Hostess with the Mostess?
Don't we all want to be one??? Here is a new Website/BLOG I recently came across, and had to share with you all!!
Packed with all sorts of entertaining ideas!
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Don't we all want to be one??? Here is a new Website/BLOG I recently came across, and had to share with you all!!
Packed with all sorts of entertaining ideas!
The Green theme with our CSA continues! This week we received Broccoli, Collard Greens, Spring Onions, Snow Peas, and Freckled Lettuce. The herb of choice was Thyme. I'll plant that out back. The only flipping herb we don't have this year is rosemary, one of our favorites. The bush we had died 2 years ago. Anyway, here's some photos!
The Broccoli was delicious.
And the last photo was taken by Ashley of Sweetpea and Lola catching a nap together. Too funny.
Has anyone seen my wife? I don't think she's posted on here in nearly a month. I also ask because soon we'll be eating her special Basil & Tomato salad! I counted the other day and we have 11 plants which are all starting to flower which means cherry Tomatoes will follow shortly.
I'm going to try and keep a running log of how many Tomatoes each plant produces. I'm going to name each plant. My names for now are Lucy, Rosa, Parnell, Rebecca, Sally, Tabitha, and Sara. If you have any suggestions, let me know.
It's become quite the contraption back there as fitting all those plants in our tiny space requires lots of yarn, stakes, and knots. We have somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 basil plans as well, 2 Cilantro(2 strains), Dill, and Parsley. The Dill started to flower prematurely and I think since they started growing way to early from seedlings left from last year, they just matured to quickly. Oh well. Photos from this morning.
I am eagerly awaiting the first taste test!
Our CSA delivery this week is supposed to have Broccoli, Collard Greens, Spring Onions, Freckled Lettuce, and Oregano. As you can tell, it's all green, which is cool with me!
It's all done. Sampson behaved very well during this fiasco, and even let the guy that worked inside the house pet him a few times. Anyway, here's a few final photos. The first one is the yard before the work began, the second one the yard after, the third is the front from a different angle.
Here's the hole they drilled into the house from the outside. They ran the new COPPER line inside via that hole, then sealed in and out with hydraulic cement. A bumble bee and a rainbow follows. All can't be that bad, can it!
The plumbing for the bathroom is finished. Here's a couple of photos.
So the drainage pipe has been rerouted to the other wall so we don't have to drill a hole in the side of our new vanity.
And the photos a couple of months ago:
As quickly as possible. We receive water bill that had doubled in 6 months. Plumber came by to assess the work in our upstairs bathroom to reroute drainage pipe. We ask plumber about water bill. Plumber says we have leak from water main into the house. We cut off water from house. Read meter outside. We have a leak. We call water company, they check their end of things and yes, it's us, the water main leading into the house. A simple plumbing job becomes massive. Photos.
These were taken at 11:00. Updates as the day progresses.
Now the weeks are beginning to fly by. Just as I finished cooking up the last of our Asparagus and Kale, we get another batch of veggies on the doorstep! The only thing I can't keep up with is Spring Onions. I'm just not so sure what to do with them. Luckily, they last a couple weeks.
We received our usual portions of Kale, Spring Onions, and Strawberries but the new addition this week was Snow Peas. It's a small portion, but a portion nonetheless. Freckled Lettuce was in this batch as well. Also, a second installment of Cilantro that wasn't tipped over on it's head arrived! I'll plant that this weekend.
Nokia candy bar phone. I've had 3 phones prior to this one. Our service is AT&T. This is - hand down - the best phone you can buy on the market. Period. It's $20, gets reception all the time, and is as durable as a phone can get.
As you can probably tell, it's also the biggest hunk of shit you can buy. It likes to multi-task. A) hunk of shit, that B)fuctions properly. All too common these days.
Don't get me wrong, I love technology and all the neat things that have hit the market in the past year or two, but the best bang for your buck? Nokia candy bar phone. Brooke and Alexe!?!? Right, right?!?!
