Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Heading up north

Good Evening Everyone,

After work tomorrow I am driving up to the cabin to spend New Years Eve with Denise. I am taking our 16 year old nephew Jimmy with me. We plan on ice fishing and just hanging out at the cabin. I do have to go check on my wonderful Mother in Laws place in Houghton Lake. I will probably have to rake the snow off the roof.

Denise did make it to the cabin OK, however when she got there there was no electicity. It was 36 degrees in the cabin. She got the fire going but with no power the blower wasn't working so she only go the temp up to about 55 degrees. The fire went out during the night so the temp dropped. She slept on the couch covered by several blankets and she had to cover the hounds up as well. Fortunately the power came back on today so all is well in cabin land. We did lose everything in the fridge, so time to restock.

We are going to the Elbow Lake Bar for New Years Eve. They are having a pot luck. Not sure what Denise is making but it should be a good time.

What is everyone doing for New Years?

We wish all of you a Safe and Blessed New Year and may 2009 be the best year ever for you.


Monday, December 29, 2008

Whats missing in our cabin kitchen?

YAY, I have internet again! ...and my car back. I'm about to take a shower and head to the cabin!

In the mean time...do you notice anything MAJOR that is missing in our cabin kitchen?

Yes, there is a peel and stick tile missing on the backsplash next to the sink. I'm not going to worry about that until I redesign the kitchen....some day...
OK, hmmmm what seems to be missing? It's something needed in every kitchen. And no, it's not the cook! I took the pics! This is a pretty good view of the entire kitchen.

Here is a hint -- We have it hidden behind that door into the utility room.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

No Internet and No Power

Good Sunday Morning to All,

Well I type this blog note from my desk at work. Since Christmas Eve we have had no internet service and being the holiday they could not come out until tomorrow. This maybe delayed even more because Mother Nature has decided to use her mighty leaf blower today in our area. The winds are anywhere from 20mph to 60 mph, so needless to say the power was out when Denise got up for work this morning. Nothing like getting ready for work by flash light.

Denise does have her Trailblazer back. I believe we have paid for someones summer vacation with what it cost us to get it fixed. Denise will be heading up to the cabin tomorrow after the the internet is fixed.

No internet at home has been driving my lovely bride crazy. She misses all her Bloggy friends. So please be patient with us and we will be back posting about our little cabin as soon as possible.

We would like to Thank all of your for Chrsitmas wishes you have posted.We hope everyone had a Very Merry and Blessed Christmas.

Thanks Mom for keeping everyone up to date for us.

Take care of yourselves.


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Still bored, Christmas things

My Mom made this in ceramics. It's beautiful in white with it's blue lighting.
Mom made this one, also.
Better close-up of our Thomas Kincaide village.
Thomas Kincaide church.
Santa on our dining room table.

FLIPPIN BORED, part 2 same day

I am a captive in my own house. I shoveled snow about 2 hours ago...now our neighbor has come over with his snow blower. More random photo's....

I have one of these here at home and one at the cabin from Cabin Life magazine. YEESH, I'm clicking my red glitter heels together...I'D RATHER BE AT THE CABIN!
Cleo and Louie (our nephew dog) on our front porch. They would rather be at the cabin, too.

Our wedding photo. 5/15/1993.

A pic out of our sunroom into the backyard.

I'm trying to save this plant. It is an annual. It is Diascia or Trailing Antique Rose hybrid. Anyone know if it might survive? It's been hanging outside and still has green on it. It was frozen solid. It's been defrosting for a couple of days, but it's looking worse.

BORED, part 1

Remember how I said that my car had to go to the dealership because my speedometer isn't working?

Well, it's at the dealer, and I won't have it back until tomorrow. I can't go up north. I can't go shopping. I can't go to the grocery store. I can't go to the poultry market. I can't visit friends. I can't go anywhere. I CAN'T GO! HELP ME!

I'm flipping out, bored out of my mind. So, I'll post some random pic's.... As green and as frugal as I may try to be, I have found...I CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT A CAR! Banging head against the wall.

