New Chapter

Wow. Has it really been 4 years since my last post?  Well, I plan to change that going forward.

My job of 17 years was eliminated last week. I think the only thing I will miss is the paycheck and benefits. So for now, I’ve more time to devote to the things I love to do. Matter of fact, I’ve got an embroidery project – almost a year in the making – that I’ve got to go photograph and get listed in my Etsy shop. Stay tuned!

Solar Update – Sans the Kids

Our youngest son announced in March that he was moving out.  Wow, that was not expected.  Took a good bit of time getting used to.  I don’t see or hear from him as often as I do my daughter, and I miss him terribly.

However, on the plus side, we’ve noticed a positive thing – our electric use has gone down.  We went into this ungodly month of July with a 952 kWh CREDIT.

Our electric usage for the year in 2010 was 13,980 kwh (daughter moved out July 2010) and 2011 was 9,243 kwh.  To be honest, I have to attribute a good bit of that decrease to replacing our 110-volt pool filter with a much more efficient multi-speed 240-volt one.  So far this year tho, we’ve had an excess generation since February.  Our son was working 12 or 24-hr shifts and not home much before he moved out.  PLUS the last two winters, I have dried our clothes as much as possible on racks in front of the woodstove.  Amazing how much energy a dryer uses.  In the spring, summer and fall, the clothes go out on the line (just don’t tell the neighbors)

Here is a snapshot of our solar generation and usage:

New camera

I’ve been a photo buff for a long time.  I gave myself a gift of a film SLR camera for my high school graduation present.  A Fujica SLR.  Nothing takes a picture like a SLR Camera.  Like every one else, I got into digital photography years ago with my first camera that was not even measured in mega pixels, but rather by image size – 640×480.  Now my cell phone takes better pics that that one did.  Then Canon announced the Digital Rebel. Finally, a digital SLR I could afford!  Even tho I paid a fortune for it.  When I first got it in April of ’04, I took it everywhere, carted the camera bag around instead of a purse.  Decided a while later that I really needed a good point & shoot camera, so I got a Canon D-9, which at 12.2 mp was better than the Rebel at 6.3, so the Rebel got shuttered off to the side a bit.

But back at Christmas time, I took a trip to Longwood Gardens.  Decided the Rebel had to go along on this trip.  That’s when I decided that maybe it was time for a new DSLR.  Happened to get an email from Brads Deals with a link to a deal at Buy.com for a Canon T3 and Pixma Pro printer for $817 with a $400 rebate.  Too good a deal to pass up!  So, I ordered, and sold the old Rebel and the printer for $400.  Combined with the rebate, that netted me a new camera for $17!  Can’t beat that with a stick!

The boots update

The second pair of boots – the Brielle arrived and fit as nicely as the Brinkley’s do.  Yeah!

The saga gets even better…. As I am fortunate to live close enough to the Dansko Company Store in Jennersville, I buy my shoes there.  Got an email from them with 15% off coupon.  Lo and behold when I went to the store they had the Brinkley boots in stock – at $35 less than I paid online.  Guess what got shipped back to 6pm.com post haste?  Had picked up another pair of shoes while at the outlet that I decided just were not quite right.  Took them back last week.  As they only give a store credit instead of a refund I decided to look again while I was there and sitting on the top shelf just waiting for me was a pair of the brown Brielle in my size.  Boy did I snatch them up quickly and make a quick exit.  Guess what got shipped back to onlineshoes.com?  Yup, the first pair of the Brielle.  Saved myself $63 to boot (pun intented!)

So, thanks to Dansko, I don’t hate my feet quite so much “)

“Can I help you?” / “Probably not…do you have new feet in the back???”

Did you ever really, really, I mean really want to trade in a part of your body for new?  Of course, we all do.

For me, it’s the feet.  I literally hate my feet.  Thanks Dad.  For I inherited his wide feet with a high instep, and absolutely the worst shape for most shoes.  I mean they look like duck feet.  Daisy would have an easier time shopping at PayLess or KMart than I do.

I decided I’d like a pair of high dress boots this winter.  HA.  Good luck with that idea kiddo…. I go into stores, ask if they have anything in a Wide-Wide width and far too often the answer is *no*.  I found a couple pairs in a *wide* width online (at a really great sale price) so I ordered. And promptly sent back.  Wide according to just whose standards??  My sister took a pair that were almost too tight on her size 8 narrow foot!

I literally only buy Dansko shoes and clogs any more.  Thank goodness I live near their “Company Store” in Jennersville, PA where their shoes are 50% off.  Tho it’s a crapshoot as you never know what styles they’ll have in your size.  But I like shopping there because their shoes are hand-crafted and if (like me) you have one foot almost a size bigger than the other or (like me) have one foot a size wider than the other (did I mention I hate my feet??) you can pull 4 or 5 pairs off the racks and mix and match till you find the one that’s got just a bit larger right foot, etc.