The common excuse I was given by the AT&T/Cingular representative at the time about the lack of reception of my other phones was this:
"They have been putting more towers around the area so you must be getting interference. It'll be back in no time."
Right. As a consumer, common acronymns thrown about are Global System for Mobile Communications("GSM") or Universal Mobile Telecommunications System("UTMS").
We just want to get to the point, not an excuse as to why our phone will or will not work "as well" as it should. You provide a product and a service. That service/product shouldn't be sold until it works properly.
SNAFU(Situation Normal: All Fucked Up) and it's BS("BullShit").
Nokia. Get one.
What? Stickman? Could I figure a better way to waste 20 minutes? Click refresh if you missed it the first time. 2 points!
Well so much for blogging the entire month of June away! I should have posted my Shrek story in segments, but couldn't bring myself to do it. And it didn't help that we forgot the camera on Friday night when we went to Old Town and then that we were both walking zombies on Saturday at a BBQ.
The most simple yet powerful marinade I've ever used on chicken was tested on Tofu this weekend. It turned out surprisingly good. Combine lots of Soy Sauce(1/2 - 3/4 Cup, maybe more), press lots of garlic(3 bulbs?), and the juice from 1 lime. Let sit overnight(the key) and make sure to disturb it once or twice and then grill your meat/tofu. For better recipes, head over to Chantal's page!
Here are a couple of photos I took of the Tomatoes this morning. In the photo on the left you can see the first baby Tomato forming! The second photo is the very hairy, dewy, flowers from another plant as they prepare to give birth to a baby Tomato.
Also, here's something that may be appealing to some people. If you're interested in Tivo, but not the price, try Myth TV. It's also known as Free-vo. Yes, it's UNIX based, but you will save yourself plenty of money, time, and it's much more powerful than Tivo. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to send me an email! I'm pretty much a Unix geek.
On Tuesday evening we had a few nasty storms roll through our area, so as the batch of Lightening passed over the front of our house, I figured it to be an opportune time to try and get a bolt. With Sam drooling everywhere and trembling at my side, I stepped out front and managed this photo - out of about 65 shots - which caught the lightening.
Wicked! After 60+ shots, your patience wanes a bit, but I finally managed.
And Tomatoes. Where would I be without the Tomatoes? As you can see, they exploded with joy since my last post about them on the 3rd of June!
The plant on the left is the picture taken on the 3rd of June.
The one on the right was taken on the 12th of June of the same plant.
It exploded with all the heat and what not we've had around here, and the soil has definitely warmed. A few of them are starting to flower. I have no clue if we're going in the right direction here as this is my first time starting them from seed, but I'm hoping all is well!
It's totally out of control. When I started the seeds I planted 15 thinking I may have a few that don't grow for whatever reason. Turns out 13 out of 15 grew, and I didn't have anymore room in the garden so I planted the rest in pots. A few of them are leggy because I didn't know what to do with them, but I eventually gave in last week and planted them instead of letting them die. Plants are everywhere.
And if you're sitting at work right now and would like some free radio, check out Pandora.com. It's pretty neat, you enter an artist or song you like and it will build you a station which associates that artist/song with a genre and compiles a bunch of stuff. It works really well.
CSA week 2!! This weeks delivery consisted of Asparagus, Freckled Lettuce, Strawberries, Cilantro, and spring onions. We were also supposed to receive some strain of Snow Peas, but they weren't included. I suspect they went to harvest and decided next week was probably the best time to pick them. Anyway, the size of the Asparagus was noticeably smaller, as were the spring onions. To make up for the size differential, we received more of everything.
Tonight, as Ash & I attempted to devour the last of the neverending Kale, I cooked half a Sweet Onion until they were translucent and then dumped in some garlic with chopped chives and a bunch of Kale cut into bit sized pieces with the stems removed. Let it cook for about 1 minute and the dump in about 1/2 a cup of water, stir, and cook for an additional 5 minutes on medium. Finish it off with a bit of salt and the juice from a lemon. Be careful with the lemon juice though.
Kale is just full of goodness. I can nearly feel the vitamins being injected into my bloodstream when biting into the stuff. Yeah, that's a bit heavy, but I swear!
Exciting stuff. I cut it a bit close with my update for today and my pictures were terrible. Exhausted is my only excuse.
And Sampson is not for sale! After re-reading my post about him(and Lola, for that matter), and well as receiving a few comments, I realized that it did sort of sound like a craigslist posting or like some singles site! Ha! No sum of money could force us to give up either of our monsters!
Name: Lola Bonita Ayres
Age: She just turned 4. We've had her since September of 2004. I found a post I'd made about her a couple weeks ago from my old blog.
Breed: Border Collie Mix. We think the "mix" part contains Chesapeake Bay Retriever or Weimaraner.
Background: She's been with us since she was a puppy and has possibly the most stubborn personality of any dog I've known. Lola is your typical border collie breed. She's a very loving and social but needs her exercise(lots!). She's definitely the problem child between her and Sampson as she always seems to seek out trouble. Her recklessness at the creek has caused her more than a few trips to the vet(broken nails, cut webbing between her toes, and rabies shots).
Hobbies: Lola loves shoes. They are comfort to her. It's more of the working dog mentality associated with Border Collies I guess, but if she takes your shoes she won't chew them. I've come home to 4 or 5 shoes and she just rests her head on them. Chasing squirrels, cats, deer, and terrorizing Sampson are her some of her favorites. Swimming is #1. She yearns to run as fast as she can and jump into the water after a stick. When we're in Front Royal, she herds the ATV. She was clocked chasing the ATV at 35 mph(give or take a few mph), so she's quick. Eating is not one of her favorite things! Total tomboy.
God Awful Fears: Lightening, Thunder, the Vacuum, Food(ha ha), and doors that get blown by the wind in the spring or fall. Meredith's "err-whoop-whoop" noise.
Fun Facts: Running 35mph chasing the ATV.
Nicknames: Lo's, Lowes, Lolita, Terror, Munchkin, monster, Karen Carpenter.
Summary: Lola is a wonderfully energetic dog but settles like a teddy bear at the end of the day. She's an unbelievably agile girl and amazes each day on our walks. She's intelligent yet stubborn. We consider ourselves lucky for finding her as well. Her and Sam are the best of friends even though their personalities are complete opposites.
Age: Depends who you ask. But we believe he's 7 to 7 1/2 years of age. We got him when he was 4 1/2...or so they estimated.
Breed: We suspect Sampson is a Labrador mixed with a hound.
Background: We are Sampson's 3rd home. For some strange reason, he didn't work out too well in his other environments. Based on his first few months with us, I'm not sure those two environments were exactly ideal. He was skittish and hid when we ate dinner or human food of any type was around. He was well trained and scared of males with facial hair when he came to us. He's adapted very well.
Hobbies: Sam enjoys chewings sticks, pooping, peeing on everything(occasionally Lola, by accident), and eating as much as he can. He was trim when we got him, and then he got a bit porky. He's since dropped 15 lbs which makes it easier for him to frolic around with our energetic Ms. Lola. He's also been known to eat a little dirt from time to time. Pushing his head between the wooden beams out on the deck(as the picture shows) and waiting for dogs to stroll by is never out of the question.
God awful Fears: Thunder, Lightening, heavy rain, and Fireworks.
Fun Facts: Sam "moo's" like a cow when you talk to him. He will also jump up to your face and give you a kiss if you ask him to.
Nicknames: Fancy Feet, Sam, Samuel, Mr. S, and Weenie.
Summary: Sampson will melt your heart if you're not careful, whether it be by him raising his paw at you asking for more attention or the continuous "moo" sounds he makes as if he's trying to communicate with you. He's an extremely intelligent but goofy boy, and Ash and I consider ourselves very lucky to have found him. He compliments our other terror(Lola) perfectly.
On Saturday we went to Charles Town Races & Slots for Carolyn's birthday. A fantastic time was had by all, thought no one really hit it big. Ash hit a nice win/place/show bet on the horses and I was hitting the occasional slot for $40 but then dumping it right back in the machine!
Photos before the festivities began. Dinner.
Carolyn & Ash at the slots, a 5 cent slot machine, and Carolyn and Dan assessing the machine.
This was our 2nd time at Charles Town in the past month, and I definitely recommend going if you're sitting around on a Saturday and have nothing to do. It's about an hour and 10 minutes from Fairfax County, so plan accordingly, but nothing can beat sitting around trying your luck out on the slots and throwing a few bets on the races!
We were celebrating Carolyn's b-day a couple days early for this occasion, her b-day falls on the 9th, which is today! Happy Birthday Carolyn!
And yesterday Ash & I headed down to the creek to grab a couple of ferns. This was right as the temperature was reaching it's peak, but it wasn't too bad under the cover of trees. I forgot to upload the photos of the ferns I actually dug up, but they weren't exactly what we were looking for. I still potted them and left them out in the back, but they looked a bit "wild." Haha. The dogs were a mess afterwards, so it was bath time.
And that's it! I think we're caught up now!
Who doesn't like a good fair? Ash and I have attended the Fairfax Fair at the Government Center for 3 years running now, and it's always an enjoyable affair. A fair? Ha. Live Music, crazy rides, and beer are always a fantastic combination for the young and old alike. Ok-Go! was the main attraction on Friday with Joan Jett on Saturday. As always here's some photos, I'm absolutely drained and can barely muster up any more sentences as I fear they won't make much sense past this.
(edit: Monday Morning) - I have slept. But, in case you're wondering, the thing on a stick is a deep fried Twinkie. Absolutely awesome. Next to that is Deep fried Oreoes. Next to that, is a deep fried Marc. With powdered sugar on his face.
I had the pleasure of joining Fitz at the Nationals game on Thursday against the St. Louis Cardinals. The weather had been disastrous the past couple of days, but the evening ended up being perfect. Personally, I don't find anything more relaxing than sitting at the ballpark watching a good old baseball game with a cold beer in my left hand, and another cold beer in my right. The seats were fantastic, so here's a few photos I snapped.
ALSO, you'll notice a bald guy in front of a few of the photos I took. His name is Bruce Boudreau. He coaches the Washington Capitals! I'm such a wimp though, I didn't say anything to him.
The ballpark is really, really, really nice.
The Nationals hopped out to a 8-0 lead only to see the Cardinals storm back and cut it to 8-6 after their pitcher hit a 3-run homer. Some guy named Worrell. Anyway, Fitz and I left in the 8th inning and of course the Cards scored a couple more runs. The teams went to extra innings and the Nats won it on a walk off homer. Go check out the stadium, seats are relatively inexpensive and the park is very accessible from the metro.
We received the first batch from our CSA yesterday in a little Rubbermaid tub. It arrived in the morning around 10 or so, and if it continues on that schedule that should be perfect because I can bring it inside at lunch so it doesn't cook in the sweltering heat. The front of our house is shaded, but the humidity around here is disgusting. Anyway, here's the photos:
From left to right; The Spring Onions and Basil photo shoot, Basil solo photoshoot, Kale in a tub photoshoot, Spring Onions - Strawberries - Asparagus - Basil - and Kale photoshoot, spring onion, asparagus, and basil photo shoot.
Right after I took the last picture I grabbed the Asparagus and knocked the Basil off the table. As you can tell it was already hanging off the edge. It landed on it's head and isn't happy with me. I'm not sure what my problem is lately, I've been a bit of a klutz.
I'm quite impressed with our first batch. The amount of Kale was ridiculous and the asparagus were nice and plump. There could have been more strawberries, but all in all, it was a nice shipment. We can go out to the farm and pick strawberries this weekend - which we might do on Sunday.
Here's my cupcake adventure. "Boy cupcakes." They turned out delicious and I've been eating them whenver I'm around them. In the middle photo you can see the cupcake in the back that had too much batter in it. Instead of filling the baslet 2/3 of the way, I filled them 3/4. Me and fractions never got along. And I don't think the batter was thinned out enough as some of the cupcakes had pocket in them. Next time.
Notice the sport influenced liners! "Boy Cupcakes" can't just be plain or I'd be a silly tart! This recipe was given to me by Chantal which she got from Vegan Cupcakes take over the world. They are unbelievably moist, delicious, and awesome.
So yesterday we had quite a few storms. At about 2:45 the rain just began pouring down while I was at work. As usual, I discovered my drivers side window agape after the worst of it had passed. Stupid rain.
Anyway, since the little monsters hate thunderstorms, they were worked up quite a bit when I got home. But the sun was starting to shine, so I decided a quick investigation of the creek was the best way to let them forget about that. We don't usually go down after heavy storms, but yesterday was an exception as I wanted to check out the damage. Here's a few of the pics.
The creek was more like a river. We'd never been down there when it was that high, and I was a bit worried I'd see Lola scooped up and swept away(she's the only one crazy enough to try and swim in it).
I dumped four photos into one frame of the damage around our area. There wasn't anything crazy, just limbs broken from trees here and there. The one entire tree on the top right of that photo must have come down stream 'cause it wasn't there yesterday. Pretty powerful stuff when water gets moving.
Also, on a fairly entertaining side note, I made cup cakes from scratch! Pretty interesting. As I said to Ash, "they definitely look like boy cup cakes," as the icing was a bit rough around the edges. Chantal is the expert cup cake maker, and if you haven't seen her post about the ones she made for Mothers Day, check it out. They were out of this world. Overall, for my first try, they were an oustanding success.
I'll have photos tomorrow from the Gnats game. I'm in section 119 with Fitzy. So, if you happen to see us on the TV, we'll likely be the ones passed out and drooling all over ourselves. Unfortunately, the game coincides with the first day of our CSA! Arghh! Pictures and all will be posted tomorrow. Very exciting, everywhere, all over the world.
"Every day you may make progress. Every step may be fruitful. Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path. You know you will never get to the end of the journey. But this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb."
-Sir Winston Churchill
Day 4! I still haven't managed to upload all of our England/The Netherlands photos to the slideshow, but I wanted to share with everyone a couple that I set aside last night. The entire trip was such an amazing experience, and Ash & I are both chomping at the bit to get back. Funny, I go from a mini rant about gas to discussing flying across the Atlantic to England. Sigh.
Look, there's Easy Jet! They were quite an enjoyable airline. I guess everything becomes a bit more enjoyable with the consumption of 3 Heinekens and a mini bottle of wine. The flight was about 50 minutes from Gatwick. The only problem with this photo is that I just realized that's not The Netherlands. That's England.
So much for staying on course.
Weeeeeee....and here's a Mural in The Hague. Scott and I were waiting for the ladies to finish their shopping and Scott took me to this. Basically it's awesome. Look at the bike without the front tire. Scott and I stole it for a minute just to give the photo "that" effect.
Then, what would The Netherlands be without bikes? Our fantastic hosts had two spare bikes which were super handy for cruising around the town. Picture if you can, me riding around The Hague on a bike with one hand free and taking photos while riding around. The locals must have thought I was intoxicated, which was completely inaccurate.
And for those of you that know Ashley, imagine the look on her face when she entered this store filled with Olive Oil. Oh my goodness, if this wasn't a site to see. Flavors upon flavors, it was such a neat shop. If only we could have wrapped that shop up and sent it home.
A wise man(Matt Ayres) once said, "Make sure thou get Falafel in Amsterdam." We did. It might be the greatest thing on earth. Of course we couldn't find one Falafel shop anywhere for the first hour. Then we asked some lady, she pointed to the corner(I don't think she really understood anything but the Falafel part), and that's where we ate lunch. We walked out of the shop, turned right onto another street and ended up on Falafel Avenue. There were stands, shops, people, and even Helicopters(hmm, maybe not this part) flying above dropping Falafel off. Just our luck. Regardless, our Falafel was the greatest.
