Spring has Sprung

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I have a bunch of back posts to catch up on in the next few days so get excited for an onslaught.

In the mean time, I wanted to share a few pictures that I took of the beautiful scenery on my block right now.

These are the Tulips in my neighbor’s yard. They always have the most beautiful flowers.

Another picture from the neighbor’s yard.

For some reason this fence spoke to me. I walk by it in the alley in front of my house all the time and it just looked particularly lovely this day.

These are the cutest bricks I have ever seen. Here is a close up.

The light was absolutely beautiful this day. Not too harsh. Allowed for some very nice spring pics.

Hope that your spring is as beautiful as mine has been. You will hear from me again soon. I will leave you with a picture of my unphotogenic little dog, Gus. He is still so cute.

 


Odds, Ends and Greens

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We have had some unseasonably warm weather this winter. We have not been below freezing for a few weeks and it is not forecasted to be too cold again for the next few weeks so I took a gamble and planted my greens. I worked up the garden where I put my herbs last year because it is in the nook of our house and is protected and allows for me to protect the plants if we do get a cold snap.

I planted kale in two rows closest to the house and then planted spinach next to the kale. I mixed three packets of lettuce seed and then just sprinkled it in the middle section.

I have been working on some larger projects lately that are still in progress and I am behind blogging about some smaller ones. This post will act as a preview of some awesome things to come as well as a look back at somethings that I overlooked.

I am working on a smaller lap blanket. You might recognize the “LOVE Blocks” from a couple of posts ago. I made myself a set of the blocks and I am adding some paper pieced heart blocks. I am really happy with how this is turning out and I will update you as I make more progress.

I am using up scraps of fabric from the apron what was not after I messed up the cutting for my friend Sarah. I made her a set of the “Love Blocks” that she is using as a table runner, she loved them. I had a bunch of fabric left over and I really like the color combination and how it is coming together. I love this fabric and I can make myself feel better about my crafting when I do not have to go buy a bunch of supplies for a project.

I used this same fabric to make a gift for some friends at Christmas.

 

They wanted to learn to knit so put together a kit with some yarn (from my stash), some knitting needles and I made these carrying cases to keep all their goodies in. You can see that the top pockets have a closure. The middle pockets are for knitting needles and other straight longer supplies like a ruler, etc. The bottom pockets can hold circular needles or really anything else. The kit all folds up into an easy to store and carry bundle.

 

 

 

 


Nebraska Weekend

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Over President’s Day weekend, the husband and I made the trek north to see a good friend from college. I had never been to Nebraska before so we hit the road for Omaha. We had a great weekend and I really enjoyed seeing Trevor again and visiting a new city.

We arrived on Friday evening and Trevor treated us to dinner at a wonderful steak house called Fleming’s. This place was so good. A little on the high end of our food budget but it delivered. I had a filet and a mozzarella salad. Tasted amazing. Alex had a KC Strip and a Cesar salad. Trevor had a prime rib and a Cesar salad. All three steaks were fantastic. They were tender and had great flavor. I think that I would drive back up to Omaha just to eat there again.

The evening was perfect. Good food, good wine and great friends. I could not ask for more.

The next day Trevor took us up to the pedestrian bridge. This turned out to be pretty cool because you start on the bridge walking in Nebraska, you cross over the Missouri River and then half way, you cross into Iowa.

We took the ridiculous but to be expected tourist shots where we were in two places at once.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The day started great and really just got better. We went to a yarn store, a tea shop, a few other shops and we ended up stopping at a super nerdy game shop where we purchased an expansion pack to Carcassonne. We ate at a great pizza place and then played games the rest of the day.

Trevor made us lunch on Sunday and we headed home.

We had a great weekend but I was sick most of the time so when we were not doing something awesome, I was curled up with The Hunger Games on my iPad. I could have have asked for a better weekend.



A Shower for Rilynn and Ashley too

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My cousin Ashley had her daughter, Rilynn last week. Please see the Puppy Hats post for all baby pictures and other things to make you coo.

My cousin Carla had the great idea to host a baby shower for Ashley back just before Christmas. I know that I am late getting this posted but here goes anyway.

Ashley did Rilynn’s room in a pink and grey theme and we decided to continue that for the shower but add a winter wonderland twist. Yes, there was a lot of thought that went into this baby shower. Carla is an overachiever. I was in charge of the cupcakes, the invitations and the baby blanket.

