Monday, July 27, 2009

The nicest people you could ever meet.

We visited family/friends in Ohio last week. The girls and I loved spending a whole uninterrupted week with Chris. We learned that driving through the night with kids is the way to go if you are going to be in the car for longer than six hours. We also learned that portable DVD players are glorious, glorious things.

This is my step-mom, Pam. Nana Pam to the girls:

We met when I was eight years old. We had some rough times when I was younger, but as I matured so did our relationship. She and my dad are now divorced, but she will always be my step-mom. And she will always be Nana Pam. 

This is her mother. We call her GG, short for great grandmother. I want to be just like GG when I am her age. She seems half her age, dresses meticulously, and has the best haircut. Seriously, she could be a hair model. She is definitely a role model. I love talking with her. I still remember spending the night at her house when I was a teenager. She would stay up and watch television with me. I thought she was the coolest. I still do. GG rocks!: 

This is Pam's sister, Cheryl. She and her husband were kind enough to take us in for the week. They were also kind enough to host our wedding rehearsal dinner five years ago. It made my mom cry, it was that beautiful and that thoughtful. She and her husband, Jim, are our marriage role models. If we find ourselves in need of guidance, we think to ourselves "what would Jim and Cheryl do?":

Look how content the little flower is in this picture:

Yesterday she asked if we could go back to Ohio. She was utterly spoiled the entire time so I'm not surprised:

I'm just wondering why my hydrangeas don't look like this:

Pam, Cheryl, and GG are three of the nicest people you could ever know. I want to be just like them when I grow up. My girls, too. 

This last picture is for Aunt Cheryl:

Eat your heart out Nana Pam!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Before and After: Landscape Edition

We've done a few landscaping projects this summer. Chris did all of the yucky hands-in-the-dirt type stuff and I tackled the picture taking, encouraging, child wrangling, and water fetching. It worked out well.

 I love before and after shots of houses and landscaping. For this reason, my TiVo and HGTV are well acquainted. While inspiring, before and after pictures make things seem too easy. Things that once you begin, you realize aren't really very easy. Or quick. Or inexpensive.

First project: planting flowers:


I've been wanting to plant hydrangeas for the longest time so for Mother's Day we bought three bushes and some flowers for our front flower beds:

Our dog never relaxes. We put him on medication. He's still a nervous wreck. I wish he could relax.

The best "helper" anyone could ask for, it's hard to find such enthusiastic help these days:

Look at our little pathetic flower beds. First lesson in flower planting: you need lots and lots of flowers (or lots and lots of patience) if you don't want your flower beds to look pathetic. It took Chris all day to plant these:  

These pictures are from today. This is where the patience part comes into play. Much bigger and better, huh? I think next year I will plant a mix of all white flowers instead of having different colors. 

Our hydrangeas aren't looking so well these days. My friend tells me I need to water them more. I'm wondering if they need more sun. Any suggestions? And to add insult to injury, everywhere I look this summer: huge, beautiful, white hydrangea bushes. 

Our other BIG project: trees!

We desperately needed some in our backyard for both shade and privacy. These are before pictures:

The little flower pulled up a chair to watch all of the action from our deck, what better entertainment for a toddler?

The truck went back and forth thirteen times.

Our poor grass (it recovered quickly)!

And the finished product:

Much better, although not as much of an impact as I had thought. This is what I was expecting (photo from via google images):

Apparently that is the backyard at Buckingham Palace. Nice, right?

I wonder how long it will take for my trees to get that big? Twenty years? Will my trees even get that big? I can see the before and after photos now. Grow trees grow!

Lastly, remember these birds? Well, they all hatched and left the nest:

But not without a fair share of drama. As I mentioned we checked on the nest every day. One morning I went to check and they had all left the nest. As I was walking away something caught my eye. One of the birds was hanging by it's foot from a branch. It had somehow gotten a piece of string/twine of some sort wrapped around it's foot (I think it had been used by mama to make the nest) and when it went to fly away that piece of whatever got stuck on a branch. 

I couldn't just let the poor thing hang there until it died or it's leg came off, so I put on some gardening gloves and got to work bird rescuing. I was able to hold onto the bird long enough to free it from the string but it was obviously injured and eventually fled under a tree.

 I like to think it's little bird family nursed it back to health. That some day, possibly while watering my hydrangeas, I'll be visited by a little Robin with an odd but able gait. She'll sing me a song of gratitude and then fly away.  

I'm thinking I should rename my blog The Bird Whisperer.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Two Words

Why and Wow.

Why did I have to go and try Nutella for the first time the week before I have to wear a bathing suit in public?

Big mistake. Huge.

Have you ever had it? It's a chocolate/hazelnut spread. It's the peanut butter of Europe. I picked it up on a whim at the store thinking it might be a good snack for the little flower. There are 180 calories in two tablespoons. Good for her, bad for me.

I was so smitten I googled it. Among other things I learned that Nutella's Facebook page ranks third in number of fans, behind Barack Obama (holla!) and Coca-Cola.

But, as good as Nutella is...let me tell you, you Have. Not. Lived. until you've had homemade strawberry jam:

I used a Barefoot Contessa recipe using green apples instead of pectin and blueberries for color.

It's somewhat runny, but chunky and positively SUBLIME. I could never go back to store bought jelly/jam again. This pot, probably about four pints of strawberries, made four jars. 

I bought the jars, water bath, and utensil kit at Target. I was a little intimidated when it came to sterilizing everything but it really wasn't that difficult. You can easily find directions online, I used this and this for guidance. I'm hoping I can make another batch or two in the coming days. I would love to eventually get a pressure canner, but for steps.

What a treat it will be to pop a jar open this Winter and have a little taste of Summer. That is if these jars last that long.


Monday, July 6, 2009

Weekend in Review

We had a very full, very fun weekend.

On Saturday, our neighborhood had a "parade". I was surprised by the turnout (pleasantly so). It was great to finally meet some neighbors. We met another family whose daughter goes to the same preschool as the little flower.

 There were three fire trucks- a big hit with all of the kids as you might imagine. Everyone followed behind and met up for popsicles at the end. We even went for a ride in a firetruck- all the kids were speechless:

That night we enjoyed sparklers, s'mores, and a backyard fire:

The next day we went to our CSA farm to pick strawberries. We were allowed to pick up to five pounds for free (as part of our share), we ended up picking seven. I will freeze as many as I can, but our freezer is small. I'm planning to make freezer jam and muffins. Then I'll only have five more pounds to worry about!

Superbaby decided she'd had enough after about three minutes of picking strawberries. She was hungry and the sun was beating down so we took shelter in the car most of the time:

I hope you had a lovely weekend!