Saturday, January 28, 2012

Ants? In January?

I can't believe it. Ants. In my kitchen. In January.

Now, if I lived somewhere in the southern part of the U.S., then ok, there could easily be ants.

But in the northwest, with temps in the teens at night, the 20-30's in the day, and several feet of snow and multiple snow mountains surrounding my house?


Not only that. NOW we have yet another unfinished project. To get at the ants, we had to rip off the ugly floor board trim...just as ugly beneath as the trim was. Ick. Add ripping up the unappetizing linoleum along with painting and retrimming the kitchen walls.

AFTER the ants are dead.

Four brand new double duty bad infestation traps in place along the wall and floor. Popular, too. I had been smashing ants with a spoon. Now I have to let them live long enough to get back home and feed the poison to the family. Ugh.

True, true. We did want to tackle the kitchen project. But not now. Not in January. Not when we have many, many other begun not yet finished projects. The kitchen was in line at almost last.

Ants.??? January. Winter.
Who knew?

Sunday, January 22, 2012


We LOVE our neighbors! Especially those with snow blowers! Just kidding - we love them all!

Reminds me of a song:

It's a beautiful day in this neighborhood,
A beautiful day for a neighbor,
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?...

So let's make the most of this beautiful day,
Since we're together, we might as well say,
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?
Won't you be my neighbor?

Thank you, Mr. Rogers.

Thank you, neighbor! Literally feet and mountains of snow...Still snowing...

Here's to summer irrigation.
Awesome Dude!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Snow, Glorious, Snow

Probably not too popular saying that right now, but snow is glorious! I will never get tired of it falling gently from the sky. Driving and climbing through drifts, yes, that gets old, but watching it descend and build hills, slopes, and lumps where mysterious items are hidden - never.

It's snowing again! Third snow day in a row, unheard of for this girl. But joyful news none-the-less. As I was considering snow and things to do with kids...

About snow, what do I know? Six-sided crystal shapes, cold, clear ice when viewed close up, theoretically no two alike (although recent news suggests otherwise), heavy, dry, soft, powdered, wet, messy,...

Things to do in/about the snow with kids (other than the obvious of sledding, skiing, etc.):

1. Make glitter snowflakes: Use white school glue to draw trails and snowflake shapes on pieces of wax paper. Cover thickly with glitter. Let dry several days. Peel carefully off of wax paper. Display.

2. Dance like snowflakes. Give kids silk scarves, gloves/mittens, and hats. After they put on mittens and hats, let them hold a silk scarf or two and dance around the room like a snowflake. Sing (to the tune of "Are You Sleeping?"):
Dance like snowflakes, dance like snowflakes,
In the air, in the air.
Whirling, twirling snowflakes, whirling, twirling snowflakes,
Here and there. Here and there.

3. Build a snowman outside. Come inside and build a snowman with uncolored play dough. Give kids fabric and craft scraps to make accessories for the snowmen. Include glitter in the play dough to give sparkles. Let dry.

My favorite play dough recipe: 3 cups flour, 1 cup salt, 2 T. oil, 1 T. alum; Mix well. Add 3 cups boiling water (I include food coloring in water if I am using it). Add glitter to flour mix before adding water. Stir with a wooden spoon. As soon as possible, use spatula to scoop out onto counter. Knead as it cools, the sooner the better. Your hands will get hot, but the alum needs to be mixed in. Cool. Knead some more. When it is only slightly warm, put in a covered plastic tub (not zip bag). Leave vented lid until all the way cool. Keeps for a few weeks. - I love this stuff! Easy to accessorize to themes. :)

4. Make a snowman with two sizes of cheap paper plates - big and small. Punch holes and sew around the edges of both plates (for 2 plate snowmen). Tie together. Use markers, buttons, paper scraps, fabric scraps, and glue to make face and clothes. Dry and display somewhere fun. (If you have a child writer, let him or her write a story and name the snowmen.)

5. Explore ice. Freeze cardboard milk cartons filled with water. Peel off paper, put ice chunks in a plastic tub, and give kids plastic pipettes and a cup of water (I sometimes used colored water for more fun). Let them squirt away until they riddle the ice with holes. Lots of fun time here, which equals free time for mom or teacher!

6. Paint or draw snow scenes. Use black or dark blue construction paper and white colored pencils, crayons, or chalk. Look out windows and then create snow and winter scenes with the white writing tools. OR do the reverse and let your child draw with white on white colored paper and paint over the top with blue watercolor paint.

7. Experiment. Make a few snowballs. Put them in different places in and around the house (or school). Predict which one will melt first, which will last longest. Collect data on a clipboard with paper and pencil. Predict first, check real results, then compare what happened in reality. Be sure to use a timer to see how long the melting takes!

8. Snow painting. Fill spray bottles with colored water. Spray away and make rainbow designs in the snow.

9. Build a snowcastle! Use those beach sandcastle toys and empty plastic containers to build snowcastles. Help pack the snow in and unmold the shapes to create the buildings. Water in a spray bottle may help powder snow to stick.

10. Photo hunt. Use digital cameras to scout the neighborhood for unusual, tricky, weird, cool, or beautiful snowy sights. Load them up onto the computer and have a winter slide show! Vote to see which is the favorite scene. Add music to make a fun winter video.

11. Hit the library, either the real one or the virtual one. Check out books about winter - snow, seasons, weather, animals, sports, activities...Great to curl up and get warm reading after playing out in the cold stuff. A few favorite: The Mitten, A Snowy Day, and The Biggest, Best, Snowman.

12. If the white stuff is falling, put on those dark, solid colored winter clothes and go outside for a snowflake catch. Have photographer ready to capture close-ups of snowflake crystals. Or use black construction paper to catch (and not melt) snowflakes. Amazing!

13. Have an indoor snowball fight! Crumple pieces of scrap paper into snowballs. Let 'er fly! (A caution to those rooms who host breakables...)

14. Favorite winter movie? Grab some popcorn, hot cocoa, and pop in the movie. Watch to your hearts' delight.

15. Chronicle your snow escapades with digital photos. Visit an online site (like and create a winter snow book featuring your kids and you. It will be a hit!

Gotta love snow!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Ice Day!

Ice Day! And then Snow Day! And then maybe Ice Night...

Winter Sandwich

Stacking white layers
Slick frozen water heaps next
Joy - winter sandwich

Seriously,multiple inches of snow yesterday, followed by freezing rain this morning, now followed by heavy, heavy snow. Soon to be followed by more freezing rain tonight! It's a weather forecasters' dream!

Day 2 of No School.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Snow Day!

Whoop, whoop! God did it big time, didn't He?

Just an FYI, kinders have been praying for snow since we got back from Christmas break. Yes, Christmas break, not winter or holiday. (That's another blog.) I think those 5-6 year-olds are having a great time playing in the icy white. All those songs, poems, and activities will now make more sense. I can feel some more writing, singing, and art projects developing from the lovely white.

Snowy Day Checklist:
~shovel snow (quit before done, drenched from sweat and falling snow)
~save some snow for KQ to shovel
~wonder how my back will feel later (not used to shoveling)
~take pictures (from inside so the camera doesn't get wet)
~hot mocha
~don flannel pants
~put out clothes drying rack
~wash soaked clothes
~bake brownie bites (burned enough cals for that one)
~stay home and stay in
~writing assignment (new book for preschoolers coming soon!)
~continually check weather report
~anxiously watch sky to see if it is still snowing
~thank God

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Flat Tire

(Trust me, it looks bigger in real life...)

Good thing it snowed a little tonight.

For a rare treat, we went to see the new Sherlock Holmes movie - a date if you will, complete with popcorn for lunch. I really enjoyed the movie. Everyone kept saying it was hard to follow, so we did our homework before we went. We watched the first movie to get our brains in order to follow minute details and slow mo action. Then we watched the movie. Pretty good. Actually some very funny parts! I HATE torture, though, of any kind. All in all, a good movie.

We headed out of the theater to head home and grab the truck for a quick trip to the hardware store. I was thinking that the car was unnaturally short. Kind of funny for me to say that, since I always have a hard time seeing the top of the car. It felt like I had been riding in a big truck.

We took off, to a weird sound and feel. "What's that?"

Flat tire! Kevin backed up and returned to the parking lot so we could change the tire. I hopped out and looked at the driver side front tire, which has a slow leak and needs at least weekly fill.

