Banana Weekend.2016

25 Sep

You may know that my high school friends and I call ourselves the Dancing Bananas.  If this is new to you, it stems back to our early high school days when performing in a talent show, and we needed a group name for the program.  Don’t ask me how we arrived at a yellow fruit getting jiggy with it, but we did.  It’s stuck ever since.

It’s been 14 years since we graduated and we are pretty great at staying in touch via email.  But it was time for an in-person gathering.  After months of saving the weekend, weeks of planning, five of the seven Dancing Bananas arrived at the Wilderness at the Lake in Wisconsin Dells this past Friday.  And it was all things a gathering of dancing fruit should be.

We laughed until we cried.  We laughed all weekend about frickin’ gourds, ticking me with feet, and Moroccan carrot.  (You had to have been there.)  We shared our favorite things. (We each bought something that is our favorite to give to each in the group.  I gave Method kitchen spray and paper straws.  I received makeup, hair product, appetizer plates, and a banana necklace.).  We played in the wave pool and lazy river.  We ate bananas.  We tried to finish the timed challenges at Wizard Quest (and failed).  We walked the WI Dells strip, sat on a patio for a drink, and later played laser tag.  We shopped at the outlet mall and ate cold, leftover pizza in the parking lot before driving our separate ways.

And it was all the best.  It was simply good for the soul to be with friends that date back to high school and earlier.  (I’ve been friends with Kim and Krissy since kindergarten!)  We talked about life, work, relationships, dreams.  We were silly, serious, and everything in between.  Good for the soul indeed.

Like I mentioned earlier, the bunch wasn’t complete.  We were missing two of our friends who we hope will join us next year or the year after.  This weekend-away-with-girlfriends must become a tradition.

Well done, Pinterest. 

19 Sep

Well done. 

I looked at Pinterest this morning to find they suggested this pin for me. Sew your own snakes. 

Well played. 

It’s as if Pinterest knew that I walked home from church yesterday to find a snake on my sidewalk. It’s as if Pinterest knew snakes make me scream/jump/shake thirty times more than mice. It’s as if Pinterest knew that snakes are one of my greatest fears ever since I mowed over one a couple summers ago.  It’s as if Pinterest wanted to rub it in that I’m now scared to walk in the grass around my house. 

I walked home yesterday after a kind of long morning. Baptism, communion, ANNUAL MEETING, brunch. As I left church and walked across the parking lot, I called The Boyfriend to solidify later plans. I was on the phone with him when I saw it. The snake. On the sidewalk outside my back door. 

I screamed. I could barely get out the words to tell him there was a snake ten feet from me. I finally explained what was happening. One guess what he did on the other end while I screamed, shivered, and was bent over in fear: he laughed.  He laughed. Are you surprised?  I’m not.  I said/yelled, THIS IS NOT FUNNY. He continued to laugh. 

He then suggested I take a shovel to it. (Yeah, right.) Or run over it with the lawn mower. Nope.  I walked quickly to the front door and then watched out the window as the snake slithered off into the grass. And then I shivered for the rest of the day. And all day today as I thought about it. 

Be proud of me, though. I mowed the lawn tonight. And then I walked on the grass to the garden to grab a handful of ripe cherry tomatoes.  It’s all about the baby steps as I learn to be outside again. 

Baby steps. 

(Do you think there is enough time for enough baby steps before I spend next week tent-camping and state-park-hiking?  I sure hope so.)

Two quilts for twin boys.

25 Aug

Way back in March, I wrote a blog post about three baby quilts that had been finished and sent off.  At the end of the post, I mentioned that those were it on the baby quilt-making schedule.  I knew of no more babies.

My friend, Adam, read the blog post and texted me that same day:  FullSizeRender(8)

Adam and his wife, Kara, had twin boys three weeks ago now!  They’re adorable and I hope to meet them sometime soon, but in the meantime, I sent the quilts via USPS this week.  (Before, the baby quilt wait was, like, six months after baby was born, so I’m on top of it now!)  A colorful pair of quilts with elephants and safari animals.  Backed with gray flannel, they should be super comfy as colder weather arrives.  IMG_5760

#minivacation

20 Aug

Dave has vacation to burn before the end of October so we planned a #minivacation.  He took off Thursday and Friday, I took off Thursday (Friday is my day off.), and we made a plan to go camping.  We were going spend a couple nights in Decorah, sleeping in a tent, riding bikes, exploring.  But then I looked at the rainy weather forecast.  Camping was not going to happen.  (Lindsay gets crabby when soggy.)  And so this was Wednesday night:

L: Where do you want to go instead?
D: I don’t know.  What do you want to do?
(several phone calls and hours later)
L: What about Mankato?  It’s far enough to not be here but close enough that we won’t spend the whole time in the car.
D: Deal.

Off to Mankato we went with no plan but a place to sleep.  We’d both passed through the town but never spent much time in it.  And so, an hour and a half later, we arrived just after lunch.

D: So.  We’re here.  Now what?
L: (sees a Goodwill right off the highway) Need any clothes?
D: Actually, yes.

Our minivacation started with a stop at Goodwill.  Dave buys a lot of his clothes there – that’s probably part of how he has money to have 23 pinball games in his basement.  He found some clothes; I found some board games.  (Ever heard of Qubic?  It’s basically tic-tac-toe of the 1970s played on four stacked boards.) After Goodwill – are you ready? – we spent an hour in HyVee.  (I’m so serious.)  First, we ate salads at their awesome salad bar.  Then we explored – this HyVee had so much more stuff than our HyVee!  So that was fun.

I’ll stop with the play-by-play, even though we obviously are some of the most exciting and adventurous people ever.  (That, my dear, is sarcasm.  Our travel style seems to be pretty darn low key.)  The rest of our #minivacation included laser tag/bowling/arcade playing (our skeeball tickets got us the sweet bracelets below)/mini golf; eating supper at a local establishment and sticking around until 10pm playing trivia; bike riding the Red Jacket Trail; drinking beverages at Mankato Brewery; playing Qubic in the hotel room while watching one of the newer Star Trek movies on cable and eating take out pizza.

We arrived home again Saturday afternoon.  It was a quick, relaxing getaway, perfectly timed in the midst of a busy time.

File this under “Other.”

6 Aug

Other things that have been going on this summer –

We grilled pizza.  It has been a life-long – okay, YEAR long – dream of mine to grill pizzas.  I wanted to last summer but we never quite got around to it.  We did this past July and it was amazing.  Here is a photo of our dough balls and toppings all ready to go.  (It cooks FAST so you have to have everything handy.)  Fresh mozzarella, ricotta, parm, bacon bits, grilled chicken, herbs from the garden, yum.  It was pretty easy and delicious.  Here’s the info and dough recipe I used if you’re interested.  We’ll be doing it again once my tomatoes are in abundance.IMG_5694

In the project realm of life, I finished a tshirt quilt for The Boyfriend.  It was a beast of a quilt (large and heavy) and so we sent it out to be quilted.  Upon return, I attached the binding and completed it with one of my favorite parts of quilting – hand sewing the back of the binding.  All while watching much Stranger Things and The West Wing.  (Photo on the top with my favorite binding tools – a trusty thimble and clover clips!)  Also in the project realm, I took the green dresser upon which sits my television and gave it a makeover.  I painted it to match the accent wall in the living room, stripped the drawers, and stained them to match other living room furniture.  I’m pretty thrilled with the result.


It’s Hormel’s 125th anniversary this year and so they organized many city-wide activities.  One was a “food truck frenzy” – five Hormel product food trucks were spread through the city.  Visit them, take a selfie, get a sample or a coupon, and be entered to win in a drawing.  We didn’t win but we did have fun biking to each of them.  IMG_5713

Drive-in movie: ✔️. We moved in with an air mattress in the back of the truck with quilts and pillows galore. It was quite a comfy way to watch a movie out of doors. 

The garden grows … and grows … and …

5 Aug

The straw bale garden is a-growing!

The pole beans have reached the top of the trellis and started to grow back down.  Tomato plants are huge and full of green tomatoes.  One tomato plant – a Rapunzel cherry tomato – is as tall as I am.  The spaghetti squash … don’t get me started.  It started growing out of the garden and I thought it might be a good idea for it to start growing up the trellis instead of onto the grass.  So now it’s grown up.  And then down again.  And then up.  The winter squash (acorn and butternut too) is taking over.  I forgot how it tends to do that.

So far I’ve enjoyed: cucumbers, a few tomatoes, green beans, snap peas, and summer squash/zucchini.  It’s all been delicious.

