Saturday, December 25, 2010

Arduino Wireless Garage Door Opener

First off contain yourself, that is right Matt Emerson is posting a blog page... Doesn't happen often but I wanted to put this information out there to help anyone else who is trying to do something similar.

If you are interested in programming hardware check out Arduino

The entire idea behind this project was to have my garage door open wirelessly. So I have a transmitter and a reciever, and when the receiver gets a signal it simulates someone pushing the button by closing a relay, shorting the two wires to operate the garage door. (this garage door is OLD, I am talking REALLLY OLD!!!)

$25 - Nordic FOB
$20 - Nordic nRF24L01
$15 - RBBB (Ardunio Clone)
$4   - Sharp S101S02 Solid State Relay
$.50 - Misc. Transistor that came with Ardunio kit I bought.
$.20 - Misc. Resistor that came with Ardunio kit I bought.

    Random antennae that i had....
$65 - Just to prove that I could. Of course the Ardunio is capable of much more then I am using it for so I plan to expand it in the future, temperature, barometric pressure, and more reads... just haven't gotten to it yet.

 And now the code:

/* Pins:
 * Hardware SPI:
 * MISO -> 12
 * MOSI -> 11
 * SCK -> 13
 * Configurable:
 * CE -> 9
 * CSN -> 10
 byte data[4]; //set the data to be retreived from wireless module
 byte lastdata; // compare new data to last data
   //I am having a problem where the reciever keeps on reading "new" data in the form of a 'right' button press. but it is not new data, it is simply reading old
   // data over and over again... as evidence by the data[2] bit not changing... this data bit from the FOB is the number of button pushes since battery replacement
   // or at least it changes every button push, but does not change when faulty data is being read. So I store the last bit 2 and compare it to the new one, if
   // there is no change, toss the data out it is garbage.
 int timer = 0; // set the timer to prevent repeat button presses (bounce)
 int subtimer =0; // ser the subtimer to trigger the real timer (allows for reading of the buffer faster but only responding every so often to the fob presses)

void setup() {               
  pinMode(4, OUTPUT);  // This is the output connected to a transistor, connected to a solid state relay.
pinMode(2, OUTPUT);

  Mirf.csnPin = 10; //set the nordic CSN pin to 10
  Mirf.cePin = 9;   //ser the nordic CE  pin to 9
  Mirf.init();      //initialize the nordic

  byte rx_addr[5] = {0xE7, 0xE7, 0xE7, 0xE7, 0xE7};


  Mirf.configRegister(RF_SETUP, 0x07); //Data rate 1Mbit / 0dBm
  Mirf.configRegister(EN_AA, 0x00); //Disable auto acknowledge
  Mirf.payload = 4;  //bytes to be read = 2;  // channel used
//  Serial.begin(9600);     //used while developing
//   Serial.println("start"); //used while developing
   Mirf.flushRx();  // start with a clean buffer, I had issues without this occassionally.

void loop() {

        Mirf.getData(data);  // get data from the buffer
//        Serial.print(data[0]);  //used while developing
//        Serial.println(" ");
          if (data[2] != lastdata){  // check if the data[2] is the same as last time, if it is do nothing.... bad data
            lastdata = data[2];
              switch (data[0]) {
                    case 0x00:
                case 0x1D:
//                    Serial.println(timer); //used while developing up button
                case 0x1E:
//                    Serial.println("DOWN"); //used while developing
                case 0x17:
//                    Serial.println("LEFT"); //used while developing
                case 0x1B:
//                    Serial.println("RIGHT"); //used while developing
                case 0x0F:
//                    Serial.println("CENTER"); //used while developing
  // for ever 40 subtimer clicks, click one timer click
  // yes is is crude, yes it is wierd, yes I could have multiplied it out an done it with on timer
  // but you get a little crazy writing code some times....
  if (subtimer >=40) {
    timer = timer + 1; 
    subtimer = 0;   
  if (timer >= 100){ //don't allow timer to get greater then 100... if it gets too high will turn massivly negative
    timer =100;
  subtimer = subtimer + 1;
  // End of LOOP

void OpenDoor() {
  if (timer <= 34) { //If timer isn't ready yet, short pulse the LED, to at least let you know signal was recieved
      digitalWrite(2, HIGH); // This is used to light an LED on pin2 to make sure board is working
      timer = timer + 1;
      digitalWrite(2, LOW);    // This is used to light an LED on pin2 to make sure board is working
  if (timer >= 35) {  //time is ready and this will allow the garage door to operate
          timer = 0; //reset timers to allow for delay before next operation
                     // it will send multiple key presses for one physical press
          subtimer = 0;
//          Serial.println("start door");//used while developing
         digitalWrite(2, HIGH); //trigger LED on for long pulse to let you know signal recieved, door should be operating
          digitalWrite(4, HIGH); //trigger the transitor -> the solid state relay to closed (this simulates a button push of the garage door)
          digitalWrite(4, LOW); //turn off transistor after 2 second delay.
          digitalWrite(2, LOW); //turn off OPTIONAL LED for evauliting if board is working...
//          Serial.println("stop door");//used while developing

