Sunday, February 24, 2008

Adding a Little Color to the Homestead

This past week has been a mess with regard to weather. Snow and ice - and then it warms up just enough during the day to all start melting and leave us with a muddy mess. Bernie has spent a great deal of time inside this week. And as a result, he's finished painting almost half the inside of the house. Yay!

You may not know this about the love of my life, but he is color blind. Thank the heavens. Because the dining room is a very dark green, and the kitchen is a very bright yellow. Bernie thinks they are black and bright, respectively. I assured him they look beautiful. And being the wonderful husband that he is, he simply said "As long as you like them." Although, when we were putting the kitchen back together after he painted, he picked up the French's Yellow Mustard bottle, held it up to the kitchen wall, and asked "Is that wall the same color as this?" I was amazed that he could notice the similarity, but I just chuckled and said "You are so funny". Don't tell him.

We learned we are getting money back on our income taxes for last year. That's a big deal to me, as we usually end up paying. It's not a big deal to Bernie because he feels they never should have taken it in the first place. I'm just thrilled not to have to write the IRS a check right now. We both feel that paying taxes to the Federal Government is robbery. Look up the definition of robbery. It's something to the effect of taking something from you that you do not willingly give. As in requiring it by law. But that's a subject for a different blog. I'm here to tell you about living on our homestead, not to remind you you're being robbed by the Federal Government.

So we learned we are getting money back on our income taxes for last year. And I left the homestead for the first time this week and went into town to pick up the paperwork from our accountant so we can go ahead and file. We stopped by to see Tex and Charlotte. Tex greeted us by looking at Bernie and saying "How in the world did you get HER off the homestead?" Is it that obvious? Maybe I should get out more.

I made some Sea Salt Spa Bars this weekend. These are kind of tough to make as they require cutting before they have cured overnight. I usually cut them within three hours, while they are still hot and VERY soft. It's not very easy to cut them while they are soft. I took a couple of pictures, but keep in mind, they are still soft and I haven't cleaned them up yet.

Here's one I made with Rosemary Essential Oil and a touch of Peppermint Essential Oil. I am really in love with this scent. Very nice:


And here's one I made with Raspberry Lilac fragrance oil. I had just cut this one when I took the picture, so forgive the washing machine background:


We did have quite a bit of wind this week that not only blew over 2 trees into the driveway, but blew the tin roof about 1/3 the way off the cabin roof. I don't think I need to tell you how much fun it was to tack the roof back down during all those high winds. Although Bernie did that actual task, I held the ladder for him and crawled up on the shed roof next to the cabin to do that for him. The wind kept blowing the tin roof OVER TOP of him. I thought I was going to have a heart attack. Not only am I afraid of heights, I am terrified of losing my husband and being stuck to care for this place all by myself. I told him I was going to kill him if he died. And I seriously meant it.

And through every thing we've done this week, this is a picture of what Elvis was doing:


In all fairness, Elvis really doesn't sleep ALL the time. Here's a picture I took of him wide awake:


He's just full of energy in that picture. You can tell because his eyes are open. Couldn't you just kiss his fur right off of him?

Bee Free,

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Incriminating Evidence

I think I mentioned that when we have nasty weather outside, Bernie is painting the inside of the house for me. Today is cold and windy, and apparently the thought of painting appealed to him more than working outside, or maybe he just wants to get it over with. What ever the reason, he decided to put a base coat on some of the walls today, and I am eternally grateful.

While he was painting, he took a quick break to come back to my office and chat with me for a few minutes. When he got back to his paint tray, I heard him chuckle and yell for me to come look at something. When I got there, this is what I saw:


The paint tray was on the floor, but there were no paw marks close to the paint tray at all. We were a little perplexed where the paint came from, until Bernie found this on the wall:


If you look very closely at the top left and bottom right, you will see the little cat paw prints.

As you know, we have two cats – Elvis and Priscilla. They are siblings. Elvis is 18 pounds of sheer laziness and affection. Priscilla is a whopping 7 pounds of nothing but trouble. That little monkey is always into something.

I went looking for cats. I first found Elvis – doing exactly what Elvis always does. He was sleeping. He woke up when I grabbed the camera and managed to expend enough energy to yawn:


Priscilla jumped up on the bed, looking very suspiciously guilty:


I flipped her over on her back, and sure enough …….


White paws! I KNEW it!

Fortunately, base paint comes up very easily with a little water. I wish I could train her to step in paint and walk across a few pieces of furniture. I think the cat paws would look cool. But I’ve learned you can’t train Priscilla. She has a mind of her own - and that little mind is always thinking of ways to get into trouble. If she weren’t so darn cute, I might even get annoyed with her.

She and Elvis should be happy we get so much entertainment and loving out of them or they’d be barn cats for sure. But then I’d worry they’d starve to death, because they apparently find catching and killing mice repulsive.