My Mom sold her house near our home here 'downstate' last year. She is now an official 'snowbird'. She lives in Florida in the winter months with my Grandma, then she comes 'up north' and lives in her home in Houghton Lake during the summer with my Gram. My Mom was going to leave this clock in her kitchen. Granted, it's nothing special. But, I grew up with it in my Mom's kitchen. I told her that I wanted it. It goes really nice with our sage green kitchen, here downstate.
Our 'powder room' here downstate. I cleaned it this morning. It has the Santa feel.

My laundry room. The clothes should be put away, but Bill said that I cannot open his closet in the computer room....

A red squirrel awaiting a feast at my tray feeder outside of our sunroom.

American Tree Sparrow. We have tons of them all winter at the cabin. They are not usually city birds, but they are here today.

Cabin Heat

We heat our cabin with a woodstove, a very old propane furnace that heats the utility room only and occasionally electric space heaters. So, how warm does it get? The question is...how hot do you want it? I've had it up to 90F. When I'm there, I keep it around 65. I still have to get up in the middle of the night to stoke the fire. Our woodshed is 'down the hill and around the propane tank'. Coming back up the hill with wood in the sled, is the challenge! In winter, we keep a large plastic bin outside by the utility room door to keep wood in. It stores enough for about a day and a half. During summer, the bin is emptied and moved away fromt the cabin. Carpenter ants and log cabins, don't mix.

Here is the 'woodshed' behind one of our other sheds. That is a robin nest platform near the top of the shed that Bill made for me. That's our blue canoe. I have the orange sled all ready with wood on it. Best $7.00 I ever spent. Obviously, I took this pic in the fall. That sled gets a lot of use for winter. I drag the sled around the propane tank and up the hill to the utility room door.

This is the bin that we keep at the utility room door. It holds about a day and a 1/2 worth of wood.

Even Princess Cleopatra has to be wrapped with a blanket until Mommy has the cabin warm enough, otherwise she shivers.

Bill has the woodburner torn apart for a good cleaning. He does this about every 3 months. See the arch in the fireplace? You can't see it when all the trim pieces are on the wood burner. Shucks, it's so pretty. The original stone firebox is approx. 3-4 ft. deep and it has the original cast iron liner. Our fire tools aren't for show, they are for hard use, but I bought the set because they are pretty. They are hand forged, individual pieces. I also have extra brushes and shovels because they always come in handy.

Not a fire for 'watching', the glass door gets a lot of smoke and crusted with creosote, but it sure is toasty! My bloggy pal Margy over at http://powellriverbooks.blogspot.com/ cooks in and on her woodburner. I can't cook ON mine, but I'm going to try and cook in it. I need to buy a fire brick to set inside the door.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Albino Deer

Hello Everybody,

Sorry we haven't posted in awhile, we have been very busy with work and getting ready for Christmas. I thought I would share this Email my wonderful Mother-in-Law sent to me a couple of weeks ago. ( I have to say she is wonderful because she reads the blog, Hi Mom).

I have not been back up north since my last post. We were going to go hunting last weekend but my friend Rick was sick and this weekend we got hit with a snowstorm on Friday. I didn't feel like driving up in that weather. Let the ice fishing season start!!!!

I have been working in the garage on couple of gifts for Denise. I will post about those after Christmas.

Anyway here is the Email. Albino deer are not something you see everyday in the wild. They are pretty rare. These are some incredible pics. Enjoy!!!

'Behind the Gray Rock Cafe in Grayling, Michigan Tim Gillette made the deer feeder with the 'Browning' logo. These twin Albinos have been coming into the back of Gray Rock Cafe since they were fawns in 2006. We have been trying to capture a digital pic of them for Awhile, but they arrive at dusk or even later and the pics don't turn Out. On Friday about 10 am they arrived. It was a beautiful Morning and they came for their photo op.

On one pic you will even notice their breath.'

