Monday, May 31

memorial day weekend

The weekend went by like a whirlwind. I don't think we did anything out of the ordinary on Friday night, but the rest of the weekend was quite busy.

On Saturday, we went to Costco, as mentioned in a previous post. That took up much of the morning and afternoon. After getting situated at home, Brian and I went for a quick bike ride. After supper, we ran to Lowe's for some garden stuff for the home and office (I got some cool metal tiki torches for the back patio--they really light up the back yard).

On Sunday, we went to my parent's for the annual birthday dinner for my brother and me. We had a great dinner there (plus I got presents!) and then came home and didn't do anything in particular the rest of the night--I was feeling kind of lazy.

This morning, Brian and I caught a late morning bike ride (we wanted to get one in before the afternoon thunderstorms that were coming). After lunch, we headed to the office and Brian calculated the materials needed for the porch roof he's planning on replacing next weekend. Then we went to Lowe's to buy said materials. It was business as usual the rest of the evening. Tomorrow, it's back to work. I don't even feel like I got an extra day off this weekend!

Saturday, May 29

strawberry wine

We made one of our three to four yearly trips to Costco today. So, now we're stocked up at both home and the office. I love Costco--I only wish there was one closer.

I've been wanting to make strawberry wine, so I figured this would be a good time to buy the strawberries since I needed so many (16 pounds). Unfortunately, I can't make the wine until Tuesday because I don't have the other supplies that I need and I won't be able to get them until then. I wanted to buy the supplies last weekend, but I could not find my wine-making book that contains the strawberry wine recipe. However, Amazon came to the rescue--I found the book on there today, and thanks to their "Look Inside" option, I was able to find the recipe I was looking for. That was convenient, though I'd still like to locate my lost book.

I haven't made strawberry wine for a couple of years so I'm really looking forward to making this batch of wine.

Wednesday, May 26

not my day

So I woke up to a thumping headache (issue #1) this morning and things only got worse.

Brian took his truck to the garage to get inspected today. We honestly weren't expecting any issues as we have spent a lot of money (like close to a grand) on the truck over the past few months. However, we ended up with a $600+ bill (issue #2). It's to the point now where we're thinking about buying a new car. If we're going to be spending this kind of money all of the time, might as well have something nice to show for it--we're thinking of an inexpensive sedan-type vehicle that gets good gas mileage (so Brian can use it on his sales calls). Of course, if we do get a new car, we're going to keep the truck because we always seem to be hauling stuff (mulch, building supplies, woodworking supplies, etc.). We're hoping that if we limit the truck's use, it won't have as many problems (and if it would need fixed, we could potentially hold off on it since we'd have another vehicle). But, we'll see what happens with all of that.

I was getting the dogs' paperwork in order for an upcoming visit to the kennel when I noticed that they forgot to give Alice her rabies shot when we were there in March (issue #3). So, I made an appointment for right after work today. In my haste to get out of the house on time, I threw a chicken on the grill and forgot to turn off the middle burner (for indirect grilling). Luckily, I was also making potatoes, which I put on 30 minutes later, but the chicken was pretty much burnt to a crisp already (issue #4). By the time I got home from our appointment, we'll call the bird "well done". Luckily there was enough edible meat for our supper. Oh, and I cut my baked potato in half to find out that it was rotten (issue #5). Thankfully, Brian shared half of his potato with me.

I've had a pond issue (issue #6) that has been plaguing me for a week or so (a slow leak that I can't find). I intended on working on the pond after supper, but we received a call from the eye doctor that Jake's new glasses were in (his old ones were broken by some kid last weekend at a school function), so I had to run there instead (I did work on the pond after I returned. I still don't know if it's fixed.). They also had a pair of my motorcycle glasses, which I wanted to get tinted (the glasses have photo gray lenses in them, but don't darken behind my motorcycle helmet face shield). And, since the day is going the way it is, they could not tint my glasses due to the fact that they had polycarbonate lenses (I've been wearing glass lenses for years, so I did not know this fact). Issue #7.

the leak

Every year, I fix leaks in the pond until things get stabilized. This year, I thought I had things fixed, but am now experiencing another leak that I can't figure out. The leaks have always occurred in the stream that flows into the pond. I guess the dirt must wash away and lower the liner and then a leak occurs. However, I cannot find any indication of this. Even so, this evening, I built up some of the lower edges of the stream in the hopes that they were somehow the problem. I guess I'll know by morning (if not tonight) if I was successful. If not, I don't know what I'm going to do.

Monday, May 24

it's complicated

I thought this was a pretty funny movie. Not totally "laugh out loud" hilarious, but definitely funny enough. I might be showing my age here, but I imagine you need to be a little mature before you'd like this movie. For example, I can't see 20-somethings liking this, but what do I know?

Sunday, May 23

the patio's open!

I spent all afternoon (like 4-5 hours) getting the patio ready for summer. First, I edged it, and then I power washed it. It took forever to power wash, but it looks great. I also gave the furniture a once-over and got the cushions and table umbrella out of the shed.

I received a new bistro set for Mother's Day/my birthday. Initially, I was going to put it in yard near the pond. But I convinced Brian to throw away our old picnic table and the patio was looking a little bare, so I ended up putting the new table and chairs on the right end of the patio, also near the pond. We even broke it in this evening, by having supper on it.

For once, I feel like I'm ahead of the game as far as getting stuff done outside. I've been spending every spare moment outside, so I guess that is paying off.

Saturday, May 22

golf

We had a golf outing planned with Judy today--mini golf and ice cream at the Meadows--but the weather did not cooperate (which seems to be a recurring theme for the year so far) so we ended up at Glow Golf at the Galleria instead. It was pretty cool. I'm pretty sure that's the first time I played miniature golf indoors. Plus, I won, so that made the afternoon even better. I owed that to Judy after she kicked my ass at air hockey a few years ago. After golf, we caught some pre-dinner ice cream at Little Sprinkles in Geistown.

While we were out, we stopped at Ollie's and bought two air conditioning units for the office, so now we have one for each room in the building. I can't wait to get our electric bill this summer.

I made supper on the grill, in the pouring rain. We had Delmonico steaks, corn on the cob, and grilled mushrooms. Yum!

Now, I'm gearing up for Movie and a Margarita Night.

So, despite the weather, this has been a great day.

Thursday, May 20

planting time

The weather is supposed to be seasonably warm for the long term forecast, so I started planting the warm weather crops in the garden. I managed to plant tomatoes and cukes in the veggie garden and basil in the herb garden. And, I planted three varieties of coleus in the shed window boxes. I still have more stuff to plant in the veggie garden, but ran out of time. But, there's always tomorrow.

I don't know what's going on with my tomato plants. They looked great when I transplanted them about a month ago, but have gone downhill since. I've had this problem in previous years as well. I guess it's time to do some research on the subject.

Wednesday, May 19

the side (and back) yards

This is a picture of the side yard, as taken from the "dog area". There are four evergreen trees planted on the side property line. Two of them were planted a while ago and are decent size. The other two were planted recently, and have some catching up to do. The mulch from the dog area extends into the side yard and even further into the back yard. No major plans exist for this area of the yard, besides continued maintenance of the mulch, and keeping the dogs from killing the one evergreen tree that they have access to (just speaking from experience here). At the rear of the shed are a bunch of black-eyed Susans. I'll have to take a picture of them when they're in bloom.

The next photo was taken from the side porch. It shows the pond area and the shed, both of which are in need of some work. The flowerboxes for the shed will be planted this week. I'm not thrilled with the plants around the pond--I've decided to go for a bigger plant look there, but that's going to take some time to accomplish. One of the first plans is to divide the hostas by the shed, as they get very large, and plant them along the stream. And, of course, move the smaller plants to a different location. The table and chairs by the pond was my Mother's Day/birthday gift from Brian and Jake this year. At some point soon, we're going to level the earth and put down some flagstone for the table/chairs to sit on.

This final photo is the butterfly garden, which sits between our patio and the back house foundation. It starts to look pretty good around the end of June. The middle plant is a butterfly bush. Also in the mix are the following: black-eyed Susans, purple coneflowers, butterfly weed, blue asters, Elijah blue grass, and a few other things. This area also contains solar path lighting, which comes in handy at night. I love the butterfly garden because I don't do anything to it and it looks great every year. Plus, there are the butterflies...

Tuesday, May 18

tomato teepees

In an effort to get a jump on the tomato-growing season, I tried out this contraption this month. I put out the tomatoes around the 7th of May. So far, they seem to be doing a good job. However, we had a couple of frosty nights right after I put the plants out, and they did suffer some frost damage. I will say that I only put the teepees out a day before I put the plants out, and they recommend a few days (to give the ground time to warm up), so this may have had a bearing on the issue. I only tried this with three plants as an experiment. If they do better than my regular planting of tomatoes, I will buy these for all of my tomatoes next year.

My remaining tomato plants look pretty pitiful, but I'm going to put them in this weekend since the weather is supposed to warm up and stay decent for the foreseeable future. Assuming my experiment works, next year, I'd like to get the tomatoes in May 1, but I guess it will depend on how many frosts are in the forecast.

To be continued...

Monday, May 17

nonstop

It was nonstop action over the weekend. Friday started off leisurely enough as I took the day off. After the crappy weather of last week, I was itching to get back outside and knew the weekend wasn't going to have a ton of opportunities for that.

Friday evening, we went out to dinner at Rizzo's to celebrate my great aunt's 83rd birthday. Dinner was great--the more I go to that restaurant, the more I like it. I mean, I've been going there my whole life, but I appreciate the restaurant more as time goes on.

Saturday and Sunday were busy around the house, though we did have some fun as well. Brian and I spent a number of hours in the shop planing cherry for use in our living room and dining room trim. We also went on a couple of short bike trips. I got to work outside a little bit. And, I did a little "extra" cooking (i.e. made homemade soup on Saturday and a blueberry buckle on Sunday) And the rest of the time was filled with weekend chores such as doing laundry, going grocery shopping and doing some work on the office. Fun stuff!

Friday, May 14

the yard

As I get the different parts of the yard/garden respectable, my plan is to post pictures. The plants aren't in full bloom yet, so I'll have to try to do this again later in the summer for comparison's sake.

Up first is a pic of the front of the house. Nothing much going on here. Actually, I haven't even mulched around the trees, but you can't tell since the photo is from a distance. We have two Japanese plum trees and two oak trees in the front. Years ago, one of our Japanese plums was damaged in a storm, so we replaced it with another. That is why the one tree is so much larger than the other one. The replacement tree isn't growing very quickly , so I wouldn't be surprised if both of them end up getting replaced down the road.

The hedges growing around the house are yews. And, you can't see it, but there's a flower box full of mint growing against the house. I had to remove the mint from my herb garden years ago because it was taking over everything.

This is a closer pic of where the dogs go out (off of the side porch). I mulched that area a couple of years ago because most of the grass was dead. The mulch has worked out surprisingly well. It doesn't get tracked into the house and it looks better than having patchy grass out there. Plus, all the less lawn for Brian to mow!

In other gardening news, I took today off so that I could work outside. This is the first nice day we've had in over a week. I managed to catch a few hours of weeding before a storm blew in (with massive amounts of hail, I might add). The storm caused a bunch of sand to wash out of my garden path. I just got that straightened out the other week and planted some dwarf thyme in the cracks, but it didn't have time to take root yet, so it's a mess out there. I guess I know what I'll be doing this weekend.

The storm also ruined some coleus plants. I had them sitting under the shop door roof, but the wind blew them onto the patio and they suffered some hail damage. Hopefully I won't have to run to the store for more plants. And, it's a good thing that I didn't pot them and put them out today, like I considered doing.

All in all a good day for planting even if it did rain.

Thursday, May 13

mother's day

I guess I'm a little behind in my posts.

On Sunday we had everyone over for a combination Mother's Day/Jake's birthday cookout. I did things right this time in that I made all of the side dishes on Saturday (deviled eggs, baked beans, and Muffuletta Salad--totally awesome, by the way). Then, all Brian had to do on Sunday was grill up some burgers, chicken, and kielbasa. Pretty easy.

As for Jake's birthday, he's getting to drag it out for a while. Not only did he get to celebrate with the family on Sunday, but we also took him out for supper today to a restaurant of his choice (Eat N Park). And we held back a few gifts so he'd have something to open today. Plus, next month, he's having a pool party at my in-laws with a few of his friends. He's really looking forward to that.

Jake turned 10 today, by the way. Double digits. Happy Birthday, Jake!

Sunday, May 9

fantastic mr. fox

While I wouldn't call this movie fantastic, it was good enough for Family Movie Night. It was based on a Roald Dahl book, so it was weird like all of his other stuff. There was one funny recurring theme throughout the movie--the word "cuss" was substituted for swear words. Though I'm not sure why this was needed to begin with seeing that it was a story for kids. At any rate, it was kind of funny, so we've been doing that rather than swearing, since last night.

Jake really liked the movie (but I don't think he has seen a kid's movie that he hasn't liked). Brian and I thought it was ok.

Tuesday, May 4

julie and julia

We caught this movie over the weekend. It was pretty good. Brian didn't think he was going to like it, but he did. The movie was about a woman (Julie) who decided to cook all of the recipes in Julia Child's first cookbook and blog about it. The Julie scenes were interspersed with scenes of Julia Child's life (the two never intersected). I particularly liked the Julia Child scenes--Meryl Streep did a great job in that role.

Sunday, May 2

mulch day 2010

Yesterday, Brian got a couple of truckloads of mulch and we spread them around the side and back yards. This year, I extended the mulched area to also encompass the herb/fruit area of the yard. Yes, I now have a designated "fruit" area. Our neighbor even came over and helped us unload the second truckload. Thank goodness, because I was ready to be done at that point. It was so hot yesterday, but at least I can check this off my to do list for the year.

I did a bunch of other things, too: cleared the weeds out of the herb garden; planted broccoli, cabbage, Brussels Sprouts, and gourds in the vegetable garden; repotted all of the pepper plants; planted some more seeds in the house (I can't remember which ones at the moment).

I found this greenhouse on Facebook the other day. It sounded promising, so I checked it out this afternoon. The place is called Matteo's Herbs Galore and it is quite impressive. First off, I never even knew there was a nursery in the West End, let alone one this nice. They had quite an array of herbs, veggie plants, and flowers. But, today, I was looking for herbs. I found everything I was looking for and then some. I'll definitely be going back there again.

dixie cups

Two weekends ago, I went grocery shopping. It was a "stocking up" trip and I wasn't planning on going again until this weekend, so I was dismayed to find out a few days after my shopping trip that we were out of Dixie cups for the bathroom. But, I wasn't about to run to the store again just for that. Another week passes and Jake says to me, "Someone needs to get more Dixie cups out from under the sink". Really? More than a week passes and that kid doesn't even attempt to take care of the problem himself (not that he would have been able to seeing that we were out, but still). Sheesh.