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When it’s NOT the bunnies…

Hey there – if I told you next week would be the start of August, would you believe me? Hmm not sure I’d believe me! We’re hanging in there with the July humidity that makes me cringe. I put up with -10 degrees in January because I don’t like sweat trickling down my back during a short walk down the driveway to get the mail. Unfortunately WI is home to both freezing winters AND humid summers. At least we have brilliant spring/autumn weather. That’s something:)

We’ve been doing an OK job keeping up with rabbits this year so I was really upset when my lilies were beheaded just before blooming yet again.

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I almost thought it was a kid playing a trick because normally the rabbits chew down the sides of the plant first and then make their way up to the top flowers. This time it looked like everything was clear-cut right across the top and the sides were left unscathed.

I was puzzling this for several weeks until one morning when I went out to my garden…

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Immediately I noticed something seemed wrong but I couldn’t tell exactly what that was. Then I spotted the back fence looking a little beat up – like something pressed right up against it and stretched it out of place.

Upon closer inspection – something devoured the tops of my beans and pea plants! Oh no!

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All the tops were chewed right off. There can be only one culprit: deer. We’ve seen random deer wander through the front of our yard only in the dead of Winter so this is surprising. I’ve never had deer problems before. Honestly, if it isn’t rabbits, slugs, ants, black bugs, clear worms, or Japanese beetles… I *really* don’t want to have to layer pesticides over everything but I’m just not sure what to do next.

I picked at a few raspberries and found the tiny clear worms in several of them – which makes me leery about opening and inspecting every one before I eat it. Our strawberries were watery and super tiny. I’m thinking of hanging up my berry hat and sticking to the veggies, which I have better luck growing.

The peppers are plugging away nicely. I don’t think this will be a bumper crop like the last couple of years but I’m hoping for enough to make some diced up bags for freezing. (That’s so wonderful during the winter). Too early to tell if these will rebound but so far, they just look so tiny.

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Did I tell you about my squash faux-pas? I planted just two zucchini seeds in one section and two yellow squash seeds in another – and then forgot which was which. Normally that wouldn’t have been an issue except one bed had both seeds sprout and the other had zero! I couldn’t determine which was which so I planted two of each back in the first bed. Now I know, the zucchini didn’t take on the first try. The squash are already producing though, so maybe this will work out because I’ll have more staggered crops.

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You can see how much smaller the second attempt plants are in comparison:

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Oh! I’m growing a bumper crop of weeds this year too. The dirt we bought was just teaming with weeds and it’s been a painstaking job to rip them out and keep up with them. Not only are there TONS of pricker plants (my favoritešŸ˜¦ ) but lots of these guys:

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One of my friends posted on Facebook that these are edible… Hmm, naw I think I’ll just yank and discard!

Because the deer ripped off the tops of my peas, they don’t have their little vines to wrap around the top of my trellis. The result is that we needed to tie them back up so they wouldn’t flop on down into the ground.

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The beans are coming back- but slowly. Since a ton of the flowers were eaten, I’m not sure what we’ll get for a crop. I’m wondering if it’s too late in the year to try another planting…

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One thing doing really well is my cantaloupe plant. It’s crazy! Now I’m just hoping I get lots of fruit off it.

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Looks like we might get a nice-sized storm today/tonight which will help the lawn and my garden. I’ve been toting buckets of water every day but with the high heat, I’m probably not giving them as much as I should be.

Ben’s off to an after-work event tonight for one of the vendors he works with so maybe I can putz around in the garden. If it’s raining, then just picture me in front of HGTV with iced tea and a partially-crocheted baby blanket in hand. I’m SO exciting.šŸ˜‰

Have a great day!

Hiking Around the Third Ward

Hello on this beautiful summer night! The heat is just around the corner but right now I have all the windows open, a glass of iced tea in my hand, and am enjoying both the breeze and the fact that it’s after 8pm and light outside. Summer just is amazing.

A fun spur-of-the-moment mini vacation was to take a day and drive down to Madison followed by a drive over and day in Milwaukee. The premise was to just get away and enjoy a change of scenery. We hunted for some decent hotel prices and were on our way.

