Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Do I Love It?

Wow. I've actually been cleaning out here. I ask myself two questions - is it useful and/or do I love it. If it's no on both, out it goes.
And I'm doing the "throw one thing out a day" method. I run out of steam if I try to do it all in one day. Still, it's making progress. It's amazing what I hang onto thinking I might use it someday.

Friday, September 27, 2013

I can't stand it anymore. I've decided it's time to rent a full storage space.
The one's at the park are actually boat storage with dirt floors. That makes them less than half the price of other "climate controlled" units around here. I have been renting a half of one with my stuff on pallets. After the last rain, I was putting more stuff in and the mud was awful. I came out one inch of mud on my shoes.

A neighbor just put a floor in his unit. It really made a difference. I thought I'd put some plywood on some pallets and make a floor I could take with me.

I really need to clean out the trailer and have a place to do some work, even if it's only warping a small loom. I simply am too crowded to do anything but sit at the computer or lie down. It's making me nuts!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Step One for Homesteading

I can find tons of info on how to build a house out of just about anything for cheap, how to build solar systems, how to build, well, you name it. What I can't find, is how to get the land to build on! Somehow, I have to get enough money to buy land.

Seems there are two choices - save money from what I have - which is precious little. Or make money - which is coming very slowly. Or the third option would be to win the lottery. Ok, two options.

I am working on increasing my income from my online work. Writing didn't work out for me, but Zazzle hasn't been doing too badly. I do need to put more time in and slow down on the family history stuff.

Another option would be to convert my old camper into solar electric. My electric bill is pretty low, but I could save the money and put it aside for land. Still at about $40 a month, that's $480 a year. It would take about 10 years to even get close to having enough. And that's after spending a lot of money on equipment. Of course it would be good to have on hand in case of emergency. So maybe that is step one.

I'd love to run out and buy the stuff I need, but that is beyond my means. So I will have to collect the stuff as I go. I need to experiment with low-cost systems until I feel ready to jump in with a bigger system. I just saw a tent cooler that ran off of a small rechargeable batter that looked like a battery for a fence charger. Wonder if that would work? If I can start with a small battery, I can charge it with the power from the camper. Or I could just buy a deep cycle battery from Walmart.

I'll have to do some research. All suggestions would be appreciated.

The Family Has Taken Over my Life

I know I haven't been writing much lately. I've been obsessed with family history. It's like a puzzle that won't let go. Some days I wake up, eat and sleep the mystery. Sometimes I discover something that only leads to more questions. Here's an example.
I thought I had everything I could find on my great-great grandmother Eliza Jane Welch Pettey. I knew when she was born and when she died. I knew who her parents where, although I didn't know too much about them. I knew who she married and who her children were. I even knew where she was buried and had even visited her grave. What I didn't know, surprised me.
During a visit to my dad's I happened to pick up a book of our family history. I scanned through it and just by chance started reading about Eliza Jane meeting William H. Pettey, my g-g-grandfather. But what startled me was the comment that she was living with her sister, Fannie, in Nacogdoches. I didn't even know she had a sister.
Fannie was married to Mathias Myers so off to search for census records. Sure enough, I found Mathias Myers, Sarah F. (Frances "Fannie") a couple of children and "sister-in-law" Eliza Jane Welch at 16 years of age. The sisters both gave their father's birth place as Ireland. I already had found that Eliza's father was a James Welch from Dublin Ireland, born in 1830. And she listed her mother as Martha Willis from Georgia. I had even found a record of their marriage in 1854 in Lawrence County Alabama.

Where did Martha go?

Thursday, August 1, 2013

A Miracle and Payback

I wasn't expecting a miracle. I had a friend who had said she and her husband would try to help me buy a car. At first, they said they'd help once they sold their extra car. But there was a problem with the title. So I didn't get too excited. I know how long things take sometimes. I was happy that they were thinking of me and wanted to help.
Then the miracle happened. I got a text message that they were going to give me a van. I just couldn't believe it. I had signed up for Charity Cars online but didn't expect to see any results from that for a LONG time. I was pretty far down on the list and couldn't find my way around the web site. It was not an easy web site to navigate.
So we met last week and went to the registry and I now have a van. I can't really believe it yet. I still feel like I'm borrowing a car. That's OK too. I will take better care of it that way. I get almost weepy when I think about how generous they were and how it has changed my life. It's just an amazing feeling to be able to go to the store any time I want. People can invite me over to visit and I don't have to ask for a ride.

