Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Look at what I went and did

Sometimes when out toy shopping for work you pick up something for a buddies kid. Then they send you the picture of the kids excitement.

See, the world is 100% right and perfect at this moment.


Monday, August 27, 2012

Another weekend in the hills

Eventually. This is what we keep telling each other when we get excited about moving into the mountains more. Sure, I do like Colorado Springs, but I'm not really a people person and prefer the quiet solitude that you can only get from 40 acres an hour or more outside of the nearest populated area.

We took our neighbor friends camping and to the hot springs as a thanks for all they do. Saturday night was spent staring at the stars, smiling at laughing and really having a great time doing nothing while the moon danced light off the white chalk cliffs.

I got up early Sunday and took the boys for a walk along the river and let them sniff and mark all kinds of territory. Rock was a super good boy until a couple with a large poodle saw us and tensed up all nervous at the"ferocious pitbull". Rock put on a good bark and whine show and they turned around. I trust my pit more than I will ever trust a poodle... ever. That and he gives me a workout when he decided he wants to do... well whatever he wants to do.

The leaves are changing in the high country, it's going to be an unexpected and furious fall that people are going to be shocked at. Last year the leaves weren't in full color until mid October. Next week is our annual trip to the Ouray and Silverton area, we might have some amazing colors for going early in the season. This trip we decided to use the camper and base camp instead of tenting it each night. It's Rock's first camping trip and we decided we deserve a little easier trip for once. All the usual places will be visited, the glacier lakes will be swam and dust will be in my hair.

I tried to hit Costco last night and do some stocking up but I ended up in a foul mood for really no reason. I made zucchini bread instead, nothing puts me in a good mood like cooking. We had steak, taters' and a garden salad for an early dinner and just crashed in front of the TV.

We will hit Costco this week and spend my $120 rebate check and probably another $200. That's a ton of food storage and prep items. I have a ton of harvesting to get done, more bread to make and freeze and some fall projects to tackle. This will make me feel a little better prepared for the winter months. It's going to be a lot of work, but when it's over sitting back and enjoying/looking at what the sweat equity has produced. It's a nice feeling.

Friday, August 24, 2012

2 awesome pictures

We didn't get rain from the clouds but they made for a beautiful morning and this nice view on the way to work. What a great way to start the morning.

Then I had to visit Walmart...

I don't get shocked easy, but this thing...

This thing says a lot about the state of America. I could rant for several screens but instead I will just shake my head, sigh, and continue on.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Week of things going right

First the deck bench project completed with awesome results.
Our new backdoor installed yesterday, 2 weeks ahead of schedule. Nice steel door with keyed on both sides deadbolt. The way a door should be.
While they were installing the door I made zucchini bread that turned out correctly.
I wasn't feeling positive that it would turn out after the last disaster but the results are awesome. I didn't add enough ginger so it's a little plain but still very yummy. Sometimes I get in a mental glut when things don't turn out correctly. Normally it's only the easy things, the ones we do all the time and are sort of on autopilot.

My pumpkins are going right, it's time to place cardboard underneath to protect the skin as the get bigger. I can actually look at them from day to day and see the size increase. I can't wait to lug a few of them into the mountains and blast away.

Speaking of the mountains, I'm taking my neighbor and her daughter camping this weekend. Camping and the hot springs as a thank you for watching the dogs, house, garden, etc. when we are out playing. We have a spot on the river, so nice to fall asleep to the rushing water sound. I'm debating getting a run in while we are there but I think I'll just enjoy a day off and give my body a much needed break. I'm most likely going to hit 140 miles this month, my body isn't pleased right now but it's managing.

Besides, if you don't push your limits you will never know what they really are.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Construction win and garden harvesting.

Took a week off from the bench project after having several people look at it. We finally just took all the back boards down from the corner and started over. Super simple solution to a problem that we were over complicating. Need to sand and stain and it's done:
Ended up only adding an angle on the left boards, worked like magic.

Finished with assembly.
There, all that banging our heads against the wall and as expected it was something simple.

The zucchini bread fail ended up being more of a diet and I've lost around 5 pounds and feel so much better on the trail. I picked up some new running shoes today and spent this past weekend at the Pikes Peak marathon and ascent rubbing elbows with amazing runners. Inspiring to say the least, I have a lot of work to do but it's going to be amazing. I was missing some inspiration and I've got it in buckets now. I've already decided to run the Pikes Peak ascent next year, and am edging towards the marathon... what's 9 hours of running up and down Pikes Peak.....