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Madison was our first spot and we drove right to the capital to walk around and work on a “banner mission”. I’ve mentioned before about Ingress, the GPS game Ben and I play. One thing that we’re enjoying about the game is how different cities have missions – meaning you visit different locations in certain orders and collect badges. When the badges are strung together they make a unique picture that gets stored on your game page for everyone to see. Here is the one for the capitol called “Hack the Loop”:

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From the map information this looked like it would be really quick to complete but we were sidelined by tons of road construction and, as luck would have it, a day when the capitol was swarming with people getting early seats to a concert that night. Chaos!

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There was a lot more walking around then we had planned on and by the time we were done it was after 8pm. Long day of driving and walking!

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Walking ALL over and around the capitol… tons of weird intersections but a mountain of fun shops, little niche restaurants, food carts, and people.

018Ben began driving back towards our hotel while I searched my phone for a decent dinner option. I wasn’t really hungry at that point but I was THIRSTY! We settled on the Great Dane Brewing Co forĀ beer (Ben), root beer (me), and a half chicken wrap with a bowl of potato soup. Delicious! Added bonus: the Brewer game was on TV so we scrunched into the same side of the booth and sat and watched while we ate. I think that’s one of the best things about vacation (or weekends too) – time just doesn’t matter. You can stay out late because you don’t have to be anywhere the next morning.

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We had the gnarliest hotel ever in Madison. Take it from me, if you’re ever in Madison, DO NOT stay at the Microtel. It was beyond hideous. When we arrived to check in there was no running water or working phones (huh?) but since it was early afternoon we didn’t really care and left right away for the capitol. When we got back and really inspected the room, it was heinous. I will spare you all the details except to say that I slept IN my clothes, threw all their pillows off the bed, made Ben purchase bottled water so I could brush my teeth in the sink, and I opted NOT to take a shower the next morning. Yeah.Had we gotten back to the room earlier I think we would have just left. Looking back, Ben says we won’t make that mistake again despite how late it is. Lessons you learn!:)

The next day we had planned another mission badge that started by the capitol and ended all the way over in Mt Horeb:

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You can argue that this game is somewhat pointless but for people who really don’t get out much, it gives a sense of purpose, is so inexpensive, and lets us discover all kinds of random areas, parks, beaches, cities. I love it. We wound our way through quaint little city blocks in MadisonĀ with old homes on tiny streets that were amazingly well-kept and so full of charm. We stopped in Verona for lunch at burger joint. I love being able to get quick reviews on my phone. I don’t know how I lived with a “dumb” phone for so long.

This place was a tapĀ house and they had all kinds of fancy beers that made Ben almost gleeful… and a little hoity-toity for such a down to earth establishment. Ha

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The “wall”

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I think you all know I’m not a beer girl but boy did I have some wonderful root beers on this trip. Holy cow. They were ice cold, with deep vanilla and caramel notes. Mmmm amazing stuff.

I rolled with a California burger which came with cheese and guacamole. I’ve never tried that combo on a burger and it was really tasty.

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We arrived in MilwaukeeĀ in the late afternoon and fully inspected our hotel. It passed with flying colors – and not just because they had freshly made oatmeal blueberry white chocolate cookies. I NEED to try and replicate this recipe!

It was early enough that we decided to head down to the Historic Third Ward. It’s an area of downtown Milwaukee that is, well, historic. I’d never been there and since the weather was perfect for walking (especially after a day in the car), we thought we’d complete another banner, get some exercise, see the sights, and find a quaint place to eat dinner too.

We remembered too late that Summerfest (the local summer music festival) was going on so parking anywhere was crazy-expensive. We settled on the parking ramp right outside the Ward and they wanted to charge us $25. Yikes.

A quick back story: when we were in Madison, there was no parking ramp and poor Ben was running back and forth putting money into the meter because we kept running out of time and everything was taking longer than planned. It was a bit of a mess and we didn’t want to deal with that again. We explained we just wanted to walk around and got a weird looking ticket before parking the car.

The Third Ward didn’t disappoint. It was just beautiful: full of huge brick buildings that look so well maintained and yet “old”. You can tell there was so much history and change and yet the buildings are still there. There were little shops all over, seating areas, and a park with twinkle lights wrapped all around the trees.

