Thursday, April 29, 2010

Friday Ramblings...

Guess who went to the gym both yesterday and today at 6:00 AM? Me! I'm not sure if I'll be able to make it part of my daily routine, but its gone pretty well the last few days. I'll try it again Monday morning and see what happens.

I'm loving the green goodness that's popping up in our gardens. Most of my excitement probably stems from the relief I experience each time I see some green poking through the perennials I cut back last fall/early this spring. We can take care of a yard!

The front walkway is nice, but the real excitement is in the backyard. The pear, apple and crab apple trees have all started blooming. Our crab apple tree (below) makes me incredibly happy, and I'm looking forward to more pink blossoms on our apple tree. There are lots of plants waiting to pop in our circular garden. This is the garden that really had me scared and now that I know I didn't kill anything I'm really looking forward to seeing how it evolves over the summer. I checked the vegetable garden last night and there were a few green shoots poking through the soil. The raspberry bushes are growing quickly and the rhubarb is looking very healthy.

Isn't the crab apple tree beautiful? If you look very closely you can see our patio furniture in the picture above. It's white, so it kind of blends in with the house. It's pretty small for the size of our patio, but it will do for at least this summer. Plus, I absolutely love it (I'll love it even more when it gets a fresh coat of paint).

I've never been into grilling, but for some reason - probably our lovely landscaped patio area - I really want to this spring and summer. I came across this grill at Menard's earlier this week and I think it might be a good fit for our needs:

It's small, portable and inexpensive. Now to convince the husband that we really need one...

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Turf Wars

After several weeks of pulling up weeds with my hands, I finally bought one of these on Sunday afternoon:

It's been a blessing.

I may have used it last night to pull up some dandelions in our neighbor's yard. I was surveying our patch of mini trees, the seeds for which were deposited by a tree in the same neighbor's yard, when I realized there was a GIGANTIC dandelion on their property. All I could think about was hundreds and hundreds of dandelion parachute seeds blowing into our yard, landing in our fertile soil, and sinking their deep roots in our yard.

So I got my tool and I yanked it up.

And then I saw another dandelion in their yard, so I pulled that one, too. Seven dandelions later, I found myself almost in the center of their front yard. At that point I was a little embarrassed - there is a very large picture window looking out over their front yard - so I retreated to our garage and deposited my armful of dandelions into our refuse bag. G was embarrassed, but they had to go. I've tried to justify my effort to eliminate the dandelions by telling myself that they would probably be happy to have someone walk through their yard and pull up the weeds, but maybe G is right and they really do like dandelions. Was this a bad move?

...because there are three more plants I've noticed and I'd like to remove them tonight.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Weekend in Review

Friday night I met my mom for dinner at the Birchwood Cafe in Minneapolis. Omg, it was amazing. I will gladly go back anytime, so let me know if you want to go with me. So, so yummy.

Saturday was filled with errands and a potluck dinner for the PEO chapter I was initiated into on Tuesday night.

Yesterday, one of my husband's aunts carpooled with us to G's grandpa's birthday in Harmony, Minnesota. I love Harmony for a few reasons. Not only do G's maternal grandparents (who are fabulous) live there, the town is also home to a sizable Amish population. I love going to Harmony. I love G's grandparents, I love southeastern Minnesota landscapes, and I love looking for Amish. Seriously, when I see a horse and buggy rolling down the road or an Amish farm, I get more than a little excited. My reaction is probably similar to the level of enthusiasm a small child expresses when s/he opens the coolest Christmas present imaginable.

When I was 8 I wanted to go to Amish camp, and that's no joke. (No such camp exists, if you're wondering.)

So, yesterday afternoon when we drove by three buggies parked in the grocery store's parking lot, I was very excited. I made my husband go right instead of left and then drive down a back alley so I could get a closer look. Both he and our aunt were laughing at my enthusiasm. Then I made him stop so I could take a picture of the horses because they were tied to a hitching post. How often do you see that? It was so exciting.

Unfortunately, as I was taking the picture, G saw his parents drive by and I think he got a little embarrassed so I ended up getting a partial image and part of his car in the picture. Honestly, I just don't understand how people can't share my level of interest in the Amish. They're fascinating. Right, Mags?

Happy Monday!

Monday, April 19, 2010

How does your garden grow?

There are hundreds of seeds hiding under this soil:

I over-seeded with the hope that it would increase the chances that a good number of them would actually germinate. I planted 10 rows of vegetables (lettuce, peas, beans, carrots, two types of onions), a patch of chives, and some violas along the north edge of the garden. The back section of the garden was actually still partially frozen when my dad tilled it, so he suggested turning the soil every other day for a few weeks and then planting. I'm planning to plant some brussel sprouts and broccoli in that section, but don't mention that to my husband. I'm afraid he'd take some weed killer to the entire garden if he knows I'm planning to harvest a healthy crop of brussel sprouts.

Here's what I put in the north section of the garden:

In other garden-related news, our raspberry bushes appear to still be alive (yeah!) and are sprouting new leaves:

The rhubarb is coming up like gangbusters (if that's possible):

And the cactus I'm eager to remove from the garden is doing something interesting, so I've decided to let it grow for another summer. It's hard to see in this picture, but there are little sprouty things along the edges of the cactus. Yesterday I noticed that one of them had developed into a relatively large red bud (just a bit smaller than my pinky finger), so we'll see what happens...

And that's the news from our gardens. Hoping for lots of new growth this week!

Off to work. I was just assigned an EBD kid yesterday, so my job just got even more interesting.

Weekend In Review

Let me introduce you to my youngest niece, P:

We had the opportunity to spend Saturday with two of my favorite nieces (and their parents and my parents) at the Minnesota Zoo. P enjoyed the rest of her sister's bomb pop after eating a healthy sized portion of cotton candy. She just melts my heart. Such a sweetie. Her big sister, M, is also a little dear, but she's a little camera shy.

After the zoo, my dad spent some time tilling our vegetable garden and I finished clearing out the dead stuff from the flower garden. It feels so good to have finished that project! They stuck around for dinner and then G and I hit the local nursery to find some seeds for the vegetable garden.

G's parents took us out to brunch on Sunday morning. Our big brunch left us feeling pretty lethargic, so we spent the first part of the afternoon just sitting around and being lazy. Eventually, I ran some errands and then we spent a few hours outside taking care of more yard work. G mowed the lawn, and I did some more weeding in the flower beds and planted our first vegetable garden. We ended the day hitting some tennis balls at the courts near our house.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Decorating Our Nest: Living Room

[Note: This somehow posted without me knowing it...sorry for the missing pictures - I've added them!]

Last week G and I went to HomeGoods in search of lighting options for our living room. We ended up purchasing a rug that had been marked down to $100. It's not exactly what I had imagined for our living room, but the colors couldn't be better and the price was unbeatable, so we stuffed into our little Neon and brought it home. I still think it looks like something my grandparents would have owned, but it's growing on me more and more.

Now that we have the rug, we're excited to finish furnishing the room. I've mentioned before that I've been searching Craig's List for furniture deals, but we've finally decided to just go with a coffee table and matching side tables from Target.

They are from the same line of furniture as the console table in our entryway, so that will help to create a sense of cohesion between the two spaces. Additionally, they're currently 15% off and qualify for free shipping, so we like them even more.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Catching Up

I feel as though I owe my faithful readers some updates, so here goes:

1. I love my subbing assignment. If money were no issue, I didn't have my existing education loans to pay off and/or I had full funding for another degree, I would apply for admittance into a special education licensure program. I've only felt this certain about something one other time in my life (knowing that G was supposed to be my life partner), and I honestly think that special education is my vocational calling. I love the challenges I encounter with each new student I work with, I truly enjoy building relationships with my students, and I leave the school feeling a sense of fulfillment and joy.

2. Our gardens are starting to look more and more beautiful. In the past 5 days, our front garden has gone from looking like this:

to this - look closely, you'll see some change:

...and just yesterday these blossoms appeared on one of the bushes:

The light in the picture isn't great, but those flowers are a dark purple and they are lovely. I love coming home to them! I'm hoping to make good progress with gardening projects this weekend.

3. I'm not sure what's going on, but I have more pimples on my face right now than I ever did as a teenager. Earlier this week I bought a Burt's Bees' herbal blemish stick and I've been surprised by how effective its been. Definitely recommended.

4. I had my stitches removed on Wednesday morning, which meant I was back on the treadmill that night. After 8 days of no exercise running 5K wasn't as easy as it once was. I'm so glad I can exercise again - I feel so much better when I spend some time at the gym.

5. I've been working on a number of sewing projects, including some more booties. I'll try to post about them sometime next week. No promises.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Prepping the Garden

This is how I spent my Thursday night:

The mountain of leaves that covered our garden has been reduced to a small hill. I'm hoping my dad's tiller will take care of the rest of the stuff this weekend. At this point most of what is left is blackened, heavy organic matter. One pitchfork of that stuff must be around three pounds. Twenty pitchforks full of organic matter into one bag yields an extremely heavy bag. Eleven full bags (ten are in the picture, and one is in the garbage bin at the end of the driveway) carried just under 1/2 acre from the garden to the mailbox equals one very tired, very fatigued me.

My husband is in for quite the surprise when he returns from tennis. When he left at 8:00, I had filled two bags and moved them to the patio. I managed to fill the remaining 9 bags by 9:00 and get them all moved to the mailbox. From this point forward, all lawn clippings and leaves will be removed fro our yard in the fall, and not just relocated until the spring. That was a dumb thing to do. Lesson learned!

Here's to hoping the rest of the crap on the garden can be mixed in with the soil. I want to get our garden started this Sunday!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

I got nothin' for you today, except for this video. It's apparently been viral for a while, but - as usual - I just heard about it.

G took a picture of me this morning, mostly so I could see just how distracting my bandage really is. Yup, pretty bad. Maybe I'll post it later, because I'm also wearing a really cute Nick & Mo top I got on super-sale at Nordstrom Rack earlier this week. Until then, have a great Thursday!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

New look

Check out the look I'll be rockin' for the next 24 hours:

This is what happens when you have a cyst removed from your eyebrow area. I didn't dare take the picture straight on - having the entire upper right quarter of your face sterilized for a medical procedure doesn't exactly do awesome things for one's appearance. The kids at school (who, by the way, have big attitudes and no manners) are going to have so much fun with my temporary look. Fortunately, I didn't have to go to school this afternoon. It's a half-day, and since I'm a sub I don't have to go to any training sessions. Nice. Tomorrow will be interesting, though...

After my appointment I went to Target to pick up some Tylenol and the woman at the checkout counter asked me if anyone had ever told me I look like Julia Stiles. I told her that I'd heard that a few times before, but that it had been a while. That got me thinking that I should look at some pictures of Julia Stiles online while researching hairstyles for my haircut tomorrow evening. For those of you who know me, do you think I can pull this one off (sans highlights)?

I'm still not convinced I look like her, but it's a nice complement. Feedback on the hairstyle, please!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Recipe: Whipped Marscarpone Topping

My parents used to own an avocado green waffle iron. I remember thinking it was ancient back in the 1980s, and they didn't replace it until I was in college. When I was a kid, my dad would pull it out from the cupboard every Saturday morning and make a huge batch of waffles. We'd eat waffles until we were stuffed and then he'd freeze the rest for the upcoming week (Eggo ain't got nothin' on my dad's frozen waffles). Over the weekend I reminisced about those Saturday mornings. Not sure why those memories popped into my head, but I'm glad they did! G and I ended up having breakfast for dinner both Saturday and Sunday. We used our heart-shaped waffler, which my parents gifted me with for Christmas a few years ago:

The batch we made on Sunday were amazing. We topped them with the leftover whipped filling I made for our Easter dinner and drizzled a little pure maple syrup on top for good measure. So, so yummy. To make the filling/topping I combined 8 ounces of marscarpone, 1/2-3/4 cup heavy whipping cream and 2 tablespoons of sugar. Slather a little bit (or a lot) of that on your waffles and you will be in heaven. I'm so hungry for it right now.

Instead, I'm eating a toasted leftover waffle with peanut butter, bananas and pure maple syrup. Probably a better option, but I don't think anything could beat that whipped filling I made on Sunday.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Vera Bradley Sale

Oh man, I am loving this school's late start time. I just received an email from Vera Bradley about a one-day sale for this purse:

I really like this purse, and I'd totally get it in cupcake green or raspberry fizz. Springy colors.

Healthy Nest: Keeping Accountable Week 4

I hit the 60 mile mark last night! No big goals this week. I'd like to squeeze in two spin classes and another four days of running.

Monday, March 29: 4.1 miles, upper body strength training.
Tuesday, March 30: Day off.
Wednesday, March 31: 3.1 miles, lower body strength training.
Thursday, April 1: Spin class
Friday, April 2: Day off.
Saturday, April 3: Run 5 miles, sit ups. (I missed spin class.)
Sunday, April 4: Run 4.1 miles outside.

The case of runner's toe I mentioned last Monday continues to cause me some pain. Unfortunately, I developed a second case of runner's toe on Wednesday. Same foot. Two little piggies right next to each other. (I'll spare you pictures of my own toes, but if you want to see what runner's toe looks like, click here. Thank god for nail polish!) I really don't think there's much I can do about it, so I'll just have to tough it out until the pain starts to subside. I had a case of this last June and although my toenail stayed black for a long time, the pain eventually went away. No pain, no gain, right? ;)

By the way, my 6:00 AM phone call was positive! I go in for the week and then the company I work for will check in to see if I want to continue for the remaining nine weeks. Yeah! I'll try to keep this updated, but it might not be everyday. You'll just have to check back and see... And leave comments, people. They're my candy!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Friday Ramblings

Update: You must also check out this blog: male pattern boldness. It makes me extremely happy.

1. Are back massages worth the money? I loved mine this morning, but I'm not sure I'm ready to fork over $40 for 30 minutes of muscle rubbing more than once every few months, even if it was heavenly.

2. Someone sent me the link to this video this morning, and I thought it was hilarious. Watch it. I signed up for Twitter back in the fall of 2008, but used it like 5 times. I don't think I could log back into my account if my life depended on it.

3. We're hosting Easter dinner at Casa K this year. Both of our families are coming, and I am very excited! On the menu? Radish crostini for after church, maple-glazed roasted ham, warm herbed potato salad, asparagus with garlicky butter and a tortellini salad (as the optional protein for those not eating ham, ahem) for lunch, and a strawberry custard pastry for dessert. Wanna come over? My mom dropped off a 12 pound ham, so we'll probably have some to share.

4. I'm so paranoid about leaving the roaster on during church that I'm going on Saturday night and sending all of my family to the Sunday morning service so I can make sure the house doesn't burn down.

5. Our radon test was been submitted yesterday, so I have no excuses for not starting to paint the basement. I'm excited!

6. Last night my husband used "your legs" and "cottage cheesey" in the same sentence. This was not an April Fools joke. The only thing that saved him from a slap on the butt was the look on his face immediately after he spoke the words. Priceless. To his credit, he did describe my legs in the past tense, which hopefully means they're not so cottage cheesey anymore.

7. We made good progress on the landscaping last night. I tackled the big garden in the backyard:

Looks a little better than this, right? Please say yes, because it took me forever. There are still a few things that could probably be pruned, but I want my dad to look at them before I attack them with my clippers.

G and I took on the landscaping in the front yard as a team. In the amount of time it took me to carefully finish pruning two bushes (you can see them in the distance), he did this:

Yesterday morning that area was COVERED with dead growth. It look infinitely better, but I'm afraid it might never look the same as it did when we moved in. I hope I acquire a green thumb quickly. We have the landscaping along the backside of the house to take care of, the removal of the massive pile of leaves on the vegetable garden, and some touch-ups on the circular garden...and then I think we should be set. I hope. I really, really hope.

8. Costly car repairs are one of the most unpleasant surprises ever. This is closely followed by riding in a tow truck at night with a racist mechanic.

9. I was offered an extended sub job that starts next Monday, but the school wanted to review my resume and they never got back to the placement company. They just called to let me know they'll let me know early Monday morning. If they call me at 6:00 AM on Monday to tell me the school ended up hiring someone else, I'll be mighty unhappy!

10. I made so much progress on the second chapter of my dissertation yesterday that I surprised even myself. Unfortunately, I really need access to a copy of Adobe Acrobat so I can convert a survey I developed earlier in the week into a writable pdf document. This one of the major challenges of living 280 miles away from my university. Speaking of writing, I should get back to my chapter...

Happy Friday, and Happy Easter!

Spinning = Sweatfest

In college one of my friends found a lump in her breast. Scary, huh? Going through that experience with her and knowing that my friend, who happens to be a crazy smart physician, now only wears natural deodorant means that I follow suit. On rare occasions, like our wedding or fancy events, I'll break out the Dove, but on a day-to-day basis I use Tom's of Maine. To be completely honest, if I'm at home all day and I don't have anything going on, I skip it altogether. TMI? Maybe, but I know I'm not the only one.

On Thursday night, Tom met his real match: the spin bike. After a four month hiatus from attempting a spin class (I tried it for the first time in November and walked out after twenty minutes - spinning is an insane class), I decided to give it a second chance. I've been running pretty regularly and doing some strength training, so I thought I could probably handle an hour of intense cycling. I was also motivated by the fact that my 70+ year-old aunt and uncle go to spinning class THREE TIMES A WEEK.

I survived the class, and I also learned that it's a total sweatfest. I am so glad I chose the bike in the back corner, away from the other people in the class. I was literally dripping sweat off of my arms and face. By the end of the 60 minute work out, I was pretty stinky. And by pretty stinky, I mean really stinky. Despite the stink factor, I'm looking forward to tomorrow morning's class!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Spring has Sprung!

Do you spy what I spy (besides a shed in need of a coat of fresh paint)?

While surveying the gardening challenges that await us this spring, I noticed there were some green shoots popping up in one of our gardens. I am hoping some of them are my favorite flower, tulips, but I am thrilled to have any spring blooms in our gardens, including these miniature daffodils:

I'm looking forward to seeing what other surprises that will pop up this this spring! This is definitely one of the big perks of moving into a home whose previous owners were gardeners.

My task last night? Removing the brown stuff. Err, starting to remove the brown stuff. There's a lot of dead material that needs to be removed. The giant pile of leaves located behind the circular garden in the above picture? Yeah, they're covering our vegetable garden. In addition to clearing out the veggie patch and the circular garden, I have to take care of the other landscaping that surrounds the entirety of our house. It's going to be a lot of work.

Any green thumbs want to join me for an evening of fun? Pretty please?

An Email Conversation

I'm posting this email conversation with G that we had yesterday afternoon for those of you who know him. He's recovering from foot surgery and is at the point where he can do more physical activity, so I offered to bring him to the gym with me last night so he could try some different machines. As soon as he started using the apostrophes to shorten his words I knew he was in one of his goofy moods, so I ran with it. The "Kuhl" he refers to is a home building company. We went to one of their homes last weekend on the home tour and they had installed a distressed wood floor in its kitchen. They actually drop heavy rocks on the floor to give it is distressed look, which is the process he's referring to. Maybe I think this conversation is funnier than it actually is, and if that's the case, I apologize for posting it. :) I think Mom V will at least appreciate it.

Here goes:

A: I just remembered that I can bring a guest to LA Fitness tonight for free. You wanna go, or do you want to play some tennis? If we play tennis, I need to leave by 6:20 in order to make it to the gym in time for class.

G: So, if I go to the gym, does it count towards that other 1 free week thing?

A: I don't think so. We'll go to the gym and they'll probably try to sell you a membership. You can just tell them you're trying it out but that you might need more time to check things out. Dawdle like I did. They'll probably offer you a 7-day trial pass (you can tell them I was offered one for a friend or family member).

G: Do they have a track in there?

A: Nope, but they do have elliptical machines and a number of different kinds of bikes you could try. There's also the pool and hot tub if that sounds interesting.

G: Maybe I’ll start with the ellipticals, then switch over to the ‘mills when I got a good sweat goin’. Once I go about 4-5k I’ll probably jump into the pool and do a few laps. Then I’ll probably run around the perimeter of the building a few times and then finish with some weights. They have weights right?

A: Sounds like a plan - they have a boulder-throwing pit, a log-dragging course, and a bus-pulling zone. Will that be enough for your weight lifting needs?

G: I was hoping to hone my lumberjacking skills, so the log dragging will help, but I was hoping they’d maybe have a chainsaw or something I could use.

A: They don't allow chainsaws in the workout area, but they do give you the option of trying to crush the logs with the boulders. I'm not sure if that will help you in your effort to hone your lumberjack skills, but maybe it will help?

G: Hmm.. sounds like a money making plan. I’ll smash the boulders into the logs, then sell the logs as ‘pre-stressed’ to Kuhl. They can then use the wood in fancy houses.

A: You are so brilliant! Now come home to me so we can have dinner and go to the gym.