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. πŸ˜‚

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….

Holidays, Homemaking on the Homestead, Journal Style Posts

More Decorating…

When I married my husband, we both decided to get rid of our decorations and such from our previous marriages. We had both been married once and those marriages ended badly. I kept a handful of things that belonged to the kids and he did the same. The rest was tossed. I bought our tree during our first deployment together. I remember when I told him about my purchase, which happened after Christmas during one of those sales where EVERYTHING is marked down super low because the store needs it gone to make room for the next holiday or seasonal shipment. He went into full panic mode because it was pre lit and he was absolutely terrified that I had bought a tree with colored lights. I grew up with a real tree being put up each year and colored lights. I don’t like real trees because it takes like seven years to grow them that size. Then they get chopped down for someone to put in their home for a month and then tossed in the garbage. It’s like cut flowers, wasteful. I prefer white lights on my own tree, but I don’t think colored lights are ugly. They just don’t match with silver and purple, which is my theme for our tree.

The tree is 7 feet tall and it was pre lit. Over the years, the pre lit part stopped working and now it’s partially lit. I add extra lights each year, but we plan on buying another tree, without the pre lit feature, during this year’s clearance sales.

I have added bits and pieces here and there, never really adding too much because moving with the military meant you were only allowed a certain weight for your entire house. I was terrified of the contents of our home being over that weight limit.

He is retired from the military now and we own our home instead of renting or living in military housing so, I have started replacing our furniture, since I was never allowed to have heavy furniture because of the weight limit, and collecting seasonal decorations. We went out on Friday evening to get salt for the predicted snowstorm and I wandered down the seasonal aisle. I sought out penguins of course and found a few, but the real treasure I found was Fall themed.

There were exactly six of these adorable Fall themed placemats left in the clearance section. I paid $.60 each, for a grand total of $3.60 for six cloth embroidered placemats. I was giddy about this and my hubby couldn’t understand why I insisted on buying something for a season that had already passed until I explained how much they would have cost me if I had bought them when it was still Fall. He quickly understood and decided we were going shopping after Christmas for decorations. He did let me buy placemats and a table runner that wasn’t Fall themed.

Fizzgig launched himself across the table so, the tablecloth was wrinkled. (I fixed it so it’s straight again.)

My mother in law brought me a bunch of old table linens and such when she came to visit in May. This placemat was part of a set of 4 and came with foam coasters too, butI have 6 chairs and only enough for 4 spots so, I have to find another way to display them. I was determined to have at least one on the table because she took the time to pack up all of these lovely old linens and some quirky placemats and bring them to me when she came to visit. The white tablecloth came from hubby’s great grandmother and the white napkins match the tablecloth. They soaked in oxiclean for a week to get them bright and stain free again.

I am deciding on a centerpiece, but until I do, the placemat stays. I need to get out to Dollar Tree for wine glasses and charger plates so, I will likely use upside down wine glasses as candle holders with ornaments or glitter ribbon inside of the glass itself as a centerpiece. This blog has some examples of what I am thinking of doing, but I will make it match our style.

I put my tabletop tree up in the living room and did remember to take a few pictures, but I didn’t take one after hubby put the topper on this tree. I will take a picture of that tomorrow and add it in the next post.

Fizzgig of course, had to check it out and sniff it to be sure it was not harmful. This tablecloth is also from my mother in law. I love old linens.

He also had to taste it by chewing on a branch. I guess he didn’t like the way it tasted, because he left after this picture.

I got it all decorated with jingle bells, snowflakes, and a strand of acrylic crystals because I don’t light this tree. The crystals reflect light. The topper is on the table next to it.

A closer picture of the penguin behind the tree.

This little box holds everything that goes on the tree, except the topper. It doubles as a decoration because it’s cute.

One of the kids bought me a penguin snow globe one year.

Throughout the house, I have random little decorations such as this adorable little guy.

This very round snowman is next to the router for the wifi.

This snowman is on the other side of the router.

I have penguin potholders for every season, but this picture is about my aloe plant. It is in a perpetual state of confusion. It bloomed about two weeks ago and I was waiting for the bloom to die back so, I could cut it back and it bloomed again….IN DECEMBER!!!! You can see the old bloom next to the new one. It has to be senile or something because it is cold outside and that window is a greenhouse window, but it gets cold because it is cold outside. So, now I’m waiting for this next bloom to die back so I can cut them both back. I hope it doesn’t bloom again.

Finally, I have these on the door and I just got a new door hanger with bigger bells so, it will be extra jingly.

As for that huge snowstorm we were supposed to get with about a half a foot of snow, well, we got about a half an inch of ice and a little bit of rain. It was rather disappointing to say the least, but this is normal for Oklahoma forecasts. One day it will be 70Β° F and the next day, 20Β° F. We are supposed to get some snow on Thursday so, hopefully we do and I can go find some critter tracks. I adore finding animal tracks in the snow. This is how we discovered we had a fox living in a little den under our willow tree near the back of the property. We never noticed until I was following the fox tracks and they led to a small hole near the tree. I started watching the tree at sunrise during the spring and got to see kits running around with their momma.

Until next time…..

Holidays, Homemaking on the Homestead, Journal Style Posts

Holiday Decorations Have Begun

Fizzgig was so excited to see a gift bag that he could play with.

Gizmo immediately claimed the tree skirt as her own.

She got quite comfy.

That is, until Fizzgig decided she needed to share it with him.

This is my elf. He goes on the front door. I haven’t finished decorating, but he has been hung. I don’t hang outdoor lights because we have a two story home and I don’t like heights and neither hubby, nor myself want the electric bill that comes with hanging oodles of lights. We may get some led lights that don’t use a lot of electricity in the future, but as of right now, we decorate indoors and a few things hang in windows or on the front door, but behind the storm door. No decorations on the porch because I have not figured out how to keep them from blowing away or falling over from the wind. Eventually I will figure something out.

