Friday, October 28, 2011

Office organizing

Where I work, I share a rectangular office space with another lady. I have my corner by the door, and she has the other end by the window. We ended up with our spaces in the little rectangle by default - her large L-shaped desk would only fit against the far corner, otherwise it would block the door. So my little rolltop hand-me-down from my in-laws got the corner space by the door. Less private, less space, but I get to keep my eye on the front door, who comes in, who goes out, etc. So I really like it :)

What I haven't liked (for the past 2 years we have been in this office space), is how my chair back has ended up being my dumping ground for the numerous coats I seem to accumulate in the office. Some are necessary, some are at the office because I don't need them at home and so instead of giving them away I keep them at the office, you know, just in case I need an extra one day...

 It was getting so that they were always falling off and getting on the floor. So one day last week I decided that instead of getting rid of some so there weren't so many on my chair, the solution was to get some of those stick on the wall hooks that could be removed easily later without leaving a mark. Yup, I went ahead and ordered me some 3M hooks and this week they came! I arranged them on the wall, waited the one hour the instructions say to wait before hanging things on them, and tada!

I love how the wall looks so much nicer now, and my chair back is totally bare! Yay! Now I can grab whichever coat I need without doing a juggling act to get it out of the pile. All for about five bucks!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Fall camping & quail hunting

So before I forget in the chaos that is duck hunting season (and deer - my husband got his buck this morning! yay!), I really need to share how our first 2011 quail hunting trip went! We typically go across to duck camp the first weekend in October, or shortly after that first weekend depending on what shifts my husband is working. This year was no different, we went late in the week the week after quail hunting opened, and just for one night.

Our purpose in going across to duck camp before duck hunting opens is twofold. One, we set up camp before the rest of the family descends for duck hunting on opening weekend for duck & geese later in the month, and two, we get to quail hunt! I really enjoy going across that first weekend, it gets me back in the camping & hunting swing of things, and I get to relax and enjoy family time with just my husband and Little M (and our pack of dogs of course!) before the rest of his family comes and the camp gets really busy and crazy with many family members, kids, dogs, campers, tents, etc, etc!

Our camping weekend this year was shorter than some, since we are currently working completely different days. While I am easily able to take days off, I was saving time for later in the month (now!) when our friends are visiting to deer & duck hunt, so I just took the friday off. We went across on the Thursday, and the excitement started even before we got all of the way in the dirt road into camp.

It was getting near dark, but still within shooting hours, and as we drove up beside long lake, suddenly my husband slammed the brakes on the truck. I wasn't really paying attention to the road, I was still trying to peer down at the lake and see where the ducks were and how many there were. I realized that there was only one reason we would be stopped THAT quickly, and tried to figure out where he had seen them. The quail, that is!

He hopped out and loaded his shotgun up. I said I would wait this one out, so I went back to lower the tailgate and keep the dogs quiet while he hunted (we release them after the shooting if we are close to the truck). He started walking up the hill beside the road, and all of a sudden quail just started getting up everywhere! He got a couple shots off, and then I decided that I needed in on the action too. If I could get a bird down, it would be my first quail ever!

My husband encouraged me to hurry up as I carefully loaded shells into my gun (borrowed these last 3 falls from his little sister who is off at college in Hawaii). I looked around for quail, but didn't see any. We snuck along the hillside, and some more got up in front of us. I didn't get a shot off, still being too slow and hesitant for these fast flying quail, but he pointed one out that had perched on a big rock partway up the slope. I took aim and pulled the trigger. Nothing. Oops! Better take that safety off. Again, sighted down the barrel to the little quail sitting looking around on the rock. Bang!

And the quail fell down into the srubs and grass below. My husband moved off and got one of his own, and chased the quail for a bit, while I went back and got the two Griffons out of their crates in the back of the truck. Lily, my hunting dog, came with me while Remi headed after my husband.

Lily and I moved in to where I shot my bird. Lily sniffed around, and around, and around, and finally found my bird. I had to act quickly, because once she found it she got it into her mouth, and it was such a small little bird that it just started getting gulped back into her throat! Silly girl, so I grabbed a leg that was sticking out near her teeth and told her to give it, and pulled it out.

My first quail! My husband retrieved his from Remi and we loaded back into the truck to get in to camp and set up camp before it got completely dark.

The next morning we got up and took our time getting ready to head back out and do the rounds looking for more quail. We had several spots where we were going to park the truck and do short hikes around in the fields to look for quail and hungarian partridge. We saw lots of other wildlife - a coyote on the side of the road, hawks migrating through, flocks of sandhill cranes, V's of Canada geese, and assorted duck species, but no quail.

