And the beat goes on . . .

Tonight Andy and his friend-that-is-a-girl are at the prom. It’s not at her high school and it’s not in our living room (aka homeschool prom). Instead, some fellow rowers issued the two of them invitations to the prom at their high school as it’s being held on one of the very few weekends there is not a race. Tim dropped by in time to go with Andy to take pictures, pre-prom. The other young man is Andy’s official “date.” But, let’s face it, they’re all accessories to the friend-that-is-a-girl. You can’t tell from the pictures but her earrings are butterfly wings that match the dress! (I’m sure the wings were donated and no actual butterflies were harmed in the making of the earrings.)

In other news, we were happy to see Ian Thursday night. He stayed here before catching a flight to Minneapolis. He’ll be back again Sunday night. Sounds like he’s having fun so far. Don’t know if he’ll end up there. I don’t know if he appreciates what living in such a cold climate entails . . . like shoes on a regular basis.

20170409_135535While I was (ahem) in Paris, Mike did the kitchen counters with concrete. The counters are awesome. However, they looked awful with the gray of the cabinets. Now our kitchen looks like this.  The backsplash is pallets – easy enough to change when we get tired of them and can afford what I really like. 😉

Other things I have neglected to blog about . . .

  • 20170401_123224Mike’s parents came down to see one of Andy’s races. They didn’t realize they had signed up for hard labor. They helped us with food for the race and to get ready for a party after the race. It all worked out. Andy’s boat won by a huge margin – which is especially fun for people watching who have never been to a regatta.  The party was equally fun. We are so lucky to know such a great (sometimes weird) mix of people! There was food, a birthday celebration, more food and occasional bursts of singing. Andy’s friends made clean up easy – there was NOTHING left over. (Andy is second from the right in this picture.)


  • We celebrated our one year anniversary in this house. Believe it or not, Mike found NEW garden sculptures just last week. I think that puts us up to about 25 hidden gnomes, creepy children and a barn yard full of “found” statues. The newest ones include a terrifying duck with dead, glass eyes and a dragonfly thing whose wings flap in the wind and make a creepy sucking sound. (Notice how Mike is wearing his falcon gloves to handle them.) 20170422_153047 My mom insists that the neighbors are sneaking in at night to hide them in the yard to scare us away. Not going to happen. Sure we’re scared but we’re not leaving.
  • And, finally, just because it was SO hard to find a suit to fit Andy – a picture of him all gussied up. This picture represents hours and hours of work culminating in me pitching a small fit that he put on the jacket AND shoes AND socks so I could take a picture. I don’t care if it IS 89 degrees. The smile is the result of Tim standing behind me as I  took the picture shouting “She is The Queen of the Harpies.” I relish the title.



Hope all is going well in your worlds. Next weekend we head to Sarasota for the state championships. I’ll try to take pictures. I’ll definitely collect stories.

Just when you think it’s over …

watering can flowersWe moved into this house in April. That is the busiest time of year for us and it has been a challenge to get our long neglected yard into shape. I shared with you the pictures of the statues we started finding in the yard back in April. It’s now mid-July and they’re still coming. And, they are getting really scary.

The first picture is the watering can Mike found buried in the confederate jasmine a couple of weeks ago. It’s kind of awesome. (What’s more awesome is I got that bunch of flowers for $3! Also picked up 2 dozen white roses for $3. Fun stuff.)

scary garden girlThe second picture is of our most recent find. Mike actually found it as he was de-debris-ing a section of bushes.  I’m thinking that, at this rate, we’re going to have the scariest house on the block for Halloween. Look at those eyes!  Gah!  But, she’ll go back outside somewhere where we can watch her. I’m going to end up being that crazy old lady with all the weird statues in her yard. Upside? No Bambi or Virgin Mary yet.


Isn’t she a beaut?

