RSS Feed

Rain Is Good For Growing Things

If the human body is 70% water, then surely the plants in my little "garden" are approaching humanly grace on account of all the rain Minnesota's been receiving this spring and summer.

You might remember my foray into gardening last summer – my first, true attempt at keeping plants alive – and how excited I was that I not only had pretty flowers to look at, but also fresh basil to use in Clint's favorite chicken recipe.

Well, THIS summer I've stepped up my game.

Not only do I have more plants and variety, but I actually put all of them – except the monster on the front stoop and the hanging baskets – into their own cute pots (some of which I found on a recent antiquing trip with The Girls). I brought over the cute little shelves residing at the Mini-crapolis house to use as supports for all my cute, new plants, but after a few days' worth of rain the pots were so heavy I had to remove most of them. No biggie. I still think it looks cute.

So, what do I have in my little garden this year? Clint of course got me a couple of huge "ready-made" pots that I like – those are mostly petunias, mixed in with some other cutesie stuff (threw away the little name tags :). I even have the very popular and (this year) brand-new black velvet petunia. They're very pretty and actually look like velvet! But the rain we've had tends to mush them a bit and beware – they "bleed" a dark purple and will stain your hands when wet.

I also have geraniums (those haven't been doing very well this year), daisies (spreading like crazy), vining black-eyed susan, calibrachoa (in orange! they're so cute), a couple different varieties of coleus, red-leaf lettuce (donated by my good friend from her garden), basil, cilantro and chives. Whew. I might not be very diligent with dead-heading this year,  but in spite of that most everything is fact, I'm thinking I'll have to split some off and add more pots because they're doing so well they might start cannibalizing everything. It's a good problem to have :)

Another good way to "stem" the flow of growth – especially with leggy petunias – is to chop them back and create little flower arrangements. It's fun to cut the different flowers and throw them into cute vases for around the house.

And of course there are the herbs that need to be used in cooking! Last year I put my 2 little basil plants into dainty pots that I then placed on the windowsill inside. While they grew and were healthy, they just didn't yield enough growth to use very often. I also tried a pot's worth of oregano but I just didn't like that one as much.

This year, all herbs are outside and are not only thriving, I can barely keep up with the production! Again, a good problem to have. My 4 basil plants look like they're on steroids; I've cut back my chives and cilantro at least 3 times already and they just keep coming. It's fun to have my own little "herb garden" for once!

I'd say this year I'm measurably better with my plants – with a lot of help from Ma Nature – and am enjoying the ambience they impart to the deck. (Just this past weekend Mom and I sat out there with our morning coffee and smelled nice, looked lovely and is as close to a real garden as I can get in a town home.)

PS: Let it be known that Blogger was NOT playing nicely with my images. Not my best work in organizing photos on this blog.

An April Weekend Up North

At the end of April I headed up North to Mission Narrows for a weekend of family time. My sister's brood went, too, so it was a full house. While we were slightly miffed Ma Nature decided to dump snow on us yet again, we didn't let it bother us. The kids bundled up in snow/rain gear and we waded out anyway.

We didn't mind the cold and snow the first day...of course we ate great comfort food – Mom never disappoints – and cozied up to the cheery fire. There might've been a couple movies watched and a few card games played.

We walked out to the barn to visit the horses and give them a few treats and the girls stomped around in the slushy snow while the dogs chased sticks.

The next day was warmer and sunny, so we headed back out to see the horses and Amy took the kids for a few spins in the arena on Ben. After that it was time for a little trail ride – Amy & Sophia rode Ben while I acted as "guide" by walking in front. Mom & Charlotte met us on their Gator ride, so everyone got to get out on the trail. (Zada put on twice as many miles as the other dogs, running between the horseback faction and the Gator faction.)

After being outside in the fresh, chilly air we wandered back inside for snacks and then spent the afternoon playing Legos...well, you know, Amy and I weren't playing; we were helping the girls with assembly. Even Mom got in on the action :)

After that it was time to put on some make-up and do glamour shots for the girls – Charlotte's a TAD harder to photograph since she's always moving but I think both girls enjoyed getting their pictures taken!

By Sunday afternoon it was finally warm, sunny and all the snow was gone...but everyone else had to head back to the Cities.

I stayed behind and enjoyed a nice "photography walk" around the property with the dogs – my ever-present companions. From snow and cold to warm, spring sunshine; from bustling noise to quiet solitude, it was a very fun-filled family weekend.

Puerto Vallarta 2011 Part Deux

I realize we're mid-way through June and I'm just now deciding to talk about Clint's and my trip to Puerto March. I dunno, time just flies as you get older and I've had quite a busy spring. Plus it's a dreary, rainy, extremely soggy day in Minnesota. Why not pine for the sun and sand?

This year it was just the two of us – not like PV 2010 with Penny & John – since they couldn't go. They say they're on board for next year, though! We had such a blast with them it's a trip that must be repeated. Anyway, this year we had QUITE the fiasco getting to PV. Turned out we needed a vacation from going on vacation. Once again it was wheels-up at 6:05am. Not a huge deal, except when the cab we requested never showed up. I ended up having to wake up my cousin (dog-sitting for Zada) and ask her to drive us to the airport at o-dark-hundred (4:30). Then it turned out every single person on our plane had to get frisked and have their carry-on checked. Every. Single. Person.

