Friday, May 29, 2009

Definitely NOT Betty Crocker

I can cook okay. I don't cook a lot, but when I do, my meals usually turn out like they're supposed to.

Baking, though, is another story. I just don't have a feel for when food should be done. (Oh, and I'm pretty much just referring to desserts.)

Or the McMom sabotaged her daughter-in-law's attempts by giving me a bundt pan that not even Betty Crocker could use. Jenny and I threw that theory around for a bit and decided that probably wasn't the case.

Probably.

Anyway, I tried to make The Pioneer Woman's Monkey Bread on Sunday and, well, it didn't go so well.

Here's what I was trying to make:


Looks scrumptious, right?

Here's what I ended up with:


Not so scrumptious-looking.

It started out in the bundt pan, but it wasn't baking all the way through by the end of the baking time so we spread it out in a baking pan and kept putting it back in the oven for 5 minutes at a time.

Here I am checking it after it's been baking for probably twice as long as it should (and I think I stuck it back in for at LEAST another 5 minutes).

(Note the cake plate so optimistically waiting on the counter. Yeah, that went right back on the shelf. Sigh.)

We finally just ate what had cooked enough and threw the rest out because I couldn't face another round of five-minutes-at-a-time baking to get the rest of it fully done.

Mom, you mentioned wanting this for breakfast next Mother's Day. How 'bout we eat some Eggo Waffles and never speak of the Monkey Bread incident ever again?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Crispy Wickets

No, that's not some new food we Southerners created for the State Fair. That's the name of the game we played at Byron and Lisa's on Saturday. It's a very simple game involving four people, four sticks, four cups, one Frisbee, and (preferably) lots of drinking.

Here's a look at the playing field.


Do you see what looks like two blue cups floating by Lisa's head? Those are plastic cups hanging on the end of bamboo sticks, which are about two feet apart. Across the yard, you can see the McHusband and me behind our own bamboo sticks, or wickets, and in the middle you can see the frisbee.

The object of the game is to get the frisbee through the middle of the opposite sticks (like a touchdown) or else hit a stick and make the cup pop off. You get 3 points for a touchdown and 1 point for knocking a cup off - if the opposing team doesn't catch either the frisbee or the cup before it hits the ground. If they catch it, no points are awarded. First team to 11 wins.

Oh, I almost forgot: it's a one-handed game. You hold your drink in one hand (and in my case spill half of it over your left arm and side) the entire game. I think that's where "crispy" comes from - it's a game best played fried.

Here's Byron sending the frisbee our way as well as a good look at the wickets.


Look at that stance!


And it's the McHusband's turn to send the frisbee back and hopefully get us some points.


I have to admit, I wasn't feeling the game when it was first explained to me, but it really was a lot of fun. And scoring the first point of the game helped with my interest, too. I think the McHusband and I are going to have to set up our very own Crispy Wickets playing field in the backyard.

Anyone ever heard of this game? I hear there's a whole Facebook page devoted to it.

Stayin' cool

Lyla enjoyed her inflatable pool on the deck during last week's heat wave.

(Don't you love the strategically placed arm/paw/fin/whatever that is? We don't want any scandalous naked baby pictures surfacing on the internet 20 years from now.)

Owen stayed cool with a summer staple - watermelon. Yum!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Powerloo



That's a Powerloo, and I thought it seemed like something the McHusband and I should look into for Morgan and Tucker. Until I saw the price tag.

I think we'll stick with grocery bags and our outside garbage cart.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day Weekend

We had a wonderful time with Kevin, Jenny, and Chase this weekend. They got up here at 4:00 Friday afternoon and left Monday morning just before 10:00 to take advantage of Chase's routine wherein he naps around 10:00.

On Friday, we stayed in and had the Taco Ring for dinner. Chase goes to bed pretty early, which worked out great for us. We opened a bottle of wine (luckily, no repeat problems like in Indiana when Jenny had an allergic reaction to the wine) and had dinner on the deck and just hung out there for most of the night.