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It was a little overcast and we were concerned about rain but luckily only a few errant sprinkles cropped up as we wove up and down the street. We finished this banner really quickly but I don’t think it’s as pretty. It looks like it needs an additional line to complete the picture:

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While we were playing, a local game player (opposing team) spotted us in-game and was super friendly. He offered up some great dinner suggestions in the area. We ended up at a pizzeria in one of those beautiful brick buildings.

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We ordered a pizza with pancetta and it came in little rosettes. Also, one of the quirks to an old building – the bathroom was downstairs! You had to walk down these creepy stairs and then down an equally creepy stairwell to get to the bathroom. That alone was an experience!

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The sprinkling was getting a touch worse when we left the restaurant and when we drove up to pay in the parking garage our total came to: $4. FOUR dollars!!! What a deal! I think we must have fed almost $15 into the meter at Madison and I was expecting the $25 Summerfest fee. It doesn’t take much to make my day, hee hee

We woke up the next morning and decided we were done with the game and ready to just do something random – so we drove another half hour to the outlet malls in Pleasant Prairie. I have friends who RAVE about the mall so we decided to finally make the trip. They had a couple stores that aren’t at the outlet mall in Oshkosh but nothing that I would make a specific trip down there for. we found some deals on exercise shirts (Adidas and Under Armour outlets), I may or may not have bought another unnecessary and totally beautiful purse, and we took it pretty easy overall because I was feeling really dizzy that morning.

While we were paying for a pair of swim trunks at the Eddie Bauer outlet, the store employee told us to check out the “cheese castle” because it was a fun touristy place and had great sandwiches for lunch. Sold!

The “castle”:

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It was definitely a tourist trap. I actually didn’t think the food was great and we could have done without the trip there. I guess it felt a bit cheezy (cheezy, get it?) after all the more rustic places we’ve seen.

I mean we’re comparing sites like this:

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to stuff like this:

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variety!

We got a start on the road right after lunch and ended up hitting all the 4th of July traffic heading into Milwaukee. The road was at a complete standstill and we ended up taking the first offramp and driving down the frontage roads so we could make some headway. A lot of other people had the same idea so it was slow going but even at 35mph we were FLYING compared to the interstate. It took us almost double the time to get home.

It was a wonderful trip though with lots of fun memories. We’re already looking at the map for more missions to see were we should go to next. A little R&R is good for the heart, mind, body, and soul.ā¤

 

 

 

 

The Vacation To-Do List

Hi everyone!

What a great week we had off. I think Ben would admit that he would have liked a little more relaxation in our vacation but neither of us can deny that we accomplished quite a bit.

I made a rather impressive and ambitious list of projects that we’ve been putting off or forgetting because we’re tired/stressed/don’t feel like it. But I didn’t want this past week to fly by without having anything done so we listed out what we wanted to do each day and blended in the play with the work.

I mentioned that one of my projects was to organize the pantry. It’s not a great configuration – it’s dark and hard to see what’s in the back. Plus, it’s just too full and things are falling out (which means stuff gets piled onto the counter).

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This is also one of those projects that get worse before it gets better. In order to see what you have, you really need to take everything out. That means piling all over the counters and floor. Big mess!

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And then you find things that make you grimace – and laugh too:

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Evidently at 4 different times I felt I needed coconut. I threw one bag out, gave one to my mom for her granola, and now have just two bags. Hello more spacešŸ˜‰

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It looks pretty good now. I have things organized by shelf and all the older stuff is thrown away. It only took me part of two days to finish this. Whoops

The family came over to help with a shrub removal/tree pruning afternoon and we made a TON of headway! I didn’t do a good job (read: forgot) getting before and after photos but I do have one of the lilacs in front of our back porch. They needed a severe trimming because they would be in the way if/when we re-stain the deck but they also were starting to encroach on the walkway into the yard.

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Most of the leaves were removed in the pruning process because these guys had to be cut back so far. We just need to do a better job each year of keeping ahead of the crazy growth! A funny thing: I couldn’t believe how much brighter it was in the kitchen once these guys were chopped back. Amazing difference!