This was before hubby came home from work and added the tree topper and before I had finished. This is important because the final version looks different.

A bit better view from the side with more lighting. (Again, not even remotely finished)

My dining room table is covered in decorations and GLITTER!! πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

My daughter made this in elementary school. It is made using a coat hanger and plastic sandwich bags (no zippers, just the fold ones.) Then you just add ornaments. Over the years, ornaments have fallen off or broken because they were super inexpensive plastic ones so, I added some ornaments, a stocking, and some silver glitter ribbon because glitter makes everything better.

Hubby put the tree topper on and I set up my penguin. Fizzgig ran under the tree as I was taking this and knocked over one of my stuffed penguins that I had set at the bottom of the tree. (Have you figured out my chosen theme yet? Penguins 🐧🐧🐧)

There are quite a few on the tree. I took some close up pictures of them.

I mailed this one to Iraq during one of the many deployments. He shockingly still has his tag and is in perfect condition after being mailed to Iraq every time Hubby was there in December. He made the trip 7 times.

This is our first penguin ornament. We buy at least one penguin each year. Sometimes we buy a few.

One of the kids even made a penguin foam ornament in school. There are two in this picture because they were right next to each other.

This is our disco penguin. He has a switch on the bottom and he flashes colored lights when turned on.

This one came with a pair of fuzzy penguin pajamas my fabulous mother in law sent me one year. There is a year on the back, but I didn’t think to take a picture of it.

Another penguin and a sprint car ornament. (Hubby races sprint cars on dirt so, the sprint car ornament was rather necessary. I bought it on Etsy and it is a Matchbox car.)

I told you we have a lot of penguins. And these are just the ornaments so far.

Sometimes it is EXTREMELY difficult to locate a penguin ornament. So, sometimes they are rather small ones. Other times they are large.

This one makes noise every time the cats go under the tree. (It has a jingle bell on it) I have quite a few bells too.

Not a penguin, but how many people do you know who have a batman ornament? πŸ˜‚ Batman belongs to Hubby.

This one came in a boxed set with penguin ornaments and silver glitter ornaments. They are hand painted and glass so they are up high and I have them on special hooks because Fizzgig liked to climb the tree last year. (I will find the pictures of him in the tree.)

One of the stuffed Penguins I was talking about earlier.

This is the one that was knocked over when Fizzgig ran under the tree.

One of the kids won this one in a claw game machine and gave it to me.

And this is the final tree for this evening. (I still have ornaments to add, another tree to decorate, stockings to hang, etc. etc. )

Miss Mia in her antlers last year. She ran and hid upstairs when I pulled them out this year. πŸ˜‚

Found it. Fizzgig playing in the tree. Oh this reminded me to get candy canes. There were some amazing ones last year, hot chocolate, salted caramel, and Espresso were the assortment that I ate every single candy cane from. My son loves the ones that taste like skittles, sour patch kids, or starburst. I had different curtains and almost forgot about them. Hubby went somewhere and came home after dark and realized he could see right into the house and was not thrilled about that so the lace curtains came down and the plaid ones went up. (The plaid ones block the cold from the windows so, it’s quite toasty in the dining room now.)

A friend of mine made these for me last year. Aren’t they adorable?!

I also hung some of the cards up. In the entryway to the dining room. It isn’t a doorway because there are no doors. So, I guess it’s an entryway. My son was laughing because I used cinnamon dental floss to hang them. He said, ” Mom, why didn’t you use plain floss? Is it because it is red and you think red is more festive than white?” Nope, it’s because I couldn’t find my kitchen twine and that was the flavor I had in my purse. πŸ˜‚ It worked. I will get a close up of my tree topper tomorrow and take more pictures as I continue to decorate.

This is what my weekend looks like. Just a half a foot of snow expected. Nothing major. If we get that much, you will also get oodles of snow pictures. I love going out and looking for animal tracks. I especially enjoy the barn kitty tracks because the tracks tell me where they go when they aren’t close to the house.

Until next time….

Everyday Activities, Journal Style Posts

My Day Consisted of Doing Nothing

Yeah, yeah, I know I was supposed to decorate today, but hubby got today off as a federal holiday to honor President George Bush (senior) passing away. He is very rarely home during the week so, he refused to let me do anything aside from playing a Lego video game with him. I took a picture of the tv screen while texting one of the kids and just remembered I had a picture. This is the game I was playing. Lego Marvel Superheroes

I REALLY suck at video games, but the controls for the Lego games are super simple. Other games, I can barely walk around because you have to move one toggle to walk and another to look ahead. My brain just doesn’t work that way. So, he buys the Lego games and we play together. My favorite part is when you hit an enemy they burst into Lego pieces. When you smash the things in each area, they also burst into lego pieces, but they also explode into coins at the same time and you collect coins to buy characters and vehicles. It really is a fun game and they have so many games from Harry Potter to Lord of the Rings and even Pirates of the Caribbean.

I didn’t decorate today, but I have all day tomorrow to decorate and I WILL make a post about it with oodles of pictures of my decorating.

I did however, promise a blog post today, so I am keeping my promise. After video games we went upstairs like we always do because he wakes up super early, he goes to bed super early too. So, I put on Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince to watch until I go to bed. (I am a night owl and an insomniac so, I will be up for a while.

This post needs at LEAST one photo so, here’s a random picture. (I found the picture of my game after putting this in the post.)

I made an origami bat for my friend. I think it turned out fairly well. Okay one more random photo.

