Hosta frenzy.

6 May

When it’s lovely outside, like this past weekend, that’s where we are. Most lately, we’ve been attacking the hostas that threaten to take over.  This is serious, folks. They will take over if we don’t stop them. IMG_7813

(A photo from last June.) We have a crazy hosta yard. It’s totally beautiful … but also super weedy and a bit overgrown in spots. The long-time neighbor across the street estimates it’s been 8 – 10 years since these hostas have been split. They’re HUGE. One of our spring projects this year (with the gift of much more time at home) is to spruce up the beds. That means splitting, rearranging, landscape fabric, and mulch. As we go about this, we have hostas that need new homes – homes other than ours. A coworker came and took some but that wasn’t quite enough. So –

IMG_8434Last weekend, we began putting clumps of split hostas by the street and listed them on facebook marketplace. Dave built a little money drop box and attached it to our mailbox post. And, you know what, by the time our little roadside sale ended, we gather we sold approx. 77 clumps of hosta. And it’s just the beginning.  That’s from reworking maybe 1/4 of our hosta crop. Uffda. (The neighbor across the street – our insight to the past owners of the house – said that every couple years, this is exactly what the previous owner did. She split and she sold.)

Yesterday, we had six yards of mulch delivered. Yes. Six. Uffda again. I was outside this afternoon, putting down fabric and about to spread mulch when the seven year old from across the street rode his bike up our driveway. Can I see what you’re doing? Sure. I told him. He played frisbee with Emmett. And then he volunteered to help with the mulch. Free labor? Sure. Here’s a shovel, kid. I like gardening. Great. And while we worked he told me about how the world began and about the plant in his bedroom that he leaves a flashlight on for at night so it always has light.

We will keep plugging away, bit by bit. We do intend to add another small hosta garden, an orphanage if you will, for split plants that have no other home. And, in the meantime, if you need hostas, you know where to find them.

Social Distancing: Another Update

7 Apr

Blog posts may return in record number these days because, well, I have the time and it’s a sort of contact with the outside world. Hi, world! Here’s what’s been going on —

I made a pile of homemade masks. A coworker wanted them for her family and was unable to find another source. I was happy to help but goodness, making them stressed me out. Honestly, that’s why I haven’t been making them; the focus on such a project only increases my anxiety regarding the state of the world. I’m grateful for those people who are making tens and hundreds of masks, but, for now, I will stick to smaller quantities as needed by family and friends for my own mental health.

I left the house today. The first time in three weeks. The first time in three weeks I’ve driven past a gas station to see that gas (here) is $1.49. I went to the grocery store and wore my own homemade mask. For the most part, I was able to buy what I needed, including ingredients to make brandy old fashioneds.

I need something to drink because occasionally and randomly, some of the neighbors on our (short) street will gather outside for social distancing happy hour. We stand in a circle, six or more feet apart, and have a drink. We (our driveway, really) hosted last time and it was a lovely way to a spend a couple of hours in the company of others besides the people we live with every day.

IMG_8403My grow light arrived so now we have a mini greenhouse in our sunroom. We have no idea if we’re doing this right or if it’s too early or how it will all go down but it’s fun for the moment.  On a related note, Dave picked up straw bales for the garden today.  This may be the first time in all the years that I start the garden early-ish instead of late.

On another related note, everyday I investigate the rhubarb in the garden. That means I go outside, stoop, and stare at it. It’s popping and such a sight to see. I love how wrinkly the leaves emerge.IMG_8398

I “attended” church at my internship site last Sunday – Palm Sunday.  While church workers and pastors all over are scrambling to lead worship in new ways (and doing wonderfully with the resources they have, I might add), one perk of online church is the ability to worship – digitally – almost anywhere. I tuned into Grace in Dawson and was grateful to connect in that way.

Okay, guys. Here’s the real reason for this blog post. I made pizza for supper tonight. We somehow have declared Tuesday to be pizza night in this isolation period. With the gift of extra time and being at home, I can spend a bit more time on meals and, let’s be honest, we’re eating well. The crust I made for tonight was a bit tedious but oh, so worth it. It’s King Arthur Flour’s Recipe of the Year – Crispy Cheesy Pan Pizza.  Our cast iron skillet is a bit bigger than the recipe notes so our crust was not as thick but still super light and delicate. If you have the time, we highly recommend.

 

 

The things that keep us busy –

3 Apr

Redecorating the living room.

Growing the indoor garden. I ordered grow lights. It’s getting serious.

