Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Drive in the mountains

On Sunday, we decided to take a drive through the mountains to look at the autumn leaves.

We drove up to Snowbasin ski resort, and then ended up in the North Fork Campground. We let the kids get out and collect leaves.

We also ended up finding this little snake, much to the delight of the kids (especially J).


We also found and brought home 7 Woolly Bear Caterpillars. I was thinking we'd give them to S's preschool, but they want us to hang on to them until they're in their cocoons. Unfortunately for us, they are supposed to spend the winter in caterpillar form in the fridge. yay us.

Here's the kids in the leaves.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

A Confession

You know those "security codes" that various websites use to make sure the lines aren't being filled in by a computer? I almost never get the code right the first time. For some reason, I have the worst time reading them.

Am I alone?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Tie Dye

I recently helped my cub scouts tie dye shirts, and then helped my playgroup friends do it. It was such a big hit that I am going to post directions here.

You'll need:

Dylon Permanent Fabric Dye (I actually prefer Rainbow Rock brand, but it's impossible to find now. On the up side, I have discovered that the Dylon dyes contain soda ash, so that makes it a little more affordable)
kitchen salt

"sport top" water bottles (at least 16 oz, but 20 or 24 oz would be better)
Rubber or plastic gloves
elastic bands
Garbage bags or plastic grocery sacks (watch for holes in those though)
Clothes to dye- 100% cotton is best. The higher the cotton content, the better the dye will take. Something that is 100% polyester will probably not take the dye very well.

I have found the dylon dye at Walmart, Jo-Anne's, and Hobby Lobby. I can't speak for everywhere else, but Walmart was a dollar cheaper, but Hobby Lobby had the best selection.

To prepare the dye: Each dye packet will make four cups of dye. If you want to be really precise, you can make the dye in a pitcher (probably ought to not drink out of it again if you do that). If you do the whole thing at once, you have the entire packet of dye, 4 c. of water and 4 tbl. salt. If you are sloppy like me, do the following: Put 2 c. of water in the water bottle, 2 tbl. salt, and half of the dye into the bottle. Using a funnel makes it much easier. Just make sure that you rinse it off really well in between colors.

Wring the clothes out as much as you possibly can. Then use elastics to create your designs.

To make a swirl like these:

Start in the middle of the shirt, and take a pinch, making sure you get both layers of the shirt.
Start to twist it in a circle. Form a hurricane type looking design, like this:

Once the shirt is in a large swirled circle, use elastics to hold it into place.

To make dots, like this:

Take a pinch of fabric, and put the elastic like this. The smaller the pinch, the smaller the polka dot. The larger the pinch of fabric, the larger the spot.

To make this bulls' eye looking design:

Pick the center of the bullseye, and take a pinch. Pick the whole thing up, holding only that pinch. You will then add elastics like this: (the pinch is on the left)

To do horizontal stripes like this:You want to kind of accordian fold the shirt like this: Once it's all folded up, put the elastics along the shirt, so that it kind of looks like a snake. If you want to have vertical stripes, accordian fold the shirt starting at the bottom and work your way up.

Place the shirt in the bag, and put on your rubber gloves. Apply the dye to the clothes, squeezing the shirt every once in a while to make sure the dye is soaking through. Most people make the mistake of not applying quite enough dye, or not pressing it through to make sure the clothes are thoroughly soaked.

When finished, wrap the bag up, and let it soak, at least overnight. 24 hours is the best.

Take the shirt out of the bag, and rinse thoroughly, while removing the elastics. Rinse until the water runs clear.

Wash your tie dye clothes separately immediately after, and tumble dry. I've never separated them after that, but I don't advocate that for anyone else. I'd hate for it to inexplicably bleed colors on your clothes.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Looking at Houses

I have been showing a bunch of houses lately, and you would not believe some of the things I've seen. Several of the houses are "short sales", which is when the seller owes more on the home than it is worth. They start to fall behind on payments, and the bank allows the home to be sold at a loss, hoping to minimize money lost. Foreclosing on a home is very expensive, and can take 9 months or longer from the first missed payment. Crazily enough however, if I put an offer in on a house in short sale condition, I can wait between 2 weeks to 4 months to get a response from the bank. You'd think they'd be in a hurry to resolve things, wouldn't you? I did put an offer in on a short sale Friday, so we will see how long it takes for the bank to respond.

Because the owners in a short sale will make absolutely no money, and they're probably not thrilled to be getting kicked out, they don't do much to prepare the property for sale. There's usually a ton of garbage or clutter. It's made me rather smug in my mediocre housekeeping skills.

