Barn Kitties, Everyday Activities, Journal Style Posts

A Rundown of December and January

So, my last post happened before the holidays and my house has been a whirlwind of absolute chaos since then. I am currently purging the house and organizing everything, but before I get into that, I will get you all caught up on the whirlwind that was December and the beginning of January.

We had a lovely holiday with just the three of us, the kids were all supposed to come home this year, but life happens and they were all unable to come home. I would have enjoyed having everyone here together and actually being able to get a recent family picture, but I completely understand that life is harder when you are a young adult and usually living paycheck to paycheck. The kids will all be visiting this year, but it will be at different times. I did get to see my daughter in law and grandson this month so, that was amazing and stressful at the same time.

I guess I will start with the pictures I took in December and January as a little bit of brightness to this post. Fizzgig and Gizmo thoroughly enjoyed the tree.

They didn’t climb it this year, but they loved hiding out under it and sleeping on the tree skirt. Fizzgig loved the lights when I turned them to twinkle instead of constantly staying lit. He would lie under the tree and just watch them twinkling. He was definitely being quite photogenic.

We also saw snow at the beginning of January and some ice as well.

It began snowing and I honestly didn’t expect much because it didn’t look like it was going to be much more than what is on the ground in this picture. Boy was I wrong. We saw almost a foot of snow by morning.

It was absolutely beautiful and the perfect snow for snowmen and snowballs, but it was brutal cold and while we invited the neighbor’s little ones, and the other children who were visiting her, to go sledding, we didn’t play in it aside from helping the little ones go faster down the hills on the back of the property. (Our neighbor’s property is completely flat aside from the edge of her fenced backyard which sloped towards the fence dividing our property.)

The barn kitties stayed inside of the dairy building aside from a few short trips around the front of the property. I am guessing they went to see if any small critters were out and about for a quick warm meal. I warmed their wet foot and placed their wet food and water dishes on waterproof heating mats. They also have special beds in the dairy building rafters that hold warmth when they lie on them so, they are kind of like a heating pat that warms them using their body heat. They were all being used, but I couldn’t get pictures because of how the beds are set up in the rafters. I have pieces of plywood across the beams to create an attic of sorts so they can be up high and not be in danger if a predator manages to get into the building somehow. Additionally, they are out of my reach unless I climb on stuff so, they feel safer if I come into the building and don’t have to bolt out of there. The pawprint pictures are all around the dairy building. The last one is at their entrance and there were at least seven cats inside the building when I went to feed them. I am glad they were safe, warm, and had free access to plenty of food (both kibble and wet food), water, and warm beds. They do such a good job keeping the mice and snake populations in check. I just wish they would let me pet them.

These pictures are before the second round of snowfall. We had approximately six inches of snow at this point and about a 1/4 of an inch of ice formed that night on top of the snow. The pawprint photos are the only ones I got of all of the snow. We shoveled the snow away from the door and entrances to the dairy building for the barn kitties so, there wasn’t as much snow around the door thankfully. We didn’t want them trapped from snow.

I know this is a terrible photo. It was taken from inside the house the day after the snowstorm. The barn kitties walked through the raised bed outside the window. It was in the 40’s F the following day and the snow was gone by the third day after the snowstorm. I am hopeful that we get one more good snow before spring. I will get better pictures of it snows again. I wasn’t feeling well and the last thing I wanted was to be cold and wet as well as feeling icky.

Fizzgig really liked the table linens and took quite a few naps on the runner. He had just woken up from one when I snapped this picture.

At the end of December or very beginning of January, we got some new neighbors. I am not sure when they arrived, but they sure are adorable.

I had taken Miss Mia to check the fence line and once I was done doing my checks, I took her back to the house and spent a bit of time greeting these sweet babies. They were fascinated with Miss Mia and kept sniffing me because I smelled like her. I can’t wait to get a few calves of my own, but we still have a ways to go before that happens. The previous owners had 100 head of cattle on 10 acres. This is insane because the suggested number is one cow per acre. We are leaving the property alone. We mow the yard, but have only really mowed the property once or twice a year because we wanted it to grow back. It was pretty bare when we bought the property and it finally has a good layer of grass. We boarded horses so they could give the soil a bit of fertilizer without destroying everything like cattle tend to do when they are grass-fed. It’s getting there, maybe in a year or two I can finally get some calves.

Gizmo has been regularly stealing Miss Mia’s bed from her. Miss Mia is not a young puppy. she has arthritis and she’s getting old. Gizmo has no shame. Miss Mia will NOT throw Gizmo out of her bed because she thinks the cats are her puppies. Fizzgig and Gizmo were bottle babies (bottle fed and very tiny at 2 weeks and 4 weeks old) and Miss Mia loved them, groomed them, and let them cuddle with her anytime they wanted. She would rather sleep on the floor than kick her “puppy” out of her bed. We have placed another bed right next to her bed so, she now has another bed to sleep in if Gizmo steals her bed.

Now for the pictures of my grandson’s visit.

He is 15 months old and he’s huge for his age. His momma had no idea what to feed him for snack time since I was in the shower he got a little bit of everything. He enjoyed it thoroughly.