We harvested a quart of green beans and a dozen tomatoes from the garden along with the usual zucchini and squash. Cucumbers are in full growth mode and picked the first on on Saturday. I'm already designing plans for everything next year, my thought process this year didn't plan on having everything grow so large. I still haven't found any at the public garden that are even close to the same size.
Pumpkins are hidden but growing, I stopped the vine spread to help them.

Cucumbers in the back and still blooming.
I have hot peppers, peppers, beans, yellow squash, zucchini, cucumbers, blueberries, strawberries, tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, scallions and radishes. Soon I will add corn, watermelon, and pumpkins into that mix and have a lot of things canned and frozen for the winter. There is a lot I can add next year but I need to make sure it's things we will eat, I don't want to hand out food unless I'm overloaded with it.

I'm enjoying the cooler weather that August always brings and work has slowed down back to normal. The garden is really enjoying the cooler nights and we are both enjoying the fresh produce. I've gotten several hundred dollars in production from the garden with a lot more to come. What I am growing this year I have seeds for the next 2 years in storage and will add a couple more. I've got some survival type seed vaults so I easily have 6+ years of garden just in case.

I'm behind on blog reading, hopefully I'll get some reading done eventually.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Baking and consruction fails

It's a week already and it's only Wednesday. I can't seem to get my head wrapped around some projects at home and work is in overdrive for a few more days. I plod forward and last night it was finally cool enough to do some baking.
Zucchini bread time! Sugar, brown sugar, flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, eggs, cloves, vegetable oil and of course zucchini. How hard could it be, it's not like I don't make about 50 loaves of whatever quick bread a year.
How about not flouring the pans. Yup, that's a super fail. How about not paying attention and making the chinks of zucchini to big. Super fail #2.

What if it was SHTF and I jacked it up in the solar oven. Well to me it was SHTF at 10pm last night as I looked at the disaster I pulled out when the timer went off. The zucchini shrunk down in the pan and left the upper half of the loaf hollow, the bottom half was mushy and it was stuck to the pan on the sides and bottom. The hell with it, I dug in. If it was SHTF I would do the same thing and I was hungry... this was my dinner and I ruined it. To make this a lesson I won't ever forget I'm going to eat it all. It's pretty gross to be honest even if it tastes awesome. I wont ever forget this lesson, the next time I make it should be perfect.
What makes it worse is I was told "I just cant get past the zucchini, I can really see it, you are on your own."

I had another piece for breakfast, this is sort of a challenge to see if I can eat it all and not throw up over the next week. Lucky for us, we have 4 more baking pans and I will make more later this week, correctly.

We worked on the front deck bench, deciding to add an addition to it for more seating. Everything went great and then I tried to get the back boards cut. It's a simple 45 degree angle cut so the boards meet and look nice. The problem is from the bottom board to the top, they lean back so the 45 degree cut wont make them touch. The 2x4's lean back from 1/4 to 8 inches (at the top) and all I could do was stare at it for a few hours. I can't get my pea brain to figure it out, I tried some sample pieces and ended up making vampire stakes with so many angles, 45 degree left to right, 45 degree front to back, etc. I think we will just make the section a chair, since the only option right now is to take it all apart and waste $15 in 2x4's.

I have great weeks and I have weeks like this. My running is progressing again and it gives me time to think and laugh on my "issues".

Friday, August 10, 2012

Busy like a bee

When I get overloaded with work and home projects it's just a sweet reminder how good I have it all the other times. It's not a lot, but enough to keep me busy from sun up to sundown and then some. Working about 21 days straight before it's over, if I got paid by the hour I would do that all the time but they know better.

Forecast for Sunday looks cooler so I'm hoping to get all of my veggies canned up. I'm so positive it's going to happen they are out of the freezer and I have the jars in the kitchen. To be fair they are always in the kitchen but they are not covered in baking pans to make it easier. I still wont can the tomatoes so I'm going to start giving them away. The fridge has 8 and I just picked 4 more on the way in from work. Another 60 or so to go and that's only what's green, not what's budding still.

I also found a new addiction. Yogurt Bites, 25 year shelf life, these are vanilla:
I have blueberry but I'm afraid to open 2 cans at once. I have a year to eat these before they hit exp. date but I'm thinking maybe a month if I pace myself. They reconstitute just like yogurt and sort of melt in your mouth. These arrived in a shipment yesterday, I haven't gotten much in the last few months but felt it necessary to stock up on a few things.

