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Friday, March 29, 2013

Back into Routines

Well, we are getting settled into routines and enjoying our house.  The dishwasher is now in place, and Steve's idea won out on the island choices (see last blog post) .  Wonder what is next?
The gas log fireplace?  
The first floor laundry room?  
Gutting and redoing the bathroom upstairs?  
Stay tuned to find out what we are doing next on This Old House! 

In the meantime..... this week:

We are gearing up to attend both of our grandson's FIRST birthday parties!

Mason Paul Pfundtner turned one year old today!  

We are going to his party tomorrow and I am working on a crock pot of calico beans to take along.

Then on Sunday, we are hostessing the Pfundtner Family Easter Gathering.  We rented the pavilion at High Cliff State Park to hold the event.  So far we are at 27 and counting.  I am making up three hams, 3 dozen deviled eggs, and another crock pot of calico beans.  Everyone else is bringing the side dishes and desserts, so we should not go hungry... LOL

Next Saturday is the other grandson's birthday party to attend.... wonder if I can bring leftover beans?

Clayton Timothy Lock turns one year old next Friday!

The other exciting thing that happened to me was yesterday afternoon.  It was warming up, about 50 degrees.... so I decided to hang out our comforter to get some fresh air.  The clotheslines out in the back yard are still surrounded by snow, so I decided to use the single line that is suspended from two posts on our upstairs shaker porch.

I hoisted the comforter in my arms and went out on the shaker porch  ... and the door LOCKED behind me!   This porch is flat black rubber roof, with a pile of snow on the middle of it.  I can only walk around edges in my stocking feet....  till all of the snow melts.   I tried and tried to pull on the door knob from the left and the right without stepping in the snow.  Nope...  I was trapped!

Then I gave up trying to keep my socks dry, and stood right in front of the door in the snow and yanked harder and harder, for more leverage?  Nope.  I was locked out!

Well..... I stood there for a while, wondering what to do.   Aha!  I will just crane my neck around the edge of the house and wait for someone to walk down the street.  I can call out to them to help me?  Right, invite a complete stranger to come into my house, to come up the stairs and open the door?    It is a small town, I should be fine.  But.....   nobody walked by.  About half an hour later-- I gave up craning my neck around the corner and decided on Plan B.

I looked around at my predicament.  
Well, I could jump over onto the garage roof, 
shimmey down the slope of the roof
and drop into the snow bank?  

(see pic from last autumn, so you can see how close it is)   

But then I was thinking:
Do I want to risk a broken leg or something right before two grandsons' first birthday parties and hostessing 27 people for Easter dinner on Sunday?

So I gave up on that idea too.

Plan C?    I was thinking I could start to hollar and hope the neighbors might hear me through their closed doors and windows?   I tried a bit, but both dogs were out on their tie-out ropes below me and kept barking each time, so it just sounded like annoying barking dogs.  Who is gonna look at that?

So, I gave up on that idea, fast.   I had now been out on the porch for an hour or more.  Good thing it was facing west and the sun was shining and it was in the 50's.  It could be a normal Wisconsin winter day and I would be freezing up there!

While thinking of a Plan D.... I heard a door open!

It was from the back door of two houses over (we never met them yet) and they were getting into their car!  I hollared and shouted and waved my arms!!!  (like a nut case)   and they saw me!

Now I was able to have the pleasure of meeting my neighbors Jen and Ryan!   I sheepishly explained my predicatment and she came in my house, up the stairs and she discovered the door wasn't really locked...   It was the door jam seal has slid over and blocked the entire door at the frame edge from opening!    I said KICK IT and she did, and it popped open!    In I came, wet socks, and dragging my comforter behind me.

I thanked them over and over and we made sure to meet again under more pleasant circumstances.

Steve has now fixed it and it won't be doing THAT to me again! 

(p.s.  perhaps next time I should carry my cell phone in my pocket?) 

Monday, March 25, 2013

Island Decisions

Not an island in an ocean, silly!  
 An island in a kitchen! 

After a whirlwind weekend (checking out the father-in-law's new Rexhall motorhome on Friday, the sad funeral on Saturday)  we wanted to get back into our house re-doing projects on Sunday.

Steve found this wonderful island on Craigslist before we even officially owned the house.  It matched our kitchen cabinets that I was refinishing at the same time.  Once we got them all in place, we were very satisfied.

Now it was time for "Phase Two" of the island idea....   to move the dishwasher from the pantry room into the main kitchen and hook it up underneath the open space in the island.

First he had to remove the dishwasher from the panty... he already had the makeshift cabinetry that surrounded it off... and was just unhooking it from the plumbing and electrical when I snapped this pic.
It had been crammed in the pantry next to the fridge.  
Now that both are moved out, this will be my first floor laundry area and
 I think my ironing board will set perfectly in this space.

This is the space between the two end cabinets in the island.  The plumbing and electrical fixtures to run the dishwasher are easily accessible in the basement room right under the kitchen. All Steve has to do is drill through the floor and run up the water line, drain pipe and electrical wiring. 

First he removed the decorative iron bar from between the two side cabinets.... 

We carefully slid the dishwasher unit over on those sliding disks called "Moving Men"   That way the metal legs and frame of the dishwasher didn't put gouges or marks into our new flooring. We knew it was the right height ahead of time, and only had to adjust the legs down about 1/4 of an inch!

Steveio got right into the hookups, and drilled the holes and fed up the lines and hoses.  He is in his "element" when working on projects.  Oh, P.S. this was all done before breakfast on Sunday!

Soon the holes were drilled and he did all of the hookups to the plumbing in the basement.  He mounted the dishwasher into the undersides of the cabinet and also down through the brackets tight to the floor.

We ran a test load and everything worked fine.  We used an extension cord to plug it in temporarily. He held off hooking up the electrical wiring because I want to put a few outlets into the underside of the island.  So I have to decide where I want the outlets mounted to the underside of the island countertop.  Those outlets will be perfect to run my sewing machine, toaster, blender etc.   I love how close the dishwasher is located to the dishes cabinet... I can just reach into the machine and set the dishes right into the cabinets! 

Now, here is where the decision comes in..... 

The FIRST plan was to construct some up and down slits to store my serving trays and cookie baking sheets in the space left between the dishwasher and the end of the cabinet.   Okay.  That sounds good.  Or he thought we could make another pull out bin like our trash bin... and use it for recycling?  That was a good idea too.

He planned to build some wooden panels behind the dishwasher, and I would stain them to match.  Then 2 of the stools can fit on the opposite side of the dishwasher on the long side of the island.  

That was our plan.....

till Steveio came up with a SECOND plan! 

He detached the cabinet on the far left end of the island and scooted it over tight to the dishwasher!   Now there was no need for a lot of intricate panel work or cabinet building.  (hmmmmm)   and he thinks the dishwasher looks more custom made into the cabinetry? 

Now, two of the stools can be slid under the overhang from where the cabinet got moved in from.  You can still access the shelves underneath if you pull out the stools a bit.  So I can still store stuff in there.

And he said it will be easier to close in the back panel behind the dishwasher, and there will still be a bit of access for knees if we put one more stool over there on the side.  (the island came with four stools)    I think he is leaning towards this configuration... while I am liking the original plan. 

Of course, I got my window and my cabinets and my sink the way I wanted them.... 
so I guess he can have the island the way he wants? 

Also, a shout out to my barista gal, Sarah, over at Terre Verde coffee house
who kindly took care of my coleus plants while we were gone! 
She did a GREAT JOB!!!  My plants are growing more vitally and energetically than ever! 
They are waiting to be planted out in our yard in later May, when the danger of frost is passed. 

I have kept these same coleus plants going since my friend Connie gave them to me back in the early 90's when she bought her house on Birch Street in Green Bay.  I dig them up in the fall and bring into the house all winter in pots.   Sometimes when they get too rangy and long, I snip off the long ends and re-root them in jars of water (see in the center?)   Then by spring, I have more and more plants to put outside.  Or give to friends.

Last summer when we sold the house, I thought I was done and through with carrying on these plants.  I had given some of the plants to two of my friends, Paula and Juanita.  And I said goodbye to having them anymore because we were planning to be full time in the motorhome.  I only kept one african violet in the motorhome over the winter.    I thought it was an end to an era for my coleus.

But those friends, Paula and Juanita, when learning in the fall that we were house hunting, they each raced out to dig up those plants before frost set in!   Paula had passed them on to a friend who dug them back up and gave them to Paula to give to me!  Juanita went out 2 days before a killing frost and got them all dug up from where they had been planted by her studio, and replanted into pots to save for me too!   As soon as we got moved in the house, I got my pots of coleus back from my friends to winter over again.

And the tradition goes on....

Thursday, March 21, 2013


Yes, we did make it home today.   

(a week earlier than planned ~ we have a sad funeral to attend on Saturday for our friends' son)  

As we drove closer and closer to our home town in Wisconsin, the snow banks kept getting higher and higher!  This was NOT looking good, folks... we knew they had gotten quite a few snowfalls while we were gone, but we were hoping beyond hope that the warmer days in between and the stronger rays of the sun in a better position would melt it???


