Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The End of the Season (Plus! I Cooked!)

Last week I was sure that summer was almost at it's end. The days were cooler, the trees just starting to change. This week it is back to being sweltering and I have to water all my plants lest they wither away!

Today we ate the last of the grapes. There were two lovely little bunches and every day we have been eating just one or two each. Concord grapes have always been my favorite and it was a riot to teach visiting friends how to eat them. It was a little sad, but I'm excited to trim the plant, stake it appropriately and see how much grows next year!

The tomatoes haven't produced nearly as well this year as usual, and the peas gave forth a paltry one meals worth. I was quite happy with the cucumber crop. One plant gave me four huge vegetables. Next year a lot of things are going to be moving around.

For example, rhubarb has been pathetic for two years now. I haven't even been able to pick one single stalk. Not to mention the ridiculously skinny asparagus. Both of which I wish I could grow well. Therefore, they are going to be moving to the "productive" side of the garden. Along with the strawberries. There's no good reason for them not to be much larger and healthier than they are.

Additionally, this fall is going to be a study in soil and how best to make it richer and more nutrient-laden.

The plant box? It has been my greatest joy this summer!! I have had several amazing salads out of the lettuce as well as being able to give away many bags to friends! If you need basil, please let me know. It grew along with the lettuce and I have much more than I will need for a large amount of pesto and dried leaves.

Here's a question for the world to answer for me: What is the deal with the green beans!? Do you see them!? The lettuce is the left half of the box, the green beans are the right. They are TALL and they are green and lush and leafy. But there are NO, absolutely none, not a single green bean! Just now are there a few little flowers budding, but it sure seems like I should have been able to harvest green beans by now. I know last year they came up at the same time as the peas.

I just wanted to build up my ego a bit, since it has been a good long time since I have cooked an actual dinner. My husband has not been starving, nay, I do feed him. However, it's usually very hodge-podge and last minute planning. Plus, he is quite adept at feeding himself...

Apples & dried cherries over a slow-roasted pork tenderloin.

Rosemary potatoes.

Onions and green beans. (dreadfully not from my own garden)

One of the yummier meals I have made in a while. I can't wait for lunch leftovers.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Lunar Eclipse

Did you know that tonight (tomorrow morning) there's going to be a lunar eclipse!?

I just discovered this. They say it's going to be the longest eclipse in over seven years. It's really too bad though...there's no way in hades that I'm getting my butt out of bed at 6 in the morning. Not when I don't HAVE to get up until 7:45.

If you have to be up, or choose to get up this morning, take a picture for me, ok?

Friday, August 24, 2007

Baby Furniture!

We built our first piece of baby furniture last night!! Andy was pretty excited to have such a special place to clean all the poo...

I am exceedingly thankful that my dad has offered to buy all of our furniture. To be honest, I wasn't sure that he was actually going to follow through with it, but when we got back from our trip, there was the box on the front porch!!

We registered at Babies R Us last week and got everything picked out in two hours! It was pretty fun to go through all the cute, pink, soft little things and think about how we'll really be using that stuff soon. It's so crazy. I'm also trying to find the best website to order cloth diapers from. I want to be able to register for those as well. If we can get a few people here and there to buy one for us, we'll have plenty.

I'm finally feeling lots of kicks and punches now. She's not quite consistent enough for me to let Andy feel anything yet, but it's definitely very noticeable!! She didn't seem to like it when I was biking the other day....or maybe she did and was trying to help me pedal!!

Camping Oh-Seven

According to the pictures we took, I didn't go on this trip. I have one of Andy doing his hair, grilling, and reading a book. Where are all the cute pictures of me!? Well, apparently none were taken. Nuts.

It was the perfect little camping trip. We left for Cadillac late Sunday night after church and a fabulous dinner at a friend's. Well stocked with coffee and ready to drive. Granted, the drive was only an hour and a half, but we wanted to be prepared nonetheless.

The next morning after a good night's sleep at the ever-faithful and ever-cheap Econo Lodge, we climbed into our sweaters and jackets (mid-August, anyone?) and promptly threw all official camping plans out the window! Our day was to be spent hiking the sand dunes at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park, but we knew that would not be any fun in the rain and wind.

Instead, Jason Bourne called out to us and we thoroughly enjoyed the third installment of the Bourne trilogy. I do love those movies!! Especially at matinée pricing.

After an afternoon wandering through antique stores and used book shops, we called the cabin we would be staying at Tuesday night and discovered that they indeed would have room for us that night as well. Hurrah! No need for "real" camping!

I've never been a big fan of the sleeping in tents situation. I love the outdoors--hiking, climbing, canoeing, etc--but I love a good soft bed as well. Especially since my sleeping positions are limited at the moment.

The cabin was the perfect little rest spot. Not glamorous or fancy, by any means, but relaxing, comfortable and with all the amenities we needed it to have. We grilled on the charcoal grill, boiled our corn and mashed potatoes on the hotplate (very! slowly) and played cards late into the night.

The next morning dawned rather gray, but warmer than the day before so we stuck with our plan of canoeing down the Big Manistee river. I regretted not having bought at least a cheap little disposable camera to try to take some river pictures, but alas, I had not thought so far ahead as that.

We saw lots of turtles on rocks, tons of yummy-looking fish (is it bad that I think they look so yummy!?) and heard plenty of other creatures cracking away in the woods. It was a perfect day to float and paddle down the river.

Book reading, cards, and endless games of Scrabble. The fun is in making up your own rules!! Music Scrabble, literature Scrabble, Hollywood Scrabble. Next time is Galactic Scrabble--we were tired of trying to find good uses for those Js, Xs & Qs!!

Wednesday we finally got around to packing up and driving off to Ludington. The trails we were planning to bike ride ended up being rather short...but we made the most of it and climbed the dunes and explored the lighthouse. Besides, my buns are still a bit sore from bike riding regardless of how short the trip was!

As ever, I only wish it could have been longer but I'll take whatever I can get!!

Oh!! And the cabin-camping-grounds cat? Looked like she belonged to Captain Jack Sparrow!! It's Johnny Depp's cat!!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Gone Camping...

Or, most likely after looking at the weather forecast, gone cabin-ing. Three days, up north with canoes, bikes and hiking shoes. And, if the weatherman is correct, there will also be books, puzzles and games. Quiet and relaxing. Away from it all.

Back on Thursday.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Summer Lunch Date

fresh picked from the garden:
cherry & pear tomatoes

freshly grated romano cheese

a couple spritzes of raspberry vinaigrette

broiled and then chilled lemon-pepper salmon

fresh brewed passion fruit green iced tea with mint leaves (also from the garden)

and now for a nap.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Of Patience and Pie

Today has been an unusually frustrating day. I don’t often let many things bother me, but for some reason every little thing did. When I’m frustrated or angry, I hide. Tuck my tail and just dig into a little nook to cry in.

This summer my job has been varied. I’ve taught Sunday classes and led the music, as well as assisting all the new volunteers each week. Along with that, during the week we’ve been remodeling all of our classrooms. I’ve been busy recruiting volunteers to do a lot of painting and organization work and making sure a lot of things get done. Our bigger classrooms I’ve only done a little here and there on like making more huge curtains for the Theatre, but mostly I’ve been upholstering diner booths.

For a very low amount, we were able to purchase a whole restaurant’s worth of booths from a local place who wanted to redecorate. They all needed to be recovered as the fabric was worn, unattractive and smoke-filled.

I started out with a regular heavy-duty staple gun. A few years ago a reupholstered a very nice living room easy chair and ottoman so I was familiar with the basics of the upholstery work as well as the gun. Fortunately, we had volunteers do most of the un-upholstering. I was getting carpal tunnel from pulling staples!

The blisters didn’t take long to appear. I tried new positions of holding the staple gun, different methods of shooting it to ease the pressure, but the work was going very slowly.

Then there arose a real problem. It’s always a numbers situation. I carefully counted how many booths we had (20), how many of each piece I needed to cover (14, 17, 17), how many more pieces needed cutting (9, 9, 6) and how many more needed to be brought in from storage (just a few). Another staff member was kindly cutting out the rest of the pattern pieces that I would later use to cover the benches. But she cut using the largest numbers. This resulted in running out of fabric. I don't blame her, it was an honest mistake. And frankly, I find myself finding that situation pretty funny.

So, I ordered more fabric. Then realized I would need more due to the cut and ordered more. Rushed the shipping even. Both rolls arrived today and I got to work. This morning I believed I only needed to cover 8 more pieces and would have plenty of fabric to work with. No worries.

Then the stapler jammed. A chunk of the plastic flew off. I couldn’t get more than one staple out without it jamming. I wasted several rows of staples. I got angry.

I started putting the booths together. Previously, I had been just covering and piling the pieces as I went and figured when they were all covered I would put them together. There’s a pretty simple system to getting everything pounded in, screwed tight and sitting correctly. When the screws aren’t stripped. When the pieces are all there. When the lights aren’t shutting off automatically every hour as I’m holding a power drill.

After putting together as many as I could, I recounted. I need 5 more pieces from storage still when I thought I had them all. Which means I actually have 10 more pieces to recover. Plus, I am going to end up sewing a couple pieces together to make them wide enough to cover the pieces I need.

I suppose after typing this whole thing out it doesn’t sound as frustrating as it was when I was experiencing the anger. I think with the lights shutting off, the stapler jamming and more pieces left to be done all together just left me feeling unproductive. Yet I look around the room and see many finished booths sitting patiently to be installed along the walls.

If you read all this and think now I’m just a big whiner, sorry ‘bout that. Geez, if you read all this, you get a prize or something anyway. I guess that’s why we journal our thoughts, isn’t it? Get it all out and maybe you’ll feel better afterwards.

Oh, and I made a pie. It was really yummy.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Here She Is!

Baby's first picture. She posed perfectly. Now it's time to start really thinking about names and registering for fun pink things and picking out fabrics and patterns and all that good stuff!!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

A Time of Finishing and Small Tasks

Stephen King's greatest (if you define great by both 'really amazing' as well as 'really long') book series The Dark Tower is coming to an end for me. There are only 200 pages left of the seventh and final novel. I have been spending my summer with these books. Harry and a few others have crept in, but Roland and his ka-tet have truly been my constant companions this hot season. It is no less saddening for me to come to the end of this series than was Rowling's series.

Yet I look forward to the finishing of the tale. The knowing of the end. The freedom of beginning something new. I still have a shelf and a half full of unread books. Not to mention the two buck-a-bag sales coming up next month and what that will do to my shelves.

When I'm immersed so fully in a text, it is rather difficult to complete other daily tasks like the gardening and dishes and such. Fortunately, I have no work duties this evening and can remind myself to do my chores before settling down to tread through another hundred pages or so before crashing into the pillows.

The weeds have been pulled (at least most of them) and the tomatoes have been tied up. Every year I am amazed at how large my tomato plants grow and how much work it is to keep them from overtaking the rest of the garden. They are starting to be ripe enough to pick and I am excited for the soon-to-be-made fresh salsa! I haven't yet found the best canning recipe. I think part of that is because it is so perfect fresh that I'm afraid it won't compare if it's canned.

I still have to finish the dishes, tidy the house and then water the flowers before I can consider my day done. But I doan wannnaaa....I wanna just sit and read!! Boo hiss on housework. Why can't I just afford a housekeeper?

Nuts. I just remembered that I need to walk on my treadmill tonight too. At least I can read while I do that! Woo! Off to exercise! Goodnight interweb friends!

Monday, August 06, 2007

Monday Morning Movie Review -- 5 Stars

Sunday nights we tend to stay up late and either catch the latest episode of The 4400 or, if we're saving it to be able to watch two episodes in a row, we'll watch a movie.

For the past two years, we have scored from my brother's cache of films and watched Shaun of the Dead for Halloween. It's a ridiculously funny zombie movie and while there are a couple gross scenes, it's not scary. I can't do scary without nightmares.

When we saw the previews for Hot Fuzz, we knew we were going to have to see it. The same main actors and directors from Shaun and what looked like more hilarious dead-pan comedy. That's the big thing with these movies. The characters take everything so seriously and yet it is so funny.

Fuzz didn't disappoint. The filming was creative and eye-catching, the plot was clever, and the acting, as expected, was top-notch. There was so much dry humor and catchy dialogue that we found ourselves laughing at the strangest times. Again, there was a little bit of gross-ness in killing off some of the bad guys, but nothing I can't cover my eyes for.

This type of movie isn't for everyone. I love cop movies, action flicks, shoot-em-ups, etc and this fit into the cop-action genre very well without having excessive explosions or gratuitous violence for violence's sake. It's a smart comedy. It's one we're thinking of buying...right along with Shaun. Whatever would happen to our Halloween tradition if my brother ever moved out?!

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Beach Wednesday

Remember when I quit my second job last June? Well, last year I quit my second job. And I vowed to go to the beach and appreciate the beauty of the summer with all of my spare time.

I didn't make it to the beach until this Wednesday. Over a year it took for me to get to the beach!! It's only about a half hour away, easy access, and inexpensive fun. Plus, a friend of mine lets me share her parent's private beach which is undeniably one of the best beaches I have ever been to. Not crowded, dirty, noisy, but pure beachy perfection.

It took Hillary coming more than halfway across both her country and mine for me to get my tookus to the sandy white shores and clear blue waters.

And it was heavenly. Hopefully, she'll email me pictures soon so I can show you all how heavenly it was.

Friday, August 03, 2007


When can you define a grapevine as a vineyard? How many clusters of grapes do you have to have growing? I've got two. Is that enough?

Next year I'm going to have to figure out some way to stake out my vine though. It's taking over the front of the house and I want to nurture it so that it continues to increase in production.

I cannot wait until they are ripe!