Garden Update

Garden Update

The strawberries are plentiful.
We even have enough for the birds and *squirrels to sneak a few bites when we’re not looking.

They are delicious!
They are delicious!

The blackberries are blooming

Hundreds - maybe thousands? of blackberry blooms
Hundreds - maybe thousands? of blackberry blooms

The garden is thriving:

mm

Square foot beauty
Square foot beauty

I love the process of growing our own food!

*Don has trapped four squirrels this year.
I think the word is out among the furry rodents.
We haven’t seen any for several days.

Content with my cans

Content with my cans

As part of my personal accountability plan, I have listed on my project page all the rooms of our house that need a deep cleaning.  Okay, so every room in the house is on that list – this whole place needs some attention!  But at least I have a starting point. . .

In an effort to stay on task and clean one room this month, earlier this week I recruited Don to help me bring some order to the food room.  As I finished up today and admired the neatly stocked shelves, I began to muse about this underground room in the far corner of the basement.

Gray walls and blue water jugs - a vision of loveliness!
Gray walls and blue water jugs - a vision of loveliness!

Our food storage room is not a pretty room; the gray cement walls are set off nicely by the gray cement floor covered with orange shag and yellow sculptured carpet pieces left from another decorating era.  Cobwebs collect dirt in the corners, and the ceiling is accented by metal heating ducts.  The only real color comes from the labels on all the canned goods, so of course nothing matches.  And it’s cold in there!  A screened vent to the outside allows the room to be cool in the summer, but really nippy in the winter.

Lining up an apartment?
Making plans to meet a friend?

The shelves sport a little graffiti – phone numbers or addresses engraved with a ball point pen by my youngest brother Tom.   When all the family was home, and his bedroom had been given to a married sibling with children, Tom pulled a roll away bed into the food room and set up housekeeping for the duration of the family visit.

Because of its remote location in the far corner of the basement accessible only through the laundry room, I often neglect or completely ignore regular cleaning and maintenance of the food room.  Flour spills commonly adorn the orange carpet, evidence of restocking the kitchen canister from the big buckets downstairs.  Sacks and boxes of groceries dropped just inside the door may create an obstacle course through which we carefully maneuver to retrieve a can of tomato sauce.  One lone and sprouting potato could be resting on the trunk of Christmas decorations.  It’s very easy for me to pay little attention to a room that we only dash in and out of, one that never hosts a family gathering or sees a visitor.

Tomatoes, spaghetti sauce, and beans, oh my!
Tomatoes, spaghetti sauce, and beans, oh my!

But in spite of its lowly status, the food room is central to our household.  It is the foundation of many family meals.  “Go get a can of chicken broth from the food room.”  It is cold storage for Christmas goodies.  “The Special K bars are in a Rubbermaid container on the right side, middle shelf.”  It’s our own convenience store, conveniently located in our own basement.  “You forgot green chilies for the enchiladas?  That’s okay.  They’re on the left side, middle shelf.”

I’m certain that our kids have their own memories of that cold, simple room.  When they were younger, I know they used to sneak treats out of an infrequent stash of junk food.  Occasionally the room was stocked with cases of soda or candy bars that had been on sale, and I would find evidence of their not so discreet pilfering in abandoned wrappers on the shelves or floor.  Brittney tells about talking to Peter on the phone while they were in high school and hearing him ponder what canned food would taste best cold, right off the shelf as he anticipated an evening snack!

Buckets of flour and
Buckets of flour and sugar supply some of the basics.

Although the kids have left home and our choices of food have changed in the last 20 years, our food room continues to provide peace of mind and encourages us to heed the counsel often repeated by our prophet.  Because of its design for a specific purpose (my parents were genius to include a cold storage room when building this house), with shelves lining those gray cement walls, we are able to buy in bulk and maintain a supply of food right here in our own home.

“. . . I wish to urge again the importance of self-reliance on the part of every individual Church member and family.

None of us knows when a catastrophe might strike. Sickness, injury, unemployment may affect any of us.

We [the Church] have a great welfare program with facilities for such things as grain storage in various areas. It is important that we do this. But the best place to have some food set aside is within our homes, together with a little money in savings. The best welfare program is our own welfare program. Five or six cans of wheat in the home are better than a bushel in the welfare granary.” Gordon B. Hinckley, October 2002 –  complete talk here

Our inventory revealed that we’re doing okay on vitamins,

Can't forget the vitamins
Can't forget the vitamins

but we’re a little short on toilet paper.

Absolute necessities
Absolute necessities

Home to lots of good food, plenty of memories, and (unfortunately) a rare mouse, our now clean and organized food room is a little corner of happiness to me!