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Victorian Christmas, part 2

Thomas Kincaide village. No pic's will ever do this justice.
Santa that my Mom made in ceramic class, when I was little.
Wall tree. The Santa topper is very old.
My small collection of "Mercury Glass" ornaments. They are so shiny and colorful. Each ornament is approx. 8-10" tall.
More of Aunt Martha's homemade ornaments. They were difficult to photograph.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Victorian Christmas, part 1

We didn't decorate the cabin this year, although we have some great woodsy ornaments. I have to work on Christmas day this year. Bill is the head Christmas decorator...in fact, he did ALL of the decorating here, downstate, this year. Our home, downstate, is a Victorian farmhouse. No farm here though, we are in a city...LOL Bill decorated our tree this year with my Great Aunt Martha's Christmas ornaments. She willed them to my Mom when she passed away. She was my Grandma's oldest sister. She was a WILD one! In fact, she looked like 'The Clapper' lady in the commercials. Bill does NOT care for ornaments, but my Mom and I do. They sure put a lot of color on the tree. We have lots of ornaments, but he chose this theme this year.

This is the 'greenest' gawdy ornament on the tree.

This is one of my favorites. A cherub flying on a white disk. Could this be....a UFO?

My Mother-in-Law made this beautiful cross-stitch tree skirt for us. God rest her soul.

Our tree topper, this light up Santa number. I just love him and don't know why.

Our fireplace mantle, all decked out for the holidays. I'll share more pics tomorrow.

Bill's Christmas List

Bill left me his Christmas list this morning. Let's just say, it tugs on my heart strings. I have comments.

1. My lovely wife gets her stress test done.
It's been a year and a half since I had a heart attack at age 40 and I have yet to have a stress test. I'll make sure this happens just after the first of the year.

2. For the love of my life to exercise and lose weight so that we can grow old together, and yes, I will join her in this endeavor.
Yes, we need to get back to the YMCA so that I work on my cardio and lose the weight to take the stress off of my heart. Who would have thought that smoking accounts for 25% of your metabolism? Not an excuse, just a fact. Also, since stress was a major factor in my heart attack, I am on anti-anxiety medication. Sigh - more added weight. I promise, we will work on this.

I love it when Bill and I go to the Y together and take walks around the lake.

3. Electric razor heads

4. New slippers
We'll see

5. Journey's new CD
I dunno...

I think more trips to the cabin and snow shoeing is just what the Doctor will order for a happy healthy wife! I really want to go snow shoeing. There is a trail near Higgins Lake that I'd love to walk.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The drive north, final part - landmarks

Are you ready? STRAP IN! I'm a fast driver. Here we go again! Let's check the speedometer...102, is that fast enough for you? Pretty good for being in Park. My speedometer is broke. My Trailblazer is headed to the Chevy dealer on Monday.

This is a detour through the City of Detroit. That is the Detroit skyline in the distance. Yes, I am the freak who took these pics while driving.
Old Tiger Stadium. There was an emergency order to stop demolition a couple of months ago. Nothing has happened since.
Chrysler World Headquarters. I've heard that there is a big board room in the penta-star. Does anyone know if that is true? I took this pic one handed. Aren't I talented?
This is the Zilwaukee Bridge. We call it the 'Little Scary Bridge'. This bridge has been notorious for having structural problems. The first, being a segment of this bridge tilting several degrees during construction and took years of lawsuits to correct. This was the first ever pre-fabricated concrete bridge. There is all kinds of weather equipment on this bridge detecting wind speed, etc. I never get the warm and fuzzies driving over this bridge. Of course the 'Big Scary Bridge' is the Mackinac Bridge that connects the lower peninsula with the upper peninsula. Those of us that live in the LP are known as 'trolls' (get it, under the bridge?). Those that live in the UP are 'Yoopers'.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Painless Frugal Ideas

We interupt this cozy warm cabin to talk about frugal ideas. Bring them on! I'd love to hear some of your frugal and/or 'green' ideas. My Mom is the Matriarch of Frugality.

