Feb 26, 2015

Cameron's Kilcher Moment

Cameron and I are big fans of certain types of reality TV. I'll admit to watching a few of the Real Housewives' series, but when it comes to the two of us, we tend to watch the Alaska and Homesteading type. One of our favorite shows is Alaska: The Last Frontier, that follows the Kilcher family on their homestead. 

And one of the main Kilchers, Otto, has this ability to take an item for one purpose and re-purpose it for another. One time he took an old trailer bed (I think) and turned it into a feeder for his cattle so that he and his wife, Charlotte, wouldn't get stuck in the mud and possibly trampled by the cattle at the sight of hay in the colder temperatures. 

Which brings me to what Cameron has titled his "Kilcher" moment. He'd gone out to disc the field in front of our house. But first he had to add gas to the tractor. Sometime between refueling and halfway through the discing the gas cap fell off and diesel was spilling out of the tank. 

The girls and I went outside to help Cameron comb through the field, retracing the tractor's movements from fill up to discovery and back again, but with no luck in finding the cap. Cameron then went to several stores to try and find one that could replace it. No luck. He really wanted to complete the discing of this field before the end of the weekend but he couldn't do it with diesel spilling out. 

That's when he spied an empty Diet Pepsi can near the tractor, in the tractor shed. Any one who knows us, knows we always have empty Diet Pepsi cans lying around, even in strange places like the tractor shed. With the help from some scissors, Cameron quickly cut the can in half and it fit perfectly over the opening on the gas tank. A little pinching in at the bottom, and it was on there nice and snug. New cap created. And Cameron has been able to successfully use the tractor several times since this "Kilcher" moment without spilling any fuel!

We still haven't found the original, even though we have been out there a ton working on other projects. I imagine us finding it several years from now, when that tractor has been replaced for a newer model. 

Feb 24, 2015

A Presidents Day Visit to the Zoo

I always get Presidents Day off. This a good thing since the girls' daycare is also closed this holiday. The thing is, Cameron doesn't get the day off. Which means the girls and I are home when he is potentially home trying to get work done when he's not out visiting customers.

Luckily, Cameron had some appointments set up for early that morning, which meant that the girls and I could sleep in a little then wake up in front of an episode of Mickey Mouse. Sydney is currently obsessed with watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse these days. It's all she asks for - she even walks around singing the magic words to get the Clubhouse to appear. Reality-wise, she's just happy when she gets to watch any TV, as we do limit TV quite a bit on weekdays and weekends. 

And that holiday weekend we were experiencing some amazing weather. We're talking spring-like conditions. No fog insight. I even broke out my capris and a tank top. I didn't want to waste the day inside cleaning with such nice weather. Then I heard that Lynde had to take the day off to watch McKenzie as her daycare was also closed for the holiday. After a few texts, we'd arranged to meet at the Sacramento Zoo for a morning outing. 

And we were not disappointed. The weather again was amazing. High-60s to Low-70s temperatures with very little breeze. We wandered the zoo for over 2 hours since Lynde and McKenzie had never been there. And we got to see the 3 lion cubs hanging out with Mom and Dad in their pen. Too cute. 

We also took a ride on the zoo train and carousel. McKenzie was not a huge fan of the carousel, but she loved the train. My girls love both equally. And while we were on the carousel, Let it Go was playing so both of my girls were singing along. 

After the zoo, we headed home for a quick lunch and naptime. Sydney slept until 3 PM! Apparently we'd worn her out at the zoo. This probably has something to do with the fact that I didn't bring the stroller along and made her walk the whole time. 

After naptime, we took advantage of the last hours of daylight playing outside. The girls rode their bikes and played on our new-to-us swingset. Our friends, the McGraths, are moving which has resulted in them purging their current house of items they no longer need or want. When Kim asked if we wanted it, I pounced. Swingsets can be expensive, especially when you look at how many years of actual use they get. London loves it and is always asking to go play on it. Unfortunately for her, this past weekend the weather wasn't quite as nice - Saturday was foggy, wet and cold and Sunday was cold and windy. We're going to box the swingset in and fill in the dirt inside that box with gravel to prevent as many weeds as we can from coming up under it. Poor Sydney was swinging into the weeds on President's Day. 

And while the girls played, I was able to sand down London's desk chair. We purchased it at the flea market and I had done an initial coat of paint on it, but then left it outside, overnight, to dry when we had some fog, which resulted in some crackling of the paint here and there. I gave the chair a good sanding-down and over the last week, finished up the painting of it (this time making sure to bring it in at night to avoid more crackling.) All that is left is covering the actual seat with new cushion and fabric. I hope to accomplish that this week.

Feb 19, 2015

A English Cottage Garden in the Works...

While we are still working diligently on our chicken coop, we did get a bit side tracked. When Cameron was purchasing and planting our orchard, included in the bare root trees he purchased, was a pomegranate. We find pomegranate trees quite pleasing to the eye and they don't necessarily look like a tree that would fit in a normal orchard, so we opted to it in our front yard. Only problem? We had another tree to remove and dirt to bring in to get the front yard in shape before we could plant the tree. 

My vision for the front yard is an English Cottage Garden. Lots of different plants, roses, flowers, etc. and allows these plants to over-grow somewhat. Plus, I want to build a path from the lower part of our driveway where most of our guests park to the front porch - that way they don't have to walk all the way around the garden to get to the front door. 

I was happy just to see the tree that needed to be cut down, gone. Cameron had some dirt brought in and he used the tractor to mold a couple of mounds so the front won't be so flat. It already makes a huge difference. Cameron then cut in the pathway and he surprised me one evening when we were walking around the local nursery and told me I could pick out 5 bare root roses. And the next night at Walmart, we picked up 2 more. Now the pomegranate and roses are all in the ground and we've purchased the big stones for the path way. 

Hopefully soon the weed barrier will be down on the path as well as the pathway stones and the smaller stones we plan to put over the rest of the pathway. We plan to put the arch we got married under halfway up the pathway and eventually, we'll grow climbing roses on it. But first we need to get it painted white. It's so dry it's just soaking up all the paint. 

We plan to put some small rocks around the edge of the of the area and fill in the rest of the dirt with bark. Over time, we'll fill in the rest of the area with more plants. We are also on the look out for a large rock to display in this garden. Once we find that, we will be able to lay to rest Cameron's deceased bearded dragon Spaz, who we lost soon after we moved into the house. We've had him in the back of our freezer ever since. 

Feb 17, 2015

Chirstmas Day

One last catch-up post. The least I can do is capture our Christmas day before February is over! 

We hosted Christmas Day dinner at our home again this last year. And it went a lot better than our first year! For one, I didn't get a stomach bug and actually got to enjoy the prime rib fresh that day. And, I was able to clean the house and keep it that way thanks to the girls going to day care on Christmas Eve. That meant all I had to worry about besides cooking on Christmas day was getting ready and picking up after morning presents. 

We were all so tired from the night before that we all slept in. We had assumed the girls would still get up by 7 AM so we told my parents to be at our house for gifts around 8 AM. Oops - they actually woke us up and the girls still slept another 1/2 hour of so after they arrived. 

London's big gift this year was a bicycle with training wheels, while Santa spruced up her old tricycle for Sydney. He placed the bikes inside with their stockings leaning up against them. London focused in on the stocking when she came out that she failed to see the bike, at first. Sydney focused in on the trike a little more quickly. 

Both girls now love to go ride their bikes when we are around on the weekend. We've found the best place for them to ride is the dog pen slab of concrete as they can go round and round all they want. 

And London's elf, Snowie, was kind enough to leave some flour on the floor just in front of the fireplace, which allows Santa's footprints to be captured. The girls were very excited to see the evidence. 

Other fun gifts that the girls have enjoyed a Doc McStuffin's check-up bag, Doc McStuffin's Lab Coat and striped shirt, Sofia the First Dress up jewelry and some personalized dinosaur pillow pets. My favorite gift was the Octopus my mom painted for the girls' bathroom. It's absolutely amazing: 

All in all, it was a great holiday shared with family and friends. At the same time, by the time New Year's rolled around, I was ready to take the decorations down and get on with 2015. Now I can't believe that it's already the middle of February!

Feb 10, 2015

The Great Flood of 2014

Between Thanksgiving and Christmas California got an unexpected gift: RAIN!!!! And we learned what happens to our property when the ground gets saturated and the rain continues to fall. With the drought California is experiencing, we definitely get excited about the rain. 

To set the scene: it had rained a few days before and our ditch/dry creek bed in the back was fairly full. As we drove around, we could see that the ground was saturated as puddles had formed and had stayed. Then the big storm came. We're talking breaking news, batten down the hatches, the only topic in the news for days, kind of storm. For us, it wasn't that big a deal. It was windy for a little while and it did rain constantly, but we didn't have the flooding, initially. On the way home from work after the first day of this storm, I could see puddles forming as I drove home, down the side road to our property. 

The next morning, just as I was getting ready to head out the door with the girls to take them to daycare and head into work, it became light enough outside that I could actually see the back. That's when I saw that our land was now a giant pond or small lake. I immediately ran and got Cameron up. We were in awe. Even the road that I had taken to get home the evening before was flooded.
I, for one, would not attempt to drive into this

One of our neighbors had warned us this was a possibility but with the drought we thought it would be years before we saw what they described. Apparently it only took a few months!

The lights in the distance are our house
And while the water receded quickly, we had a nice lake for a backyard for a few weeks. The road was flooded for a while too. We enjoyed the entertainment this provided because despite the "Flooded" signs we saw plenty of drivers attempt to drive through the water. Those in big, lifted trucks, usually made it. But plenty others did not. For about 5 days straight we saw tow trucks at either end of the road towing out the sad souls who failed. One truck that somehow ended up off the flooded road and in the mud in 3 to 4 feet of water, and was tilted due to the mud, went through 4 tow trucks before successfully being pulled out.

While the rain stopped prior to my parents arrival for the holidays, the water lasted long enough to provide this entertainment during their stay. And in between the storms, one day Cameron, the girls, the dogs and I walked out to the water. And we proceeded to throw retrieving dummies out into the water for the dogs to go fetch. It was great to see what areas were deep and where the dogs could actually wade through it.