Something sweet arrived… (Always a major part of my summer)

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We had our well inspected as part of a 5 year town permit requirement. We both had relaxing massages, saw a new movie at the theater, and made it out for Hibachi, and I made it through step one of getting my name changed. We honeymooned right after the wedding so I didn’t want to mess with getting a new passport… then we vacationed in February and I figured it would make sense to just do it all before my birthday this comingĀ month (when my drivers license expires). Of course, I said that knowing I had months to do it and here we are, just a few weeks before I NEED to have it done.

Funny story. I went to the SS office to submit the paperwork to change my name. I combed my hair (which is not mandatory when you’re on vacation) and put on a nice shirt so I could stroll over to the DMV and get my license right away afterwards… I filled out the paperwork wrong and was in the process of filling out another one when the security guard came out and told us there was a bomb threat and they were closing for the day! (Keep in mind, this is at 10:30am) Apparently someone wrote “bomb the system” in spray paint on the building overnight and they thought everything should be closed 90 minutes after they opened. O-kay. Another trip later and I have a new name. I haven’t changed it anywhere else yet – DMV might be this coming week – so I’m taking it in baby steps. Ha ha

The deck stain company is sending us some buckets of new stain. It’ll mean a lot of work to strip the old stuff and start over and I don’t think we’re looking to begin that project soon, but at least we have something to try.

I also had an unexpected trip to the Doctor. Over the past 3 months or so, I’ve been noticing increased random bouts of dizziness. I get lightheaded even when sitting down. Last week Monday I noticed severe weakness in my right hand. It felt like everything was swollen even though it looked fine and I barely had the energy to hold my hand up long enough to scrub my hair. It scared me so I went in to get some blood work done. While I was there the Dr told me that it sounds like I could have the beginning stages of MS. I had a head MRI completed late last week and I’m waiting now on all the results. Oddly, I’m not worried. It’s crazy because I am such a worrier! I’m giving it some prayer, letting it be, and waiting to hear. Heck, I haven’t even researched anything about MS. I’m trying not to get myself worked up if I don’t have to. So, we’ll see what happens soon.

Ben and I also got away from town for two days. I have fun pictures and stories about that trip but it’s getting late so I’ll fill you in on that this week.

It’s thick, hot, and humid this week so we are working on staying cool in the house. I’m not made for this kind of weather. I’m melting already.

Ok, time to get dinner prepped before bed time. good night!

 

Chillaxing on the Fourth

Happy 4th of July! What an amazingly beautiful weekend! Ben and I are starting some MUCH NEEDED R&R and made the most of the terrific temperatures and sunshine. Right now I have the bed made up with fresh sheets hung on the line and I’m listening to the cracking and popping of the neighborhood fireworks. Not a bad way to spend a Sunday, err Monday night.

We really haven’t had any vacation yet this year – our original plans were halted with Matt’s surgery – and now we’re feeling the effects of so many months without a decent break. You go a little (ok a lot) nuts. Maybe more me than Ben though:) There’s nothing quite like aĀ Monday that feels like a Sunday except you don’t have to go back to work the next day. Ahhhh yes.

I’ve mentioned before that Ben and I play a global geocaching-esque game and one of the things we’ve been doing more of us visiting nearby towns to complete “day missions” where you drive around visiting various landmarks and gain badges that make little pictures. It’s been a fun way to find new parks, walking trails, and other interesting historical features around the area.

We started with the obvious ones though…

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This weekend we grabbed Mom and Matt and went to an adorable little town slightly north of Green Bay called Algoma. It’s on the bay and has amazing views of the water.

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I told Ben we should move. Ha Ha

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Seriously though, I wouldn’t get sick of seeing that every morning (except maybe it wouldn’t have the same effect in January?).

Ben and I picked up a small box of fireworks and the folks picked up some as well so we spent yesterday launching half of them off the dock. Dad has to work tomorrow so we figured it was better than rushing things tonight. Now we still have the other half for this coming weekend too. Spreads out the fun.