Please let me know if you see anything horribly wrong with my code or hardware, I am very much in unknown territory here.


Saturday, December 18, 2010

It is gearing up....

to be a busy week for me. I NEED to get Christmas gifts for my students. I've been putting it off, but maybe today after my tutoring session I'll brave the weather (it's raining :) and the Christmas shoppers and get a little something for them all.
This next week will definitely be a busy one for me. I've got one 1.5 hour session and two 2 hour sessions scheduled for Monday; three 2 hour sessions and one 1.5 hour session scheduled for Tuesday; one 30 minute, one 1.5 hour, and one 2 hour session for Wednesday; and one 1.5 hour and one 1 hour session on Thursday. Let's see...that's 19.5 hours in one week! And I might have a couple more hours to schedule, depending on what some of my students' plans are.

Well, I guess I should probably get ready for the day...I have already done my lesson plan for today. We're going to talk about African Elephants, Skateboarding, and the Food Pyramid. :) My student is interested in becoming healthier, so I thought we could talk about nutrition and ways to become more active. He's only in 2nd grade, so I hesitate to say he needs to "get into shape" but he thinks he does. Maybe I can help him shift his thoughts into making healthier eating choices and wanting to become more physically active. He definitely shouldn't be obsessed about the numbers on the scale, but if he could make some small changes now, he could be a healthier adult in the least, that's what I'm thinking.

Well, off to the shower for me. Oh, yeah. AND it has been 4 years since Matt and I got married. In some ways, it seems longer than that. In others, it feels like just yesterday. I remember my wedding day-it was a gorgeous December day in Virginia Beach, with the sun shining and about 60 degree weather. Couldn't have asked for a better day. And the ceremony and reception were perfect. Thanks, Matt, for deciding to spend your life with me. It has been one wild and crazy adventure, and I'm looking forward to the future with hope and anticipation. It is already so good, and I know it will only get better. I can't wait! Love you!!!


Monday, December 13, 2010

Oh the Weather Outside is...

oh, so very nice! :) It is so hard to believe that this is December, and Christmas is right around the corner. Looking at my sister's blog and the pictures of the snow makes me realize how much I'm enjoying the weather here! Matt's new work schedule has him working on Saturdays and having Sunday/Monday off. Except, for the last two Mondays, they've been doing special things at work and he's gone in to do things he wouldn't normally have an opportunity to do. So, Sunday was our weekend this week. We started out by priming some of the trim outside. Sitting up on the roof, just basking in the sunshine and looking up at the clear, blue sky...well, it was a little slice of heaven :) Then, we decided to go for a run down on the beach in Santa Monica. We ended up running from the pier, along the beach by the water, all the way to Muscle Beach in Venice. That was about 2 miles, then we walked back. My feet ended up being really sore. Big surprise, right? Especially since we were running in the sand. It was so nice, though. We had lunch in Brentwood, at a Fish Taco place. Yumm...grilled fish tacos...:)

On our way back, we decided to stop at our friends' the Masciale's house, and they were there! So were Vince's parents and sister, and we had a really nice visit. :) We headed home, and when we got here, it was dark. Jupiter was shining brightly, and I took some advice that I heard on the radio and got out the binoculars. I don't have a great pair, but I think I was able to see some of the Galilean moons of Jupiter. Of course, I was so shaky, it is hard to tell...

Well, that was our weekend. Matt got up early this morning to head to work, and I've been catching up on housework all day. I'm starting to make some headway, though :)

Well, back to it, I guess.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot. Look who I saw riding the Santa Monica Pier's Roller Coaster:

Santa sure looks like he's having fun! :)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Two for Two

Ok, so I was going to post about Matt's birthday, and how successful I was at getting him the gifts he wanted, and post pictures of it. Then, I realized that that would be silly, since I only got pictures of him opening up the chocolate before my camera's battery died. So....I guess I will just tell you about his exciting gifts instead.

He really wanted an air compressor, so I got a great deal on a small one :) but what he really wanted was a hammer. Not just any hammer. A nice framing hammer with a nail starter on it. That's a little bit of magnet on the head, so you can lay the nail down, and start the nail without smashing your fingers. He's so in love with that thing. I'm glad I listened to him when he told me what he would like.

Oh, and I also got him a small rock tumbler. We always find cool rocks on our excursions, and the don't look nearly as good when we get them home. So, I thought the tumbler would be cool to polish them up a bit :) He's got some tumbling out in the garage as I write this.

I guess the most exciting news, at least for me, happened when I climbed on the scale this morning. I've been working out nearly consistently for about the past month, and it is FINALLY starting to pay off as far as numbers go. I've been noticing my energy level go up, as well as my clothes starting to fit better again. But, as I'm sure is true with most of us, the numbers on the scale hold a magical sway over me. My weight fluctuates, up a bit, down a bit, but for about a year now it hasn't gone below a certain number...Until this morning, that is!! I'm back, back again! Back to the 120's!!! Whew! I know that my journey is not over, has just begun. I don't want to obsess about my weight. I just want to be healthy, have tons of energy to do the things I want, and feel good about myself. I just think I could do all that and be the number on the scale I want as well, you know? I'm slowly making progress to my goal, which culminates with the trip to Belize in a month.

Wait a minute, a month? Man! I haven't even started getting ready for that! Shoot, better put another thing on my list of stuff to do :)

Well, let me get to it then. Cheerio!!!


I'll leave you with this image. On our hike a couple weeks ago, Matt and I stumbled across a truck that seemed to have a bit of trouble.  There was a tow line still attached, like they tried to pull it out. It's pretty well hidden, I must say. :) It's really rugged up there, I'm not sure how I would have felt about driving along the top of THAT mountain, and I've ridden across some pretty rugged country in my day!

Friday, December 10, 2010

I love it here

Ok, I won't lie. I've wanted to live in California since I was little. Ok, maybe more like since I was younger, like 14, when I came here with Marie and her kids. It was so nice and WARM in the summer, and so green! (That was up north near San Jose.) And, then we came down to San Diego to visit Aunt Stormy when I was 16 for Thanksgiving, and I was hooked. Did I ever admit it? No. Of course not. It is a pretty well-known fact how Idahoans are supposed to feel about California. All the Californians coming to Idaho are just ruining the state. There's no public land for you to do anything in California, you know. Everything is just private land, and no one will let you go on their property. They post "No Trespassing" signs everywhere. Right? Isn't that how it is??? Well, regardless, I've always wanted to live here. There must be SOME reason all these people want to live here, isn't there? Well, Matt and I have definitely gotten the opportunity to see some of the reasons why people love living here. And you know what? If you don't want to live here, fine! There's more than enough people, and that just means there's more for me to enjoy :)

Here's some reasons why I love it here:

Look! It's the Hollywood Sign! Matt and I went on a hike (that's right, a hike. On PUBLIC land. No "No Trespassing" signs in sight. They actually let you hike all over the mountains here. There's trails everywhere. And, yes, you have to share with other people. You won't be the only ones on the trail. But, honestly, who cares? My tax dollars are definitely put to good use here!)

Matt, overlooking the city of Los Angeles. Absolutely incredible. There's so many people living down there! :)

Ok, this picture was taken about 10 minutes from our house. We're looking down on the "Valley," the San Fernando Valley, that is. This is the valley where we live. That day, we actually hiked up high enough to see the ocean, which is behind that far ridge of mountains you see in the picture. Those are the Santa Monica Mountains; we are in the San Gabriel Mountains, part of the Angeles National Forest. All PUBLIC land, by the way :)

This is more of that hike. Gorgeous mountains, right outside our back door :)
 Ok, if you look really closely, you can se the ocean in this picture. It was a little foggy out on the water, but there's a little patch of it... :) we can actually see the ocean from close by our house! :) Oh, and a spectacular view of the San Fernando Valley, as well. What a gorgeous day, and a gorgeous hike!

Ok, this was  a different day, and up the coast a bit, at El Capitan State Beach. We went camping there in July with Matt's family. What, a State Beach? We don't have those in Idaho, that's for sure! The State Beach system in California is awesome! Matt and I are looking forward to riding our bicycles and staying at the campsites on the hiker/biker rate of a few bucks a night :) That will be  little bit in the future, tho. 

Gorgeous sunsets. I know, I know. We had these in Idaho, but I truly missed them in Virginia. It was hard to see the sunset for all the trees, and the flat land. You could go up on Mount Trashmore, I suppose....

Disneyland! We have Disneyland just about an hour away :) We've only been once, but I'm sure we'll go again. What fun! 
 And, last but not least, Palm trees. We definitely didn't have these growing up. And I must admit, the first one I ever saw was at a hotel Marie and I stayed at on our epic journey to CA when I was 14...and it scared me! It looked so foreign, and somehow sinister...ok, so it had been a long car ride, in that little Geo Metro with 3 kids, two bigger kids (I won't say adults.. hehehe) and only 4 seatbelts. I rode most of the way in the middle back with no seatbelt so Tansy would be protected...I guess I thought it would be ok for me to go flying through the windshield....

Anyways, that about it for my rant. I guess the moral of this story is...I love it here. I'm glad Matt got his job here and we were able to live my {secret} dream of living in California. Beautiful, sunny, southern California where it is slated to be 78 degrees on the 11th of December :) Can't wait for tomorrow. It's been a long time since I've felt like that every day. I think this place is good for my depression. Ok, I don't just think it is. I KNOW it is. (Didn't know I suffered from depression? Where have you been? :) Just kidding. Seriously, though, that was the reason I got out of the Navy early, depression. Evidently I suffer from cyclical bouts of depression, which have recurred throughout my life. My worst cycle happened while I was enlisted, and that shouldn't be a surprise. But I've had some minor cycles, even here. But, the extra sunshine in the winter is helping, and I'm looking forward to the Solstice when the days will start to get longer again. I've not been diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder, but I suspect that the lack of sunshine in the winter contributes to my depression....anyways, what I'm trying to say is I'm feeling a lot better now than I have in a long time. Looking forward to the future. Not scared or anxious about what will happen next. It helps that we can literally go on a hike from our house up into the foothills of some amazing mountains, get some fresh air and exercise, and just feel good about things.

Well, guess I should quit stalling, get onto the next thing I need to do, which is exercise, then get ready to tutor 3 students this afternoon/evening. Thanks for listening (I mean reading) to my rant. :)


PS. So, I got my packages sent off for Christmas yesterday (cost me a lot more than I thought it would) and now I need to work on the presents for those a little closer to home. The ones I can deliver in person. Since there's still a couple weeks before Christmas, I have plenty of time. Plenty of time, I say! :P

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Quick Update

Ok, so an update on how I've been doing as far as fitness goes. Let me tell you: having a body bug sure does make it a no-brainer. I mean, I can sync up and find out how many calories I've burned, and then make sure that I eat less than that. So far, I've lost about 2 pounds since I got the bug. Which brings me to a little over 4 since I started wanting to work out. I would really, really like to get down to my goal weight before we head to Belize. I also want to be really strong when we go so I can enjoy all the hikes and stuff while we're there. I don't want to be a slug and sit in the hotel all day, every day.

So, here's the summary that I get every time I plug my bug into the computer.
The first graph shows calories burned per minute. It's pretty cool. You can really see how many calories you burn with different activities. Then, calories consumed depends on you inputting the information  yourself: you have to be honest, or it won't work!
Physical activity breaks down into moderate and vigorous activity. I have daily goals for amounts of each. I also have a daily step goal, which I almost never reach for some reason. 10000 steps is a lot, I guess...
This thing also keeps track of my sleep. It can tell when I'm sleeping and when I'm just lying down. It is interesting to see how well I sleep through the night--usually not very.
And,of course, I keep track of my weight and weight loss. Another thing I have to input myself. Honesty is key.

Well, that's it. I have a really busy week ahead of me. I have 4 students to tutor today, starting at 1 and ending at 8. I also need to start making some of my Thanksgiving dinner. I've decided to make the Cranberry Relish, sweet potato tarts, and apple tarts today, if I have time. Also, I need to work some more on my Christmas gifts. Oh, and get in a workout, as well. Whew! Let's see if I can figure out how to get all this stuff done!  And go check on the turkey. It needs to defrost! It was still a block of ice when I checked on it this morning. I put it in some cold water, which I'll be switching out periodically, until it gets defrosted. Nothing worse than waking up on Thursday morning with a frozen turkey! :)


Thursday, November 18, 2010

My Body Bug (Bio Fit Media)

Ok, so I got an early Christmas gift from my husband (he rocks, by the way!). He got me a body bug, you know, the things they use on The Biggest Loser, that keeps track of the calories you are burning all day long. He gave it to me early, since he knew I wanted to work on my fitness goals before our trip, and it made sense to open it now and put it to good use. If nothing else, it is really fun to look at the graphs of my physical activity :) Anyways, this is just one more tool to help me reach my goal.

So, yesterday, I did spin, and boy did it about kill me! Today, I did Boot Camp, lifting weights again. I felt really good afterward. I actually had a really fantastic day today. I feel like I got a bunch of stuff done, AND I fit in a really intense workout, and my tutoring sessions went really well. Even though Christmas is coming up fast, and I have a bunch of projects to get done, I feel really optimistic about the next couple months :) Life is pretty darn good, you know? :)

Love you all.


Monday, November 15, 2010


Well, today I woke up with Matt at around 6 with a splitting headache. I REALLY didn't want to go workout, but it is difficult to cancel when you sign up in advance like you have went. I'm really glad I did. I did a boot camp workout, and we worked on strength training. I'm already feeling stronger and that I have more endurance than I did even a week ago. I'm feeling pretty good about these workouts. It doesn't hurt that the numbers on the scale have gone down steadily, either! :)

Speaking of numbers, I've decided to cook Thanksgiving dinner, and try not to sabotage the work I'm doing on my body. So, my dinner will consist of <500 calories per plate (not including dessert). What's on the menu? Well, I'm signed up at, and they had a great idea for a low calorie Thanksgiving dinner. So here it is:
Pumpkin dip and apple slices
Soup: Roasted Squash Soup
Main Course:
Vegetable and Fruit Stuffing
Roasted Root Vegetables with Apple Cider Gravy
Herb Roasted Turkey with Cranberry Relish
Mini Apple Tarts
Mini Sweet Potato Tarts

Guess I'll have to start grocery shopping, huh? :)

I have one student to tutor this evening. I need to be there around 530. So I still have time to do the lesson plan, right? I've got dinner in the crockpot, laundry done, floors swept and vacuumed. I'm exhausted, but I got a lot done today :)


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Update, Update

Ok, so last week, I worked out 3 days: Tues, Wed, Thurs. By Friday, I knew I needed to take some time off. It is kinda hard to get into a routine working out. I also have to consider when to prepare my lesson plans, and figure out what will be for dinner. Not that I'm making an excuse or anything, but...
So, since I worked out really hard 3 days last week, I'm thinking of setting a goal for 4 days this week. I am scheduled for M, Tue, and Wed, for workouts, but I'll see how I feel on Wed if I want to schedule a spin class for Thursday.

On another note, I got paid for last month's tutoring. No missing or incomplete paperwork for me! I dotted all my I's and crossed all my T's. Paperwork competed satisfactorily for 11 students. I'm actually pretty proud of myself :)

Well, I'm bushed. We painted the white on the front of our house today. It looks awesome. Oh! And, we ate some turnips and turnip greens for dinner. The turnips were kind of spicy. And, I'm thinking I need to figure out how to cook greens. They were ok, but nothing spectacular.

 And, finally:

My latest craft. (Those are supposed to be turkeys. They look much more turkey-like in real life...)


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

How am I doing?

Well, I'll admit. My body is sore. I can barely move. But I feel pretty good. I did the bootcamp yesterday, which was a bunch of different cardio and strength exercises (a whole hour's worth!) and today I did spin class. I seriously about died. At the end, the instructor was like "I know you were holding back! Don't hold back now!" I looked at him like he was crazy. I must have lost ten pounds just in sweat!

Anyways, I need to get some lesson plans done. I'm totally multitasker Pam today. I've worked out, done laundry, folded clothes, done dishes (twice), put food in the crockpot (and figured out what will go with dinner tonight), watered the plants, showered, and now I'm onto my lesson plans. Whew! It will be a later than usual night tonight, since I have my rescheduled student from Monday after my usual Wednesday students. Ok, I'm done procrastinating. Let's get this done!


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

My Goals

Ok, that's a little frustrating. I had this whole big post, but I lost it all. So, here's the abbreviated version:
I'm writing down my goals, so that I can be held accountable.
I want to lose 10 pounds by the time we go on vacation to Belize.
How will I accomplish this:?
I am committing to working out 6 days a week.
Tue/Thur will be All About You Fitness Bootcamp-8 more sessions.
Wed/Fri will be Pedal Spin class-9 rides left.
Sat/Sun/Mon will be working out with Matt. One of those days will be rest day, but it will depend on our schedule.

So, that's it. That's my plan. Wish me luck. I know it takes 23 days to make a habit, and I'm hoping that I finally make a habit of fitness once again. I was so proud of myself last year and the accomplishments I made, losing ~45 pounds. I mean, who wouldn't be proud of that? But, I've let myself slip lately, and would like to get back down to that weight (and maybe pass it up, too!)

Anyways, wish me luck. But I'm excited to get started.



Sunday, October 17, 2010

Mid-October Garden Update

It has been one month and 5 days (35 days) since we planted the garden. I'm happy to report that it is doing REALLY well. Better than I could have hoped or imagined. Here's a look at the garden:

Matt's Poppies!
Matt's giant tomato plant and his crazy garlic---that stuff has grown faster than anything else in the garden!
From back to front, left to right:
Parsnips-sprouted; Marigold-growing taller; Turnips-growing; Broccoli-growing; Beets-struggling to not fall over every day; Swiss Chard-Struggling to grow upright; Onions-growing taller; Spinach-the only patch of spinach growing.
Marigolds, Marigolds-Growing; Peas-2 plants growing up the trellis, one random plant sprouted, not sure what we're going to do with it...; Cabbage-one growing taller; Radishes-almost ready to harvest; carrots-growing, needing thinned about every day; Lettuce-ready to harvest; Carrots-thinning needed.
Marigolds in the back-growing strong; Onions-growing tall; Peas-one plant growing up the trellis; Beets-a couple heirlooms growing; Carrots-needing thinned; Spinach-can't seem to get to grow in this square; Carrots-needing thinned.
Marigolds in the back-growing; Cabbage-one plant growing; Broccoli-one plant growing; Radishes-ready to harvest; Swiss Chard-struggling to grow; Lettuce-ready to harvest; Spinach-Struggling to grow.
Parsnips in the back-sprouted and growing; Turnips-the drips from the gutters almost destroyed the turnips...; Beets-struggling to grow; Onions-growing tall.
Now for the herbs, back to front: Mint-2 sprouts; Chives-3 or 4 sprouts; Basil-2 sprouts; Oregano-a bunch of sprouts.
And the strawberries (big pot) are growing well, and the Catnip (small pot) are thriving.
So, I mentioned that some of the crops are ready to harvest. Well, Thursday I supplemented our salad stuff from the fridge with the following:

Don't they look yummy? Well, they sure tasted yummy. I'm thinking I'll have to pick some more radishes and lettuce for lunch today. There really is nothing better than growing your own food and being able to eat it. :)

So, what else has been going on? Let's see...I'm tutoring pretty much every day. With 11 students, it is a little challenging coming up with 11 different lesson plans. But, seriously, I love all my kids. They're awesome! Motivated to learn (so far) and excited to have the attention. Now, if I could just get over this cold and get my voice back, everything will be perfect. I started losing my voice about a week ago, after an awesome and long conversation with a good friend, and it got progressively worse over the week. By Friday, I was basically whispering. I can not talk loud today...which I'm sure Matt is glad of ;) Other than that, not much going on. I'm enjoying the great weather here: sunny and warm almost every day. The rainy days (like today) are a nice break and still beautiful. I never thought I would say that; coming from Virginia, I hated the rainy days. They just happened too often for my taste!

Well, that's about it. I'm going to sip a hot mug of tea and enjoy reading a book. Matt's up in the attic crawling around, and he might be taking the power down, so I'll just try to relax and take care of myself. I might *gasp* even take a bath, or something :)


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Wednesday, Wednesday

OK, to make this clear, I'm definitely NOT complaining. About the rain. Not gonna do it. Nope! Because, this moisture is SOOOOO good for my garden. Well, most of it, anyways. Matt and I didn't count on the rainy season starting so soon, and haven't repaired the rain gutters, and the ones right over my garden are LEAKING!!! Most of the veggies are ok, but my turnips are right under a drip, and I had to take drastic measures :) I grabbed a cardboard box, and tried to redirect the drips. This is what it looks like...

 It is doing a decent job...

So, what else have I been doing today? Well, since I'm obviously not spending much time outside, I decided to try to clean up the place a bit. I've been wanting to make reusable swiffer sweeper cloths for a while now. I found this AWESOME tutorial over on Sew Much Ado and decided to give it a try. I pretty much followed her tutorial, except I used a microfiber cloth, t-shirt material I cut up, and didn't topstitch around the whole thing. Here's what mine looks like:

 And with the swiffer attached:

 Ok, so I made two of them. And I actually used them both this morning, then hurriedly hand washed them and dried them so I could take pictures {I know, I should have done it before I cleaned with them, but I forgot. And trust me, they pick up the dirt!}.
 After cleaning, I decided to put something on for dinner. I probably won't be home until after 6 tonight {tutoring} so I put something in the crock pot. I had picked up some butternut squash from Costco the other day, and decided to try out my version of this recipe from Made with Love.

I'm letting the carrots and squash cook in the slow cooker. And I don't have potatoes, don't want to go shopping {in the rain} so I'm planning on adding instant mashed potatoes to the mix at some point. I'll let you know how it goes.

Well, my tutoring job is picking up. Today I have two more pretests to give, and that will be 10 total. I picked up another student, to bring my total to 11, and next Tue I'll give my last pretest! After the pretest, I can really get to work, making lesson plans, and deciding a tutoring plan. Twenty hours might sound like a long time, but sometimes I think it isn't quite enough time to give these kids what they need! I'll just do my best :)

Well, for all of you out there in the rainy country, enjoy it! My garden sure is! :)


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Hooo Are You?

And I've decided to do the Night Owl Crafting "Hoo Are You? #17" post. Every week, NOC posts new questions, and readers post answers on their blog, then link up in a linky party. Here's this weeks questions, and my answers:

1. If you could add one room to your house, what would it be?
Wow, our house is already just about the right size for us right now. But, eventually we're going to combine our laundry room and kitchen into one giant kitchen, so I guess that counts, right?

2. How many pillows do you sleep with at night?
Just one. Sometimes none. :)

3. What is the best costume you've ever worn for Halloween?
I think my only adult Halloween costume was Pippy Longstockings. My best kid costume had to be....the boogeyman???? My dad had an old gas mask from WWI or WWII, and we would put it on for our costume. I'm pretty sure each of the kids used that as a costume at one time or another!

4. If you could erase one item off the face of the earth, what would it be?
Rhino poachers. Just heard a terrible story about them in South Africa. Evidently they fly in on helicopters, spot the rhino, shoot it or tranq it, and then use a chainsaw to get the horn. Then the animal, if not already dead, bleeds to death. Such a waste!

5. Where do you do your best thinking?
Probably in the car. Or when I'm by myself. I need some peace and quiet, you know?

OK, if you're interested in joining up, here's the button. It'll be fun! You'll get to know some more people of the crafty persuasion :)



Monday, October 4, 2010

Rainy days and {Mondays}....

Well, today it is raining. And it is Monday. So, I decided to do a little project. Ended up taking me longer than expected, since I did MORE than I expected, but here's what I did!

At the Alt Expo, I saw this really cute bus:

It's made of cardboard, and opens at both ends. So, its basically just a box. I opened it up:
This will be my template {for the moment}
And then, using my stash of cereal boxes {yes, we eat a lot of Special K, there's actually one more box not shown}
I opened up the cereal boxes, and traced out my template. It fit perfectly on the bigger box, and I was able to make 2 buses from it.

I used my scoring tool and my cutter to score along where I was going to fold.
Then, it's just a matter of cutting it in all the right places, and hot gluing it along the edge.

Unfortunately, the smaller cereal box made it a little harder. The template didn't fit. So..I made myself a new template. I have the .pdf, if anyone is interested. Just email me or leave a comment with your email. The .pdf is in two pages, which you just cut out and tape together. Worked pretty well for the small box, and made a slightly smaller bus :)
And, here it is. My fleet of buses.

I'm going to need to get cute paper to cover them. So, this project is only half finished. On the upside, I thought I was going to go tutoring at 3pm, but instead it is 5pm, so I have 2 extra hours! Woohoo! Maybe I WILL go shopping :) I need to run to Costco at the very least. We are pretty slim on the lunch fixings....

Well, there it is. I'm thinking I have 6 little nephews that might be getting a Christmas gift. These things could be filled with all sorts of goodies!

{hehe, I'll see which of my sisters is paying attention to THAT one!}


And, I'll go ahead an link up here:

mmm button
The Girl Creative

What a {productive} Sunday

Ok, so Matt and I have decided to go ahead and start our {next} home improvement project. We're taking this one slowly, one step at a time. Our goal is to have plenty of storage in the garage for all of our boxes of stuff, plus a workspace to help complete further house projects, and a whole section for emergency preparedness. Did I mention that we live in Earthquake Country? Yeah, one of the most active places on earth. is never too soon to start preparing for the {BIG} one, right? Matt got a good deal on some supplies from Costco. A 6-month supply of food for each of us. Unfortunately, right now we don't have a place to put it. So...on to tackle the garage. We have plenty of space up in the rafters, but, well, the rafters, instead of being spaced 16", they are more like 3', almost 4'. So...we had to do some reinforcing. We put up some 2x4's between two of the rafters, reinforced the rafters vertically, and man-handled the 3/4" piece of plywood up there. Now, we have a nice 4x8 storage space, up out of the way. We even had enough energy to start putting stuff up there!

Here are the before and after pictures. I didn't take a picture of the whole garage, because, well, no one needs to see that!

Before: but after we attached the 2x4 to the wall. With 4" screws, I might add. That puppy is not going ANYWHERE!

And, After: See! Already being used! Notice the vertical support coming down from the ceiling. We definitely needed that!

So, in other news, we've had a bit of an infestation in the garden. Leaf miners. I noticed yesterday that my marigolds' leaves were changing to a lighter color. When I looked closer, I could see that there were little tunnels in the leaves. Then, I looked around the garden. EEK! They were EVERYWHERE! Radishes, turnips, peas, all of them had some leaves affected. We quickly googled how to get rid of them, then went out with a pair of scissors and did some surgery. We had to cut off the affected leaves, and destroy them. No mulching for those! Leaf miners are basically the larvae of adult insects. The adults lay the eggs on the leaves, and the larvae tunnel their way through the leaves until they get big enough to metamorphose into adults. They are deadly to leafy green plants. Which is what I basically have in the garden. Oddly enough, the cabbage and broccoli that are MOST susceptible to pests and disease didn't seem to be affected much. Hmmm....So, anyways, I'm about to go out and check on the garden. It is raining today {!} which I'm very happy for. I'm not sure if I will water today like I planned. We'll see. It depends on how much it actually rains. Right now it is just misting. I'll keep you updated. Hopefully my plants recover!


Sunday, October 3, 2010

Saturday, In the Park, I think it was....

...the second of October. Ok, so not quite. Oh, and there wasn't a park. But, yesterday Matt and I had a really full day. We went to the Alt Expo in Santa Monica. Guess what! It rained on the way there!

"It never rains in Southern California..."

Wow, I'm all about the songs this morning.

Anyways, obviously the song is inaccurate. I think a pretty good shower came through Santa Monica before we got there, because there were puddles on the pavement. We haven't really seen rain since about April, so it was kinda nice. It was sunny the rest of the day.
Oh, what is the Alt Expo? Well, it is where all the major car manufacturers show off their alternative fuel cars, and other vendors give out tons of information about "going green." There were Fuel Cell (hydrogen) cars, EVs (electric vehicles), Natural Gas vehicles, and even a pickup that ran on propane. No joke! It had a miniature propane tank in the bed of the truck!  I got a bunch of information AND I got to ride in the new Nissan Leaf {Matt got to be the driver}. That was tons of fun, especially since we've already ordered our Leaf and are waiting for it to be delivered sometime in the Jan-Feb timeframe. The Leaf is an EV (electric vehicle), with a range of about 100 miles. Could be as much as 130 miles, as little as 70 miles, depending on how you drive. This is perfect for us, since we could use it as Matt's commuter car and our drive around town to do errands car. We qualified for a home charging station, so instead of having it charge in 20 hours, empty to full, it will take about 8. Although, I bet we could go a week on a single charge! Now, we will be able to use the hybrid for long trips, and the pickup for hauling stuff. And we'll save tons on gas. Hopefully we'll be getting the Federal and State rebates associated with the EV, and that will reduce the final price by quite a bit. :)

Here are some pictures from the Expo:

Here's a Leaf doing a fast charge (80% in 30 minutes)

 Leaf Interior:

 Me, standing next to the Leaf inside the Expo:

 After the Show, we decided to get lunch at a great Caribbean place down the street. I had Chicken Gumbo, beans and rice, and Matt had Jerk Chicken Enchilladas, Fried Plantains, and Baked Sweet Potatoes. Yummy!
We were so close to the beach, we HAD to walk down to it. There's the Santa Monica pier off in the distance. We enjoyed ourselves, watching the cyclists and runners going by.

Then, it was down to Orange County for Matt's 10-year High School Reunion. We stopped in at his Mom's place to change, and had a nice visit.
Well, that's about it. The reunion was at Angel Stadium. I got to meet a bunch of people Matt went to high school with. It was a pretty fun evening. We left there around 10, got home around 11, and were in bed by midnight. I was ready to SLEEP IN this morning! Whew!

Well, we're going to try to do some mulching today. Last week, we tried to pick some up, and were unsuccessful. I'm not sure if they ran out, or what, but we couldn't find any free mulch from the city. Wish us luck! :)