It was low. But not as low as the driver side BACK tire, which was completely flat. What??? No wonder my side of the car seemed so short.

"Four minutes," said Kevin, racing to the trunk for the donut tire. (Ha, ha, ode to A Christmas Story).

I retraced our steps, looking for nails, tools, large knives...Nothing. There is definitely a hole, a rather large, jagged edged hole, which was not there BEFORE the movie. We were parked in an easy access outside edge slot...Did not see anyone else with a flat tire. Suspicious. Absolutely suspicious.

Good thing it started snowing, since Kevin had to change the tires anyway. Now the snow tires are on (not really needed for our little dusting, but at least they don't have holes).

Thank you, if it was in fact a purposeful endeavor to stab our tire. We needed to replace that tire anyway. If it was normal wear and tear and nail in the road somewhere on the freeway, my apologies.

C'mon and snow, baby. We're ready.

Thursday, January 12, 2012


For my birthday last November, my honey took me to Walla Walla to meet and greet Jan Brett (c'mon, you know who she is, a REALLY famous children's author and illustrator). He smilingly put on the studded tires (of course it was snowing that day) and drove me 2 1/2 hours each way. And waited in a crammed bookstore for about 2 hours before, during, and after the talk and book signing. What a guy!

Score, yes, but not the one I am writing about. We ate lunch in Walla Walla at Saffron, a Mediterranean restaurant that had really neat decor and old looking stuff, which I adore. We ate upstairs overlooking the balcony. Near us was the old brick wall between the restaurant deli and the business next door. It was an AWESOME brick wall.

Light bulb flashing over my head!

"Honey, that's what I want on the wall behind our headboard," I excitedly pointed out to him.

He did not roll his eyes. He didn't even look embarrassed when I walked over and counted bricks for an estimate for the size of our wall (which I am sure was way off, but such is life).

We talked about that brick wall all the way home. Upon arriving at home, we stood in the garage, I mean our bedroom, and stared at the wall behind the headboard. Hmmmm.

During the ensuing months, we have gone back and forth about how to accomplish the brick wall. Yes, I have paint color swatches everywhere in the house, but the green in the garage bedroom suite is the one that is staying.

Now, I do give him points for agreeing to do the brick thing. However, I did NOT want those skinny, fake bricks stuck to the wall. Ick. Nor did I want just the edges done since the headboard would hide the rest anyway. The bricks had to be old, red bricks. Not those ugly orange, yellow, rust, dirty ones that are on the front of our fireplace. That's another story.

This morning before school my guy mentioned checking out the wall stability to support bricks. "Cool," I thought. And then I didn't think about it at all. Kindergarten is like that. You have to stay in the moment - or they escape.

When I arrived home, I took my sock off to put it in the hall hamper. "Honey, is this your jacket?" I asked, since we have the same one. "And why are all of my jackets in here?"

I glanced at his face. It had an odd look, excited, expectant, maybe hesitant.

"You weren't supposed to look there first," he said.

Without taking off the other shoe or sock, I walked right to the bedroom. A brick wall stood where the headboard used to be!

First thought, he put those fakey flat brick thingys up! (My apologies to you if you like those. They are fine, but not for this particular project.)

But no! Those were REAL bricks - red, older (not European old, but old for the U.S.), and beautiful! Already in place, plastered and all!

Seems when previous owners enclosed the garage for the bedroom, they walled over the very lovely brick back of the fireplace! Am I blessed or what? My honey found them and cleared the entire wall off for me!

Check that project off the list.

Now. On to painting, lighting, and trim. Pendant lights anyone?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Pray for Your Enemies?

Just within the last day or two, I've read comments about the Bible verse saying that we are to pray for our enemies. Maybe it was even today, this morning. I do believe that is true. At the time, I wondered who I should pray for...

Today, after school, I picked up my computer at the computer shop.

BECAUSE I had been hijacked.

Now I know who my enemies are. Those people who have oodles of free time to sit around and design worms and viruses and cookies and thingys I don't even know what to call. And then they send them out into the invisible Internet zone.

The TWILIGHT ZONE (no, not the vampire movie adoration crowd camping out overnight to see the newest release). I think the Internet has its own TWILIGHT ZONE. Anything can happen, it's always invisible (except what happens on your computer), you don't (most of us, anyway) know how to fix it, mysterious symptoms occur, you spread it around without knowing more,...