A quaran-tiny sourdough starter. I wanted to do a sourdough starter since this all began two weeks ago but flour was in short supply. How could I justify a starter now? So I didn’t start one while everyone else and their aunt did. Until I ran across the Cooks Illustrated quaran-tiny starterIt’s like a mini version that still does the good work of a larger starter. I’m on day nine. Hoping for some lovely sourdough English muffins soon …

I read a modern day adaptation of Beauty and the Beast – A Curse so Dark and Lonely – and now await Amazon to deliver the sequel.

Fifteen years or so after the fact, I’m finally watching the tv series Lost. I watch too many episodes each day.

But while I do, I’ve been binding a quilt. This time handed me the opportunity to complete a quilt I first bought supplies for, oh, three years ago. And the colors make for cheering up on these dreary days. (Here I am attempting to baste it on the sunroom floor; Emmett has other ideas.)IMG_8386

Our weather has been dreary. But yesterday – an afternoon of sunshine. I washed windows outside without a coat. It was lovely.

Puzzles. A super hard, slow-going puzzle.

Dave and I have entered into an isolation pinball challenge. We play one game each night. The person who wins two out of three games on that machine earns a hashmark on the chalk door. This photo is from a couple nights ago; guess who is now solidly in the lead? Not me. If Dave wins, I have to wash his motorcycle. If I win, he cooks supper five nights in a row. I never should have agreed to such a thing …IMG_8387

What’s been keeping you grounded/busy/sane these days?

Living room update.

3 Apr

As we live in crazy times, it felt healthy to have a project to dive into. It helped me not check Facebook as often, to not read articles that only make me more anxious, to clear my head. Last we spoke, Dave was sanding away at the texture on the walls. After he finished that chore, we cleaned up the plaster dust. About a week after that, we had finished painting and it was, hands down, the most lovely improvement.

The trim was painted white (two coats of primer and three coats of paint, uffda), the (dark) wood paneling received a gray makeover, and the walls/ceiling got a dose of white. (Frost, to be exact. It’s the same Behr color that’s painted through the rest of the house.)

 

IMG_8391In this photo, the walls have been painted and you can see how dark the ceiling color was in comparison. (You can also see the texture that used to occupy the walls.) Putting a coat of white on the walls and ceiling made all the difference.

Onto the wet bar. When we first moved in, we weren’t sure about the wet bar. Do we keep it? What do we use it for? It’s not like we’re mixing drinks with – let’s face it – any frequency.  The sink is convenient for Emmett’s water bowl; the extra storage is nice. With this living room reboot, we decided to fully embrace the wet bar … and replaced the wine rack with a beverage fridge (which will get much more use).

The bookshelf and wet bar were painted and the improvement already felt. We ordered a new faucet and Dave made (yup – made) a new countertop. (If you can believe it, it’s plywood underneath.) It still needed a backspash and the bookshelf begged for a splash of color but, self distancing and all, we couldn’t hardly wander around Home Depot for options. We decided that we would use what we have on hand and, if we want, switch it up later.

60762951934__5F1D7CB5-1BA2-4191-9D0D-BB2828A71323

And, you know, it works. The “backsplash” is the same removable wallpaper I used in the kitchen; we had some leftover. As for the bookshelf background, I had exactly three cuts of fabric that were large enough to be starched to the wall and the funky colorful one was the winner.

As a fun reminder, remember this is where we started –IMG_7785

We’ve moved the furniture back in and are happily enjoying the new brighter space. There is one question that still remains: to whitewash the (gigantic) stone fireplace or not?

Crazy times & finding sunshine.

16 Mar

You certainly don’t need me to name it for you – these times are crazy and strange and completely unprecedented in the years I’ve been roaming the world.

On Friday, before the governor announced a state-wide closure, the superintendent of the district I work in declared our schools closed until (at least) April 14. (This was after, that same day in the morning, he sent out an email to all staff saying that the rumor going around about closing school was just that. A rumor. An example of  how quickly things change these days.) The email came to staff at about 2:30 and for the last half hour of the day, teachers walked around in shock, speaking their surprise in code so the kids wouldn’t catch on. It was crazy.

