Sunday, June 29

garden update

Despite my lack of dedication this year, my garden is doing pretty well. My previously sickly tomatoes are now flourishing; the peppers are looking good; there are some little zucchini growing; the potato plants are looking great. I have plenty of weeds this year, though. Ray's was charging $10 a bag for my beloved cocoa mulch. That seemed out of hand, so I didn't buy any mulch this year. Luckily for me, there doesn't seem to be a need to conserve water as it has been raining every day. And I have plenty of water in my new rain barrel (it holds 65 gallons and was filled within minutes of our first storm) even if there was a shortage. I do have some extra straw, so I'll probably mulch around some of the plants when I get around to it.

Next up: a garden pond. This project may be starting as early as next weekend. Stay tuned.

Thursday, June 26

chincoteague, va

Sunday, June 22
We got up bright and early this morning so that we could drop off the dogs at the Cozy Inn on our way to Chincoteague, Va. Taking 3 dogs on a 45 minute trip was interesting. Buster got carsick even though he didn't eat breakfast today. I can't say I was surprised--I even took paper towels and other supplies for cleanup. After dropping off the dogs, it was smooth sailing from that point on. We arrived at the Hampton Inn in Chincoteague in late afternoon. After getting settled in, we caught some supper at Don's Seafood Restaurant. The food there was ok, but nothing to write home about. Then we hung out for a bit in the hotel room before Jake and Brian took a dip in the pool. I sat on the sidelines reading my Real Simple magazine. Twice. Ahh, vacation.

Monday, June 23
There were no alarms going off for me this morning. Still I managed to get up at a respectable 8:30. Brian got up 2 hours earlier to sneak some work in. Today's activities included checking out the NASA Visitor Center, shopping, Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge on the Assateague Island National Seashore (here, we saw the lighthouse, did the wildlife loop, checked out the visitor's center, and took a walk on the beach), and swimming in the hotel pool (Brian and Jake--I'm not much for swimming). We had lunch at Bill's Seafood Restaurant and supper at Etta's Channel Side Restaurant. The food at both restaurants was good. Etta's had a nice view of the water.

Tuesday, June 24
Again no alarms, but I got up at 8am anyway. Brian was up bright and early again to do some work. After breakfast, we headed to the CNWR again and went on a little hike. The ponies were all hiding, so we didn't get to see any up close in their natural habitat (we did see some up close in the parking lot and on the road, however). After that, we rented a scooter and a 2-seater car (based on a scooter platform) and had a blast cruising around the island for an hour. We grabbed some lunch from Subway and went back to the hotel to relax. Next up: the beach. Jake made a friend there and that kept him busy for the duration of our stay. For supper, we went to AJ's on the Creek. So far, that's the best meal we've had on our trip. We came back from dinner, watched Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and then Brian and Jake went swimming for a bit.

Wednesday, June 25
We all slept in today and got up around 8:30. Activities today included lots of swimming (for Jake), miniature golf, the Oyster & Maritime Museum, and collecting shells on the beach at sunset. Lunch was again at Subway and supper at the Village Restaurant. Dinner was good, but not quite as good as last night.

All in all, it was quite a relaxing vacation. As busy as this year has been, this was a welcome respite for us. And, we're home just in time for Thunder in the Valley (don't think that wasn't planned)!

Pictures of our trip can be viewed here.

Wednesday, June 25

indiana jones and the temple of doom

This movie was in the dvd player last night. It held Jake's attention throughout, but Brian and I flitted in and out of watching it. I'm sure because of this, I liked the first movie in the series better than the second. But then, isn't the first movie usually better? It was still enjoyable and very action-packed. The latest (and 4th) installment in the series is now playing at the Westwood Plaza Theatre, so we need to get on the ball and watch the 3rd one so we can go see it.

Tuesday, June 24

losing it

This book is Valerie Bertinelli's autobiography. Years ago, I was a fan of her TV show One Day at a Time. I've always been a fan of Van Halen's music, too. So, I thought this would be an interesting read. While the book was somewhat interesting, she mostly talked about her weight (hence the title, I guess). And, she didn't really spill much dirt outside of what I already knew of her and Eddie's relationship. The book wasn't all that well written, either. It almost read like a blog post (where we don't have to be so careful with grammar structured paragraphs) rather than a book.

