Today I planted our new raspberry bush and all three new varieties of strawberry that we got from GRIN (see the Research page). Tomorrow I plan to plant some of the tomatoes, and maybe some of the peppers. I took new photos of some of the flowers that have come up in the back garden where we sprinkled the "butterfly and hummingbird mix" flower seeds.
The tomatoes are doing much better now that they're up on the patio and have gotten some water and better sun. I do plan to plant them, but who knows if I'll actually get around to it or not. The pepper plants have about half-a-dozen little peppers growing, but only two or three are decent size. All green still. There is one Roma tomato that is turning orange, so it should be ready soon.
In other news, #1 is away at summer camp for the week. The fair started yesterday but we haven't gone yet. Tony and #3 celebrated their birthdays recently with a trip to the zoo. Unfortunately the giraffe was sick so #3 didn't get to feed it carrots (which is why she wanted to go for her birthday in the first place)., but they had fun anyway.
The cats are now on stage 2 of the LitterKwitter and are using the hole in the center most of the time. Mabel continues to go in the litter beside the hole, but Henry has it right and uses the center hole to potty into the toilet. How cool is that!? I'm going to wait until Mabel uses the center hole consistently before moving on to the thinner ring (stage 3).
Tony continues to live stream his gaming every evening after the kids go to bed on Twitch. He's even made a server to host his own world on Terraria if anyone out there is interested in playing.
We are currently working on baby-proofing the house again, as #5 has now learned to move around. He's got a cross between a scoot and a crawl, but he certainly gets from place to place. The cats now dine up by the fish tank so that #5 doesn't try to eat their food.
I brought home a new fish. I have a 30-gallon tank that was set up several years ago for a foster turtle I was caring for. When I found the turtle a new home, I never bothered to tear down the tank as there were some fish in it at the time. Well, this spring we moved the last two fish upstairs to the actual fish tank, and I had an idea. The reptile light for the turtle is on a 12-hour timer, so the tank is getting 12 hours of light every day, which makes the algae quite happy. The tank has been established for quite a while and I don't treat it with anything (only add water as it naturally evaporates). No filtration, no bubbler, and I haven't put food in the tank for probably two years (the fish in the tank before ate the algae and the moths and such that were attracted to the light and fell in the tank). I decided to toss one small snail in the tank. It's making neat trails along the glass as it eats the algae. I added a plant to keep the water oxygenated, but then I was worried the algae might overtake the plant, so I've been holding off adding more plants for now. I did add a betta to the tank though. He's clear/white with translucent aqua tips on his fins and a black head. I've never seen one quite like him. We've named him Mister Cellophane. He is doing a fantastic job of patrolling the tank and eating any bugs that fall in. His roll in the tank is to be the fertilizer producer for the plant. I'm hoping the tank can be 100% self-contained with enough work. The light providing algae growth, the snail keeping the algae in check, the fish producing nitrates for the plant to grow, the plant oxygenating the tank for another future fish (since a betta breathes air from the surface). Small steps, so as not to disrupt any natural cycles already going on in the tank. I'm considering adding a second snail, but I know they're asexual, so it's just a matter of time before the one in the tank becomes many. If we get too many snails, I do have a turtle who loves to eat them - I'm sure she wouldn't mind if we dropped some extras in her tank. Anyway, welcome Mister Cellophane! And yes, his name is a Glee / Kurt Hummel reference.
And in exciting news - this morning I got a confirmation email that the online school has shipped the supplies for #2. He's going to be so excited. I can see him doing really well with this set up. He's a very smart kid, and he loves to learn.
Tonight we went though the Burger King drive through. We almost never eat out, but today was "Drive-Thru Day" so we figured we would celebrate. Two of the girls ordered bacon double-cheeseburgers and onion rings. We went on our way, dropping one of the girls off to spend the night at Grandma's house, and back into town to pick up some more appropriate grown-up food for Tony and I. As we pulled up to the second drive-through, #3 starts wailing that her hamburger has no bacon. Sure enough, no bacon and the wrapper doesn't have bacon marked. So we looked at the receipt. Yup, we paid for two bacon double cheeseburgers. A call to #1 to ask if her burger had bacon had her whining too - no bacon on hers either, but she'd just sat down to eat so didn't know until we asked her to look. I was so distracted with bacon catastrophe that I forgot to order my food without spicy sauce. Now we are home and Tony tried to call Burger King to let them know that we are displeased with their service, but their phone rings and goes to voice-mail. Having worked fast food, I understand being busy with dinner rush, but it's 8:30 at night. No reason someone there couldn't pick up the phone. So Tony had to file a complaint on their website. We'll see what happens.
I set up #2 with his own blog here so he can show off his cooking and baking, and share the recipes he's working on. He seems pretty excited about it. You can check out his blog here, or just click the link to #2's Blog on the left side of this page (<--------- over there).