We were late getting through security so I didn't get breakfast – I figured I'd hold out for our first-class food...and a mimosa – but then they started boarding everyone on the plane and we find out there's no first class. After we paid for it, of course. So we're crammed into teeny-tiny seats (always a pleasure for Clint) and had to purchase our soggy, greasy breakfast "sandwiches." We were not pleased.

When the wheels touched down we breathed a sigh of relief – we were finally on vacation! But not quite. The taxi we rode in had some problem with a rear wheel – like, it was coming off – so the cabby had to pull over on the side of a highway, run somewhere to get tools and then come back and fix the wheel. Meanwhile we're roasting inside a cab with no A/C on the side of a Mexican freeway.

Get to Plaza Dorada – FINALLY, we think, we're here, we're safe, we're ready to RELAX! We squeeze into the elevator, head up to #406, open it up...and someone else's stuff is everywhere. Evidently we got there so early (because of the new lift-off time) the previous renters weren't checked out yet! Scrambling out of the condo we head back downstairs, at a loss as to what to do. We ended up leaving our carry-on in the lobby, changed in the pool bathrooms and headed over to Coco Tropical where Juan instantly brought us chairs, an umbrella, and – most importantly – cold beers. We might've proceeded to tie one on that afternoon (well, technically morning at that point)...but it was well deserved.

Enough of the negative. The rest of our trip was fun, relaxing, and of course beautiful. We went to Yelapa twice (even running into a "buddy" I'd met on my February trip), walked around a lot, soaked up the sun (and Pacifico), and ate very well.

Since last year we went zip-lining, we decided to try something new this year, too: sea kayaking. I'm not much of a kayaker (I'd only done it one time, in Greece) and Clint and I only ever canoed together once (in high winds...that was interesting!). But, we jumped in and gave it a whirl – it was even fun once I got over being RIGHT on the water and asked Clint NOT to continually hum the Jaws theme. Of course then I saw some gal on a stand-up kayak WAY farther out than we were...I quickly deduced if anyone was going to get eaten by a shark it'd HAVE to be her. Right?

One day while strolling on the Malecón we saw a new bar – an Irish pub, no less! – called Murphy's. We stopped in to quench our thirst and instantly became BFF with the owners. That might've become our favorite hang-out (other than Coco Tropical, which wins only because it's right on the beach near the condo) that week.

They have a great joint right on the ocean with fantastic views, TVs and great drinks. Clint tried their signature drink – the Irish Car Bomb – and their delicious Cielo Rojo became my favorite. It's a great bar and I hope we see them when we return (whenever that may be).

After a week of fun in the sun we headed home...already planning when we'll return to lovely Puerto Vallarta.

Tea At The Mad Hatter Tea Room in Anoka

In May The Girls talked me into going to tea. Going to a tea. Going to have tea. Whatever – you know what I mean. That sort of thing is really more up their alley than mine; they talked me into it because they said we'd go antiquing afterwards and also that I could change out of my dress after tea.

Yes, they not only got me to go have tea, they got me to wear a dress. They must really be good friends...

I'm not sure if it was a Groupon deal or not, but we went to the Mad Hatter Tea Room in Anoka, Minnesota. It was a four-course tea (I believe it was the Queen of Hearts Tea; they have several tea options) complete with scones, salad, finger sandwiches, dessert and, of course, tea. All the tea we could drink, as a matter of fact. And drink we did.

Another thing about the Mad Hatter Tea Room – or maybe it's all high teas, I'm not sure – it's encouraged to wear hats. Not just any hats...fancy hats. Hats much like the ones Granny Bernier used to make, in fact. Makes me wish I'd have taken one or two of them when I had the chance..

Anyway, if you don't have your own hat to wear to tea, the Mad Hatter provides many options for you. We all chose the best hats that complemented our outfits (I really just chose the lesser of all the evils; I only wore it for the picture :) and proceeded to sit down to our cute little table.

At first I thought I wouldn't get enough to eat – I like my meat-and-potatoes meals – but to my surprise it was not only enough to eat, it was delicious. We started off with the scones course: two scones with cream, preserves and fruit. I'm not really very interested in scones, muffins, or any other sweet breakfast-y foods, but these scones were fabulous, I have to admit.

Our next course was couscous salad with cucumber and tomatoes, accompanied by herbed focaccia wedges. Yum! And more tea.

Next on the menu was a plate of assorted finger sandwiches (yes, I WILL toast my cucumber sandwich!). While taking miniscule bites of my tiny sandwiches and sipping my tea, I had to admit: this was fun. (Sshhhhhhh.)

Our last course was dessert: chai tiramisu. And it was scrumptious. And it went beautifully with our tea (we probably consumed four pots that day).

At the end of our repast, we were full (or, at least, not hungry), had eaten delicious food, consumed tasty tea and were ready to check out some antiques. (And, I was ready to get into my jeans & cowboy boots again!)

Twas a fun day and I'm sure I'll get talked into doing it again some day...especially since I have a niece who LOVES doing girly things and I think Sophia would love it if Auntie Sarah took her to tea.

We'll see :) Evidently it wasn't the highlight of my day, since this was my Facebook status: