Jet Lag

I arrived home last night from Iceland. I spent a week there adventuring with my good friend Elizabeth. By the time I arrived home, I had been awake for almost 24 hours and could barely keep my eyes open to even say hello to my family. I fell straight into bed, and then found myself wide awake at 2am.  Ah, the joys of jet lag!

That being said, I've gotten much accomplished the last few hours. Looking forward to later this week when I am still waking up early only after a full night sleep.

Chasing the sun

Chasing the sun

While I was gone, the renovation started on our house. The above mentioned weariness kept me from exploring the demolition last night, and I'm excited to see it when the sun comes up today. I know from photos that there is no roof, many fewer walls, and hidden window we never knew existed!

More about Iceland and renovations to come...

Morning Above the Clouds

We almost skipped the hike this morning. The clouds were so low and thick that we couldn't see the mountains. We also considered a lower hike afraid that it would be pretty frosty up high.

So glad we stuck with the original plan. With a little drive and a good hike up, we found ourselves in the sunshine with that famous Colorado blue sky overhead and looking down on the clouds that covered town.

Looking east over town...

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And looking west...

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One of the best ways to spend a morning.

Halloween Happenings

And just like that Halloween 2017 is over...

Other than decorating, our Halloween celebration is mostly limited to October 31st. Even with the decorations, I like to pull out the cute decorations mid-October but don't like the gory decorations up until the day of Halloween (actually I don't like the gory decorations at all... but everyone else has fun with them).

I love quilted Halloween items, but only managed to make one new thing this year. From black cat fabric that Jack gave me for Christmas last year. I have a little more and want to make some pillows for the front porch. Maybe next year.

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Our tradition is to pick out and carve pumpkins on Halloween afternoon. Any earlier and the squirrels eat them! We held the tradition this year only the kids are now mostly independent with carving.

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We have family friends that we love to have over for Halloween dinner and trick-or-treating. This year we had Three Sisters Stew, brain jello, and skeleton Cheetos for dinner. Soup is really the way to go for Halloween dinner. Pre-prepared, hearty, warm, healthy. This was our first brain jello but definitely a hit and a new tradition. Maybe more of a table decoration than side dish! And skeleton Cheetos because I'm a push over at the grocery store.

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Kate dressed up as a taco. Jack was dressed steampunk. Just happy no one wanted to look bloody this year.

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And Tripper was an unhappy chili cheese dog...

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My friend Kerri and I sat on the front porch snuggled under blankets and handing out candy while the dads took the kids door to door. The cold kept the trick-or-treater numbers down... I'm guessing only 500 or so this year... about half of last year! The boys benefited from the lower numbers by raking in the candy as the night finished. 

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Halloween Notes for My Future Self:

  • Have the kids make brain jello day before Halloween so they are doing it, not you
  • The motion sensor monster on the front gate was a hit
  • Make pillows for the front porch
  • Look for a rustic candle holder for the mantel
  • Find/make a Halloween music play list
  • Halloween falls on a Saturday in 2020. Start planning a haunted house party again!
  • You really don't need any more Halloween decorations

Oh, Hello

Maybe the blogging isn't going as I envisioned. But I'm still going to keep trying.

Despite my best efforts, it seems that life is always trying to keep me busier than I prefer.

Here's a quick update of the last couple weeks.

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  • Last weekend my good friend Krista brought her youngest son to Colorado for a weekend visit. We hiked a little, ate a lot, played in Manitou Springs, quilted (the moms), and gamed (the boys). It was all over too fast but easier to say goodbye knowing we'll see them again before 2017 ends.
  • The renovation start date is still TBD. The structural engineer determined we only need minor reinforcement of the foundation, but even those changes take time to organize. The delay has been needed since I keep changing my mind about what I want! Tile, paint colors, sinks, lights, so many decisions! My garage is slowly filling with bar stools, light fixtures, mirrors, etc.
  • Kate came out of her wrist brace last Thursday and swam in a swim meet over the weekend. As her coach said, she did much better than anyone expected after 2 months without any real training. Looking forward to a strong rest of the season for her.
  • Jack joined the high school chess club and participated in his first chess tournament after just one club session. It was mostly high schoolers, and he came in 12th out of 28 kids. Pretty proud.
  • I'm doing a big trip in November with a lot of last minute planning. More on that soon!
  • I've managed to find some time in the sewing room the last couple of weeks. I'll share more of what I've made soon. But here is a sneak peek...
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Succulent Pumpkins

Remember when I said I was going to do a craft project? Here it is! Succulent pumpkins. 

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They were rather easy to make. Jack helped. We made at least 10 of them in various sizes and gave most to friends as autumn gifts. We followed the directions on this site. Theoretically the succulents should grow into the pumpkin. When the pumpkin starts to soften, the top can be sliced off and the succulents planted in a pot. As long as mine lives to see Thanksgiving, I'll be happy.

I ordered some succulent cuttings from Etsy, but found that it was actually less expensive to buy a variety of succulents from Home Depot for cuttings. We also used hens & chicks from our backyard and some old, leggy succulents I had from an old wreath. Now I am attempting to re-grow various succulents in every sunny spot in my home. For a brief moment I considered getting a greenhouse and becoming a succulent farmer... but only for a brief moment!

Already pondering what else I can do with succulents...

First Freeze

We had our first snow yesterday. I was in denial all weekend that it would actually happen. There was nothing but frost when we awoke, but by mid-morning it was snowing steadily. Despite not wanting winter weather yet, there was no denying how beautiful the snow looks when it covers the world.

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On the oregano blossoms... butterflies on Sunday... snow on Monday...

But our first hard freeze didn't come until last night. I covered the front porch mums, but everything else was wilted and dull this morning. I expected to lose the butterflies with the summer plants, but they surprised me! I suppose they too can withstand a freeze with a little cover.

Today the sun chased away the cold faster than it arrived. This afternoon's walk during Jack's piano lesson was reminiscent of last week's walk. Not nearly the butterflies numbers as before but still constant as the dogs and I walked the path. 

My favorite memory of today was seeing a butterfly dance with a falling leaf. Not sure if the butterfly was confused and thought the leaf was another butterfly? The two movements are so similar. Or maybe it was a final farewell as they both move from summer and prepare for a new season.

Butterflies Galore

Sandwiched between two drizzly mornings, we got a peak at the sun yesterday afternoon.

Jack's piano teacher lives a block away from a lovely park and walking path, and I usually try to walk while he is in a lesson. I didn't make it far down the path this time because I was mesmerized by all the butterflies! There were hundreds feeding on the flowers along the walking path, and as I walked they would flutter up and over and all around. At times it was like walking through an arbor of butterflies over the trail. Magical. And difficult to be grumpy with a butterfly floating by.

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Despite the numbers of butterflies, I had difficulty getting more than two at a time in a photo!

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I first noticed the increased number of butterflies on the flowers outside the grocery store and then read that there is a larger than normal population of painted lady butterflies migrating southwest (and I thought monarchs were the only migrating butterflies!). Now I notice them everywhere. Maybe not in large numbers like on the path yesterday, but floating past about everywhere when I'm out and about.

After looking them up in my butterfly books (I have this one and this one - children's books are often my favorite references), I had to go back to my photos to make sure I saw painted lady butterflies and not American lady butterflies. The painted lady has 4 or 5 eyespots on the lower wing, and the American lady has only two. Had to zoom in to see the spots! Will be on the lookout next year for an American lady.

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All the butterflies reminded me how much I need butterflies in my life! We've raised butterflies from caterpillars many times but stopped as the kids have gotten older. One can never be too old to enjoy raising butterflies, so I'm putting it on my to do list for next spring (I don't like to raise them in winter because you can't release the butterflies - and I've always gotten caterpillars from Insect Lore and had great success - we've also done the ladybugs and ants).

Not only do I want to raise butterflies again, but I want to be proactive in attracting them to our yard. The renovation is going to force some landscaping changes, so it will be a good time to do just that. Fortunately I have all winter to contemplate what I want to do!

 

Is It Next Weekend Yet?

10AM on Monday and this week already feels long! Maybe because we woke to a cloudy sky and are looking at another week of rainy weather? Seriously, when you are accustomed to a lot of sunshine, multiple cloudy days is a bit depressing.

We were happy to get some sunshine this weekend. We had little planned because we thought we would be doing the final push to ready the house for the renovation (which has been delayed waiting on permits). Ended up being a lovely, full weekend.

Saturday morning the kids volunteered with their swim team doing a creek clean up. There was a long list of disgusting things the group found... we had a bit of a debate if the grossest things were the "best" things or the "worst" things... But there was no debate that the "best" part of the clean up was being accompanied by Rosco the donkey!

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Since the kids got free hot chocolates for volunteering, we headed straight to Rosco's Coffee House (namesake of aforementioned donkey). It was good to drink a chai and have some time with other swim team parents away from the pool.

Saturday afternoon a friend and I hiked Mt. Cutler. We were going to do Mt. Muscoco also, but rain brought us down early and sent us to Good Neighbors for Saturday chai #2 for me!

Saturday night was pretty low key. Kate had late swim practice, and the rest of us went to Garden of the Gods club for a little workout, swim, and whirlpool. I could spend a lot of time in this infinity pool!

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Sunday we did a family hike with friends to Pancake Rocks. The gold of the aspen leaves was peaking, and this area is definitely one of the hot spots for views!

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By Sunday evening we were all exhausted and did a bunch of nothing. Which is maybe why I'm facing a house in desperate need of picking up this morning. Already nostalgic for this last weekend and looking forward to the next one!

Rainy Day Projects

Colorado Springs doesn't get many rainy, gloomy days, but we've had our fair share for almost a week now. I think it has been days since I've even seen the mountains. I'm ready for sunshine. The weather report tells me soon.

The weather has made for good stay at home time. I've been steadily emptying all the rooms in the back of our house in preparation for our renovation. It is a slow process as I sort every item into what we'll need the next few months (and find it a new place), what we won't need the next few months (and box it up for storage), and what we don't need anymore at all (and pile it up to be donated). If I'm being honest, there is plenty that is going into storage that probably needs to be donated. There is also plenty going straight to the garbage. How does one miss chili sauce that expired 3 years ago?!

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The gloomy weather did inspire me to finally pull out autumn decorations. Jack also wanted to  put up Halloween, but I need a few more weeks before I can go down that road. I wish I could convey how cozy my living room feels with the mantel decorated and candles. lit. This afternoon's activity will most likely be lighting a fire and starting a puzzle on the coffee table. 

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Yesterday I got tired of being in the house and felt the urge to start a creative project (because I need another project like I need a hole in the head!). Despite the rain I was productive with errands - Target, Home Depot, Hobby Lobby, Ace Hardware, the pharmacy - in the few hours I have every morning. I got everything I need, and I'll share if it turns out (and maybe if it doesn't!).

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Our old kitchen cabinets continue to get a new life. Jack used a drawer piece to make Lego storage. We picked up the hardware we needed yesterday, and last night he added wheels for easy moving around his room. He is considering adding Lego baseplates to the top for creating scenes, but his mom might not be able to handle another project until the snowy weather sets in...

Big Changes

Did I say blog everyday? Let's go with every other day!

We are about to do a major house renovation, and I couldn't be more excited. We will be moving the kitchen, opening our little office/homeschool room into a sitting room, redoing the kids' bathroom, and adding a master suite. It should start next week (although I'm doubtful that the permits will be ready as we are still waiting on a final architect plan) and take about 3 months.

Because our house is over 100 years old, we are trying to do our best to keep with the style of the house and reuse old elements wherever possible. We are also trying to reuse non-antique elements of the house to improve other areas and save some money.

Our current kitchen cabinets are old but good quality. We are moving some of them into our laundry room to replace lower quality cabinets and add some storage. The cabinet guy came on Monday and took down some of my kitchen cabinets.

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These upper cabinets were moved

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here over my washer and dryer. They look so much better than the old laminate cabinets we removed! Once the big renovation is done, I'll focus on the laundry room and probably paint these a fun color.

*Note that this area is going to be my make shift kitchen during the renovation

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But this is what my kitchen looks like now - and it's only going to get worse. The best part is a wall history at least 5 layers deep that's was uncovered.

Happy Birthday To Me

For my birthday I decided to start a new website and blog. I miss documenting my life and thoughts, but feel that I have outgrown my old blogger site. Going experiment in this new space and see what happens. I have some thoughts and ideas, but we'll see how it all evolves. To get myself back in the rhythm of blogging, I am going to attempt to blog a bit everyday for the foreseeable future. Maybe words, maybe images, maybe both.

My birthday was pretty much a regular family day except for the birthday wishes sent through the day from so many people that are important to me. For this next year, I am going to make an effort to be better about acknowledging birthdays for everyone I know.

My birthday cake is traditionally a yellow cake with chocolate frosting decorated with Brach's candy pumpkins. The candy pumpkins are a must. Kate made this year's cake... it was definitely a homemade work of love!

(I have no idea how to make this photo smaller... maybe I'll figure that out tomorrow!)

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