We are the proud owners of a new air conditioner unit. Expect pictures of her for years to come in our Christmas cards and in my Facebook posts.  I’m already looking for an agent – she’s THAT cute.  And, it would be a good thing if she started earning her keep NOW.  I suspect this is the last new thing we will own in quite a bit.  Cross your fingers, I hope she sleeps well.  I am way too old to be getting up every few hours.

We can’t decide on a name, suggestions welcome.

Who knew all that composting and gardening would be so handy. That money tree in the back yard is ever so much more useful than I thought it would be.  😉

Who knew?

 The key to gardening, apparently, is complete neglect.  I have been wrapped up in house projects so much lately and the weekends have been rainy and the garden has been entirely on its own for about two weeks.  I finally got out there this afternoon and despite the weeds, there is actual food growing! I’m so excited. 

The garden is kind of wild.  Scary wild.  I managed to tame a bit of it this afternoon, but it looks like I have a long weekend ahead of me. 

The biggest surprise of all, though, was the tomatoes.  They look like they’re ready to climb out of the garden and hit the road.  There are tomatoes everywhere!  I have no idea why the plants are so huge this year, I don’t think I did anything different.  Go figure.  Now to figure out how to restake them so they don’t walk off in the middle of the night.

March madness (with a small ‘m’)

 Ahhhh, March, the joys of endless basketball games, layers of pollen on everything, multiple spring breaks and the delightful adjustment to the time change.  Really, I love March.  

Mike and I celebrated our 23rd anniversary on Sunday. (How is it possible? April will mark the 27 anniversary of our first date.)  We had an awesome dinner of corned beef and twice-baked colcanon (cheese, cabbage, onion) potatoes.  To follow up, we had some friends for Mike’s famous four layer coconut cake and a toast.  It was a fun evening.  (Picture of the amazing cake at the top.  Recipe for the cake (Mike makes it without the Southern Comfort) here.  I think Mike’s cake looks just as good as the magazine cake.  And, it is SOOOOOOO good – not too sweet.  The coconut is from a real coconut so you never have the feeling you’re eating a candy bar.

The rest of March has been insane.  Ian and Tim had spring break the first week of March. They started with a long weekend in Talahassee visiting Dan.  The rest of the week was devoted to them working and during their off times, messing with Andy and eating everything in the house.  As soon as the pair of them started back to school, Dan came home.  Well, actually, he came in dropped a bunch of stuff all over the house – the boy has a gift for mess – and promptly left to go camping.  He returned on Tuesday and spent the rest of his time eating and corrupting Andy.  Dan and his friend-that-is-a-girl (yes, the same one) took Andy to Disney on Thursday.  From their report, Andy has outgrown his fear of people dressed in character costumes, roller coasters and fireworks.  (I never get to go on the fun Disney trips.)  I DO love when everyone is home and not going to school or working (for short periods anyway – it’s kind of sad to see your adult children watching Scooby Doo marathons too often).  I forget how loud and funny they all are.  

This week, everyone is back to their routines.  Andy has not been happy with a full school schedule with just me.  He misses the interruptions from his brothers.  But, tomorrow is his last day until HIS spring break starts (I keep him with the public school schedule – just easier with his friends and activities).  

I’m hoping the pollen eases up soon.  Allegra is good, but only works so far. Ian and I are both dragging lately. I know I’m not really tired, but all I want to do is close my eyes and let the fog take me away. It’s pathetic.  I have been getting out to the garden sporadically and things are growing!  I’m hoping to get out a lot during the break.  There are baby tomatoes growing and flowers on several plants.  It surprises me every year how exciting I find it all.  I only wish there wasn’t a guaranteed headache involved.  I will try to get pictures over the weekend.  

For now, enjoy the pictures of the rag rug (still just a long string) growing.  My neighbor just gave me a great stack of old t-shirts that will make it that much bigger.  Almost there!!!! Another 3-4 feet and the stitching begins!


I don’t know what it is about February, but I always seem to turn lethargic and unmotivated around mid month. For the past 12 years, each February has found me thinking about putting the boys back into school and getting a nice job where I don’t make anyone cry.  This feeling goes away by March -weird, huh?. If I have to go get a real job, I want to be able to make people cry. Doh!

