It’s wonderful having my house back finally. The first thing I did was move all the furniture back into place and scrub the place top to bottom. I forgot just how much of a mess children can make in such a short period of time.
We baked together, played board games and shared books. Can’t think of a better way to entertain guests.
The birthday girl had a lovely day. She asked for a Mulan inspired day. We weren’t sure how the boys would enjoy it, but enjoy it they did. Dad even arranged for a face painter who was very talented. You can see my youngest brother behind her (in the green shirt). Baby brother is the only sibling I keep in touch with but he lives a couple of hours from me so it was good to catch up with him and his wife.
Once everyone left I needed to unwind and turned to books and crafts. I’ve been reading the Hidden Life of Trees a bit at a time. The book is wonderful and I am in awe of the scientific evidence of the intelligence of trees.
The other book I read was Toxin Toxout, by the authors of Slow Death by Rubber Duck. Slow Death has a place of honor on my book shelf and has been passed around to family and friends. I had high hopes for Toxin Toxout but it didn’t live up to its predecessor. The book was supposed to cover the methods that work, or don’t work, to eliminate the toxins we’ve built up in our bodies.
While several detox methods were covered there were experiments that left you hanging. For example, the author sat in a storage unit in a new car for an entire day to measure how many toxins entered the body from that new car smell but didn’t follow up with the test results.
Another complaint I had was with the amount of time given to telling the reader they should embrace the chemical companies because they may come around to making greener products (I don’t see that happening as I see too much greed for the shareholders being the main focus of these corporations). Considerable pages were also dedicated to the many ways science can make a safer chemical (one day) by replacing petroleum products with a water base, along with all the reasons this is so hard.
In the end the authors could have summed up the entire book with a couple of sentences. Some detox methods are downright dangerous. And…..The best detox is to eliminate exposure and eat a clean diet. That’s the entire crux of the book.
I pulled out paint for a couple small projects. I started with this picture given to me a couple of years ago.
This print isn’t really me, it has too much mauve and pink in it but it does go with the rest of my art which is all nature inspired. What I couldn’t live with was the frame. The gold and mauve screamed 1980 and not in a good way.
A touch of white chalk paint changed the look completely!
And now it pops on the wall over my bed.
In case you are wondering those sconces are metal with a blue glass shade (no plastic for me) and such a nice addition for late night reading in bed.
Crafting for Others
My daughter-in-law grew up in Arizona in a poor school district. When she was entering her junior year in high school her mother asked me to take her to schedule her classes because she couldn’t get the day off work. I was blown away when every class had a price attached to it. History cost $10, Gym $35 and so on. These weren’t electives these were required for graduation. So much for public school being free. In Pennsylvania where I, and my sons, attended public school there had never been a charge for classes.
As a result of her experiences, my daughter-in-law still seems to believe the schools here in Pennsylvania need help providing materials for students. She is obsessive about collecting box tops for education and has family and friends saving them for her.
I happened to spot this on Pinterest and forwarded it to her.
She loved the idea and said that would be much more useful than the baggie she tries to keep them in. If I had to guess I’d say the container in the photo is from either oatmeal or bread crumbs, containers I don’t have.
But I did have a pint mason jar with a chip near the outer edge of the mouth, which would make it unsafe for canning in. I store my staples in quart and half-gallon mason jars but a pint is way too small. Finally I had an idea for my flawed little mason jar.
Together with this lid from grated cheese (which I collect because they fit all but the wide mouth canning jars and make pouring things like popcorn easier) I could create a much more attractive container for storing those box tops.
These lids give you the option of opening to use either a single large hole or three smaller holes for easier control of how much cheese comes out in a shake.
After painting the jar white with two coats of chalk paint I lightly sanded over the details of the jar for that shabby chic look my daughter-in-law likes and finished it off with a coat of poly urethane (low VOC) so it could be washed without damage to the paint. You can see the wider opening above which is perfect for dropping the box tops through.
She loves her new storage jar which will be attractive even sitting out on the hutch or in the window.
Another relaxing activity for me is cross stitch. I completed this dock scene and now just need to find the right frame. It will be hung in the living room and reminds me of the lake and streams of my hometown area. In just a few months this will be the longest I’ve ever lived without access to water within minutes of my home. I do miss it but the trade off is a milder winter which is better on my body.
And then there is the Weather
In other news I am still amazed at how meteorologists don’t stress job loss when they are so wrong so often. And Please Quit Naming Snow Storms!!! The Pittsburgh area was warned that we were about to be hit by Stella the biggest storm of the year. Monday people ran out and stocked up on food and water, many schools and businesses canceled everything for Tuesday. When we got nothing we were told it was still coming and would sock us with eight inches by Wednesday at noon. By Wednesday evening we had barely half an inch. I wish I could be wrong that often and still have job security, don’t you?
Any way this “storm” (yes I know some of you did get the snow you were forecast) reminded me of the year I was in eighth grade. It was the winter of 1976-7 when we had more snow than any other year in my lifetime along with sub-zero temperatures for nearly six weeks. The city closed down. Schools were closed for a month and a half. Parents had no jobs to go to and yet we didn’t panic.
This was a time when families still stocked up on necessities. We were a family of seven yet the only thing we ran out of was milk and even that was supplemented with the powdered version in the pantry.
Adults didn’t panic over being without a pay check for six weeks because they knew they had savings to dip into if need be. It was still ingrained in us not to spend everything we made. Of course this was a time before credit cards and buying things on time.
Home ownership, in my opinion, was both harder and easier. Home prices in most areas were low enough not to drain the household or require two working adults to make ends meet. On the other hand to get a mortgage you had to have a 20% down payment, and none of it could be gifted to you and you had to have six months of expenses in savings as well.
Yes, the Red Cross with the help of snow plows delivered medicines to individuals who needed it, such as diabetics who needed insulin but this was a time when few people were on daily medications. About half way through the closures the Red Cross also offered to deliver food to anyone running low, although I don’t recall knowing anyone who needed the help.
When I think or talk about simple living, this is what I envision. A life without credit card debt (which is why I have no credit cards and pay for everything with cash. To live without stress is to be prepared for any disaster. That means having a few weeks, at least, of food. Plenty of warm clothes. Games, books and hobbies to occupy our time should we be snowbound for a while. And most of all, to have emergency funds to see us through.