Sometimes it takes the fear of being furloughed to re-assess your finances. It's good to take an inventory every couple of years to see what you are spending your money on and how you can cut out some of those costs.

Here are some of the painless frugal things that I already do:

I'm a regular poster at a laundry room forum. I'm a bit of a freak over laundry. You could almost say that I'm into laundry voodoo....LOL I'm familiar with all sorts of concoctions to clean clothing. Ask me about STPP, TSP, vinegar, washing soda and borax. STPP and TSP contain phosphates, they are my last resort cleaners. I prefer the last 3 for all kinds of things including handwashing dishes.

I use Charlie's Soap, you'll see the link in my list of favorites on the right. I bought their 1280 load, 5 gallon container. This container will last approx. 3 years or more doing 8 loads per week. We don't do that many loads per week. I used Charlie's in my old top loader and in my new 4.7 cu. ft. front load machine. It contains no brighteners, which is perfect for hunting or military clothing. There are no scents. This is a no nonsense detergent. I would recommend trying the smaller containers to see if you like it. I've got my Mom using it now. We used to be Tide girls. This product not only cleans, it's 'green', which makes it even better.

I don't use fabric softener or dryer sheets. I will occasionally add 1/4 cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle for towels, but that is it. I set my dryer to ring when our clothes are damp dry and I pull them out. If I end up furloughed, I'll start hanging clothes outside in the summer and in the basement during winter.

Bar Towels:
As of April 15, 2008, I stopped buying paper towels. I purchased 2 - 12 pack of white bar towels for $4.56 per set. We use bar towels exclusively for everything that you use paper towel for. Since they are white, I toss them in the wash with Oxy or Bleach, if absolutely necessary. Need a napkin? We have cloth.

Dialing Down:
We have a digital thermostat. We have it set for 65F when we are awake. We have it set for 60F at night. We didn't turn on our furnace until around November 10th, it was a struggle, but we made it!

Once A Month Cooking (OAMC):
Have you heard of Dream Dinners or something similar? This is where you go to a center and put meals together and take them home to freeze them, and cook them later. Well, you can easily do this at home much cheaper and I know how clean my personal cooking utensils are. I have several OAMC meals in my freezer. If I'm furloughed, I will do even more. Here are some things that I have in my freezer ready to pull out the night before and cook. Chicken Pot Pies, Stuffed Green Peppers, Ham and Swiss Stromboli, Green Beans with Ham and Potatoes, Pot Roast, Lasagna, various homemade soups.

Compact Florescent Lamps (CFL's):
We are replacing all of our incandescent bulbs with CFL's as they burn out. This is a big money saver on electricity.

Kerosene vs. Citronella oil:
I love having outdoor torches. Have you seen the price of Citronella oil in the stores? YIKES! The Citronella doesn't work to keep the bugs away, anyway. Kerosene is half the cost. OK, so this is one of those 'wants' not 'needs'. I just love the way the cabin looks with the torches lit.

Buy store brands, use coupons:
The only thing I insist on is Heinz Ketchup, nothing else compares...LOL I am vowing to use more coupons.

Credit Card:
We only have one and we pay it off every month, but we will greatly reduce using it.

Here are some of the things that we plan on doing over the next month or two.

Get new estimates on car insurance, house insurance, cabin insurance. Our cabin insurance is outrageous, since we are 17 miles from the nearest fire department. We have no fire hydrants, they would have to draft off of our lake if there was a fire.

Reduce clutter - we will be starting a garage sale area in our basement and plan to have one in the spring when our city does a city wide garage sale. We are going to go room by room and see what items we don't use anymore and put them into the garage sale area.

Telephone - keep land line and eliminate my cell phone? Or, eliminate the house phone. Cancel long distance? I have a car phone (On-Star), so do I really need both a cell and car phone? Hmmmm....

Look at alternatives for our current basic cable. Is a satellite dish more economical? We don't have either at the cabin. Cable is not available and we are in a valley and have too many trees for satellite TV. We have 3 channels and I like it that way, Bill? Not so much.

