Friday, June 29, 2012

Friday Fave: Late June Garden

There's just something about a garden in late June, ya know? The threat of a killer frost is gone, it's not too hot yet, and you can actually taste the fruits (ahem - vegetables) of your labor. And that's just what we've been doing. We've been dining on lettuce, radishes, spinach, and small onions for about the last 10 days or so. It's ever so rewarding to walk out to the garden in the evening and cut that night's dinner lettuce.

Here's what it looks like today (well, actually, yesterday):
Overall, not too shabby. 

The ghetto tent that protected our corn through May and early June certainly did its job and what germinated is actually growing nicely.

However, our tomatoes and peppers did not like the overnight cold temps we got about two weeks ago and I'm not sure how well they'll bounce back.
Oh come on sweet fledgling tomato plants! You can do it! 

The potato bushes held up well and may be not-so-secretly plotting to take over the south end of the garden.

This is my current favorite part of the garden- the onions.
We've got sweets and regular yellows and they must be absolutely loving the cooler nights and higher-than-average rainfall. The garlic is doing well too although I haven't sampled any yet. 

Here's kind of a cool month to month to month comparison of the same general garden area.
April          -      May        -           June 

How is your garden looking this lovely June day? Are you eating your dinners from it?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

In the Kitchen - Success and Fail

Like most anyone would, I have my proud moments and I have my not-so-proud ones. Recently, this became evident in the kitchen. 

Grilled hearts of romaine. 

This was quite easy and quite delicious. Just lightly coat the lettuce in olive oil, sprinkle with coarse salt, place on a hot grill for about three minutes, and viola! Smokey, flavorful spears of romaine. 

Angel Food Cake. 

It's like an angel food cake blob just took over the oven. The instructions warned me to use a larger pan (which I didn't have), so I just poured the excess in ramekins. Yeah, that bright idea didn't work so well, now did it? 

(Please refrain from harshly judging the lack of a sparkling clean oven interior.) 

(Okay, nevermind. Go ahead and judge. If my dirty oven makes you feel better about some less-than-perfect aspect of your kitchen, I suppose I have served some purpose for good.) 

(Wait, scratch that too. If you're still judging me for the dirty oven, please come over and clean it for me. I'll thank you by grilling you delicious hearts of romaine and tearing off a chunk of exploded angel food cake.)

Friday, June 22, 2012

Friday Fave: Buy the Pinata

Here's a bit of advice that I guarantee will save your health, marriage, and sanity.

Buy the pinata.

Just buy the pinata.

I can tell by the flummoxed look on your face that you have no idea what I'm talking about.

Let me explain. Then you too will know to just buy the pinata.

It started out innocently enough. I thought Lana would enjoy whacking a candy-filled pinata at her third birthday party. She seemed to really like the pinatas we'd see at the grocery store and liked them even more when she got to take part in the destruction of a small one at a cousin's party. She understands these orbs (or whatever shape, really) hold endless supplies of candy and small toys. I was all for the idea too, and then I saw the price tag of a grocery store pinata.


WHAT! $25 for shaped tissue paper?! Shaped tissue paper that will be destroyed, no less. 

I immediately axed the idea of buying one and confidently decided I'd make our own. After all, how hard could it be? How much time would it really take? Surely anyone can make a safe and effective pinata, right? I should have stopped thinking right there, let Lana pick out whatever brightly-colored pinata she wanted, put it in my cart and bought it immediately.

Nope, instead I went to our local dollar store, bought a few extra-large balloons and headed home to cover one in layer upon layer of wet paste-covered strips of newspaper. I figured a few layers ought to cover it up fine that night, and then the next night I'd quickly cover it in lady-bug colored tissue paper, give it some legs and antennae, fill it with candy and call it good.

Ha! I have never been more wrong.

I got two layers of newspaper on that night, but not before making a huge mess in the dining room with wet glue and paper strips. The layers did not dry as quickly as I'd hoped and the next morning the orb was still damp. The next night the paper had dried, but not really firmed up enough to make anyone believe it would still keep its shape when the balloon popped. So it got another layer, this one messier than the first two. It was then that I realized this whole pinata thing may be out of my league, and I asked myself, why didn't you just buy the pinata?

That would not be the only time the thought entered my head.

I thought the same thing when Dan brought home some industrial-strength spray adhesive that would dry quickly and allow lots of newspaper to be put on at once. It worked well, but the chemical smell was overpowering and I wondered that toxic fumes we were going to expose innocent children to.

When the shell was finally done, we decided to spray paint it instead of covering it with tissue paper because I couldn't find red and black tissue paper. (Granted, I only checked the dollar store.) The top and back were painted in a thick coat of super-glossy bright red spray paint. I was impressed. The red looked pretty dang awesome. It still stunk to high heaven, but a t least now it was starting to be pretty.

The next night, Dan sprayed the rest of our ladybug black. In theory, this was a good idea. In practice, the matte finish of the black was rejected by the high-gloss of the red, and where the two colors met, they fought. Black layer after black layer these two colors in their different finishes were in a constant quarrel. The end result was a dried crackle-layer. Why oh why didn't I just buy the pinata?

By that point, we were committed and the children were going to be whacking a crackled ladybug. We hoped the chemical smell would continue to dissipate and we'd be fume-free by party time. Dan cut the ladybug open and nearly passed out because of the fumes. (Ok, I may be exaggerating here. Dan will never admit to ever almost passing out, but it did really stink. A lot.) We dumped int the candy anyway.

Party time! Yay! It's a beautiful day - perfect pinata weather. All the children get ample cracks at the flying ladybug, but that big gal isn't budging. No one can get it to break open and we're all getting a bit restless. Finally cousin Allison hits it hard enough to break it off the rope, but it doesn't split open, even when it hits the ground. Dan has to pick it up and rip it apart. This kids are so excited to finally get their candy.

This should be our happy ending, right? 


Remember that chemical smell? Oh yeah, it's still there. It's kind of every where. Sadly, it's even in some of the candy. Quickly all the dads taste some samples of candy (that's sure chivalrous of them) and determine what is safe and what is not.  All the candy that is sealed in individual wrappers is fine, but the candy that was just wrapped and not sealed is not okay. So, some of the kids had to forfeit much of their stash to the trash can. Again, buy the pinata.

Let's recap, shall we:

Approximately 7 hours of work.
Week-long mess in the dining room.
A spot of glue on the table that STILL won't come off.
1 can of industrial-strength spray adhesive.
Endless aggravation and frustration.
Potentially poisoning small children.
Throwing out chemical candy.

What's the lesson? (As if you don't already know.)


Yup, just do it.

Shut up and BUY THE PINATA.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Party Like a 3 Year Old!

Imagine me with rhythm, dressed in baggy pants, gold chains and teeth, and a flat-brimmed baseball cap rapping the following:
Aint no party like a 3 year party, cause a 3 year party don't stop!
Okay, you can quit imagining now. It's kind of painful to think about. 

 But really, the party was quite epic, and it very nearly did not stop. It started at 5:00 and no one left until well after 8:00. With loads of sunshine, an awesome playground, cupcakes, cousins, and a pinata, who would want the party to stop?
Happy Birthday Lana-Girl!

Having a go at the iron-clad pinata.

Sadie's got a great swing!

Make a Wish!

The girls put on a silly play complete with Lana as the photojournalist.

Six beautiful girls! (Presley, Avery, Lana, Allison, Kenzie, Sadie)

Monday, June 18, 2012

To Lana Jean on her 3rd Birthday

Happy Birthday Sweet Girl!

Oh, I can't hardly believe it. You're THREE! This is so cliche' to say, but it really does seem like you were just a baby yesterday. But you're not a baby, are you? Nope, as your growth and maturity and independence show me, you are less of a baby and more of a little girl every day.

Three years ago I strained to push you into this world, and now it's all I can do to grant you the freedom to explore all the curiosities this world has for you. Seeing how your little mind learns and grows as you figure out new things is a constant wonder to me. Watching you grasp and apply a new concept that you didn't know even ten minutes ago is simply amazing. Most recently, you've been going through a verbal explosion. You can certainly be quite chatty, but on our drive to and from town, I love hearing your stories about who you'll play with that day, who you did play with, songs you like to sing, what a certain tractor or truck is doing, or talking about the cows we just saw. Your mind is constantly at work and it's all I can do to keep up with you. Please know that even when I don't know the answers to all your questions, I always, always love you and so does Daddy.

According to the experts of such things, most children record and fix in their brain their first permanent memory between 2.5 and 3 years of age. That means in your head right now is something you'll never forget. My earliest memory is of my mother, your Grandma Cindy, righting me in a swimming pool after being pushed under by some older kids. I remember her holding me tightly and protectively and reprimanding the children who hurt me. I don't remember what happened to those kids or if I was allowed back in the pool, but I do remember feeling safe, knowing my Mommy would never let anything bad happen to me. What is your earliest memory Lana-girl? Is it dancing in the living room with me? Is it riding on your Daddy's shoulders? Is it tumbling down stairs? Is it splashing in the bath? Oh how I wish I could be the one to chose such things. I would cull all records of me getting frustrated in front of you and replace them with scenes of laughter and love. Wise words I once read said to tell you how much you're loved 10 times more than correct your behavior. Sadly, my ratios fall far short of that, but please know I'm trying. Every day, I'm trying.