We also discovered we are running out of room again, I suppose it's not the best organization but it's how I did it, and I know where everything is at. It's also a disaster to redo everything. Here are a few pictures I snapped today.
 Baking, fruit, beans, beets, sauce, condiments, etc.
 Veggies, meats, home canned, choco milk and booze
 My bucket fort, the pre pack stuff was too good of a deal to pass up
 I'm a fan of the Thrive stuff, 20-25 year shelf life, just have to get it on sale to make sense. Fruit,  baking, eggs, meats, soy meats, oats and rice.
 Veggies, milk, flour, cocoa, etc. 3 deep double and triple stack.
4 tubs of cereal. I know prices are going up so I stocked up some more. There is another rack behind those tubs with first aid, hygene, more baking, matches, etc. I have other racks with paper products, dog food, about 350 gallons of water, more home canned goods, laundry stuff and more. I have my go buckets as well as a bucket full of twinkies and hostess cup cakes and another full of gummy bears and last years holiday candy.
I think I have 4 years worth of stuff for 2 so i feel pretty good.

That's it, have a great weekend. I'm  heading out for a long run to burn some yogurt carb's off.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Another neighborhood shooting and more

People have issues, I've had issues... some would say I still do. What drives people to shoot themselves is really beyond me. Perhaps my upbringing made me realize life isn't always easy and you learn from the hardships and thrive.

The guy who shot himself in his car a few hundred feet up the street Sunday morning probably had the whole world dumped on his shoulders and just couldn't take it any longer. Maybe his girlfriend who drove away right before he did it had broke the relationship off and he was going to win her back or kill himself. Who knows really, all I know is crime scene tape all over and a closed road makes for all kinds of people hanging out too close for my comfort zone, in front of my house.
All my neighbors swore they heard the shot, but I doubt it. I know I didn't but my house is a lot more soundproof than people think. I don't know if the guy will live, but he didn't do the job right and they hauled him off in an ambulance. My neighbor friend called and said her oldest daughter is traumatized over it, but she didn't have to stand there watching the EMT's and police officers at work, that's her fault. I've seen a lot worse and when I saw the blood all over the seat of the Land Rover when I went out to run I didn't even care. It's far too sad and selfish, the rest of us just figure a way to deal with problems.
Typing this on Tuesday morning I got a phone call with the details, gossip moves fast. The girlfriend works at a coffee shop up the street, the coffee shop keeps a gun under the counter. Guess what gun the guy used... correct. I bet they won't keep a gun under the counter anymore, not smart to begin with. At least some people will get organs, brain dead on life support until his Mother gets in this morning and then they will finish what he started.
I don't go to the coffee shop. Several bipolar people and one schizophrenic hanging out there all day long is a disaster waiting to happen. I also don't want to know everyone in my neighborhood, I prefer they only know us as the couple who lives behind the big fence with the big dogs and aren't very social.
Sounds great.

In other gun news;
Found a new pizza place that serves real Italian style pizza so we met some friends there and had a nice little dinner, very authentic just like being back in Rome. We wandered down the street for some chocolates and found a nice shop across from a large bar/club. It was early but there was a large crowd of people across the street having a good time, but that's always a warning sign to me. Large number of people in front of a bar can turn from good to bad in seconds. As we ordered our chocolate I kept positioned towards the shop door (that was opened) and suddenly I see several people running across the street screaming at someone standing right next to the shop open door.

I don't know what they are yelling about and I don't care. I see a threat, a major threat heading my way fast and likely very drunk. I thumbed the safety off and waited. Nothing happened, they were trying to get some girls ID that the guy outside the chocolate shop had with him... or at least that's what I could decipher. It was the closest I've ever come to pulling my pistol out in public. I was the only one armed, everyone else wanted to drink so they left the firearms at home or locked up in the car. Designated driver and shooter, at least they have faith in my accuracy and behind the wheel skills!

My life is exciting, even when it's supposed to be calm. I still think I live in a great place, even with a murder-suicide and suicide in the last few months.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Expired food storage

Lot's of saying when it comes to food storage and I do try to eat what I store, sometimes items get overlooked. Today was my monthly expiration date check and here is what I had to get rid of:

Pop tarts, box of 24 double packs; they taste stale to me after they hit the expiration date, the neighbor kids will be happy.

Box of generic cereal; I should have tossed it when I ate the first box, I didn't like it at all. I've kept this box long enough and have eaten all the boxes around it so it had to go. For sanity.

7 box of soy milk; I buy the 12 packs at Costco and have more, I just didn't eat enough cereal this summer and I don't trust this stuff at all once it expires or more than a week after opening one. Lesson learned from a painful stomach issue in the spring.

Not too bad considering how much stuff I have. I'm sure I took pictures but don't know where they went so I'll get around to it again soon. I have a lot of things expiring soon but oddly enough they center around baking and lucky me it's almost fall and cool weather. This was the first time I've ever tossed anything into the trash so I'm happy with how it's going.

