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Archive for March, 2007

What Else I Did on Vacation....

March 31st, 2007 at 04:50 pm

Keeping up with my goal of filling my sock drawer with hand knit socks, I had my knitting close at hand for the last 2 weeks.

Here are just a few of the socks I managed to finish up, along with a couple pair I took with me. There was so much down time, I got so I could complete one sock in 2 days. And, that was on size 1 needles for any of you knitters out there.



These certainly aren't cheap socks. They are running around $12-$15 a pair at this point, and that is picking up the yarn on line and on sale. I am reinforcing the toes & heels in hopes they do last forever.

It is so fun to see my drawer full of crazy socks.....Almost makes me not want summer to get here! I have a couple all cotton pairs so there will be summer socks as well as the all wool ones. Me who never has had a winter & summer wardrobe to speak of, will now have winter & summer socks!


Changes at the Ranch

March 30th, 2007 at 01:29 pm

Much happened in my absence. Most of it I kept up to speed via phone calls and voice mails.......but it seems like a different place than what I left.

The new horses arrived, just 2 and well behaved too. The fence isn't even turned on and they don't care. They are not going anywhere. It's been 3 weeks now and no escape attempts. Love them just for that! The horse owner is terrific, she is planning on overseeding the pastures in rotation this spring/summer & paying for it herself. She is so much easier to get along with, & so far is paid up ahead too. Plus, she pays more than the other person did for half the horses! Her kids are great too, no autistic wonder children to deal with(not that I'm not used to that, but these normal little guys are a treat)

The chickens started laying!!! So exciting to gather fresh eggs again. They were right on schedule.......we had figured they would be laying by Easter. The fridge is full of eggs, as no one here wanted to be the one to use up the fresh eggs....how silly! Fresh custard, egg salad, omelette's, strata's.......I can do almost anything with eggs!

The young couple that was living inside the house has moved. Not willingly either, so there are some glitches. He crossed a fairly serious line so I asked him to move while I was gone, she chose to stay with him (stupid woman). So, there is a small hole in the sheetrock where he shoved the front door open.........and they didn't clean up their room nor their fridge. Easy fixes however.....and they left a perfectly good couch and entertainment center I have already listed on CL, so no loss. They did exchange their interior doorknob and put in a new one with a key lock, so that will be a nice feature for the next person(s) too. Even left both keys! Smile


The garden is doing fine....my seedlings are coming along OK, although I have something mysterious that is eating the leaves. Usually don't have things eating cabbage family leaves here, but they are getting chomped on. Almost big enough now that it won't matter, but I'll slosh them with some leftover dishwater just to discourage whatever is out there.

All but one rental check was here when I returned. Did the banking yesterday and called the tenant with the missing check. He swears he mailed it....will continue to stay in touch with him.

Turned in my income tax paperwork since I got back, this is one expense I'll gladly pay. I have no idea how to prepare taxes and it seems that each year mine are so complicated. I just keep the same woman each year & then don't have to continue to explain my odd situations. I've got 4 pieces of paperwork to find for her today and then I'll be done. Hope to get the filing caught up at the same time, as well as move the BIG file cabinet to the garage with the other BIGGER file cabinet. Tired of having them in the house.

And, the neighbors have a new calf......in the pasture right outside my window. Too cute. One more due any day now too. Calf-vision. Beats TV any day! It is most certainly spring around here.

I Spent the First Day of Spring in the Desert!

March 29th, 2007 at 08:13 pm

Being frugal AND a gardener, my recent trip south had to include an inexpensive gardening fix. Was that even possible in the Palm Springs area, known for high prices and soaring temperatures?

I had Googled public gardens before leaving and had one in mind for our week long stay in Palm Springs. After calling to find out the hours and costs; off we went to look up the Moorten "Desertland" Botanical Garden. The property used to be a private estate and is now open to the public for tours in addition to being a location frequently rented for weddings and other parties.

Admission was $3.00 per person so it didn't break the bank. We strolled through pathways that led through gardens planted according to different desert areas, were amazed at the odd varieties of cacti in the Cactarium and surprised to find a water feature in the center of the gardens.



All four of us had to use new eyes, as we viewed the plantings since we were SO out of our gardening comfort zone. (think Pacific NW, rhododendrons, ferns, evergreens and lush green everywhere.....)

There garden features over 3000 varieties of desert plants ....all shapes, sizes and colors. Our favorites seemed to be areas planted with a variety of textures grouped together.

