Monday, June 30, 2008

on my nightstand

Dreams of sitting in the back yard, in a comfy chair with a cold glass of iced tea at my side and a good book in my hand, have not come true this summer. Yet. It's only the last day of June, I have two more months to get to that hallowed spot.

I have a big variety of books on my nightstand right now, I never know what kind of mood I will be in when I am ready for a new book. I read every night, and on those nights when I can't sleep at 3 in the morning, and in the summer I may stay in bed for an hour in the morning reading before the guilt weighs too heavily on me and I have to get up.

I just finished a really good book from a new author "Love Walked In" by Marisa de los Santos. The dialogue was fresh and it was a good story. Right now I am reading "The Secret River" by Kate Grenville, a historical novel set in Australia, where it is nearly always hot. Reading books that suit the season appeal to me. I love re-reading "The Prodigal Summer" by Barbara Kingsolver every August, and "The Secret Life of Bees" by Sue Monk Kidd in July. Good summer books.

Also on my nightstand pile, just waiting their turn:

"No Graves Yet" by Anne Perry-I really enjoy her mysteries placed in history, this one occurs during World War I.

"Blackbird House" by ALice Hoffman (I ADORE her books). This is a collection of stories she wrote about a house and the things that happen there through the years.

"Veronika Decides to Die" by Paulo Coelho. I devour his books like candy, but they have far more meaning than a tootsie roll.

"The Penderwicks" by Jeanne Birdsall. A delightful kids book, I am a big fan of kids books. In fact, I re-read "Anne of Green Gables", "The Secret Garden" and "Little Women" on a regular basis. Just to remind me of what it was like to be a kid again.

"An Ocean in Iowa" by Peter Hedges. I picked this up several months ago, he also wrote "What's Eating Gilbert Grape. It sounded so interesting, but who knew the title would nearly come true this summer?

"Holy Fools" by Joanne Harris. She wrote "Chocolat", and so many other wonderful books. They all have a sense of mystery and magic about them, and are beautifully written.

I am hoping to get through this pile before school starts this fall. A girl can dream, can't she?

Friday, June 27, 2008

June is winding down

It just flies by, doesn't it? Once it gets nice, even though we have way more daylight than say, December, the days seem to go so much faster. How does that work?

I am looking forward to the day I don't talk about my kitchen anymore. Because that will mean it is finally done, and I can run my hands over my shiny new countertops, and whip up a five course meal.
Here is a detail shot from the cupboards:
For those of you who have already listened to me go on, and on, and on, about how much I love Ikea cabinets. Just skip down to the next paragraph. I LOVE my cabinets, I enjoyed putting them together, and really appreciate their attention to detail. I adore all of the dividers and organizational things they have come up with to make kitchen life easier.

I have moved most of my dishes to drawers, and I seem to be able to fit so much more into the space I have than before.

What I don't love is stripping stain. Here is what a window looks like before I start in on it:

FYI-if you have windows to strip, don't paint your walls B4 doing it...

And here is what one looks like after 3 hours of goo, and swearing, and using a toothbrush and awl to get into all of the little details:

I still need to do the final sanding on it, but after that I can stain it to match my cupboards. I do think it will be worth all of my complaining, in the end.

The extremely nice, very tall, and rather cute young man who came to measure for our countertops yesterday was so easy to deal with. Once the sink comes in that we had to reorder yesterday as the first one wouldn't work.....he can get our countertop cut. I am guessing what with holidays and such that we are looking at the middle of July, if we are lucky. And then we figure out tile for the walls, and finish up the details, so for sure it will be all complete by the time Charlie goes back to school!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

kitchens and cats

No pics today, just some quick updates, and a recipe idea.

We are getting measured for our new countertops today! I am guessing once they have it figured out, it will take a couple of weeks to get the actual product installed. So today we finally have to turn off the water and take out the faucet and sink and remove the one on that side. Big step!

Mike did a great job building something to fit in our bay window, it will be perfect. I will have pics of everything soon...

Turns out not only does Claude have a broken leg, and hyperthyroidism, he had developed a kidney infection during his adventure. The antibiotics we had been giving him for his gaping wound were keeping it at bay, but when we stopped giving him those drugs, it came roaring back. So he is back on more drugs. And he cries a lot. Poor kitty. Once the drugs get more firmly entrenched in his system, he should be back to his peg-leg semi-normalness.

We wish to announce the birth of 3 more baby robins-at least 3-there may be one more, we don't dare get too close and disturb them.

During the summer, I love to throw together salads for those hot muggy nights. Here is one we had the other night-delish!

Asian Chicken Salad
Cook up some chicken breasts, I seasoned some with Montreal Chicken Seasoning and sauteed them in a little olive oil and water, to keep them moist. You could poach them, grill them, or roast them too. I used three. Then dice them up.
Take a bag of greens (I used the new Bushel Boy head of live greens, they are so amazingly fresh!) Clean, rinse, tear up.
Drain a can (or two, if you really like them) of mandarin oranges.
Cut up half a red pepper and dice it.
Toast a handful of slivered almonds (or just leave them plain).
Toss everything together, then drizzle on some Asian Sesame Dressing (any brand will do-I used Cardini's)
I found a bag of crispy wonton strips to throw on top, you could also throw on some Chinese noodles for crunch.


Oh, and remember my little dream post a while back? Mike was out on his cycle last night, and when he came home he had picked up a listing for this:

I may be moving....

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

celestial conflicts

The force was with us.
Unless you have been living under a rock, (or maybe in the swamps of Dagobah) you know that the Star Wars exhibit has landed at the Science Museum. We had set aside today, months ago, to check it out.
The gang was all there, the good guys:
The Jawas:And the bad guys:The best part? These aren't replicas, or copies. These were all actually used in the movies. Virtually every model, costume, and prop was authentic.

Mike and Charlie loved the vehicles:Yup, that is the actual Landspeeder Mark Hamill was filmed in. And here he is in his X Wing Fighter:With tiny little R2 right behind him. They used the very detailed models to film the scenes where they were going through space, and actual size cut outs to film the actors in. It was really revolutionary how George Lucas accomplished all of this, and changed movie making and special effects forever.

I personally enjoyed the models: This is a model of the Wookie Village. So amazing! This looks like something I thought I could make when I was little, and I would start on it, and get frustrated, and throw away my popsicle sticks and clay in frustration, because it never matched the picture that was in my head.
Who is that behind the snow goggles riding a Tan Tan? Could it be, Ken? Does Barbie know?

If you have a chance, go and see this exhibit. It makes for a very fun family outing. I believe it is here through the end of August. (notice, I had to keep a certain distance from Charlie, so I wouldn't embarrass him...)And when you are done looking at the exhibit, head on up to the 6th floor, and grab a yummy lunch and eat it out on the patio, before heading down for a rousing round of mini golf!
These are the kind of days I am really glad to live in St. Paul.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

crazy good photographer, part 2

We always try and do the zoo when my sis and her son Riley come to visit, we for sure had to see the new Grizzly Coast exhibit!

Even with fences, and cages, and, well, trying to take pictures of unpredictable animals, my sister still got some amazing shots. See for yourself:

And then we went and saw the wildlife.

You would never know they were actually excited to be there. Apparently, just not with their mothers.

Seriously, let's just start calling her "heather hanson, animal portraitist". (is that a word?)

Come on, these could be posters that they sell at the zoo!
Now these geese weren't actually part of the zoo exhibits, but they were smart enough to pick a good place to start a family:We probably stayed longest at the Prairie Dog hill, they are just so humorous. Usually when I am there they are all underground, on this day they were everywhere!Who knew a rodent could be so cute? They are rodents, aren't they?Some of the more adventurous ones were trying to make a break for it...after this shot one of them got on the other's shoulders to make a flying leap....either that, or they were looking for contraband food....

The grizzlies didn't look scary at all, more like you just wanted to hug them. We even got to see them fish for rainbow trout. But our favorite animal of the day? The new otters :Riley was trying to pet it through the glass. Like they say in the ad "kittens are jealous", or something like that.

And at the end of the day, when you have covered the entire zoo, and waited 20 minutes for your coffee order, and ran the gauntlet in the gift shop, all that really matters is how sore your feet are.

And then you realize you still have to walk to your car....

Monday, June 23, 2008

photographer extraordinaire

My sis just sent me the pics from our weekend together, I think you will agree with me that she is in the wrong line of work. Such a nice shot of me and the boy! I love the soft, filmy look. Like I am a 1940's Hollywood star...

Some pictures of my flowers, in my back yard. Who knew they were so gorgeous?
I wish peonies lasted longer, they are so stunning. Like a really fancy prom dress from the 50's, with a big crinoline underneath. The next one she worked on in Photoshop, I love the effect!
Here is a cool technique, softening the edges of a columbine shot. I love how she captured the sunlight filtering through the leaves on the tree branches overhanging the garden:Another columbine, one of the wilder ones you find growing in the woods and on the sides of the road this time of year. We called them honeysuckle growing up, I always thought they looked like little fairy hats: I picked these up in a few colors this year, they are called Clown Flowers (obviously!)

We brought Claude outside, for a little fresh air, and some catnip from the herb garden. She can even take pet portraits!Snuffy's is a traditional outing for us when she comes to town, here are the boys enjoying their malts:And their moms, enjoying their chocolate and cherry cokes. Isn't the sepia tint a nice touch?

Lucky for Charlie, my sis can also cut hair, so we took advantage of her talents. I would rather pay her than Cost Cutters!

I love that shot.

Tomorrow, pictures from our zoo adventure!

Friday, June 20, 2008

it's official!

Or will be, at around 7 tonight. Summer is here! And this year it took way too long to get here. But honestly? I really haven't minded the cool nights, as I am not a fan of heat and humidity. ick. Give me a day when I can throw open the windows and let the fresh breeze into my house, rather than be all sealed in with the a/c.

In honor of the longest day of the year (don't want to think about what that actually means for tomorrow...) we are thinking of loading up the truck and heading out to a drive in tonight. The truck is perfect for the drive-in, we back it in, throw an air bed in the back, lift down the tailgate, and lounge on fluffy pillows and an old quilt and sit back to watch the show. Although I am guessing the bugs will be nasty this year, so we better OFF it before we go.

The kitchen continues to move along-I started stripping stain off the windows yesterday, in preparation for staining them to a color that more closely matches the cabinets. Now there is a fun job for you. But they will be so pretty when I am done. Mike is going to work on filling in the floor that was under the window cabinets so it matches the rest of the floor, and replacing linoleum tiles where needed. Next week they come to measure for our new countertop, and our new sink arrived too. While we still have a ways to go, we can start to envision what it will finally look like. And if you ever have thoughts of doing your own kitchen, I highly recommend Ikea cabinets. They are just a dream.

Claude goes in today for a new cast, and will have xrays done to see how it is healing and determine how much longer he needs to be casted. He is very anxious to get it off. I know because he told me.

Momma Robin has been sitting on her nest constantly, I will need to try and sneak a peek in to see what is going on in there.

The forecast sounds perfect for the weekend, Mike has an enduro in Stone Lake, and Charlie and I plan to hang out at Highland Pool all weekend. The windows can wait....

Happy Birthday greetings today to Tracie-what a fun day to have for a birthday!

Major hugs and good thoughts go out to my sis, she is going through a really tough time right now, and handling it with strength and confidence. I wish her nothing but a chance to sleep and dream about her life to come.

May you all have a wonderful first weekend of summer!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

nearly there....

In just one more day, we can dance under the light of the moon and celebrate the solstice, and the official start of summer.

It has actually felt like summer the last couple of days-I didn't even put a sweatshirt on last night to stay warm! Maybe we can even have our first outing to the pool this weekend.

And in honor of summer days, I present to you one of our favorite summer meals-Ina Garten's Sun Dried Tomato Pasta. (she is one of my favorite cooks, if you don't have one of her cookbooks, get one! Or you may borrow one of mine...)

1 box pasta (a pound is too much, if you have a full box just cook about 2/3 of it, or buy 1 of the boxes that are the same size as the old 1 lb. box, but actually only have about 13 oz. inside)
salt and olive oil
a pound of ripe tomatoes, med dice (I sometimes use grape tomatoes, which are a little sweeter, Romas work well too)
3/4 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and sliced
a pound of fresh mozzarella, diced up (or buy the little pearls in a cup, so yummy)
6 sun dried tomatoes (the naughty ones packed in oil), drained and cut up-I usually use a few more than 6, as I am a big fan of sun dried tomatoes

the dressing consists of:
5 more sun dried tomatoes
2 Tbsp of red wine vinegar
6 tbsp olive oil (use the good stuff here)
1 clove of garlic
2 tsp kosher salt
3/4 tsp pepper (freshly ground, if you can)

and to top it all off:
1 cup Parmesan (freshly grated, please)
1 c. packed basil leaves, chopped (or chiffonade, or however you want them)

Cook the pasta with the salt and a dash of oil so it doesn't stick together. Drain and cool. Add the tomatoes and olives and mozz. Throw all of the dressing ingredients in a blender or food processor, and whip up until smooth. (Her original recipe calls for 1 tsp of capers to go in the dressing too, but I am not a caper fan. If you are, by all means throw them in.)

Pour the dressing over the pasta and mix well, sprinkle with the parm and basil, and get a big spoon, a hunk of crusty bread, and a nice glass of wine. You are now officially in summer heaven. And when you're done, eat a piece of watermelon and run through the sprinkler!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

real simple

If you read the sidebars on my blog (don't feel bad if you haven't lately, I don't read the sidebars of the blogs I read either, after my first few visits) you will know that I love Real Simple Magazine. It's like the magazine I would have, if I had my own magazine. (wow, another whole post topic....)

This month they have some great stuff, that I want you to think about:

1. They did a study on what makes women happy, and found that 65% of happy women set aside "me" time. For less happy women, that number was only 39 percent. So go ahead and schedule that pedicure or massage. Or just go for a walk.

2. There is a very yummy recipe for Gingery Cilantro Dip. You just puree 2 small bunches of cilantro (stems removed) in a blender, along with 1/2 c. sliced ginger, 1/2 c. oil, 3 Tbsp. rice vinegar, 2 Tbsp. soy sauce, and 2 tsp of sesame oil. And serve it with cooked shrimp. Oh for delish.

3. The question of the month is 'What are the top three things on your lifelong to-do list?"
Here are mine: 1. Travel extensively. 2. Make time for my passions. 3. Buy that hobby farm I keep talking about. What are YOUR TOP THREE THINGS? Better yet, write them all down!

4. Hallmark has introduced adhesive wrapping paper. Why didn't I think of that?

5. Wear red when you need an extra edge. Criminy, why didn't I know that a long time ago?

And I am only on page 68....

So just go and buy it for yourself. It is a wonderful publication. In fact, if I could only afford one magazine subscription, Real Simple would be it. And how can you argue with their motto : Life Made Easier?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

what's important

Today I am writing my 113th blog post of the year.

Seriously, I do not write this blog for anyone, but myself. I have never, in my 46 years of life, been able to keep up with a diary, or a journal, or whatever we wish to call it, for more than a couple of weeks in January. But for some reason, this medium has given me the push to document my life.

I would encourage all of you, who are looking to document this thing that we do every day, and that we want someone to remember someday, to start a blog. You can do it right here, on blogspot. It is really easy, and very freeing. And you can write something once a day, or once a month. You can keep it private, and send it to selected people, or let the whole world see it. It is entirely up to you.

I have found a new sense of myself with this whole blogging deal. Because when I don't post, people check in with me to see if I'm okay. And how great is that?

And now when I send my friends a birthday card, rather than writing a long letter, and filling them in on all of the details on my life that they may have missed, I simply say, "Hey, have you checked out my blog? Because it is like living next door to me."

I don't have a 'mommy blog' or a 'work-from-home blog', or a 'frustrated bookkeeper blog' (hey, that's not a bad idea....) I just talk about my life. And things that I feel like sharing.

So if you are thinking that might be something you want to do, give it a try. It is far cheaper than therapy.

And no, I will not be earning any incentives for sending you folks into blog world...

Monday, June 16, 2008

a few things

Mike just competed in his first National Enduro! It was in Marquette, Michigan, and he went with some other riders in an RV. Kind of like the ultimate road trip. What a cool way to spend Father's Day! A national event, of course, means riders from all over the country. And he got 10th place in his class out of 20 guys! I am so proud.

My sis was here all weekend, I love her dearly. I am pretty sure we are twins separated by twelve years. But our sons are only two years apart, and they are at an age where they love to hang out together, with not a lot of fall out. Here they are, from the state fair, last summer:
We went and saw the new exhibit at the zoo (wonderful, LOVED the otters and bears), got lots of yard time (boys playing in the field, moms drinking wine and chatting), did just a little shopping, even some beading. But mostly, we got to spend time together, and that is what we crave. Because we understand each other so well, and can help each other make our light shine it's brightest. And since it is apparently 'fishing picture week' here on my blog, here we are last summer, after another stellar fishing trip with our dad:

Who doesn't love a nice walleye?

I will post pics of the kitchen soon, we have made great progress, and are now in a holding pattern while we wait for more floor tile to arrive, so we can finish up the last cabinet, and then get measured for our new countertop. Last week we went out to Cold Spring Granite, to choose the actual slab that they will cut our countertop from. What an amazing experience! You get to go in to their enormous warehouse, and pick what you want.

It was spotless, and the stone is just beautiful. Really hard to decide.

Here is the piece we ultimately ended up choosing:

More details to come as the week goes on. Now that I can cook again I may even post a recipe or two! My sis and I came up with some great ones this weekend....

Sunday, June 15, 2008

a day for dad

It is still Father's Day, for a little bit longer, so I can get this in in time. Even though my father does not have a computer, and won't see this, I think it is important to remember him on his day. Since I didn't make it to Bemidji, this will have to do. I DID call, and send a gift and card, I am not a complete loser...

As I mentioned on Mother's Day, my parents had me young (by today's standards, not so much back then). They were nineteen, and had been married 10 whole months. So they hadn't even gotten used to the whole being married concept, and not living with their families, before I came along. We all kind of grew up together. Now that I am wise (ahem) and older, I can't even imagine what they went through. Well, I can imagine it a little, and it makes me appreciate the fact that we all made it through, rather well, I think.
My dad wasn't a hugger, but he showed us he loved us in other ways. One of those ways was by taking us fishing. To this day, I never feel more loved, or happy, or relaxed, than when I am in a fishing boat with my dad. Here is a pic from August of 2006, when he took his daughters and their boys fishing:

Smiles all around!

I am pretty darn lucky to be blessed with my dad, and I hope he gets to take us fishing for many, many more years.

Friday, June 13, 2008

leave of absence

no posting for a bit, my sweet sis and her son Riley are here, I am still working on the kitchen, and it is almost nice out. see you on Tuesday or so! all kinds of exciting things to come....

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

ten reasons I don't have time to post

1. I am so far behind on my actual job.
2. Working on the kitchen remodel is exhausting.
3. Charlie is home from school.
4. I need to go to the bank.
5. I haven't Miracle Grown my flowers yet.
6. My house is a disaster with a capital D.
7. Haven't made Father's Day cards yet.
8. Going to see Dino's Live tonight.
9. Need to finish my library book that is due on Wednesday. (the sequel to "Chocolat"-really good.)
10. Have to medicate Claude.

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

she's back !

I guess Momma Robin really liked her nesting spot, as she is already back for more.

Criminy! I guess this has become "Bird Tuesday" (see the last two weeks of posts, on Tuesdays).

So I had to do a little research, because I really don't know much about robins. And now you will know too. (who knew you could actually learn something by reading my blog?)

American Robins can be found in all of the USA except Hawaii and northern Alaska. They mate in the spring from April - July, and can have two or three batches of babies. The first one is usually 3-4 nestlings, the following broods are usually only two. (can't wait to see what my momma robin comes up with this time!) She builds her nest (sometimes her mate helps her, sometimes not...) by making it all cozy, then scooping up mud with her wing and spreading it all around to hold everything together. Once she lays her eggs, they incubate for two weeks before they hatch.

When the babies arrive, they immediately know three things: 1. To sit still and hide when their parents are away from the nest, 2. To pop up and open their beaks to beg for food when their parents arrive, 3. To poop as soon as they swallow. (sorry, a little graphic, but hey, today's topic is all about nature!)
The nestlings (I love that word) start trying to jump from the nest when they are 13 days old, and in another 10-15 days they are ready to fly and be independent. Holy cow!

Sadly, most robins die in their first year of life. But if they can make it through that first critical year, the average life span is then five-six years.

Maybe they will all survive and come back to my yard in a few years for a family reunion.

Monday, June 9, 2008

cookin' in a torn up kitchen

You can only have cereal for dinner so many nights.

And go out.

And then, you have to cook something for your family.

Here is the progress on the kitchen, taken Saturday morning:

The boxes for the wall cabinets were in, and we were in the process of installing the base cabinets. We got really lucky, and were able to slide the old ones out, and slide the new ones in, without having to turn off our water, or pull out our sink, or take out the old countertop. So we can leave that in place until they come to measure for the new countertop. Which is a bonus, as I hear doing dishes in the bathtub really isn't much fun.And at the end of every day, we get to clean up the messy floor. Which we aren't replacing, and it will get stripped and rewaxed when all of this is over.

My hubby has to do all of the dirty jobs, and those requiring a flexible, healthy back:

No, he is not flipping me off. I am not sure what the index finger raised means in other cultures, in this instance I think he was just trying to hang on to the countertop so he wouldn't fall over.

We actually accomplished a TON this weekend-I will wait to show you more pictures, just to keep you coming back for more.

Sunday Charlie declared he wanted to make lunch. Because he had been reading some of his cookbooks. (hint: if you want your kid to cook, get them their own cookbooks, then it is THEIR idea!) So we made a little Korte's run, as my fridge is kind of bare (those of you who know me well won't even believe that, but it is nearly true). And here he is, preparing the panini's:

Here is the general idea of the recipe, if you wish to try them. They were DELICIOUS ! (you know how it is when someone else cooks for you):

Get a loaf of ciabatta bread (or any bread that is kind of soft inside, and has a nice crust on the outside). Mix together 3 Tbsp. of olive oil, 1 Tbsp. of balsamic vinegar, a couple of teaspoons of minced fresh basil (1/2 tsp dried will work instead), and some salt and pepper to taste. Spread this lovely dressing on the tops of your bread slices. Then lay on some fresh mozzarella and some thinly sliced pepperoni, and put the sandwich together with the sides that are dressed towards the filling. Heat up a big pan on medium heat, and brush one side of the sandwich with a little olive oil. Place it in the pan, olive oil side down, and brush the top of the sandwich that hasn't seen the olive oil yet. Cook it about 3-4 min, and squish the sandwiches as they are cooking with another heavy pan or plate. Take the pan or plate off, and flip the sandwiches over. This can be tricky, and if a kid is making these, a grownup should definitely help. And don't swear while you are doing it, like I did. Cook them for another 3 or 4 minutes, until they are golden and the cheese is all melty, and serve. yummmmmmmmm

And of course you could use different meats, or cheeses, or throw some veg in there, or use a different herb in the dressing. And whoever eats it will love you.

Charlie has already decided he needs to make Shrimp Scampi for dinner some night this week. I am all for that, and have informed him that if he continues on his culinary path he will never want for girlfriends. Or any friends, for that matter. Can you imagine him in college? His roommate will say, "Hey, let's order a pizza". And Charlie will say, "No, how about I make some Pepperoni and Fresh Moz Panini instead?"

And here is what we had for dinner, at 8 pm on Sunday night, when we were STILL working on the kitchen. Light, easy, summery, and tasty. I clipped it out of a mag years ago (thank goodness I didn't throw it away, I KNEW it would come in handy some day!)

Upside Down Kitchen Pasta (not it's real name....)

1 lb. pasta (I would actually make a little bit less, perhaps 13.5 oz? I know they are downsizing the amount of noodles we get in a box nowadays)

2 Tbsp olive oil

3 cloves garlic, sliced (less or more, depending on your garlic preference)

3 oz. sliced proscuitto, chopped (I used more than that, we love proscuitto)

1 c. grape tomatoes, halved

1/4 c. pitted kalamata olives, halved

3 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

1/4 tsp salt, 1/8 tsp pepper

1/3 c. packed fresh basil, chopped

While you are cooking the noodles, in the standard fashion, heat up the oil in a skillet over med heat, and add the garlic and prosciutto. Cook for about 3 min, then throw in the tomatoes for another 3 min. or so. Take off the heat, and add the rest of the ingredients except the basil. Toss this sauce with the noodles, and fresh basil. I shredded some parmesan cheese over the top. Oh for yummy. You could also throw some toasted pine nuts on top, for a little crunch.

Easy, fast, healthy, tasty. What more could you want in a recipe?

Did I tell you it was easy?

Friday, June 6, 2008

I have a dream...

...and it has nothing to do with politics or racial equality.

Here it is:

We have a lovely hobby farm in Wisconsin, with a big flower garden, and a vegetable garden, and a dog. Mike has a pole barn (of course) and I get the old barn. In it, I have all of my crafts and hobbies. I have installed big skylights, so the sun can shine down on my worktables. Here I can sew, or paper craft, or curl up in a big comfy chair and knit. There is a loom for weaving, and big old shelves for my yarn. I have a whole area for beading, and sturdy old shelves full of every kind of fabric, and glass jars full of beads and baubles and ribbon.

I have craft camps for my friends in the barn. I fix them a wonderful lunch in my giant country kitchen, that has deep sinks and two ovens and big windows overlooking my garden. We eat it out on my giant wraparound porch, that is filled with old wicker and quilts and plants of every kind.

At the end of our lovely day of crafting and dining, they stay in my guest rooms that are full of moonlight and down comforters and fluffy towels, and there are homemade chocolates left on their pillows.

In the morning, we eat a scrumptious breakfast, and linger over coffee on the porch, then take a long walk through the countryside.

As you may note, there are no simulators or accounting mentioned at all in this dream sequence.

I am only 46 - I may get there yet! Dream with me, won't you? Because of course, you will be invited.

Thursday, June 5, 2008


Last day of school. This day always has mixed emotions for me:

AMAZED that my child has finished another year of elementary school, where does the time go?

RELIEVED that I don't have to set the alarm clock anymore or hound him about homework or getting to bed at a reasonable time

OVERWHELMED as to how I am still going to get my job done with him at home all day (one of the few downfalls of working from home...)

EXCITED - for in my mind tomorrow is really the first official day of summer, no matter what the calendar says

SAD - because I know he will never have another teacher like he had this year

So it's one of those roller coaster emotion days. We will have to take the traditional last day of school photo as he emerges from the bus. His very first bus driver used to make a big deal about it, and give the kids candy, and spray them with Silly String as they exited the bus. How cool was that?
This pic is from last year, of course, it was June 14th, so by then it had actually warmed up. At least this year the kids weren't roasting in 80 degree rooms and couldn't focus!

And an update on my feathered tenants-the day I posted their newest picture, they all left home. Not sure if they went on to college, or got married, or joined the Peace Corps. I kind of miss them.

Happy Summer !

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

trash to treasure

The best part about rummage sales? Finding something you didn't know that you needed, and turning it into something really useful.

Case in point:

Last Friday, I picked up this item for one measly dollar. I wasn't entirely sure what it was, or what I would use it for, but hey, it was only a buck!

Please excuse the glare. I am not a photographer. And I used our little point and shoot camera. And I have no idea what I am doing. But you get the general idea of what I am working with here. So I cleaned it up, real good. ( I have been reading too much Pioneer Woman).

Then, I went into our library of digital pictures (we use Picassa, which we LOVE, so if you are looking for a great way to store and organize those digital photos, we highly recommend it. And best of all-it's FREE! Google rocks). And since Mike bought me an awesome printer for Mother's Day a few years ago, I was able to print out some of my favorites from our trip to New Mexico in 2007. ( again, please excuse the glare...)

That was the hard part, as we had well over a thousand photos that we had taken over nine days. I wanted to show a mix of all of the things we did, and really give a flavor of the place and the trip. And then of course they needed to fit in the spaces.

I added some fun tags and attached them with copper paper fasteners, and labeled the pictures. I had picked up some twill ribbon imprinted with barb wire (much safer than using the real thing...) and my creation was complete. I didn't need to go to the store, this was all made from stuff I already had in all of my bins, boxes, and jars of supplies. So for not a lot of money, or even time, I now have a fun new memory box to hang on the wall. Now where the heck am I going to find a blank wall in my house to hang it ? ? ?

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

they grow up so fast...

I am sure glad that human babies don't grow as fast as robins do!

Do you remember last Tuesday's photo? Here, let me refresh your memory: Here they are, just a week later! There is hardly room for all of them in the nest-I keep waiting for one to get pushed out by his or her brother or sister. There seem to be a couple that are kind of bullies, and the other two are just fighting for some space. In the pic below, you can just barely see the beak of one of them trying to get into the photo. All four are still hanging in there, through kitchen sanding, torrential rain, and less than 40 degree temperatures.Aren't they pretty? I have to believe it is the high quality and quantity of worms in my yard that have allowed them to grow at such a nuclear pace. (See Tracy? Worms have their special purpose....)

The parents really took off after a squirrel, who was getting a little to close to the nest for comfort. It's not often you get to see robins attacking a squirrel, very "Wild Kingdom".

I don't know how long before they fly away, I should probably do some research. It has been just delightful having them so close-I love showing them to younger kids when they walk by.

It has been a massively speeded up version of a human baby, I am guessing at this point the baby robins must be teenagers, and are getting ready to get pushed out of the nest!


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