Monday, January 29, 2007

For one of his school assignments this week, Tom had to take a picture of his shoes with his digital camera and then use the picture in a software program to draw them.

Blog owner here - I don't mind this picture being passed around the world, but could somebody please clue me in as to WHY it is so popular? Please refer to my latest post on the home page of my blog for a full explanation. I am extremely curious as to why my son's drawing is making the rounds all over the world. I would greatly appreciate anyone who can tell me how it's being used and why! I'm not looking for royalties and I'm not angry that it's being used all over - I just want to know why. Please someone - clue this clueless blogger in!

Here is Tom's drawing of his shoes. He hasn't finished the shading on them yet, but this is the neatest drawing! (You can double click on the picture to enlarge it).

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Last week's first snow of the season. Note one of Tom's friends peering in the window.
Andy took our toboggan-riding cat outside for the first toboggan ride of the season. He actually stays in it and rides, as long as you don't push it too hard - then he bails out and runs across the yard!
The one on the left is from the farm; the one on the right is from the local convenience store. You can't clearly see the label on the farm milk, but it says "Raw Pet Milk (for cats and dogs)". Meow, and woof.
We got our first farm order on Thursday. I was pleasantly surprised that there really wasn't that much of a difference in the taste or texture of raw milk compared to what we buy at the store. I was a little afraid that no one would want to try it, but all of us are drinking it, even Jerry - he's like Mikey from the Life cereal commercial. He hates everything. I did a lot of reading about it before I made the decision to buy it that way. Here is one article, but there is a lot more information out there. I also ordered a quart of cream. I didn't know what to expect, but I didn't realize it would be so thick! Today I used my whisk on my mixer (yes, my new toy) and mixed half cream and half milk to make my own half and half for coffee. Tom had some in his coffee and was surprised that it actually tasted like half and half from the store. I'm not sure what he expected - that's generally what "half and half" means, isn't it?! I am anxious to see if changing our dairy products will have an effect on Tom's stomach troubles. He was born with reflux troubles and seems to have had stomach or digestion problems all his life. He has been on Prilosec and Ranitadine because sometimes the acid and reflux just got overwhelming for him. Milk gave him a problem if he had it on an empty stomach. His taking Advil for headaches certainly didn't help his stomach, but this was another one of those times he didn't think mom knew what she was talking about. At least one report every day that I type has to do with someone who uses a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory for headaches or pains and has stomach trouble. Anyway, I started doing some research into it and started thinking that maybe between his avoiding dairy and taking acid-reducing medications, there wasn't enough good bacteria in his gut to help him digest things. I had him eat yogurt that had live cultures and I bought lactic acidophilus tablets for him to take. It's entirely possible that the problem resolved on its own, but now he rarely needs any antacid - not even an occasional Tums, so I wonder if it is due to the "good bad guys" in his system now. We shall see, I guess. Tom said that Sam's family asked him how his pinkeye cleared up and he told them about my chamomile tea eye wash. Then he told me, "but I didn't tell them that my mom was a witch doctor!". He is always making fun of my home cures, but guess who he goes to first when he's feelin' poorly?!

As if I don't torture Tom enough with "Mom's home remedies", we played a good joke on him a couple of weeks ago. Jerry and I went to BJs which is a warehouse store, and they had lots of Christmas clearance items. Standing all alone and looking lonely were two of those yard display metal deer with lights whose heads move back and forth. I kind of liked those deer, but all I saw were the two on the shelf on display. Just then a worker came by with a flat cart to start clearing things out of the Christmas aisle. I asked him if there were any more deer anywhere and he said no, that the only ones left were these two display deer. He also said that those two had been their display for a couple of years now and didn't work so well, so his manager had told him to throw them out. I looked closely at them and didn't see what would be so hard about figuring out what was wrong with them. I asked him why he couldn't just "throw them away" in the back of my truck! He said he couldn't do that but would ask his manager about a discount. While he was off doing that, I summoned Jerry over from another aisle and asked him to look over the deer to see if they were worth having. He didn't see any problem with fixing them up, and so when the employee came back, he and Jerry began haggling. Finally they agreed on $8.00 for both of them - $4.00 apiece. Free would have been better, but we could live with $8.00. As we were on our way home with our bounty, Tom called from Sam's house. I told him about the deer and he was not as thrilled as I was, to put it mildly. He said that he hated those things, that there's just something eerie about them silently moving their heads back and forth in the dark. He called them demon deer. I didn't realize he had such a thing against metal deer! Anyway, we got home before he did. Jerry unloaded the deer and then positioned one in front of each of Tom's bedroom windows, as if they were looking in at him. When he came home and saw them he chuckled, but not as hard as we did! You can see one still in front of the window in my snow picture. Tom says that one of these days they are just going to "mysteriously" disappear!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Snow! And Stuff.

