Thursday, February 28, 2008
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Our neighbors bought a weather vane (I think that's what you call these things??) this winter. It's so cool and I like it so much that I thought you all should see it too. They're planning to attach it to their dock this summer - I hope they put it on our side so we can enjoy it. It's really mesmerizing to watch.
Did you all catch the lunar eclipse last night? It was really cold here, but the dogs and I bundled up and went out every 20 minutes for the first hour. By the time it was eclipsed, the moon had risen enough to be right outside our bedroom window - so I could lay on the bed and enjoy it in comfort!! (and more importantly, warmth!!) (well, guess the comfort part would be excluding the fact that I had two huge dogs jumping on me!) Wish I had a photo to share, but I was too lazy to dig out a tripod so all the ones I took have multiple moons - interesting, but not exactly what I was after.
Monday, February 18, 2008
Saturday while we were out running a few errands, we saw these three planes sitting on the lake in front of a restaurant near our home. Aren't they cute? I'm thinking jumping in the plane to meet for lunch would be too fun!
I have been very negligent in my blog housekeeping. About a month ago nonizamboni at Peacock Blue gave me this award. And then a couple weeks ago, Tristi gave me the same award. Thanks, guys!! Even though I am very slow at thanking you, please know that I am honored to receive this award. Nonizamboni lives in the Twin Cities, and I love reading her posts - if I lived on her side of town, we would run into each other all the time, I think! And Tristi just cracks me up with some of her posts - her stories about her children's antics are a stitch. Thanks to both of you for making blogging so much fun! And thanks to all of my blogger friends - you ALL make my day!!
Monday, February 11, 2008
I've been going through old photos and scanning some of them into the computer. I came across these two the other day and thought you would get a laugh out of them. Being a farm girl, I was in 4-H growing up. I learned to make bread the old-fashioned way - lots of hand mixing and kneading. I truly like the new wet dough way better! This was a bread-making workshop during the summer before my 8th grade year (if memory serves me right). Our loaves look kind of puny - but I remember that they smelled heavenly. Oh - I'm the cute one in the center - LOL!!
Sunday, February 10, 2008
One of my favorite Valentine recollections is of one several years ago. Mark left work early and met me at a theater complex to see the 4pm showing of Chocolate. It was so fun - so out of the norm - to go to a weekday matinee. I loved it.
Mark caught Kobie and Tess this week on a warmer day - the bright sun had them squinting, but we were all enjoying the relative warmth.
Thursday, February 7, 2008
Thanks for the comments on my new garden ideas for the driveway. I look forward to reading more! As I was reading the comments, it occurred to me I didn't give you as much info as I could have. The driveway is on the north-northwest side of our house. Last year I placed half barrels along the edge of the driveway in an attempt to ward off some of the construction traffic on our street. The overview photo on yesterday's post was taken at about 9 am - the sun hadn't made it to the driveway yet. The second photo in this post was taken at 10:30 am - and you can see that the barrel is casting a shadow. The first photo shown here was taken at about 6 pm, so I get at least 8 hours of bright, hot sunshine along the edge of the road - where the garden will be placed. (photos taken around 7/20) ((the shadow on the left side of this photo is me trying to get a photo without a shadow - lol))
Last night I was checking more info on the net and making notes, and I started thinking that I'm not sure actually where my sun is in that area. The barrels did fine on all sides because they get all day sun basically from side to side. But if I plant a taller ornamental grass, the street side may not get as much sun as I was thinking. I'm not sure how the summer sun works its way across this space. I wouldn't be too upset to just plant a lovely big stand of ornamental grass - or to have a few other shorter plants on the house side - it would look nice from the house and patio area. I know Mark wants me to keep as much driveway space as possible because he's afraid I'll eventually treat the driveway like I do the yard - it's all potential garden. I can't actually deny that thought has crossed my mind! :) One thought I had was to plant the grasses kind of behind the rocks I want out there - with half barrels of annuals as fill for the forward space. So many possibilities!! I appreciate your input - and no doubt you will be hearing most of the thoughts that flit through my little brain on this topic.
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
One area I would really like to do some major revamping is our driveway. We live on a narrow dead-end street that would probably qualify as an alley. Parking is at a premium. But what I've noticed for us is that we need tons of parking only 2 or 3 times a year. Wouldn't it be easier to arrange the parking we need for those 2 or 3 times instead of having this huge open (and might I add, ugly) driveway along the street?
When we first moved into this house, the gravel area you see in the above photo was a grassy area that was about 18-24 inches lower than the street. It's enclosed with a cement retaining wall that runs along the street and back to the garage. When our sons started driving we filled in that lawn area to enlarge the driveway. It was a good choice - for years we really needed all that room for cars. But I'm thinking it's time to make it look pretty and more inviting again.
We still need room for cars and boats and utility trailers in the driveway, but I'm thinking maybe I could dig up a portion of the driveway along the street and fill it in with good black dirt and plant a pretty little boulevard garden. I'm thinking about tall ornamental grasses with shorter plants in front (toward the street) - and, oh yes, a couple of nice rocks to hopefully keep people from driving through my lovely new garden. We would still have room for the utility trailer and to store a boat in the winter. The trailer would be at least partially screened from the street, which I'm sure would make some of our neighbors happier. And our kitchen door and patio area would be partially screened from their view. I'm thinking lots of happier people!!
So, this is where you all come in. Our street isn't as heavily sanded and salted in the winter as a lot of places, but we still get a fair amount. I'll need to plant things that are fairly salt tolerant - both from salt spray and salt in the soil. So far my research has led me to believe that Karl Foerster reed grass is the perfect solution for the screening part. Have any of you grown the Karl Foerster? I'm also looking for shorter plants to fill in around the rocks and in front of the grass. If any of you have suggestions - for tall or shorter plants - I'd love to hear them.
Friday, February 1, 2008
Baked Ziti with Tomatoes and Mozzarella
1 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for oiling the dish
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
2 tbsp minced fresh basil
1/4 tsp sugar
1 pound ziti (or any short tubular pasta like rigatoni or penne)
8 oz mozzarella, shredded (2 cups)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees - rack in middle position.
2. Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil for the ziti.
3. Cook 1 tbsp oil and the garlic in a skillet over medium heat, stirring often, until the garlic is fragrant but not browned - about 2 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes with their juice. Bring to a simmer and cook until thickened slightly, about 15 minutes. Stir in the basil, sugar and 1/2 tsp salt.
4. When the water is boiling, stir in 1 tbsp salt and the ziti. Cook, stirring often, until the ziti is almost tender but still a little firm to the bite.
5. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water, then drain the ziti and return it to the pot. Stir in the tomato sauce and toss to coat. Add the reserved pasta cooking water as needed to loosen the sauce.
6. Spread half of the ziti in an oiled 9x13-inch baking dish. Sprinkle with half of the mozzarella and half of the Parmesan cheese. Spread the remaining ziti in the dish and sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan.
7. Bake until the cheeses turn golden brown, about 20 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.
Note: you can add 1 lb cooked hot or sweet Italian sausage and 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes to the skillet with the tomatoes if desired. I use frozen tomatoes in place of the 2 cans of tomatoes called for. And I use more cheese than they call for. :)
I usually make a half recipe and Mark and I easily get 2 generous meals out of it. I've done both the vegetarian and the Italian sausage - both were very, very good. Lynne, if you try it, let me know what you think!
So, I've been very bad at blogging lately! I guess nothing too interesting has been happening here - it seems to be all about the weather - either unseasonably nice days or deep-freeze cold. Hopefully, we've seen the last of the frigid cold for awhile.
I've been trying to organize my storage areas. I don't really understand why I have to do this EVERY year - obviously I haven't quite hit on the right place for everything yet!! One thing I did that I am very pleased with is moving the barrister into the dining room. It makes a great china cabinet! And it takes up less space than the ice box. The ice box moved into the living room - but, of course, not where I had the barrister. Mark was shaking his head, but it was necessary to move 3 large cabinets to make this all work. :)
Right now, I have crystal in the barrister. But, truth be told, I rarely use my beautiful crystal pieces - even when they're staring me in the face. So I'm thinking about packing the crystal away for awhile and filling the barrister with everyday stuff - kind of leaning toward putting pottery in it. I'm sure you'll see photos if I actually do that!!
The other big move I made was to take all of the photos out of this cabinet. You know the ones - the boxes and bags of photos that should be in albums, but, sadly, are not. I decided I needed more space for table linens - and also a place for beach towels. This cabinet worked perfectly. I kept the placemats in the dining room hutch because we use them more often when it's just Mark and me here. I'm excited about having beach towels handy - we can just grab them as we head out the door to the boat or lake. Kind of a strange combination, but it will work great for us.
My biggest organizing project has been in the basement. But I'm not showing photos of that - lol. You'll just have to take my work for it that right now everything seems to have a place on the storage shelves. I'm quite pleased!!