Enjoy your weekend with some garden pictures.

Obviously corn

Pumpkin, and happy bee!

Bush beans


We don't like these much and it was an accidental purchase. Gifts!
Ancient Rome a few months ago, found a couple pictures on memory card.

Yes, I agree it's an awesome photograph.

Friday, August 3, 2012

New TV series coming out

Here is the link for Revolution on NBC. No more power scenario.

I watched the preview last night on the Olympics and watched it again online. I'm already disappointed.

Everyone looked so clean and perfect, no guns just swords and a crossbow... the usual BS. Let's make an end of the world show where people don't have power, the world collapses and yet makeup is in abundance.

Oh wait, they already made one called falling skies.

I'll DVR it and see if I can manage to learn something or get an idea. Chances are I'll delete the recording settings. Hunger Games sure has people scrambling to get in on the money these kind of shows and movies can generate. Even HG had the right thing delivered from a sponsor at just the right time... Game of Thrones is a great series since the main characters an get killed a anytime, at least that part is realistic, can't anyone learn from that and make a great show?

I know, normal people don't want to see that kind of thing; people fighting over a scrap of food, bodies piled in the streets, disease running rampant, filthy people all over, people with all the guns holding all the power and doing what they want to the general masses.

Can only hope a show like that comes on sometime, might wake a few more people up.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

There is no safe investment, really.

Wednesday's technology breakdown roiled the prices of some 140 stocks listed on the New York Stock Exchange, undermining fragile investor confidence in the stability of U.S. stock markets.

$440 million dollars from Knight Capital group who does the trading for TD Ameritrade. This just goes to show you can make all the careful investing with all the big companies and still lose your ass off.
"This issue was related to Knight's installation of trading software and resulted in Knight sending numerous erroneous orders in NYSE-listed securities into the market," Knight said. "This software has been removed from the company's systems."

This kind of story continually pops up and scares the hell out of me and investing money. Rogue trader, inflated this or that, insider information, ponzi scheme, software glitch... 

It's a shame since the only way to retire is to grow your retirement income in order to keep up with rising prices of everything. How is this even possible when the return on investment is so tiny. When it's time to cash out you get taxed on the gains and that can usually wipe out all of the forward progress you had made.

I can't think of a safe investment that will grow, even precious metals aren't exactly a safe bet. It's probably the safest thing, if you have the metals on hand, but the price (even back in the $800 an ounce days) is hard to swallow.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

A helping hand

I was having a fantastic day yesterday, the kind of day where if it went wrong... well it did. I had someone complain about waiting on a printer to print.... while I was dumping out the waste toner box. It's not even my damn job, but I do it, I don't understand how they can be so lazy and then complain when I'm helping.
I jumped in the car on some work errands and while sitting at a light I saw a lady with 3 kids holding a sign that read: 'looking for help with food and housing'. It was obvious to me they were living out of their car and the kids looked like they hadn't seen a shower in some time.
I kept driving and took care of my business and then swung back into the parking lot and said hello to them. Sometimes people just need a smile or an encouraging word to know that all hope isn't lost, I would have to eat a whole lot of pride to ask for help but if I had to, I would.  $50 in the form of a McDonalds gift card sent the kids bouncing all over the place with excitement that they would get to eat. The kids were very grateful and the lady was moved to tears that I would help them with such a large gift. I mentioned a few agencies in town that might be able to help and wished them all the best of luck.

My 'bad day' was a day they probably would give anything for right about now. The rest of my day was great. I'm not one to give money to people on a corner, but for some reason it was something I simply had to do. Not that McDonalds is good for anyone, but it's cheap filling food and $50 can go a long way with 3 kids and a dollar menu. I can spend $50 on dinner for the 2 of us if we go out to eat and it made such a difference in the spirit of this particular family. I always have the idea I was a sucker, but I'm not an optimist.

I enjoy helping people out when I am able. I am often asked what I would do in a SHTF situation if people I know showed up looking for help. Really hard to say what I would do since it hasn't happened, but it really depends on the situation, my family comes first no matter what. I would rather feel bad about turning someone away instead of feeling good for helping and then starving to death (as an example). I'm the one who took the initiative and got prepared when the times were good, it's not my fault others didn't.
I'm constantly reminded of the excessive and reckless habits of others and the lack of any planning. This is a great motivator for us, and it keeps us rolling forward even when we don't want to do anything at all. Better trained, practiced, equipped and prepared and hopefully we can survive just about anything.