We also could see signs of spring....even in such stark conditions. Blossoms and new growth were there; just smaller and less flamboyant than in our gardens at home.

Be sure to check out gardens open to the public when you travel; they are great sources of information and inspiration for your own gardens!

What I Did on My Spring Vacation..........

March 28th, 2007 at 03:52 pm

I've been working...........and driving.....and driving some more. I'm not even calling the last 2 weeks a vacation any more.

I knew it was going to be a labor of love sort of event before I left, but I had no idea the physical condition of my passengers (other than my own mother.....)

We left 2 weeks ago, to drive to Palm Desert, CA......from the Seattle, WA area. Me, the designated driver and my mom, plus her twin and their older sister. That made two 84 year olds & one 86 year old plus me.

What a trip. Not bad on the way down....not even too bad at our destination.....but the trip home seemed endless at times. By then, the sisters were getting just a touch cranky with each other.

I did keep them talking almost the whole time; everything they could remember from being kids to when they were raising their families. Very fun, interesting and most often VERY frugal type stories. I can see where I got most of my frugal training from!

Most of the scheduled stops were gambling related; all 3 of them love to gamble. Only 1 came out ahead, the other 2 just didn't have the right 'feeling', so didn't do much. No one lost their shirt.

It was so interesting to be with the 3 of them as they dealt with the finances of a shared trip like this. They had appointed one to pre pay the hotels (my mom) and then they will split that cost when they meet up again this coming month to handle the money. The meals were shared and 2 were in charge of keeping those records...again, this will be split up when they meet. Gas had a 'treasurer' of sorts too....and again it will be divided up. We didn't go without......but we sure were looking for bargains. All 3 of these ladies are living more than comfortably these days........not one of them has ever had a mortgage and they are all living in huge, view homes that were custom built.
But, there we were .....most times asking for an extra plate so meals could be divided at least 2 ways! All the hotel rooms we booked had to feature a complimentary continental breakfast too!

So interesting to observe their different habits concerning money & finances.

We had many fun times, a couple brief health scares and one awful moment when my mom realized she had misplaced her wallet. (I tracked it down at a hotel....they overnighted it to our next destination, all the money & ID intact....needless to say, there is a thank you going out to a certain pair of maids this week)

I came home, very grateful I have the best mom out of the 3 sisters. Mom came home determined not to take that long of a trip with the other 2 ever again. The other 2 decided they really aren't up to this kind of travel any longer & are only going to go on short trips, in our own state.

So, much was learned.........some fun was had.........I got lots of socks knit while waiting for them to get the gambling bug out of their systems and we all made it home in good shape.

Will I do it again? Yes. But, I'll make all the arrangements myself next time, so I can be assured of things like easy access, etc.

Oh, and MY finances??? I didn't spend a cent. I'm pretty sure my mom (and the other 2 either) won't let me pay my share of the expenses. They were pretty thrilled about not having to drive at all....and having door to door service.....along with a couple other percs like getting their hair done every day, that I think I'm going to make money when all is said and done.

Glad to be home........love my own bed & pillow.....and tons of changes to the ranch in my absence. Must get to work!!!

4 legged Tenants Due to Arrive

March 9th, 2007 at 05:13 pm

Just when I thought all my last minute details had been handled, the phone rang. The woman with the 2 horses IS going to rent the pasture and she will be arriving in the morning.

I had a chance to review the contract with her on the phone.....and will be copying a blank one for her to fill in & leave with her check when she arrives tomorrow. I'm not sticking around for the move in. Room mate person has been assigned the task.

So, I will be renewing the boarding insurance policy come April 1st. We won't see profit on the horse business for a couple months...but there will be profit. Better than an empty pasture in my mind.

I continue to send out CL posts re; other ways to get some funds generated from the property. Not looking for more people necessarily, but parking of vehicles for a monthly fee. Wish I had an idea of where to post a sign on the nearest road....we're pretty much off the beaten path to anywhere.

I'm off to the store to pick up a short list of things I want to take with me tomorrow. Normally I would just go tomorrow on my way....but a couple of the tenants here have been here 24/7 all week, claiming "sick", and I'm in need of a break. It's a nice enough week end, I may take a little longer & stop at the trail for a walk. I have exhausted my patience for sick folks this week.


Met All My Deadlines

March 8th, 2007 at 04:24 pm

I did it. Shut the sewing machines down this afternoon after finishing the last clients items. (due tomorrow afternoon) Got paid for a couple orders today, will have to make one last trip to the bank tomorrow. I don't want to be holding peoples' checks until I return.

This gives me 2 full days to concentrate on packing. Plenty of time. I've been sitting things out for the last week (and yes, I use a master list of sorts), so I'm pretty close to ready. The suitcase I'm borrowing arrived today, so I can begin filling it tomorrow.

Glad I'm not taking my vehicle, or I'd have all the prep work associated with that. Mom drew that job. Her car is newer, but she has run it through the shop, checked tires, etc and the only thing necessary was new wiper blades.

Bills are paid ahead, I remembered to change my tax appointment and the TO DO list is definitely getting shorter. Still have to get the horse boarding contract copied and ready; just in case the new horses truly do arrive while I'm gone.

I am looking forward to some Calif. sun next week. The thermometer says it's 56 here, but it sure feels closer to 36 with the wind. Sitting outside by a pool, with a good book is sounding heavenly!!

Catching Up Here, I think!

March 7th, 2007 at 06:11 pm

I managed to get 3 of the items for todays customer finished before she arrived today......and she was happy. One down.

Almost finished with customer #2, another hour in the AM and that order can be picked up & paid for.

Customer #3.......not started, will get to this one tomorrow night, hopefully.

And, before I could place a vacation setting on the Amazon account, Yes, you guessed it.........sold another book. So, another post office trip is on the schedule for tomorrow. Can't believe the sales the last 30 days. Hope I can pick right back up upon my return.

Finished handing out my strawberry plants, had 4 freecyclers here picking them up. And, in the process, I've got one of the strawberry beds all cleaned out here. That will be nice to come home to.

I had also requested a commercial clothing rack from freecycle and had 4 responses. So, of course I've been running all over picking them up this week.......finished those errands up too, and have a terrific selection of racks now for the sewing room. Looks so much better & I'm WAY more organized out there because everything that was sitting around, is now hung up.

So, my TO DO list for this week......getting ready for The Trip.......does have items crossed off. I am making progress.

I'm Running Out of Week.....ACK!!!!

March 7th, 2007 at 07:04 am

I put WAY too many things on my schedule for this week. WAY, WAY too many. At the rate I'm going, I won't be ready to leave on "The Trip" until next Sat, and the leave town day is this Sat.

If it weren't enough that I have the huge sewing project (the trade for CL fabric)which I misjudged how much time I would have in the first place.... I added in some freecycle items; both Want & Offer. And, to top it off the book sales on Amazon are still chugging along, with another sale this AM. (so add in a post office run too, in my spare time)

And, yes, there is that packing deal too...I am doing laundry now in preparation for aiming to pack tomorrow.

I have not ditched the walking plan during my current scheduling snafoo (0r, is that snafuu??) My new friend & I are up to 3 miles a walk (it does take us an entire hour to do that, so we're not burning up the trail yet!) Heading out again this AM, hoping it does that magic thing & clear up my head so the rest of my day is turbo charged and twice as productive. One can hope??

No spending today.......other than gas to get to the trailhead. And, saving money by picking up a van load of FREE, day old bread from the local gleaning group. The chickens have gone frugal too, no more commercial feed for them.

Bad Day for Chickens!

March 4th, 2007 at 02:16 pm

Looked outside early this AM to find one of the chickens in the front yard, just enjoying herself.... Threw on some shoes and headed out with the "chicken bucket" which holds our kitchen scraps...thinking maybe she would follow me to the coop. Nope. She took to the air as soon as she saw me and one would think she was used to flying long distances. Took off over the pasture area and finally came down, to start wandering the acreage.

As I was outside anyway........I proceeded to the coop, to find most all of the hens headed my direction as soon as they saw The Bucket. No idea how many had flown the coop. Called for back up .....to do what we call Chicken Wrangling. Caught all of them minus the one grazing in the pastures. Clipped the wings of everyone we caught before depositing them inside.

The free range lady is giving a whole new meaning to the phrase.

It was so nice here today, I did manage to get all my veggie starts in the ground. Also got a 'gift' start from a friends plant in the ground, it had been living in a bucket for the last couple months....and doing just fine. Fed the rose bushes, as I see they are already leafing out after being pruned. This is only my 2nd year with roses so I'm still experimenting with them. They were gorgeous last year....just hope to do the same this year.

Will take a walk around the place at dusk just to see if I can find the escapee hen and entice her back to the flock!