As I've taken clients through homes, I've seen some very loose definitions of "bedroom". I'm wishing now I took pictures. Maybe I will bring a flashlight AND a camera next time I'm looking at houses with clients (another downside to short sales is many of them have no electricity, ergo, no lights). I've seen a couple bedrooms that have the furnace/water heater/other utilities located in a closet in a bedroom. My dad informed me that this is against code. As I've researched it further, I guess a furnace can be located in a closet in a bedroom, but it has to be a high efficiency direct vent furnace which special closet doors, and nothing else in the closet. Suffice it to say, this was NOT the case in the house my dad happened to come along on.

I saw a "bedroom" yesterday with no window. You'd be shocked at how claustrophobic that feels. That same house claimed the downstairs had a mother in law apartment. There was no outside access to the home, no door even at the bottom of the stairs. The "kitchen" was so small it made my travel trailer kitchen look GIGANTIC. Seriously, it was practically the size of a linen closet. Their real kitchen wasn't much better. It was quite small, and then they had this masssive fridge. It was so big that you couldn't open the oven door all the way. We didn't try opening the dishwasher, but it shouldn't have been a significant problem as it was located in the dining room (it was portable).

The worst offender was another home though. The MLS sheet bragged that it had 5 bedrooms. However, three of their "bedrooms" had no closets, and if you added a small closet, I am not sure a bed would've fit. The flooring in most of their house was those dollar tree peel and stick vinyl squares applied inexpertly. They also converted their garage to a... room. It was the length/width of a single car garage. That part wasn't so bad. But the windows were all almost at the ceiling. Then, the floor was vinyl. All of it. It was just a weird room. There was also shelving along the length of one wall. It was like a gigantic pantry. I honestly don't see what someone could use it for other than a pantry.

So, note to other agents: A bedroom MUST have a window and a closet. I don't care if it makes your listing a 2 bedroom home instead of a 5 bedroom home, please be honest in the listing. ARGH!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Friendship Bracelets

K has gotten into making friendship bracelets in a big way. She started doing them a little over a year ago when we experimented with them at a girl scout camp. She since has found a lot of instructions and is making progressively more complicated designs. Her best friend, M, gave her a book of instructions and a bunch of embroidery floss for her birthday last year, and it's been really helpful.

My sister gave her a bracelet making kit for her birthday this year, and that's give
n her some exotic beads to play with.

But, for now, her favorites are just the plain embroidery floss bracelets. We're toying with the idea of letting her set up an etsy storefront to sell them.

A couple days ago, she asked me to pick out five colors for a bracelet. Considering she does this a couple times a week, I didn't think much of it. However, she presented me with the finished bracelet and announced she made it for me. Awwww! Isn't it pretty?

Yes, I know I have hairy arms. They were the bane of my existence when I was a child. Then I grew up, had kids, and my body gave me so many more flaws to obsess over that the hairy arms kind of went by the wayside.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A note to my husband

Dear Husband,

Last night when I came to bed, you were sleeping so peacefully, so innocently. I was cold and hurried into bed to snuggle up to you. I am sorry that my hands and feet were the approximate temperature of ice cubes. I am sorry that I couldn't resist the urge to press them against your warm body. I am also sorry that I started giggling uncontrollably when you jumped about two feet out of the bed when I did so. Ok, I'm actually not that sorry. It was pretty funny. And where you didn't wake up, I don't think you were that upset about it.

Love you tons!


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Weekend at the cabin

My parents invited everyone up to spend Saturday evening at the cabin. It's one of our family's favorite places to go, so we jumped at the invitation. In fact, J wanted to spend the night. It was kind of a funny twist. I called my mom.

"Mom, I know you get asked every weekend by one of my children if they can sleep over. This is a new twist on that. J wants to know if he can sleep over Sat."

Mom: "huh?"

Then she remembered we were going to be at the cabin, and understood why my husband was so hot to sleep over at her house. They were fine with it, so the sleepover was planned.

We were a little late getting there, and when we were just about there, I get a phone call from my dad. He was speaking VERRRRRY quietly. He wanted to give us the heads up that a mother moose and her calf were just outside the cabin. He thought if we approached quietly enough, we may able to see them. Also, as you may know, a mother moose is one of the more dangerous wild animals you will encounter in Utah, so he wanted us to be careful.

When we got to the property, we saw them. Instead of being right next to the deck, they were on the road leading up to the property. They were actually blocking our way.

They were spooked by our truck and got out of the way quickly.

We had a really nice visit with my sisters, brother in law (wow, how cool is that? I have a new brother in law), grandmother and uncle. The sleepover part was a little tough. Z insisted on sleeping with me, and there just isn't room for mommy, daddy, and Z in a double bed, so J was relegated to the bunk bed.

We really do love going up there. It's so beautiful- wild and green and so far away from civilization.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Family Day

We had a really nice day as a family yesterday.

We started off the day on a bike ride. There's a walking/biking path that our city made out of an old train route. It was approximately 3 miles each way, according to google maps.

Then, K helped her daddy sand the railing for the playhouse. It is just about finished.
It needs just a little more sanding, and then I'll paint it a redwood red color.

K and M each found black widow spiders yesterday. K's got away, but we caught M's, and he talked me into listing it on ebay. I am not at all sure it'll sell, but whatever he wants.

Last weekend's storms made our neighbor's trees lose a ton of branches, so we had a lot of wood to burn. After naps, we decided to have a fire in our fire pit and make "homo dinners". They are actually called tinfoil dinners or hobo dinners. M mispronounced them as homo dinners, and we got such a kick out of it that we've called them that ever since. They're very easy to make, and a family favorite. We get aluminum foil as our "pot". I put some ground beef in there, and chopped veggies. This time, I used carrots, celery and potatoes. Everyone but me also got some frozen corn. J has sometimes added some cream of ...... soup to the mix. I've also heard of many other combinations, but that is our family's favorite. We also usually add onion, but we didn't have any today.

Once I got them double wrapped, I put them in the coals. We had so many coals from all the branches that I actually buried the dinners in the coals, hoping they'd cook faster.

They cooked quite a bit faster this time. I usually turn them every 15 minutes and cook them for about an hour. Last night, however, I cooked them 30 minutes with no turning.

Here's the finished dinners. You'll notice there's only 4. We have S and Z share one, and I like mine a little more well done, so mine was getting an extra 10-15 minutes of cook time while I got everyone else's served up.

All in all, it was a very nice day.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Our Camping Trip

(as a side note, all of these pictures are clickable. You are not seeing the entire picture here in the blog, so you probably want to click every picture instead of just the left half)

Every Labor Day weekend since I've known J, his family has done a huge camping trip in the High Uintas. They used to camp in the East Fork of the Bear boy scout campground, but since they started charging way more than surrounding areas and the boys bought ATVs, we just go near the camp. We usually go to the mountain man rendezvous in Fort Bridger, WY, but we decided to skip it this year.


We left Thursday, and found a wonderful camping spot. The weather was beautiful, in the low sixties.

Thursday afternoon, we had a huge bull moose come visit.

We had to get a big spot because Jim's sister, brother, parents, and my parents were all coming, along with misc. children and dogs. We had a total of 11 children ages 10 and under, and 3 dogs, as well as 10 adults.
Here is my parents' brand new puppy, aka "Uncle Sam" to my kids, and my new "little brother".

Last year, our camping spot had a really cool "hut", so we decided to build an even bigger and better one this year. The kids LOVED playing in it.

Z learned how to say "Ride", "car", and "go!". He was absolutely obsessed with the ATVs and would constantly hang around the rhino, yelling "ride" over and over again. We could've sworn he even said, "Poppa, I want to go for a ride!"

The trip wasn't without bad luck. My parents got a feeling that they needed to leave Sunday evening, instead of Monday after lunch as originally planned. Right as they finished packing up, it started to rain. Hard. The rain continued all night, turning to snow around 4am. Our battery died in the night, so no heat. E & N borrowed my parents' tent trailer. We hadn't re-caulked the roof in a couple years so it began to leak. Then, they ran out of propane, so no heat for them either. J&J had their furnace make a really scary explosion sound before bed sunday night, and no heat for them either. The snow the next morning was beautiful, even if it was very cold and wet.

About 6:30am, E&N had decided they had enough fun, so they packed up and went home. On the way home, they had carsick kids, and horrible weather. In the horrible weather, they ended up hitting something in their truck. Their truck was fine, but it unfortunately put a big dent in my parents' tent trailer.


Jim's parents caravaned home with us. It ended up being a good thing for them, as G left her purse at the restaurant we stopped at for lunch. Since we hadn't left yet, we were able to grab it and meet them at a ranch exit and give it (fully intact) to her. Not ten minutes later, they had a trailer tire blow. Their spare was pretty low on air, but J has an air compressor that hooks up to the battery, so he was able to fill it up and help his dad change the tire.

Bad luck notwithstanding, I had a wonderful time, and really enjoyed spending all of the quality time with our families.