Of course, now, I want to pay it forward. My new neighbors don't have a car. I've taken them to the store a couple of times. The husband is a locksmith and he fixed the lock on my camper. I had lost the key for it and he had keys that just happened to fit and adjusted it for the sagging door. I like the barter system.
But the other night they asked for a ride to a friend's house, which was some distance away, to pick up cigarettes. I didn't want to drive that far, and I didn't want to go right that minute. I had just settled down for the evening and was sipping a cold one and watching my little lizard buddy on the plant shelf stalk a fly. (I live an exciting life.)
I did take them but I was a teeny bit annoyed. When I thought about it, I realized I had always asked people to take me when it was convenient for them usually when they were going anyway. I only asked someone to drive me to the nearest corner store if I really needed something that day.
I really want to help, but I feel like I need to decide what I am willing to do.I end up doing what people ask and then being annoyed because it wasn't what I really wanted to do.
I will take them to the store when I'm going anyway or we've made plans to go. Or I'll take them to the corner store and even loan them money for cigarettes if they are desperate.  I will not drive them to Walmart which is miles away in the next town just because that's where they'd rather shop. I want to help but I don't have unlimited gas money and I treasure my time.
I hope I'm not being selfish after all the generosity that has been shown to me. I'm torn with trying to make a decision on how to handle this.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Results of the Great Experiment

My seeds have all sprouted and look healthy even though I was away for the weekend. This is such a great way to start seeds if you have to be traveling or just get too busy to pay attention. I have three different types of plants growing so you can't judge by the amount of growth. What I was looking at was how much water was used up when I came home from my visit. They all three had a tiny bit of water left in the reservoir but all the rest had been sucked up into the soil.
The conclusion is - - they all worked the SAME! It doesn't matter which method you use, they all work! There may be more efficient ways to start seeds if you're doing a huge garden, but for my needs, this is just perfect! This system is great for starting seeds,and growing herbs and veggies like lettuce that don't take up a ton soil.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Great Experiment

I needed some pots to start some seeds for my fall garden. I decided to experiment with self-watering (actually self-regulating, you still have to water but not as often) containers made from soda bottles. I've seen so many ways to make these. Most are pretty similar but just enough different that it made me wonder which one works the best. So, I started with three bottles. One just has holes drilled in the neck, one has a wick made out of paper towels and one has a yarn wick.

All three were pretty easy to make. The first one has a bunch of holes in the cap, around the neck and the shoulder of the bottles. I cut it off below the shoulder.

The instructions said to use a straw as a filler hole and to drill a overflow hole in the bottom third of the water reservoir, but I didn't have any straws so I just made a hole that can serve as a filler hole and an overflow hole.

I know it's a little hard to see, but it's a half-moon shaped hole just about where the bottom of the label was.

The second one has a wick made from two paper towels.  One towel is folded in half, and folded again. Then it's folded in half the other way and rolled into a tube. The tube is then set in the center of the second paper towel and pushed about halfway through the mouth of the bottle. The long tail of the second paper towel is spread out to catch the soil when it is added.
I have some reservations about how long the paper towels will last. I've seen some involving sponges and old tee shirts. Might give that a try later.


Here's a video of how to do this one

The third one just has one hole with a length of yarn (or string) through it. One end will sit in the water reservoir and the other will be up in the soil.

All of the tops were inverted and pushed down into the ends of the other section of the bottle.

Then I put soil in the containers and watered it from the top to get everything working. The one with holes just gushed water and the overflow hole did its job. The one with the paper wick slowly trickled down and the water is amazingly clean. The yarn wick one took the longest to flow down. The soil is still a bit soupy.

I planted the seeds and now I wait. I will report back as things develop.

Mini Gardening in an RV Park

Some things in my little container garden are coming in pretty good. The Swiss Chard that I planted in the shoe bag is fantastic. I almost hate to pick it. It's just huge and beautiful. But I don't like to let food go to waste either.

The carrots are doing well too. I wish I had planted more but there is still the fall season.

I have some chard and carrots cooking in the crock pot as I write.
That's a hammer on the table for size.
 The tomatoes are not doing well - again. I'm trying a home made wilt spray that seems to be working. I'll take before an after pictures if it works. Onions are doing fine. I just replanted some mint. I've got some mango seeds sprouting and even some Jerusalem artichoke from the side of the road.

I've been given some houseplants too, not that I need them, but they're sort of like stray animals...I even adopted a Purple Fountain Grass from the dumpster...

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Bread Fiasco

Corn, yeast, oatmeal bread? This is going to be interesting.

 I was out of bread so I decided to make some quick 5-minute cornbread in the microwave. I dumped a cup of flour in a bowl and - oops. No cornmeal. Well, OK then. How about yeast bread in the rice cooker? (I'm getting into this alternative baking since I don't have a working oven.) Directions said to add a little bit of water to proof. I've never proofed before and I've made a lot of bread, but decided to try it.

 Oops, I wasn't supposed to add water to the flour mix like I just did. Now the batch is too wet and I'm out of flour. I tried adding powdered milk instead of liquid milk but it just seemed to dissolve. Ha. Oatmeal. Just the thing. It's rising now.