February 2013 has proved no different.  Even though the oldest three are on their own education-wise, Andy’s school is proving to be a lot more challenging than I thought it would. I attribute a lot of this to his age AND my age. In fact, I think my age is more of a factor than his. The late 40’s are not as pretty as I had hoped they would be. One of us always has a giant pimple or is on the verge of tears.  It’s not pretty.  The healing properties of chocolate will never cease to amaze me (or Andy).  

This week started with a freeze.  Of course, I’d planted the garden the previous weekend.  :::sigh::: It seems to have survived.  The weeds are certainly vigorous and alive.  They are also dead as of this afternoon. Hah! I win for the next two days.  After a stand-offish Monday and Tuesday, Andy finally fell to the virus all of his friends have had recently. I knew it was coming! He was mean and grumpy and his eyes didn’t seem right. 

The virus involves a high fever and a nasty cough for about (cross your fingers) five days.  Andy is into day three.  He’s so sad and little (except for his freakishly large feet which just look pasty white and a little scary) when he’s sick. I’m taking care of him. But, I’ve also been kind of gleeful these past few days.  I guess it’s the mom equivalent of a snow day.  At 13, Andy does not need me every single minute of the day.  He mostly wants me to leave him alone so he can sleep. Anyone remember E tickets at Disney World? The ones that used to get you on the best rides?  It’s kind of like that except I do hate that Andy is so miserable.

BUT, (let’s get back to me, shall we?) I don’t have to do math or Latin or grammar or anything.  I’ve had the time to take Ian and/or Tim to work which leaves me with *gasp* a car!  As Andy has been mostly sleeping, I have been able to drive one or both older boys to work and go do things I’ve needed/wanted to do all semester.  I finally found the AMAZING primer I’d been reading about as I researched the best way to paint the fronts of our aging, inexpensive IKEA cabinets in the kitchen. Andy slept some more and I tested the primer.  WOW!  This is the stuff to use if you want to paint a shiny surface or laminate furniture.  It’s all I was led to believe it was.  Our cabinets have a shiny surface and the primer adheres to it (so far) and the paint goes on beautifully and even when I try to chip it, it does not chip.  I’ll try to get some before and after pictures – it’s pretty dramatic.  

In other news, I found a great online tutorial on how to crochet.  So far, I can crochet a single strip (which I think I could do back in the fourth grade, but I’m not entirely certain). Additionally, I found a great online tutorial (yes, I will link these both when I find them again) on how to make t-shirt yarn. I have watched several of these videos and this guy made it so easy and fast!  Then I hit the thrift store and picked up a stack of t-shirts with the 1/2-off color tag and came home and made t-shirt yarn.  I’m crocheting it now into a rug.  I think next time I might give more thought to color as the pink in the middle brings to mind a giant nipple . . . but live and learn.  I’ve been learning a lot as I work on this project.  If you know me, be afraid, it’s likely you’ll end up with a funky t-shirt rug in the near future.

(I do have pictures of all of this, but the stoopid camera battery died so it will be another day.  I swear, when I’m a real grown up I’m going to have a real grown up camera that takes pretty pictures and works when I want it to work.)

One more weird bit of life in Florida: it was below freezing on Monday and Tuesday.  Today, Friday, it was 86.  The Pittsburgher in me will fight to the death before putting the a/c on in February.  It’s all so confusing.

Progress, of sorts . . .

OK – I HATE scraping tiles clean with a razor blade. The sound and the sensation sets everyone single nerve in my body on edge! But the all of the tile is up (except for the edges of the black border). I finished it up after this picture was taken. Tomorrow, the grouting begins! Once it’s all cleaned up and finished, I think it’s going to look pretty cool . . . cross your fingers. I am done with disasters.  

In other exciting news, we FINALLY got a dryer on Sunday. The only good thing about dead appliances that you have to wait to replace is how exciting and easy it seems to do the work when you rejoin the land of working appliances.  (And, I have to say, I’m enjoying wearing pollen-free clothing and sleeping on pollen-free sheets again!)  