Finally we saw a quail on the edge of the road! We parked the truck and hopped out. We got out into the field, and my husband started moving towards where he had spotted the quail, standing on the lookout beside a large thicket of wild rose bushes. All of a sudden, quail just started pelting out of the thicket, one after another! I got off several shots, but they were at a bad angle moving from right to left in front of me, so I wasn't able to compensate for their speed. I was getting a bit frustrated as I could see my husband dropping bird after bird.

Then a couple got up out of the thicket and flew pretty much straight away from me. Ahah! I shot, and one fell! My first quail out of the air! Hurray! Pretty soon after that there were no more birds in the thicket to scare, so we got the dogs out of the truck and started moving around with them to retrieve the birds we had shot. All told that day we got 10 quail! Not bad for a day's hunting :)

We're off again this weekend to duck camp, and after last weekend (duck opening weekend) where I shot my first duck in the air, I'm eager to keep practicing my shooting skills. With our friends here who love a good sneak in to hard to access jump holes as much as we do, hopefully I will have more chances to get up close and personal with some ducks! Have a great weekend everyone!

Monday, October 17, 2011

About procrastinating and busy-ness

So I should be working on a manuscript (I have a deadline morning after tomorrow with my master's supervisor - yup, over 3 years later and I'm still revising manuscripts from my thesis, enough said). Or I should be cleaning the house (friends are arriving tomorrow afternoon for a week of hunting, camping, and general hanging out). Or I should be making applesauce (2 bags of apples still sit on the kitchen counter from last weekend).

I'm sure I could come up with a long list of other things that are approaching the critical point. But since they aren't yet at the really critical point, and since I usually manage to pull things off, or near enough that no one can tell, I'm not overly worried. A bit stressed, yes, but not worried the world is going to collapse if instead of doing any of these numerous almost critical items, I instead sit on my computer and write.

I thought I was going to write about camping the weekend before last, when we went quail hunting and I shot my first two quails, one of which being my first wild bird-on-the-fly hit. I was pretty happy. But I thought I had already written that post and not yet uploaded pictures, so when I realized that all I had done was write in the title and that was it, well, I just started to write about the right-now. Because if I start writing about quail hunting the weekend before last, well, I just start also thinking about duck hunting last weekend, where I shot my first duck out of the air (last year I got one duck, and it was sitting still on the water, not very sportsman-like, I know, but I fed my family, gosh darn it!).

So instead of writing about quail hunting, or duck hunting, or any of the other hunting-related things that are going on this time of the year around here, I will ramble on about procrastination, and critical things. Speaking of critical things, I read a couple of thought provoking linked articles somewhere over the weekend about not letting the tyranny of the urgent crowd out the important (check the phrase out over here).

I think I'm caught in that trap right now. Its important to me to get these manuscripts out. Its important to me to make and can applesauce. Its important to me to get back on the rowing machine and start setting some new pb's. But none of these things are getting done, or getting done well enough, because all of the urgent things keep taking over my life. I say that it will get better once such-and-such gets done, or after the first couple weeks that that season is open, or after we finish the rental, but in reality, there is always a crisis these days. Not necessarily a critical crisis, but something that desperately needs to be done because it has been left too long undone.

When I sat down last January and decided on the things I wanted to do this year, sure, cutting enough firewood was on the list, but it wasn't on my fun list, it was on the property list. And sure, shooting a grouse or two or more was on the list, but again, it wasn't on my fun list. Sewing a quilt for Little M was, and is, on that fun list. So is canning applesauce (heck, and tomatoes!). So is getting back in the swing of the rowing machine. But none of these things are getting done.

So since the only one to blame for me putting off my fun is me, I guess I have to start sticking up for myself, for my fun. So look out world, here I come! And I'm not going to bend over backwards for you until I get me some items crossed off my fun list :)

And in the meantime, I'll get back to work tidying the house for those house guests. Because the only way to get ahead is to get caught up, right? :P

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Weck Jars - my new favorite thing!

So several family members gave me money for my birthday this year, which always leaves me feeling a bit overwhelmed... what to buy with these special dollars?? Luckily this year I had already been drooling over weck jars - that is, glass canning jars with rubber gaskets. With money from my parents and some of my great in-laws (thanks guys & gals - you know who you are!), I went online and ordered Weck jars from their U.S. site. I was a bit worried what shipping would come to, because unlike most websites I order from, they didn't calculate shipping until you had entered all your information. It turned out that shipping was a quite reasonable (for 2 large fedex-ed boxes of glass!) forty dollars. I could have ordered more jars!

I ordered 7 different types of jars - tulip and mold jars in a variety of sizes, and apart from the smallest which comes in a 12 pack, I got 6 of each. Not bad for what I spent, and knowing that there is no BPA, no parts to throw away (based on a great post I read a while ago on the ability to reuse the rubber gaskets), and seeing how pretty they look makes it even better!

With so many styles and sizes, I had a hard time choosing, so I first sat down and thought about the things I would be using the jars for. I started with the definite uses and moved into the dream uses. For example, definite uses would be apple sauce, freezer jam, tomatoes, while dream uses would be home made pizza sauce, canned green beans. Obviously some or all of these definitely uses will happen this year, while only some of my dream uses will happen this year (no pressure canner and no more green beans to harvest = that dream being a next year event).

So far I have only used them for freezing things, no true canning, but that is on the list of things to do this week, as we have a whole heck of a lot of apples waiting to be made into applesauce. Just look how pretty the ground beef looks in there surrounded by plastic baggies of meat...

I can only imagine how much more food we will be able to fit (and organize well!) in the freezer with these jars! I am thinking I might be needing more jars soon... :)

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Field apple harvest

Last night Little M and I took the truck down to the bottom field and parked under the apple tree that is hidden in the trees and shrubs of the riparian buffer at the edge of the creek. We had already taken the stroller down there and picked what I could reach from the ground, and being without a ladder (it's still up at the rental house), I suddenly realized that by standing in the bed of the truck, or up on the sides of the bed even, that I would be able to reach way more!

After maneuvering the truck to a couple of different locations (including backing it right into the branches of the shrubby understory and barely avoiding a hidden t-post - oops!), we had collected a whole lot of great apples! The backseat was full.

All told we had 2 cloth bags full to the brims (plus what we had gotten last week from ground level!). There is still one branch up there that I couldn't reach, but that can feed the deer or bears. Not a bad haul for a tree that we don't water or maintain at all! I see lots of applesauce in our future - yum!

And we still have 2 apple trees in our orchard with plenty of fruit on them. The majority of those apples though will be going to friends of ours who helped us move a lot of rocks on the rental property, they have a cider press and will be making them into cider.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

31 days worth of inspiration!

Does anyone else read Simple Mom? I do regularly, and this weekend Tsh's Weekend Links post had some great links. My favorite was her link to Chatting at the Sky's 31 days link up list of blogs, where I found a great link up with hundreds of blogs that are doing their own 31 days projects on a wide variety of topics. Doing a bit more clicking around online got me to Nester's site where I realized that there are a bunch of bloggers hosting the 31 days link up for anyone to join who is doing a 31 day series of posts this month.

While I definitely don't have time this month to do a series like all of these bloggers, I can tell I'll be busy this month just going through all of the interesting looking project themes, let alone following along with some of them. While I definitely don't have time right now to do more than a couple of Pinterest-inspired projects in the next 31 days, and I won't have time to totally get it together in the next 31 days, or get rid of things I don't know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful in my house, I am looking forward to getting ideas and planning some winter projects and goals along with the new-to-me blogs I'm finding over there!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Our Gallery Wall

This weekend Little M and I spent a gloomy Saturday inside. The rain held off most of the time, unless we headed out for a walk, in which case it started coming down on us. So we hung out inside and I finally tackled the gallery wall that I have been dreaming about for months! I got my initial inspiration and settled on a final pattern through Pinterest, and I absolutely love how it turned out!

It took the better part of the day, but that was with an almost two year old helping... needless to say I could have busted it out much quicker without my little 'helper' moving frames and pictures around for me!

I started by making 2 parallel lines from string on the wall, and planned out where my frames would go below and above the horizontal gap running the length of the gallery wall. Then I started filling in the frames, going left to right. The first ones were a bit trickier because of the light switch, and I had to really pick and choose. That meant that I had to go back through my arrangement on the floor and redo the order.

We got a lot of the frames up, but then we had to take a break for Little M's afternoon nap. Once she was back awake and had eaten her afternoon snack, we started up again and got all of the frames up on the wall around supper time. I did some switching of pictures during the evening, and everything was all done before her bedtime. I really love how it all turned out! We still have a bunch of pictures to get printed or enlarged, so ignore some of the placeholders :)

The best thing about the project was definitely the cost - apart from a few new frames I bought with some birthday money last month at Ikea, these were all frames we had around the house, either from old photo arrangements, or from some ones my mother in law picked up at garage sales this summer after I mentioned we were collecting frames for a gallery wall. Perfect! :)
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