Then it hits me. I'm getting a ride to the grocery store today. I won't have time to let the dough rise and bake it too. I would have been fine with the cornbread, but not yeast bread. So I cut a little time off the rising and turn the cooker on. Of course, being a rice cooker, it keeps shutting itself down to warm. I keep turning it up until time to go. Then I unplug it and wrap it in a towel. 

The bread was still warm when I got home. I turned the cooker back on for a while. I gave it a taste test and declared it done. It really was pretty good bread. Imagine what it would have been like if I had done it right!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Glass, Half Empty or Half Full?

I'm feeling a little down today, for no particular reason. I think it's because I had a few sales last week in my Zazzle store and now that's come to an end. I've been working hard on making silhouettes for my Dog Store to the point that my wrist hurts, but only have a few people visiting the store.
And this morning the park owner knocked on my door to tell me I had left the water on outside. It wasn't on high but still.....I feel like an idiot...
It was a lovely morning even though it was wicked humid outside. It felt good in the camper with the AC on drying out the air. I did a few things that I knew I wouldn't do once the camper heats up in the afternoon. Did some laundry and put some beans in the crock pot. Now the dogs want to do something but it's just still too hot. Once the sun comes around to the south side of the camper it heats up like an oven in here.
Another lean month for food and cash. I haven't heard back from the Food Stamp department. It has been a while. I don't like to use the phone because of my hearing.
I think the projects that are building up is getting to me too. I need just an item or so for each project but can't get to the store to buy it. I don't like to order something that costs a dollar or two and pay $6 for shipping. So the projects keep mounting up. Here's one in progress.
I would really like to attach the faucet to the pipe instead of the hose coming through the window. Then I could finish the back splash and would be able to close the window instead of stuffing plastic bags in the cracks. I just need PVC cleaner.

But tomorrow we're being rescued again and being picked up to visit with a friend. We'll play with computers, dogs and sheep. I can get a stop at the store too.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Another Restless Night

I did not sleep well last night. Before bedtime, Moss was cocking his head at one of the lower cabinets. Inside I found a mouse caught by his tail in a trap that had been sitting there for a year. (the trap, not the mouse) I found some long, poky things and tried to move him to the outdoors. Of course that didn't work. He had wrapped himself around something and managed to pull his tail free. Then he scurried under my bed. I set the trap with fresh peanut butter and set it by the bed, then attempted to block it so one of the dogs don't get a trap on their nose. Now I'm squeamish about putting my feet down there.

Then during one of my nightly visits to the loo, I looked up and by my head, on the wall was one of the ugly wood cockroaches. They are huge and somewhat scary. I chased him around until he disappeared into the depths of my closet.  Great. Tried to go back to sleep. This is a bit unnerving since I had one crawling on my neck in the middle of the night a few months ago.

During another trip to the loo I spotted him or a friend on the back of the wall behind the fridge. He seemed to vanish behind the wall to the closet. Great. I left the light clipped to the wall over the fridge and tried to get back to sleep. I really need to seal up this camper.

Now for a nap....

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Strawberry Theft!

It seems I will have to devise a cover for my strawberries. Today was the day that big strawberry shown in the previous post was going to be picked and eaten- at full ripeness. I discovered a big hole in the berry from a bird, I assume.

Update 4/24/13
I got to eat 2 fantastic strawberries that were hiding under the leaves. More flowers blooming. HA to the birds!

Monday, May 13, 2013

My Mini Vertical Soda Bottle and Bucket Garden

I am most happy with my little garden. I am not allowed to dig in the ground here at our park, but I can grow things in containers. I decided to experiment with vertical soda bottle gardening.
So far, my lettuce, Swiss chard, strawberries and purple basil are doing great around the back of the camper. I have some carrots, potatoes and gourds around the side.
I wrote a more detailed piece on Wizzley on how I did this. Rather than repeat myself, you can take a look HERE.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Weekend Vacation Ranch Sitting

I spent the weekend ranch sitting. It was just lovely. I only had to feed horses and let sheep out to graze and get them back in. I had the run of a gorgeous house and acres of field to walk in.

The whole property is fenced so the sheep get the run of the place during the day. Being sheep, they will get into trouble when the opportunity presents itself.This one is eating the rose bush. Thorns are no problem to a sheep.

I got to meet Herbie the Frisian up close. What a sweet guy.

I was almost sorry to come home. The only thing I missed was having internet, but, hey, I needed a vacation.

Monday, April 22, 2013

One Year Ago

Last Thursday was the one-year anniversary of my arrival in Texas. A lot has happened in this past year, some good, some not so great.

