Monday, June 30, 2008
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
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
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: http://www.mlsfinder.com/mn_rmls/mnwi/index.cfm?action=listing_detail&property_id=3535469&searchkey=c2f45e99-91cd-cc4c-887e-5b107c0db4c1&npp=10&sr=1
I may be moving....
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
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.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
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!
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
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.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Monday, June 9, 2008
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
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
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
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
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!