An insider's view
An insider's view


Single File

Single File

One of my projects for the new year is to clean, purge, and organize the many and varied files in our office. Because if I’m going to research and preserve family history in the manner I envision, I’ve got to have an organized work space.  A big project to be sure, but the kind of thing I can really get behind when I’m in the right frame of mind.

Today that mind set took over!

So armed with these:

(no, I'm not being paid to advertise)
(no, I'm not being paid to advertise)

I tackled these:

the filing cabinet conveniently located UNDER the table
the filing cabinet conveniently located UNDER the table

our financial district
our financial district

a walk down memory lane
a walk down memory lane

It’s more work than I anticipated.

the third refill on the shredder bag
the third refill on the shredder bag
lots of papers for the recycle bin
lots of papers for the recycle bin
homeless orphans
homeless orphans

and I’m not done yet.

Not even halfway.

I’ll be sorting and shredding for days.

But I’ve uncovered some treasures and a lot of trash.

This is my progress thus far,

this makes me happy!
and it really makes me happy!
My fabulous find – a furniture makeover

My fabulous find – a furniture makeover

Anticipating the delivery of Don’s birthday TV, and realizing that it would never fit into the old entertainment center, I knew that I had to find some kind of stand for the new Samsung – and fast!  Because I had spent plenty on the television itself, I was feeling kind of frugal (actually very cheap), but I knew that laminated pressed board from Wal-Mart was not going to go over well with my consultants (kids and spouses) even though it might fit my budget.

So with Don gone for the day on a Church youth activity, Emily and I set out for the thrift store, hoping the perfect piece would simply present itself.  Half price Saturdays at the local Arc are wildly popular with Greeleyites, because let’s face it – 50% off at the thrift store is frugal living at its finest.  The store was crowded with bargain hunters, and the checkout lines were long as patient customers waited to purchase jeans, dishes, school clothes – and even lingerie.

But we were two on a mission and (once Emily made peace with the thrift store smell), we made a beeline for the back of the store.  Because we weren’t sure what we wanted, we weren’t sure we’d recognize IT when we saw it.  Our first look around the furniture department identified a couple of possibilities – not ideal, but worth consideration.    But after Emily talked me out of a couple of false positives, and she had gone to check on the kids who were delightedly perusing the toy department, I spotted a piece that I thought had great potential.  I couldn’t go find her, because furniture is a hot item on half-price day, and I couldn’t risk somebody else staking a claim on what could be our piece of promise.

Shortly they all returned to check on my progress, and Jack proudly showed me their fabulous find – Don’t Break the Ice” game for $1.00.  Emily thoughtfully examined the old dresser I was hovering over, and agreed that it was a great find and would fix up well.  And for $25 how wrong could we go?

We decided to go for it, and quickly paid (watching closely that the helpful employee tagged my piece with a SOLD sign), made arrangements to pick it up later and hurried to the car.  Emily had just about reached her limit on the Arc ambiance and she passed disinfecting hand wipes all around.

Raw potential
Raw potential

A quick trip in and out of Home Depot yielded sandpaper, primer, black paint and polyurethane finish and we were ready to get to work.  Taking confidence from our success with the Great China Hutch Makeover of  2002, Emily and I set up shop in the garage.  We sanded, primed, painted and finished and then suggested Don spray paint the drawer pulls – tricky, huh!

Cheap labor
The grandkids were cheap labor.
It wasn't too hard to get rid of the lovely gold trimmed doors
It wasn't too hard to get rid of the lovely gold trimmed doors

About three days and several tall tales later (most of which Don probably didn’t believe, but was too polite to challenge) we finished in time for the paint to be dry before the television arrived.

The transformation is complete
The transformation is complete

Now I wonder if I can do a make over on a couch . . .

[Buried] under construction

[Buried] under construction

You can find me here:

Do you see light at the end of this tunnel?
Do you see light at the end of this tunnel?

This week’s project is painting the basement hall – which includes a lot of woodwork (five door frames – including one very large closet door area and the baseboards), inside the game closet, and some wall area.  Don’s comment that the hall would be easier than a bedroom because it has so much less woodwork was way off base (board).  Note the five door frames previously mentioned.

And before I could even start the sanding, priming, painting process, I had to deal with the closet contents.

Do we really need all these puzzles?
Do we really need all these puzzles?

Closet chaos
Closet chaos

Outdated, but valuable, family history
Outdated, but valuable, family history
So many boxes of Legos
So many boxes of Legos

Does this mess make me happy?

Actually, not at all.

But the thought of the finished project, complete with the clean and organized closet creates excitement and enough enthusiasm to keep me motivated.

Besides, Mark and Kate have planned a quick Greeley getaway.  We have to have access to the hall and bedroom . . .