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Now that we’ve done a little relaxing, it’s time to get down to business tomorrow. WeĀ realized our to-do list is getting increasingly long. When we get home from work at night, we’re both tired and that’s been the same story for quite a while. So this week I have quite the lengthy and probably overly ambitious list of chores I’d like to do. We’re going to try for a day or two away doing something fun, but I really wanted to knock some things off the chore front. It’s kind of amazing how much time some of these seemingly little things take to complete.

Like last year’s project of re-painting the deck. We spent hundreds of dollars on stain remover, renting power washers and sanders, buying a sander and all the papers and equipment, plus the TEN gallons of paint stain guaranteed to last 20 years. It was a killer project that ended up being what we think contributed to all of Ben’s back issues but the saving grace was that at least we wouldn’t have to do it again for a couple decades…

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That’s the unfortunate story around the entire deck. It was a super-thick application that was almost rubbery once applied and we had such high hopes. Not even a year later and it’s all cracking and flaking right up. I guess we were supposed to apply for the warranty within 60 days of purchase (and we didn’t) but we have the store receipts and all the empty buckets so we’re going to try calling the company and seeing if there’s anything that can be done.

Another “fun” project is organizing my pantry. We’ve had things beginning to be stacked in the bar room and in the kitchen because there simply is no room left for anything. Time to sort, toss, and take inventory of what we have. I hate these kinds of projects but I know it needs to be done.

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Now that our lilacs are done blooming, I really need to cut back the bushes. Not only are they ridiculously overgrown but they are hindering my ability to walk out into the backyard.

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The big storm from last week seemed to cause branches on our larger trees to sag and we really need to do some serious pruning. This may require a call to my folks – it’s likely more than Ben and I can tackle with a hand pruner.

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My garden is a cesspool of weeds, my driver’s license expires next month (I still haven’t gotten around to changing my last name!), we have to have our well inspected and tested before the end of this month, more shrubs need removing and flowers need planting. I have a Dr’s appointment, a massage for me, and facial for Ben scheduled. Oh, and our dishwasher just broke. It’s 22 years old so probably time to shop for a new one.

I’m tired just looking at this list. We’ll see how I do over this week. HOT temps on the way so probably some indoor stuff for the early part of the week at least.

Wish me luck.

Hello Hottie

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Happy Tuesday! After surviving a brutally hot and humid weekend, we are loving this cooler mid-70’sĀ weather. Hallelujah!

We had some early morning excitement over the weekend. Our emergency alert messaging rocketed us out of bed at 3:15 AM Saturday. Not exactly a pleasant wake-up call. I will admit, I probably would have rolled right back over and fallen back to sleep if Ben hadn’t turned on the lights and yanked me out of bed. We slugged down into the basement, wrapped ourselves in the biggest blankets we had (it’s FREEZING in our basement), and tuned into 30 minutes of TV storm coverage. Apparently there was a tornado warning because Doppler radar spotted “rotation”. I couldn’t hear any wind or even significant rain from the basement so we just huddled down and then went back on up after the coast was clear. The result? One tiny branch in the front of the yard. Better to be safe than sorry I guess!

A quick look around the yard…

This is one of those plants where I learned how to treat it through trial and error. It grows like a WEED every year but only if I cut it way, way back in the Fall. I always worry it won’t come back but it always does. I love the pretty red blooms. It reminds me of Christmas.:)

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Last year I put this white-flowered tree on my “rip out and replace” list. I couldn’t exactly remember why. the rabbits leave it alone and it’s a nice size for filling in the back corner of the house line. But then I walked past it over the weekend and remembered. This thing, whatever it is, smells absolutely vile. The flowers aren’t especially pretty either and for whatever reason, this year it’s attracted swarms of Japanese beetles for the first time. You walk by and can see them all huddled on the flowers in large clumps. It’s nasty. This thing has got to go!!

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Another big project waiting for me is my raspberry patch. I hacked everything way back in order to, hopefully, eliminate blight. I also think these guys are way too crowded. I had every intention of thinning them out when they were small and pliable, but now it looks like I’ll need my heavy-duty gloves and a long shirt to tackle this project. Not a great one for my back, but I think if I do it in small chunks I can manage it.