The cupcakes came from a local bakery here in Coffeyville. The ladies at Utopia are amazing. They are super friendly and I go there way too many mornings in a week. The food is great, the coffee is great and the people are even better. (shameless plug) I go to them for all my baking needs. They are so much better at it than I am and I love working with them. They made this beautiful cupcakes that went perfectly with the shower.

Carla had this great idea to use twigs that she spray painted to decorate. She put adorable sparkly snowflakes on them and they looked great!

 Before I get into talking about the quilt, here are a few more pictures from the shower. 

Another cousin (yes, there are a lot of them), Kristin, was in charge of the food and she did a great job. She had sandwiches, fruit and gobs of other wonderful things to eat.

These are the pink poinsettias that I picked up to decorate with. I loved their color so I took a glamour shot.

The gift table turned out really pretty. I will have an entire post dedicated to that quilt on the end so consider this a teaser. I took all these pictures before anybody really got there so this was less than a fourth of the presents that ended up there.

The shower was a big hit and we all had a bundle of fun. Ashley ended up with a couple car loads of presents and Rilynn was sufficiently welcomed.

I will leave you with a cute baby pic. This is my sister and Carla’s daughter. They are both hungry.

 


Another Garden Post

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Here is another update on the garden.

Everything is growing and starting to produce food (YUM!)

The first harvest of the year was kale. It is actually kind of late for kale but I am trying to get a last minute crop in. Kale gets pretty bitter in hotter weather but I think I will try to make some kale chips or other preservation method when that becomes the case.

Yes, I know how awesome my hair looks in this picture. Just check out the kale. We love greens, kale included, but some people do not. My favorite recipe that includes kale but hides it is Tuscan Bean Soup from American’s Test Kitchen.

We made a pretty good dinner with our Kale. Here is a progression of the kale from our garden to our plates.


Garden Take 2

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I wanted to give you all an update on how our garden was going.

We had quite a bit of rain and everything is growing. It is kind of crazy because all the plants, especially the broccoli will be noticeably larger.

We went to a garden plant sale at a wholesaler and got some great deals to finish planting. We added peppers (too many varieties of hot to mention), sweet peppers, sweet potatoes, carrots, cucumbers, butternut squash, zucchini squash, yellow zucchini squash, okra, and all sorts of tomatoes. I am sure that I am forgetting something here. Here are some pictures to show our progress.

All the plants were pretty mature when we planted them so I needed to pull extra dirt up around them and prevent weeds.

Alex found himself a little friend. We were turning over our compost pile and found this guy feasting on some ants. We relocated him to the cabbage patch to have him help us keep bugs away.



Florida Vacation

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7/16/2009

We have not done much today. I got up and made a yummy lunch of crab cakes fried in butter and some tequila lime shrimp on lime cilantro rice. Alex cut up a mango to go with it. YUM!

Fresh and Yummy

We decided to go back to the beach today up at Sanibel. The beach was kind of a disappointment. The water was dirty and there was a bunch of algae and other nasty on the beach. We did somehow find a few cool shells.

This afternoon we came back to the house and now we are watching a movie. Pizza for dinner.

7/15/2009

This is our fifth day in Fort Myers. The vacation has been so great so far. We are not the only awesome people who thought that Ft. Myers would be a good vacation. This is where Thomas Edison and Henry Ford were known to winter.

Ford Winter Estate

The Edison & Ford winter estates are a beautifully restored historical location complete with beautiful gardens and three houses furnished in period perfect and original furniture and the winter office and laboratory of Thomas Edison.

Three smart kids

Alex and I are both pretty big nerds and we both got pretty into all the amazing views and architecture. We took a ton of pictures and Alex bought a really cool period replica of a 1893 light bulb.

Sweet tree

We were going to go to a winery but it closed too early so we just drove around the down town of Ft. Myers instead. We decided to walk around for a while  because we were starving. We found this great Italian restaurant  and decided to stay for happy hour with free tapas and a yummy dinner.

I ordered a yummy penne pasta with crab meat and vodka sauce. YUM! Alex got some gnocchi with a red sauce and panchetta…another YUM!

We left happy and full. We came back to the house and bummed around. Another great day of vacation.

7/14/2009

Today has been our best day so far. This morning we went to the beach at Sanibel Island. Sanibel is located a little north of where we had been yesterday. Sanibel is a island accessible by two huge bridges and a toll road. The toll was kind of annoying and we had to pay $2/hr to park but the beach was gorgeous!