I was so glad to finally see snow this winter. It really hasn't felt like winter at all. Well, except for the cold or flu or whatever it was that made the rounds here. Tom was the first to get it and missed all last week of college because the pinkeye basically blinded him. He kept in touch with his teachers and they gave him his assignments so he wasn't behind in his work. Now hopefully I'm nearing the end of it myself, although last night I was up coughing most of the night. Andy has it a little but mostly just feels really tired and icky. When you have a cold/flu, icky most definitely is a word. Thankfully I only got a touch of the pinkeye and it cleared within a day or so, and Andy never got that at all. I had Tom wash his eyes with chamomile tea using an eye cup and it cleared quickly and his eyes felt much better. It probably would have cleared sooner but he wouldn't listen to me - he couldn't get past putting tea in his eyes! I knew that antibiotic drops wouldn't help because it was viral and not bacterial. Finally he was desperate and said that he'd try anything and lo and behold, in 24 hours it was gone. Sometimes ol' mom knows what she's doing. Not often, but sometimes!

The quest for a grain mill has been put on hold at least for a little while. Tom just started a new quarter in school and was just told what books he would need, so my eBay funds will be going to pay for those first, before the grain mill. For the most part things have been going smoothly selling, but I have had a couple of unfortunate experiences this time around. They both involved people who had never used eBay before and didn't know how to use it. There is plenty of help and information on the site to show you what to do and how to do it, but evidently these people weren't into reading instructions. Nor were they into reading my full listings where it says that PayPal is the only form of payment that I accept. One man had clicked on the "Buy It Now" button for one of my books and thought he was at a regular store. He actually called me on the phone (that was kind of creepy) and told me that my "store" wasn't working because there was nowhere to put his credit card information. *Sigh* I told him that he needed to register with PayPal but he didn't understand what I was trying to explain to him. Then I didn't hear from him for several days, so I emailed and told him that if I didn't hear from him by noon the next day, I would have no choice but to relist the book. Well, the book is relisted and currently has two bids on it. Now I am waiting to hear from the person who won the Wii game. The auction ended Saturday. Ebay automatically sends an invoice at auction end but when I didn't hear from the winner by Sunday night, I also sent a copy of the invoice and asked them to acknowlege that they had won the auction. First thing Monday morning I received an email stating, (and I am typing this exactly as it was written), "hey this program won't take my card or something how can i pay you is there another way? *sigh* *again*. I wrote back and asked what "card" he was referring to, and reiterated that I only accept PayPal. I didn't hear back from him, so last night I wrote and told him that since I saw that he was new to eBay (he just registered the day he won my auction), that maybe he wasn't familiar with the workings of it, so I told him that I would take a money order this time, provided that I received it by Saturday, and I gave him a few pointers on being a good eBayer, for the future. I asked him to write back as soon as possible and tell me how he wanted to handle paying for this game. Well, as of now I haven't heard from him. I am going to write to him one last time and let him know that if I don't hear from him by noon tomorrow that I am offering the game to the next highest bidder or relisting it. I realize that I risk negative feedback this way, but SHEESH! This just gets exasperating!

I have been sneak-reading "Nourishing Traditions". Yes, I know that The Giant Killer is next on my list but the book arrived and I couldn't help sneaking a peek. I highly recommend this book to everyone. It is definitely an eye-opener about food that is supposed to be good for you. Ever wonder why if everyone is eating low fat and low cholesterol that we have the highest rate of heart disease ever? This book will really make you think. After reading the section on dairy, I decided that I definitely wanted to find a source of raw milk for us (as in fresh-from-the-cow). I had been looking for the past couple of years anyway because I wanted to try making cheese, but I couldn't find any (and we just don't have room for a milk cow out back!). It turns out that there are laws that make it illegal for farmers to sell their cow's milk without it being "factory-ized" first. That's pasteurized and homogenized. I read in one of my Countryside magazines how people were circumventing this by buying "cow shares", wherein they buy a share of a farmer's cow; the farmer houses the cow and feeds it with the money you provided, then once a week or so you go and pick up "your" cow's milk products. Technically the law states that if you own the cow, you can drink it's milk; hence the cow sharing. Well, turns out that cow sharing is illegal in Maryland. Gotta love this place. Anyway, to make a long story short (kind of late now, I know), I found a co-op where I can order stuff weekly directly from an Amish farm in Pennsylvania and I pick up my goods every Thursday evening. Well, actually Tom is picking them up on his way home from college because it's right on his way. Our first order will be in this Thursday and I'm anxious to see REAL milk! I also ordered some REAL eggs and REAL ham steaks. Well, the meat we're kind of used to because for the past two years we have bought our own cow and pig for slaughter, but we've never had REAL DAIRY before! In order to protect the farmer though, all of our items have to be marked Pet Food. Oh, well. I've been called worse!