The next morning, Chase-zilla got ahold of the McHusband.

Once that happened, the McHusband had to do Chase's bidding; the McHusband basically just followed Chase around, helping him stand where necessary and keeping him from hitting the floor too hard when the balance thing didn't work out.




Kevin had gone for a run, and Chase was happy to share HIS water with his dad.


Saturday night was the not-so-surprise party for Byron. He ended up coming home earlier than he was supposed to so the surprise didn't exactly work out, but the party was fun. We learned a new game and had a blast playing. More on that later. For now, I'll show you how Chase enjoyed his seat of honor at the party.


On Sunday, we putzed around the house. Kevin helped the McHusband with some chores like picking up more pinestraw and changing the filters in the water filtration system at the house. Kevin stood guard at the door to the crawl space, ready to warn the McHusband about snakes and other creepy-crawlies.


That afternoon, I stayed home with Chase while everyone else went to the gun range. After Chase's nap, we played with Tucker and his bone, then we washed our hands really good.






For dinner Sunday night, we went to a local Italian place that's a favorite of the McHusband's and mine. Chase was so good for us, we couldn't have asked for him to be any better. Here's some video of the McHusband playing with him.
video

We were so glad to have Kevin, Jenny, and Chase visit us for the weekend, it was wonderful to be with them and we were really happy to show them our new house. Chase has grown so much since we last saw him in February, and we look forward more changes when we see everyone in July.

Thanks for making the trip!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Surprise!: Part...whatever

Since:
  • my wine glass is holding up
  • the McHusband is still out in the garage helping Kevin (his friend, not his brother) with his car
  • and I still feel guilty about not blogging much lately (Sheesh, I feel like an honorary Catholic with all this guilt!)
I'm going to do one more post. I have to go back a ways though. I realized that I never posted pictures from the SPCA Dog Walk that we did downtown the day after my surprise party. So here goes.

Here's our group before the walk.

In the back from L to R: Vickie holding Max, Terry with Koda, Chelle with Cody, Mom, Shannon, and Calvin.

In the front from L to R: the McHusband with Morgan (she's camera shy) and Tucker, Bri, then Lyla and Owen.

I'm not sure how many people and dogs participated but it looks like a LOT!


I couldn't resist snapping a picture of this guy's cool outfit. I'm not sure he really understands the fashion sense behind layering.


I know this next one's a bad picture, but I have to tell the story that goes along with it. The dog walk is just under two miles. Around maybe the 1.25-mile mark, Tucker had just about had enough. He's not really built for endurance so what does he do?

He just stops and lays down. In the middle of the street and all the walkers. I had to call out to the McHusband to stop because he just kept going and was pulling on the leash thinking Tucker had just stopped to smell something.

Anyway, here he is, after some coaxing and promises that the end was right around the corner, getting up to finish the walk. I don't think his tongue could be any further out.


The after. All the dogs were very happy to find a relatively cool spot in the shade.



My Morgie-poo is looking so gray. She just turned 5 so she's about middle-aged in Dane years.

We had lots of fun at the walk and it turned out to be a great activity for all my unexpected guests to participate in.

Before and after sneak peek

Sorry for the lack of blogging lately. I'm pretty sure no one wants to read about my nightly watering schedule or see video of me steamcleaning all the carpet in the house in anticipation of Kevin's allergies.

The McHusband took a few pictures of the front yard yesteday after he mowed, and he just happened to take a picture of the front walk from the same vantage point as I did on Mother's Day.

You know what? I was all impressed by that coincidence until I remembered just now that he'd probably checked my blog at some point and had seen that picture.

You might remember this picture from my original Flowerpalooza '09 post.


Here's what that areas looks like now with mulch and slightly taller flowers.


The flowers have a ways to go before they're too impressive, but I think we're off to a pretty good start.

