Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Dog (er, make that Cat) Days of Summer

I caught my Sweet Girl leaning up against a tree in the front yard, enjoying an ice cream bar and watching a storm come in. She was joined by Boots, the neighborhood cat. Look at that. You got lounging, daydreaming, a cold, sweet treat, and a friend ... is that a perfect picture of summer or what?

Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Guess what I've been up to?

Hitting the back to school sales! I'm a nut for office supplies anyway, but you gotta love the deals you get around this time of year. OK. School supplies are checked off, and a big chunk of the school clothes were bought at the outlet stores in Vegas -- so just a couple more things off the list, and I'm done. We've got visitors coming in August, and school starts a little early here this year (Aug. 18), so I've got to get everything done now. Where did the summer go? Sheesh!

Monday, July 28, 2008

No Rest for the Wicker...

Wow. I think that title just might be the worst pun in creation! Hold on; I can make it work, you'll see... :-)

Sitting out on the front porch on these long mild evenings has been a big part of this summer for me. I love to sip me some ice cold lemonade -- ah! Bliss. This bliss almost didn't happen: our front porch wicker set was not fit for sittin' this year. We've been leaving it out all year for a couple of years and it was not looking too good. Ready for retirement. So, off I go window shopping for a new set; I was delighted to find that "wicker" is now PVC vinyl, woven around a steel frame. Not the most romantic, but looks just like the real thing, and all you do to get your set ready for sittin' is to hose it down! Huzzah! I've always had the original kind that you have to strip and repaint to have it look decent. Okay, back down to earth; the price of the set that resembled mine? Yeah, not gonna happen this year! Time to trot out the old set.

No rest for the wicker -- see? I pulled it off! ;-)

Yeah, that's me in my stunning painting outfit. Here's what I did to bring the old set back. First, I got a good stiff brush and aggressively removed as much of the old paint as I could. My set's a little more fragile, so I didn't go the wire brush route. Then I gave the set a high pressure wash from the garden hose and let the whole set dry. At this point, I got busy and so it was a couple of days later until I could get to it again, but I would at least let the wicker dry overnight. Then off to Home Depot, where I bought primer and paint. One coat of primer (letting that dry for several hours or even overnight), and two coats of spray paint made for wicker (I waited at least an hour between paint coats.). I have better results when I use primer to repaint wicker.

Here's a little before and after shot. A little paint makes a big difference. Hopefully my wicker furniture will be up for a couple more summers. Can't miss my porch time!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Words to Live By

Picture Credit: MIKE ROSEL, Bureau of Meteorology: Australia

Everything will be okay in the end.
If it's not okay, it's not the end.
-- unknown

Thanks to Tracey for sharing this quote.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Gimme Some Sugar

I need a little extra sweetness today, and nothing says that like cupcakes! Here's a project my daughter and I did just recently. Cat cupcakes for her German class. (Don't ask. It was National Cat Day or something. Her teacher was always up for treats in class). Yep, we did quite a few... and my wrist is still recovering! We found this cute design in Hello Cupcake -- one of the most fun and creative cupcake books out there. Which ones are your favorites?



...or orange?
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

It's a Small World

I can't help thinking about the movie Tron this week as slowly, slowly I am building my little cyber-world back up. I've looked back on this week and laughed at myself for feeling so lost and kerfuffled, just because my little computer world was destroyed. Hmph! I betcha this guy was really responsible, just waiting for his chance --

...and saw it while I was away on vacation...yeah, yeah...that's it. There was an epic battle, and my good guys lost...but I'm back -- to rebuild this world!! (cue the swelling inspirational music) ;-)

The reality is we've discovered that pretty much everything installed on my old computer would not install on the new one. Too old. So, I have traded 'too old and comfortable' for 'too expensive and unfamiliar', as we continue to buy all new gear for the new set up. Drat my frugal, practical and curmudgeon-ly ways! We're almost all restored. Just a couple of programs left to buy. And, we still have the old directory re-build waiting for us. Oh well. Building a world takes more than a day. Some folks take 6 or 7, at least...

In the meantime, I think I'll get my hands on a copy of Tron and pop some popcorn. Anybody wanna join me?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Vegas, Baby!