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Between the shrubs we’ve removed, the garden that’s needing almost constant weeding, and these berry plants – my back is woeful. lol Lots of Ibuprofen and short durations!!

One final look at my peony. Beautiful but hitting the end of the season. I’ll miss these vibrant gems in the back yard. Need to plant more! (that are rabbit AND Japanese beetle resistant) Time to surround my entire yard in glass so nothing bad gets in, right?? Ha Ha

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Enjoy this absolutely gorgeous weather! The whole week looks pretty fabulous in my book. Hurray!!

The Longest Days

Happy Monday. I hope your week is off to a terrific start! I was on the way to work this morning when the news snippet talked about these being the longest days of the year. IĀ really noticed it on Saturday night. I had to go into work at 9pm for a night time deployment and it was still light out. At 9pm! I love the Summer. OK, it’s not really, technically Summer yet but it was almost 90 this weekend and that’s Summer enough for this gal!

9pm sunset:

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We felt a little like vampiresĀ over the weekend – only creeping out to work on things in the early morning or right around dusk. It was pretty humid and I get way too tired in the heat. On Sunday morning (right after being up late for the deployment), we high-tailed it to the strawberry patch to grab a box of beauties before the heat got too bad. We lucked out and managed to stay relatively cool through most of the picking. It wasn’t until the last 15 minutes or so when we started to feel hot and sticky… time to leave!

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Strawberries are Ben’s favorite fruit so berry picking is a must around this house! Now we have a heaping flat for shortcake, lunches, and I’m planning on freezing some for smoothies. Mmm

My own strawberry patch is looking like a failure. I got a couple handfuls of itsy-bitsy watery tasting berries. The majority seem to be chewed up by tiny black bugs. If they were gorgeous and sweet, I’d be more angry but these guys almost aren’t worth the effort to pick…

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I hate to resort to pesticides so instead I’m wondering if I should just rip all these out and try another type of berry for next year. I suppose it could also be my soil or maybe they aren’t getting enough sunlight; I’m not really sure what the issue is. Maybe I should stick to veggie gardening instead.:)

Speaking of, the veggie garden has been planted and already is seeing some interesting results. I cut back on the peppers this year (we still have some from last year’s harvest in the freezer) but still will have theĀ color variety with green, red, yellow, and orange

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(Note how nice that bed looks) Four of the peppers I got from the local organic farmer and the other four were from Walmart. Oddly, the ones from Walmart are looking a little yellowed and don’t appear to be growing much.

We dumped in a new bag of soil to each of the beds right before planting. I had a few bags leftover from last year (they went into the pepper bed) and the new bags yielded a MOUNTAIN of weeds. Oh baby – this is not fun work.

The bed in front is trying to be a cantaloupe. I think I killed two of the three plants by trying to separate them too soon. Whoops! Hopefully the last one will yield some fruit. We like to try one new thing each year and ‘loupe it is for 2016. In the back bed I have yellow and green beans. I only filled half the bed thinking I’d wait a few weeks and plant another few rows to stagger the produce. In the meantime, the weeds are growing there nicely.šŸ˜‰ Finally just off to the right you can see my tiny plot of peas. They are doing really well.

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So my funny “oops” moment came when planting my zucchini and yellow squash. I planted two zucchini in one bed and two squash in the other bed. Then I promptly forgot which bed was which. This wouldn’t be a problem except that one bed had both plants sprout up and the other bed was a total dud. I can’t imagine 4 zucchini OR squash plants unless we wanted to eat that 3x a week for two months. I planted two of each in the bed and am crossing my fingers when (if?) they come up I’ll be able to spot some differences and rip out the extra ones. I’ll keep you posted.

It wouldn’t be my yard if the rabbits didn’t find a way to destroy my pink lilies:

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But my peonies are doing great. They are in the back of the house and bloom a little later than everyone else’s. I planted these the summer before last and it’s doing so well.

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I bought a peony cage to keep them upright and off the ground. I wasn’t sure how well it would work but it does keep the bulk of the plant upright and even with some pretty massive winds, they’ve kept in place.

At first I was pretty blue that I messed up and got a single instead of a double, but it really is very pretty and fragrant. Maybe I can get a few more plantedĀ for next year.