There is a light house located on the tip of the island. I had never seen a light house before so I was pretty excited about checking one out. The light house was pretty cool and had quite a bit of history to it, I was kind of bummed that we didn’t get to go up in the light house but it was still pretty.

Sanibel Lighthouse

After we visited the light house we went back to the van and loaded up our beach stuff to head to the beach. Sanibel is know for its great shelling. We decided to follow the trend and look for some shells while we were bumming on the beach. We had bought some goggles when we were at Publix on Tuesday. Alex and I made a pretty good team at shelling. I would shuffle my feet on the bottom of the gulf floor and if I found anything that felt interesting Alex would dive down and pick up what I found.  We found quite a few shells and saw some pretty cool little dudes, I will let Alex tell you all more about that in his guest post.

We have seen some great wild life while we are here. Just as we waded out into the water today there was a family of about 6 dolphins that swam past us jumping up to say hi. This group of playful guys combined with the manatee that we saw yesterday have just been fantastic, not to mention the birds and crabs and fish that we have seen.

Look Dolphins

We came back to the house when it started to storm on an island close to us and had a snack then promptly took a nap. I slept until 5pm and woke up starving to my mom’s phone call. Alex and I  were looking at going to a really cool sushi place while we were here but we found out that the dinner service is really expensive and that they have an all you can eat lunch, we are going to hit that up later.

Tonight, I was torn if we wanted to cook or if we just wanted to go out. I found a fish market that also has a restaurant on it, we headed there. We were pleasantly surprised to find it full of locals and when we pulled up it smelled like yummy seafood and bbq, we made our decision then to eat out.

Yummy Dinner

Skip One Fish Market, gets all of their fish fresh. The seafood is caught the same day it is served so everything tasted fantastic. We started out with some fried alligator tail. YUM! Alligator had a really great taste and texture. I will not hesitate to order it again.

Our waitress was really friendly and did a great job. We both ordered the specials of the night. I ordered the Florida Lobster Tail. I had never had lobster not in soup form and oh it was soooo good! The lobster tail came with butter and lemon, I used penty of both. My lips still smell like butter 🙂 Alex ordered the other special of the night which was a cajun grilled grouper. I got a taste and it was equally yumms. The spices that they used were great and the fish was cooked to perfection. I will for sure recommend that place to my friends and we might go back before we leave.

We have been looking for a good place for key lime pie, everything else at Skip One was amazing so we ordered a piece to share at home. The pie was so good. It was just the right creamy and the crust was crumbly and crunchy. Oh it was so good.

We also bought some shrimp and a couple of crab cakes for tomorrow dinner. We are going to make some lime-cilantro rice to eat with out newly bought seafood. We are very much looking forward to another great day full of fun and good food.

7/13/2009

This morning we finally went to the beach. I dragged Alex out of bed at the early hour of 9:30 am and we make the trek to Lover’s Key Beach inside a Florida state park. We had kayaked around the back side of this beach so we knew where it was and a local lady said that this was a really nice beach.

Lover's Island Beach

We arrived at the beach just before 11 am. The beach was beautiful as promised, and it was not terribly busy. We threw down our bag and spread out our towels and hit the water. The water was great, it is really clear and the perfect temperature.

We waded out to about hip deep water and I was twirling around and pretty much acting like a little kid. I looked out to the horizon and saw this large dark spot moving through the water. Approximately 15 ft away from us this huge blemish continued to move through the water. By this point I was pretty freaked out and ran back and hid behind Alex. We both started backing up toward the beach. The dark spot continued its trek but about 20ft from us it came up and we saw a very manatee looking nose. Once we figured out that the creepy dark spot was a manatee we got really excited because it is not really the season to see them right now.

The manatee was a real privilege to see. It was HUGE! The manatee was about 100 ft from the shore at low tide so it was in fairly shallow water and he seemed to just be trolling along.

Toes in the Sand

We hung out at the beach for a couple of hours when we got tired and hungry, so we came back to the house and had a kashi pizza for lunch. Once we did our normal bumming around for the day we headed over to this really nice outlet mall and did some shopping.The mall was huge and I am pretty sure that we walked the entire thing. I was pretty sure that my legs were going to fall off by the time we were done so we came back to the house for dinner.

I made some steak and mushroom pasta for dinner. It was really yummy, we paired it with a light Merlot that had semi-full body with lots of floral and fruity undertones.

