Thursday, April 30, 2009

Goldfinches (Day 30)

How cute are they?!?!?! It might make me a dork, but I love watching the birds at the feeder. It's not like Florida where we got more squirrels than birds. I've only seen a squirrel in our backyard here once in six years. Chipmunks I'll see every now and then. Couple mice, too. They're especially cute when they're flying at you off the end of a hockey stick. *cough* Kevin *cough*
Last year the goldfinches made a nest in the maple tree out front. Tiniest little nest I've ever seen. Here it is on the arm of one of the Adirondack chairs.When I was trying to get the pictures of the goldfinches at the feeder, I'd get a little too close, and they'd fly away, male and female together. I wonder if they mate for life like geese and ducks do? They were flying towards the front of the house. I'll have to check for a nest next time I'm out there.

Update: Rachel told me tonight that the Goldfinch is New Jersey's State bird. Ya learn something new every day!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Homegrown Maple Tree (Day 29)

We planted this little maple tree in the backyard tonight. Last year our big maple tree out front had tons of helicopters (this year, none) and a couple of them started growing into trees. Several grew in the joints/cracks in the driveway. This one grew next to the sidewalk leading to the front door. We allowed it to grow there for a while, then transplanted it to a 12" pot, on our driveway, near the garage door, which is where we left it all winter. Maples must be pretty hearty, because it survived the winter and grew like crazy with all the rain we've had this month.
Here's another one growing in the bed out front. Some of the maple trees I've seen in our neighborhood did get helicopters on them this year. I don't know why ours didn't.
This is what Rachel was doing while we were planting. Even though I used to do this all the time as a kid, I still get scared to death that she's going to fall and break her neck. She keeps bugging me to do it. That's not gonna happen any time soon!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Lilacs (Day 28)

Our two lilac bushes are in full bloom. They smell so good. The bushes don't grow as fast as I thought they would. We planted them six years ago, and they don't seem to be much bigger than when we first put them in. The color doesn't seem to be as vibrant as I remember my mom's being when I was a kid. But I still love them!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Chores (Day 27)

A couple months ago Rachel asked for daily chores so she could earn money, mainly for our trip this summer. So we sat down together and made up a weekly chore chart. There are things that she does daily and things she does weekly. Some of the daily chores are unloading and loading the dishwasher, cleaning the table, feeding the dog breakfast, making her bed and putting her school stuff away. Some of her weekly chores are cleaning her room and bathroom, vacuuming and dusting the downstairs, giving Ferris a bath and washing the cat and dog bowls. She also helps with the laundry when I ask her to. If she does everything on the chart she gets $8 - $10. Sometimes she'll do extras, like washing the car or washing the pots and pans after dinner. I know it seems like a lot for a 10 year old, but she really sticks to it. I rarely have to remind her to do something. Sometimes I think she's more responsible than I am! But I'm very proud of her, and she's really earning a lot of spending money for China!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

A Great Day (Day 26)

Rachel went out and picked these and then brought them to me this morning. I love lilacs. And I love Rachel for being so sweet. The pink flowers are from a tree out front. I'm not sure what it is.
I took my laptop out to the deck and worked out there most of the day. It was great. Hot, though. It got to at least 90 today. I hate the heat. But knowing it wouldn't last long made it more bearable somehow. Rachel sat out there with me for about two hours, reading and surfing the internet on the other laptop. She went over to a friend's house later in the day to do the sprinkler thing again and have dinner. Fred grilled and we ate outside. I also did a little more planting. It was a great day....

Saturday, April 25, 2009

April Showers? (Day 25)

Rachel and a friend running through the sprinkler on a beautiful April afternoon. If we'd had the pool open, I'm sure they would have gotten in.
Crazy eyes! I made an Oreo cheesecake to take to a friend's surprise 40th birthday party, and Ferris enjoyed licking the mixer blade.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Nice View (Day 24)

This was the view from my job today. For those who don't live around here, it's the William Penn Statue on the top of Philadelphia's City Hall. The picture was taken looking towards the northeast. The bridge is the Ben Franklin Bridge that I cross to go to work.