My son sent me this picture one day with the message saying, “Mom, I got a tattoo of you.” I am a cat lady and my kids share this information loudly and one in the form of a flash art (the random pre drawn tattoos in tattoo shops) I laughed and told him I thought it was sweet of him to have a tattoo of his Momma, but I hoped he didn’t mean that I looked like that. πŸ˜‚

Along with the above rambling, I am going to give you a list of some of my favorite things and some random things about I hope it gives you a little bit more insight into who I am as a person instead of just reading about all of the disasters that happen around here.πŸ˜‚

I adore art, both creating it and enjoying other people’s creations.

I love to read and prefer an actual book over a digital version, but I own both a Nook and a Kindle Fire.

I have a soft spot for animals of all types. I am the kind of person who traps and releases every critter except for wasps and scorpions. They come after me and that’s just not cool. If they ran away, they would be trapped and released as well, but they are mean.

I still color in coloring books, both children’s coloring books and adult coloring books. It is calming and relaxing.

I love to cook and bake. I bake bread when I am stressed, angry, or frustrated. I bake from scratch, no bread machine. Kneading is all done by hand. I make better bread when I’m feeling one of these emotions because I take all my frustrations, anger, stress, out on the dough and it ends up being so soft and fluffy. I will eventually start posting some of my favorite recipes (most from the late 1800s to the early 1900s)

I have a blanket addiction. I love blankets and I am constantly making them, buying them, or being gifted them. One can never have too many blankets.

My astrological sign is Cancer.

I sleepwalk, talk in my sleep, and snore very loudly when I rip my mask off in my sleep. I have sleep apnea and use a CPAP machine/ oxygen condenser that forces air into my nose along with oxygen.

I don’t drive.

I talk to myself constantly. As long as I don’t start answering myself, I think I will be okay. πŸ˜‚

I am also one of those crazy people who talks with their hands. (Not sign language, though I am able to hold a conversation in ASL, but the random flailing and flapping during vocal conversations.)

If you come to my house, I am going to assume you are hungry and feed you. Even if you say you aren’t hungry, you are getting a plate of food.

I love soup. Seriously. I make huge pots of soup and freeze it in individual servings and I always have at least four kinds on hand in the freezer.

Okay, last one because this has gotten rather long and a girl needs some mystery, right?

I can write legibly and draw with both hands. I have broken my wrist too many times and had to learn.

Until next time….

Everyday Activities, Homemaking on the Homestead, Journal Style Posts

Life Happens Sometimes.

I apologize to all of you for being missing for so long. So much has happened so, I will do my best to bring you all up to date in a single post because tomorrow is decorating day and I plan on making an entire photograph post for that.

If you have been following along, you know that so many things have broken and been “repaired” and then been broken again. Well, the air conditioning is fixed. The heat is working just fine and we are looking at snow and ice this weekend, which I am hoping doesn’t knock out the power. If it does, we will be just fine. We have a generator and an amazing kerosene heater, which I can place a pot or pan on top of and actually cook on it. They would be simple meals, but hot food is so much nicer than eating whatever I can quickly cook on a crappy hot plate plugged into the generator. I can also use an outlet on the generator for my crockpot so, we will be eating like normal. I just prefer to have my oven and stovetop.

The well pump was acting up prior to my hiatus and that turned out to be a MAJOR issue. It wasn’t just the pump. We ended up replacing all of the PVC piping from the basement to the well, the pressure tank (we upgraded to a 100 gallon tank from a 45 gallon one), the pressure switch, the pump itself, and all of the wiring from the basement to the pump. It rained just before the pump went out and I am so glad it did because it made the rock hard Oklahoma clay soft.

This is the old pressure tank. We replaced all of that PVC because it snapped when we removed the tank.

This is the new pressure tank and that funky looking piece right next to the tank makes it EXTREMELY easy to remove the tank. The end allows for drainage in case of sand building up in the tank. We will switch to a different filtration set up next summer.

This picture shows where the wiring was originally going through the well housing pipe. As you can see the hole isn’t very big and it was shredding the insulation on the wiring causing shorts to happen. We drilled out this hole and added a fitting so the white PVC pipe fits snugly and protects the wiring instead of shredding it.

Originally there was some metal conduit coming from the basement wall and when the pipe from the well to the house sprung a leak, water flooded through the metal conduit hole into the basement. The wiring was coming from the house through a hole and about a foot of metal conduit the rest of the wiring was just buried without protection and there were so many electrical tape patches. We replaced the wiring and it is now inside of the white PVC pipe. The black PVC is the water line. It’s flex pipe not rigid pvc so it is an upgrade from the random bits of patched together pipe that was in the ground. No wonder it sprung a leak.

This end is where the pipes meet the basement wall. As you can see, no more metal conduit. (Inside the white PVC, is a copper pipe that fits through the basement wall and the space between the copper pipe and PVC has been sealed with silicone so, it is water tight, but the pipe can be easily removed if needed.) The water pipe is connected to the old metal pipes for the house, which are original to the house, but most of the pipes in the basement have been replaced. We just didn’t want to cut a hole in the cement block that makes up the basement wall so we left this metal pipe section in place and connected it to the flex pipe with copper fittings, which have hose clamps as a backup measure for securing the copper fitting inside the flex pipe. I wish I had taken a picture of that fitting because I know that’s confusing. There is a screw in side going into the metal pipe and the side that goes inside the flex pipe has these ridges that dig into the flex pipe if you attempt to remove it. We just weren’t taking any chances and added two hose clamps for extra peace of mind.

So, that’s everything for the well that I took pictures of and still have the pictures. It took almost a week to complete everything since hubby still had to go to work every day and my son still had school. We had water except for one full day. Hubby had everything situated for temporary measures since we got muddy daily working on the well. Showers were a must.

