August.

The dreaded summer months are upon us.  Thankfully the weather has been gracious so far, temps in the 90’s and actually this week they were much cooler…even had to wear a sweater a couple of times.  We’ve also experienced a few random monsoonal rain storms, 3 in the past 6 weeks or so.  That’s unheard of around here…so its been an interesting summer.  Next week the forecast says the temperatures will go back up and we will be seeing a few days in the triple digits.

I haven’t blogged for awhile because we have been very busy with the band, and also dealing with some financial set-backs.  Its always a challenge living in the country.  The critters are terrible right now.  I discovered that it was actually ground squirrels who were eating my geraniums, BUT the rabbits are getting up into the engines of our vehicles and chewing on wires…costing us hundreds of dollars in repairs.  I put the pressure on my husband to start cleaning out the garage so we can park the cars in there.  Its just too costly to leave them outside, and frustrating. In the past 6 weeks we have also lost two computers and we just don’t have the money to replace them right now.  Its just been bad timing as my husband is struggling in his job.  Things are really tight.

That being said, we sat down the other night and discussed serious business.  It is really time for my husband to break away from his company and start his own.  We love his employer, they have been REALLY good to us, but they are pushing him to sell higher end equipment, which of course is more expensive with a lower profit margin.  He literally spends months and months on a project only to be disappointed when the customer decides they can find a cheaper solution or they just plain don’t have the money.  What’s selling now are more localized wireless products, and my husband wants to focus on those brands…its where the money is, plain and simple.  Unfortunately he can’t just tell his employer that’s ALL he wants to sell, so he is putting together his own business model with a partner.  Since our new company would be based in California instead of being a national company…our insurance will be lower.  Also if we set it up as an S-Corp we can protect ourselves financially.  Its scary, but its also empowering.  Right now we feel so helpless and frustrated.  For now it is all in the planning stages.  Our partner is setting up the corporation and my husband is planting seeds and having conversations with some of his connections. Eventually he will talk to his employer about the possibility of becoming a contractor for them instead of any employee…keeping all the relationships intact, and perhaps being more cost effective for everyone down the road.

Not only would this be good for my husband, (and potentially our income)…but it would also be very good for me.  I have always wanted to run a family business.  I think I would be good at it, and it would force me to learn new things and build confidence (and maybe even a thicker skin).  Eventually I am hoping I can do that full time and quit my winery job.  I would run bookkeeping and marketing.  I am also thinking we would involve my son and teach him a trade.  Family business. win/win.

Staying at home would also allow me to spend more time on the property, and maybe even hire someone to help us out and keep things cleaned up.  Owning property is a HUGE responsibility.  Trees, weeds, erosion, irrigation, pests & wildlife…its an undertaking.  We did ok our first few years here because I was at home and my husband’s business was not so time consuming.  We could weed, mow, plant, repair, and garden…now we have time for none of that.  Its tough.

For now, we are just doing what we can.  Our winter forecast predicts a lot of rain due to el nino…we seriously need to prepare for that.  Our door frames are compromised due to termite damage, so when it rains, the water comes inside.  We need weather stripping in the garage too.  OH! Speaking of garage, my husband DID clean it out today and plans on organizing his tools next weekend. YAY!

Clean garage

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Thanks Rabbits. Thanks a lot.

Its been awhile since the rabbits have been so destructive…so I guess we were due.  Super irritating.  They have eaten my geraniums down to the stems, hopefully they won’t start digging them up and eating the roots, but a lot of times they do.  I used to have the geraniums protected by chicken wire, but they grew so big they became entangled, so I had to free them.  That was about 2 years ago.  They bounced back and were full and beautiful this Spring.  Now they look like this.

Rabbit damage

Right now I am going to pick my battles and not dote on the damage.  I can always replace them with Lavender or Spanish Sage in the Fall when it cools off.

As I was sitting here on the couch a little while ago, I noticed an expertly weaved nest hanging precariously underneath a leaf of our palm tree.  I pointed it out to my son, and he said there is one outside his window too.  I think the yellow headed finches are figuring out that our patio is not a safe place for them…(my boy dog has caught several in mid-flight).

Nest

So this is nature at our place.  The good and the bad.  That’s life, isn’t it?

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My Cup. My Plate.

Warning.  This post contains symbolism.

1st…my cup runneth over.  My heart is full.  I have been needing something to lift me up lately.  I’ve been working really hard and feeling defeated the past few years (especially this past year).  But today I am good.  I get it.  I have an abundance of love and hope.  Its encouraging.

2nd…One less thing on my plate. Now that my last child has graduated high school, I feel like a huge burden has been lifted. The burden is not my son of course, I just really invest deeply in how they do in school; and now that it is over, I feel 50 pounds lighter.