This one was taken towards the southeast.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Missed His Calling (Day 23)

Fred missed his calling. Not that he isn't really good at his day job, but I think he should have gone to culinary school. Heck, maybe he still should. He is such a good cook, and my waistline pays for it! Tonight we made Pioneer Woman's chicken scallopine. I say "we" because I act as Fred' sous chef. I had the chicken seasoned and breaded before he got home from his real job. I also got out all the other ingredients the recipe called for and had the big pot of water heated up and waiting for the pasta. I forgot to get linguine at the store, so we used thin spaghetti. It was just as good.

This picture doesn't make it look as good as it was. I could do without the capers, but otherwise, it is yummy! Even Rachel said it tastes like something you get in a restaurant. Pioneer Woman has some of the best recipes. I'm also really fond of her brisket and onion strings.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Steno Guts (Day 22)

This is part of the inside of my steno machine. Well, technically, it's my girlfriend Cheri's steno machine. She loaned it to me when my machine started acting all crazy last year and wouldn't "dump" jobs onto the computer. But now it's a little of my machine and a little of hers. My battery and one other small part are on Cheri's machine. Seeing my trusted machine taken apart and a bunch of little parts strewn on the table is not fun.
I'm lucky that Fred is so good at fixing things, especially electronics. But I get so nervous every time he takes my machine apart. I have a job tomorrow afternoon, and if my machine isn't working properly by then, I'm screwed.
My machine is a Stenoram II, and is from 1986. Yes, there are plenty of nice, new shiny models out there. Some don't even use paper. They just have three or four forms of backup. I love my old machine. It's a workhorse. When the battery is good, it'll hold a charge for two days. But using an old machine does hold me back a bit. I can't upgrade my software because the newer versions don't support a Stenoram II.
Lately, my battery hasn't been holding a charge. So I'm keeping it plugged in at jobs and plugging it in as soon as I get home. If I remember. I forgot to plug it in right away a couple weeks ago, and I lost the two jobs that were on it. Thankfully they weren't long jobs, but I'll still have to take extra time and rewrite them. (I have two forms of backup; audio and my paper notes) The job I took today was 200 pages. You better believe I got my machine plugged in as soon as I got home! So now it's plugged in and charging. With luck, it'll hold a charge longer than a couple hours.
I'm happy to say Fred got my machine back together. I can breathe easy again. Well, at least I'll be able to once I know it's charged.
This picture is on here mainly for the grandparents. (Dad, click on the picture to see it bigger) It was report card day today. Rachel is so hard on herself. Harder than we could ever be. I told her I'm proud she got all A's again, but I'd have been just as happy if she'd have gotten B's, as long as she tried her hardest. She said she wouldn't be happy, and that she'd punish herself by locking herself in a room with no TV, radio, etc. I'm a little worried about what'll happen if/when she gets a B. I'm expecting a huge meltdown at that point.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Brave Bunny (Day 21)

I brought Ferris out to the back yard to go potty, and after a few minutes I saw this guy sitting under the bird feeder. It didn't take long for Ferris to see him. He stood still and had a stare down for a good five minutes. The bunny eventually took off, and Ferris followed, but he was a good boy and stopped when I told him to.

"Where's my hasenpfeffer!"

I love the classic Bugs Bunny cartoons!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Jumping Jacks (Day 20)

Rachel doing jumping jacks before going to tumbling.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Planting for Butterflies (Day 19)