Finally, a post about our trip! My daughter and I had a wonderful time. We went down with my sister and her kids. The hubbies stayed home -- at our house, anyway, it was a
Girls Only Getaway!

As expected, it was very hot down there. One afternoon, I stepped out of the car, and felt that I was standing in front of an open oven! You know, that blast of heat you feel when you open the door to a very hot oven? Wow. But all was forgiven as we arrived at my sister's beautiful home and said hello to her wonderful backyard pool. My sweet girl was treated to a midnight swim; she had the pool all to herself -- they even turned on the colored lights for her. She was in heaven....

Deb and Cory really know how to spoil you, and they lived up to their reputation. We enjoyed good food and good company. We swam and swam all day. The pool was delicious; it took super-human effort to get yourself out. I admit I was weak; I stayed in the pool ALL day and have the red, painful, peeling shoulders to prove it. I don't care! It was *worth it*!!! After the the pool party, we visited one of the many outlet malls they have there. Holy Hannah! How much fun was this!? The prices were awesome, and back-to-school shopping is all but done! That evening we watched one of Deb's favorite shows and snacked on Jen's "You're Gonna Hate Yourself in the Morning Guacamole" recipe (seriously? you *cannot* stop eating this guac!) and ice cream. Hate me -- I was swimming *all* day people! I had an opening for some junky calories! LOL

The next day found us touring the Strip. I got a kick out of Mel Torme Way and Frank Sinatra Drive...

We picked one casino. Just *one* (Caesars) and spent three hours looking around. We took pictures of all the high end stores and bought some souvenirs like a good little tourist should. There was plenty to see, and all on a grand scale. It was so much fun.

There were many pictures with a monkey in them on this trip. We have a little nephew that is crazy for monkeys right now. So, we bought a monkey and "Flat Stanley-ed" him. This little monkey was everywhere in Las Vegas! We have pictures of him playing slots, swimming at the pool, visiting Tiffany's, Jimmy Choo, Spago, Cartier... he even hung out with his homey, Caesar! Here's a shot of him traveling home. The rest of the pictures are for our nephew. We're making a book of monkey's adventures in Vegas. Hopefully he will love it. (That is, if I can get my new computer set up!)

Thanks to Deb and Cory for a fabulous time!
Thanks for spoiling us!
Posted by Picasa

Monday, July 21, 2008

A Super-Man

photo courtesy of Xurble

What can I say? The man is amazing. My brother in law, Eric, worked all weekend to recover as much as possible from my poor hard drive. It took over 24 hours of work, very specialized software, and several tries to get as much back as we did. DH and I still need to go through and reconstruct the directories, but we estimate we recovered about 90% of the pictures and documents. If this is true, I will be ecstatic -- I will be happy with anything I can get. Happy, and super-thankful. You rock, Eric! Thanks, times a million...

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Words to Live By

If you break your neck, if you have nothing to eat, if your house is on fire, then you got a problem. Everything else is inconvenience.

~Robert Fulghum

... yeah, but Mr. Fulghum could've at least capitalized the "I" in inconvenience...

Back to Square One

Well, you might see the word "back" a few times in this post. We are back from Las Vegas (oh, we had a fabulous time -- but more on that another time) and found that all was not well when we returned. My poor old (and I mean o-l-d) computer must have been too lonely for me while I was gone, for it was dead. All it could muster for me was the blue screen of death. Had I backed up? Of course not. All my pictures, a journal, the family calendar....all my work over the last 5-7 years is in great danger of disappearing. My brother in law is trying to work some magic this weekend and save the files from my fried hard drive. Wish me luck.

So, DH bought me a new computer. I guess it was needed. I guess it's time. I know that this will sound crazy, but I loved my old programs and my old computer. I had things just like I liked them and felt no temptation to update. Now, not only do I have to get used to Vista :-P and hope to upgrade my old programs to later versions, but I have to re-create my old directory (that is IF we can retrieve it!) and it will be a long time until my new set up ever feels as comfortable as the old one.


Back to square one.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Think Cold

What the...? Yes, I know this is the middle of July. Why post this wintry picture today? Because dear daughter and I are leaving for Las Vegas tomorrow where it is hot, hot, HOT. Believe me, checking in with the blog and looking at this with 100* + temps outside will be a great comfort. want snow cone.

