Wednesday, August 31, 2011

On Halloween...

this is where you'll find me, waiting for the Great Pumpkin to appear!

Now, maybe it doesn't look like much, but this is the extent of our pumpkin patch--a volunteer, at that!  We've no idea what kind of pumpkin it is, since we had four varieties stacked on the front porch last year and I don't recall which ones decomposed in the blue pot (that later was dumped onto the ground beside the porch).  Also, I'm not actually sure that we'll have a pumpkin at all, since there is only one vine (I don't know if cross-pollination is necessary for pumpkins?), and the blossoms are crazy delicate!  Two weeks ago after the mowing guys apparently got too close, two blossoms just fell off.  Saturday, I knocked another one loose just by shifting the vine.  Now I'm trying not to get too close or breathe too hard on the darn thing!

Do you have any surprise "volunteer" plants in your yard?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

How to write a blog post when...

...You're exhausted, had a long day and an early morning ahead?  Like this:

I've committed (and re-committed) to writing more regularly.   I know I should probably think about pre-writing posts to stockpile (how non-committal was that statement, by the way?).  I haven't.  I don't.  I think I'm doing pretty good at writing the night before (Why yes, I do consider myself talented at producing quality work under pressure...also known as procrastination.).  Because I've committed to giving you something to read, you've received something to read.  I even managed to tangentially relate it to the theme.  But that's about it.  No fabulous tutorial (though I might pull together one for the invites and banner I worked on with friends on Sunday for next week's Tuesday post), no amazing talents, no pictures of my tomato plants to convince you I have a sort-of, kind-of, not-quite-as-black, green-ish thumb.  I hope it's enough.  And even if it isn't you can count on me being back tomorrow, with something else.  Maybe even something better.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Bringing Order to the front yard

If you've been reading this blog for the last year (or if, like me, you stumbled across it more recently and went back to read earlier posts), you might remember my posts about getting control of our front yard, particularly this one that talked about taking everything out and this one that talked about putting something back.

Well, I thought we were finished with the front yard once we'd planted our switchgrass, barberries and monkey grass.  What I didn't think of was the inevitable weeds that would sprout around them.  Now, I'm sure someone (probably my mom) mentioned mulching the area, but that just didn't seem necessary (and we were in the midst of the nightmare that became our bathroom remodel).  This spring, we developed quite the weed problem, which our lawn company wouldn't get close to, since their product might damage our 'good' plants, too.  We also lost our monkey grass as it grew at the same rate as the regular grass and we couldn't really tell which was which (and had to mow).  The barberries are holding their own, however, and the switchgrass is doing great!  We also have a little volunteer pumpkin plant that makes me smile!

Anyhow, for a couple of months we've discussed using the leftover landscape fabric (from the earthtainer) to fight the weeds out front.  After my plans for our weekend fell through, J suggested we work on the yard instead.  (Now, I gave him a hard time about choosing labor over a 'fun' activity with me, but since I'm happiest when he and I are working on a project together, I jumped at the chance.)  We ran to Home Depot Saturday morning and loaded up a cart with mulch and concrete blocks to edge the beds.

In case you're wondering, we got 15 bags of black mulch (1.5 cubic feet per bag) and 100 blocks (5.5 x 5.5 squares).  Oh, and of course we had Sandy the family pick-up to take everything home in.  I think we almost overdid it this time.

Yes, that's the front floorboard.  Where my feet went.  J had a row of them, too, but his desire to actually hit the gas/brake won him a little more leg room than me.

Teenagers pay a lot of money to have a low-rider like Sandy.

As with most projects, this one took a lot longer than we expected.  In fact, we spent about six hours on the actual labor part of the task (two or so on shopping and unloading), and we only did half the front yard.  Sandy bounced back much more quickly than we did, and we've been popping ibuprofren and naproxin like candy since then.  We hope to be ready to tackle the rest of the project next weekend (and since we got the learning curve out of the way on Saturday, we figure it really show go faster next time!).

Since it's actually late Sunday night, and I'm still tired, I'm going to tell the rest of the story in pictures:

Before:  As you walked out the door and look left, this is what you saw.

We rolled out the landscape fabric and cut x's in it to pop the barberries through, then held it in place with staples.

Laying the stone led to a lot of trial and error, but we basically laid out the blocks, scored the ground, then dug/tamped the earth under each stone until we could set it level with the previous block (also checked for front-back level).