3rd.  I am turning a corner.  I don’t know what is around the corner.  I’m hoping its good.  I’m hoping its creative, effective, productive, and abundant.  I’m ready to grow. I’m ready to thrive. I’m ready to be proactive. I’m ready to produce.

OK, enough with the symbolic stuff.

Here are some pics of our lovely graduation day.  I am a happy mama.

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So, for the first time in a long time I really don’t know what to do with my life.  I’m just ready to enjoy it.  I’m looking forward to working on our house and being there for my family.  I am loving the feeling of not being pressured.  I’ve always pushed and pushed myself, and I think I’m just ready to enjoy my comfort zone for awhile.  God has given my a lot to work with, there’s no need to go looking for more. I’m gonna work with what I’ve got.

How about them apples?  Oooops, is that #4?

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Making Up for Lost Time.

As promised, I have been a busy busy bee.  Yesterday was an all day cleaning house event.  I never did get around to organizing my closet, but I accomplished quite a bit.  The kitchen is very clean  now, and the carpet is vacuumed.  I did a cursory cleaning of each bathroom, but will work on them a little bit more this afternoon. Next week I will be able to do a deeper cleaning and touch up work before I host my son’s graduation party.

Right now I am resting.  I am dirty.  I’ve been working in the yard again.  This time I attacked the side yard on the OTHER side of the house.  This is where our carport is.  When we moved here 5 years ago, I built a little planter long side the cement slab and planted ornamental garlics. They used to be full and lush and beautiful, but a month ago they started dying. That’s when we realized the irrigation is broken on this side of the house.  However, the rains over the past few weeks have brought them back to life, and I am watering them by hand until my husband can fix the problem.  As you can see from this picture, they still look scraggly, and there are knee high weeds growing behind the planter in the side yard.

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I bought more red mulch last week befor the flu hit me. 5 bags for $10…I love holiday weekend sales at Lowes!  Not sure why red mulch makes me so happy.  Its an easy fix I guess. Anyway, I cleared away the dead growth from the bottom of the garlic plants, spread the mulch, then I got out my trusty flat head shovel and started scraping away the weeds.  I kept saying to myself…this is my happy place.  Its true.  I love fixing and building things.  Creating.  Cleaning out the garbage and replacing it with something fresh and clean.

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I mean, c’mon.  So…much…better…

Its also good exercise, I get some sun on my skin, and it keeps my mind active.

There is still so much to do, but I feel good about my progress this week. I’m such a happy camper.

NEXT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Very Behind.

I have not posted for a long time.  I’m very behind in my duties at home.  Last week I got sick AGAIN, this time stomach flu.  It took me all the way down.  Unable to function, or even EAT for 3 days.  It was miserable.  So, you guessed it…my house is a disaster.

Since I had cooked up several freezer meals the week before, my family was able to eat while I lay debilitated in my bed.  I laugh that it almost seems like there was a psychic part of myself that knew I was going to get sick.  I’ve never cooked freezer meals before.  Interesting.

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Anyway, the house is a pig sty. I can’t stand it, and to tell you the truth, I don’t know where to start.  So I sit here blogging and reading emails while I sip my coffee.

Yesterday was my big grocery run.  I am amazed at how much I can buy now for $250, but I have to shop 4 or 5 different stores to get all the deals.  Its an all day adventure.  My son loves to go with me, its like our bonding day.  Priceless.  I am so honored to have this relationship with him.  He started back up with his pet-sitting business, he met with his first client yesterday.  I watched him from the car talking with the pet-owners…again, priceless.  I’m so proud of him.  We will have to sit down and come up with some marketing ideas.  Business cards, Facebook…

Dante Dog 4

My younger son is graduating next weekend.  I just can’t believe it.  Its so exciting.  He is such a precious soul, he’s like a sage.  Wise beyond his years, yet naive and unaware of the potential he possesses. It floors me.

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I want the world for these boys, and yet I feel like I have so very little to offer.  The world is changing so fast, and I have no idea how to guide them.  I try to just teach common sense, work ethic and kindness. In the end, I think that’s all that really matters.

OK…today’s agenda:

Clean kitchen including mopping floor

Clean bathrooms

Organize my desk and files

Vacuum entire house, including under couch, corners, etc…

Laundry

Organize closet

oooohhhh, crap.  That’s a lot of stuff.  Haha

Better get rolling.

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Under the weather.