This is a bed we made at the end of last summer. We planted a corkscrew willow tree near an existing lilac bush (not shown) and added the bird bath. The two spots where we pulled up the mulch is where I'm going to plant dahlia bulbs. And on the front and back sides of the bird bath I planted echinacea seeds. I really hope the seeds take. Echinacea is supposed to attract butterflies, and to the right of this bed are a couple butterfly bushes.
This is a our little herb garden. Last year we planted parsley, oregano, basil and green onions. The oregano never really grew. The parsley and green onions kind of took over. It was all started from seeds except the basil. That started from a little plan, in the back left corner, and that's what I'm doing again this year. I'm skipping the oregano, though. The other pot in this picture is mint, and I'm going to try to grow that in a 10 inch clay pot on the deck. I love the parsley. It grows so easily, and we freeze it and use it all year long. Plus it attracts caterpillars that turn into swallowtail butterflies. Next I'll be getting online to see what other plants attract them, and I'll put some in front of the shed. I also want to try to attract hummingbirds.
Rachel painted happy little faces on her nails today. So cute!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Spring Planting (Day 18)

Look!!!! I planted a Violet!!! HAHAHAHAHA!!!!

We finished putting the rest of the patio stuff out today. We're ready for our first barbecue of the year!

Field Trip to Philly (Day 17)

I chaperoned a field trip to Philadelphia with Rachel's class yesterday (yes, I'm a day late posting again). It was a beautiful day to walk around Old City.
This statue of Ben Franklin is made entirely of keys. It replaced one that was made entirely of pennies, which I kind of remember seeing when I visited Philly on a Girl Scout field trip as a kid. The artist who made this one got the keys for it from school kids in the city who were asked to donate keys to the project. A lot of keys were melted down for use, but a number of keys cover the surface of most of the statue. Pennies were used in the first one because Ben Franklin coined the phrase "A penny saved is a penny earned." And of course the keys represent the key he used when he discovered electricity.

This is Elfreth's Alley. It's the oldest residential street in the country. The majority of the buildings are still private residences, but a couple of them are used as a museum, which we got to tour. This part of our trip was my favorite.
Rachel looking at the list of things they gave us to look for in Elfreth's Alley.

Shrimp....(Day 16)

....on the barbie.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Fleetwood Mac (Day 15)

Anyone who knows me fairly well knows I'm a big fan of Fleetwood Mac. I was so excited to get to see them again last night at the Wachovia Center. The first picture is from Landslide. The second one I think was during Gold Dust Woman. The third is also Landslide. The last picture was our view. If you squint your eyes and get really close, you can see Lindsey Buckingham over on the far left front side of the stage when he was going nuts on the guitar during I'm So Afraid. That man has mad skills on a guitar. No pick, just fingers. My favorite is Silver Springs. Love that song! We were in a suite, which was nice because the suite has its own bathroom, free water/soda/snacks. We had a great time. Thanks, Becky and Mike, for watching Rachel for us!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Nothing to Wear (Day 14)

Around 3:00 today I called to check on Rachel when I was at my job. She told me she had nothing to wear. "Really," I said, trying not to sound too sarcastic. She said, well, nothing that inspires her. I really think she's decided to just skip the tween stage and go right to teen. I mean, she was still in her pajamas at 3:00. And these are pictures of her closet. Nothing to wear?

Monday, April 13, 2009

Beavis (Day 13)

"Excuse me. Where is my Fancy Feast? It is 10 p.m. I expect my Fancy Feast NOW. If you don't get it for me, I will proceed to jump up and walk all over your desk. I don't care if you're trying to work. Then I will walk all over Daddy's desk and knock a bunch of stuff over. I will also meow annoyingly and continue making noise and being a pest until you get me my Fancy Feast. And don't think I don't know that you put medicine in it. I know you do, and it doesn't matter. I will scarf down that Fancy Feast as fast as I can so I can get to Violet and steal her Fancy Feast. But sometimes you foil my plans and take me upstairs and lock me in a room to eat. When you do that, I will pester you again to be let out so I can steal Violet's! I LIVE FOR FANCY FEAST!"