Friday, January 19, 2007

Arrrrrgh. Haven't posted in a few days because Flu Bug and Pink Eye showed up uninvited at my house a few days ago and haven't left yet. Jerry is in Delaware this week and missing all the fun. I'd write more, but my arms are too weak to hold up to the keyboard. Like I said, Arrrrrgh.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

I haven't posted recently because I've been busy playing with my new toy. I unexpectedly got a Kitchenaid mixer and have been making all kinds of stuff with it. I say that it was unexpected because Jerry and I had talked about getting one for Christmas but we both agreed it was too expensive right now and we would wait, but then Kitchen Collection had the kind that I wanted for $100.00 off, plus a $30.00 mail-in rebate on top of that, so we talked ourselves into believing that we really shouldn't pass this up! It's amazing what your mind can talk you into. Actually, it's kind of funny because over the past several days as I was getting back into tightwad gear, I had intended to write a sidebar item about my tightwaddery, but I never got around to that and instead played with something new that I (*gasp*) bought!

This mixer is a beast. I had no idea from looking at the pictures how large it really was. We got the Professional 600 because it was the biggest that they make and can handle bread dough. I have been researching these for over a year now and had been debating between a Bosch and a Kitchenaid, but finally the sale on the Kitchenaid made my decision for me. This thing is so big that sitting on my counter, there is only one inch between the top of the mixer and the underside of the cabinets over the counter. The flat beater that is shown in the picture is bigger than Jerry's hand. I had a recipe in my Mennonite cookbook that made four loaves of bread (something I never would have attempted with my old mixer), so I tried that. We set the timer, and using the dough hook the dough for four loaves of bread was done in four minutes. That's it. When I get around to writing about my tightwaddery, I'll explain about the breadmaking. Now I want to buy the grain mill attachment for it, so I've listed some things on eBay for my fundraising for that.

I decided to try out a new program that eBay offers (well, new to me anyway) called Turbolister, where you can write the descriptions and get pictures of your items all offline and they just stay in a file on your computer until you're ready to sell your stuff, then you can upload it all at one time and start your auctions. I used that for the first time yesterday but when I uploaded my stuff and started my auctions, the format hadn't stayed the same as when I wrote it in Turbolister, and my counters for page visits were missing. Right after the auctions went live I went in to fix these things and as I was making my way down my list of items putting counters on all of them, I noticed that one of my items was missing. I had listed five things, now only four were showing up. I thought that somehow one listing hadn't made it to the auction so I went back to check, and then saw that one of the books had sold in the three minutes that the auction had been live. That's why it wasn't showing up when I went back to add a counter! Someone had bought the book and paid for it and the money was in my account in Paypal all in five minutes' time. I can hear the grain mill grinding away now!

Also, just in case anyone's wondering, I decided that my schedule didn't need tweaking. It needs a major overhaul!
My new toy.

Monday, January 08, 2007

PLAN isn't supposed to be a four-letter word, is it?

Well, here we are in the new year. I have decided to try to get myself organized this year. Again. Only this time I actually took some steps in that direction. I made a book for myself with all the stuff in it that I thought might be useful. I'm sure it will undergo some tweaking, but I'm hopeful that it will be a help to me. Before Christmas I bought an inexpensive binding machine in order to make photo albums. We thought it would be a good investment anyway because Tom needs something with which to make portfolio books. So, I have been perusing forms on websites and templates on during the past week. I'm quite pleased with how it turned out. I found a few forms at which were also helpful.

The first section is Andy's school schedule. Andy collaborated on that. While I'm all for "eclectic" homeschooling and learning what you want, when you want, we did need a little more structure to our days. The fact that we have a board of education review in two weeks had absolutely nothing to do with that decision, either. No sir. None at all. Huh-uh.

I'll write more about my book in future posts. I have allowed myself a half hour per day to blog, but you can see what time I finally got to it - it's now 9:57 PM. My schedule says I should have done this at 4:00. Hmmm. Did I mention that I would probably need to tweak it a bit?

Saturday, January 06, 2007

What a beautiful sunrise! I caught these pictures on The sunrise was so pink and bright here at home that morning, that I figured it had to be beautiful on the ocean.

Here is the same view, about six hours later.

Friday, January 05, 2007

It's That Time Again!

Here is our tree in all it's splendor - pre-toss!
Here is Andy with the first toss. You can't see much of him in the picture, but you can see the mighty heft he gave it, as attested to by the airborne tree!
Next it was Tom's turn. I think he was aiming for height more than distance!
Here is my tree-tossing attempt. It went a respectable distance, anyway!


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