Cancel one of our 2 internet providers. One is our DSL and the other is AOL. We are going to eliminate AOL since you can now keep your email addresses.

I know there are more things, but this is where we will start! Don't worry, we won't be getting rid of the cabin. It's our Heaven on Earth. Tomorrow, back to our regularly scheduled cabin program.

Monday, December 8, 2008

The drive up north (part 1 - food)...

But first. I had planned to have a bloggy giveaway, but I am unable to do it at this time. Sorry! I have recently found out that the company that I work for is planning furloughs beginning in January. My company has now been affected by this economy. The effects are being felt around the world. I work in international cargo - aviation. I don't know if I will be part of the cuts yet, I am non-union. But, don't worry about us, we are doing fine. We will just go down to one income for a while. I'm quite frugal - I'll do a blog about that this week, as I will be asking for more frugal ideas. :)

On to happier things... The drive up north. Since not all of you live in Michigan, I thought I'd share some pictures of the things that I see and pass on the way up north. Some of these places you may not have ever seen...or hadn't seen in years. So, here is the drive northbound on I-75 from south of Detroit to the Midland area.

White Castle - home of the 'slyder'. Don't let them fool you on Top Chef, this is the original 'slyder'. Tim Allen has it right! We have lots of White Castle's in the area, I like the jalapeno cheeseburgers! They truly are hangover food. This stuff is not good for you!
Tim Horton's. GREAT coffee! I stop on the way to work there all the time. It is a coffee and doughnut chain in Canada and they are heading south. Tim Horton was a hockey player in Canada.

Halo Burger. This is a small chain of fast food in the Flint area. My Mom grew up in Flint. This used to be known as Q.P.'s when she was a little girl. They are famous for putting green olives on their hamburgers. Even at home, I put green olives on my burgers. YUM.

And, we can't leave out Frankenmuth's Freeway Fritz. Frankenmuth is a small German community but well known for their world famous chicken dinners. Freeway Fritz is part of the Bavarian Inn and they have this little to go place right off of the freeway if you can't sit down for their family style meal. I prefer Zehnder's over Bavarian Inn - just a personal preference. It had started to snow when I got to Frankenmuth.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

What does your shed look like?

We have 2 sheds on our property, one that is a boring barn style...and this FABULOUS old cinder block building...but, it used to be boring.

One of my neighbor's granddaughters came over one day last summer and asked if I would mind if she painted windows on my shed. I thought about it for a moment and said 'sure, no problem'. Of course, I was thinking that it's only paint and I can just paint back over it. Or, I could wait until next spring when I plan to uncover the plywood off of the old windows and re-glaze them. This little shed has been boarded up for years, it appears that someone shot the old windows with a BB gun.

Well, I was truly surprised when she matched the 'mullions' to those on the cabin. Bill had noticed that she was really trying to get them right. She was using a ruler and pencil lines. When she was done, I had no interest in painting over her work. She did a darn good job!

Later on, she asked if she could paint some flowers on the bottom, again, it's only paint. I told her that she could paint anything that she wanted on the shed, but Bill has already named it.....get this.....MOTHER-IN-LAW'S QUARTERS! I asked if she would mind painting a little sign for my Mom. She didn't disappoint my husband. It is the first thing he showed my Mom when she came over!!!

Didn't she do a fabulous job on the shed? It is also known by the kids as 'The Clubhouse'. Maybe she will paint that on the back of the sign next spring. I love my little shed so much, I wouldn't change a thing...except reglaze the window's next year.

We have a door bell and vines. A half moon. This may have been a 2-holer at one time, we aren't sure, there is a solid concrete looking seat. Could have been a pump house. Any other ideas?

Flowers, butterflies and curtains!

Every clubhouse needs a 'Welcome' rock.

...and here is the sign that she painted for my Mom - courtesy of Bill, her favorite (and only) Son-In-Law.