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Well, it’s 8:35 and looking light enough out for a walk. I think I’ll go and take advantage of this extra sunlight. Bye for now!

 

Peeking on Through

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Hello. I’m home.

What a whirlwind it’s been around here. Spring/Summer is my favorite time to blog because I feel like there’s more interesting stuff to blog about. I keep thinking this insane stint at work will be easing up and then…. WHAM another couple of weeks where my life is chained to a desk.Ā I’ve started writing work reminders on the backs of empty envelopes (I wouldn’t recommend that!). It’s just been a little more than I want right now. Extra office time in the middle of Winter is NBD but in the warmth and sunshine that’s so rare in WI – well that’s crazy!

Sherri – thanks for your blog comment this week. I blog first for myself and second for those of you who are my “online friends” and enjoy reading about my life. Sometimes I forget that people wonder where I am or I take for granted that people assume I am OK. I am; just busier than I’d like to be. But thanks for reaching out. It’s good to be missedā¤

It wouldn’t be my blog without a few pictures of my crab apple trees. They are now long gone but I am playing catch up this next week or two. Plus, I just love the reminder of the fragrance and beauty that only lasts a short time each year.

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Check under this crab – we are slowing starting to rip up the dead and ugly shrubs around the house! Let me tell you, this is back breaking work. It took Ben all day to get the one removed that you can see below. He wasn’t impressed. (But I’m impressed with the color – love, love, love that tree!!)

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Right now we’re at the tail end of lilac season. We don’t have the thick double lilacs that I grew up with. Instead, we have a thinner variety. I’ve often heard them referred to as “Japanese ornamental lilacs” but I don’t know if that’s really even a thing? My mom has the real deal though and she gave me a large vase for the kitchen table:

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Isn’t it funny how the things we remember from childhood are always the best? My ornamental flowers may not be as pretty but they smell just as good and any day that’s been under 80 degrees we’ve had the patio doors wide open so the smell permeates through the house.

Matt’s continuing a slow recovery. We have some mysteries that are still being worked through and continue to have issues with the doctors. Matt’s on a lot of restrictions – including very limited access to people – so we’ve been isolating ourselves quite a bit, watching our temps, and washing our hands constantly. Matt wasn’t able to partake of the Memorial Day festivitiesšŸ˜¦ so we planned a big cookout at home instead. I made my wonderful rice dip:

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And I put Chef Ben to work trying a recipe for cream cheese chocolate chip cookie bars. I have to tell you, Ben’s turned into quite a fearless guy in the kitchen. He’s experimenting and willing to try different recipes. Thank you Food NetworkšŸ˜‰

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Ben’s other plan was to make margaritas to go with the cookout. Matt can’t drink alcohol again so we decided to whip his up first and then toss the tequila in for everyone else. We’re not much of a drinking family which I think will help Matt. With so many restrictions I think the hardest is NOT being able to do or eat something everyone else is doing/eating and the fact that we’re a pretty tea-totaling family makes this one thing easier.

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Back to Ben’s adventurous culinary ideas: he decided to try a Himalayan salt rim on the margarita glasses. A little lime wedge and Matt’s drink was ready… and WAY too salty!

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Ok lesson learned there! We were in stitches. After a quick swipe with the towel and a much finer line of salt, we achieved the desired result. My plate was loaded with rice, mushrooms, dipping ships, tenderloin, and fruit Jello. I could eat this meal every day.

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Ben’s cookie bars were a massive hit. We chopped them into bite-sized pieces. It’s a great idea because you’re less likely to keep grabbing more and more and more. I think you tend to eat a larger bar as quickly as a smaller one so this gave time to feel full yet still enjoy the treat AND we had half the plate left after dinner was over. that’s insanity in my family of cookie lovers.

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This recipe is a keeper for sure!070

I’ve got bed sheets on the line and I owe my BFF a snail-mail letter, so I need to scram and tackle those things before bed time. I think (Ok, I hope) the end of this weird work schedule thing is coming to a close. Of not, I just need to schedule blog time in so I don’t leave you all for so long. I’m sorry!

Hope your weekend was amazing! Love, Me

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