Lunch was cooked for him. (He had a spoon when I gave him his food. It was immediately flung across the kitchen and he chose to eat with his hands.) Lunch was ham cubes, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and noodles in a cheesy bechamel sauce. He ate three servings and I had to teach his mother how to make it because he tends to play with his food more than he eats it and he destroyed this meal. He did wear some of it, especially in his hair. 😂

He fell in love with my Boston Red Sox blanket and slept with it for every nap.

Nonno stopped on the way home from the airport to buy his grandson some Batman clothes because he was wearing Captain America clothes and that was unacceptable. We chose to be called Nonna and Nonno because hubby and I are both from Italian backgrounds and these are the Italian versions of Grandma and Grandpa. I am 39, I am not old enough to be called Grandma. The wonderful thing about choosing to be called by these names is that he can say them.

He was so much easier to take pictures of when he was eating. He had French toast and sausage for breakfast and wanted cheese too. (I made omelets and French toast for everyone else)

He was laughing so hard the picture was blurry. He was laughing because his momma had hiccups.

He fell asleep holding onto her after giving her a serious leg workout.

My legs hurt just watching. He weighed 25.6 pounds (He loved the scale and stepped on it multiple times a day.)

He loves taking pictures.

He used me as a bed quite often. He sleeps like his dad.

Deconstructed taco salads were a hit too. We tried a plastic spoon because he didn’t like the toddler spoons or the baby spoons I had. He still ate mainly with his hands, but he tried really hard to eat with his spoon. I told him if he ate all of his food, I would give him an amazing dessert.

Needless to say, chocolate cake was a hit. (It was a TastyKake chocolate bell) I also gave him a bath. I wasn’t mean and I cleaned him up instead of just handing him back to momma and making her clean him up.

I also made him tiny pizza with tiny pepperoni when we had pizza and calzones for dinner. He had never had his own pizza before. He did exactly what his dad does, he picked off the pepperoni and ate those first then, he ate each slice.

It was definitely messy. (He had refused to drink from any sippy cups so, I bought some and got him drinking out of them. He still has his bottle, but this is a good start towards toddlerhood.)

I discovered that he loves snapchat so, these next few pictures are all snapchat filters. Some are a bit ridiculous, but those of you who haven’t managed to add me on other platforms will actually see my face.

We enjoyed being silly.

I am glad he came to visit. I said stressful earlier when describing his visit. He and his momma were both sick with the flu for their entire visit. Also, my house is NOT childproof. We bought a baby gate on the way home from the airport because we have stairs and stairs are dangerous for little ones. He also doesn’t sleep through the night so, I woke every time he woke, and he woke every 2 hours. Makes me glad my youngest is 18.

Fizzgig does NOT like tiny humans. He had a bad experience with our friend’s 5 yr old so he hisses, growls, and runs away from tiny humans. He does enjoy their comfy accessories though. He really liked camping out in the stroller.

So, that was a fairly quick rundown of December and January. I am purging and organizing the house because I realized just how much clutter we have after having a toddler locating chokable items and having to take them away and put them out of reach. While I will not be childproofing unless a grandchild is living with us, I do need to reduce clutter and get the house more organized. I realized I have a bunch of junk that needs to go. Maybe I will take some before and after pictures while I am purging the house. I am really glad we have a dumpster and not just a trashcan. I can throw out so much stuff without having to wait a week for the rest.

Until next time….

Reviews of Products and/or Companies

Grove Collaborative Pt 2

I was really excited about receiving my Grove Collaborative order. For the most part, I am thrilled because the products are amazing. I will get into those in a moment, but first, unboxing.

Whoever packed the box took a moment to write, “Thanks” on the packing list. The first thing I noticed was the plastic sealed air. This, of course, made me cringe because this is a company that sells only natural products.

Then, I noticed more plastic in the form of bubble wrap.

Even more plastic in the form of plastic tape on every single bottle emerged. I will show you exactly how much waste was used for packaging at the end. We will get into products first because the amount of waste is just shocking.

This is one of the products I have been super excited about. It is a reusable duster, which is machine washable and I also purchased the refill because I wanted to have a clean duster head while the other was washing.

I zoomed in on the label a bit so it was legible. This is the Dust Whisper microfiber duster, which is made by Full Circle. It is environmentally friendly, replaceable heads, and nontoxic. I tested this duster before I finished unpacking the rest of the box. Before testing, I took it outside and shook it violently to get rid of loose fibers because every review mentioned loose fibers. It looked like it was snowing, but the birds loved it. They were collecting the fibers while I was shaking it.

I wanted to see how this thing worked so, I took it apart. The duster head is a sleeve and it slides onto the wand easily. There are small built in hooks right near the handle, which the heads hook onto with elastic bands.

The bands are invisible once the duster has been fluffed. They went on very easily and came off easily.

I couldn’t believe how much dust and fur this thing picked up with a single swipe. I was originally using Swiffer dusters and in an effort to be more environmentally conscious, I had switched to using dust cloths, which were microfiber. I hated the cloths because I was just moving around the dust and fur. This duster is an amazing replacement for a Swiffer duster. I will be buying more duster heads because of the level of dust and fur that accumulate in a single day from two cats and a Husky/wolf mix. (Miss Mia blew her coat recently so, fur is a real issue.) I definitely rate this a 9/10 and the reason for 9 is because of the loose fibers. Even after shaking this thing violently, I was still losing fibers. I will post another post after I wash a head to let y’all know if it survives machine washing.