Posted by Picasa

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Words to Live By

Photo Credit: The Rutherford Family, Fredericktown, MO

Bed in Summer

In winter I get up at night.
And dress by yellow candle-light.
In summer quite the other way,
I have to go to bed by day.

I have to go to bed and see
The birds still hopping on the tree,
Or hear the grown-up people's feet
Still going past me in the street.

And does it not seem hard to you,
When all the sky is clear and blue,
And I should like so much to play,
To have to go to bed by day?
-by Robert Louis Stevenson

Do you remember feeling this way? :-)

Saturday, July 12, 2008

A Golden Summer Evening

Summer is usually not my favorite time of year. Chalk it up to too many neverending Texas summers growing up as a girl. (I love my Texas, but the summertime there? Not so much.) Most of the time, especially on the hottest days, you'll find me hiding out in the air-conditioning and figuring how many days until Autumn gets here. But, I have to say, this summer has charmed me. I have really enjoyed the sights and sounds of summer. I have enjoyed the people and the parties. I've loved working outside as we try to put our little property in apple-pie order. But, most of all -- I love these *long* summer evenings -- on my front porch!
There is still much hustle and bustle of summer, with kids home from school. There are no "lazy days of summer" for a mom. My summer evening porch time is the time I slow down, take a deep breath, all the way down to my toes, and count blessings.
One evening, I was doing just this, and I looked at the pine tree in the front yard. The sun was setting through it, and the light began to reflect off of the needles, making the tree turn to gold. Just a little thing, and it didn't last long -- but I would have missed it, if I hadn't been out there. I thought about how this must happen every single summer had I missed it in the 8 years I've lived here?
It was a wonderful reminder to me to slow down, and see the blessings and the beauty all around me...
Posted by Picasa

Friday, July 11, 2008

The Backyard -- Chapter 3

The trees are all gone now, nothing's left but sawdust. Oh wait -- there is one thing left behind! The roots! (Cue the horror movie music...) Now that the trees are gone, the aspen and cottonwood roots are shooting up little sprouts like CRAZY.

Poor hubby is out many evenings hacking, chopping and pulling. It's a job that doesn't seem to have an end! The more we take out, the more we find. Note the sympathetic kitty, Boots, keeping DH company.

So this is where we're at. Looks *way* different, doesn't it?!

The To-Do List
Decide if current fence stays or goes.
If goes, get bids on new vinyl fence.
Contact sprinker people for whole new sprinkler plan.
Contact concrete people for patio and front walk work.
Contact masonry peeps for front walk work.
And most importantly: find the funds for all of the above! :-)

When do I actually get to plant new plants? ;-)
We'll keep you updated. Anyone seen a HGTV Fairy Godmother flying around, looking lost?
*sigh* Just thought I'd ask....
Posted by Picasa

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Backyard Saga continues...Chapter 2

How would you like to see this out of your french doors in the morning? This was the heavy duty bucket truck that was used to take down the cottonwoods.

We put ribbons on the two trees that were to be spared. I *love* this eastern redbud tree.

A little later in the day...

This was the next day. All the fruit trees are down at this point, and just trunks are left of the cottonwoods. The tree company came a third day to finish them off and grind the stumps. The back yard looks completely different now! DH and I were *amazed* at the level of work it took to get all the trees down. So thankful we hired this job out! The saga continues....
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Welcome to the Jungle...

Well, okay...maybe not jungle, but Tarzan sure could've swung around our back yard for a while, before he ran out of tree branches! Say hello to a monster-sized cottonwood, or poplar. Look at all the havoc those roots are creating! I hate these trees with a passion (but only in a residential setting, you understand.). I thought I'd share a few "before" pictures of the back yard project. We are in the "during" phase of the project currently, and I'm afraid it will be quite a while before we get to the final "after". Although we have a professional landscape plan we are working from, we will be doing most of the work ourselves. I'm still open for the HGTV fairy godmother option.
We had another cottonwood on the other side of the property by the treehouse. A third was mercifully removed by the city some time ago, as it was rotted clear through and a danger to life and (ahem) limb. (Sorry, couldn't resist.) We also had more than ten fruit trees. We never could keep up with these overgrown trees and come July and August, we would have rotting fruit everywhere. Bleh. Don't get me started on the bees and wasps this attracted.