Tony continues to broadcast his video gaming almost nightly. So far he only has a few followers, but hopefully once he gets his microphone working again he can actually look/sound a bit more professional. Check the links to follow him on his page, here.
I'm continuing to put a lot of effort into getting stuff listed on eBay. I closed the Bonanza shop as we were moving stuff around after the basement flooded and I need to go through everything to make sure I still have all of the items that I listed eons ago that hasn't sold yet. In the meantime I'm trying to throw stuff out on eBay to see if I can't make a few sales that way. Check out my eBay auctions here! I currently have kids clothes, sewing patterns, books, shoes, sea glass, and some magazines listed. I plan to add more odds and ends as soon as eBay offers more free listing promotions.
While going through old crafting magazines to post on eBay, I came across an article on stenciling borders. I have a few stencils but have not been brave enough to try... So I thought, why not?
I picked a spot...
I taped up a stencil...
And I started to paint!
But my paint was too runny and it didn't turn out well.
So I threw a little bit of a temper tantrum while I rinsed out my painting stuff and went back to work on getting stuff ready to list on eBay.
By the time the paint dried, I figured I couldn't hurt it any to do another layer, right? So I taped up the other part of the stencil.
And painted an accent layer.
Well, it's still not perfect, but I think the blue is an improvement on the plain green.
It actually looks almost alright from farther back.
Maybe if I can find time in the future I can paint white around the dripped areas to make it look better.
In other news, I checked on my poor neglected tomatoes and peppers, and was surprised to find they're all still alive and some are actually fruiting! I moved them to the patio and I'm hoping that if I water them (which I haven't for a couple months now), they might fare better.
This summer our local animal shelter is having construction done (I guess they want separate entrances for people adopting and people surrendering so people wanting to adopt can't just adopt a pet someone is looking to dump). In the meantime, they are not accepting cats or kittens - which means a huge increase in the number of strays and abandoned felines. Well, one such kitty has made our neighborhood his personal playground. We have lots of cats in the area that roam, and many of them we know where they belong (the calico two houses down, the black kitty across the street, the tabby on the corner, the pointed kitties that live down the road). However, "Nemo" does not appear to have an owner. He just hangs out wherever he pleases, and steals food from the cats who's owners feed them outside. When that fails, he starts tearing into garbage (and yes, he's raided mine a time or two). The problem is that "Nemo" is also unaltered, and he sprays everything. He's sprayed our bushes, our front door, our side door, our trees, our vehicle, and yes, even the kids' swingset. I wouldn't be as upset about this, but because "Nemo" is spraying in my yard, now Henry (who is strictly indoor only) has taken a liking to peeing right in the front entry way every time "Nemo" comes by and sprays the door and the front bushes. I can't get Henry to stop until I can get "Nemo" to stop. So, I'm asking for donations to get "Nemo" neutered. Once he's neutered I can find him a nice forever home to live in so he won't be out on the streets this winter, and I won't have to mop my entry way every day.
If you'd like to donate to the Neuter Nemo fund, please check out my fundraising page HERE. Thank you!
Also, "Nemo" got his name from my kids who said it fit since they found him (Finding Nemo reference). He's a friendly tabby cat, probably about a year old, maybe less. The neighbors down the road have complained of him spraying in their yard too. And a couple weeks ago a neighbor and I rescued a litter of abandoned kittens down the road - and guess what, they all looked just like little baby "Nemos." Please help me get this cat neutered!
Just a quick post - Tony has started using Twitch to broadcast some of his gaming time. He's currently working on playing a game called Terraria, but he also broadcasts his World of Warcraft raids Tuesday and Thursday nights (8-11 CST). You can check out some of his videos here!
To celebrate #4's birthday we made cupcakes ... In ice cream cones!
We used a boxed cake mix (chocolate fudge) and followed the instructions on the box to make the batter.
We used a cardboard peach box (I think it came from Costco), turned it upside down and cut holes in it to hold the cones and prevent them from tipping over.
We used the flat-bottom ice cream cones from Keebler. There's a small ridge inside the cone just above where the bottom starts to widen out. Don't fill it beyond that line! Here are the cones, filled with cake batter, ready to go in the oven.
We put the whole box in the oven (325 degrees for 18 minutes as per the instructions on the box). Here they are after baking while they cooled.
Some spilled over, I wasn't very diligent about the fill line.
We decorated all of them with purple frosting and the kids decorated with sprinkles.
The cupcakes turned out light and fluffy, but the cones weren't crisp anymore. I'm not sure if it's because they were baked or because we baked them the night before the party and left them out (covered, but not sealed up) overnight. We may try again eating them fresh.
Amanda's blog about everything, important and trivial.