Next up, is the Grove Collaborative stoneware tray. This was a free product based on how much I spent. (I purposely added another item to my cart to receive this.)

It is a white stoneware tray, which has Grove Collaborative printed on the outer edge.

It is the perfect size to hold two dish soap bottles and a hand soap bottle. This is a problem solver for me because it prevents pooling water on my kitchen counter from grabbing the dish soap with wet hands. I have had it in place next to the sink since last night and it does prevent pooling water. I love it and give it a 9 out of 10 because I wish it was a different color so I could match it to my kitchen. Sadly, it only comes in white.

This was a bonus gift, which was offered with the Mrs. Meyer’s set through a link from a friend of mine and she is an influencer for Grove Collaborative. So, I used her link specifically to receive this bonus gift. I would share the link, but her link has expired. (It expired a few hours after I placed my order.) This product is the Grove Collaborative 16 oz glass spray bottle with a silicone sleeve on the base.

Pardon my messy table, I was pulling out products and opening them up prior to taking photos. I plan on using this bottle for a concentrated version of Mrs. Meyer’s all purpose cleanser for now, but this may change because it is a glass bottle and can easily be rinsed to change the product without the risk of creating a chemical gas (Gas, like what happens when bleach products and ammonia products are mixed. DON’T MIX THESE!!! I made the mistake so, you don’t have to. It was horrible and we had to open all of the doors and windows for several hours to clear the air.)

This bottle has a removable sleeve and the bottle itself and sleeve are dishwasher safe. The sprayer is not. The bottle is actually sold in a set of 3, with 3 different sleeve colors. I chose gray for my free bonus bottle.

My rating is 10/10. This is not a heavy bottle, it is EXTREMELY lightweight, which is surprising, considering that it is glass. The glass is not very thick, but it is sturdy and well made. The silicone sleeve prevents breakage and allows you to know exactly what is in the bottle because it is color coded (you could easily write on the sleeve with a sharpie)

Next up is the Grove Collaborative Walnut and Cellulose scrubber sponge. (This was part of the free Mrs. Meyer’s set.) I didn’t have very high expectations for this because it’s just a sponge. I made Bulgogi for dinner last night with fried rice (Bulgogi is Korean beef) and clean up usually leaves me bleaching my sponges because of the ingredients used in this dish. I did the dishes last night and the sponge stayed white. I was shocked to say the least. I never buy white sponges because they look disgusting after one sink of dishes. The scrubber part worked just like the scrubbers on every sponge I have ever purchased. It rinsed clean easily and there was no lingering scent from the chili peppers. Definitely a 10/10 and would buy again. I don’t remember the exact price of these, but they were under $3.00 (I almost bought extra, but I wanted to try them first.)

This is the Mrs. Meyer’s Cleaning Set. The little bucket (I think it is actually a “cleaning caddy”) is smaller than I thought it would be, but it is a perfect size for two rolls of toilet paper. It is currently under my sink waiting for a new home. It also has a Grove Collaborative stamp on it and only comes in white. It’s well made and I give it a 9/10 because it only comes in white. I understand that white makes things look cleaner, but I prefer colors.

Close up on the stamp.

The last three pictures are the three Mrs. Meyer’s products that come in the cleaning kit. You can choose your own scent. I chose Honeysuckle because it is my favorite Mrs. Meyer’s scent. I love Mrs. Meyer’s products and I wish they didn’t have to come in plastic bottles, but I reuse these as much as possible. I use the dish soap bottles for stain remover, which I make from a recipe. I refill the spray bottles with concentrate of the same product or remove the label and they get used for all sorts of things. The hand soap bottle gets refilled with a refill from Mrs. Meyers.

These next photos are the products I purchased to receive the free Mrs. Meyer’s set, the glass spray bottle, and the Stoneware tray.

I was so excited to find a baby formula of Dr. Bronner’s castile soap. I LOVE this soap. I use it in all of my recipes for bathbombs, shower jellies, etc. I also bathe the cats with it when they get into something. (I had to bathe them constantly as bottle fed kittens)

I had run out of apple cider vinegar. So, I bought some more.

This is a new product for me and I hope it makes my wood floors shine. It’s a squirt and mop formula for those days when I don’t want to fill a bucket with mop water.

This is the vinegar based floor cleaner that I have been hoping works as the reviews stated. Its supposed to remove the cloudy buildup on wood floors.

I have mopped the ENTIRE downstairs with this floor wash. It calls for 1/2 a cup of floor wash per 2 gallons of water. I boil water for mopping because we have hard water (I add water softener salts to the boiling water) so. I boiled 2 gallons of water, added the water softener and mixed up some mop water. I swept the floors while the water was cooling a bit. I mopped the entire downstairs which has mostly hardwood flooring, but also has tile and linoleum peel and stick tiling (I despise peel and stick tile). I also mopped the wood staircase. My floors are definitely clean. They aren’t sticky, the vinegar smell dissipated very quickly and all I smell now is oranges. It did NOT remove the waxy looking residue from previous cleaners, but I am not giving up since this was just one mopping session. The most shocking thing was the mop water when I was finished. It was almost black. I mop daily and the water only gets that gross when I have a house full of people who forget about the shoe rule. The water was downright nasty. So, I am assuming that this is part of the gross buildup on my floors…. dirt. Gross. The peel and stick tile is a nightmare to clean. It has texture so, it always looks dirty and I use melamine sponges (magic erasers) to wash the floor on my hands and knees most of the time. I go through about 3 sponges each time I deep clean the floor. They disappear while cleaning so there is nothing left when I finish a sponge. This floor wash cleaned the floor so it didn’t look dirty after mopping it. I am beyond thrilled with this product. I will probably end up putting a solution of product and water into a spray bottle to clean the wood trim all throughout the house. I don’t feel any sand or grit after the floors are dry so, I’m giving it a 10/10. I will definitely continue buying this product.