An overgrown cherry tree, pear and peach tree and a raspberry patch flanking our garden shed. Oh yes, Mr. Shed, you're up for a makeover, too.
Wow. I still get goosebumps looking at this picture. Both trees had been pruned this way by the power company to avoid those power lines. Guess which direction they were leaning? Yep -- toward our house! Yikes! More pictures tomorrow...
Posted by Picasa

Monday, July 7, 2008

The Lazy(?) Days of Summer

We had a busy weekend. The 4th was just the beginning... Saturday, DH and I devoted ourselves to yard work. We trimmed, mowed, pulled weeds, edged -- pretty much polished up what we've got done so far in the yard. With major projects underway or waiting in the wings, it wasn't perfect. (But as my friend, the Nester, says -- it doesn't have to perfect to be beautiful.) Our front flower bed is still empty (awaiting some shrubs later in the season), but the red geraniums on the porch and hanging baskets were blooming. Old Glory waving and red, white and blue buntings on the porch railings rounded out the decorations.

Our neighborhood and ward are one and the same, and this summer we've been having 'walkabouts'. This is where after church (and after our Sunday dinners) we all get to come out and walk around to our neighbors' houses and sit and visit (and hopefully eat, LOL) in their front yards/porches. I love this! Three to five families are chosen to host each time. We were one of the walkabout families this time. (Hence the sprucing up.) We laid out quilts on the lawn, pulled out all our extra chairs, including the wicker, and set out a rectangular table covered with my linen colored and red tablecloth, layered. Cookie platters and two large jars filled with Jen's Water Punch, 2 ladles and 4th of July napkins were laid out on the table. Why am I describing in detail? Yep, that's right! I forgot to take pictures! Too busy...too much visiting. But, really wasn't that the point of the whole thing? We actually had some folks stay so late, the porch lights had to be turned on! I would say it was a success -- I'm so pleased people felt so comfortable staying and chatting.
One of the secrets to our success was the water punch. People strolled up, *asking for it*. It was perfect for a July evening, and it *did* look very refreshing in the huge glass jars I used. I found these 'Heritage Hill' jars at Walmart, for $12 each. 12 bucks, people!

I wish I took a picture of how the punch looked on my serving table. Here's a picture of someone else's version to give you an idea of how it looked. (picture credit:

I like my sister's recipe better, with the citrus fruit cut up smaller and loads of pebble ice... Ours was filled to the brim (and refilled, and refilled...) Thanks, sis! You rock! Here's the recipe: enjoy.
Life is good... and busy... and not lazy.

Jen's Water Punch
This is a delicious citrus party punch. Make sure to make enough; everyone will refill their glass!

2 ½ quarts water
2 ½ quarts pebble ice (get this at the butcher block or a Sonic restaurant)
2 ½ cups sugar
1 T citric acid (get this in the pharmacy area)
1 T lemon extract
2 limes (diced, do not peel)
2 lemons (diced, do not peel)
2 oranges (diced, do not peel)

Mix the water mixture first, then add ice. Add other ingredients next. Dice the fruit bite-sized, so that the fruit will fit in cups or glasses. Stir. Serve. Get ready to refill glasses... : )

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Words to live by

And I'm proud to be an American,where at least I know I'm free. And I won't forget the men who died, who gave that right to me.
~Lee Greenwood

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Fun on the Fourth

We had our annual fireworks show in front of the house again. We were joined by several neighbors (the more the merrier!) who helped us ooh and ahhh. Our little show lasted about 2 hours, which is not bad for less than 40 bucks!

The spinners were crowd pleasers...several of the fountains were pretty impressive. The "smoke" bombs proved to be the lemon of the night; oh yeah, there was smoke, but also lots of stink! Due to an unfortunate timed shift in the wind, we had toddlers crying and kids and grownups running at one point. P-U!

While other animals were safely tucked inside and hidden during all the fireworks commotion, our Bijou watched the show from beginning to end.
Posted by Picasa