The Flock........now minus one

March 4th, 2007 at 12:51 am

Discovered a dead hen in the coop this AM. Not my favorite way to start the day, that's for sure. Fed the rest of the flock, then handled the dead one..........think of her as fertilizer at this point.

My weekend charge is here this week, so spent a tad of time cooking for him....and hours answering his same questions for the umpteenth time. (he has one continuous loop of sayings & questions....he definitely teaches one patience.)

Mom came for her perm.......she has had me do her hair since I had to stand on a stool to reach her head! Wonder how much money she has saved over the decades? She does pay me these days, but not what she would have to pay to get it done in a salon. Just wish she could cut my hair in trade... Smile

My new yarn came that I had ordered last week. Bought it online and on sale...about the best I can do since I can't order wholesale anymore. (miss that!!) Plan to take all of it on the trip, so I don't succumb to buying any yarn full price anywhere along the way.

Several sewing customers picked up (and paid for) orders....and I spent time in the sewing room finishing one order for this week and making headway on one more. Only the BIG fitting appointment still to get ready for before I leave.

Realized I haven't been away from home this long since my parents used to move into my house & watch all the kids....back in the 70's. I left every January for a month and traveled somewhere....mostly on the cheap sorts of places... I think I've become way too used to just staying around home. It will be interesting to see if I LIKE being gone at this point in my life.

I see our weather report is going to put us over 50 degrees tomorrow....and it's been a winter wonderland here until just this afternoon. I will be out in the garden tomorrow, planting my new veggie starts so they are in before I leave.

Lots on the schedule for tomorrow, I have no business being up this late here.....


It Used to Look Like Spring

March 2nd, 2007 at 01:28 pm

I had just taken pics here of bunches of my bulbs coming up..........some even showing color and a few brave ones blooming away...



And, then.....this week: More Snow. Lots of it. We're back in the frozen tundra sort of look and the bulbs are nowhere to be found.



To top it off, I had purchased some veggie starts last weekend in a first of the season garden center visit. Now, they are nestled up on a table I pulled in front of a window: INSIDE. No idea when I can get them into the ground!

Spring: Where did you go???

Back Home......Power Outages.... Goal Review

March 1st, 2007 at 03:05 pm

I had a great time at my moms, we accomplished many of the items on her list, as well as I had several days to get comfortable driving her car. (planning on taking that vehicle next week on our trip)

Left moms Tues, went directly to dental appointment.........went well, I got an A+ on the healing up of the recent work.. which was great to hear. Dropped off my dog at home and left for a knitting class. Then, came home....feels like I've been gone forever.

Fortunately, I got right to work on my customers orders....because we've had another snow storm & power outages. Got the power back on this AM, but we still look like Alaska here! (very tired of looking out to all this white stuff)

Spent a bit of time just now reviewing my 2007 goals I had set here in January. I started with 5.......here's the update
1) grow my sewing business & the knitting/crochet classes. Seems like what I'm doing is working. Once I get back from the upcoming trip.....I will locate another local newspaper to advertise in.
2) Make the changes to this house, so it feels more like my home. Primarily, the tub installation in my master bath. Not sure on this one...........no money for this project at this point, but I'm not even sure if I want to stay here long enough to warrant putting it in. Will continue to think on this one.
3) Put myself on The List. I've been doing this daily. Found a walking partner & we're meeting at least 2X a week (with the exception of snow days) and plan to increase this after I return from my trip.
Getting dental work done .....in the process. Appointments set up for April after I return.
I've been concentrating on better nutrition, and it's working for me. Continuing to see new (lower) numbers on the scale here! TA DA.
4)Give notice to horse boarding people. Did this. They have the horses moved, still have lots of their 'stuff' to take off the property. Met with potential new boarder......reducing # of animals to 2, and increasing the rent by 100%. Not a bad deal if it happens.
Increasing the amount of money coming in from the property: Have responded to several ads on CL, but none have ended up with anything concrete. Will continue thinking creatively about this one.
5) Legal Stuff; Have made no headway on this one. Will likely have to wait til after income tax day. I need to do this with mom, she won't be ready to think 'legal' until after she finishes her taxes. We are continuing to talk about what needs to be done however.......so there is progress....albeit, slowly.

Feel good about The List. It's the first of March and I haven't dropped the ball on any of the items.......and I can see much progress in a couple of areas. Will continue to keep the hard copy of the list in front of me here at the desk, and will review here on line in a couple months.