This is another new product for me. I just scrubbed down the white subway tile, which makes up the downstairs bathroom shower. I have had a miserable time keeping this shower clean so, I’m hopeful that this daily shower spray helps. The scent is ylang ylang, which, smells a bit perfume like and a bit flowery at the same time. Difficult to describe, but I use the essential oil in other things so, I know it’s a scent hubby won’t despise. Other options were peppermint and lavender I believe and he hates peppermint and I don’t do lavender. I will keep y’all posted on how this works out.

All in all, I am happy with the products and I will probably keep my VIP membership because the stores in my small town don’t carry much in terms of natural cleaners. I can find apple cider vinegar and that’s pretty much it. I order a lot of cleaning supplies from Amazon, but they only carry some stuff. So, being able to get everything in one place, with free shipping, and free products 4 times a year, is worth 13 bucks a year. (I believe the actual price is $12.99)

I know I said I would show you how much waste packaging I had at the end. Prepare yourselves, this is really bad.

The excess packaging filled the box. I can compost the paper, but we don’t have any recycling programs anywhere near us. Hubby offered to go to the recycling center (over an hour away) so, I would not feel guilty about tossing the plastic. I post cardboard boxes from Amazon for free on buy sell trades and usually include the sealed air with the boxes. I post them for free because boxes are hard to find when you are moving. Hubby is just going to take the entire box from Grove Collaborative with all of our aluminum cans to the recycling center next time he goes. We will have to pay to recycle the Grove Collaborative box and packing materials, but I am okay with that if it means it doesn’t end up in a landfill. There was a 6 ft long strip of sealed air (the airbags they use for shipping), at least 4 feet of plastic tape, and 4 things of bubble wrap. I don’t understand why they don’t just use recycled paper and avoid the plastic all together or why they don’t switch to paper based tape with embedded string for strength. This was the most disturbing thing I have ever seen from a natural products company. I have send an email and when they asked me to review my shipping experience, I also said something about it in the review. This is not okay and I do hope they stop using massive amounts of plastic shipping materials. I hope this review of Grove Collaborative is helpful for you. If you do decide to purchase using the link above, I will receive a $10.00 credit when you checkout after using my Grove Collaborative link. Thank you in advance. I can always use extra cleaning supplies. 😁 Until next time…

Reviews of Products and/or Companies

I Am Finally Trying Out Grove Collaborative (Pt 1)

So, today, I ordered from Grove Collaborative, which is a company that sells natural products from brands such as Dr. Bronner’s, Burt’s Bees, Seventh Generation, and my favorite, Mrs. Meyer’s. I have seen their yearly special for a free 5 piece Mrs. Meyer’s cleaning set for a few years now. (The link above will take you to this special offer and if you do sign up, I recieve a $10.00 credit with your first purchase. I want to be absolutely clear about this aspect.)

As I have recently stopped using as many harsh chemicals while cleaning my home and I am a huge fan of Mrs. Meyer’s honeysuckle products, I figured all it would cost me was taking a few moments to cancel a VIP membership (If I decided that $19.99 wasn’t worth free shipping for a year from Grove Collaborative plus other benefits like auto-shipping, first access to sales, etc.) and purchasing a few other products, which I was already running low on and they are EXTREMELY difficult to find where I live. Dr. Bronner’s castile soap is one of those things I simply cannot find anywhere near where I live. Personally, that twenty dollars a year is completely worth it. I pay more than that for Amazon Prime. From what I can tell, every product they sell is environmentally friendly and free from harsh and difficult to pronounce chemicals.

I have signed up for the free cleaning set and have a temporary VIP membership. I simply wanted to share the link, which Grove Collaborative provided, to the FREE 5 – piece Mrs. Meyer’s cleaning set. I spent a little bit more than the minimum for the free gift set, which was something like $30.00 (US) (FREE SHIPPING) and they added on another little goody, which was a cute little stoneware tray.

I have been using Mrs. Meyer’s products for a few months now and I am in love with the dish soap. I have been a loyal user of Dawn dish soap for most of my adult life. I still have Original Dawn, the blue one, in the soap dispenser at the kitchen sink because hubby uses it to get grease, motor oil, and all those gross fluids from the garage off of his hands. I also use it to get those fluids out of his clothes. Some cleaning products, I will still use for specific things.

I have been cleaning my entire house with bleach or CaviCide for years. So, switching to more natural cleaning products has been a very difficult transition for me because I have no idea if these products are going to kill all of the nasty germs and viruses that can make you sick. I will continue to clean my bathrooms with CaviCide, which is a hospital grade disinfectant, until I know how effective the natural alternatives are at killing specific things like MRSA, Staph, the Flu virus, and other dangerous germs.

