Thursday, May 30, 2013

The New Addition

We added a new addition to our little family here a week or so ago.  No, it wasn't a baby or even another animal.  It was this bad boy.

A grill.  I have been wanting a grill for the past 9 years.  We kept saying we were going to buy one, but we never did.  There was always an excuse for why we didn't buy one.  We wanted to wait till the end of the season to save money.  We wanted to wait until the deck and back yard was done.  Things like that.

Well, this year we decided we were not going to wait.  We were going to buy one and we were going to enjoy it all summer long.  But the problem was, neither one of us had any idea what made a grill a good grill. We we went into our super nerd research mode and, well, frankly, didn't really learn all that much.  All the reviews we read said that if you want a good grill you have to spend at least $500-800.  That can't be true.  There has to be a reasonably priced grill that doesn't cost as much as a stove.  So we asked J's parents, and this is the exact one they have and they love it.

It's a Infrared grill.  Now I'm not exactly sure what that means, but it does use less propane and it doesn't get flair ups.  And it seems to cook food really well.  We've used it almost every night since we bought it.  And we are loving it.

We've made ceder plank salmon, grilled asparagus, grilled sweet peppers, grilled mushrooms, grilled steak fries, kabobs.  Well you get the idea.  It's fantastic.

The best part about the grill, it was on sale for $199 and we got an 11% rebate as well.  That's another $22 that can go towards our deck fund (which has reached over $1000, so we will be starting that soon).

We're in love.  Now we've only had the grill for a couple weeks, we'll see how well it holds up.  Maybe in six month's I'll write an update to let you know if it's still as awesome as it is now.

And in other outside related news.  We planted some ferns this past weekend and most of the flowers have been planted.  I'll have an update on that soon.

I leave you with a picture of our neighbors back yard.  They have a LOT of pine trees in there back yard, so grass will not grow.  So they have planted all sorts of pretties that will grow.  I love their backyard.  It always reminds me of a tropical forest or even an ancient forest, one that dinosaurs would be roaming.  It's very pretty and relaxing.  I hope our backyard has that tropical escape feel by the end of summer.  I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Now the wait begins - Garden Update May 2013

This past weekend I finished planting the rest of my garden.  We had a cold snap a week ago and they were telling people to wait one more week before planting certain fruits and vegetables.  I am very relieved that it is all planted this year.  And boy to I have a lot of things planted this year.

I got the seeds above from the local ReStore during their earth day celebration.  They had a huge pile of seeds and each family got to pick out three.  We went at the end of the day and they still had a large amount of seeds, so the guy told me to take as many as I wanted.  I only took four, I could have easily taken more.

The Willy Street Co-op, if you are interested, is a locally owned grocery store that is stocked with local products.  It is actually own by anyone that wants to be part of the co-op.  It's like a local Whole Foods, but much better (all I'll say about Whole Foods is I'm not a fan).

But anyway, here are those little purple kohlrabi.  Just little sprouts right now, but they will get bigger and produce delicious kohlrabi.

Here are my broccoli sprouts.  They look just like the kohlrabi sprouts.  They need to be thinned out.

The great thing about seeds, you can use them over a few years (keep them in your freezer), so for a dollar or two, you get multiple years out of one pack.  I bought these seeds last year.

I have two varieties of carrots planted.  One is the purple haze you see above and one is the little short carrots (I can't remember what they are called).

My snow peas are also doing very well.  I can not wait to for these to get big enough to produce fruit.  There is nothing like a fresh snow pea pod right off the vine.

These are my red onions.  Some are planted close together to produce table onions and some are planted farther apart for regular onions.

My leaf lettuce is also pretty happy.  The sprouts are finally starting to take on the look of actual lettuce.  This had a verity of leaf lettuce, so there will be all different colors in there soon.  Lettuce is great because I can keep planting seeds all summer long.  I have to admit that they look a little like dandelions  but if you look closely they are a little different.

I also have cucumbers and zucchini that are planted.  I am pretty excited about these because we both love them and eat a lot of them.  Yum!!!

Those are all the plants I started from seed.  I normally start everything from seeds, but I just didn't have the time or space this year.  I hope next year I'll be able to start everything from seed again.

But that doesn't mean I don't have anything else.  Here are two of the verities of basil I have planted; purple and Thai.

I also have some sweet basil in a pot.  This has just been cut back, so in a few weeks it will be twice as big.

This year I have four different varieties of tomatoes and four different types of peppers (both hot and sweet).  Some of them are budding already..

I also have some lovely oregano growing in a pot.  I love this and it dries up so nicely.

And we can't forget the mint I have every year.  This year I've added chocolate mint to the bunch.  So if anyone wants any mint let me know, this stuff grows like crazy and is so easy to propagate.

I have a number of other herbs planted as well, like parsley and garlic chives.  Some of them come back every year and I don't have to replant.