At least this road was clear down to the pavement.   When we drove away on this same road 31 days ago, it was covered in ice and salt!   Now it's lined with snow banks that are higher than the cars driving along it's paths....   Some areas we could not even see over the tops from the vantage point of the motorhome seats!

We swung around the block and came up opposite our house on a side street that faces the house from the east.   Yes, it was still standing!   We knew the front cedar shrub has broken under the weight of the snow... (we are going to cut those out in the spring anyhow)  

The roof was there, the windows were there... and LOTS AND LOTS of snow was there!  And the snow was piled up deep in the front yard.  The steps were buried as was the front sidewalk.  We hadn't had mail delivery for 30 days, so nobody had walked up to the front door.

We unhooked the Tracker from the back of the motorhome... and drove it around and up into the driveway.  The neighbors had kept our driveway clear as far in as their garage while we were gone, which was nice.  It's our driveway, but we let them use it for access to reach their mom's back door and garage.  She doesn't drive, but they access her back door by using our driveway.  She is undergoing cancer chemo and has family coming and going all the time, and they needed the driveway open.  Thanks so much to them for keeping the snow at bay!  

Over by our garage to the right, there was a HUGE drift!!!    Steve had to get out the snowblower and chew away it half a swipe at a time till he got that moved over enough so we could put the Tracker in the garage.

Once that was cleared we could pull in the Tracker. Look how high the bank is in front the passage door???    I got out a shovel and did the front stairs and the back steps and got some of the sidewalk cleared...   Whew, what an awful way to come home after 90 degrees in the desert! 

In the meantime, Steve was clearing out an area about 50x12 for the motorhome to pull up forward into... and he even found our four planks for the tires to set on (so they don't sink in the mud when spring comes?)   

One side the drifted area to clear was quite high.. .and the other side down to only about 4 inches deep.. so he went through it slice by slice, taking as much as the snowblower could handle and blowing it off to the sides.   
Back and forth, bit by bit.. he chewed it all up and spit it all aside.  At least it was a sunny day, but the temps were quite cold... 

In the meantime a delivery truck came to bring a new chair to the neighbor! 
Her daughter surprised her with a recliner for more comfort to rest in.

They got their truck stuck in our driveway!!!!  
OH NO... we almost didn't think the motorhome was going to make it, 
when their delivery truck couldn't.  Oh boy.

But... leave it to my Steveio-------

AH HAAAA   he was able to drive it up the icy slippery driveway and into it's place!  
I guided him forward to get all six tires on the boards... safe and sound! 

Even with a minor brake job (routine maintenance, really)  and a bit of fiddling with the pac brake, we sure were happy with the mostly 4,000 flawless miles our wonderful motorhome gave to us.  Now it's time to take a rest.... till Spring arrives in Wisconsin.

(at this rate, who knows, probably mid-May?)

The dogs were extremely happy to get home,
and checked out each and every room....  
finally laying by the fireplace.

We learned  that while we were gone, our darling granddaughter, Allegra has a boo boo!  She strained her little wrist, and it's all bound up in a split.  She seems to be enjoying the attention!  She doesn't look to be in too much pain, does she?

Steve cracked the whip, and got everything unloaded and sorted and hauled into the house and I trudged back and forth with loads of clothes, food, and anything that would freeze.  Ack!  After 2 hours of doing that, I was ready for a long hot shower and long long nap!   So was he, but he won't admit it.  LOL 

We have tomorrow to gather our thoughts, and get out some clothes and pack up and head to Michigan for the very very sad funeral of our friends Cella and Dave's son, Christopher.  Our hearts ache to know what they are going through.  They were here for us when our son, Mike, passed away, and now we will go to be with them. 