This past weekend was a busy one for us, wasn't it? A big birthday party at the park with six of your cousins, your first pinata, and a Sunday full of playing to your heart's content. I'm so happy it was fun for you. One milestone I didn't realize would affect me so much occurred when I took you down to the church nursery for the last time. I am so very excited for you to join the bigger kids in their lessons and activities, but I know full well that you're not considered a baby anymore - not by me, not by anyone really - when you outgrow the nursery. I teared up a bit after dropping you off, but I'll try not to again. Instead I'll replace those feelings with ones of excitement for all that's ahead of you.

I have a secret to tell you, Lana Jean, and it may shock you. There was a time when I thought I didn't want kids. I looked around at parents I saw and I thought their lives were dull, boring, and lacked spark and excitement. Their days appeared to be full of cleaning up messes, dealing with crying and whining, and yearning for all the adventure they left behind in their pre-child days. Ha! little did I know, right? You have been the biggest adventure I could ever embark upon. Your snuggles and sweet kisses fill my heart more than any Broadway show, designer handbag, or Florida beach ever could. Instead of stamps in the passport I longed to fill, I have hours upon hours of story time, tower building, tummy tickles, and singing silly songs.

As with most things, another has already said it better than I ever could:
“You are the trip I did not take; 
You are the pearls I cannot buy; 
You are my blue Italian lake; 
You are my piece of foreign sky.” 
-Anne Campbell (Author, A Mind of Her Own)

Happy Birthday Lana! To end this letter, I'll tell you what I first told you when you came into our lives three years ago. 

I love you and I'm so, so very glad you're here.

Love always,

Friday, June 15, 2012

Friday Fave: Lana talks about her Daddy

In celebration of Father's Day, I thought I'd interview Lana about her Daddy. I had a great time asking her questions, and I think you'll enjoy reading them.

What's your Daddy's name? Daddy Dan

How old is Daddy? Ummm...I'm just three and he's five.

How tall is Daddy? He's sooooooo big. (She demonstrated this by stretching out her arms as far as they could go.)
What does Daddy like to watch on TV? Mickey Mouse.

What do you like to do for fun with Daddy? Go outside and feed Roxy and give her a treat before we go to church.

Where does Daddy work? In Palouse.

What does he do at work? He just opens the door and spins around and fixes things and spins spins spins for all the day.
What's Daddy's favorite thing to eat for dinner? Spaghetti and chocolate cake.

What does Daddy like for breakfast? Sausage and marshmallow cereal.

What does Daddy like to do with Lana? Tickle my belly and my cheeks.

What does Daddy like to do with Mommy? Give lots of hugs and kisses.

What does Daddy drive? The little grey truck and then he drives the big blue truck and I just watch Mickey and he drives the wheel.

Tell me about Daddy's hair: He doesn't got any hair.

Why not? A crocodile just swim up and bite and eat it all gone.

What does Daddy say to you and Mommy? He tells us 'I love you' and we love him so much.

(The word usage and grammar is a bit rough, but I think you get the idea. This little girl thinks the world of her Daddy. Happy Father's Day, Dan. Lana loves you and I love you and we both think you're the best Daddy EVER!)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Mr. Creepy McCreeperson

Pay no attention to Dan's closed eyes, or my smeared make-up and sweaty face. Instead, look at what you're probably looking at anyway.
Yup, our self-portrait attempt from last weekend's concert was HIJACKED! And by no other than the creepiest guy I think I've ever seen. 

 Get up, walk away from your computer, then turn back and look at the picture. See!?! 
His eyes keep following you, don't they?

Friday, June 8, 2012

Friday Fave: My (sometimes, but not really) helpful work-out partner

I've been wanting to find someone to work-out with me, and Lana was willing to help out. (Well, for a few minutes anyway. She got bored pretty quickly and then went back and forth between sitting on/too close to me and playing with her dolly.)
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Friday, June 1, 2012

Friday Fave: Jamey Johnson

Dan and I haven't always agreed on music. I'm a little bit country and he's rock 'n roll. I'm acoustic and he's electric. But this artist, Jamey Johnson, we can both easily agree on, and when we saw he was coming to Spokane tonight, we knew we had to be there.

So tonight while Lana is getting spoiled by the babysitter, Dan and I will be enjoying an awesome show.