Tuesday, July 27, 2010


We are hosting one of JP's cousins and her husband for a few days this week. I had a great meal planned for yesterday: grilled chicken, Messy Antipasto Pasta Salad, and a fresh dill-cucumber salad. I was all prepared...by 3:30 I had the Pasta salad made, and the chicken cut up and marinating. I dropped J off at a friend's house for a sleep over ON TIME. I had an hour in which to continue weeding in the garden (a never ending job) and tie up the corn, which blew down in a storm over the weekend. The weeding didn't get finished, the corn didn't get finished, but I reluctantly walked up to the house to prep the grill for the chicken only a few minutes later than I had hoped.

Besides spilling the oil to grease the grill with on the way out, things were still going smoothly. I put the chicken on, checked the time, and headed back in the house to make the cucumber salad. 15 minutes later, just as planned, I headed out to turn the chicken. Smoke was rolling out of the grill, and tongues of flames peeked out here and there. Not a good sign.

This is what it looked like:

Not too bad, right? We'll just have JP pick up some KFC for supper instead. Don't look up!

Oops...it appears the ceiling soffit got a bit too hot as well.

Today, my Dad helped me start up the power washer, and I went over everything. I even scraped all of the nasty grunge out of the inside of the grill. Things look much better, except for the soffit...that will have to be replaced. The good news is that both the porch lights and the grill still work!

In the process today, both the dog and I got into a ground nest of yellow jackets. She got wet and muddy, so now it's dog bath time.

The fun never ends!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Things I Love

It's been a long, hot week...enough to make one feel weary. And yet, I'm glued to the computer again tonight, blogging about things that made this week special.

(Besides these 2 little princesses, of course!)

1. When my husband schedules me for a massage. He's quite a guy! I've been complaining of my back hurting all week, so JP actually dropped everything he was doing on Tuesday night, and called our neighbor (who is conveniently a masseuse). She recently put an addition on their home to work out of, how great is that? The hour was great...left me feeling quite mellow (and a bit embarrassed for the time I dozed off and woke up snorting).

2. The Eagle's Nest at Giant Eagle. It turns out that the Giant Eagle grocery store in Washington has a FREE childcare area, called the Eagle's Nest. Just drop off the kiddos when you walk in, shop like a free woman, and pick them up before you leave. LOVE it!

3. Finding a Starbucks card at the bottom of my purse with $7.00 still on it. (Even better when there is a Starbucks IN the Giant Eagle and you can sip your Frappuccino while grocery shopping sans children.)

4. Lazy summer evenings. They go on and on until the light fades enough that you finally look at your watch and, oh my goodness! It's 9:00 already! We have been making the most of our summer evenings this week with ATV rides, playing ball with the dog, sand box art, and bike riding practice.

5. Watching your daughter master the bike without training wheels. We've really been focusing on it this week. J started on Tuesday completely terrified, crying, panicked. She ended this evening riding her bike ON HER OWN in circles on the lawn. Those training wheels are history!

6. Order out of chaos. I love the feeling after the laundry is washed, folded and put away; after the dishes are washed and the floor is swept; how a bucket of produce can be preserved in pretty jars and boxes, and how a pile of fabric pieces can be turned into something pretty. These are my pickles from 2 weeks ago: Bread and Butter, Dill Spears, Sweet Pickles.

7. Air Conditioning. The end of this week turned out to be pretty hot and humid. Since I'm still under the weather with my back, I've been sitting in the cool house sewing. Results soon.

8. Bedtime. I've been staying up way too late these days. I enjoy having an hour or two to myself and with JP after the girls go to bed...helps me re-group, relax, re-focus. Since we are staying out until last light, my "free time" is dwindling. Time to call it a night.

Monday, July 19, 2010


The girls and I travelled to Ohio for a family reunion on Saturday. It was held in a beautiful park with huge, old shade trees and a small creek wound through. Although there were perhaps a dozen children playing in the creek at some time or another,

only MY kids managed to fall in!

JP and I decided to use my colorful pasta in an antipasto salad yesterday. We ended up combining several recipes and adding our own touches. White pasta probably would have shown up better with all of the antipasto, but it was delicious regardless.

Messy Antipasto Salad

serves 8-ish

Put in a large bowl approximately 1 1/2 cups of each of the following:

-fresh mozzarella, cubed
-pepperoni, cubed
-artichoke hearts, quartered
-cherry tomatoes, halved
-calamata olives, pitted and halved

Then add 1/2 cup of each of the following:

-red onions, chopped
-roasted red peppers, chopped coarsely
-pepperoncini peppers, stemmed and chopped coarsely

Add to mixture:

1 lb. pasta, cooked and cooled

For the dressing, whisk together until well blended:

-3/4 c olive oil
-2 T balsamic vinegar
-2 T red wine vinegar
-2 cloves of garlic, pressed or finely minced
-2 T fresh basil, chopped
-1 t fresh oregano, chopped
-1/2 t salt
-1/2 t black pepper
-2 T grated Parmesan

Toss gently with dressing, and allow to marinate in refrigerator for 1 hour prior to serving.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Little Birds

The power was out again last night. It blinked out just before we sat down to dinner, and didn't come back on until this morning. This is the 4th time that it's been out since Mother's Day, and it's getting very old.