Because I'm feeling especially guilty about not having been a good blogger lately, I'm gonna share one more picture. Here's the whole front yard. Click on it to see it bigger and better.

Not quite Yard of the Month yet, but I think we might be closing in...

A message about a bottle

Do you think my wine glass is trying to tell me something?



Apparently, I've worn it out. But lucky for me, I have three others in much better shape.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Namaste

I couldn't resist posting these pictures of Chase for the world (okay, my world) to see.

He really IS workin' on his fitness. For those of you unfamiliar with that thing he's got his hands on, that's the Wii pad thingie for WiiFit, a video game meant to make you *gasp!* exercise. It looks like he's practicing his Downward Dog yoga move while checking out the TV for the next position.

Such a big boy!

Jeff Dunham

The McHusband and I, along with some friends, went to the Jeff Dunham show last night. Jeff's a ventriloquist that you've probably heard of or seen a clip of but might not realize it. I'd definitely heard of him, but I hadn't really seen his act so I was looking forward to the show, and he didn't disappoint.

My favorite puppet of his was Walter. For some reason, Walter reminds me of the McDad. Those who know him (the McDad, not Walter) should let me know if you think I'm crazy or not.

Here's a clip from the David Letterman show.


If you ever get a chance to see this guy live, I recommend it.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Workin' on his fitness

Chase spent some time in Charlotte with Grammie last week and she caught him doing push-ups. He's got a lot of crawling ahead of him and he apparently wants to be in shape to go as far as possible as quickly as possible when Jenny turns her head for two seconds. Cuz that's every new crawler's diabolical plan, right?


Jenny sent me the next picture. A dog toy and a brick fireplace - how could Chase resist something not meant for him sitting on something potentially dangerous?


We're excited to see Kevin, Jenny, and Chase in a few weeks when they visit over Memorial Day weekend. Guess I better give Tori the heads-up that we've got another crawler coming...

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Flowerpalooza '09

As has been our tradition since 2005, my mom spent Mother's Day weekend doing yardwork with us. Some people buy their moms flowers for Mother's Day, I make my mom plant them so I can enjoy them for months to come.

My mom came up on Thursday so we could have a solid two days in the yard. We did some planning that night, then were up early (by my standards, not hers) Friday morning in order to do our shopping. We hit a local nursery, Home Depot, Jersey Mike's for lunch, then went to the Farmer's Market to pick up some sod and my favorite flower for landscaping - vinca.

The McHusband left work a little early on Friday so he was home when we finally got there and we got right to work. His first assignment was to tear out the willow tree in the front yard. It didn't take much to get it out of the ground. In fact, the McHusband literally tore it from the ground with his bare hands. Do I hear a Tim Taylor grunt right about now?

McHusband vs. The Willow Tree:
video

And the Cleveland pear tree we got to replace the willow, with my mom hard at work at the mailbox:


We got the mailbox done, the new tree in, and a lot of pinestraw up Friday afternoon and evening. I think I'm going to wait until my "after" pictures are more impressive to share what we did at the mailbox so just bear with me and wait about a month so you can oooh and aaah and really mean it.

I was mainly on planting detail on Saturday. Here I am planting my, oh, 467th vinca. At least, it felt like I was up to that many. (Note the position of my right leg.)


See that semi-circle of sod in the background? That was one of the landscape architect's ideas that the McHusband and I really liked and were excited to implement.

Okay, my leg. By the time you've planted 467 vincas with your leg out like that, it's had a LOT of sun exposure. How much? About this much:


Oops. I have a similar line on both my arms where the cuff of my gloves covered my wrists.

The McMom gave me a metal stand to be used with a variety of pots stacked on top of each other that you... You know what? Let me just show you.


Thanks, McMom!

A storm rolled in right as we were finishing up Saturday evening so we were rushing to put things away when the first drops started falling. We were already looking pretty bad before the rain, but we looked especially bad afterward and, of course, I had to document it.


