Friday, September 30, 2011

The Stair Saga

 Let me preface this post by stating loudly and clearly...

I love my husband.

I really do.  But once in a while he gets these wild hairs...and these wild hair ideas...schemes...whatever they me up the wall.

And this particular wild hair, he's had since we moved into this house. 

He wants to move our staircase.

And he's "started". 

Without a plan, without an idea of the final look of the plan.  And without my support.
This is what my basement looks's all tore up with a partial project "in the works."  This is the wall that Kev wants to put the stairs on.  It slants.  Our house has a...peak? in the center of it.  Both walls angle from that peak.  Kinda like the point of a pencil.  And Kev wants to move the stairs to this wall.  See the stick sticking up in the middle of the picture?  Yeah...that's where the stairs will go...and that wooden monstrosity...that's the landing and then the stairs will turn and be a U shape, with 3 stairs coming to the floor.
 Here's a different picture of the "landing".  It takes up a HUGE amount of floorspace and I'm not convinced that it will ever look nice...
And another view. 

Now, Kev has been observant enough to pick up on my reservations.  he knows I'm not real supportive or understanding about this project...Cause, he'll take at least 7 years to finish it...and it will mean more cutting another hole in the main level floor...and it will mean covering up the old hole and putting in floor joists and re-doing the basement ceiling and the flooring and some electric work and new carpet or something upstairs and relocate lights and...get my drift?  And I know from experience that "little" "easy" projects somehow never quite get finished.

However, I will give him some credit.  He's changed his mind on some of  his plans.  He's not going to have a closed staircase.  Instead, we're going to have open treads.  Chunky pine treads.  Because we like the rustic look, and I absolutely hate sweeping stairs with carpet and stairs with risers which seem to collect dirt and dog hair.  Open stairs will be much easier to clean.  And we've compromised on the balusters and the hand rail and even the monstrosity sitting in the basement right now that Kev calls the "landing."

So, we're compromising.  He's giving me some say in how I want this...thing to look.  And I'm letting him build this...thing.

Stay tuned for the continuing saga of "The Stair Project."

Monday, September 26, 2011

One of those days...

Yesterday was one of those very productive days for me.  I love days like yesterday, when I spend most of it in the kitchen, making various food items for my family.  I didn't have anything else that had to be done, so I could just enjoy myself and putter all day long in the kitchen.

I made jelly from our first ever picking of grapes from our 2 vines!  I had 5.5 cups of jelly, but somehow, only got 3 half-pint jars of jelly out of it.  I used a "low sugar" pectin and it took f.o.r.e.v.e.r to jell!  So, I guess some boiled away.  However, there are more grapes out there to ripen, so maybe I'll get more grapes for another and larger batch.  (Early taste tests say that the jelly is just scrumptious!)

We were running low on bread, so I made a batch of bread.  Not sure if I'll break open a jar of jelly now, or if I'll wait for a later date.  I really like this wheat flour I've been using, and I love this bread recipe.  It uses honey instead of sugar.  I've always loved baking bread and having a recipe for whole wheat bread that has never failed me yet makes bread making more enjoyable.    Someday soon, I'm going to try sourdough and a wholegrain bread and a rye.  I've got the recipes, just haven't taking the time to try them out.

Since my chickens are laying like crazy, I decided to make a couple of pies.  Mom is our expert baker, and I'd like to someday be as good of a pie maker as she is.  In addition, I also want to improve my pie dough skills.  Many years ago, when I was in 4-H, I could make an excellent pie recent years, it hasn't been good, and I've taken the easy road and used store-bought pie dough.  Well, yesterday, I tried it again, and came out with a couple of pretty good crusts.  Not quite where I want them to be, but definitely better than store-bought! 

I made a coconut cream pie for Kev and a butterscotch pie for Andy.  (Miss Kat doesn't like pie, so she didn't care what kind I made.)  Both recipes came from Mom.  The Butterscotch recipe came from my Great Grandma Woodruff.  Kev and I tried both pies...and both are just pretty tasty!

Now, I'd have taken pictures, but my allergies kicked in yesterday something fierce.  To be honest, I was afraid I'd sneeze all over my food, or sneeze while taking pictures.  Besides, you'd just get hungry from the photos!

Yesterday was one of my favorite kinds of days.  The best part was sitting down to enjoy the fruits of my labors.  Bon Appetite!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Girls of Fall

 It's that time of year...
 When we spend many Tuesday evenings watching this girl play.
She's doing great this year!  Still playing JV Volleyball, but getting lots of time in on the floor.

Wanna know something funny?

Her Dad and I really don't know much about fact, Kev is pretty good at asking more experienced parents why certain calls were made. For example...first game of the season...I mean MATCH...first match...  The girls won their first game... of the MATCH.  So, during the second game, Kev noticed that the scoreboard had the number 1 up in the foul box.  He asked me who got a foul, and how on earth did you get a foul in Volleyball anyway!  I told him that I suspected it wasn't a foul, but was instead a way of signifying that they'd one one game in the match.  But he was teased all night long about the "foul" by a couple of other parents sitting near us. 

It's nice when I'm not always the

Oh, and typically, Miss Kat plays only on the back row.  But, one of the other girls was ineligible this week, so Missy has been playing the entire games for the whole match.  Confession time...I'm kinda glad that this gal is  ineligible, it means my kid gets to play more!  So...anyway, Miss Kat is now playing all positions.  She's even gotten a couple of kills and has a nice serve!  It's much more fun when your kid is on the floor for the entire game--even if you don't know what the heck she's doing!