And that's about it for this post. I will leave you with this picture of Ashley and Jessica riding off into the sunset on their bikes. So romantic. What a great trip. Obviously there was a slew of other things we did while in The Netherlands, and each and every one made us want to revisit. Thank you Scott and Jessica so much for being such great hosts. Our front door is always open!
Somehow we've managed to blog on consecutive days - the first two days of June, no less - so I figured we'd have a blog-a-thon and blog all of June away. We're going to blog like it's 1999. I know, this is way too exciting, but stay calm. Not sure how this is going to work, but we'll do our best(Ashley doesn't know she's part of this yet, so shhhh).
So what would a post be without the progress of our beloved Tomatoes? They are adapting nicely after their shocking transplant to the outside world and as the soil warms we should hopefully be in business very soon. This is my first attempt at growing Tomatoes from seed, so hopefully they don't sprout dirty socks or something.
And while we're at it, here's our basil pot equipped with dill sprouting out of the top thus far. It's not the most exciting thing yet, but once again, with the humidity and heat just around the corner, I expect these guys to explode with happiness in no time at all.
Gouge [gouj] noun, verbexample: 9.to extort from, swindle, or overcharge.
Check out the receipt to the right. I hadn't filled up my Jeep in ages. So, when I purchased 16.527 Gallons of Regular unleaded gas at $3.99, it left me at $66 and change. How can this continue? 10 years ago, it was 99 cents at Shell on 236. That would have been $16 to fill up my tank. As recently as a couple of years ago, I think it was around $2.25, and that was reasonable enough at $35 or somehing. But $4? This is outrageous.
But this isn't half as bad the rest of the world, literally. The Netherlands currently sits atop this list at nearly $10 a gallon. The Uk isn't far behind at $9 a gallon. Truckers - aka, Lorry drivers - recently threatened to block off all routes into London in protest to the prices that apparently have no ceiling.
I'll be at the Gnats(I'm an O's fan) game on Thursday, and as regular readers know - all 3 of you - our CSA begins on Thursday. Our box is going to include Asparagus, Strawberries, Kale, Spring Onions, Genovese Basil. Super!
This past weekend we scored a great desk, hutch and shelf combo from Craigslist (i have a small problem according to Marc) It looks great, and will be so nice to help Marc get organized, and continue his web design. Did I mention Marc has a lot of books??? I was so happy to breakdown the makeshift card table he had been using.
So last weekend we celebrated Lola's 4th birthday on Memorial day. Hard to believe it, but we've had her for four years now. We picked her up some gourmet treats in Middleburg at some really cool dog bakery. The treats were iced with a yogurt of some type, so she didn't have any issues with her tummy afterwards. Here's a few of the photos:
And here's breakfast this morning. We still had a few Polyface eggs left that Chantal was kind enough to bring to us a couple of weeks ago, so I cooked them over easy, and dumped them on an english muffin with veggie sausages. The color of these eggs - and taste - is way awesome.
Our CSA starts this week and we're both very excited for the first delivery. I will make sure to post all about it on Thursday evening. And my Tomatoes are doing pretty good so far. I transplanted them out back, and the only mistake a made when growing them was transplanting them to a pot that was a little too big, which meant they got a bit "leggy." That means that their root system can't hold their weight just yet. In a couple of weeks, they'll be set.
And how's this for starting a day? Friday morning for me:
7:20 - Go downstairs to find a pile of poop from Lola. She'd stolen sweetpeas food twice on Thursday night, causing her tummy to erupt in the middle of the night.
7:21 - Walk into kitchen, realize coffee wasn't set up the night before. Begin making coffee.
7:21:10 - Realize sink is full of dishes, make room to discard coffee from yesterday. Turn around, sweetpea wants to be fed. "Meow"
7:21:30 - Shit. Forgot to defrost dog food. Run downstairs, pull food from freezer and begin defrosting. Run past sweetpea again. "Meow"
7:22 - Clean up poop.
7:27 - Take dogs out.
7:30 - Pick up Sam's crap with a bag, the bag has a hole in it. My finger grabs poop.
7:35 - Come inside. Wash hand. Feed dogs. "Meow."