Thursday, October 27, 2011

UnHalloween Fun

We don't do Halloween at our house. We used to, yes, but we don't anymore. Partly because of the insane amounts of candy our children get, partly because Mr. Ireland and I hate dragging kids to go trick or treating. There are some religious reasons in there, but I won't bore you with the details. We do, however, LOVE to dress up around here! Costumes are a part of our daily lives; the boys have a dress up box in their closet that we are constantly adding and subtracting from. Some days I teach math to Darth Vader and Obewon Kenobe (the Ewen McGregor version), others its a ships captian and his little brother, King Tut, playing in the front yard.
Autumn is also our favorite season. To celebrate the fall and keeping in theme with the seasonal celebration of masquerading, I am sharing some recent pictures of the boys and our fall fun, interspersed with advice for making the most of the autumn celebrations!

1. All kids loves leaves. They are wet, moldy and make a mess in your yard. DO let them play in the pile! If you are lucky, they may even bag the leaves up when they are done jumping.

(Liam asleep in the car, sans pants, with a french fry in his mouth, Brody chasing Liam, Brody using wedgits to make himself into a robot)

2. If you must limit the amount of candy your children consume on (and after) October 31st, use the leftovers to get a jump on holiday treats! We have used leftover candies for gingerbread houses, fudge (excellent gift!), and pinatas.

(Brody dressed as an.... I don't know. He's wearing plastic bag lederhosen. Very futuristic.; Verity in her Notre Dame shirt; Raining leaves; Brody S. Holmes)

3. Wax lips (and vampire teeth and moustaches) provide hours of fun. Get them.

(Callen von Dracula; Eddie the Wolfman - same style of wax lips, just flip them upside down!)

5.Find a hay ride, a corn maze or go pick pumpkins. Have a bonfire. You will be giving your children memories to last a lifetime. Take pictures. Lots of them.

(Below, leaf fun)

Taking aim)

5. Bake. Pumpkin muffins, cookies, roast corn or apples. Whatever you do, add lots of cinnamon and nutmeg! And don't forget the hot cocoa :)

I hope you have a fun, and safe, holiday. We will be holed up at home, warm and dry (maybe with face paint on), watching movies and eating candy!

There goes my modern art lawn sculptures!

We said goodbye to our chicken's yesterday. It is sad, but they will have a good home with friends of ours. We have been having a small drama with our neighbor to the south of us. He is fairly polite, but it seems that our chicken coop, which was previously a shed, sits just over our property line, meaning it is completely on his! Rehoming them seemed to be the best and most affordable solution.

He did have his property surveyed and if the marks are correct, the entire building is over the line and the shipping container that sits in our back yard is partially over as well. I don't understand how that is possible, considering our house is the oldest house on the street (and was owned by the family the street was named after, we suspect) so we are very sure that the shed and container have been there nearly as long as the house! I think he was bothered by the rooster's crowing and rather than say as much, decided to tackle the problem from another angle.

He was also bothered by the junk in our yard. I know I am, so I can understand his frustration. If he is going to sell his house, you do have to drive by our house first and the impression you get of the neighborhood isn't the best. From the street, you can clearly see that it looks like half a dozen children live here and their parent's don't care much about the property! We don't mean for it to look that way, but put an old furnace in the side yard and tuck a couple of vehicles back into the woods and it begins to look like a run down homestead. We bought our house as a very neglected repo, apparently repossessed more than once, and I am sure all the neighbors had high hopes that the new owners would fix the place up. Maybe we are slacking a bit.

Saturday, Mr. Ireland and his father spent the morning hauling several engine blocks, car doors, half a motorcycle and numerous odds and ends from behind the shed to the dump. They had been stored in the shed before we decided to use it as storage. That afternoon, he and my brother Owen hauled even more to the dump. It will take another work day, but it will get done before the snow is here. The boys and I sorted the yard toys and tucked them under the front porch, put away bikes, and Mr. Ireland moved my bags of compost and bark chips. We will put up new lattice and you won't even know the stuff is there. I did have to give up my boxes of newspapers that I had been saving for lasagna gardening. I am sure that gave our place the air of hoarders living here! Just don't go in the basement....

I have to admit that I was very irritated with our neighbor at first. Admittedly, Mr. Ireland hates yard work. Any of it. I rather enjoy it, though, and felt that it was unfair for him to be so bothered. Couldn't he see that I had just had a baby? Well, no, he couldn't, so how is he to know that we had any intention of dealing with the outside of our home? I do have to thank him for stopping by with his list of chores outlined in the city's ordinances. If I had not gone online to look up our property values, I would have forgotten to pay our taxes! Did you know you can pay borough property taxes online? I was very excited to see that.

I will also forgive him for forcing our chickens to a new home. Another family will benefit from their eggs and they have children that will love caring for them. I think that it is not the fact that the chickens had to go but more the fact that someone is telling me what to do on my own property that irritates me. I have had this dream of having a homestead or farm since I was very young. My plan after high school included a desire to work as a ranch hand! So having farm animals is fairly high on my list of wants. It is okay though. We will start again next year and double our flock size. :D

Whether or not this is our permanent home, we will finish this property and it will not be a smudge on our neighborhood. We have no intention of being "that house" any longer. I hope to invite our neighbors over someday and proudly show them around our little homestead.

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Zero Waste Home: How to Get Started

For those who want to know more about what a "Zero Waste" home is, this is a great article from Bea all about getting started! Enjoy!

The Zero Waste Home: How to Get Started: I recently wrote an article for Yes! Magazine, which included 10 tips for a Zero Waste Household. I thought I would share them with you. The...