Things have grown crazier since. I was supposed to report to work this morning for more details but that was canceled so as not to gather in a group of 50. I still wait for email details regarding pay and hours and all that adult stuff.  My poor brother and sister-in-law have had to postpone the great party that was to be their wedding in early April. Dave and I now have four weeks to eat out of the chest freezer, play board games, walk the dog, and – wait for it –

And so, all of a sudden, I have four weeks on my hands. You maybe do too. For me, it becomes a question of what can I accomplish in four weeks when I’m basically going to stay put and not leave the house? Because I have to accomplish things. It’s who I am. First answer: the living room remodel.

IMG_7785

Since we moved in, the living room has been a project on the list. But it was a big one. There is lovely wood paneling that will need scuffing, priming and painting. There is window trim to paint. There is a wet bar and book shelf to address. The fireplace – well, the fireplace update will wait. There are also these s-u-p-e-r textured walls that we don’t love but also weren’t sure we wanted to tackle.

Until the other night, Dave suggested he could sand the texture down.

Like, he volunteered to do it.

How could I say no?

So today, on this first day of staying home, I cleared the living room space of all the things I could carry myself. After Dave was done with work (which he will now do from home), we moved our furniture and television to the front room, our temporary living space. We taped off the doorway to the kitchen, put down floor cover, and now Dave – lovely, wonderful, smartly-wearing-his-respirator Dave – is in the dust, sanding the horrid, 70s texture off the walls.  (You can catch a glimpse of the texture in the previous photo. Look at the ceiling – it’s the same on the walls. This is emphasized, thick texture that you cut yourself on if your hand moves too quickly along the wall.)IMG_8367

In addition to the dirty job of sanding, cleaning after sanding, and what will be the finicky job of painting, we’re ordering a yellow couch. You read that right. Yellow. I’ll prove it to you in 12-14 weeks when it arrives.

So there is the sunshine in the midst of a crazy, shitty situation. I figure we’re all going to need to find our own sunshine in the weeks to come. Mine is the dream of a yellow couch, a project with the husband, and walks with the dog. And finding whatever has been hiding in the bottom of the chest freezer as we avoid future trips to the store. That will be an adventure in itself.

This is what I’ve been up to …

9 Mar

I still owe you a post on HIS space – also known as the basement pinball lair. Soon.

In the meantime, here’s what’s new —

Dave loves a good bagel. A good NEW YORK style bagel. He used to live in NJ and I suppose became spoiled by the good stuff. Last weekend, we attempted to make our own bagels. Our own GOOD bagels – according to Dave’s standards. Thanks to the water bagel recipe from King Arthur Flour, I dare say we did it. Dave’s pleased as punch to have a stockpile of bagels in the freezer.IMG_8339

I have a new job. A new job at the same place. Back in January, the principal of the elementary school sent me an email and this is all it said: Please stop by my office when you can. Uhhh. CUE PANIC! I stopped by and that’s when he told me that they were hiring a new instructional paraprofessional to close out the school year and he thought I should apply. What’s the difference from my former position as a special education para? As an instructional para, I basically teach small groups as opposed to being in the classroom assisting a specific student(s). I pull groups of kiddos (mostly first graders) and we do math/writing learning for a half hour to 45 minutes. It’s definitely different and more difficult but I’m finding the groove.

February was a bit of a whirlwind with trips back home. First, to celebrate a cousin’s baby shower and then, the next weekend, a bridal shower for my soon-to-be (but-really-now-since-they-are-already-legally-married) sister. Now that I live close enough, a.) I could actually attend (Not to mention they were both held on Sundays.) and b.) I could help.

IMG_8353

I made scones, meringue mushrooms, and Hershey kiss acorns for the baby shower’s woodland theme. (Meringue mushrooms = so fun. Let me know if you need any. I’d love a reason to make them again.) For the bridal shower, my cooking ability was challenged with lobster-stuffed mushrooms and curry chicken salad sandwiches – both the bride-to-be requests. Thankfully, Dave tackled the raw lobster tails for me. (green sick-looking emoji inserted here)

I made this soup for supper (with added/extra veggies). Five stars. Would recommend.

We’re currently casually couch shopping for our living room. Shall we talk about how absolutely overwhelming that venture is? Oy. We’re also planning a vacation to the Smokey Mountains in April with Dave’s brother & co. Let’s talk about how exciting that is instead.

 

 

His and HERS.

12 Feb

This is the HERS post. HIS will come shortly.

His and hers what?

This is the tale of a sewing room and a pinball lair.

The sewing room received a major overhaul a couple weeks ago and I am absolutely pleased as punch about it. Here is the before realtor photo –

IMG_7797

Wallpaper – yuck. Wallpaper border – double yuck. Blue blinds – ick. Light fixture – eh. Boring.