Beavis has hyperthyroidism, which means he throws up a lot, drinks a lot, lost a lot of weight and is hyperactive. The medicine is helping with the throwing up. He does give warning meows when he's about to throw up, and then I run and grab him and take him outside. The hyperactivity can either be really annoying or really amusing. A couple weeks ago, he attacked the dog for no reason, hitting him and biting him. Poor Ferris didn't know what was happening. But sometimes around 4 or 5 in the morning he'll decide Fred and I need to wake up, and he will wander around our bedroom making noise, like chewing on something, hitting the window blinds, or just knocking stuff around on my nightstand. Velcro is the worst. He loves to chew on Velcro.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter (Day 12)

This is Rachel with her Easter basket. She didn't want candy this year, so she got a couple movies (Slumdog Millionaire and Marley & Me), clothes, two bathing suits, pjs, a small bag of chocolate covered pretzels and a few other small things. We stayed at my brother-in-law's house Saturday night. Thanks again, guys, for having us.
After taking flowers to my mom's grave, we went to Fred's parents house for an Easter egg hunt and dinner. They have so much's perfect for a big Easter egg hunt with all the kids. Ferris was as happy as a pig in poop there. So many trees to sniff and claim as his own. So many birds to chase. He's a tired doggie tonight!
Fred in his element. What can I say? He's a great cook. The kitchen was a noisy, crowded place today, and I avoided it. So I'm not really sure what all he helped his mom with, besides the corn, which is what he's stirring here. In the crock pot is home made broccoli soup, which Rachel loves. The red stuff in the other pan is cherries for ham loaf. She also had regular ham, roasted chicken, mashed potatoes, lima beans, rolls with home made much food! It was a great day with lots of family.
Coming home from the cemetary we drove through downtown Harrisburg. Driving down State Street/Walnut Street brings back so many memories of driving to my grandmother's house in Lemoyne, crossing the Walnut Street (before it was closed after Agnes) and Market Street bridges.

Helping Meemaw (Day 11)

I'm cheating a little. I didn't have access to a computer in Harrisburg to upload photos. These pictures were taken yesterday, though. We went to Harrisburg for the weekend. While I went to visit a friend, Rachel helped Meemaw getting ready for Easter dinner. In this picture she's helping to make cherry pudding. She also helped her make butter cream eggs and she filled the plastic eggs for the egg hunt. I had a great visit with my dear friend, Eileen.
Ferris has an issue with balloons. He has to pop them. It's very funny to watch, and I wish I had video of it to post here. These balloons were from my sister-in-law's business. She did photos with the Easter Bunny and had a balloon arch. These were leftovers, and he had a lot of fun with them.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Easter Cookies (Day 10)

We made yummy cookies tonight. We followed Suzanne McMinn's Surprise Cookie recipe. There is a link to her blog under "Blogs I Read." They turned out pretty good and were easy.
We're going to take them to Harrisburg with us tomorrow for Easter.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Early Easter Treat (Day 9)

Rachel got an early Easter treat in the mail today from Grandpa and Nana. She was hungry after school today, too. Thank you, Grandpa and Nana!
They also sent her these rings that used to be my grandmother's. The one on the left is opals that my dad thinks might be from the early 1900s. The middle ring is a cameo made of hand carved shell and set in silver the he was told is from the '20s or '30s. The turquoise one on the right my grandmother probably got when she was traveling out west in the '80s. They're tiny little rings! Rachel couldn't get them over her knuckles, but they're cute little keepsakes from my Grandma.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Dandelion (Day 8)

This was waiting for me when I ran out to pick up our Joe Corbi order at school this afternoon. Hmmm....who could have put it there? I wonder. Could it have anything to do with the picture I emailed someone of a dandelion in their front yard on Saturday? I also let that person know the dandelion had an identical twin close by. And that Fred was currently out in our yard spraying for weeds. Some people are so touchy. ;-)

If anyone has any suggestions for how to stop this from happening, please let me know. Violet is so persistent. We already keep a spray bottle on the table to spray her when she gets up there. Sometimes you have to spray her 7 or 8 times before she jumps down. I even spray her in the face! She'll get down, but as soon as you turn your back, she gets back up. It's become much more frequent since we got Ferris. She's driving me nuts. I'm pretty liberal with my animals and let them get away with a lot, but being on the table is just too much for me.