Those, those, those, ...huuruuummppphhhhh.... those hackers! I need to pray for them. They (again) caused me a hijacking of some fake, random you have a possible 30 virus attacks! pop-ups that refuse to go anywhere and block all attempts of whatever TRUE virus protection program you have to fail to engage and do its own attacking. Blah.

This is very similar to a virus attack that I had just about 2 years ago February. I know because I asked the techie dude who fixed my computer when I was in last (as I handed him $119.00). I didn't even make it 2 full years! But good news - he said some families are in every month! I guess I am getting off pretty cheap.

All that being said, my techie friends recommend AVAST (they used to install AVIRA) as the better anti-virus protection.

So, for a few moments, I am up and running.

Now, I need to go and pray for my enemies.

Sunday, January 8, 2012


(This photo does not show how mint lime green the wall is.)

I did say I wanted to paint more this year...

So far, believe it or not, I've painted numerous color swatches throughout the house. Not quite attractive, but I do know what I DON'T want.

And I've painted the background wall of one set of open shelves in the kitchen. When we moved in, about 2 years ago, these walls were covered with the same ugly counter top laminate stuff as the counters. We peeked beneath, and it was painted an ugly, lime (I mean lime), 70-80's shade of lime mint. After Kevin peeled off the laminate, it was ugly lime mint with huge chunks missing due to swirls of laminate glue. Nice. Much nicer after spackle made its appearance.

Et, voila! The shelf background is now a lovely shade of blue. If you like blue, it is lovely. Much better than before. I've had a similar blue in a former house, which I loved. This is a tad bit brighter, but I really like it.

I've decided that now I need to paint the background wall in a set of glass front cupboards the same blue. Hadn't noticed that that wall was also the lovely mint lime. Maybe because our glassware is hiding it somewhat.

And then one wall facing into the kitchen needs to be the same blue...Over the fridge, inside a cupboard, is a wild magenta background wall?! Hmmm. Makes one wonder. It's hiding. But all the other cupboards? Mint lime green. What have I started?

What I meant was, when I said I wanted to paint more in 2012, was water color painting, on a board, with some fun artwork. I didn't really mean all the walls and hiding spots in the house.

We'll see.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Nut Dropping

I heard them before I saw them. Crows. Lots of crows. Up to something.

American Crow: corvus brachyrhynchos = common, loud, hoarse, cawing, crafty, flocking, congregating, problem solving, learning, clever, aggressive, mischievous = a murder of crows (many crows flocking together)

As I turned the corner and headed down the hill, I saw multiple crows, all flopping up high, swooping over the road, pausing on a perch (power line, tree, fence, you name it, they were on it), cawing, then diving for the road. I also noticed a proliferation of nuts all over the place.

Nut dropping.

I've seen this before. Crows really are clever birds. A crow grabs a walnut or hard shelled nut in its' beak, then flies up high to drop it down on the pavement. Those crows have it all figured out. They know that asphalt and cement are hard enough to help break open nuts. I've also seen them purposely drop nuts on roads...waiting for a vehicle to crunch them open. After breakage - the feast or squabbles begins. Sometimes the waiting crow has to fight off others to claim the nut prize. If that fails, a big chase takes place, usually with several crows after one nut grasping bird. Cracks me up.

There has been a murder of crows spotted around our neighborhood. The neighbors across the street have an enormous, perfect, leafless tree that often hosts the noisy, black feathered tree decorations. Makes me suspicious. Where is my cat?

They missed me that day while I was out walking. But they cleaned up on nuts. Today, the nuts were almost totally gone. A few spots of crushed shells, one or two forgotten nuts.

Murder - 1. Nuts - 0.

BTW: Did a little online crow research. Seems many people are interested in crows and counting crows. However, is not for black birds and tally marks. Seems to be a pretty well known band. Who knew?

Monday, January 2, 2012

while walking

while walking

a pause in almost winter
blue skies for this season

glittering trees
ice crusted flora

tinkling ice drops
snow from blue, even yellow

under trees need umbrella
slick footing needs caution

beneath distant sun
winter melts

all is well

while walking