One more serious note here, my sweet barista gal, Sarah, from the little coffee shop down the road was the one here taking care of my houseplants and checking on our house while we were gone.  Things have taken a turn in the care and well-being of her 13 year old son, Cole.  He is a 2 Times Cancer Survivor.  Here is the link to her blog post....  

~~~Prayers for Cole would be greatly appreciated~~~

4,000 miles and almost home!

Yup.. our whole trip is putting just over 4,000 miles on the odometer.  We are in the last 100 miles as I type this.  Winging our way through frozen farm fields and salty roads.... sigh.   It looks pretty....  but....

The temps are still in the single digits, and the wind chills are below zero! 

We left Bethel, Missouri yesterday (Wednesday) in the morning after saying our "see you laters" to Rosie.  As we drove, it was SNOWING on us!  Nothing much accumulating anywhere on the ground, but it was coming down pretty good. The clouds were thick and heavy with snow, but the weather reports into central and northern Illinois looked good.  We pushed onwards. 

We stopped at a fuel station off I39 at Winoma that advertised RV hookups.  We paid $5 to dump our holding tanks there, so we were completely winterized now to head into Wisconsin.  We had a couple gallons of drinking water and a five gallon jug of water for washing up.  We heat in a teakettle on the stove, because Steve had all the water blown out of the lines and our fresh water tank drained out too. 

We were okay for the last 24 hours with limited water resources.  As we drove north, the temps kept dropping, but at least the snow flakes quit!   We made it to our friend's driveway in Beloit, WI ...we were finally back in Wisconsin!  And look at that danged snow...arggghhhhhhh!!!!

Parking in our friends' driveway, --- 
Jim and Norma of Pa and Ma's rugs, 

Soon, we joined up with more weaving friends---
 Juanita and Norm Hofstrom of Vavning Studio   

We all went out to a nice dinner at a place called Damenico's in Beloit.
After much gabbing and laughing (and eating!)    it was  time to head out.  It had been a long long day for us, because we had travelled 376 miles!  whew..... 

Outside by the parking area, Juanita got out her new creation for me.  Juanita is an art major and retired art teacher with her studio in Shopiere, WI.  Her husband, Norm, is a photographer.  A while back, Juanita made me a sign for the Loom-A-Tic Workshop. Seeing as I don't do many events any more with the whole group, I consigned her to redo the other side of the sign for me when I do sales with just myself as the sole vendor.  This is the result! 

Normie helped us unwrap it ... outside in the bitter cold!  Brrrrrr but it was worth it! 

 I was soon warmed up by all of the LOVE 
from this dear friend and her lovely sign!!!!

What a gal! 

We went back over to Jim and Norma's for the night.  Steve was tormenting sassy little Taffy.... and the stinker was checking out my camera up close with a sniff sniff sniff so I let her have it... right in the eye!   I guess that is really giving me the ole' stink eye, eh? 

Taffy rules the roost at Jim and Norma's house. 
 We get such a kick out of her each time we visit. 

 So we sat around inside for a while, chewing the fat and catching up and making future plans.  I will be seeing Jim at the Jason Collingwood workshop coming up in May at Juanita's studio... and we have a few other plans for over the summer and fall too for getting together.

Steve and I were getting pretty tired and headed out into the cold frosty night to bed.  The motorhome was nice and warm with both propane heaters running, and we kicked on an electric heater to warm it up a bit in the back before bed.  Plus our electric mattress pad heater was on HIGH to keep us cozy and warm.

We woke up to 7 degrees, and wind chills below zero... ack!  Our side windows are all dual thermopanes, but the front windshield is like any car windshield and is single pane.  This frost build up was on the INSIDE!   Yup.. Jack Frost left his mark!


Jim took off the morning from work, and we all went out for breakfast.  We tried to treat them for the overnight parking space in their driveway, but they threatened the waitress to give the slip to them.... and she complied because they come in there all of the time and we are strangers to her!  LOL.. she knows which side of the bread is buttered for her.

Thanks Jim and Norma! 

As I type this, we are about 20 miles from home.  Our plan is to swing around the block and park on the sidestreet. We can unhook there and bring the Tracker into the driveway to survey the conditions.  Our neighbors were going to keep the driveway cleared while we were gone, but in no way did we expect them to have kept the entire parking space for the motorhome plowed too.  We may be facing some snow shoveling  snow blowing and ice chipping this afternoon.  It will be a cold one, because the temps only came up to a mere 21 degrees.   The high MIGHT get to 28....


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

It's Hard to Say "See Ya Later"!

We have been spending four days and three nights by my good friend Rosie's house in Bethel, Mo.   We have been weaving buddies for a long time, and try to get together as often as we can.  It's too few and far in between gatherings!  

Steve was looking for some projects, so in between meals (and ice cream) we managed to find a few tasks around Rosie's to keep him busy.

He worked on moving around some van seats from her barn into the older van she is getting rid of, and put her newer van seats into the barn.  She often takes her llamas in the mini-van for vet visits and demo outings, and lays down an oriental rug in the back of her van ... minus the seats.  The llamas walk right in and get on their knees to lay down in the back!   They are very good riders....    She also is known to throw in a big bag of llama feed in town, get to her house, slide it out onto a kid's plastic sled and haul it to her barn!  What a gal!   I won't mention age, but she has earned her grey hairs.   LOL

Steve also worked on a few ideas for revamping her barn doors, and helped build a shelf for over her stove.  He also assembled her new drill press, worked on her commercial sewing machine, adjusted her cabinet door... besides waiting patiently while we gabbed gabbed gabbed and gabbed some more!

Of course, she talked us into going back up to Heartland on Tuesday noon for lunch with her bunch!  She has a creative batch of good neighbors and friends who all try to meet on Wednesdays for lunch there.  But because we were going to leave on Wednesday morning, she managed to get them to ALL change their plans and come on Tuesday, just for US!

left to right- Sue, Rosie, Me, John, Steve, skip to front- Joanie, Joe, Mike and another Joe
we were missing Lisa who is in St. Louis

It was good to see all these wonderful people, a tight knit group who all watch out for one another, care for each other's pets when folks are gone, and generally rely on each other to help out... we are so glad that Rosie is part of such a great group of folks!

Speaking of her neighbors, here is the yard we were parked in to stay for three nights... thanks again so much Joe and Sue!

If you have any desire to support 
American Made Products 
from artists with their own studio and creative 
art work of their pottery pieces, please visit:

SJ Pottery LLC
Susan Skinner * Joseph Jostes
Traditionally inspired Redware, Mocha and Salt Glazed Stoneware

317 N Main Street
Bethel, Missouri  63434
on Facebook: SJ Pottery LLC

The items they create are just amazing.... 
and it's so hard to choose what you want to bring home! 

Here is Sue working custom designs on some of the clay "green ware" 
and Joe throwing a pot on the wheel

 Rows and rows of glazed pots ready for the kilns.... 

More "green ware" ready for then next firing in the kilns

 Some more of the finished items in other colors and designs... 
ready to be packed up and shipped out all over the world! 
(Rosie helps with the packing, so if you buy something, she may well have had her hands on it)

As our time drew to a close, Rosie and I were trying to get in as much gabbing as we could... she also had an extra sewing machine that she was not using, and managed to convince me to take it home!  It will be great for more detailed stitching on my quilting endeavors.   Rosie is also an accomplished painter, and insisted we take this lovely framed landscape oil painting to hang in our new home!  WOW!

Last spring, Rosie also had taken one of my large Union rug looms off my hands when we were preparing to sell the house.  She insisted it come back with us again, now that we have a house.  Oh boy... so that is loaded up into the Tracker and she tossed in one of my dye pots too.  She is trying to retrofit my weaving studio back to the way it was, I think!

For our "Last Supper" I hauled out my pressure cooker, tossed in some tenderloin (thanks to Paula!)  and some onions, garlic, taters, carrots, peas and a few envelopes of gravy mix, a good dollop of Andria's Steak sauce and set it to cooking... yummm it smelled so good on a cold wintery windy day!

Rosie whipped up a batch of crescent rolls, and took them over in a homemade bread cloth in a basket.  Inside the basket she had a clay disc from the potttery that Sue and Joe make to keep rolls warm!   And she gave us THAT too!

 (of course, we followed up the meal with more ice cream.....)

Toddled off to beddy-bye with full bellies and hoped to get an early morning start! 

In the morning, at 7 a.m. it was cloudy and grey skies heavy with snowflakes... dang! We got the motorhome road-worthy, got it out of Sue and Joe's drive (thanks again you guys!)  and hooked up the Tracker.  Steve noticed some antifreeze leaking on the ground behind the motorhome!!!  OH OH ... that is NOT GOOD!   He is hoping it's just the overflow, because he did add some distilled water to the radiator back in the warmth of Del Rio, TX by the Mexican border.  Because it was 22 degrees this morning when we reluctantly started the engine, we hope it's just the overflow before the thermostat warmed up and opened.  We are carefully watching the gauges and computer readout on the Vmspc panel and stopping every so often to check for any more leaking. 

Snapped a few more shots in Rosie's yard as the sun was coming up in the east... such a peaceful tranquil little farm on the edge of a quaint little town.  Her llamas were enjoying the morning and we said our "see ya later"s to each one.  

See you soon, Rosie, and next time Linda will be along with us... 
so all THREE of us can eat ice cream! 

We are heading east and then north, with snowflakes swirling around us but nothing really sticking yet... hope to make it to the border of Wisconsin today--- stopping at weaving buddies Jim and Norma Burket of http://www.paandmasrugs.com and Juanita and Normie of http://www.vavningstudio.com
(more artists who make things in America) 

The snow has finally stopped as we are in central Illinois now while I type this.  
Almost to Bloomington, so will probably make the border to Wisconsin by 3 or 4p.m.
Gusting winds from the west are making it a "2 hands on the wheel" drive for Steve.....