Thursday, October 28, 2010

Halloween Candy now on sale

For the procrastinators and the bargain hunters alike, Halloween candy is finally on sale. WRAL posted a great list of good buys HERE for those still needing to stock up.

Welcome fall, stay a while

Fall is my absolute favorite time of year. You no longer feel the heat from the 100 degree 100% humidity days and there are so many things to look forward to. You've got the State Fair, chicken pastry and pumpkin carving, Halloween costumes and parties, Thanksgiving, and Christmas right around the corner. The leaves turn a beautiful array of colors and, if there's time, there will also be snowboarding trips and new years celebrations after December. It takes a little longer for Raleigh to see the fall but I love it all the same.

Waiting for Superman

The author of an inconvenient truth has done it again. This time for the school system. I wonder though how much time the director spent in the classroom teaching. They'd quickly see that the problem isn't in the teaching but in the students. I haven't seen the movie but I bet they're calling for more money and placing blame in the wrong place.

I posted a comic strip a while back showing parents upset with a failing grade their kid got. Thirty years ago, they would yell at their kid. Ten years ago, they yell at their teacher. Now, they don't know about their kids grades or care if they did. I've experienced that first hand in my semester of teaching high school math. This isn't the case for all students or parents but it's becoming really common.

The solution to this problem is simple. Start giving failing grades. If they don't do the work or they're not listening, let their grades show. We're not entitled to a diploma. It should be a result of the effort put into your school work. Kids who don't make the grade get held back (*Gasp*) and are forced to try again.

Some may drop out and that would be unfortunate... sort of. The overcrowded classrooms would have one less disruption harming the education of the rest of the students. The teachers start to feel like they can make a difference in the classroom because they have the power to enforce the rules necessary for real learning. Who knows, those who do drop out might encourage their kids to be quiet in school and work hard after seeing how hard life is without an education.

Some kids have a harder time learning even though their trying. Those kids are easy to spot and help if you had the resources available. That is, if you're not dealing with discipline the whole class period, you can work one on one with that kid and not worry about the rest of the class going out of control.

I would reform some things though. Pay should be higher for teachers in lower income neighborhoods where the kids aren't exposed to the resources that high income earners have. Likewise, those schools should have higher budgets. Schools with an active PTA that brings in all the money they need can deal with a smaller budget. Also, all the classes teachers have to take to stay "highly qualified" should not be considered personal time. It should be considered a teacher work day.

I would also implement "neighborhood schools" and later start time so 5 year olds aren't having to be on the bus at 6:00 am. Since kids that young typically need at least 10 hours of sleep a night and it takes at least an hour (often 2) to get them ready in the morning, they're having to go to bed at 6:30 or 7. Parents barely have time to prepare dinner and get them washed up before it's bed time. Forget about allowing play time, there just isn't time for them to be kids.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Gardening Year One

We've learned a lot over this year. Mostly we've learned there is a lot more to try and much more to learn. Here are a few things we found useful.

Lettuce (leaf)
  • Seeds are cheap
  • Easy to grow
  • Suggestion: Watch your spacing so the leaves have room to get big
  • High yealding
  • Once established, you can not kill it unless you're trying
  • Used in almost everything
  • Suggestion: Start in pot then plant outside once it's 3 inches tall or higher
  • Suggestion: One bunch is enough.. it gets huge
  • Used in almost everything
  • Easy to grow
  • Suggestion: every time you start a new clove, plant two pieces of it
  • Used in almost everything
  • Easy to grow
  • Suggestion: Remember to space your onions so the bulbs have room to grow (they just stop growing in tight spaces)
Bell Peppers
  • High yielding
  • Easy to grow once established
  • Suggestion: buy 1 red & 1 green bell pepper plant from farmers market ($1 each). That's all you'll need.
  • Plant once and grows year round
  • After 3 years, has good yield
  • Suggestion: Pick up 2-3 year old plants from walmart or farmer's market so your time till harvest is less
Soy Beans
  • Fast growers
  • Good yield
  • Easy to grow
Planting Tips
  • Forget row planting, plant in clusters (squares) to prevent weeds
  • Don't forget to rotate your crops
  • 7 dust is awesome!
  • You don't have to water every day. You'd probably be better of watering fewer days for longer periods of time.
Plants that didn't work
  • Carrots: hard to get started. Next year we will try using sand/ash combo in pots then transplant
  • Celery: Also wouldn't start. We probably waited too long between watering and killed it.
  • Cilantro: Seeds molded before they germinated
  • Pumpkins: Easy to grow but we planted 2 months too late. We'll plant in July next year.
  • Spinach: Didn't work for some reason. We probably killed that when we killed the celery.
  • Chives: Didn't grow for some reason.
There you have it. Nice and simple what worked for us. Anything that is high yielding is perfect for home growing because the price of the seeds and dirt are quickly recovered by the product produced. If you don't have a lot of time, you'll want something that survives event NC heat. If you stick to the plants above, you'll have a nice first year garden. Use that as a base and add one or two plants a year after that. next year we plan to add melons, squash/zucchini, tomatoes. I hear they're all easy to grow.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

That was one nice butt

A couple of months ago, Harris Teeter had butt roast on sale for cheap. When we got there, they were sold out so we picked up a couple of rain checks. A couple of weeks ago, we finally bought it. Well... we used two quarters of the butt in the crock pot. The first quarter I covered in brown sugar and cinnamon. The second was covered in honey. Both were good but the brown sugar was better imo. It had the typical things on the side (red potatoes from Kroger and bell peppers from our garden).

I've been craving Mexican for a while now so we decided to use the rest for pork tacos. Marcie cut the meat up in small chunks and blended in the food processor. That was cooked and mixed in with fajita spices. Now here is the best part. We are growing leaf lettuce so we just walked outside and pulled up a head. Then we picked the four nicest red bell peppers and a green onion. For a little more flavor, we also mixed in a few basil leaves which grows faster then we can ever use. I wish it was all fresh but there was some store bought stuff. Obviously the sour cream and cheese came from Kroger (on sale). We also used an onion and a can of diced tomatoes. The goal was to use some dried beans we had but that didn't quite work out. Even after soaking for 10 hours and then cooking them for an hour, they were still not Moe's consistency. We left those out. It was delicious and smelled great. I joked with Marcie about being able to smell butt all over the house.

Here is yet another reason Marcie is awesome! She rarely uses a recipe and meals always cost less then $2.00 a person (often under $1.00). That one pork butt (which I'm thinking only cost $7.50) made 6 meals for two. Nothing was processed and a lot came fresh from our garden. In addition, it takes less time to make these meals then it does to make a self rising frozen pizza. Sometimes it's nice to have an elaborate meal but everyday cooking should be fast, easy, and cheap. We've learned a lot this past year and a half about what works in a small garden and how to cook with less.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


Marcie and I are looking for a keg. We have this great idea of making ice cream floats from kegged root beer. It's going to be delicious! Now we just need to find a place that sells kegs. Greenshields in downtown closed down a long time ago so we're having to look at party beverage stores. Marcie noticed a place next to her old house called kegs & kans. I'll call them when they open... hopefully they'll be priced well. I wonder if it pays to shop around.

Update: Kegs & Kans didn't have root beer and the other places we checked were not a good value. Looks like we'll have to go with normal 2 liters.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Dirty Jobs

Marcie and I could have been featured on that tv show about the jobs that are pretty dirty. We found our sewer line had been cracked and a section was missing. It had been like this for years and luckily our ground perks otherwise it would have been a mess. In any case, We decided we should fix the issue rather then leave it.

It was actually quite amazing that all this time, we had an earth made septic tank down there. It was a little cavern where water and other things could wash out to break down into the soil. We had to dig around the pipe and then using a hack saw, cut it off. Once the edges were smooth and no longer chipped, we were able to attach the new pipe. I'm not sure how much money we saved but I wonder if it was worth it. Marcie started feeling sick and couldn't help till the very end and I didn't much like it either. We finished so we can start using water again.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Blueberry Bushes

I just got an email letting me know my blueberry bushes are being shipped now. Now that the worst of the heat is over, I guess now is the time to plant. We're thinking about hiding our electrical box in the front of the yard with the bushes but that's not set in stone yet. We'll find a place for them soon enough.

Monday, October 11, 2010


Last Thursday we had a soccer game at 9:45. The grass was turf and slick from dew so the ball really moved. We looked awful at first and by the half, we were down 3-0. Second half was a different story. We were able to make some traps despite the slick ball and our passing became better.

The first goal came while I had the ball in the box. I was able to dribble around a couple of people and had just enough time to get off a lefty. There were several people around me so the keeper's vision was obstructed till it was too late.

The second goal was a breakaway. John I believe it was beat the defender around 25 yards out and dribbled the ball in for a 1v1 against the keeper.

The final goal of the game came from a penalty kick. I had just received the ball and beaten a guy. I was dribbling inside the 18 and was about to shoot when a guy came plowing through. I'm not really sure what happened with the ball but he cracked me pretty good. Something, probably his knee, hit my quad and I went down. It was a nice little charlie horse that lasted till Sunday. Matt took the pk and scored.

It was a fun game and I'm really glad I got to play even if yard work Saturday became difficult the next day. On that note, we converted a hill to four plant beds. The wall is up and the ground is level. Now all we have to do is fill in some dirt behind each edge and dig out middle to replace with decent soil. There also may be an issue with our septic line that goes under there that we might have to fix. We may end up working on that tomorrow if there is time.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

DIY Huricane Vase

We saw this online and just had to both try it and share it.

DIY Hurricane Vase - More DIY How To Projects

Friday, October 1, 2010

DIY Wedding- UPDATE!

We won a first prize spot!!! :) Yay I get a t-shirt!!! and we get a juice mixer thingy- not as exciting, but we won!

__old news___

We made it as a finalist for the DIY wedding contest on!!! On Monday morning (or Sunday at midnight if we aren't patient enough) we will find out if we placed! :)

Check out our instructable here!

We're Dorks

I was at BSF when they came so Marcie sent me a picture text so I could see what they look like. They look much better on her. Kind of like Uma Thurman in My Super Ex-Girlfriend secret identity look but she is the fairer sex so I'm ok with that.