After J set a section of blocks, I followed behind to backfill the front of the blocks with dirt, then cut the landscape fabric so you can't see it in front of the blocks.

After!  I have hopes of planting more monkey grass (this time, inside the bed so I don't get confused), but it already looks so much more 'finished' than before!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Self Defense and Centipedes

In a nutshell, the title is my Sunday.  Well, mass amounts of drugs to make getting out of bed and moving possible (you'll read why the was necessary in Monday's post), church, a self-defense workshop with my Sunday School class, and some good girl time with friends prepping for Baby E's first birthday party (which has a Hungry Caterpillar theme), supper with J and some time curled up with J watching TV.  But really, the most important parts were the self defense workshop and the crafty-time.  (Oh, and yes, we made caterpillar themed items, but with all the feet I gave one caterpillar banner, I'm pretty sure he was morphing...and "centipede" gave me an alliterative title that caterpillar just wouldn't have...)

By the way, I'm not certain that teaching self defense to a bunch of teenagers is necessarily a good thing.  I mean, I think it's awesome that we've added some tools to their toolkits, and in four years, they're going to be relatively on their own with a whole new batch of opportunities to put themeselves in stupid situations with poor choices.  But for now, yeah...they were really more interested in chasing each other (and us) with silly string (my co-teacher's suggestion instead of practicing with real pepper spray).

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Saturday smells like...Fresh tomatoes

Seriously, y'all.  There simply cannot be a better taste in the world than a homegrown tomato.  Specifically (since we've not dug into the Better Boys yet), a Rutgers heirloom tomato.  I had tomatoes put on a sandwich at Subway yesterday, and they were just so...tasteless (Really.  Completely without flavor.)! 

This week, we've eaten our tomatoes in salads, in homemade spaghetti sauce (with spaghetti squash and sausage from our good friend Cooter...which I guess makes it homegrown sausage, too...), and sliced with fresh homegrown basil and cream cheese.  I'm pretty sure that today I'll be nagging my husband to fry up some bacon so I can have my first BLT of the summer, too.

I really hope that you've got your own tomato garden (or at least a farm stand or farmers market) to visit for your own fresh tomatoes this summer!

Friday, August 26, 2011


Okay, so let me preface this by saying that I know there are folks who have it much worse than me.  I know that there are earthquakes and hurricanes and injury and death and all sorts of awful things going on.  I'm aware of those things, and I pray that the injuries and death and damage to much of the east coast this weekend are minimal. 

All that said, I was really looking forward to sharing our plans for the weekend with you today.  Like, I was really, really excited about them. 

What plans?  I signed us up to go canoeing on the Elhorn Creek.  Visit the website for Canoe Kentucky to learn more about it, and you'll see why I was so excited.  Click on the "water conditions" link and you'll see why those hopes were dashed.  The creek is especially low, and we've not had enough rain in the last month to make it possible for small, active people to get through the route without having to get out and push their canoe 'four or five times'.  Y'all know J and I are not small (or even on the small-ish side).  I shared that with the owner and she replied that if we were hoping to just float along with the current and enjoy the creek, Saturday is not the day to do it.  Crushed.

The owner tried to help by suggesting we look into the Kentucky River route (in twenty feet of water, there would be no chance of anyone, even us, dragging the bottom).  I'll be honest, I was kind of 'meh' about it.  It costs more and there's no current, so we'd be working for every moment of it.  Also, this route goes through downtown Frankfort, which is great for sight-seeing, but not really the relaxing day on the creek I'd pictured in my head.

Then, I spotted the guided Kentucky River tour.  Y'all!  You get to lock through a lock built in the 1800's!  I've never even been in a 'modern' lock--this one sounds awesome!  So I called Allison back with my new plan.  Which was when I learned that there is a fundraiser Saturday night that has cancelled the guided tour.  Seriously?!?  Allison noted that we could come back any time (well, to the creek after we get some rain or to the guided tour any Friday or Saturday), but then she remembered that the lock closes after Labor Day.  So...we have four days left to actually go through the lock.  One of those days I'll be at a wedding; one of those days I'll be sailing with my youth group; one of those days I have other plans.  That leaves us with Labor Day.  We'll see.