I have been cleaning with these extreme chemicals because I have a compromised immune system, which means the flu is deadly and the common cold is deadly. I am careful and rather obsessive about keeping everything clean because I absolutely HATE hospitals. However, these chemicals aren’t all that good for me either. CaviCide requires the use of a mask, gloves, and rinsing surfaces afterwards. Bleach also requires gloves because I have very sensitive skin, but I don’t have to wear a mask.

So, in an effort to be both more environmentally conscious and switch to more natural products, I have been trying the different brands of natural cleaners. Most have been found on Amazon, but Grove Collaborative has brands I have never heard of as well as all of the brands I am familiar with. They have so many options, it is fabulous. They are also priced very well compared to what I have been paying elsewhere.

Being a barefoot kind of girl, I don’t want bleach or remnants of CaviCide being absorbed through my skin, from walking around barefoot. So, I will be trying different options for the hardwood floors, which I mop daily because I don’t want dirty feet from walking around my home. Having a dog who likes to dig and scratch at the dirt outside, means that dirt comes inside. It comes in, even though there is a huge area rug in front of the door once you walk inside, shoes are not allowed, and I vacuum constantly. No matter what I do, dirt comes inside. So, I purchased a vinegar based floor cleaner. It had amazing reviews and many said that it removed the haze from their wood floors. We shall see if it lives up to the reviews. I like things that smell good, but I don’t want to breathe in aerosol air fresheners so, scented cleaning products is a plus. Neither of my current two go to cleaners smell good. Not even lemon scented bleach covers up the bleach smell.

As I just ordered this set today, I can’t show you photos, but I will post, with photos, once it arrives. I am looking forward to trying new products and having refills of those I am already using. As for the Mrs. Meyer’s set, I already use the hand soap, the dish soap, and the all purpose cleanser. I have never seen a walnut based scrubbie sponge, but I look forward to trying it out. I also look forward to the little cleaning bucket. I love buckets and baskets. This bucket won’t be used for cleaning. It will most likely end up in one of the bathrooms holding bath products or something similar. It is super cute.

I am looking forward to this package arriving because I really can’t wait to try this vinegar based floor cleaner. I went with mandarin orange for a scent because citrus is a clean scent and less perfume-like compared to scents like lavender. I love lavender, but it gives me a headache of I have to smell it nonstop or if a whole house smells strongly of lavender. Hubby likes lavender too but not the whole house smelling of lavender. Citrus scents seem to dissipate much faster and smell clean and fresh instead of like I used a whole can of air freshener.

Once the package arrives, I will write a post with information about my experience with Grove Collaborative, as well as a short review of each product in the set and those I purchased in addition to the set. If you wish to check out this gift offer, just click here or on the Grove Collaborative links that are highlighted throughout the post. Again, I am not an affiliate and to my knowledge, I only benefit from the link if you purchase from that link. I have made a purchase to receive this gift set and I purchased additional items. You can change the items they place in the cart, which are suggestions. If they say “Free” they are part of the gift set and cannot be removed. However, you can choose the scents for the Mrs. Meyer’s products. I have personally used Bluebell, Lemon Verbena, and Honeysuckle. They all smell really nice. Bluebell is a quite strong flowery scent. The Lemon Verbena and Honeysuckle are rather light scents. I cannot comment on the other scents as I have not tried them. I hope you enjoy the gift offer of you are looking for natural products (They have everything from baby care, cleaning products, and even hygiene products, which is awesome.) Keep an eye out for Part 2 of this segment. Until next time…


Treasure Hunting on The Homestead

Today, I decided to take the metal detector around the driveway after spotting an old rusty nail on my way back from the mailbox. After my first handful of random metal objects, I went inside and grabbed a plastic grocery bag from my collection in the pantry. I have and use reusable bags, but I still have the grocery store bag my produce in plastic bags. This way, I have plastic bags for cleaning out the litter boxes or for picking up poo or vomit from the indoor animals. Accidents happen) Anyway, in 10 minutes of sweeping the gravel driveway with the metal detector, I had quite a bit of metal picked up.

The shell casings are from firearms we own, the actual bullet is not from one of ours. All of these bits can destroy a tire. I took a break to reapply sunblock and down a bottle and a half of water since the temps were at 109° F today. After cooling off I went back outside. Hubby was replacing the intake manifold on the youngest kiddo’s truck.

The manifold is replaced and the truck is back up and running. It still needs some love, an oil change, new serpentine belt, spark plugs, and new coolant as there is a mix of water and coolant in the radiator at the moment just to get it started back up.

I continued sweeping the driveway with the metal detector. I didn’t dig for anything and only retrieved metal objects on the surface because I didn’t want to put holes all over the driveway.

I couldn’t believe how much metal I found. The roof was replaced before the purchase of the house was finalized because it was uninsurable. (It was shingle over shake.) So, we got a new roof and apparently the roofers didn’t clean up after themselves.

This is all of the metal I found in a total of one hours time. I am certain that there is more, but it was far too hot for me to stay outside looking.

I cannot believe that all of the vehicles haven’t gone through multiple sets of tires from the number of nails that were in the driveway. Hubby managed to pick up a nail in the sidewall, but he did that in town, not the driveway.

