Happy Homemaker Monday, Summer Days Slipping Away

Tell me more (tell me more) like does school ever start? Uh, huh. Uh, huh. Okay, that’s the best I can do of ripping off song lyrics this morning. The new school year starts August 24 for J and next week for the preschool kids at my work.

Let’s just get right to planning this second week of August. Linking up as always with the lovely Sandra over at Diary Of A Stay At Home Mom.

The Weather

Pretty hot out there right now, mid 80’s, feels like 90. It IS hot, I ran out to do a couple things. Supposed to thunderstorm later this afternoon. Looks like slight chances the rest of the week as well. Highs in the mid to upper 80’s. Well, it IS August after all.

How I’m Feeling This Morning 

Weirdly, fairly motivated to get lots done today. And thankful to have a kid in the high school where they are pretty good at communicating. Thank goodness since it’s been a year (already) of lots of changes. Thinking of the year J started 6th grade and how that particular school’s communication was sub-par (to put it politely). Glad to have a flexible job I love. Called into work for just a couple of hours Friday afternoon, long enough to get a cupcake (birthday celebration for one of the kids), and came home. Can’t beat that! And of course, thankful for our health.

On My Mind

I’m a bit in back to school mode. J’s school already changed things and decided to opt for their phase 2 return. (I guess they have 3 phases with the third being the on-line, total shutdown thing). So, the high school alternates between in-person and on-line every other week based on last name. Trying to picture how the on-line days are going to look around here. We definitely need to to do something different from the spring. Perhaps a work space (where?) outside of his room. Let’s just move on to my to-do list.

On My To-Do List

  1. Sort out and clean up down here
  2. Pay bills
  3. Laundry (In progress)
  4. All the stuff from last week left undone (basically, the whole second half of that list)
  5. Back to school items: e-mail proof of residency, go with J to schedule pick up (he has to go, everyone must check out a chrome book, new thing), sort out our on-line learning weeks, school clothes and supplies?
  6. Update my calendar

On My Breakfast Plate

The usual. I do think the Chobani Lemon Meringue flavor is my new favorite.

On My Reading Pile

Read The Last Piece by Imogen Clark last week. I really enjoyed it. This one reminded me of my own big family and how we all used to see each other in passing at our parents’ home.  It ended a bit abruptly but the ending fit the story so I didn’t mind. Also, picked up and read The Cornish Confetti Agency by Daisy James and am now working through Summertime at the Cornish Confetti Agency. Silly, light romance type reading.

On My TV

Might need to hang my head in a bit of shame for this section. Started off okay. Watched Masters of Design on Netflix. A nice little British interior design competition type show. Then, Friday evening, I watched Knives Out on Amazon (not the worst, not the best movie. Just okay.) followed by Jurassic Park (the original, better than the remake) on Netflix.

What? That’s not so bad. No, however, I succumbed on Saturday to bad reality TV and started watching Selling Sunset over on Netflix. It’s about a group of real estate agents in L.A.  I keep claiming I’m only watching it to see the fantastic houses, definitely the best part of the show.

And in a bit of redemption, I also watched the movie, Yesterday. A world without the music of the Beatles? Movie was smart, funny, and I thought, very well done.

On The Menu This Week

Hardest part of weekly planning for me. Still I know it helps to have a plan.

MONDAY: Maybe spaghetti (carry over)

TUESDAY: Roast in the crock pot *I work 1-6*

WEDNESDAY: Homemade Chik-Fil-A sandwiches

THURSDAY: Hamburgers? Husband’s choice *I work 1-6*

FRIDAY: Pizza or maybe OUT

From The Camera

Squirrel savoring his breakfast of a green walnut.

New welcome flag for the front porch.

Looking Around The House

Not awful but I am in the mood to clear away and clean in every room.

On My Prayer List

G as he has a job interview this morning (really hope he gets it as it would be such a boost for his confidence) followed by a wait in line at the DMV for driver’s license renewal (Do I need to say more? It’s his second attempt as he didn’t have all the required paperwork on the first try to get the new required ID).

Friends, family, strangers, all the schools trying to navigate the best options for their students, the families trying to make the best choices, our country, the world. Just going to keep on praying that a kindness pandemic takes over and replaces the current one.

Quote For The Week

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. (Romans 12:18)

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And a bonus before I end my post, I don’t feel as if I should begin with a reference to a song and not include it. So here you go, sing along with me:

Are you a fan of Grease? What are your plans for the week ahead?