In the mean time, I'm plan-less for Saturday.  Since I've been out of town the last few weekends, I really wanted to plan something fun for us to do, hence my crushing sadness when my 'perfect' plan went south.  I'll let you know what we end up with!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Thankful Thursday--August 25

This week, I am so thankful for our garden!  Yesterday, I took one of Rutgers' tomatoes, some fresh basil, cream cheese and sliced onion to work for lunch. It is amazing to me how different a fresh heirloom tomato tastes compared to what you buy at the grocery!

I'm thankful, too, for my friends who reach out last week to share that they've missed me while I've been in DAR-world.  Our summer workshops are over, and I am so excited to share in some girl-time with them this weekend!

Finally, I am thankul for the kids in my Sunday School class.  They finally started back for the year a couple weeks ago, and I got to see them for the first time (as a class) on Sunday.  A year ago, I commented to my co-teacher that I wasn't sure I could imagine our class as the confident, self-assured members of our parish that the class before them was.  A year in, I've no doubt that "my" kids are well on their way. 

What are you thankful for this week?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Photographic Proof

So I've remembered and forgotten three times to post a picture for this week's Wordless Wednesday.  The problem was getting the picture from my phone to my computer, and I finally managed to remember and hold that thought for more than two seconds.  So, here you go!

These guys are buried in the center of our better boy plant, lovingly name Big Boy.  When you glance at Big Boy, all you see are loads of green tomatoes (about three dozen, in fact).  After some serious searching yesterday for one that was at least a little bit starting to show a hint of color change, I discovered these instead!  Beautiful, aren't they??

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

We have ripe tomatoes!!!

And yes, I almost typed that in all caps, because I'm pretty darn excited about it!  Rutgers blessed us with his first ripe tomato last week (we ate it diced into a relish over the yummiest hamburgers Wednesday evening), and as of today, we have four more nearly ripe tomatoes on Rutgers. I'm pretty excited that Rutgers seems to be ripening before Big Boy, too, since maybe that means we're extending our ripe tomato season.  Our herbs continue to do well and contribute to our suppers (even Rosie, our sad little Rosemary plant, has come into her own!), and J and I are just thrilled with the produce from our Earthtainers!

I hope you're enjoying fresh home-grown tomatoes this summer, too!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Thankful Thursday--August 18

First up this week, I'm thankful for my nephew who turns ten today.  I was just about to start my last semester at Murray when he was born and went to the hospital to visit (I think maybe the first time I did that).  Given the craziness of the world in the weeks and months of his birth (and what that meant for our family), I got to spend a great deal more time with him than my other nephews (and later, my nieces) and for years referred to him as the cutest little boy in the world.  When he wants to be, he still is.  Happy Birthday Apple Jax.

Second, I'm thankful for my many DAR sisters and moms (and grandmothers).  While I sometimes complain about how all-encompassing DAR-world can be, the friendships I have made through this organization are unparallelled.  I am thankful that our summer workshop series allows me two weekends to share and learn with these women.

Third, though related, I'm thankful for J, who lets me ignore the house (and worse, lets me make it messier) while I'm off in DAR-world.  This week, he has cooked me delicious suppers, he's looked the other way while I cover every horizontal surface on the main level of our house in foam, foam cupcakes, foam cupcake scraps, etc., and he's agreed to watch whatever I wanted in the evening.  Then tonight, he commented that he'd clean the house before my mom arrives Saturday evening.  I'm so incredibly blessed.

What are you thankful for this week?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Our garden's hot, hot, hot!

Sorry, I couldn't resist a little reminder of the our old lyrics as blog post titles routine!

Anyhow, I showed you our ripening tomato the other day (J and I are so proud of Rutgers!!), so I decided to show you Holly's (get it?  She's a jalapeno? Holly Jalapeno?) and Pauly's fruit today (No cute reason for Pauly, but Pauly and Holly do almost rhyme...).  It's a bit of a Where's Waldo game to find them (and there are more that I don't *think* are in the picture) so I thought I'd help you out.  The red arrows point to jalapeno peppers and the yellow arrows point to poblano peppers.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

How to...Make a Cupcake Topiary, Part 1

I mentioned yesterday that I've been in DAR-world, and this is one of the projects that I've been working on.  To be fair, this project isn't close to finished, but I want to start documenting the process now so that I don't forget any of the details.  When it is finished, I'll be sure and link all of the parts together.

So first, let me give you the back story.  DAR members under 36 are called Junior Members.  I think that at some time there may have been some reason for the label, but now there is no difference between Juniors and non-Juniors.  One of the remaining distinctions is the Helen Pouch Memorial Fund--a fund operated by the Juniors (though supported by Juniors and non-Juniors alike) that supports our six DAR schools.  2012 marks the 75th anniversary of the Junior Membership Committee, and the cupcake has been selected as the Junior symbol during this administration (2011-2013). 

In Kentucky DAR, our Junior Club brainstormed the idea of making cupcake topiaries to use as centerpieces at our breakfast during state conference back in March.  One chapter, which has several Juniors, took the lead on researching the idea and created 8 topiaries.  Well, our President General was visiting during our state conference and she LOVED the idea!  The next thing we knew, the National Chairman of the Junior Membership Committee asked if we could make the topiaries for the 2012 Junior Membership Luncheon.  Now, this luncheon is easily the largest event at Congress and this year there were 85 tables, plus the head table.  If you've done the math, that means we're making about 100 topiaries!

The size and scope of this project demands that we streamline the project so that it is as easy to complete by as many people as possible.  Hence, the need to write down every detail in the process.  We're treating the March topiaries as our prototype, and perfecting from there.  Also, you'll notice that this project will be delivered next June/July.  Clearly, we're not talking about edible cupcakes.  Everything in this project is non-edible.

On with the Tutorial!  Step One--make your cupcakes!
You'll need: 
Mini Cupcake Pans
Mini Cupcake liners
Scotch Tape
Expandable foam  (I prefer Great Stuff Big Gap Filler in the black can)
Nail polish remover and cotton balls (for clean up)

1.  Roll little bits of scotch tape and stick a piece in bottom of each well in your mini cupcake pan.  As the foam expands, it will pull your cupcake liner out of the pan, leading to a misshapen blob of foam.  That's bad.  The scotch tape will hold your little cupcakes firmly in place.

2.  Stick a mini cupcake liner firmly into each well, making sure the tape sticks.

3.  Spray just a small amount of expandable foam into each well.  The GS BGF will expand by 50-60%. 

4.  When you've filled all of your wells, set the pans aside and immediately clean up.  I took off the spray nozzle and stuck a nail in the top of the can.  Then, I used a skewer to clear out the nozzle.  Finally, wipe everything down with acetone nail polish remover.  This early cleanup will save you a lot of time when start to make your second batch of cupcakes.

5.  Leave your cupcakes in the pan at least eight hours.  The foam initially sets pretty quickly, but it takes eight hours to set completely.  The pans will help the cupcakes hold their shape while they completely set.

6.  To remove the cupcakes from the pan, lightly grasp the top of each cupcake and twist clockwise, then couter-clockwise to loosen the tape.  If you applied it well, you can't pull the cupcake straight up without applying so much pressure you'll dent the top of your cake.

7.  Marvel at your adorable mini cupcakes!

Monday, August 15, 2011

MP Catch-up

So my dad pointed out that the frequency of my blogging has decreased rapidly since I returned to work.  He's right, and if you take into account that I was deep into DAR-world last Wednesday-Saturday (and we know from past experience here and here that my blogging suffers during DAR events), you understand the complete silence around here.  So let me jump back in for a few days (more DAR to come this weekend, and I'm not sure what that will mean for the blog)!

As I said, I was in DAR-world for a few days last week and didn't see the container gardens for a while.  Imagine my surprise and delight when I arrived home Sunday evening and walked outside to check on things.

That's right, we have a ripening tomato!  Finally!!  We also have two poblano peppers and four jalapenos!!  The last time I looked at the peppers, we had two steadily growing jalapenos and two itsy-bitsy poblanos.  I'm so very excited at the prospect of making out own salsa this summer after all!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

How to...make a dragon's egg pinata

It's been a while since I've actually been really crafty, and this week I decided to do something about it.  Lucky for me, we had a birthday party to attend for a little boy we go to church with.  H is totally into dragons and knights and it seemed perfect to put together a couple of ideas I'd seen in the blogosphere.  The idea was sparked back in May with Young House Love did a tutorial on how to make a pull string pinata. H just turned nine and he has little brothers, so the idea of a pull string pinata seemed much safer than the traditional baseball bat type of pinata. Then last week I saw this blog post about making a dragons egg.  Put the two posts together, and *poof* crafty-ness ensues!

Now, I'm not certain that I've made a pinata since high school spanish class, so I was pretty much winging it.  Luckily, it isn't hard to make a pinata.  In a nutshell, here is my version of the instructions (Note, if you're starting more than 24 hours before delivery of your pinata, you  might want to click over to my two inspiration blogs for better instructions.  Otherwise, here you go--).

Balloon (blow it up first to be sure your pinata will be the right size)
Several pieces of newspaper torn into one inch strips
Paper Mache mixture
Something to hang the pinata with while it dries
Paint and foam brush

1.  Start with your paper mache mix.  I just filled a bowl with warm water, regular white school glue and all purpose flour.  Wisk it all together until it makes a thick mixture.  Spread out newsprint to protect your table or floors from the mixture.

2.  Blow up your balloon to the appropriate size.  One at a time, dip strips of newspaper into your mixture, wipe off the excess gloppy bits, and stretch the strips of paper across the balloon.  Continue until the entire balloon is covered, then hang it up to dry overnight.  I put mine in a doorway of a room with a ceiling fan turned on so that it blew a little and dried evenly.  Also, I put a pan under the pinata to catch drips.

3.  This is where my pinata started to become a dragon's egg (as opposed to some other kind of pinata).  First I popped the balloon and pulled it out.  There will be a small hole where the balloon was knotted.  Don't worry about that just yet.  I used a small gauge wire to create a loop over that hole.  The loop will be used to hang the pinata later.  After I put in the loop, I painted the entire pinata a base coat of black paint.  Then, I saturated a short strip of newspaper in black paint and covered the open hole underneath the wire loop.  Because the paint was still wet, it adhered really well.  Hang the pinata to dry again.

The hole from the balloon knot.  Now you see it (above); now you don't (below).

4.  My dragon's egg inspiration used several colors of paint to approximate a dragon's egg.  I only used two, and I don't know that it didn't turn out almost as well.  First, I sponged blue paint all over the pinata.  The black still showed through in some places, but coverage was pretty good.  Then, when the blue paint was just barely starting to dry, I sponged a metallic gold paint over the egg.  I think it turned out really well.  One one hand, I think that it would have been nice to paint the pinata with the balloon still blown up inside, but on the other hand, painting it after led to some really cool 'vessel-like' wrinkles on the surface of the egg.

5.  So up to this point, this is still just a paper mache egg.  To turn the egg into a pinata, I cut a medium size hole in the 'fat' end of the egg.  Fill the pinata with whatever candy or other filling you want.  Then, cut several strands of string (I used extra pieces of raffia left over from my dragon's nest) and punch holes in the flap you cut out of the pinata.  I knew that there would be ten or so children at the party, so I punched ten holes and strung raffia through each.  Secure the raffia with a knot, then place the flap back over the hole.  I used scotch tape to hold it all in place.  Note:  I'm not certain that I didn't put too much candy into the pinata for the scotch tape to support the flap.  I woke up the next morning thinking that it would have worked better if I'd had a larger circle to place inside the pinata and hold the candy a little better.

For the presentation, I picked up a gold charger from Michael's and created a nest out of raffia to place the pinata on.  I wrapped the strings of raffia hanging out of the bottom around as well and worked it into the nest as well. H recognized it immediately as a dragon's egg (success!), and I've since seen pictures of it being used in play with his brothers, too!

I've linked up this week to Beth's How To linky party.  Definitely check it out for some great tutorials!!

Monday, August 8, 2011

The weekly MP Garden Update

I know you've got to be getting tired of the endless garden posts, but we did a little work on the garden this weekend and wanted to share.  Back when we built our Earthtainers, the piece we had trouble finding was pea fencing (Do a Google Image search if you'd like to see what we're missing) to support our growing tomatoes.  At the time, we thought we could re-use the two tomato cages left over from last summer's failed attempt at tomato-growing.  For a while, the tomato cages worked well.  And then Rutgers and the Big Boy got HUGE! 

The first major summer storm we had knocked them right over--a problem we fixed by wiring the cages to the deck railing.  This worked for a while longer, but the plants kept growing and became too top-heavy.  The storm we had last week proved to be too much for both plants and their sad little wired cages. 

Rutgers, being the smaller of the two plants, is now staked with an old piece of wood that seems to be holding.  Because of the way the Earthtainers are constructed, we couldn't drive a stake far enough into the soil to support Big Boy (seriously, he's taller than me).  Instead, we used two old boards leftover from our old fence.  We slid the first in between the deck railing and the Earthtainer and nailed it to the railing.  Then, we placed the second directly across the Earthtainer from the first and stood Big Boy up between the two boards.  We ran wire around the entire thing in a few places to hold everything in place.

So far (even with a storm the last two nights) everything is holding.  Here is a picture so you can see how awful it looks!  (Function definitely wins out over form on this one!)

Next year, we're buying the pea fence online.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Slip Sliding Away

In Friday's post I shared my anxiety about ziplining through the Red River Gorge on Saturday.  I figure it is only fair to reward your concern (you were concerned, right?) with some pictures of the fabulous view! 

I've zipped a few times previously, all at scout camps with relatively small zip lines.  In those, you hook in, step (or sit down on and scootch) off a small platform, zip towards a tree or utility pole, then slide back and forth until gravity brings you to the middle of the line, where you unhook and climb down a ladder that it set up for you.  Those experiences have been scariest for me because you don't really test the line until after you jump off the platform and drop ten to fifteen feet.  For control-freak me, jumping into thin air and hoping the zip line catches you seems a little counter-intuitive. 

This zipline experience was more like the kind you see on  reality TV shows where there are several ziplines connected in a series.  Two of the five lines were even double zip lines so you could "race" a partner across the line!  The best part, for me, was that you were hooked into the zipline at least a couple feet before the edge of the platform and could put all of your weight onto the line before you actually left the safety of the platform.  If things were going to go horribly wrong (odds are totally in favor of nothing going wrong, by the way) the second I put my weight on the line I was still over the platform and would only drop a couple feet to safety.  Silly as it sounds, that's enough to mostly calm my nerves.

So I was still nervous enough on the first couple of lines that I forgot to take pictures, but imagine short-ish lines (150-300 feet probably) that go through trees.  Our guides joked that when the lines opened they could reach out and grab leaves as they passed through the trees.  The platforms are connected by bridges that help you climb to higher levels between each line.  Then, after the third line we climbed up a hill out of the woods to a clearing.  From the clearing we could see all the way across and around the Red River Gorge.  While it's beautiful in August, I can only imagine how pretty it's going to be this fall!

From the clearing we climbed up to a platform (another perk over my previous zip experiences--you climb steps to platforms rather than climbing straight up a pole!), which then lead us up another bridge to a higher tower.  Finally, I had the presence of mind to pull out my phone and take a picture.  Here, you can see the bridge to the higher tower and across the Gorge to our landing zone--the brown spot that you can see between the uprights of the tower.  This line (Line 4) is the longest of the lines at nearly 2,000 feet.  Clearly, we travelled well above the treetops on this one!

What I loved about Line 4 is that it was long enough to step off, realize just how fast we were going, look down and realize just how high up I was, realize I was starting to slow down, sit back and enjoy the ride, then prepare to land.  The shorter lines just don't last long enough to go through all of those emotions!  The guides told us that was one of the better ones to take pictures from, but I still wasn't confident enough to let go and grab my camera! 

Here is a picture I took after I unhooked looking back at the tower.  From here, we climbed a little higher then zipped back across the Gorge to the Cliffview Inn, which is on the right side of the picture. 

Finally, this is a picture of me at the end of the course with the landing platform for Line 5 in the background. 

I seriously cannot say enough about what an amazing experience the guides at Kentucky Zipline Adventures offered us!  While the experience seemed a bit pricey (just under $100), the two hours of beautiful views, professional facilitation and camaraderie more than made up for the cost.  I am so thankful to the former co-workers who invited me along, and I'm already looking forward to going back!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Saturday Smells Like...Pesto

The other day I commented to J that our basil plant was getting a little out of control and suggested that we come up with something that would use a little.  A couple days later it hit me--pesto!  The recipe I found called for 2 cups of fresh basil leaves tightly pressed into the measuring cups.  I was shocked to find that it took almost a third of our little out of control plant to reach the two cup minimum! 

The excellent thing about pesto is how easy it is to make (why have we never done this??).  You just throw the basil, some garlic, some nuts and a little EVOO into the food processor and let it spin.  Typically I think of eating pesto with penne pasta and some chicken, but since we're still carb-free for joint meals, we roasted some spaghetti squash instead.  Then, J browned some sausage he received from a friend that day and tossed it with the pesto sauce we made.  Delicious!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Freaked out Friday

So I may be getting ahead of myself here, but I figure I need to start early to get myself thoroughly freaked out for Saturday.  Why?  Because, in a boneheaded moment driven largely by a desire to see some friends I've not seen in several months, I decided to jump off a cliff Saturday. 

Wait, What? 

Here are the details, but in short, this company offers rides on ziplines stretched throughout the Red River Gorge.  The longest of the six ziplines is 1500 feet long, and at least one takes you up to speeds of 50 mph. 

What was I thinking??  I've no idea, either.  But, assuming all goes well and I manage to open my eyes at some point, there should be some awesome pictures in it for you!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Thankful Thursday--August 4

This week has flown by in a series of routine-like days.  It's funny how tired I am when I leave the office--like sitting at a desk for five or six hours is exhausting or something!  I guess it's just that anything new and different takes the body a moment to get used to it.  That said, I really am enjoying it!  It will take a couple weeks to figure out all of the different pieces to the process, but I am particularly grateful that there are so many parts to the job--no chance of getting bored here!

While finding my way through the new routine has taken up much of my week, I've also had unexpected opportunities to spend time with (or at least on the phone with) old and dear friends.  So often, especially when times are busy, I just forget to nurture those relationships, and I'm happy that I took the time to do that this week.

Finally, I'm really thankful for my bathroom.  I know that sounds silly, but as I was scrubbing the tile that surrounds the bathtub today I kept noticing the things that are different.  Yes, it took us almost a year, but it's just SO nice to know that we did most of the work and that it turned out to be so much better than what we had before.  I feel the same way when I walk up to the front door.  Yes, it's a slow progress, and yes, I get jealous when I read or hear about people knocking out a renovation in ten or twelve weeks, but I love the feeling of accomplishment that comes with knowing that WE did it.  It's just a good feeling, and I'm thankful for it.

What are you thankful for this week?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A little birdhouse in your soul

Or, in this case, a little bird-church!  Our VBS kids all painted their own bird-churches and one morning when I went to pick up SuperC (Becky's awesome little boy) I found his hanging in the peach tree in their front yard.  I love finding the picture when I scroll through the album on my phone, so I decided to share it with all of you, too!

Doesn't it just make you smile?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Earthtainers: they make us talented at gardening!

Seriously, I never thought I'd seriously consider writing a Tuesday's Talen post about our container garden in any manner other than the tongue firmly in cheek sort. But. We've now got more than two dozen tomatoes on BOTH of our tomato plants and basil, parsley and oregano pouring out our ears. Us! The very same people who managed to remove every plant growing on our property so as not to have to care for them. WE are succesfully growing tomatoes and herbs. Yes, I'm pretty thrilled.

Now, since this new "talent" for gardening is still new to us, can anyone tell us how long it will take our tomatoes to ripen?

Monday, August 1, 2011

One light, two light...

I mentioned last week that we had finally found a light fixture for the bathroom and just needed to install it.  Well, last Monday afternoon an electrician came to our aid (the same one we called in last fall when removing the old light fixture led to a tripped circuit breaker and yet another infamous "huh; I've not seen it done that way" comments), and he quickly installed the fixture.  First, here is a reminder of what the space previously looked like (I don't appear to have taken a picture of the old fixture):

Here it is immediately after installation:

Now, you'll notice that the light bulbs extend below the shades.  I put in some CFL's that we had on hand in hopes that they would work.  When they didn't, I ran to Lowe's.  Coincidentally, earlier in the day I'd read about new half-size CFL's, and I realized those were just what I needed.  (They were, in fact, and of the  'instant on' variety, too!)  While I was at Lowe's, I was distracted by a display of porch lamps (totally caught by the old retail end cap trick!) and decided to wander down the porch light aisle.  Wouldn't you know, I found a nice (black!) option for a great price?  (Interestingly, most were packed in double-packs and discounted even more than the single packs...shame we only have one light on the front porch!)

As is often the case, the 'quick' swap I expected turned into a much longer process, but I still managed to swap the old fixture out for the new one while J grilled our supper.  As a reminder, here is the hideous brass fixture we had before:

And here is the new fixture:

Now, we only have to deal with the shutters to complete the switch to black accessories on the front of the house!