The girls were over chlorinated after spending 2 days in a row at the pool. I had intended to give them a bath, but lacking running water, we did the next best thing. I soaped them up, then let them run around in the rain to rinse off.

It was quite pleasant on the deck last evening. The rain was falling gently, the air was cool and quiet, and the hummingbirds were busy dipping into the feeder. I watched them awhile, then set up the tripod and remote trigger and shot over 60 pictures of the tiny birds.

The male was the primary feeder.

When a female came by, first they had words...

...then they fought...

...then they finally fed together briefly.

I wasn't the only one watching them either. Kali waited for them to come, then lunged and barked when one showed up. We were afraid she might launch herself off the deck! (The hummingbird is circled.)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Scattered Thoughts and Seeds

I've had some pictures ready to post for several days, but haven't been able to collect my thoughts enough to post anything cohesive here. I've given up on that, and I will just sow my scattered thoughts any which way.

-I've managed to rake and fill the area around the well and the sandbox and spread grass seeds just before it rained the other day. I watered last night, which should ensure more rain today. Hopefully some of the areas around here will start looking less like construction areas, and more like yard soon.

-Every year I plant this old iron kettle, handed down from JP's family, with various annuals. I'm particularly happy with it this year...the double petunias, coleus, sweet potato vine, and my special purple pepper plant look really great together.

-Check out these melons! They are soft ball sized, and finally bigger than the surrounding weeds.

-While we are on the subject of melons, the girls have been taking a slice of watermelon outside after dinner every day to see who can spit the seeds farthest on the concrete.

-Kali doesn't mind helping finish up any left-overs. Watermelon outside is so...Summer!

-I cleared the multiflora roses and raspberry bushes from around some more trees last week. I managed to get into poison ivy and spread it below my eye and beside my mouth.

-This week is swim lesson week at the local pool. We had a scary episode there last year, and I was a bit hesitant to go back. Lacking other options, we are there again. I spent most of the day yesterday being furious, which has left me absolutely exhausted today. (Note to self: it's likely much healthier NOT to be angry for extended periods of time!) They had only one (teen aged) person yesterday to teach and watch over 17 kids in J's class, and 15 in L's class. At lease she had the common sense this year to keep the little kids in water that was NOT over their heads! I dread swim lesson week each year, because it is a LONG week. This year, the girls want to try to get to the Library Summer Reading Program, despite the lessons, AND we have a doctor appointment in the Big City tomorrow. I'll be beat by the weekend!

Hooray! The rain has come! The dryer is beeping, and L has awaken from her nap...time to go.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Bird Watching

Kali ran at the TV today when we were watching the previously recorded Sunday Morning show on CBS. She was looking for birds. We played the bird segment several times for her, and she was intrigued each time.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Strings and Things

It's still HOT here. Not even a breeze HOT. Brown yard HOT. We are hoping for a rescuing rainfall tomorrow...COUNTING on it.

I watered the crispy front yard today under the pretenses of letting the girls play in the sprinkler.

We also met with a new violin instructor in town. He is able and willing to take on J as a student starting in just over a week. He will teach her here, in the Burg...no more driving an hour and a half weekly for lessons! Hooray!

J also moved up to the 1/2 size violin this week. It's a beautiful instrument...one we spent decent money on, so it sounds beautiful too. Here is a visual of how much she has grown in the past 2 1/2 years...she started on a size 1/8. The smallest is 1/16, even smaller yet.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Independence Day Cook-Out (Fun in the Sun and Shade)

JP and I tried to design our outside space on Poplar Ridge with the concept of entertaining in mind. This was simply foreword looking...seeing as we never managed to "entertain" more than one family at a time in the past.

We decided, however, when we had a change of plans for the Holiday weekend, to host a bunch of our friends for a cook-out on Poplar Ridge. It ended up being one of the hottest days of the year, but the temps on our big back porch were a bit more reasonable. We had a lot of outdoor activities planned, but it was too steamy to do more than lounge.

The kids played in the Kid Wash, while the adults sat in the shade with our cooler of cold drinks.

They had a watermelon seed spitting contest, while the adults ate theirs in the shade on our big porch.

They spent a lot of time in groups on the hammock, while the adults lounged in the shade. (Sorry about the blurry action shot.)

There was plenty to eat, and plenty of lazy conversation and camaraderie.

JP manned the grill, and we feasted well.

We finished out the night with glow sticks and firefly hunting for the kiddos and a Wal Mart fireworks show on the driveway.

Happy 4th of July!

Friday, July 2, 2010


Here is just a sample of what I've been up to lately.

I weeded and mulched about a third of the garden with the big hay bale we brought down the hill.

I also mulched the perennial bed with the bark mulch JP brought me...


...then I lined the house with river rock...it is supposed to resemble a dry creek bed.

I "planted" these trellises, along with 3 tiny clematis.

I built 2 practice soccer goals out of more PVC pipe. There is sand in the bottom, with spray foam insulation "plugs" to keep it down there, so that they won't fall over too easily. Total price tag: about $60 for both.

Once we had most of the tractor implements in the barn, we found room for a sandbox under this tree.

Of course, there is always stuff going on in the garden. Here the girls are each picking a cucumber.

There's no rest for the weary!