The good stuff is I happened to land in an RV park that is very tolerant of dogs and old trailers. The owner is a good person and keeps the place kept up, but understands about hard times. He also loves the dogs but still expects everyone to abide by the rules.

The weather has been fantastic. It was a mild winter, even for Texas. I barely remember being cold at all. This spring has been a record breaking season. It has been cool and simply gorgeous. I have had the heat on some mornings and by afternoon I've turned the AC on, but only because the camper heats up like a tin can. My electric bill last month was $16. Amazing.

I managed to meet some Border collie people right off. They have been my life line to sanity. I don't get to visit as much as I would like too because of the not so great part of this post.

The bad stuff.

My truck started to break down and the garage finally said it would cost more to fix it than to replace it. Unfortunately, I haven't had the money to replace it. Living away from town and stores has been a major problem. My neighbor has been great about driving me to the store, but I'm becoming reluctant to ask for a ride. I've been stocking up whenever I get to the store so I can go a week or two without going to the store. Other things I order from Amazon. They have great prices but the shipping costs add up.

I was encouraged to start writing online to make money. I've been writing but the money hasn't materialized. My stats have dropped back down to where I started. \

I opened some stores on Zazzle. I did get one check after the Christmas season, but that has been it. I know these avenues of work take time, but I need an income now. I'm not giving up, but I'm not managing to save anything for another car either.

The Dogs of Zazzle - A sampling of some of my work.

Friday, April 5, 2013

I went crazy making these silhouettes of dog breeds. I even downloaded a free drawing program (Inkscape) so that I could make smooth, clean vector drawings. I have been working until my eyes are bleary. But I'm happy with the way most of them came out. I might redo a couple now that I know better what I'm doing.

Chihuahua Tote Bag
Chihuahua Tote Bag by Ragtimelil
Design unique personalized bags online at zazzle.com

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Living Without A Car In Texas

Living without a car is getting old now. I have to find a way to resolve this issue.

I did it! I now have over 1,000 items in my main Zazzle Store. I got some help with all the dog breed items I made, but I did learn a lot doing them. I have some of them up on the Featured Products, but I suspect that more may show up soon.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

It looks like I'm going to get a phone finally. My tracfone was wearing out and I never used it because I didn't want to use up my minutes and have to buy more. Then the battery kept running down and I'd forget to recharge it.
I signed up for a free phone and free minutes. I had to prove my income was low enough to meet their guidelines but didn't have much of a problem with that. I just got the letter today that I'll be getting my phone in the next couple of weeks. I don't know who I'll call first!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Living Alone On My Own

Sometimes people look at me funny, like I am to be pitied, because I am living alone. The truth is, I like living alone. There are advantages to being on my own. Of course there are times when it would be nice to have someone around, but I do the best I can.
I wrote a bit about it here - Living Alone On My Own

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Glamping and Gifts for Campers

 I was thinking about some great little gifts that those of us living or traveling in campers might like. For instance, those ground mats are great, especially for those of us who aren't traveling, but living in our campers. The dogs have worn away any grass outside and dear Moss is thinking about digging holes. That won't make the park owner very happy.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

What Now

I've been trying to import another blog and create a new one just for dog stuff. It hasn't been working and I'm frustrated. Just contacted the Help Forum again. We'll see.

Very windy and cloudy today. We had a good frisbee morning but it's too windy now. Poor Moss tries to leap up and catch a frisbee in the air and the wind snatches it away.

If your into Valentine's Day, I've created a few cards and stuff for dog lovers on Zazzle and wrote about it here with links, Big Girl Valentines for Dog Lovers.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Make a Free Self Watering Flower Pot

 I tried out one of these self-watering flower pots. I don't have a yard for a garden so I'm experimenting this year with containers and vertical gardens.

Make a Free Self Watering Flower Pot

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Free and Cheap Stuff for the Economically Impaired

 There are some resources for those of us who don't have much in the way of income. Everything from food to free books.

Free and Cheap Stuff for the Economically Impaired

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Why I Play the Ukulele

 Here's an article I just wrote about the ukulele

Why I Play the Ukulele

Morning Walk

I dreamed about squirrels last night. I just learned that there are two kinds of squirrels around here. There is the common grey squirrel that is very shy and skittish, but there is a bigger, slower and less shy fox squirrel. They have brown markings and will sit on a fence and just watch me walk by. No red squirrels though.

Photo by Markus Krötzsch 

This morning I saw a bunch of squirrels and a flock of Cardinals. Further down the road I saw a flock of bluebirds. Red and Blue morning.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The LookBook Reader - A Review

I treated myself to a cheap ereader. I don't have the option of running to the library whenever I want, so I thought an ereader would take care of that. Sadly, it didn't work the way I had hoped.  I hope I'll be able to return it and get another one.

Here's what I hope to get