OK -back to the tile.  Look for a garden update soon.  Despite my best attempts at neglect, stuff seems to be growing. 

UPDATE:  Still scraping tile.  I don’t mind tedious if I have a decent audiobook to listen to while I work. I’m running out of books!  WHY, oh why, is every book a series? And, if it is a series, it should be clearly marked on the library box.  Gah!  


I’m considering converting our entire yard and garden to plastic. This pollen is absolutely unbelievable! I have never experienced itchy eyes, ears, throat AND skin all day for days and days on end.  The thought came to me yesterday as I putting in tomato and pepper plants.  (Mike is my hero – he pulled out the remnants of the winter garden!!!) Why not?  There’s a lady in a house I pass often on my way out of our town whose yard is full of plastic flowers and plants.  She even water them.  She never looks itchy.  It’s something I am seriously considering.  
In the meantime, here are some pictures of progress so far.  Aren’t the daisies pretty?  I’m planning to get more for the front of the house.  I got a test pot of them to see if Cally would eat them – so far so good.
The fennel is the last thing around from the summer garden.  I am not a huge fan, but I like the smell.  Mike and the kids have been doing all kinds of weird stuff with it.  It’s nice to have something so big and fluffy in the garden while I wait for everything else to grow.
The start of the spring garden!  The fennel and the herbs are left from the fall.  In the back are a bunch of peppers and tomatoes that I planted yesterday before falling dead from the pollen.  I’m so excited!  
I’m trying to plant one thing each day this week.  I think I can handle the pollen for that long.  I don’t want to wait much longer or it’s going to be too hot for anything to take hold.
The quilt from hell before I basted the layers together.  This thing just keeps getting bigger and heavier.  I may end up using it as a cover for the suburban.  I had to baste it in the driveway because there was no place big enough in the house to do it.  My quilt frame couldn’t handle it.  Mike is making me a new frame and for now I’m quilting without a frame.  It’s like sitting under the lead blankets they give you before an x-ray.  Really fun.

Finally, here is Cally – the princess.  Scout would die before getting on a piece of furniture.  She never wanted anything but the floor. Cally?  The minute someone sits down, she hops up and makes herself as comfortable as possible.  Fortunately, the boys don’t mind.

Stay tuned for news of our plastic yard.  I think our mean neighbor is going to love it. 

Oops . . .