I really hope this insane heat ends soon. I don’t think I can handle much more of the triple digit temperatures. It would not be so bad, but meds make me photosensitive so, it is more like 200° F instead of 115°F. I dehydrate far too quickly for my liking, which results in a serious migraine and if I don’t reapply sunblock every 20 minutes or so, I turn into a crispy critter. I cannot wait for Autumn to arrive. It’s my favorite time of year. I will be taking oodles of pictures in Autumn of fires in the firepit, the trees without their leaves, pumpkins, and whatever else strikes my fancy. I can’t wait. Until next time….

Homemaking on the Homestead, Journal Style Posts

General Homestead Update

It has been an eventful few months to say the least. The air conditioning is fixed. (It freezing up was probably caused by the fact that the unit was trying to go from 78°F to 65°F and it just couldn’t keep up.) We shut it off, set it to 72, then to 70, then to 67 and left it at 67. We haven’t had an issue since. I received an email from Sears parts direct about the lawnmower deck, low and behold, its delayed until September now. I couldn’t help but laugh when I opened that email. Hubby is going to check out a riding mower on one of the local buy, sell, trade Facebook pages tomorrow after he gets off work. As long as it’s running, not a piece of junk, and isn’t smoking or something, he will buy it and I can go mow. Then, we will have two riding mowers, which will make 10 acres go much faster.

I haven’t even bothered stressing over the dishwasher. It phased me the least. I don’t mind doing dishes by hand and I do them immediately after cooking dinner. Once everyone has eaten. I finish putting food away and clean everything else.

Because it was so hot today and will be even hotter the rest of the week, I have been doing my normal spring cleaning routine because Miss Mia started blowing her coat and there is fur everywhere. She has been brushed, washed, and brushed again. there was so much fur, but after her bath, it was the same thing all over again, fur everywhere.

During my deep cleaning, I had hubby move the entertainment center so I could clean the fur from underneath it. I cant move it because the TV is too heavy for me to hold it from tipping over while I move the entertainment center. (It really is awkward and I’m too short to reach the top of the TV.)

I made the most amazing discovery when he moved it away from the wall. There were about 40 AA and AAA batteries under there, which I immediately threw away because of how they got there. So, here’s some of what we found.

He looks so ashamed. (And he looks super tiny. He is a normal sized cat. He looks like a kitten.)

He looks normal sized again and of course he can’t resist batting at a toy. Yes, that is a beauty blender. He steals those constantly so, I hide them now.

He was thoroughly excited to see his lost toys again. I walked out of the room and Hubby said that he immediately started picking them up in his mouth and putting them under the loveseat. He’s so weird.

The above video is of his absolute favorite toy. He adores bouncy balls. They are really difficult to find unless I want to buy them in bulk, which is crazy. So, I hit gumball machines at every store or fast food place that has them. He goes crazy when he hears the ball bounce.

The video was taken in the entryway. (There is a curtain over the door, but it’s a sheer curtain) the wood floors and the staircase to the left, which is also wood are original to the house. The front door and the wood and glass surrounding the door are also original to the house. The whole downstairs is wood flooring aside from the kitchen, bathroom, and mudroom. I despise wood floors because they are so difficult to keep clean and shiny. I will probably end up carpeting the downstairs (it will help keep it warmer in winter) but I will do so in a manner that protects the wood floors. I walk barefoot and I can’t stand feeling sand, dirt, grit, etc when I walk through the house. I don’t allow shoes to be worn inside, but Miss Mia doesn’t wipe her feet so, dirt, sand, grit, and sometimes grass are all tracked indoors. Also, stickers are the bane of my existence. I loath stickers. I always seem to find them with my bare feet. We have goat heads and sandspur type stickers. Goat heads are evil. They always break off into my feet when I step on one. I realize many of you will suggest slippers or shoes indoors, but I hate shoes. They make my feet feel like they are being strangled. Instead, I sweep, then vacuum, then use a dustmop, then, after all that, I mop the floors. Every single day, just so I can be barefooted and a bit crazy. 😂

I realize this is insane, which is why I want carpet. The floors are beautiful, I fully appreciate that, but I still hate them and they are brutally cold in winter, no matter how high I turn up the heat. I grew up in an old house with wood floors and skeleton key door locks. This was one of the aspects of the house I fell in love with when we first saw it. It felt like home. It still feels like home. The upstairs is carpeted with double padded, hideous hunter green carpet. It’s in great condition so, we will keep it until it needs to be replaced. Another thing I want carpeted is the stairs. I love the stairs, but they don’t love me. I slip and fall down them on a regular basis. So, I want, not full carpeting, but the long runner held down with bars. I honestly dont know how to describe this. It looks like this, but not that pattern. Just enough to keep me from falling down the stairs so often.

One day, perhaps I will take a photo of my purple kitchen 😂 No. I did not paint it purple. It came that way. Previous owners had terrible taste in color schemes. Until next time…

Everyday Activities, Journal Style Posts

Bad Things Come In Threes, But The Air Conditioning is Fixed

The air conditioning is fixed!!! I cannot even begin to explain how happy I was to see the AC repairman pull into the driveway today. One air conditioning unit was low on freon and the other needed a tiny little part that he called a fan start capacitor. Both are blowing super cold again. Neither of them has shut off or begun blowing hot air so, they are officially fixed. (He left his personal cell number just in case something else happened with them after he left.) As of 10:13 pm, the house is basically a polar cave, just the way we like it.