So when the email came in advertising Dansko at 40% off at 6pm.com – well I just had to go look.  Found a pair of their Brinkley boots and thought I’d give them a try. Never mind that they were 4 times the price of the ones I previously ordered…

Thought maybe if I ordered in a size larger, there was some snowball’s chance they’d fit.  Well, lo and behold – they did!  Tho the right leg just wouldn’t zip all the way up my larger calf.  Did I mention besides the wide foot, high instep and mis-matched feet I have larger calves?  So I wandered around a bit figuring they’d stretch out some and after about a half hour, they had stretched enough to zip them up.  I’m not saying I’ve got mis-matched legs too… must be the boots 😉  By morning, they zipped up with no trouble.   Matter of fact, I was so thrilled to find they actually FIT that I ordered their sister pair – the Brielle – in brown.  Now we just have to wait and see if I’ll be so lucky with the second pair.

5,000 kwh less!

Quick update on our solar..or should I say never ending quest to beat the power company at their own game…

We’ve got an energy/solar generation monitoring system set up.  I took at look at our total usage for 2010… around 13,840 kwh – and in 2011 we bought a new pool filter – total usage was down to 9,920 kwh!  Can’t believe the pool filter saved us that much in two months… Did the daughter (who moved out in July of ’10) really use that much electric??

BARF

No, that’s not the title of some sordid thing I read about and am going to relay here.

BARF is a method of feeding your animals a raw diet.  It stands for Biologically Appropriate Raw Food, or in some circles, Bones And Raw Foods.

Dog #2 developed allergies a couple of years ago, to what I hoped I would discover to be food allergies.  We’ve been thru about 5 different brands and formulas of dog food in those 2 years and nothing has made a difference.  I decided last week to try one more time on a food change.  Went to the local pet store (not the big-box one) looking for a grain-free food, and came home with 6 lbs of Nature’s Variety Raw Chicken diet.  But on sale, it’s costing almost $4/lb.  So I’ve decided to produce my own raw diet for the dog(s) with raw chicken wings, turkey necks, vegetables and such.

Ordered a grinder that would handle the meat, bones and all.  It arrived today.  I found a bag of chicken wings that had been in the freezer a tad too long, decided they would be a good item for the first grind.  Turned 2 1/2 lbs of wings into “wing burger” in less than 5 minutes.

Sharing

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Spent the evening last night making a new bed for the dogs. Ordered a huge bag of shredded foam and made a new bed out of unbleached muslin. Put that in a bed cover saved from an old bed. This is how we found the two dogs this morning. Guess I better get the second bed made ASAP!

I really should post more

Not that I think anyone is reading my blog… well, maybe once or twice somebody did.  They left a comment or two.

Summer is *finally* over – I hate the heat.  But it seems as if it’s gone from AC to Heat.  We were out camping with friends over the weekend on trip #9.  Got together with a few new friends at Killens Pond State Park. They certainly didn’t plan the place for 36′ fifth wheels!  Its set up with 5 circular loops with small sites.  But, it’s wooded and we had electric and water, and the price was right at $24 a night.  Hmm … I see they’ve just upped the rate recently to $25.  I’m hoping they’ve listened to my pleas to expand the electric sites at Lums Pond State Park.  Lums is a really nice campground with large sites.  It really is sad that only 5 have electric.  They stay booked almost all year, a bit of an investment in expanding the electric, even if only 2 or 3 sites a year would be great.  If anyone is reading this, go here to send them an email (http://www.destateparks.com/general_info/InfoRequest.asp)  Maybe if enough folks ask for more electric sites, it will happen.

We have one more trip planned to Elk Neck State Park in November.  I’m hoping the long-range forecast is off, as it’s supposed to get down to 29 the second Friday!  We’d have to postpone the trip and winterize if that happens.  Not looking forward to that thought.  It will be sad to have to park the RV for 4 months.  This will be the first winter I can remember that I will be looking forward to spring even before we have the first snow.

I was reading through The Pioneer Woman’s blog today and her “Ten Important Things I’ve Learned About Blogging“.  #2 “Blog Often”.  So, I’ll try to post more. Not that anyone might be reading this of course, but one can hope….  I find that I do enjoy blathering my random thoughts :).

Lousy garden year!

Wow, this past season has been a bad one for our garden.  Between the record-setting hot July, the dang worm in the squash and a certain spotted dog who decided she liked vegetables, things have not gone well.  We lost our zucchini squash overnight.  How in the world are we the only folks who don’t have enough zucchini to feed half the neighborhood?  We tried a second planting.  The limas again are not doing well, and we’re starting to pick the purple pole beans.  We’ve got the tomato bushes now fenced off to keep the dog out, but they still are not producing much.  I will admit, we’ve neglected the vegetables a bit in favor or the new RV.

Heading out on trip #5 this weekend!