Thursday, July 9, 2015

Summer (and Everything Else) is in Full Swing!

The Sheffers have had some action packed days this last month, and there is no sign of it letting up any time soon. Getting a nice long chunk of time to sit and write a post about it is unlikely to happen until at least Thanksgiving after we bring in the goods from the garden and everything is stored for the winter. (My "helper" makes it an even greater challenge as she loves pushing the keys on the laptop almost as much as she enjoys playing in the dirt and mud.) I'm going to attempt a work around for this difficulty though, and we'll see if I can write a coherent post from the kitchen while I work on everything else that needs doing. You'll have to excuse what might be a slightly disjointed post.

Charlie is now in the full swing of his classes for the summer term. The first week or so was pretty rough until we figured out a decent place for him to do his studying and homework. I wish that there was a nicer place for him than the basement at my laundry table, but at least I was able to get the wall by his workspace scraped and painted to make it less dungeon-esque. The mauve paint probably would not have been my first choice, but when you're buying the goof up gallons at $5 for Dutchboy paint, you can be a little more flexible on the colors. 

Drawing board - guess what I'm using the next time I can actually sit!
I am absolutely loving the class projects that Charlie has been doing this term. There is nothing wrong with pieces of metal welded together that he was doing last term. However, they're not as useful around the house as the beautiful cutting board and drawing board that he has made in class. 

Gretl and Elska are really becoming the dynamic duo. I spend a fair bit of my days enjoying their playing or stopping their mischief. Elska is without a doubt the instigator in it all, and while Gretl tries her best to be a good pup, there are times that she just can't resist the charms of her two legged
sister. When she's not being tantalized into trouble, Gretl has really gotten to be a well behaved pup. She generally does a good job of coming, sitting, staying, laying down, heeling, and even not eating food that she hasn't been specifically given by an adult. She has been good about staying in the yard and has been almost completely broken of the whole "jumping up on people" thing. The training has really been starting to pay off, and it has resulted in her spending a lot more time just relaxing out of her crate. At this rate, we might not be too far from being able to put the crate in the basement and have our floor space back! We are still planning to train her to pull a cart and get her certified as a therapy dog. However, with everything else going on, it is hard to add in anything else no matter how much good it would do.

Elska is has been learning so many new things. She can stand up on her own in the middle of the room, walk along furniture and walls, and climb pretty much anything that she can get her foot on. She's grown 2 inches taller since her last doctor's appointment. (Not an ounce heavier, but she's just always on the go and can't eat enough despite constantly eating.) We have also been working with her on sign language, and she's pretty much got "more" down and "please," "milk," and "all done" only need a little prompting for her to remember them. She's gotten over her dislike of the grass and now finds great amusement in pulling grass and weeds and throwing dirt. The amount of joy she has in it totally outweighs the extra work of scrubbing her clean every night.

Mama's garden helper
Finally, the projects that have been keeping hold of much of the daylight hours. The big one, of course, is the garden/yard. I've got a small herb garden that I've been working, and we put in a lot of heirloom tomato plants. We have Mr Stripeys, San Marzanos, Amish Paste Tomatoes, German Queens, Cherokee Purples, and Black Krims - 20 total plants! On top of that, I found 5 volunteer tomato plants yesterday (probably cherry tomatoes) over by the compost pile and transplanted them to a more hospitable space. As of right now, all of the plants have survived my gardening skills. The grapes managed to make it through another winter and continue to be Charlie's pet project in the garden. The pumpkin vines are growing like gangbusters, and we are hoping for a bumper crop to make lots of pies, muffins, and bread this fall. We are also in the middle of raspberry season right now.  To date, I've picked over four and a half pounds of raspberries, and I didn't get out yesterday or today yet. 

All of the garden fun has already been making kitchen work for me. There's plenty of rhubarb in the freezer for Charlie's favorite muffin recipe and a couple of pies, and I made lots of strawberry rhubarb jam. I should really get started on the strawberry raspberry jam, but it's hard to get enough motivation to heat and steam up the kitchen all day. Instead, I've been freezing the raspberries and will probably wait for some cooler days to get the jam made.

Finally, about half of the wallpaper in the kitchen has been removed, and I'm continuing to work on it as time permits. (Ok, when the weather is too miserable to do any of my outdoor projects.) Once it's done and everything is sanded, paint and new back splashes are going up. I could probably rush through and just be done with it, but I really want it done right, so it's going to take a bit longer. If any of you absolutely love removing wallpaper, I'd be happy for the company while it's coming down. 

The Sheffers at the end of the day....