Next up is the drafty doors. I REFUSE to get rid of the original front door. It is absolutely beautiful. I was tracking up thick blankets each year making the front door unusable and the back door, it’s a French door and while new (previous owners put it in) it has a serious draft and the glass just allows cold to permeate the living room. So, blankets were not cutting it for me or hubby. They looked terrible and we were forced to use the mudroom for coming and going. It was not fun.

I decided on a more permanent solution, which blocks the drafts and cold, but we have use of the doors and it looks much nicer than a blanket.

Okay, this is the back door. As you can see, theres a blanket still partially tacked up over it. (I think those are called French doors. Both open.)

This was my solution. (This is the front door) It is a sliding glass door curtain and it’s thermal as well a a blackout curtain. So, it’s pretty thick. There are single pane windows that are decorative and they don’t open, they are just panes of glass, which surround the door. It is lovely in the summer because it let’s in a ton of light. So, the curtain needed to cover all of that glass as well. (The glass is also original and I am not destroying the history of my 100 year old home.)

These are the best pictures I have of the front door and the surrounding windows. I don’t normally take photos of the doors because they aren’t exactly a needed thing usually. We discovered that Fizzgig knows how to climb a ladder while installing the curtain rods and the curtains. I do normally take a ton of pictures of my animals. So, these give some idea of how much glass is actually there. I am currently searching for someone to actually fix this door as well as searching for a solution for all of the single pane glass. I was thinking about using clear film as a bit of insulting. (Like tint for car windows, but it is clear) I am just not sure how it would hold up to the Oklahoma sun.

Finally, if you have made it this far, I am grateful for your patience. I will now reward you with some cute pictures of the critters.

Gizmo has claimed my fabric basket as her new bed.

Here she is checking out the tree, just after it was brought up from the basement. (Yes, I know the lights are uneven and it is completely crooked. I will fix it tomorrow and I will fluff it back out.)

Fizzgig sleeping in the empty fish tank, which used to house my Guinea pigs. I put an old sheet in there for him to snooze on once he learned how to get inside of it. He is dreaming about being a catfish.

This one is a bit older but they were both snuggled up to Miss Mia and it’s adorable.

Time for daily ablutions while nestled in hubby’s sweatshirt. Fizzgig loves coating his clothing in luck fibers. (Aka fur)

He also has a thing for heater vents and doesn’t care if we freeze as long as he is toasty and warm.

Miss Mia supervising the delivery. This is where I buy their food, treats, kitty litter, sometimes toys, and even the new leads I got for Miss Mia to go outside alone since she can get through all of our fencing. It’s just not safe for her to be outside without a lead since she will holt after a squirrel or rabbit and chase it for miles. We live on a state Highway and semi trucks are a real danger. She has 100 ft of freedom and she gets to explore the rest of the property on a leash with us taking her for walks.

Tomorrow, hopefully I will get my decorating completed and get the pictures posted tomorrow night. I will do my very best.

Until next time….

Journal Style Posts

FabFitFun Fall 2018 Box

My fall box has FINALLY arrived. It feels like I have been waiting forever. The mailman laughed at me because I was so excited to see it among the packages he was holding. (I also received printer ink ordered from Amazon, my Grove Collaborative order, and the daily mail delivery as usual.) I live in a very small town, well, technically outside of the very small town. The UPS driver delivers all around the area where am and I see him quite often, but sometimes, UPS delivers packages to the post office and the mailman brings them out while doing his route. So, while something may be shipped using FedEx, DHL, or UPS, sometimes the mailman delivers it instead. I think it is a great idea because some days the UPS truck is crammed full with packages and his route is HUGE. I would rather receive my package around noon instead of when it’s pitch black outside around 8pm. Anyway, back to the Fall box. This post is not sponsored in any way, I paid for my FabFitFun subscription just like everyone else does. (Completely worth it too.)

For $10 off a new subscription, please scroll to the bottom of this post and read EVERYTHING after the Aesthetica brow stencils. This is very important for you to read thoroughly because of how late in the season it is, some items may be completely sold out. I do receive $15 towards future boxes whenever someone uses my referral link. I believe in absolute clarity about any perks received for posting referral links or codes.

Without further ado, here is the Fall 2018 Box

Ugh, air bags for padding. I seriously hate these things. In this case, I won’t complain too much because there are breakable items inside.

This is not a good sign. The box is upside down. The items surrounding the box are add-on items that I purchased because they were seriously marked down and I will show those later.

This is the top of the box. It’s super cute and I may use it to store things in my linen closet. I try to reuse all of the decorative boxes from my subscriptions.

Honestly, I didn’t read the little newsletter you see on top. I did flip through it and like most subscription boxes, it has information about the products inside the box, but it has a handful of tiny articles as well. I will read it later.

The promo/info cards and newsletter.

Cute packaging.

A close up of the leaf sticker.

Hooray for goodies!!! Right off the bat, I noticed a Beauty Blender. I have the orange Real Techniques beauty sponge, which works very well and is about $7.00 for two sponges. I have never owned an actual Beauty Blender because I can’t justify paying $20.00 for a makeup sponge. I have a mini one that came in my Ipsy, but I have never used it because it’s the size of an acorn. I did not realize this would be in here and if I did realize, I completely forgot about it.

It’s a pale pink. Sorry for the blurry picture, it kept rolling around.

This was an option available for the fall box. I believe the other option was an umbrella. I tend to break earbuds so, I chose earbuds because I can never have too many. I chose white and rose gold because I can see dirt and grossness on white and I cannot see that on black. (Black was an option) The umbrellas were cute, but I can easily buy an umbrella for like $6.00 and earbuds are not cheap if you want a good wireless set.

