppose to be so soft on the inside that it could be scooped out and eaten, with the mix.  This was after checking 2 other times.  In the end it got late, they had to go home and I had to put them back in the oven.  I cooked them 2 1/2 hours to get them where I think they should be, with the whole pumpkin being squishy and not stringy on the inside.
It wasn't done until after my kids were already asleep.  Staci is dropping by tomorrow, with her kids, so we all can have this for dinner before trick-or-treating in our neighborhood.

Monday, October 17, 2011

eBay Sales, Garage Sale Finds And Things That Don't Sell

It has been WAY too long since I have had a lot of auctions on eBay.  With my son having football games every Saturday it is hard to go garage sale-ing.  I am trying to clean, declutter and purge in the garage.  Everything is either in a 'next garage sale to get rid of' pile or on one counter-top, the 'list on eBay' pile.  The second pile takes up 1/2 of my counter-top.  The first pile is a lot more.  I have boxes in my garage on the floor, on the other counter-top and my shed almost completely full of garage sale stuff.

I am planning on having my next garage sale on December  24th or 31st.  I have had this two years now the first Saturday after Christmas and the garage sale was a HUGE success. This year, since the first Saturday after Christmas is New Years I might do it the day before Christmas instead.

The last two times I did this (I skipped last year since I didn't have anything to sell) I had four friends helping me for the first few hours of the day.  It was THAT busy. There were cars up and down the street and over 20 people in my yard at one time.  It was an absolute madhouse!  Why?  Because no one else is crazy enough to have a garage sale on that day.  So, regular garage salers, people with nothing to do and saw it in the paper, and people that saw the signs ALL came to my garage sale since no one else, anywhere around, was having a garage sale.  I had customers come from over 30 miles away in both directions.

So, where do I get my stuff and what do I do with it?

First I get things and I try to sell them on eBay if they are a decent size to ship and on Craig's List or Cheapcycle (a knock-off groups of Freecycle that is just starting up) if the items are large and too big or heavy to ship.

I get these items from garage sales (I mostly go to nicer cities that have richer residence) or moving sales, since it is a 'everything must go' attitude at them or church rummage sales (since people don't have their own nostalgic feelings on items they are selling so they usually have lower prices. I also sometimes find things at estate sales or thrift stores.

There is two good times to go to a garage sale.  The very beginning of the day, when you find the goldmine items before anyone else, but are paying close to their asking price.  If you go at the end of the day, especially on a hot day, they are DONE, don't care, just want to sell everything and not pack it up again.  They will give you super cheap prices at this time.

Once I have things I search them on 'completed auctions' on eBay to verify they are worth selling and the approximate cost that the item is going for, sold.  Sometimes things look like they'd be a great sell but are worth nothing.  These items, as well as the items I tried to sell but didn't, all go into my garage sale pile or to the thrift store as a donation.

The items worth selling get photographed and then listed on eBay.  Right now here is my current auctions: Debbzs eBay Auctions

I pay $2.50 a month to Auctiva, an outside listing company, for some extra perks in my listings.

I try to only list items that I think will sell for the minimum of $25.00 for it to be worth my time and so that I can make the most of my sales.

With any sale the cost of the listing, how much eBay collects and how much I have to pay to Paypal makes it where anything smaller in sales isn't worth it.

Something like this, a doggie door that fits into a sliding glass door, I will try to sell on Craig's List & Cheapcycle first, since it will be expensive to ship.  However, this particular one, is brand new and already boxed to ship.  A friend bought it online two years ago and never used it.  So it is ready to ship.  So, I will try to sell on Craig's list to save the money on postage and eBay fees, but if I can't sell it, I'll post it on eBay.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Embroidery 101?

I have not done any embroidery since, well, about Jr High. No, I'm not kidding.  I remember having a 'Home Economics' class where 1/2 of the class was cooking and 1/2 of the class was learning different ways to sew, embroider, knit, crochet, etc.  That was about 27 years ago!

Can you guess how much I still remember, or for that matter, use?


My friend, Kim, taught me how to knit (again) about 5 years ago and I can make a scraggly looking scarf. But we never got further than that, and she moved to Ridgecrest so the lessons sorta ended.  I keep telling myself that I should start again, but I tried about 2 months ago and I couldn't figure out how to cast-on.  I need to see if I can find it on You-Tube!

I also remember, back in Jr High, making small embroidery squares that we would put cotton under, glue to a lid of a Mason jar and then put the ring on top of it to keep it on.  I gave one to my Grandma D. (as we called her) when she  was still alive with something like candy inside.  I can't remember what happen to the other ones.

So, I saw this website, Clover And Violet, on my friend, Janine's blog, and was fascinated with how EASY it looked and some was vaguely familiar.

Should I go buy the supplies and try to relearn?  Do I have time?  Ugh! I'm not sure. But I would love to be craft again.  These would be great for Christmas too AND I can teach the kids to do them.  Hmmmm...  I'll have to see if I can find some easy patterns and teach myself and then them how to do them!


Here is sorta what the ones I remember in Jr High looking like, but we put cotton balls under the fabric to make them soft and rounded.   Embroidered Jar Lids  I did a search on the internet and most were flat.  The puffy ones had pre-cut round cotton to put under.  I guess what ever is easier will work.