It rained a little last week.  It was cold too…a typical Spring in Winchester. Triple digits one week and freezing cold the next. Perfect breeding ground for germs.  As the rain approached, I felt a sore throat coming on.  The next day it was excruciating.  By day three I wanted to rip my face off…an awful combination of itching, pain, and heat radiating my noggin.  I left work early on Sunday and drove to the drug store on my way home and bought sudafed behind the pharmacy counter.  They always look at you like you are a drug dealer when you buy the stuff, but hell…it works.

Now it’s Tuesday.  I’m still rough, but feeling better.  Gonna stay home…clean house and cook all day.  My little slice of heaven.  I could also put together a new meal plan for June.  I saw a great blog post from a lady who bought aluminum trays at the dollar store and spent a whole day cooking meals to freeze.  This appeals to me greatly, because sometimes I am unable to cook…and it would be nice to have something in the freezer that my family could just pop in the oven.

Fingers crossed my husband gets his full commission at the end of the month and I can do a huge monthly grocery trip.  This will include Costco, Winco, Stater Bros., and Sprouts.  I will also swing by a few dollar stores and look for the aluminum trays.  Here is an idea of meals I could freeze for my family:

Chicken Stir fry

Zitis, Sausage and Marinara

Sausage & Peppers

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Grandma’s Bean & Rice Soup

Taco/Nacho Fixings

I dunno…my brain is still a little fuzzy so I’m not coming up with very many ideas at the moment.  haha.

The doggies are enjoying their new dog run.  They go out there at least once a day and romp like puppies, its adorable.  I’m very happy that I was able to get that done last week.

More rain is coming in day after tomorrow, I’m looking forward to it.

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Wascawy Wabbits.

One of the highlights of living at Long Ranch is that our acreage is peppered with cute, adorable, soft & cuddly cotton tail rabbits.

I am, of course, being facetious…I hate the little bastards.

Last night my TV satellite box would not work…I knew exactly why.

Last week, after cleaning up the wood pile, my son and I zip-tied the satellite cable so it would not lay on the ground. Critters LOVE to chew wires…so I thought I was being SO brilliant by tying them up.  Well, I guess that pissed off the rabbits, because they found a way to yank the cable out from under the house and chew straight through it.

Mother F-rs.

wires

Soooo, today the Direct TV guy will come out and repair it, then he will be sure to give me a lecture about the rodent damage.  They just love to do that.

I have found that I can keep the rodents out of my car engine by using twist ties to attach dryer sheets to all the exposed wires.  I guess I will try that with my satellite cable too.  Its just so ridiculous.

We absolutely love living out here, but I’ll be honest, the “Little House on the Prairie” lifestyle can really take its toll at times. We are constantly re-evaluating our decision to stay here, but the question remains…where else would we go?

On to another subject. Raised garden beds. GO.

I have never EVER been good at gardening, but every few years I get an itch to try again.  If I don’t kill it, then bugs or critters do.  It is not worth the effort.  My last tomato plant I actually picked ONE cherry tomato off of it before it croaked.  I babied that thing for months, went out everyday and plucked the caterpillars off of it, kept it watered…nope. It died.  One time my sister moved and gave me about 10 cucumber and peppers plants, I killed them all within a week.  Another time I built a round garden and filled it with soil and fertilizer.  I planted radishes, strawberries, corn, squash and tomatoes.  I did end up getting quite a few radishes, but I let the squash get too big so they were very woody and tasteless.  When the tomatoes got big they all got black spots on them and turned rotten before they were ripe. That’s about when the raccoons found my garden, tore down the fencing, and ate everything that was left. ANOTHER TIME, I had an amazing avocado tree, but the raccoons found that too and not only did they eat all the avocados, but they tore the tree apart…quite literally they got so fat and climbed so high into the tree that it broke in half.

So whyyyyyy do I want to build a garden?  I guess because its something I have never been able to do and it tasks me.

The spot where I want to place the garden is beside the house where I built the dog run.  I have an old plastic picnic table where I could set a raised garden bed on top of.  This would keep the bed off the ground and the dog run fencing would at least keep the rabbits away.  I feel fairly certain raccoons would still find it, however.  The other problem is that in the summer the heat is atrocious.  There is no place that is even REMOTELY shaded (other than my front patio) during the day…the sun beats down, and by 2pm it is brutal until sunset. So I would have to come up with some kind of shading that wouldn’t blow away when the wind kicks up.

Why.  WHY?  WHYYY is this so important to me?

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MacGyver Who?

