Suburban Homesteading in Pennsylvania

by Stacy Artis

July 3, 2003

It's garage/yard sale season!  I woke up early last Saturday to the sound of a steady stream of car doors slamming at our neighbor's sale....they forgot to mention "no early birds" in their ad and the bargain hunters started arriving two hours early at 6:00 A.M.  I wandered over later to see what was there and met my mom, who had also walked over, and we decided to spend the morning making the rounds of some of the other sales in the area.  Three hours later I had sore feet, sunburn and a "new" antique chair for the livingroom as well as a microwave cornpopper, a couple of books and a brand new backpack.  All together I spent $32.75 with the chair being the big ticket item, but it was much needed.  The chair it replaced (also a garage sale find) had seen better days and was quite an eyesore.   Mom and I are also debating whether or not we want to have a sale of our own this summer.  She got married this Spring and though she and John are maintaining two houses, there is some consolidating and clearing out to do.

Our daughter, Megan, was baptized Sunday.  Our church practices what we call "Believers Baptism," which simply means baptism is a choice a person makes for themselves when they are old enough to understand what it means and to desire to do it.  Some people never do it.  Anyway, Megan wrote her testimony but was too shy to read it to the church so I got to do that and read the scripture.  Tim is an elder of the church and he got to do the actual baptizing!  Some of our family turned out at the church to see it, but most came afterward for the picnic we had to celebrate.  As far as I could figure we had about 25 people here.  We had a wonderful time visiting, eating and swimming.  While we were all together we also made plans for July 4.

Latrobe has a huge Fourth of July celebration with a week long carnival, parade and fireworks.  Since we are the only family living in Latrobe we are hosting a picnic on the Fourth.  Both of our families will be here as well as some friends.  At last count, we should see about 50 here.  We will be setting up canopies for shade and one of our tents to serve as a pool house.  Extra tables and chairs will have to be carried down from Mom's.  The volleyball net will have to be set up and the pool made ready.  Usually whomever hosts provides all the food, but I balked at that and a list was made up of who is attending and what they should bring.  Everyone seems pleased as it is only one thing and there is no cooking to do here unless our friend, Bennie, brings his delicious ribs to grill.

The recently fixed air conditioning conked out again over the weekend and it has been so hot.  We've been making do with the fans, but yesterday it got to be unbearable.  It was nearly 90 degrees in the house!  It made me feel just awful and not want to do anything.  Tim finally had the time last night to crawl under the house again and was able to patch it together again so that it blows air into at least half the house.  We will have to fix it right, but this will get us through the Fourth and give our guests a place to get out of the heat if they need to (it is supposed to be 90 and humid).  There will be quite a few elderly family members here and I was worried about their comfort and health.

We're in the process of getting a pool deck.  Well, it's already here.  Tim is just working on bolting it to the pool and bracing the supports.  Tim's brother told us about the deck last Sunday.  He and the man he works with took down a pool for someone and they saved the deck.  He told us if we wanted it we could have it for FREE!  Tim went to look at it Monday evening and Tuesday evening they hauled it here and set it up by the pool.  Tim has been working on it a bit each night, but is really going to have to get busy on it tonight so it will be ready for tomorrow.  I am so excited and grateful.  I've wanted a deck for all the years we've had the pool, but lack of time and money have held it off.

Matthew began his first job this week.  He is working part-time at Wendy's.  At first he wasn't exactly excited about working in a fast food restaurant, but he's decided he likes it.  We're really pleased.  His managers are more than willing to work with him on his schedule if he has anything else going on and he will be able to keep the job through the school year, too.  We are hoping he learns some responsibility, discipline and an understanding of the cost of things.  This past year has seen him come to us more and more often wanting money for big items like the prom and special braces for volleyball.  It seemed he never wanted less than $50 at a time.  We finally had to tell him enough is enough and that if he wants to spend like that he will have to make his own money.  Not that we're going to let him go bizerk and spend it all.  I've already told him that half will go in the bank.  He will thank me for that later and it will force him to learn to learn to do with less.

Now that the hot, humid days have arrived our area is finally drying out.  Maybe too much.  I've had to add water to the pool once in the last week and it looks like I may have to add more today.  At least the weeds have slowed down and we are able to keep up with them.  We did a good bit of weeding in the garden Monday and used the grass clippings from my mom's yard to mulch around the plants.  All the areas we weeded last week are still relatively weed free.  Yea!!  The garden is doing well.  Lots of blossoms.  The flowers are doing so-so.  Except for the sunflowers.  They are magnificent!  We had a couple of "volunteers" in the garden last year that we let grow.  This spring we had probably a couple hundred of them come up.  I pulled a lot of them and transplanted them along the sidewalk that runs beside our pool and up to my mom's house.  My thinking was that they would make an unusual and beautiful privacy hedge between our pool and the neighbor's pool.  So far so good.  They are about shoulder high this week and close enough together that they are beginning to form a "solid" wall.  I planted a few around the chicken coop, too, but they aren't as large yet.  Oh and about the rest of the volunteers.....  I was going to just compost the ones I couldn't use, but Megan wouldn't hear of it.  She carefully pulled them all and took them all over the neighborhood giving them away to anyone that would take them.  A few people even paid her for them.  We even had someone call and ask if we had any more.

My family, who thinks I am genetically challenged just because I don't save everything I come into contact with, should be happy.  The packrat gene is alive and well in my children.  The proof is in the FOUR bags of stuff I hauled out of Megan's room yesterday while she begged to keep it all.  And that was after she had "cleaned."  Ugh!  It was quite a job, but now that it is done she is really pleased with the results and I am amazed....there really is a floor in that room!  Today we do Matthew's room.  If you don't hear from me by next week send in the rescue team.

That's all that's new on the Hill.  Till next time....

HOBO BEANS (great for picnics)

1 can (16oz) yellow wax beans, drained
1 can (16oz) green beans, drained
1 can (16oz) baby butter beans, drained
1 can (16oz) kidney beans, drained
1 can (16oz) baked beans
1 can (160z) hot chili beans
1 can tomato soup
1 can tomato paste
1 lb. sweet sausage
1/2 lb. hot sausage
1 cup chopped celery
1 1/2 cup chopped onion
2 Tbsp. mustard
1 cup brown sugar

Brown sausage and onions.  Add celery, soup, paste, mustard and brown sugar.  Simmer for 15 minutes.  Pour over bean mixture in crockpot.  Stir to mix.  Cook on low to medium heat overnight or all day.  OR  Bake at 350 for one hour.