Steak Pasta

The day was really fun and we are heading to the beach and to a light house tomorrow.

7/12/2009

Post 2

It rained all afternoon so Alex and I just bummed around and watched TV. I took a nap, the rain made me sleep so well. It stopped raining and the weather became beautiful. We got lazy and decided to go out to dinner instead of cooking the steak we were going to grill. We found this great open air restaurant just outside of Lover’s Key State Park.

The food was good. I had a crab cake burger, which is just a crab cake on a bun with a tomato and an onion. The crab was fresh and in large lumps…YUM! Alex had a shrimp po’boy sandwich, I tried it and it was also good. The shrimp was breaded and had a tasty garlic creamy sauce on it. The restaurant was really good and had affordable options, the open air atmosphere was welcome because the day was so nice after the rain. We saw a dolphin and a cruel pelican what was just swishing this fish around in his mouth.

After dinner we tried to go walk on the beach but it was really wet (from the rain, not from the ocean,Yes I know that there is usually water on the beach), so we decided to come back tomorrow. After being rejected by the beach we drove down the road to a nice shopping area. We checked out all the expensive stores that we can’t afford to buy anything in and then drove by a cool wine bar called “the grape”. I really wanted to stop and have wine and dessert, or just wine for dessert, but Alex is an old man and decided that we should just come back to the house and drink what beverage that we had here.

When we got back to the house we cleaned up the house a little, did a load of laundry and ran the dishwasher. I popped open a Raspberry Woodchuck. It was really good. I am going to try to have my local liquor store order some when I get back to Rolla.

Today was really fun and tomorrow we are heading to the beach so it will be even better.

Post 1

Kayak tour was really interesting. Alex and I are probably going to have to bum around for the rest of the day to make up for all the paddling we did today.

We arrived at “New Pass” just down from Lover’s Key State Park and met our guide, Connie. We booked our kayak tour through a small company GAEA Guides, we did the two hour tour through the mangrove estuary.

We unloaded our kayaks and met a cool couple of optometrists from Manchester, England (David and Rhoda, I think those were their names). The five of us set out and paddled around  the estuary.

Our guide was great about pointing out all different types of birds and even had cool history facts about the little dudes. The prettiest bird that we saw was the Roseate Spoonbill, it is mostly white with almost fuchsia highlights. Connie told us that these are really rare and that we were lucky to see so many of them. We also saw all sorts of pelicans, gulls, sanderlings, and Ibis.

The mangroves were really cool to see for myself. We had talked about them in my ecology class, so it was really interesting to see all three types of mangrove trees in one place. We got some great pictures but they are on a little waterproof disposable camera so I will have to upload those later.

Today has been great so far, we are pretty tired trying to get used to the time change and the flight yesterday. I think that we plan to nap and then make some steak for dinner.

7/11/2009

I AM BLOGGING FROM FLORIDA! I am a slight bit excited to be on vacation. Alex and I flew out of St.L this morning at 11:25 AM. We arrived in FL at 3:00PM…there is a time change so we lost an hour today. Trip is great thus far with nothing of promises of getting better.

The flight was a little ridiculous. It was almost like riding in a mobile day care. There were seriously fifteen children screaming the entire two hour flight. On a better note I got to read quite a bit of my book, “The Friday Night Knitting Club” and I worked quite a bit on my cross stitch scarf. We did arrive safe and sound in Florida and the approach to Ft. Myers was really great. It was awesome to see all the islands from the air.

We touched down and took a taxi to my aunt and uncles vacation home. The house is fantastic! This house is a nice sized three bedroom two bath that my aunt has done a great job of furnishing. It is beautiful and I hope that my first house is half as nice.

We went to the grocery store to get some food for the week. We got a ton of yummy citrus that was grown locally and we also got some shrimp that was caught in the gulf. I am so jealous of the grocery stores here, there is so much that looks amazing.

Alex and I spent most of the evening just chilling. We watched “My Fair Lady” while I made dinner. Alex and I cleaned the shrimp and I made shrimp destin. Dinner was really good and we did an awesome job of pairing wine with our meal, if I do say so myself. We stole some of the oreo icecream that was in the fridge for dessert.

I could not ask for a better start to what is going to be a great vacation. Tomorrow we are doing our kayak tour so you can look forward to reading all about it.

7/6/2009

We are officially doing the kayak tour on Wednesday. I made the reservations yesterday. We are getting really excited to have our little get away. I am thinking about buying a new camera, not just for the trip but also because I need a new one. I guess that I will have to wait and see until I can make it to go shopping.