Sweet Caroline(a) Wren

I saw a funny (or not, sigh) meme about the cancellation of Sweet Caroline for this year. So, when I noticed this Carolina Wren on our patio, I had a title for my post today.

I watched this little bird flit about by the suet feeder before it decided to venture over to the patio umbrella and hop about on it. Inspecting for wasp nests for me? Maybe. I did ban umbrellas from our deck for a reason. However, my husband ignored my ban. Something about wanting to grill in the rain. Glad to know I have a little bird on my side of things. Or maybe the wren takes my husband’s side since this umbrella is obviously very interesting. Still a sweet little bird either way.

And of course, I must add a certain song to end this section of my post:

A Few More Bird-Watching Photos And Backyard Tales

Can you stand another hummingbird photo this week? How about a fun story to go along with it?

See that little chickadee off to the side minding his own business over there? J told me about seeing it last week but this time I got to see it! He likes to take a little nip from the hummingbird feeder sometimes. And that little hummingbird? Does not like to share. We watched one afternoon as the hummingbird quite definitely chased the chickadee away from “his” feeder. Quite the scene!

One more backyard tale before I wrap up my post. Nuthatch photo above just for divider purposes. One afternoon, I heard a bit of  warning chirps from the backyard.

Finished up whatever I was doing, glanced out the back door just in time to see a hawk swoop across the backyard! Ran for my camera as I saw it stop in a nearby tree. However, I was too late and it was gone upon my return. Probably a Cooper’s Hawk. Going to have to keep an eye out for it.

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Other birds spotted this week: house finches, mourning doves, cardinals, woodpeckers (both red-bellied and downy), tufted titmice, a mockingbird (not at the feeder), and the annoying large group of house sparrows returned to my feeders yesterday. Saw a goldfinch fly by, just a flash of yellow, while at a nature center trail. Heard but did not see: crows and a blue jay somewhere in the distance.

What birds did you spot this week?

**Joining in with The Bird Depot hosted by Anni over at I’d Rather B Birdin.

Five On Friday: Favorite Vacation Memories

Not sure I can call it cabin fever but I’ve hit the point of the year where I crave a vacation. Really, I hit that point sometime back in late June.

Sometimes I like to look back through my vacation photos and “re-live” our past vacations. Especially when it seems my Facebook feed is flooded with people off on amazing trips. We’ve not really been anywhere too exotic but I’ve loved most the places we’ve gone.

Want to travel down memory lane with me as I gaze longingly at some places we’ve been. Pretty much in random order though I’m starting with our most recent trip.

ONE: Washington, D.C.

We were lucky enough back in April of 2019 to follow the high school band on their trip to march in the Cherry Blossom Festival. The Embassy Suites in Tyson’s Corner, Virginia was fantastic and right across the street from a Metro station. We didn’t need to ride but we did go check things out on our first night. Our tour guides (both the bus drivers and our local D.C. guide) were friendly, fun, and full of great information.  Giving us tips on everything from where to eat (The Department of Agriculture cafeteria was great! And we’ve yet to find french fries that rival those from the D.C. food trucks) to best times to see some of the sights.

The D.C. area was full of people, busy, and beautiful! Hopefully, I get to return there some day and visit the National Zoo (an item I didn’t get to check off my list). We did so much in a short time: Arlington National Cemetery, The WWII Memorial, The Vietnam Wall Memorial (so moving), Smithsonian Museums (natural history, national archives, national gardens), Pentagon Memorial (also very moving), and the Library of Congress. Add in watching the Cherry Blossom Parade and getting accidental surprise tickets to tour the White House Gardens!

A fun trip though we didn’t get to see G much as he was busy with the band. And we wanted to give him his space. If you get a chance to go to D.C. do it! And pack some good walking shoes.

TWO: Duluth, MN

I didn’t want to leave Duluth, MN! Absolutely loved it when we visited back in June of 2018. My husband and boys, however, didn’t cooperate with the let’s just stay here plan and so we returned home. I could easily have a summer home on the shores of Lake Superior and be quite content. Not so sure about winters there. Already wrote several blog posts back when we took this trip so you can read the first one here or simply type “Duluth” in my search bar if you want to know more about our trip or the area.

THREE: South Dakota

July of 2015 found us vacationing in South Dakota. Another place I loved and want to see again as there’s so much to see and we did not, of course, see it all. We stayed in Custer and though it meant we had to drive a bit more sometimes to see or do things, it suited us perfectly.

I remember we drove overnight to get there so the kids could sleep and we wouldn’t need to stop. Not the best plan. They were so tired and grouchy that we pretty much had to force them  to get out of the car when we reached The Badlands.