In general, most of the straw bale gardening experience has been great.  It’s pretty wonderful to not have to worry about weeding or watering.  Some of the bales decomposed faster than others and so they needed to be propped up and kept from falling over.  I’m struggling with blight on a couple of my tomato plants (Thank you, rain and high humidity.) but that can happen in any kind of garden.  I’m just hoping the tomatoes on the plant will ripen before the whole thing dies.  (Any tried and true blight treatment out there?  I’ve been using an organic spray right now, but I’ve also read that once you have it, you can slow it but not get rid of it completely.  I’m learning as I go here!)

Here’s a photo but I realize it just looks like a lot of green … which is pretty much what it is.  But proof that the straw bale garden is alive and growing … and growing … and growing.IMG_5716

Dog dreaming.

4 Aug

Let me catch you up.

My dearest dog Mabel is no longer with me.  About a month ago, she stopped eating and things just weren’t quite right.  After some trips to the vet and blood tests, it was determined that Mabel needed to go on doggie hospice.  There were many things that weren’t quite right, none of which could be determined/solved without extensive further treatment.  And, the truth was, my dearest dog Mabel was 10.  She received steroids to help her have a few more good days.  In those last days, she got canned dog food and all the table scraps she wanted.  Popcorn, chicken and rice, and pizza crusts.  A batch of homemade dogs bones too.  (With extra sprinkles.)  Then one Saturday evening, after many days of her owner ugly crying, it was time to take her to the vet and say goodbye.

That was just about three weeks ago now.

I’m ready for a new dog.

My house is so quiet!  And it’s just plain lonely.  I’m so ready for a new dog.  But I’m trying really hard to hold out until December when a litter of my dream dog (A golden doodle!) is due to be born.

But it’s certainly not easy waiting.  I went to go look at some puppies last night.  (I know, it was a mistake.)  But the puppy wasn’t for me.  The Boyfriend thought maybe he would like a dog and so we went to look at a litter of basset hound/pitbull puppies.  (I know.  It sounds odd.  But they were super adorable with floppy ears and short legs.)  He has since decided that he’s not quite ready for puppy ownership … but I secretly wish he were.  Then I could play with his puppy until I get mine.

Sigh.  Until December, I’ll just have to pet other peoples’ dogs.

Friday Favorites, catch-up edition.

10 Jun

Friday Favorites, it’s been a while.  Here have been my favorite things of late:

Mabel’s new dog bed pillow.  I sewed it in a Friday night a couple months ago.  A quilter’s dog should have a quilted dog bed!IMG_5506

Dinner plates as garden border.  I loved it so much in the front of the straw bale garden that I brought the technique to the front.  It will keep the squirrels from getting the mulch all over the sidewalk.  Plus, it just adds a touch of whimsy.  I need to get to Goodwill for a few more to complete the look.  (See the newly added cream separator planter in the back too?  I’m in love.)IMG_5607

Planting flowers.  I went overboard (again) but I’m happy with the pots and boxes surrounding the house.  IMG_5603

I can cook a lot of things but -now this will sound silly- I have a hard time cooking rice.  Silly, right?  I can handle risotto but I can’t master rice.  It just never seems to have the right consistency, or there is water in the bottom of the pan, it’s soggy, etc.  A couple months ago, I found 2-serving size bags of microwave rice at Hyvee.  It’s perfect for me.   Microwave for 90 seconds and get leftovers for the next day (but not the next week too).  But at Hyvee, they were a bit pricey.  Enter Aldi.  Aldi has the same concept – two serving microwave packs of brown rice for half the cost of Hyvee.  I stocked up!

Hope your weekend is filled with favorite things!

A Day Camp story.

8 Jun

At Red Oak Grove for the last couple years, we’ve done day camp.  Kiddos of all ages come to church for a full day, three times in a summer.  We read stories, eat snacks, play games, and do wacky things.  And we play Sardines.  Of course.  It’s the classic church game.  Someone goes to hide, everyone else searches, and once they find the person hiding, they hide with them.  We always end up playing Sardines.

Today was no exception.  I teamed up with Lacey.  She just finished first grade and she’s the custodian’s daughter.  Needless to say, we had an advantage in that we both know the church pretty well.  We were the first to find a hidden person in one round which meant we got to hide in the next round.

We crawled to the back of the closet under the stairs in the basement.  The key to this hiding spot was that the closet was deep, and if you didn’t fully walk into the closet, you wouldn’t see that there was a tiny space under the stairs.  That’s where we camped.  Right beside the quilt frames and the Christmas trees that go in the narthex every year.