I am still waiting on the lawnmower deck. I keep looking outside and hoping it doesn’t rain a whole lot before the deck arrives. I am trying to find someone with a tractor and a brush hog who is willing to cut it for us for about $100.00 or so. (I would even pay 200 if they would do it just before the new deck arrives.) The deck is apparently back ordered until late August even though the website said, “In Stock”. I seriously cannot catch a break. With the Air conditioning, the lawnmower deck, and the dishwasher, that’s 3. They say bad things come in threes and that’s 3 things. (I am not counting the chicken coop because it just needs the cover secured again. It’s not broken, just slightly damaged.)

The dishwasher needs a new heating element. That can be repaired and does not mean I need a new dishwasher thankfully. I am just fed up with things breaking. I realize this is part of owning a home, but it still sucks. It raises my stress levels, which in turn raises my pain levels and by that point, I just want to flop on the couch and no longer more for the entire day. I simply cannot flop on the couch doing nothing. My household would fall apart rather quickly if I did that.

I am making the best of the stressful situation. I have no issues doing dishes by hand. I drive hubby crazy because I have a dishpan with sanitizer in it and I dip the dishes after washing and rinsing. I didn’t use my dishwasher to wash the dishes, I used it to sanitize the dishes. Therefore, sanitizer is necessary. (Yes, I realize that most people do not sanitize their dishes.)

I sanitize my dishes because I have a compromised immune system. I clean my house with bleach and a disinfectant called Cavi-cide. I love bleach. Bleach kills almost everything that floats around the typical home. Cavi-cide is normally reserved for the bathrooms. It’s a hospital grade disinfectant, which needs to be rinsed off of surfaces after letting it sit for 3 minutes. It kills stomach bugs, flu germs, the common cold, MRSA, TB, HIV, etc. It keeps me from getting sick and ending up with a week long hospital stay. (I hate hospitals.) Hubby will be replacing the dishwasher element when it arrives. Apparently it is an inexpensive and simple thing to change out. Until this happens, I will continue to sanitize my dishes with sanitizer tablets.

Aside from the onslaught of breakages, everything seems to be going fairly smoothly. I will be spending tomorrow cleaning up the side of the basement we plan to turn into two bedrooms. It is currently cluttered with holiday decorations, Army fungus (uniforms, gear, etc.), and boxes I never unpacked when we moved. I will have to wear a mask while I am down there cleaning. There is a section between the two large areas of the basement, which has a dirt floor. This is the location of the old coal chute for the coal furnace, which was removed long ago. The dirt is an extremely find dust and I don’t want to be breathing it in while sweeping it back to the dirt floor area. Once everything is organized and swept up, we can figure out exactly how we want to remodel the basement. I will take some pictures while I am down there. The wall has names and birthdays for the boys who were members of a Boy Scouts Troop/Den back in the late 1950s or early 1960s (I don’t remember the exact dates.) The original builder’s wallpaper is also in patches on the walls. The builder’s wallpaper was calendar pages from 1918. We plan on preserving these bits of history even though we will be remodeling. Hubby plans on filling in the dirt floor section with concrete once he has it checked out to see if it’s still dirt for a reason. I will be taking the metal detector down there before he fills it in. The area is approximately 12 ft. X 7 ft. and I am bringing the metal detector down there because there was a Boy Scouts Troop/Den meeting in the one side of the basement. The entire square footage of the basement is about 1000 square feet. The attic is another 1000 square feet, which we would love to turn into usable space. Right now, the attic is about 120° Farenheit (It was 165° Fahrenheit earlier today when the AC guy was up there checking the upstairs air handler. Both units are heat pumps, and I have no idea what the difference is between a heat pump and anything else.)

Looks like an AC unit in my opinion. I apologize for the dark picture. It was 3 am and I was taking pictures because it froze up. I will show you what that looks like.

The first picture is the piping for the freon. And the second picture is through the top where the fan is and the entire compressor was frozen in a block of ice. In order to keep the AC going somewhat, I would have to turn it off, allow it to thaw out, then turn it back on, I repeated this process every few hours. This was the upstairs unit and all of the bedrooms are upstairs so, this one was pretty important at night.

This is the downstairs unit and it needed a capacitor replaced. For this one, the fan in the top wouldn’t turn on. To keep this one going, I had to reset the breakers until the fan kicked on every few hours. The air handlers are located in the basement and in the attic. They kept blowing air. It was hot air, but both kept blowing air. I really am glad they are fixed.

I am sunburned from being outside while both units were being fixed. I stayed outside and watched because I wanted to know how he was fixing them. He was so awesome, he explained everything, showed me the readings when he tested freon levels, told me what normal levels were, and showed me when he tested the old capacitor with a multimeter. It was showing zero for a reading and the new one was showing a much higher reading. He also flushed the drain lines in the basement for the air handler. He explained how to do it in case the water started to show on the small section of concrete again in the future. (Basically, he blew air through the lines with a handheld air compressor. I really want one of those, but they are stupid expensive.)

Fizzgig was being especially cute and snuggly this morning while I was drinking my coffee. I hated to get up and disturb him, but I absolutely had to get dressed today.

He has been really snuggly lately and I am not sure why, because he rarely wants to snuggle with me.

He has even been snuggly with Gizmo. (Pardon my couch. I am married to a mechanic and he doesn’t always change out of his work clothes before flopping on the couch. Motor oil and other mechanical fluids have destroyed my tan couch.) I vow to get a black leather/pleather sectional when I replace the couches. They are 9 years old so, they are actually in pretty decent shape for surviving oodles of kids a grandbaby, other people’s babies, cats, Miss Mia and hubby and I sleeping on them for several months when he had his knee surgeries. (He has a titanium knee now.) Miss Mia is not allowed on the couch, but that has never stopped a dog before when no one is home. They have also survived a move across the country and another across the state. I still want to replace them. They are a two piece sectional and I want a “U” shaped sectional with recliners.

Miss Mia also got brushed this week.

The birds had a field day collecting the fur that blew away before it could be bagged. They will have super comfortable nests when winter comes. The small family of Finches, who live in the tiny birdhouse on the Hackberry tree in the backyard have been stuffing the birdhouse with her fur since they moved in the same time we did. The first decorations I hung was my birdhouse and then, my windchime. The windchime has seen better days. Hubby finally rebuilt it using lacing wire to hang the chimes and a large metal washer on a nut and bolt to hang against the chimes because the Oklahoma wind ripped the chimes off and the part that bangs against the chimes. It will definitely survive any wind that blows on it now.

This sunburn has made me feverish. I used my favorite sunburn remedies because I didn’t want to be in excruciating pain. Yes, I was wearing sunblock and I was covered, but I was outside for far too long and burned anyway because of the photosensitivity caused by one of my medications. Those remedies have been working EXTREMELY well for me for as long as I can remember and I added a few over the years. First, is the vinegar bath. I mix about a quart of white vinegar in about two inches of water in the tub, the water is lukewarm. I cover my whole body with this mixture several times and let it dry. Then, I keep aloe gel in the fridge so it is cold. Aloe is a wonderful thing for burns. I make my own gel now, but I have bought many bottles in the past. A few hours later, I take another bath. This time I grew a gallon of very strong black tea, (about 8 quart size teabags for a gallon of water.) I let it cool and with the tub plugged, but empty, I cover myself in the tea several times and let it dry. I add more aloe and sleep in super soft pajamas. (A tank top and shorts with flat seams and EXTREMELY soft fabric) by morning I have no sunburn symptoms aside from some light redness or pinkness. I am extremely pale so, I burn easily. I ALWAYS wear sunblock, but sometimes I still burn. It’s nice to be able to stop the heat and pain rather quickly. I am sure these old home remedies are probably NOT recommended, but they work for me. Please don’t take any of this as medical advice. I am NOT a doctor. I am just telling you what I do for myself and my kiddos. See a doctor if you have a severe sunburn as it could be sun poisoning or even a 2nd or 3rd degree burn. Blistering of any sort should be treated with medical attention.

With that being said, aloe gel is super easy to make. Just cut open an aloe leaf, scrap the gooey inside out, add a bit of witch hazel (just enough to thin to your desired consistency) and mix in a food processor, blender, or mash together with a fork. Pour it into a bottle and keep it in the fridge. Keep in mind fresh aloe will mold because it doesn’t contain preservatives. I have also made a spray by adding a bit of distilled water along with the witch hazel. For this, you definitely need to use a food processor or a blender and then, strain it so, your spray nozzle doesn’t clog. I firmly believe all aloe marketed for sunburns should come in spray form because rubbing it on can be painful when your skin is tight and hot. You can easily water down store bought aloe with a mix of witch hazel and distilled water to make a spray form as well. No matter what, the best treatment for sunburn is to avoid getting one in the first place. Sunblock is a wonderful thing. Reapply every 2 hours and after sweating or swimming. You should be using a shot glass full of sunblock for a child and 2 shotglasses (a shot glass is an ounce) for an adult. Use more if you feel that isnt enough. The lotion provides better coverage than the sprays simply because you can see exactly where it has been applied. I am a huge believer in sunblock. Skin cancer is deadly and terrifying. Also, sun damage to your skin causes your skin to age faster. You will see more wrinkles and more discoloration when you don’t protect your skin from the sun. Even the bottom of your feet can get sunburned. Apply sunblock EVERYWHERE. Remember, even waterproof/water resistant sunblock needs to be reapplied every 2 hours and after swimming or sweating. 😁 you can also buy clothing with built in sunblock, which is especially awesome for kids who hate sunblock or anyone with a sensitivity. This is the brand, Athleta, which I have personally been using. It is not terribly expensive considering that it will help protect you from UVA/UVB rays. It’s also cute and comfy. (I have ZERO affiliation with this company. I am simply sharing the brand that I have been personally using.) Their clothing is soft and pretty durable. I was expected something itchy or heavy feeling because its sunblock clothing. I am very happy with my purchases. I can’t wait to get more.

Now, that I have lectured everyone on the importance of sunblock, I sincerely hope, if you take only one thing away from my blog, this is that thing. It truly is important to take care of your skin. Until next time…