I’ll post pictures next week of the kitchen and living room walls we painted. Hopefully, they will be paw free.

Bee Free,

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Don't Have a Cow, Man

We've had some weather the past week and between the ice and freezing temperature, Bernie hasn't gotten outside to do much with the fence or anything else. But he has started painting the inside of the house for me. Yay! We got a base coat over about half of it, but he surprised me today while I was in town getting my hair done, and started painting with the colors I bought. I am tickled pink.

Yesterday we went into town to clean the house we have for sale and get it ready for the open house today. The realtor called us this afternoon and said she had a great turnout and two couples that really seemed interested. We're not getting too excited - we've had "really interested" people look at the house before. Still, it's promising. So we'll see what happens.

When I got back from getting my hair done today, and saw Bernie was more than half finished with applying the beautiful shade of deep green I picked out for the dining room area, I grabbed a paint roller and started helping him finish it up. We were just about ready to call it a day, when I heard a knock at the front door. It really startled me. Our house is a couple miles down a one lane dirt road, and then about 1/4 mile down a driveway that looks like nothing most people would want to venture on, that winds and turns and goes up and down a few hills. It is in no way inviting from the main road and people don't typically just wander down it. We've never had an unexpected guest. Although several friends know how to find us, no one we know wants to drive all the way out here to visit with us without calling first to make sure we'll be home.

So when I heard a knock at the door, I froze. Bernie was in the kitchen starting to clean up the paint tools and we had the radio blasting, so he was oblivious. I peeked out a window and saw a stranger standing there. It actually scared me to death. I quickly walked into the kitchen and found Bernie and in spite of my desperate attempt to be calm, screamed "THERE'S SOMEONE AT THE FRONT DOOR!" He looked at me in total disbelief. "QUICK, GO FIND OUT WHAT HE WANTS!" I couldn't believe how loud I was and hoped Mr. Stranger didn't hear me.

Bernie opened the door and went outside. I continued the final touches of painting, but I kept an eye out the window, just in case Mr. Stranger turned out to be a mass murderer and I needed to attack him with my paint brush. As it turns out, Mr. Stranger had a cow escape from his property at the top of the ridge. Her name is Bella. And Bella was on our property. Just outside the cleared area in the woods. She was actually really pretty - brown with a few white spots. And Bella was really enjoying our woods. Mr. Stranger was worried she would get in our yard and eat the grass. Bernie told him not to worry about it and volunteered to help in any way he could. Mr. Stranger said he was going to walk back up to the top of the ridge (where our property borders) and hoped Bella would follow him. That's no small hike, and Bernie offered him a ride, but he declined and headed back up to the woods. And sure enough, Bella followed him. Hopefully, Mr. Stranger got Bella back in her safety pen and is enjoying a nice calm evening, and Bella is enjoying a nice bale of hay.

It's interesting living on our homestead. We've met several neighbors, and wave at everyone we pass on our little one lane road. It's peaceful here and the people are so nice. When we were in town, it was quite common to hear the door bell ring and think nothing of it. It was often a stranger, but we thought nothing of opening the door to see what they wanted. Out here, people respect your privacy, so you rarely see them on your property. And while they are friendly and kind, they don't just pop by unannounced. So when someone shows up, it's an event here.

We are fine with escaped live stock. We plan to have goats and chickens in the very near future and unfortunately, it's difficult to teach livestock about property lines. So who knows - we may end up visiting Mr. Stranger to let him know we have a goat on his property sometime. Neighbors are good people to be on good terms with. And visiting over escaped livestock ends up making a friend out of a stranger.

I hope Bella is warm and cozy tonight. She is welcome to come visit with us anytime. That may not make Mr. Stranger very happy - but it would be nice to see him again too. We'll drive him home next time. Hiking that ridge can be rather exhausting - although it didn't seem to bother Bella very much.

Bee Free,

Sunday, February 10, 2008

I Think I Know How Dorothy Felt

Wow - we've got some wind going on here. Serious wind. And it's cold. The only thing I dislike more than cold, is wind and cold. And bee eating skunks. And it's a close toss up between those.

It's been an absolutely relaxing weekend. I had planned to spend time in my office trying to organize my business stuff for tax time - and by "organize" I mean actually beginning the book keeping that I have been ignoring the past few weeks. Instead, we actually got out. I am not kidding. I left the homestead both on Saturday and on Sunday. Not only did I go willingly, I actually enjoyed myself. I'm pretty sure this is a record.

Saturday we went into town to deliver some of my soaps, stop by the house we have there and clean up the yard a bit, and visit with Tex and Charlotte at their shop for a few minutes. On the way home, we got a call from a buddy that was with a couple more friends on bikes close by to meet them all for lunch. Our friend is a bit of a hotdog, and being on a bike with a side car is really too much temptation for him. He's sincerely not mature enough to ride a bike with a side car, as he tends to ride it with the side car in the air pretty much the entire time. We all met up, and then left to head to Arby's - our friend with the side car in the air the entire way. Long story short, in spite of the state police, local police, and Gang Task Force that followed our friends into the parking lot to harass them a bit, we had a nice lunch. It's not illegal to lean and pull a side car up in the air, but it sure doesn't make the Counties Finest very happy. We had a nice lunch and then Bernie and I headed home.

Today we hooked up with Charlotte and Tex and did a bit of shopping in the large metropolis of Winchester. Winchester has a Price Club. They also have Michael's and Gander Mountain. The boys headed off to Gander Mountain and Charlotte and I attacked Michael's. Although we found a few items worth purchasing at Michael's, Charlotte and I decided we needed to walk over to Linens-n-Things. We did pretty good there, but still not completely satisfied, we headed over to Target's. We scored there, even though we had no luck at Lowe's in the Home Organization section. By the time we were finishing up, the boys called. We all hooked up at Costco and while Charlotte and I ran through the store fulfilling our shopping lists, the boys wandered through the electronics section. We all ate a hotdog together and called it a day.

I am exhausted from the experience. That's the largest number of people I've been around in one weekend in many months. Unless you count Richmond - and one of those mother humpers managed to make me sick. I better not get sick again. If I do, I'm banishing myself forever to the homestead. That'll show them.

We made it back to the homestead and wind. Lots and lots of wind. I'll be frankly amazed if I finish this without the electric going out. Although if it does, I won't have to cook supper..... on second thought.... BLOW, WIND BLOW. BLOW LIKE THE WIND!

Bee Free,

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Open for Business!

It's official. I've got my soap on a website for sale. I got several requests to have my soap available for sale by Valentine's Day, so I decided to go ahead and list them on Etsy. I'm still adding stuff, but you can look and start ordering now, if you please.

Here's a couple of tips you may appreciate:

- When you checkout, mention Back to Basic Living in the comments box and get a 10% discount
- I am forced to enter a flat rate for shipping each item. If you order more than 3 items, add a note in the comments box that you want me to calculate shipping for you and go ahead and place the order, but do not pay the bill when it arrives in your inbox. I'll see if I can get a better shipping rate for you. Wait until I calculate your shipping for the least expensive rate and personally email you with the final bill.
- I have to pay a minimal fee for each item I list (that means a fee for every bar of soap) so I only listed two of each. If the item displays zero available, or not as many as you would like, just email me and I will list more if I have them.
- I am only accepting PayPal right now until I get my business account set up at the bank. You do not have to have a PayPal account to send a payment. Follow the instructions when you get your bill and you can send payment without an account. If, however, you would like to pay by check, put a note in the comments box and go ahead and check out. I'll email you with some instructions.

OK, I think that's it. Thanks for the nudge I needed to get the soap up for sale!

Bee Free - and Bee Clean ;-)

Saturday, February 02, 2008

People Make Me Sick

Between the trip to Richmond last week and the trip to the dentist, somewhere, somehow, someone managed to infect me with a Death Cold. I'm feeling better now, but the last week has been misery. And today poor Bernie is sick as a dawg with it. People have germs and they are not afraid to share them. Watch your back out there.

We had an ice storm a couple of days ago. Naturally, when there is weather trees on our homestead start falling down. We had to spent some time clearing the driveway of fallen trees. Even though it can sure cause some damage, ice is really pretty to look at. I put some pictures I took up on the website if you'd like to take a look. While I was playing around with the camera, I got this shot:


I wish I had been paying better attention instead of focused on catching that little drop of water. I would have made sure Bernie's blue tarped fire wood pile wasn't the background for the picture. But I kind of like it anyway.

I decided to do a little project with glycerin soap and make something kids will enjoy. I poured the soap into cello bags, embedded little plastic toy gold fish, and then topped them off with more soap. Look at how cute this little fish in a bag is:


I made several bags and used all different colored fish. I even wrote a little fish poem and attached it to the bag. Just when you thought you had witnessed the extent of my talents, I offer this for your amazement:

I'm just a little fishy,
Won't you set me free?
Make the bathtub swishy,
And lather up with me.

While we're in the water,
We'll have so much fun.
Splashing like an otter,
Our friendship has begun.

Wash and scrub all over,
Don't forget behind your ears.
You'll smell fresh as clover.
I will bring you lots of cheer.

So lather up like crazy,
While you play with me.
If you do this daily,
Soon I will be free.

Now what kid could resist a soap with a fish toy and an awesome little poem like that?

Tomorrow is Super Bowl Sunday. Bernie has his menu planned - I just hope he's feeling well enough to enjoy it.

People make me sick - and apparently I make Bernie sick.

Bee Free,