People, again and again, opened the door to the closet but they didn’t turn on the light or walk in – hence, we stayed hidden.  Pretty soon, the searchers got frustrated.  No one had found us.  Lacey and I were just hanging out, probably for 15 minutes, giggling every time someone opened the door to the closet just to close it again.

Then, from inside the closet, I hear yelling.  Quite a bit of yelling.

Charley puked all over!  Ewww!  Charley puked! 

Here were my internal thoughts: Shit.  I don’t do puke.  This is one of my worst day camp fears.  How do I clean up puke?  Can I stay inside the closet and pretend I didn’t hear it?  Will the other adult take care of it?  Shit.  I’ll just stay here.  No.  I can’t.  I need to be a leader and address this.  Do I? 

I tried to rationalize with Lacey, the seven year old.  Do I go?  Do I stay?  What should I do, Lacey?  Finally I decided I had to go.  Brave Lacey agreed to stay hidden in the dark, creepy closet if I left her my phone/flashlight.  I waited until I heard no one else in the basement and snuck out.

I found a big group gathered near the nursery.  They immediately were all over me.  Where are you hiding?  We can’t find you!  Give us a clue.  Is Lacey still hiding?  I saw Charley in the group.  Charley!  Are you okay, I asked.

The group laughs.  Charley hadn’t puked.  I’d been played.  They made it all up to smoke me out.

Kids.

(But their smoke out didn’t completely work because they didn’t see where I came from and Lacey was still hiding.  It was ten minutes later, and only with my clues, that they found our spot.  *Lacey and I high five*)

 

Straw bale update.

5 Jun

Things are growing!

So far, the straw bale garden has been a fair bit of work.  I conditioned/watered the bales with fertilizer for about two weeks to get the insides cooking.  As things cook, the bales get hot inside.  One of the bales reached 120 degrees!  (You shouldn’t plant in the bales if they are over 105 degrees; I had to wait many days for that bale to cool down before it could be planted!)  Other bales never showed temperatures of much more than 15 degrees above air temperature.

I trusted the process and started planting.  Here’s the list: (deep breath) tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, carrots, lettuce, shallots, sunflowers, cucumbers, snap peas, pole beans, acorn and butternut squash, herbs a plenty, and, as of two days ago, sweet potatoes.  A little bit of a lot of things!  Many of those things are planted on the tops of the bales but those veggies that trail – winter squash and sweet potatoes – I planted on the sides so they will vine on the ground.  (I’ve read conflicting reports on the sweet potatoes; supposedly, they are best on top of the bale.  Top bale real estate was limited when I picked the plants up at the store on a whim a couple days ago.  What the hay – get it? – it’s a $3 sweet potato experiment.)

Right off the bat, quite a few of the plants died.   I’m not quite sure what that was all about.  Maybe the bales spiked in temperature and it was too hot for them.  Not all of the fertilizer washed into the bales and perhaps that burned the plants.  However, most of those things that died (cucumber, squash, and pepper) I’ve replanted with success so far.

In the midst of all of that, I installed a soaker hose on top of the bales and trenched the garden hose that leads to the garden into the ground.  (No hose to move when I have to mow!  It’s the little things that make me happy.)  The soaker hose is on a timer and so everyday, twice a day, it waters for 10 minutes.  This was how I was able to plant before leaving on vacation – the watering was taken care of!

It was also super exciting – I came home from vacation to mushrooms!  Cue the band!  Release the balloons!  Mushrooms (the not edible kind) are a great sign that your bales are decomposing as they should to be good “soil” for your plants.  Mushrooms are littered all over the bales.  And Lindsay rejoiced.

Things are growing and soon the rest of the trellis system will need to be finished.  In a couple photos, you can see the fence posts at the end of the rows.  A 2×4 will be attached to the top and then wire strung tightly between the posts every ten inches.  The wire will act as the trellis as things begin to grow and need support.

I’ll continue to keep you updated!

Clockwise: landscape fabric down; bales arrived and my dinner plate border added for fun and whimsy; soaker hose installed on top of bales; upon arriving home from vacation and seeing green things still alive and bigger than when I left!  (The decomposing bales don’t look super pretty so since that photo was taken, I added some extra petunias in the sides of the front bales!)

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