Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Zero Hour

I think it's actually a little past Zero Hour. I'm pretty sure I'm getting into negative numbers here, since at this very moment I should be speeding on my way to Plentywood to finish the last few errands before driving 4.5 hours down to Bismarck. But instead, I am blogging.

Oh, well.

See, tomorrow Laura is discharging from her involuntary participation in a Special Program. She's 18 now and heading home for the first time in over two years. That means many things to this family, some happy, some bittersweet. But there's one thing it means most of all.

I'm going to have to stop using her bedroom as a mini storage.

Her room as of November 6:

Not only was it full of junk, but it had a large hole knocked in the wall that had never gotten fixed because why do today what you can put off until tomorrow?

I'll tell you why. Because you're going to put it off too long and spend days in a complete panic of painting, mudding, and moving, that's why!

Making progress, but I'm afraid my finest esthetic senses were lost somewhere in my hurry. Let's just say I've done finer work, but it's very sturdy patch, since the mud is about 2 feet thick on the wall now....

So here is her bedroom as of this morning. If you lifted the curtain, you would see the window frame still needs to be winterized and painted. But we're not lifting the curtain.

You may notice a certain item of furniture conspicuously absent. I haven't been able to find a bed yet and am hoping to drag one home with me from the Bismarck thrift shops. But if not, there's a back-up plan----Grandpa's hospital bed.

Ooooooh, I do so hope we find a bed!

 I was feeling so disappointed because I never got a chance to do all the little projects I'd wanted to make a pretty homecoming. But God is so good, and the little odds and ends I'd randomly collected came together so perfectly.

Here's her furry brother waiting for her to come home.

Actually, he's waiting for his stupid mom to stop taking pictures and do something fun, but we'll pretend it's something more heart-warming.

So, congratulations,  Laura! Your future is as bright as can be.

Dream big.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A Frosty Morning

It has been getting chillier and chillier around here. We've had a couple snow flurries, but nothing has stuck. Still, you can definitely tell winter is in the offing....

I could have defibrillated someone with my hands by the time I was finished!

Monday, November 4, 2013

What Vegetarians Do For Fun

As a family, we've never done much for Halloween. It just never seemed like a holiday I could really get behind (Now Reformation Day, that's a different story!). But we do try to have something for the kids to do that day so they stay out of trouble.

We don't want a bunch of delinquents running around TP-ing people's houses do we?



(A certain someone's children TP'd my house this year. After a certain someone drove them out there!)

I decided to have a Hobo theme for this year's Un-Halloween party. Or, if you prefer, Housing-challenged. The main reason for this was I wanted everyone to spend the bulk of the time out at our fire pit instead of indoors.

Ah, the best laid plans of mice and men! Our party day happened to coincide with a prairie hurricane and we didn't even want to risk a fire in the burn barrel.  So everything moved indoors with a few necessary modifications. (I draw the line at open fires in the living room.)

Our party game was something Noni has been wanting to try for a long time: Vegetarian Fear Factor.

Fear Factor, if you recall, was a challenge-based game show where contestants had to endure a series of terrifying challenges in the hopes of winning the Big Prize. Often the challenges would include a gross food to be eaten---things like spider-filled doughnuts, raw pig intestines, or live cockroaches.

But, hey, there's plenty of gross vegetarian options out there. Shoot, the way some people talk, you'd think ANY vegetarian dish belonged on the show! But we were going to feature the worst of the worst.

Our challenge was simple. Each person received 5 different samples of grossness. The goal was to eat all five. Or at least sample all five.

The line-up was as follows: Canned lychee (a tropical fruit that looks like a cow's eye---my dad used to tell us that they were cows' eyes), beets (no challenge for the beet lovers of the group), plain oatmeal, plain tapioca, and plain tofu.

Damon opted out immediately, but everyone else decided to at least try the foods. I did OK right through the oatmeal---I've eaten lychee lots of times before (Curse you, Vietnam war!!! That's where my dad developed a fondness for the pernicious fruit). I like beets, and the oatmeal tasted OK.

I had to pack it in when it came to the tapioca, though. I've never liked tapioca and having it cold, slimy, and booger-like was not going to work for me. I gagged just trying to bite off a chunk of it. I tried some of the tofu, but my momentum was gone. I couldn't finish it all.

Not so Noni and Devon! Devon chugged right through without even a pause. Obviously he is used to putting disgusting things in his mouth. But Noni, who has a fierce competitive streak, was determined to prove herself. The rest of us abandoned her to head for the refreshments in the kitchen, but she kept at it until everything was consumed.

Way to go, Noni! I suppose this skill will serve her well if she ever tries to find work as a goat.

Our refreshments were simple, in keeping with the theme of the party. I'd intended to roast small potatoes in the fire, but settled for frying them up instead. Small, fresh-baked loaves of bread completed our supper.

For desert, I tried an idea from Facebook (where all good ideas come from, naturally). I like caramel apples, but they're too big and too hard to eat. The idea is to scoop balls from an apple with a melon baller and make mini-caramel apples, just the right size to eat.

While the caramel heated up, Tiggy and I got beauty shots taken in the living room. The pictures turned out nicely, but it didn't go so well with the caramel. Evidently, when they say "stir constantly", they actually mean it. Even if you look really, really cute.

But nobody minded the little black spots in the caramel.


NOBODY minded. This treat was hugely popular with the everyone. Fun to make and fun to eat---a real winner.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Do-it-yourself Draftproofing

Ah, tis fall. The time of year when a young maiden's thoughts turn to winterizing.

I had so hoped to get my exterior doors replaced this year. They have gaps up to a half inch in some places and when there's a blizzard no amount of blankets stapled over the door can combat the ensuing draft.

If you can call a whistling arctic blast a "draft"....

Last year, my dad came up with a great idea to deal with the problem. Great because it didn't involve him replacing the doors for me. Great because it involved one of his favorite products, spray foam.

I tried it on the bottom of one of my doors, and it worked beautifully. This year, once I came to accept that I wouldn't be getting new doors, I decided to do the bottom of the other door and the tops of both doors. It's working like a charm so far.

And now------I will pass the secret on to you.

Spray Foam Draft-stopper

First, you cover the door frame with wax paper. On the bottom edge of the door, that is easy. Just lay wax paper down on the doorjamb and close the door over it. The top of the door is a little trickier, but I found that taping one edge of the wax paper above the door and then shutting it worked fine.

 Once the door is shut, you take spray foam and squirt it between the door and the wax paper-covered frame. The foam will expand to fill the space.

A word of caution: DO NOT TOUCH THE FOAM! It is one of the nastiest things on earth for getting off of skin. If some of the foam gets on anything, let it harden and it will peel off. Try to clean it immediately and it smears into an impenetrable layer of nastiness.

After the foam has hardened, you can open the door and take down the wax paper. If you feel really ambitious, you can trim the extra foam off with a utility knife. I'm still waiting to feel that ambitious.

Voila! A perfect draft stopper!


But perfect.

Now you, too, can have a house that looks like mine! Absolutely guaranteed to turn even the nicest house into a hovel.

Fastest trigger finger in the West!