Beating my chest this morning.  Yesterday, I was able to not only extend the dog run, but I only spent $40 and it looks SO MUCH BETTER and is much more secure than the old dog run.  Last year, in a huff, (my husband and I were having a spat about the dogs) I ran out and spent $200 on this TERRIBLE dog fencing at Petco. (see below) It came folded up in sections so you could set it up either oblong, or in a circle. It seemed like a clever design, but it was really wobbly and hard to work with.  Since I have mad MacGyver skills, I was able to make something out of it.  THIS YEAR, I went to Lowes and only spent $40 on a roll of deer fencing.  It is very sturdy and much easier to work with.

Anyway, it only took me about an hour or two and the doggies were exploring their new digs. Check out the before and after.

Dog run after 1

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I also love how the deer fencing is so light…its almost invisible.

Still wondering what to do with the picnic table.  I am wanting to garden a bit and thinking it might be cool to put a roll of fake grass underneath the table so the doggies can lay in the shade, and then put some potted plants on top of the table.  Unfortunately, this side of the house gets full sun most of the day in the summer, and any plants I have put out there have burned up in the sun…so I will have to figure out how to get more shade over there. An umbrella might be cool.

OK, now my wheels are turning again…YOU GOTTA LOVE IT!

Its another wonderful Wednesday.  Gotta get the kids out of bed and start my day.

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Juices.

This morning I stepped out to check my rat zapper, which happens to sit at the end of my dog run. (out of dogs’ reach of course), and I took a moment to look out at the side yard where the kids and I have been working the past two weeks, cleaning up the weeds and wood pile.  I have to say, it looks GOOD.

A vision popped into my head to extend the dog run even further, now that the area is cleaned up and smoothed out.  Its been 11 months since I built this small dog run, and it has really aided us in keeping the dogs penned in close to the house.  However, it is REALLY SMALL, and I feel badly that they really don’t have much room to sniff around and explore.

Dog run after 1

Not that I have the time/energy/money to build a large dog run, but it would be nice to give them a little more play area. So…I’m going to make this my goal for the week.  I’m not sure how I am going to do it, as I really don’t have the financial resources to put toward it, but here’s the thing about me.  I’m scrappy, and I bet I’ll figure it out.  My husband MIGHT have some extra deer fencing, and I know we have a ton of big concrete rocks (as seen in this photo) down at the bottom of the property.  I’m gonna see what I can do.

Pics to follow!

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Windy Warm Wednesday.

I love the first few days of the week.  I’m home, I’m with my kids and dogs, I can work on my house.  It’s awesome.

Today we had a pow wow, time for the boys to take on more responsibilities and help out around the house.  Too much sitting in their room, too much computer…not enough activity in their lives.  I told my youngest that the day he went out bowling with his friends was the happiest I had seen him in years.  He came home beaming, he had fun…we was (gasp) SOCIALIZING!  So, its time to start implementing more activities in their lives and learn how to be functioning members of society.

I proposed a business plan.  Something the 3 of us could do together to bring more money into the household and to teach them how to build a business.  Its something we could work on slowly and in our spare time. (Not that I have any spare time, but THEY do). Julian has to concentrate on graduating high school, and Dante is looking for work…but looking forward, I think having a family business is a great idea.

After our meeting we got to work.  Julian took the dogs for a walk and did a little art project for me. (More on that later) Dante and I worked on the yard, did a few repairs and then he made us all lunch.

Cooperation rocks.

Two weeks ago, I posted my intention of working on the wood pile beside the house.  Little by little Dante chipped away at it and today I went out and finished it off.  The side yard looks great now. Ironically, since the wood pile has been dismantled I have not caught any rats or mice in my zapper…aaahhhhhhh!!!!!!

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This morning a can of 7-up mysteriously fell out of its box in the pantry and exploded. Upon cleaning up the mess, that’s when I realized my kitchen is in need of some serious revamping.  So I got a wild hair to organize my pantry and another cabinet. I was excited to find some items that had been stashed away for years that I could repurpose and reuse for storage and decor.

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OK, this one’s pretty embarrassing…even my cat is saying, REALLY? WHO LIVES LIKE THIS?

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Here are a few ways I repurposed items I rescued from the cabinet of doom…

Dish drainer:

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Placemats and dishes displayed on the kitchen table:

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Tall cylindrical vases now used to store pasta and rice, looks cute in my kitchen!

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I cut out a few cardboard discs and asked Julian to doodle a picture on each one (that was his art project for today).  These fit right inside the cylinders to protect the pasta from dust, bugs, etc…(it would be cool to find some cork eventually)

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Here’s a photo of our lunch too.  Pita flat bread pizzas. Easy peasy and SO YUMMY!

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I still have a few more projects I’d like to tackle today, but it feels good to sit and enjoy my couch for awhile.  And it REALLY felt good to spend some time with my kids and get some work done around the house.  My wheels are turning…what can we do NEXT WEEK?

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