Forgot to blog these past few days.  Well, I didn’t really forget, I just never got to it.  I could use another hour or two in everyday – I think I’d get a lot more done. 
We’ve had wonderful cool weather here since late last week.  THIS is the reason to live in Florida.  Shorts, barefeet and a sweatshirt in the evenings.  Ahhhh . . . The garden is enjoying the weather as well.  There are sprouts of every plant.  Very exciting stuff.  It’s supposed to warm up again tomorrow – 85 I think.  We’ll see how that goes.  Thus far, though, the fall/winter garden is looking promising.
Spent some time on Saturday in the thrift stores.  All of my winter clothes seem to be missing.  I’m thinking Dan is up in Tallahassee with some VERY short jeans.  Mine are all gone.  I found these awesome shoes – never worn — for $3.99.  We’re invited to a wedding in December and I think they’ll be perfect.  Now to find something other than sweat pants to wear with them. 
I don’t think I’ve mentioned Andy’s science with Alton Brown lately.  We really enjoyed “FRYING” week.  We had a lunch of fish and chips, delicious, one afternoon.  A few days later we made pork chops (fried for only a minute on each side and then baked) with a crust of salt and vinegar potato chips.  Go ahead, drool.  They were the best pork chops I’ve ever had.  Andy is doing all of the cooking, so the credit goes to him.  For dessert, we brought on the deep fryer again and fried up some cookie dough.  Yum – but one little piece was more than enough for me.  I’ll stick with fried Twinkies, thank you very much.
Last week, we sauteed.  Andy practiced sauteeing by flipping dried beans in the pan.  He graduated to tortellinis in butter, over actual heat.  The triumph of the week was his “Chicken with Garlic and Leeks.”  My mom came by to eat with us and she loved it too.  And, we love her just a little bit more for bringing pineapple upside down cake for dessert.  This week, we’re studying the art of boiling/poaching.  Not as much fun recipe-wise, but the science side is intriguing.  Friday, we’re going to poach a chicken in wine and stock and eventually turn it into chicken/sausage gumbo.  I’m looking forward to Friday. 
This past weekend was wonderful weather-wise.  It’s awesome to have the windows open again!  On Saturday morning, Mike and Andy were rough-housing and Mike smashed and broke his pinky toe.  Mike spent most of  the weekend in the recliner with ice off and on and a LOT of football and rugby.  I spent a LOT of time outside avoiding A LOT  football and rugby. I like both sport just fine, just not in 12-hour doses.  Mike’s never broken a toe before.  Do women go barefoot more often? Most women I know have broken toes in the past.  I’ve done it several times.  Mike seems to think I’m making my suggestions of taping two toes together, keeping his foot elevated and using Tylenol or whatever as necessary out of the blue.  Oh well, I guess he’ll figure it all out.  Right?????
Andy and I went out and picked up pumpkins tonight.  If you’re near an Aldi’s, all the pumpkins are $3.99.  They had some HUGE pumpkins at ours.  We’re keeping them in the cool house, uncut until Sunday or Monday – pumpkins get moldy fast in Florida.   It felt weird to only buy three pumpkins this year.  We miss you Dan!!!

Back to the routine . . .

Long weekend here – Teacher Workday for our county.  Had a house full of boys all day long.  The weather is perfect – warm enough for shorts and bare feet, but cool enough to function.  I really do love the 9-12 year old boys.  They make up weird games and everyone is okay with rule changes every three minutes.  They talk intelligently about something one minute and the next they’re howling over something disgusting. 
Saturday, after football practice, Mike wanted to do the biannual bug spray around the house.  This requires us leaving for at least four hours and then me scrubbing all the surfaces when it’s all done.  It was time.  Dan isn’t here.  Ian was camping. Tim was working.  Just me, Mike and Andy headed out into the big world to kill some time. 

Hmmm . . . we suck at killing time.  We’re not shoppers.  We’re broke.  That kind of limits the options.  We wandered around my favorite garden place for a while.  Then, it occurred to me that we had Andy trapped and it was a good time for force him to try on jeans.  He’s grown so much the past few months.  We dragged him to Old Navy.  We left with shell-shock and two pairs of jeans (everyone pray he doesn’t grow before it gets cold). 

What to do, what to do?  We still had to kill 2 hours.  We went to Michael’s and I found some yarn and needles to change things up a little bit.  I still suck at knitting, but I like knitting, so I stick with the cheaper yarn.  Anyone need a scarf?  Next up?  A run to Dollar Tree (everything is a dollar!) for some cleaning supplies and plastic cups.  Finally, I sat in the car knitting while Andy and Mike visited nerd-central – the Hobby place – to look at rocket-making supplies.  Color us officially shopped out for the year!

Sunday was fun.  We got to stay home.  I put in my fall garden – FINALLY!!!!  I was about half-way through when Preston, the 6 year-old who lives across the street, came to help me.  Whew!  I was sore and tired and there are few things more enthusiastic than a 6-year-old with a hand rake and a packet of carrot seeds!  I got a break, he got dirty and had fun.  At the top is a “map” of the garden – yes, I am that bored. Plus, markers are fun.  Here is a picture of the dirt filled with hidden seeds. 

Sunday evening, it cooled off, the kids made fire kites and the grown ups talked about football, groceries and other exciting grown-up stuff.  It was a really nice way to end the day.  

Storms are moving in – let’s hope the garden doesn’t flood.  Tomorrow is supposed to be messy!!!