7/4/2009

This is where we are going!

florida map

Alex and I are taking a vacation to Florida next week. We are going to my aunt and uncle’s summer house in Ft. Myers, FL. We are really excited to leave and have a get away. I plan on keeping you all updated about the daily events and I can justify blogging about my trip on this blog because I plan to visit some local yarn stores and also visit a winery. We have not really planned a whole lot for the trip mostly just bumming around on the beach.

The one thing that we have planned is to do a kayak tour of the estuary at Ft. Myers. We are both really excited about that.

We are leaving Tuesday the 11th of August and getting back the 18th. We will spend an entire week in Florida! This is my first real vacation. My family has gone to Port Aransas, TX a couple times with some family friends. Besides that I have not really been anywhere not going to church camp. Alex, has been everywhere but we have never traveled together. We might hate each other by the time we get back, who knows?

I thought that it would be cool to go to some local yarn stores and get some yarn from the area to make a project to remember our trip. Right now I am thinking about a felted basket with waves on it. I also, plan to make something for my aunt as a thank you gift for letting us use their house and minivan for a week.  Let me know if you have any ideas.

I will keep you updated for any new developments about the trip.


Sanibel Beach & Lighthouse

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Rachel ask me to do at least one guest post for her blog while on vacation, so I decided to do it on our visit to Sanibel Beach and Lighthouse.


View Larger Map

This was our farthest drive from the house yet, so we headed out and settled in for our journey.  We’ve used Google maps for all our directions and the GPS on my phone (Samsung/Sprint Instinct) as a backup.  Haven’t had any major It was a pretty straightforward drive with only one snag, and I attribute that more to poor signage more than poor directions.  We had to go over a toll bridge.  The bridge itself was pretty cool, we were at least 200 feet above the ocean on the bridge, but tolls are never fun.

Sanibel Lighthouse

We decided to check out the lighthouse first and then cool-off in the ocean/at the beach later.  The lighthouse was a very disappointing experience.  I was hoping to be able to climb up the Lighthouse and check out the awesome view.  Turned out that you couldn’t go up in the Lighthouse and it was little more than a frame, with a tube that had a latter and a gas pipe in it, then a 3rd order Fresnel lens at the top.  Definitely the lamest Lighthouse I have ever been to.  I guess forgoing the climb to the top is sort-of a plus, but I would have preferred the view.

We headed back to the beach and got our sunscreen on and got in the water.  The water was cooler than it was at Lover’s Key, so it was way more refreshing.  We got to see a small school(?) of dolphins swim past us.

We had heard on our flight and from the Kayak guide that Sanibel was an excellent place for shells.  So we started out walking along the edge of the water looking for some good ones.  We didn’t really find much, so we got in and started feeling around with our feet.  I went back up to the bag and grabbed a pair of goggles so I could dive down and bring them up.  We started finding some really cool shells, so we kept at it.  We were having some issues with the cheap goggles we got from Publix, but I found a way to cinch them down enough to work.

Things started to get interesting soon after the goggle situation was remedied.  It started with Rachel bringing up a shell with her feet,  that happened to have a hermit crab in it with.  She freaked and gave the hermit crab a free ride to the moon.  She calmed down quick and we started looking again.  I dove down to find a shell she had at her feet and saw a soft-shell crab scurrying away from her foot.  I surfaced and saw a RP original eww-icck dance freak out in process.  I got her calmed down again, but was beginning to get wary of the ocean.  I was half-way down for another shell and saw a big crazy looking fish swimming past Rachel.  I decided it was time to try out Rachel’s new dance.  We had enough ocean wildlife for the moment, and headed back in to lie out.

After a few minutes, we decided to try and find some more shells.  The first outing was mildly successful, but this time the shells practically lept into my hands.  Almost every time I went down I came back up with a small conch shell.  I also switched pairs of goggles, and they were working 1000% better.  We saw another beach-goer who found a dead-spineless sea-urchin shell. It was kinda intense staying down long enough to get the shells.  Quite a workout for the shoulders staying in the same spot and digging up shells.

Just as I found a really, really great spot, it started storming a few miles away.  We stayed until we saw lightening and then headed back home.  All in all, it was the best beach day yet.  I hope to get some better goggles and get back to Sanibel to find some more awesome shells.

Anyways, that’s enough of my prattle.  I’ll return the blog to Rachel.