Next up, GlamGlow Bubblesheets. I love GlamGlow. Their mask products aren’t cheap, but they are amazing. If you don’t know what these are, they are a sheet mask, which bubbles up when exposed to air. (Like foam all over your face) they are amazing for cleaning out your pores and they are fun. I have a sheet mask addiction. πŸ˜‚

Next up, a bonus snack, a Luna Rica bar. I am not a fan of Luna bars. They are just too chewy for me. The flavor is fine, but the texture is not my thing. I will toss this in with the snacks. One of the kiddos will end up eating it. This was not advertised as an item when choosing my options. Neither were the BeautyBlender or the GlamGlow Bubblesheets. I knew about the GlamGlow from watching a video on the FabFitFun Facebook page.

Next up, Skin & Co. body wash. The scent is Blue in Capri and it smells lemony. It doesn’t smell like straight lemons though. It smells like the breeze blowing through a lemon grove while lemons are ready for picking. That’s the best way I can describe the scent. It smells really good.

Next up, this was an option and I can’t remember what the other choice was so, please forgive me for that. (I did list it in my last post about FabFitFun.)

This product is Yogahhh! Detox bath. It’s Epsom salts with eucalyptus for sore muscles. I soak in the tub a lot so, this was an obvious choice for myself. I think the other option was eye cream, but I am uncertain.

Next up are a set of two gray and white chevron design tea towels. These are much bigger than my other tea towels. I keep tea towels in the kitchen for drying my hands or drying dishes. Sometimes I use them to line a tray or a basket, but I have a bunch of them because I have a tendency to hoard linens. πŸ˜‚

Next up, the Alfred teapot. I drink a LOT of tea. So, I am pretty picky about teapots. I have a few that hold 1-2 cups of tea. This one is about the same size.

I am LOVING how fine the mesh is on this strainer basket. Absolutely zero tea leaves are slipping through this basket. It fits perfectly in the ceramic pot, which is adorable by the way. It is completely stainless steel. No plastic mesh. I look forward to using this adorable little pot later this evening.

Next up is a Grown Alchemist pink grapefruit facial exfoliant. I am quite partial to my Vasanti BrightenUp!, but I will give this a try. If I don’t like it, I will give it to one of the girls. I did notice that this brand is pretty pricey. So, I doubt I will be buying more of it even if I do like it. I would have to love it to spend that much on an exfoliant. Also, it smells like grapefruit, which is not my favorite scent. I have not pierced the metal tube to smell it because metal tubes tend to ooze product the first time they are opened and I have already washed my face this morning and I am NOT ruining my makeup to test it out. πŸ˜‚ I spent too much time doing my makeup to just wash it off before the day is over.

The last item in the fall 2018 box is a Vince Camuto vegan leather tote. I believe it was named the Luck tote. I honestly can’t remember. This was the major selling point for this subscription box. This bag costs $125.00. The FabFitFun box cost me $40.00 for the first box (It is $49.99 every 3 months for 4 boxes a year. One each season.) My box is valued at $389.00 (without any add ons included.) This amount fluctuates based on your choices. The other option if you didn’t want the bag was a set of makeup brushes, which were valued somewhere around $80. Don’t worry, I took more pictures of this adorable tote.

It also came in a wine color, but I don’t wear brown belts or shoes, I wear black. It is a very roomy tote. And it’s so soft, like real leather. I do everything possible to avoid real leather. This is vegan leather. Pleather is cheap gross looking plastic, but vegan leather looks and feels like leather.

This is the pocket inside of the tote. As you can see, the inside looks like the back side of real leather as well. If you rub a finger across it, it reacts like suede and the fibers shift color based on the direction they are rubbed. I have no idea how this is actually made, but it is a major upgrade compared to old school pleather.

I tend to use totes as a purse. I carry some odd things with me in whatever bag I am using that day. I always have water and a few small snacks. I also carry a small pharmacy with my first aid kit. You need something while out and about, I normally have it. πŸ˜‚ I think this comes with being a mom of seven. πŸ˜‚

Okay that was ALL of the products received for the Fall 2018 box. I had add-ons, so I will show some of those now, there were HUNDREDS of add-ons available to choose from. I was shocked by how many products were marked down.

First up, vitamins. I currently take a multivitamin and biotin, this combined those into a single capsule. That’s worth giving it a try. They were half price so, I went ahead and ordered them because the regular price is similar to what I pay for two separate vitamins currently.

More bath salts. I really do soak in the tub a lot. I love yoga and my muscles get super sore afterwards so soaking is a must. This particular brand is normally pretty pricey for a salt blend so I took advantage of the low price.

This was a random purchase. I have seen these sponges everywhere. They are saturated in body wash so, basically you just wet and wash.

It is SOAKED in body wash. It is almost hard like a bar of soap because of how much body wash was is in the sponge. This was also marked down so I figured I would try it. I am hoping it is amazing. It seems like the perfect travel option.

This is my favorite liquid lipstick. It’s normally around $24.00 and completely worth that price. I apply it once and it stays ALL day. I don’t have to reapply at all. I love it. For $12.00, I couldn’t pass up that deal.

Total impulse buy. These were EXTREMELY inexpensive. I think they were $4.00. They may have been less. I can never get my brows exactly even and figured why not. Yeah, that’s a total impulse buy. πŸ˜‚

Now, I have to make a decision between the Spongelle and the Skin & Co. Products for my shower tonight. I may just soak in the tub later this evening with one of the salt blends. I am loving this subscription and it may become my new favorite subscription box. Another bonus about this particular subscription is the perk of being able to add every option available for $10 an item if you do it when the choice options become available. Those extra options sell out FAST. A lot of options were sold out when I subscribed and I have no idea when the box became available for purchase. I was able to choose add-on items because I subscribed early enough for those. Some item choices for the box were available, but I didn’t choose any of them.

If you would like to try FabFitFun, I have a referral link, which will save you $10.00 off of your first box. ($39.99 instead of $49.99 )

Just click here to receive that discount. In the belief of absolute clarity, each time someone uses my referral link, I receive $15.00 towards future boxes. One of my followers has used the link from a previous post. (Thank you, whoever you are. I hope you love your box as much as I love mine.) Also, some options for choice are only available if you are a yearly subscriber. I paid for a year subscription up front so, if you only pay each time the box is available, you won’t be able to choose some of the options I chose. I don’t want anyone to feel like they were misinformed about this process. I am looking forward to the winter box. I have watched this box for well over a year and there is always something warm and fuzzy in the winter box. I will post as much information as possible about the winter box when choice becomes available. As my posts are not sponsored, I will not risk copyright infringement by using screenshots of their page, but I will do my best to find links for every product so, you can see them for yourselves if you are on the fence and waiting for something amazing to push you towards subscribing. (It took a Vince Camuto tote for me to make the plunge and subscribe.)

Also because I am still seeing advertisements for this box, it is still available, but I will warn you that this far into the subscribing, many options will be unavailable for choice. Add-ons may not be available either. I would strongly suggest contacting FabFitFun on Facebook to make absolutely sure that the Vince Camuto tote is still available of that is what is making you want to subscribe. Only when you receive verification that a specific item or items you REALLY want are available should you subscribe for the Fall 2018 Box. I will make a post the second the winter box becomes available. I would be EXTREMELY upset if I subscribed and the tote was sold out.

Reviews of Products and/or Companies

Fab Fit Fun Fall Box 2018 pt 1

I finally decided that this box needed to be ordered. I have done several subscription boxes, Ipsy, Birchbox, Allure Beauty Box, Beautycon (before they stopped doing boxes), Mask Maven, Beauteque Monthly, Boxycharm, Target Beauty Box, Walmart Beauty Box, and Sephora, but this one always seemed too good to be true. Every ad I see says up to $400.00 in every box, which is $49.99. I finally looked up the price for a tote that they had in the fall box, it was $128.00 on the designer’s website. This is far more than the $50.00 price tag for the box.

These boxes have always made me want to buy it, but this particular box has a bag from Vince Camuto. His bags are amazing with price tags of $100.00 and up. That’s more than I want to spend on a bag. That link above is the exact bag for the Fall 2018 box.

The box also includes a teapot or a French press, wireless earbuds or an umbrella, tea towels, a facemask, shower gel, face scrub, and eye cream.

Total value of the box is approximately $360.00 depending upon the options you choose. The bag is customizable and has even more customization options if you pay for a year in advance ($179.99 plus tax) Shockingly, this box also ships to Alaska and Hawaii for a small shipping fee per box. I believe it was $8.00, but I didn’t read it closely because I don’t live in Alaska or Hawaii. I will share my referral link, it gives you $10.00 off your first box and gives me $15.00 off my next box. That drops the price from $49.99 plus tax to $39.99 plus tax. I am honestly looking forward to the winter box. I have looked at this box several times and just never did it. Winter’s box always has fluffy stuff like scarves or blankets. It’s very Hygge (the closest definition for this I can give is cozy). Oklahoma gets brutally cold, not because of the temperatures, but the wind cuts right through you. So, I always love blankets scarves, sweaters and anything cozy.

When the box arrives, I will share oodles of photos. I am seriously excited about this subscription because EVERYTHING is full size, which is rare for most subscription boxes. Many are samples and deluxe samples. (I still love subscription boxes though.) I get excited when I opened the mailbox and see a subscription box because it is like a present each month or each season.

Beautycon was my very first subscription box and everything was full size. I fell in love with subscription boxes right then and there. I cancelled a few of my inexpensive subscriptions to justify paying for this one because I hate spending money on myself. Hubby told me to subscribe for a full year so, I did. I will post pictures for each season’s box. I strongly recommend subscribing only when you see a box you really want. If you want to know all of the options before subscribing, just ask. If you hate the tote, (it also comes in brown) they have two sets of makeup brushes as options as well. One is silver, the other is rose gold. I think the ability to choose is kind of awesome because sometimes you have too many purses or too many makeup brushes, too many lipsticks, etc. I don’t wear much brown and black matches with everything so, I went with the black tote.

I went with the teapot instead of the French press because I have a Keurig for coffee and don’t have the patience to deal with a French press when I want coffee. I’m sure it tastes better that way, but I am just not that functional in the morning. Tea is a different story. Tea has to steep a certain time to taste right and I love cute teapots. This one is just adorable. I went with the bluetooth wireless earbuds instead of the designer umbrella because I listen to music when I clean, when I paint, when I do pretty much anything. I have a set that has the hard plastic part that hangs around your neck like a headband would, but they take forever to charge and I am constantly forgetting to charge them. This set, has no hard plastic piece it’s a small wire, I guess, that hangs around your neck instead, they are lighter and more compact. Also, I am perfectly happy with the inexpensive umbrellas we already have.

I had a few more customization options because I paid for a year of boxes at once (4 boxes)

The next option was a choice of eye cream, bath salts, and a lipstick. I went with the bath salts. I have a plethora of eye cream and eye gel samples and full size products from my other subscription boxes and I adore soaking in the tub. I also have enough lipstick to paint an elephant a neutral color. I give excess lipstick to my daughter, my daughter in law, and my sons’ girlfriends. I always get neutral tones so they look good on everyone.

The next option was between a facial exfoliant, a cream cleanser, and a day cream. This one, I went with the exfoliant because I am never going to switch from my Oil of Olay for sensitive skin because it has never done me wrong. Plus, its inexpensive enough for me to easily afford it. This particular brand of day cream is $49.00 (um ouch) I couldn’t afford that every month and the face wash is the same price. (Again ouch) So, I went with the most expensive option, the exfoliant, which runs a whopping $67.00. Beauty is expensive. I don’t use scrubs daily so, this will last quite a while. (The brand is Grown Alchemist) Switching back to my regular scrub won’t cause issues because I switch between multiple brands and types already thanks to my other subscription boxes. Once every week I exfoliate, but sometimes it’s twice a week if I get particularly sweaty or wear particularly heavy makeup. As it is summer and temperatures are rather high, I haven’t been wearing makeup because I don’t like the feeling of the makeup melting off of my face. (Gross)

I don’t know much about the couple of other items that are supposed to come in the box such as the tea towels, the body wash, or the face mask (I know it’s a sheet mask.) I only saw those products in the original video advertisement, which showed the tote and I clicked the link. There is also a discount code for this box. The code is FALL. It gives you $10.00 off the box. If you don’t want to use my referral link, I want you to still get $10.00 off of your box. I don’t want anyone to have to pay full price for their first box. I used the code FALL because it was listed in the advertisement. So, I know it works.

So, I am excited about this box and even more excited about the Winter box because I know it will have super cozy stuff inside. I will let y’all know as soon as I know, what is in the winter box. I will also let y’all know what the customization options are for each season. Also, in addition to customizing, you have the option to get both options for an additional fee. The earbuds or umbrella were not available when I subscribed, but I could have added the Frech press for $10 or the lipstick and eye cream for the same price. The same price applies to the cleanser and day cream, which were over $40 each for original price so $20 extra and you could have the whole skincare set. That’s pretty awesome. Additionally other products are marked down as add on items. I added two items to my box. A Tarte tartiest lip paint, which is normally $20 and I paid $10. The other item is EIR post session salt, which is yet another bath salt. Regular price is $20 and I paid $9. Those discounts are 50% and 55% off retail, which is amazing. I LOVE Tarte tartiest lip paint. It goes on and stays on all day long no matter how much I eat or drink. It doesn’t make my lips chapped, it doesn’t look caked on, its matte, and I am obsessed.

So, there you have it, a full informational report of all of the options for the fall box for FabFitFun, a rundown on which things you can customize for a seasonal subscription and a yearly subscription. Again, $49.99 plus tax if paying per box ($39.99 with this link) or 179.99 plus tax if paying yearly. You get 4 boxes a year: Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter. Each box has hundreds of dollars in full size products inside. There are ZERO samples.

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…

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 78Β°F to 65Β°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. πŸ˜‚

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 πŸ˜‚ No. I did not paint it purple. It came that way. Previous owners had terrible taste in color schemes. Until next time…

Journal Style Posts

I Knew It Was Too Good To Be True

Upstairs ac is definitely NOT fixed. Woke up to the upstairs being sweltering HOT. The unit is still freezing up. I have no idea why either. I talked to the company and they will be back out next week to get this thing fixed properly. We thought it was just low on freon. He added 3 pounds of freon so it was definitely low, but it is still freezing up and that’s NOT good especially since it will be 105Β° and possibly higher this weekend. We will be letting it thaw every couple of hours and turning it back on in order to keep it cool enough upstairs to be comfortable.

The downstairs unit is working perfectly. No complaints there. We are going to inspect a riding mower tomorrow to use while waiting for the new deck to arrive. It’s an older model mower, but not ancient. As long as it runs and cuts the grass, I don’t care. It’s cheap enough to lay out the funds without having it hurt our budget. Also, having two mowers means two people can now at the same time, making 10 acres worth of mowing happen MUCH faster.

I honestly don’t mind mowing. I put in my earbuds and play music while mowing. I zone out and the only negative is the possibility of sunburn I wear pants and long sleeves because mowing makes the bugs angry and I don’t enjoy mosquito bites. Plus, the long pants and sleeves protect me from projectiles like pebbles or small sticks that were missed. I have been hit by pebbles wearing shorts and it’s not fun.

I am trying really hard to not stress myself completely over this whole air conditioning issue. It’s not easy since I thought it was fixed and it was no longer an issue. I seriously hope this is the end of the breaking spree. I will probably start smashing things myself if anything else breaks.

Another lovely thing happened today. We set up an appointment with a company that sells and installs water softeners and whole home filtration systems. We have well water, which means we have hard water and even with a really good carbon filter, we still get sand when filling the tub sometimes. (usually after heavy rains)

Well, the appointment was for 5:00 pm because this company would only make the appointment if my husband was home, even though I handle the finances and I am the final say for all expensive purchases. (Only because I make the budget and know whether something will cause us to struggle financially if purchased at that time.) Well, Hubby was home, he was a bit irritated by the sexism exhibited by this company, but he agreed that it was worth looking into a different option for filtration and softening our water. 5:00 rolls around and the technician is now late. 5:15 and the technician is now a no call-no show. So, I call the company and they had canceled the appointment yesterday without informing us. Um…. okay….

The representative starts to ask me about rescheduling, but another technician won’t be in my area until December. Then, this was the kicker, they wanted me to mail a copy of the deed for our property to prove we owned our home. I started laughing at the representative. I went ahead and told her to remove ALL of my information from their system to include my name, phone number, email address, and my address. I told her we would DEFINITELY NOT be rescheduling this appointment and that this was both unprofessional and highly discourteous of their company to cancel an appointment without contacting the customer to inform them. I also told her that there was no way in hell I was sending a copy of the deed for our home, especially when that information is a matter of public record and can be pulled up on the internet in less than 5 minutes. Proving ownership by providing a copy of the deed to our home is absolutely ridiculous and I sincerely hope people don’t actually do that.