South Dakota is a beautiful state. I hope I get a chance to return some day. Another summer one though as I hear winters there can be rather harsh.

FOUR: New Mexico

This one wasn’t a favorite. I think, the timing factored heavily into that. We had a death in the family just one week before we planned to leave. Cast a bit of a shadow over the whole trip and we ended up coming home early as well.  We were traveling to check out land owned by my husband’s late grandfather. Our travels took us through Santa Rosa, Roswell, and we ended up in Carlsbad. I was excited to go to Carlsbad Caverns and watch the bats fly out of the cave (bucket list item).

(No bat photos as I chose to simply enjoy the experience. Or Maybe we couldn’t take photos, don’t remember. Still I’m glad to have just enjoyed the experience.).  We were supposed to go on from Carlsbad to White Sands and perhaps the mountains but as I said, circumstances caused us to cut this trip short. We did enjoy our detour through the Palo Duro Canyon State Park in Texas.

FIVE: Colorado Springs, Colorado

I’ll end my post of vacation memories with a real blast from the past as 10 years ago in July we found ourselves in Colorado Springs, Colorado. There was lots to do there (outside and free, good for young kids) and we had a good time. However, I do remember being ready to go home.

We stayed near the air force base. Selecting hotels located opposite to all the places we plan to visit is a special talent.

I remember one of my favorite things about this vacation was feeding the giraffes at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.

And of course, driving up Pike’s Peak. I’d kind of like to go back now and try some photos with a newer camera.

Photo above is of Crystal Lake on Pike’s Peak.

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And so ends my walk down vacation memory lane for today. What have been some of your favorite vacation spots? I’m always looking for ideas for when the world returns to normal.

What’s Going On: Slow Week Going Fast

I’m not working this week as I’ve had to run J back and forth to band camp. However, for a slow week, it’s going fast. Can’t believe it’s already Thursday.

My plan to post every day this week fell a bit short missing yesterday. I gave myself a bit of a lazy day and then, G descended on the desktop down here about the time I thought to post.  Apparently, some new game plays better on my ancient computer than the laptop.

I’m going to grump a bit before I share the yuck pandemic numbers. Know I’m not alone but I’m so tired of this pandemic!  Want to go on a vacation. A normal, not worrying about masks and virus #’s vacation. I miss being able to just pick up and run to a store when I need something. And random hello’s to strangers on a trail instead of quickly pulling up my mask.  And so sick of reading that if I so much as sneeze, I might have this deadly virus. Actually, I think sneezing might be the one symptom the article (in the NY Times) didn’t mention.

So, let’s see if our numbers for the area are any better this week (hint: probably not):

Numbers and COVID-19 Info for Our Area

Cases statewide:   55,321

Total deaths:  1,272

Total Tested*

PCR tested: 730,574 (fancy term for nasal swab testing)

Serology tested:  60,779 (fancy term for blood test for antibodies)

*They’ve changed the reporting on these numbers. Now dividing out the two types of tests. Actually, the whole website is updated and in a dashboard format. A lot easier to read and understand.

In the Kansas City Area:   6,268 and 57 deaths (not sure what’s going on in St. Louis but their numbers are a lot higher, 13,785 and 648 deaths!)

Our local county: 3,713 and 51 deaths

And the number of cases within our zip code:   379

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Done with my griping and the yuck numbers, so now here are some…

Peaceful, Happy Moments From My Week

At A Nature Center

I managed to get outside with my camera on Tuesday, going on a quick visit to a nature center before I had to return home and take J to band camp. They set out a bunch of hummingbird feeders each summer.

There were lots of hummingbirds zipping around the area.

However, I kept getting distracted by other things like this dragonfly.

And seeing my first monarch butterflies of the season!

I wanted to go on this trail but I stuck to the paved one I knew because of time constraints.

And At Home

Returning home, I also spent time outside with my camera. Different kind of dragonfly loves to hang out at our house. And I noticed our hummingbirds, like these flowers. They (the flowers, not the hummingbirds, never smelled a hummingbird, ha!) smell wonderful as well.

And speaking of flowers, the pink petunias took another tumble off the front porch. Can’t figure out what is doing that. However, I’m in shock to still have pansies blooming in August! And speaking of odd things, have you ever heard of orange cherry tomatoes?

They’re very tangy. Start off kind of sweet and then kind of have a bite.

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Time to end this post and go make sure J is indeed awake. Perhaps our breakfast shall include some orange cherry tomatoes. What moments of peace and happiness have you found in your week?