But, it was a quick read. It clocked in at under 300 pages, so it didn't take that long. Overall, somewhat disappointing, though.

Sunday, June 22

duma key

I was looking forward to reading this book ever since I read a preview of it in Blaze last year. It seemed like it was going to be a really good story.

I have to say, the beginning of the book was great. The story was from the perspective of the guy who was badly injured in an accident (something Stephen King knows a bit about). This was pretty interesting. But, the middle of the story started to slow down once they introduced the "supernatural" element, and by the end, I just wanted to finish it. I know I've been busy lately, but it took me over four months to read this book. One thing about me--if I'm reading something I really like, it doesn't matter how busy I am, I'll finish reading it relatively quickly.

So, while I would not say I didn't like this book, it definitely was not one of my favorites.

Saturday, June 21

wine!

I'm only 6 months behind this year, but I finally started my first batch of wine for 2008. It's an Australian Riesling. Australian Riesling is done in a drier style, so I'm looking forward to this one. I don't mind the sweeter Rieslings, but this will be a nice change of pace, since sweeter is the usual style.

I have 2 more kits to do. The 4th one I ordered didn't come in. I just got an email from my supplier, Fine Wines of Windber, and they are offering a Chocolate Raspberry Port this summer. So, I'm planning on ordering that as my 4th kit. And Brian's dad is trying to hook me up with some fresh juice this fall, so it might turn out to be a good wine year after all.

Tuesday, June 17

ahh, gardening

I got to work in the yard/garden for about two hours this evening. It was nice. I did a lot of things: capped the garden wall, hooked up the new rain barrel, planted herbs, put the solar lighting in the butterfly garden, weeded some of the garden, etc.

My garden is a raised bed, made up of retaining wall blocks. I put it in quite a while ago (the year Jake was born, if I remember correctly). I've been wanting to cap the wall for years and finally did so tonight. It looks pretty good, but there are some blocks I need to reset and I didn't get to that tonight.

I ordered a rain barrel a few weeks ago. It finally arrived last week. I hooked it up to the downspout on the patio. Too bad I didn't do this before Saturday because it would probably be full right now. Supposedly using rainwater is better for your plants. I don't really know if it is or not, but I do like the looks of this rain barrel in comparison to the others I have seen. Plus, it has a planter on the top, so I planted a few things in that tonight, too.

My herb garden is finally complete. I picked up a couple of plants last night and put those in this evening. I also was pleasantly surprised to find that my tarragon came back this year. It's a little behind, but at least it's growing.

As for my garden...every year I have high hopes for it. It usually does pretty well, but I'm often left disappointed in one aspect or another. This year, however, I have lowered my expectations to the point where if I get anything, I will be happy. Too much is going on for me to pay much attention to it, so I'll just be thankful for what I get.

Sunday, June 15

cook in

Last evening, the second annual "Surf n Turf" extravaganza was held. This year, we did it in honor of Father's Day. It was supposed to be a cook out, but we ended up eating in the bar due to the rain. I still had to cook outside, though (and it was pouring).

For appetizers, I made White Bean Bruschetta, artichoke dip (courtesy of Tastefully Simple), and bacon-wrapped scallops. For the main course, Grilled Beef Tenderloin with Herb-Garlic-Pepper Coating, crab legs (which I did on the grill), and ratatouille (the grill was full, so I did this in the oven). For dessert, tiramisu. Brian's dad provided the surf, I provided the turf, and my mom brought dessert.

We had a nice variety of wines, too (one for every taste). I provided a prosecco and a red zinfandel and my mom brought pinot grigio. Surf n turf is a difficult combination to match wines to, but I think we did ok. Once we ran out of wine, I opened a few bottles of my own. But that was more of an after dinner thing.

Except for the rain, everything went as planned. It was a good evening.

Monday, June 9

hot water

Well, we have hot water again today. However, the new tank Brian installed has a slow drip at the connection point. We're hoping the problem goes away (we've had a surprising number of plumbing problems that have "fixed" themselves). In the meantime, I'm washing everything in the house.

Sunday, June 8

plumbing disaster 2008

We had our yearly plumbing disaster tonight. I discovered it after we got back from working at the building. I was hoping to catch a few minutes in the yard this evening and went into our utility room to grab the electric hand trimmers only to find the floor covered in water. My first thought was that the A/C was leaking, but we soon discovered that the hot water expansion tank had sprung a leak. So, we currently have no hot water (luckily Brian was able to shut of the water to the hot water tank). Guess who's working at home tomorrow? That would be me.

I just got a bath the old fashioned way--I filled the tub with cold water and then heated some water on the stove. I'm just grateful that I didn't have to chop some wood in order to do so. While it cut the chill a little bit, the water was still quite cold. I could have boiled some more water, but it was already 10pm and I just wanted to get it over with.

None of the hardware stores are open this late on Sunday, so we're going to have to wait till tomorrow for the fix. Luckily, the fix should not involve soldering anything so it really shouldn't be that difficult--it's just a matter of swapping out the expansion tanks. But, is it ever really that easy? Tune in tomorrow for more...

Saturday, June 7

yard overhaul

In preparation for our now annual Surf N Turf dinner (to be held next weekend), we did some work in the yard this evening. Brian edged the sidewalk, patio, etc., and also mowed the lawn. I got out the weedeater and ate some weeds. I also weeded some stuff by hand and got out some of the solar lighting. There is still more to do, but tomorrow is another day.

Friday, June 6

raiders of the lost ark

Unlike many of the other films from our youth, this one actually held up. It was quite entertaining for all three of us. My manager at work lent us the DVD. He has the whole series. I hope he lends us the rest because I'd like to watch them in order and maybe catch the current one in the theater.

Thursday, June 5

fear itself

NBC has a horror anthology that started this evening. Supposedly there are going to be 13 episodes. There are guest directors and writers galore scheduled for this endeavor.

Tonight's episode was "Sacrifice" and was a vampire story. Pretty good. Definitely worth watching if you are into that sort of thing.

4 corners of the world

It's my birthday and I'll eat out if I want to.

I knew I wasn't going to feel like cooking today. Plus, Jake was staying at his grandparent's. So, I made an executive decision and decided we'd go out for supper tonight. I've been wanting to go to 4 Corners of the World, so that's where we went.

I was a little disappointed in the limited menu, but what I had was good, if not that exciting. I was hoping to try the red snapper, but they were out, so I had salmon teriyaki instead. But, I did like the place and wouldn't mind going back again sometime.

I received a nice little present today as well. Jake and Brian stopped at my favorite jeweler's after school today and picked up a little gold heart pin. What a nice surprise!

Sunday, June 1

sunday gardening

This evening, I planted some cilantro seeds in the herb garden. I should have planted these in the spring, but I'm a little behind this year, in case you haven't noticed. Hopefully they will at least sprout. I still have slots for three more herbs, but I'm going to have to find some plants somewhere because I don't have any other herb seeds to plant. I need to make a cocoa mulch run this week, so hopefully Ray's Nursery will still have some herb plants left.

After that, I finished planting my garden. I threw in one of my zucchini plants that survived, my two sad looking pumpkin plants that were left, some muskmelon seeds (because my plants died--a recurring theme this year), and my pepper plants (which looked great). After almost two hours of garden bliss, it was time to return to the confines of the house and get some other work done.

scouting event

They did this thing called the Scouting Olympics (or some such thing) today. The kids did track and field type events--hurdling, jumping, sprinting, relay races, etc. Jake killed at the sprints. I slathered myself with SPF 55 sunblock, but still managed to get sunburned--in the part of my hair (no sunblock there)! The sun was pretty bright today, but it was windy so it didn't feel too hot out. The event lasted about 3 hours. Most of the kids seemed to have a great time, so I guess you could call it a success.

Brian had band practice when we got home. I managed to catch a little nap while he was doing that. The nap didn't do anything to help my headache (nor did standing in the sun for 3 hours, for that matter), but hey, a nap's a nap.

I got to work in the garden tonight as well. That was fun, but it seems like someone's always mowing their grass while all of the neighborhood kids are screaming (not helping the headache, either), so my garden time is not usually all that relaxing.