So, at our house, it's not the "Boys of Fall," but the "Girls of Fall."  And that's just cool.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Tree stands and Monarchs

I realize that the official start of Fall is 2 days away, but since the heat wave broke, it feels like fall. Deer season opened last weekend. It's still to hot for anyone at our house to hunt--especially since we process our own meat and we can't let it hang when daytime temperatures get up to 80.

Last Sunday, Kev, Andy and I went to the farm to hang up another tree stand and to scout for deer. That's Andy, up in his tree stand. He's a handsome lad...all black and all...

I took the camera along, hoping to see some Monarch Butterflies. Last year, when we ran out there with Mom and Dad, the cedar trees were full of Monarchs...and there I was, without a camera. There weren't as many butterflies this year--either I missed the peak period, or there just weren't as many Monarch due to the heat and the drought. But, I managed to get a few pictures of uncooperative butterflies. The one above is the best shot. I just held the camera up above my head and had the zoom on max and prayed that I got a shot!

You can see a slight hint of orange in this one. If you look in just the right spot...I told you they wouldn't pose!

Just the shape of the wings here. Let me tell you, it's hard taking pictures of Monarchs when you just have a point and click camera and your subject doesn't cooperate at all!

We also saw a Tarantula. Seeing him made me wonder if the farmers were drilling wheat yet. Around here, it's time to drill wheat when you see the Tarantula's migrate. My fella wasn't migrating--he was just hanging around. And yesterday, we saw several guys drilling wheat. Which proves you need to listen to those old "wives tales!"

Other wildlife we saw included our resident doe with 2 fawns and a gecko. I hoped we'd find a horny toad, but no such luck. Maybe next spring...

Two posts in two days...I'm on a roll!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Cattle Drive

We were able to go see the Kansas Sesquicentennial Cattle Drive as it traveled through Ellinwood on Saturday. Fortunately, the heat wave had broken around the first of the month, so the trip was much easier on the cattle, horses and cowboys. Steve had a great time and said he loved every minute of the trip. They were fed very well, eating steaks for supper and having nice big breakfasts.

We viewed the drive at the north end of town, just before the headed out to their pasture/bedding area for the night. We were about 3 blocks from Steve's house, so it was a nice walk to and from the "viewing."
Steve spent most of the trip at the head of the herd. Probably because he learned long ago that the back of the herd is the dirtiest place to be. The big longhorn to the left is their lead steer. The rest just mosey along behind the head guy. He's the only one who's supposed to know where he's going. Steve is on the right, here in the front.

Of course when his sister wanted him to look at her, he looked the other way. Typical, he has NEVER done what I've wanted him to do.

The cattle came through in three smaller bunches. They tend to break up that way naturally. They also were very interested in the nice green grass and the water in the ditches...

Yep, these guys had to stop for a drink. And after a drink...

They had to return a little "old" water in thanks. (My mother told me that I'm probably the only person on earth who would take a picture of cattle pee...)

After they headed out of town, the locals came back to put their horses away. Steve stopped by the house first--to visit.

We chatted some, but he couldn't stay long. There was also a ranch rodeo, and he was running the chutes. Dad and Mom stayed for that, but Kev, Andy and I came on home. We had chores to do. Steve did share some stories about the trip as we watched his horse mow his lawn and break off a sprinkler head.

Some quick facts he shared:

  • They had 200 head of longhorns for most of the trip. A few days before, they picked up another 200 head, so 400 head came through Ellinwood.

  • The cattle walk at 3 mph.

  • They averaged about 15-20 miles a day.

  • They usually started fairly early, but stopped each day around 2-3 in the afternoon. So, yes, it was a nice leisurely pace.

  • Most of the trip was along county roads, but Steve said there would be people stopped at every intersection--just to watch.

I think he'd do it again in a heartbeat.

I've seen cattle "drives" before, as Dad and other ranchers would move cattle from one pasture to another. But this will probably be the only time I see a drive that re-enacts a big part of Kansas history. Let's face it, by the time Kansas celebrates its bicentennial...I'll be 97! While I plan on still being around then...I don't think I'll be out watching a cattle drive!

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

A Kansas Cattle Drive

This post is not about me or my kids...

Check out this link:

This year is the 150th anniversary of Kansas's statehood. And to commemorate it, there's a cattle drive from Caldwell, Ks up to Ellsworth, Ks. And my baby brother, Steve is on the drive. If you check out the photos, he's a part of the Ellinwood bunch.

He's one of the crew that will be on the trail for 3 weeks--the time it will take to travel the entire way. Thankfully, the weather is cooperating. Instead of temps of 100+, this week, they are working in 80 degree temperatures. Much easier on the cowboys and the cattle.

For this cattle drive, Steve had to adapt his wardrobe. He normally wears shirts that snap, but to be historical accurate, the organizers have required all cowboys to wear shirts with buttons. And their bedrolls couldn't be nylon sleeping bags, but had to be cotton or canvas. Other than those two details, I think Steve was all set.

We're hoping to drive over to "watch" them drive through one of the towns on their route.

Be sure to check that link above. They'll have lots of photos and details of the trip.

I'm rather proud of old Steve...he's following in the footsteps of his Great Grandfather, Harvey by going on a long cattle drive. I hope he brings home lots of cool stories.

I'll close with this link, it's to a video that was broadcast on one of the local TV stations:

Friday, September 02, 2011


September...the end of summer...

We're at day 53 of over 100 degrees.

Record breaking summer. 53 days over 100 broke the record of 50. Average summer temperature? 98 degrees. Making this the hottest summer on record.

Normal rainfall is 25 inches. Amount received this year? 6 inches.

I'm ready for fall...and rain.