Blueland Cleaning: My Thoughts

I’m fairly loyal to the Method brand of cleaning supplies. However, they’ve been out of stock (especially my favorite bathroom cleaner) everywhere I look.

I’ve tried others.  Scrubbing bubbles is okay just not a favorite. I found some hydrogen peroxide stuff in the basement only to remember I don’t use it because it brings on massive headaches for me. Frankly, I thought Mrs. Meyers a bit overpriced and not any better than my beloved Method brand. The Young Living Thieves household cleaner is okay just not for every job (does a great job at repelling wasps and bugs outdoors though!).

After another fruitless trip to Target in search of bathroom cleaner, I remembered a friend posted about something called Blueland on Facebook. Intrigued, I looked into it. Apparently, the company was on Shark Tank but I never saw the episode.

However, I liked the refill concept. Glass bottles to keep and only buy refills. I can go for that! Time to try something new!  I jumped in with both feet and bought the starter kit for $39. Honestly, less than I’d spend at Target buying “cleaning supplies” (because I never just buy cleaning supplies if I’m in there) and that price point offered free shipping.

The Starter Kit:

I thought the presentation was quite pretty. The starter kit comes with 4 bottles, all glass* and labeled for uses plus one hand soap container. Plus the cleaning tablets.

Each bottle is also color coded making it easy to tell at a glance the use.

Yellow, all-purpose type cleaner and blue, window/glass cleaner. Pink, not pictured is for the bathroom. The soap container is a bit more rounded and clear. Here’s a picture of it with the Method soap (not wasting soap over here!) also on the bathroom sink:

As you can see, the Blueland soap dispenser is fairly large. Because nerdy people like me want to know: Method soap is 10 oz and the Blueland soap makes 9 oz despite the bigger container.

I’ve been using my new cleaning supplies about a week now. Here are my thoughts:

The Good:

The box came relatively quick after my order. Not a long wait at all.

They’re fun to make! Maybe it’s just me but I thought it was kind of fun to drop the little tablet in the water and watch it fizz away magically turning into cleaners and soap.

The glass bottles seem high quality.*

I like the convenience of just ordering refills instead of buying all new bottles. And the refills don’t seem overly pricey to me at $6 for 3 refill packs.

The cleaners work well. Comparable enough to my beloved Method brand.

The Not So Good:

No choice of scents except on the foam soaps. And I wasn’t a huge fan of the iris agave foam soap scent. Of course, the bathroom cleaner scent is Eucalyptus Mint similar to my favorite from the Method line so that one works. The others are the standards, fresh lemon for the all-purpose and no scent for the glass cleaner.

It’s nit-picky I admit but the soap container is well, rather plain and bit bulky. Having a smaller main bathroom, I do enjoy the decorative look of the different soap containers. Maybe I can add stickers? Oh dear, is that too preschool? Perhaps.

Speaking of preschool, I’m a bit unsure of how the glass container might mix with young children. It did seem pretty sturdy but broken glass might be a concern.

Also, there’s no option for the 1 in a million person (like my husband) who prefers liquid soap as opposed to the foaming kind.

The glass cleaner seemed a bit streaky on the mirror at first but did dry fine.

No toilet bowl cleaner options. I guess maybe you could use the tablets for the bathroom cleaner in the toilet?

My Final Thoughts: 

This new cleaning method turned out to be enough of a hit for me to order it again. I’m currently waiting on my second order from them. No, I didn’t go through my cleaning supplies that fast. If you could see my home, you’d know the idea is laughable.

I probably over-ordered a bit as I loathe paying shipping (not sure why really). Here’s what I ordered this time:

6 Foaming Hand Soap Refill packs (I do like this concept and hope I like the other scents a bit better. The other choices are: lavender eucalyptus and Perrine lemon)

Another bathroom starter kit (I like to have one cleaning bottle for each bathroom)

And 3 glass/mirror refill packs (to hit my free shipping total)

*Update: Apparently only the soap dispenser bottle is glass. The others are some type of heavy duty acrylic. Still pretty heavy and not made from the usual plastic stuff like normal buy in the store cleaning supplies.

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They also offer dish soap and laundry soap options. I don’t see us trying those as I don’t think our household (read my husband) is quite ready to make that switch.  What kind of cleaning supplies do you use?

***Just a mention that I didn’t get any compensation/this isn’t a sponsored post (I don’t do those)/this is just something I tried and wanted to share my thoughts***

 

 

 

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