So that is where I am with the garden right now.  I might still try and get some arctic kiwi planted, but I'm not sure.  I'll have to wait and see if another projects is started soon.  I can't wait for everything to start growing and producing fruit.  I'll make sure to post and update next month to show you how much they all have grown (or not grown, you never know).

What has everyone else been planting?  Do you have your plants all in or are there a few more you would like to add?

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Almost time for a frosty cold one

Hey what happened with that basement bar you were working on?  Well the basement bar is almost done.  I am excited to sit down and have a cold frosty beer to celebrate our hard work.  Well, J actually worked way harder at this then I did.  I only stained (and helped with cutting some of the boards), he did everything else.  I'm pretty proud of him.

It's been 90% finished for a few weeks now, I just haven't gotten any pictures of it.  I can't believe it's finished.  Our friends were very impressed with it at our party.  Everyone had to stand behind it.

The wine racks are in, but need to be re-adjusted.  But I have to say, they look mighty pretty.  And no, that's not wine in there.  We're not really wine people (except to cook with and to make sangria).  That was are good liquor we were hiding from our friends (hey sometimes you have to do that at a big party, don't judge).

As you can see, we still have some tools sitting on it to finish up a few of the last little bits of the bar.  And for note, the Jagermeister is not mine, that stuff is gross.

We still have a couple pieces of trim that need to be added.  Then it will be officially done.  We also have to find some bar stools we like.  We're having a difficult time finding ones we like as well as ones that will be tall enough.  But we'll keep looking and I'm sure we'll find something.  We also need to install the lights, but that might be a bigger project then expected.  We'll have to wait for J's dad to come look and tell us what he thinks.  Then it's time to start decorating our basement, YAY!!!!

What are some of the projects you are working on?  Doesn't finishing a big project feel oh so good?

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Summer has officially arrived (weekend update).

It is officially summer at our house.  J has turned in his last report for the semester and now he's officially bored.  This happens every semester, he doesn't have homework and projects to work on and he doesn't know what to do with himself.  It takes him about a week to get back into the swing of not having homework.  So hopefully by next week we'll be working on some of our planned projects for the summer.

We had an okay weekend.  I mean I was pretty upset that my art show was canceled, but I got over it.  J got his mom these lovely flowers for mother's day and then we went out to eat at Tex Tub's a local tex mex restaurant.  It was delicious.

I sent my mom some flowers (yesterday because I didn't have her new address) and talked to her on the phone for a while.  Overall, it was a successful mother's day.

Yoda even got me some roses.  Okay, so she tried to eat them, but it's the thought that counts, right?!?  I used my macro extension to get up and personal with these lovely orange roses.  I can't wait to get out into the garden and get some more macro shots.

I also bought myself a new lens.  I got myself a nifty fifity.  Now I told myself that I wouldn't buy this unless I made $200+ at my first show, but, I couldn't resist.  Amazon had it for a good deal a week or so ago and I ordered it.  I know, I should have waited, but I wanted it and I don't buy myself a lot of things.  And anyway, my new show goal is to get a battery operated cash register to replace my old one.  So if you are interested, I'm having an etsy sale.  Use coupon code MAYFLOWERS to get 25% off your entire order.

Buy back to that new lens.  The nifty fifty if supposed to be the best starter lens out there.  It was what my photography class recommended  it is what everyone on the interwebs recommends.  Now don't get me wrong, it's a great starter lens, it was just there was a little bit of a learning curve.  I had just become comfortable with my SLR camera and the kit lens (even if I've owned it for 7+ years), so to introduce a new lens, I was surprised to see how blurry my photos were.  Everyone says the pictures will be crisp and clear, they were not.  They were awful.  I was ready to return it.  But after a little research and some (okay, a lot) of practice, I think I have it down.

I have to shoot in full manual mode to get the best results, but I'm getting some great shots.  Like the one of Nacho above.  I've taken a lot of pictures of the animals as practice.  They are good models.

Here is Toonces napping, or at least trying to nap.  I've been trying to practice not only my photography but also my editing skills.  Thanks to all my Photoshop classes, I've really started to become comfortable with editing.  Am I a pro?  Oh god no, but I am getting better and I'll continue to improve with practice.

Now I've become addicted to my SLR and I have a couple other lenses on my wish list, including this 40mm pancake one.

I would like to have this one as an everyday lens.  It's pretty new, but I've heard good things about it and some of the photos online look fantastic.  So that is next on my list of lens I want own.

And the funny thing, I found out my mom has just got her first SLR.  She is trying to take some photography courses at the local tech college and is going to try some of the online one's I've taken.  Maybe we'll be learning new things together soon?  Maybe we'll both be buying new lens together?

So that's what we've been up to.  What has everyone else been up to?  How was everyone's mother's day?  Did you do anything special?

Thursday, May 9, 2013


Yesterday was J' final presentations for the semester (they have presentations, not finals).  He still has a report to turn in, but the difficult part is over.  So we decided we needed to celebrate.  We headed down to the Mexican restaurant just down the street from us and decided to get something worthy of a celebration.

That crazy bowl is filled with crab, octopus, clams, scallops, shrimp, and prawns.  All in a delicious spicy sauce.  It was amazing.  I kept stealing food off his plate because is was so good.  Mine was good, his was amazing and we could have easily shared that with left overs.  They actually gave him a little bucket for a to go container.

And, yes, the margarita was just as amazing, they always are.  I love their house margaritas.  That bad boy was a little expensive, but worth it.

So now that the semester is over, we'll be starting on some of our projects around the house.  I can't wait to start on the backyard, it's going to be great.

Monday, May 6, 2013


This past weekend was a fun, but exhausting weekend.  We decided to throw a birthday party for my 30th (and J because his birthday is in a couple weeks).  We just invited a few friends.  The weather was beautiful and we enjoyed a fire outside.  It was fun to hang out with friends that we haven't seen a while due to all of our schedules being so busy.  But it was exhausting and now we spent most of Sunday recovering.  Luckily, Sunday was just as beautiful, so we spent a lot of time on the sun porch and the deck, enjoying a few Bloodies.

Here's a sleepy, yawning puppy.  She partied all night, so she was a little hung over on Sunday, which required her to sleep for hours.  (Don't worry, she wasn't really hung over, just tired.)

J is almost done with this semester of school.  His final presentation and report are this Wednesday.  Then we can start working on a few of the summer projects we have planned.  I can't wait to start on the back yard.

What did everyone else do this past weekend?  Is this how you spent your Sunday?  Hopefully you had beautiful weather to enjoy.

Friday, May 3, 2013

May 2013 Goals

J is almost done with this semester of school, which means he's half way done with his masters,  WooHoo!  It also means we will have more time to focus on projects around the house.  This year we've decided we are going to paint the house, do the patio, and organize the whole house.  But let's not get too far ahead of our selves, what are our goals for this month?

1.  Install lights over the bar

We bought these really cool pendent lights at the ReStore.  They have a cool vintage feel to them.  We thought about painting them, but we might leave them.  They kinda go with the whole feel we're going for down here.  I guess we'll see what the month brings.

2.  Clean up the back yard

We had the large tree (that was dying) felled last winter, but then we got a ton of snow, so this baby just sat there.  Now it's time to pick up the tree, get rid of the smaller branches, and cut up the rest for our future fire pit.

3.  Plant some flowers

This is my goal every spring, get as many lovely flowers planted as possible.  I love the colors and I love the way the house looks with pretty flowers everywhere.

4.  Get the garden started

So I've already started some seed in my garden, but I have two more raised beds that need attention.  Our goal is to get the other two beds filled with plants by mid month.

5.  Start designing the backyard patio/deck

We're pretty sure we'll be going with a deck and we would like to start planning it so we can get it started ASAP.  I guess we better start getting our measurements started.    

6.  Get ready for my first art show of the season

This one isn't really house related, but it's still an important one.  I'm getting back into doing art shows again and I would like to redo all of my displays and set up.  There will be a few projects that stem from this.

So that is what we want to accomplish this month.  Let's hope we can get all this done and more.  Fingers crossed.  What is everyone else up to this month?  Are you also starting gardening type projects?

Thursday, May 2, 2013

April 2013 Accomplishments

So we didn't post a list of official goals we wanted to accomplish this month, but we did make a personal one.  We didn't have a lot on the list (it was a list related to the bar) because J was still very busy with school.  But this is what we accomplished this month.

1.  Build the bar

I'm so proud of J for this one.  He turned a few 4 x 8's into this beautiful bar without ever doing a project like this before.

2.  Stain bar

This one is again bar related, okay, they all might be bar related.  We picked out and stained this bad boy in only a couple days time.  Efficient!

3.  Get that bar all together

This seemed to take longer then building the base of the bar, but we got it done.   We traveled all over town to find the bar rail, but in the end, we got it all together.  It's still not complete, but it's pretty close.

4. Start Garden

My garden is not completely finished.  I'm holding off on the tomatoes and peppers for a little while, I'll probably get those in the ground in the next couple weeks.  But I did till all the soil, refresh the peat moss, and get some seeds in the ground.  I planted two kinds of basil, broccoli, two kinds of carrots, purple kohlrabi, snow peas, leaf lettuce, and purple onions.  Now I just have tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, zucchini, a plethora of herbs, and maybe a few other things I haven't thought of yet.

As you can see most of our accomplishments revolve around the bar.  This is because J is getting ready for his last presentation of the semester, so he's been pretty busy with school.  And I've been getting ready for a busy show season.  We've both been so busy, a lot of our projects were pushed aside for now.  But since it's May, J is done with school and I'm fairly set with shows, we'll be able to focus on a lot more house projects.

What has everyone else accomplished this past month?