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Speedkin |

The brightest bulb on the tree?

That would not be me.

Sick day, playing with Photoshop

Since I can’t really get much else done (we have caught a bug + it’s 293 degrees below zero outside), I’ve been playing with Photoshop.  Nothing exciting, just exploring, getting comfortable with trying new things.  Nellie’s poor face was the subject of today’s experiments.

I think I like the one on the upper right the most.  The original, straight out of the camera, is the top left one.

I need to make curtains.  And bread.  Someone send me a clone.  Oh, great.  Another kid just walked up and announced impending pukedom.  Please make that three clones.  Or ten.

Hellooooo, Winter!

We’re all so excited!!  I know, for you been-here-forever northerners, it’s not a big deal but this is more winter weather, packed into three days, than we’ve had in the entire past decade!  Snow 3-5″ along with wind chills to -20*.  Wheeeeee!!!!

Slo-mo whine

I’ve been working on my (nonexistent) photography skills for a while and now I’m starting to stretch my brain enough to include some Photoshop skills.  Up until this past week, I’ve only known how to crop & resize with occasional random clicking around with contrast & brighten.  Lots of wonderful sites out there with how-tos but I’m most especially taken with The CoffeeShop Blog!  I’ve learned more on her site in the past 24 hours than I have, well, ever.  The below storyboard layout template is one of hers, as a matter of fact.

In addition to playing with photos, I’m also going to be locking my fear in a closet and start tinkering with this blog again.  Beware of strange colors and rearranging of furniture!

Women’s Work

Step 1:  Give neighbors something to talk about by crawling through roadside ditches with scissors and laundry basket, gathering tall, dried grasses.

Step 2:  Fuel with pie(s).

Step 3:  Teach children new vocabulary while trying to make grass behave enough to tie it into circle.

Step 4:  Consult great Great Shelf O’ Fabric for inspiration.

Step 5:  Rip festive fabric into strips to wrap wreath after deciding that a “rustic” look is the only way  this will get done before next Christmas.

Step 6:  Give up all hope of keeping floor even halfway clean.

Step 7:  Find incredibly round and frighteningly large head against which to check your work.

Step 8:  Give in to checking work against whiny, camera-hammy sister’s head in order to avoid girly drama and, whatever you do, do NOT inform her that she has rabbit ears or you will have to repeat this step.

Step 9:  End the day with more vocabulary for the children when you realize you’ve forgotten all about the bread in the oven and rush to save them.

The new fresh-air chicken coop

There’s still much to be done, of course, but the main part is finished and the birds have moved in.  The run will be completed as we have time and money for fencing, adding more and expanding it over the next several months.  Eventually, there will be a chicken “moat” surrounding the gardens.  (The cornfield in the background will be the main veggie garden.  To the right of the chicken house, in the grass you see, will be the herb garden.  Raised beds are in progress right now for that.)

The east, west, and north walls, along with the roof, are sheet metal.  The front, south-facing wall is expanded metal (think chicken wire on steroids).  This allows lots of air movement, keeping the environment nice & dry.  With the opening facing south, that also allows the sun to enter and warm the coop in the cooler months while, with the summer’s sun being higher in the sky, much less sun enters, allowing for more shade.  When we get a few warmer days, we’ll scrub the accumulated dirt from the sheet metal and paint the front wall to look nicer.

The interior will have a half-wall sheeted to keep out the accumulation of crud.  We still have to make a good nest box but, for now, buckets will do.  They have one simple 2 x 4 for their roost but we will expand that as we get more birds in the spring.  We did manage to bring the cool feeder Steve made from Oklahoma.  And see the pumpkin pile?  Yummy (and free!) chicken food!  We’re giving them a few days to have fun eating up the grass and its bugs.  Once they’re through with that, we’ll throw in corn stalks and leaves for some fresh fun & bedding.

Do. Not. Touch. My. NOODLES!

Josie has a thing for dough.  Bread dough, noodle dough, any kind of raw dough.  Today I made a batch of noodles for chicken soup but made the mistake of leaving them to dry unattended.  Silly me.  Then I further erred by telling her to put them back.  Bad, bad, horribly evil me.

Christmas Party & Crunching

Steve’s work threw a party for employees’ kids so we bundled up Sunday and headed out.  Lots of fun!  There were cookies, popcorn, and pop to munch on.  Christmas ornaments and decorations to make.  Balloon animals & face painting.  Santa was even there, along with a giant bouncy toy.  To top it all off, each kid got a (cool!) wrapped gift to take home and put under the tree AND Grandpa Steve took us out for lunch!

(Charlie always has such intelligent looks on his face for pics, doesn’t he?  I’m really shocked MENSA hasn’t been knocking down our door yet.)

Alrighty, I couldn’t get a decent pic to do justice to the truck damage but here ya go anyway:

Steve had just gotten off of work, driving through Quincy, doing the speed limit and nothing wrong.  Incoming driver turned left directly in front of him and whammo.  Steve braked hard and swerved but still hit the front passenger side of the other vehicle.  Our truck will need the entire front light assembly, quarter panel, hood, windshield, bumper, grill, along with whatever else they find in the shop.  There’s some sort of unknown leak in the front, along with a taillight out.  Steve complained of a backache at first but seems to be fine now.  He was going just under the speed limit, 30 mph, so it could have been a lot worse.

The best part?  Behind Steve was a cop.  Behind the other vehicle was another cop.  Hello, witnesses!  All clearly agreed it was entirely her fault and Steve performed perfectly.  The cop behind the other vehicle had been trying to pull her over for two blocks.  AND she told the cops she has insurance but, upon calling them today to file a claim, we discovered she has not had insurance for months… since a little bit after her husband went to prison.  Ahem.  Her license will be suspended until she pays for the accident, her car is no long road-worthy, and our insurance company will sue her butt off as part of their normal routine.

Steve will take the truck in for an estimate tomorrow and we should know more then.  It’ll likely take a couple of weeks to repair so he gets to drive the Duggar van to work until it’s fixed.  Cross your fingers for continuing good weather for his country commute because it drives like a tank — a really, really bad tank with bald tires.

One man’s trash…

Before Steve crunched his truck yesterday morning…  I’m such a tease!  You’re going to have to wait until I get pics of the truck for me to tell you about that.  ;-)

Before Steve crunched his truck yesterday morning, he went back to the yard waste dump in town again.  This time, he got the entire truck bed filled with cornstalks and leaves for mulch and compost.  Woot!

And pumpkins and firewood.

And more pumpkins (not all pictured here).  The intact ones, I took inside and baked & pulped, getting another 15.5 quarts of pumpkin puree in the freezer, along with a bunch of seeds for roasting.  The pumpkins with freeze damage or that were not intact are being fed to the chickens.

These two plants were also there for the taking.  I have no idea what the one on the left is.  Nor do I know what the one on the right is but I do know that it looks familiar.  Anyone know what they are?  I’m not sure if they can overwinter outdoors or need to be potted up (or if I even want to keep them).

Now the dump runs are done until the truck gets fixed.  *pout*

The Tour Continues: The Living Room

I almost forgot to continue the tour.  Today, I present:

The Living Room!

The living room is divided into the main area and a small section for my computer & desk area.