I'm going to do one "after" picture because I'm really proud of all our hard work even though the areas aren't quite finished yet. We need to add mulch and obviously the flower areas will look much better once the flowers grow a little.


You can see our extra sod on both sides of the sidewalk. We took out the natural area along most of the right side and sodded it in and of course there's that arch of sod to the left. I put vinca in along the curves where the sidewalk and driveway meet and also put a section of vinca in on the left before the arch. Further ahead by other curve to the front door, there's more vinca on both sides of the sidewalk.

To give you a better idea of what to expect, here's my vinca at the mailbox at the old house:


I hope to have some really great before and after pictures to share with everyone in about a month.

If either of the dads feel like visiting for Father's Day, we promise to make you feel REAL special that weekend. Just ask Mom how we treated her.

On second thought, you better not.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Tornados

We had some pretty wild weather in the area yesterday, especially in the evening. There were actually tornado sightings, and we're under a Tornado Watch as I type this because we've got more storms today.

The McHusband's coworker took some pictures of the sky at his house in Cary last night.


He said he could see the clouds rotating. Scary!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Surprise! Part III: Monkey Business

My mom was thinking about hiring a stripper, but she went with a man in a monkey suit instead. You can see how she was torn between the two, right?

You know times are tough when your singing gorilla has to bring his daughter along (that's her in the pink to his left). No extra dinero for the babysitter, I guess.

See my hat? He did a trick where he had me tear up some tissue paper. Then he carefully unfolded it INTO A HAT. With a decorative flower and everything. I tell you, my mom made the right decision going with the monkey. But I do have to wonder what tricks a stripper might've had up his...er...removable sleeve?

The man in the monkey suit sang a version of "Hello Dolly" for me. It's not a song you hear very often, but I'll certainly have lots of memories to go along with it when I do hear it.


Boy, you just haven't lived until you've been serenaded by a guy dressed like a monkey. With his young daughter in the background.

"Thanks, Mom! Love ya, mean it!"

A before picture

Due to extreme peer pressure, I was forced to search my archives (a.k.a. Shutterfly) for a before picture of the front of the house. I hope this holds the lynch mob at bay, and I promise to never again post a results picture without also including a before picture.


Here's a before the before picture. Can you believe the sellers' realtor didn't suggest that they trim all the bushes in front of the house before putting the house on the market? We're not too surprised anymore; we've found that they weren't really the "do stuff around the house" type.
Blow-up-stuff-in-the-backyard types, sure, but not really DIYers.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Just the beginning

I planted two shrubs and tore out some more plants near the mailbox and on the other side of the driveway by the cul-de-sac today. My mom will be up next weekend for our traditional weekend-long Mother's Day Planting Marathon so I wanted to be ready.

These new shrubs are called sky pencil hollies and now that I have them in place, I swear those two spots were just begging for them.


The one on the right's a tad fuller and a little taller. My plan is to wait until next weekend to trim it because it's been through enough in the past couple of days - first a ride in the bed of the Sport Track then a rehoming. I'm not sure it's up for a major haircut just yet.


See those urns by the front door? They're actually from our wedding. I spray-painted them a flat black and my plan is to put some Barbecue Rosemary in them. It's a plant that NCSU actually developed and I think it'd be neat to have it at the house.

Did you notice the lone liriope (little green plant on the right) in the first picture? I tore out all but two of those along the sidewalk. They all had grass growing through them and there was no way to get rid of the grass and keep the liriope. I think the McHusband and I are going to go in a different direction with that area anyway.

This next picture's for my mom. She and I fell in love with this delicate-looking white annual called Diamond Frost that we found at a local nursery. I paid waaaaay too much for one last summer and I was so happy to find it at another nursery for less than half as much. Needless to say, I stocked up.


The plants in front of the diamond frost are perennials called phlox and they're going to be purple. I think they're going to go in front of the sky pencil hollies, but we'll see what my mom and I come up with next weekend.