I stripped the wallpaper over the course of a messy, sticky weekend and continued with primer and paint. Dave removed the trim which then also got a coat of paint. (Or many coats of paint.) With Dave’s help, the trim was put back and a new BRIGHT light fixture installed. (We’re talking SIX lightbulbs. Perfect for sewing.)

With the room back in order and furniture in place, it was time to measure and create a quilt design wall. My dream. In the parsonage, I had a sort-of design wall; a place where I could lay out and arrange the pieces in a quilt. My sewing room now has a legit design wall, one which has already helped me put together a baby quilt. (In reality, it’s super simple. Pieces of Styrofoam insulation covered in a flannel sheet, screwed to the wall. Viola.)

A few fun furniture facts:
+ The table in the middle of the room? The one on which the sewing machine sits? It sat on the porch of the farm when I was growing up. It’s where we would eat during tobacco harvest when we were too dirty to go inside the house. It was a table originally purchased by my grandparents. (I have the chairs too.)
+ The blue dresser on which sits my ironing table? Dave and I picked it up at Goodwill for $10. Dave shaped it up with sanding and paint; it’s perfect. (Maybe a change of pulls is in its future.)
+ The stained wood cabinet? It’s a gun cabinet my dad built when he was in high school. We added shelves for my fabric stash (which is stored in metal bins from my dad’s shop).
+ The vintage green ironing board on the wall? It was my grandma’s.
+ The blue cubby piece? Originally my mom’s and perfect for all sorts of sewing storage.

With the wallpaper gone and white walls, it feels like a completely different room.  It’s now a lovely bright space with yellow – YELLOW – window trim. I couldn’t help myself.

IMG_8305IMG_8306IMG_8308IMG_8307

Emmett is 3!

22 Jan

Today is Doctor Emmett Brown’s birthday. He’s three and living his best life.

IMG_8263He got a new collar last weekend. It’s Mario themed. Like the video game. Because Dave hosted a pinball league Saturday night and Emmett needed to fit in. (Pinball league: We opened our door to 16 people we literally didn’t know and 1 person that Dave knows – the organizer. They hung out in our basement for hours, played pinball, gave Emmett belly rubs, and ate our popcorn.)

IMG_8244He goes to daycare once in a while.  He has some long days at home alone so in the midst of a full week, he’ll go down the road and play with his friends for a day. At first, he kind of hated it. Dave had to push him through the door. Now? Now we say, “Do you want to go play with your friends today?” and he won’t leave Dave’s side until they are in the truck. He runs inside the play area and doesn’t look back.

On the days he doesn’t go to daycare, I try to take him for a walk before I leave. Depending on how I budget my morning time, it’s sometimes a very short walk.  It doesn’t seem to matter to Emmett. About a half hour before I have to leave for work, he will lay by the front door and just stare at me. Waiting. For his walk. So he can pee on all the spots the other dogs peed on last night because Emmett had peed there the morning before. IMG_8255

He makes himself comfortable wherever and can hear the peanut butter jar opening when he’s rooms away from the kitchen. Best life indeed. Happy birthday, Doc.

A story about a hutch.

20 Jan

Let’s go back to November. Thanksgiving weekend. My mom, sister, sister-in-law, and I went on a little trip to New Glarus. See, my younger brother (the Alaska one) got married. (Yay.) They did the courthouse deal and are having a ceremony/party in April. My mom needed to shop for a dress; hence a little day trip to a dress shop in New Glarus.

After a mother-of-the-groom dress was secured, we explored the town a bit, including a stop at a local coffee shop. This coffee shop had THE CUTEST hoosier cabinet coffee station. All vintage looking with the enamel top. Then and there, I decided that I wanted a hoosier cabinet coffee station in my house.

Turns out hoosier cabinets are a bit hard to come by and, when you do, they’re a bit pricey. And Lindsay is not in the habit of spending any too much for furniture. So Lindsay found a hutch on Facebook marketplace for $30 and figured it would be a great Christmas break project. Right? Are we in agreement?

IMG_8217

As with every DIY adventure, it proved to be a bit more of a challenge than anticipated. We discovered the hutch to be painted with an enamel-like paint. You think new paint likes to stick to that? Nope. Scratch pads/sandpaper did nothing to breech its surface so we relied on the magic of spray paint primer. We followed that with a chalk spray paint in coastal blue to matchy-match our wallpaper backsplash. A million coats later and three runs to Menards, it was a lovely coastal blue.