We found out about this company from one of those scratch off game mailers. I didn’t care about the mailer, we actually wanted to see what we could do to improve our water quality. I drink the water from our well daily. It tastes amazing and I filter it a second time through the fridge. (I don’t want to have sand in my cup.) This company offered to test our water at no charge, which was a major bonus considering that test costs anywhere from $150.00 to $350.00 depending upon the number of contaminants they actually test for and if you test both before and after filtration. Our well was tested last year and aside from minerals and sand, it is safe to drink, it’s just hard water.

In case you live in Oklahoma, I don’t recommend this company at all. I started reading reviews online after the technician never showed and apparently this is common practice for this company. It’s just shady and unprofessional in my opinion. So, we will purchase the kit to test our water, then, we will find a water softener and maybe another option for a whole house filtration system at Home Depot or Lowe’s, the small hardware store in town, or even the Co-Op. We have a whole home filtration system in place and I just purchased a new type of filter for it, which is supposed to filter all solids, bacteria, and contaminants. We will test the tap water and the water from the well prior to filtration. I want to know if the well is contaminated in any manner because it isn’t difficult to decontaminate a well. I have to pour chlorine or bleach into the well every time we have an extended power outage or when the well has broken in the past to decontaminate it so, I know exactly what decontamination consists of. The bleach or chlorine is flushed through the lines and the well pump by opening all of the faucets after allowing the chosen form of chemical to sit for a specific amount of time, which is based off of well diameter and depth, and then letting the water run for like 10 minutes. So, not only is the well sanitized, the plumbing for the entire house is sanitized at the same time. We test the well every year just to be safe. Our neighbors have a well that is not as deep as ours and they have dealt with contamination multiple times since moving in. Ours is over 100 feet deeper than theirs. So, flooding does not affect our well as much as it affects theirs. That is definitely a bonus. We also do not have a well house, everything is in the basement. We have not had any issues with pipes freezing up or anything of that nature because the basement isn’t as cold as it is outside in a well house. I did teach my awesome neighbor my pool noodle trick (they work rather well for quick pipe insulation and are much cheaper than the black ones at the hardware stores) she also knows how to avoid a burst pipe in case it does freeze. They are new homeowners too and have never dealt with these issues either. We learned these tricks from the guy who has fixed our well when it broke in the past and from simply talking to people about having a well.

In case I never specified, this is the first home I have ever owned. For hubby, this is home number two. However, even his first home did not have a well, a propane hot water heater and an electric one, multiple ac units, and acreage. So, this is all new to him as well. We are learning as we go. When I registered our basement as our storm shelter with the city, they handed me an entire packet with well decontamination instructions (including a chart for determining how much chemical to dump in and how long it needs to sit and be flushed through the lines.) numbers to call after a tornado for assistance in removing fallen trees or other debris, radio stations to tune to during tornado weather for regular weather updates, television channels, web pages to visit if you still have internet, resources for clothing and food if your home is destroyed or damaged during a storm, and all sorts of useful information. They had an option to donate to continue producing this packet, I donated. I was amazed at how much information was included. One of the best things was a map that shows the topography of the surrounding areas (it is a county map) it shows low lying areas, higher ground, water sources, etc. As someone who is constantly trying to be better prepared for every possible scenario, this map is amazing. I have several maps of Oklahoma and one is a topographical map, but having just our county, enlarged, is really nice.

I registered our basement because I want to make certain that emergency services knows that we may be in our basement after a tornado. They keep a list in ambulances, firetrucks, and police vehicles. All emergency response vehicles have a copy of the registry. Because there is an old storm shelter just behind our home, which floods, and is NOT safe to use as a shelter, I registered our basement because I don’t want to be trapped and they are assuming that we were not home because the other dilapidated shelter is empty. That would suck.

As it is tornado season, hurricane season, and monsoon season in different areas of the United States, I would like to remind anyone who is reading, that having a storm kit, 72 hour kit, or a grab and go bag, can save your life. I highly recommend having all three, with 72 hours of supplies for everyone who lives in your home, including your pets, as well as an extra kit or two for anyone visiting your home when an emergency happens. Even if you don’t have visitors, these extra supplies will come in handy during an emergency situation.

If you don’t know where to begin, I have written three posts on emergency preparedness and they can be found at the links below:

Emergency Preparedness Part 1

Emergency Preparedness Part 2

Emergency Preparedness Part 3

It is always a good idea to be prepared for every emergency situation that happens in the area where you live. Those emergencies may be different than they would be here in Oklahoma, but a majority of the supplies are the same. Seventy-two hours worth of food, water, and clothing, sources of light, warmth, ways to cook, things to beat boredom and to ease anxiety, a source for news and weather reports, and first aid. Specific items for different emergencies such as ways to stay warm during a blizzard or severe ice storm are definitely necessary. Pay attention to the seasons and make sure that you swap out children’s clothing often as they grow quickly. I recommend using clothing that fits loosely for children just in case you forget to change out the sizes. For example sweat pants for winter, two pairs can be layered for extra warmth with a pair of tights/long John’s for girls or long John’s/baseball compression pants for boys. Do your best and starting somewhere puts you one step ahead. I began with my storm kit. Then, I made 72 hour kits for everyone, including our animals, then, I made those 72 hour kitsch into grab and go bags, which have everything already to go in case of emergency evacuation. Don’t forget the sunscreen year round and bug spray in summer.

I realize I tend to start my posts talking about one subject and tend to end up on a completely different subject by the end of my post. There is a reason why this happens. I write a blog post the way I would speak to someone. I write in a conversational manner. Some posts will stay completely on subject, but others will fall under journal style posts and they will go from subject to subject because I am writing them in a specific manner. I do hope this doesn’t deter you from reading my blog. Until next time…