So we applied the matte top coat the chalk paint manufacturer recommends.

And it streaked the heck out of our newly blue hutch. Insert angry emoji.

Two more coats of blue and one more trip to Menards and we were done.

Ish.

We moved it into the house and then it was new hardware, placement, and arguing about how the coffee station would work. It still needs a shelf cut for the bottom but otherwise, the hutch is in, right around the corner from the screen door pantry.

It’s no hoosier cabinet but we love it. With the volume of spray paint I had to buy, we probably could have just sprung for the hoosier to begin but then what kind of story would that be?IMG_8250

 

Friday Favorites.

10 Jan

I started work and then I disappeared from blogging. I promise it has nothing to do with you. Really. It’s me.

To ease back in, how about some (rambling) Friday Favorites?

This past fall, I was drinking – let’s be honest – A LOT of sparkling water. A lot equaled three – sometimes FOUR – cans a day. I know. *shaking head* It was becoming a bit much.  It wasn’t necessarily an issue of cost as off-brand LaCroix is totally my thing but the cans were piling up in the recycling bin and there was the whole hauling it home from the store, taking up space in the fridge, etc. I bought a SodaStream (on the cheap from a lovely woman who posted her still-in-the-box one on Facebook marketplace) and haven’t looked back. SodaStream = super favorite thing.

Christmas break. You guys. As I work at a school, I had a Christmas break. It was super lovely and super weird. What was normally for me a busy, stressful time with the planning of Christmas services and events was strangely relaxing this year. And weird. Did I mention weird? Dave’s company shuts down the week between Christmas Eve and New Year’s so we actually had Christmas break together.  Weird.

IMG_8203A pantry door. It’s hard to photograph because it’s in the hallway but this is our pantry. With a screen door. A BLUE screen door. And it’s my absolute favorite. Why does our pantry have a blue screen door? Perhaps the better question is why does your pantry not? It was a boring door in a short hallway of seven (7!) doors; it needed color and character.  The door was $18 at a flea market; after (a lot) of effort on the husband’s part, it totally brightens the hall and makes me smile when I turn the corner. (It’s also perfect motivation to keep the pantry organized and neat – a project completed after this photograph was taken.)

The movies. Over break, I went to two movies in the theater and it felt like such a luxury. First of all, we hardly go to the movies. Second of all, at our local theater, the seats recline. RECLINE. They are huge, leather, and you can put your feet up. Did you know some theaters also start showing movies in the morning? Like 9am? Call me a country chicken in the big city but this is all new to me!

Meatloaf. Specifically, the meatloaf from Joanna Gaines’ Magnolia Table. If you know me super well, you know that beef is not my favorite. I don’t order it at restaurants particularly often (or ever),  and I hardly buy it because I dislike cooking with it.  I don’t know if it’s the color or texture or the fact that I grew up with a freezer stocked to the brim with cow. Whatever it is, I sucked it up to make the meatloaf on page 259 of this cookbook. It earned me eight wife points* and was delicious. I’m sure there are other miraculous meatloaf recipes out there belonging to you or Grandma Susie; this is just the one I made because I’m bound and determined to actually use the cookbook. (Opposed to other cookbooks which tend to sit idle and sad.)

Marie Kondo.  I’ve had the book forever (The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up) and I know this isn’t new or rocket science. Over break, I pulled the book out again and started re-reading. And then I emptied the contents of my closet and dresser onto the bed. I touched each article, determined it it brought me joy, and put it accordingly back in the closet or in a donation pile. The resale store received four garbage bags of clothes from me that week and my closet since has never stayed so organized. I’m a classic throw-it-on-the-floor and don’t-put-laundry-away-right-away kind of girl. The space in front of and floor of my closet was constantly a mess until I painstakingly took a half hour on the weekend to clean it up. I realize my closet makeover was only two and a half weeks ago but so far, it’s worked. No mess on my floor. Every item has a home and that’s where I put it. The husband/pessimist says it’s just because I’m currently motivated; I think it’s the magic of tidying. Time will tell.

To sum up it up: SodaStream, Christmas break, pantry door, movies, meatloaf, and Marie.

(Hi, Marilyn. This blog post was for you.)

* Points are arbitrary and make little numerical sense/have unknown redemption value. I asked if I could trade in my eight meatloaf points for the new Instant Pot air fryer lid. Waiting to hear back. Fingers crossed.

%d bloggers like this: