Archive for June, 2009

jam session

Monday, June 29th, 2009

It took 3 grueling days, but we have finally completed our mission of making strawberry jam from almost every strawberry picked at the farm last week. I did sneak a dozen or so strawberries to make a virgin strawberry daiquiri for myself, and the girls and I would get handfuls for snacks. However, the majority of the strawberries were used for our many, many, many jars of strawberry jam. We ended up making 4 double batches of jam where each single batch is supposed to result in 8-8 ounce jars. As you can see we didn’t use just 8 oz. jars but had a combination of 8 oz, 12 oz, and 16 oz jars. I will say that Mike did most of the work, but I was always the sugar measurer/pourer, the lid putter onner, and the dish washer for each batch.

Here’s Mike getting ready for the first batch. He’s so proud! And, yes, he’s growing another mustache. It will be shorn very soon if I have anything to do with it. He usually tries to pull this one when he goes out of town by himself.

It takes about 2 of these bowls of strawberries for each double batch.

And the results. Just in case you’re wondering, there are 46 jars total. I really hope we don’t get sick of strawberry jam.

a pickin’ we will go

Saturday, June 27th, 2009

Something I’ve always wanted to do but have never gotten around to doing is strawberry picking. I finally got that opportunity on Thursday evening when we went with a couple other families to a local strawberry farm in town. And the timing seemed perfect because it was a paradise of strawberries for as far as the eyes could see. Mike was ambitious and got us 6 baskets to load up because the farm was offering a special of buy 5 baskets and get one free. We gave each girl a basket, too, in hopes that they could contribute even just a fraction of the workload.

Mimi wasn’t so successful. Somehow all the strawberries she picked ended up in her belly.

Annie was quite the worker bee. She filled up an entire basket with suitable strawberries. She was so proud of herself and even asked if she could get a job there. When it was time to pay up for our pickins’ Annie actually asked the teenage girl who worked there if she could have a job, too. We’ll see how she feels when she actually reaches the legal employment age.

The final results of our labor. One family donated the 6th basket to us because it would have taken a bit longer to pick that last one. Thanks to the Johnsons for that.

All the kids (minus 1) who “helped” with all the picking and 2 families’ worth of strawberries. We sure will be busy making jam.

We started our jam session last night, but only got through one double batch which resulted in 20 8 oz jars. Two more double batches will probably be needed to get through the rest of the strawberries. Do the math, it’s a LOT of strawberry jam! Mike and I debated whether we should make that much jam, but I reminded him about how many pb&js I make each week. I’ll definitely post about it with pictures when the job is complete.

marathon man

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

I mentioned a few posts ago that Mike went up to Minnesota to run a marathon. It’s always been a goal of Mike’s to run a marathon but also to run a specific marathon he grew up near which is the Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth. Of course, he had no intention of trying to win it or anything but just wanted the opportunity to finish it. Although Annie kept asking all week if was going to try to win a trophy. His overall time was 4 hours and 32 minutes. His friend, Buddy, also ran the race with him. Buddy has been a buddy (ha) of Mike’s for about 15 years and was Mike’s best man in our wedding.

Crossing the finish line.


Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

How can my girls be deathly afraid of gnats, spiders, and mosquitoes but love finding and adopting earth worms? ISH!

Somehow I convinced myself that this new town we live in produced perfect weather all summer after the beautiful summer we had last year. I rarely, if ever, had to run the air conditioner, and there was only a handful of humid days. The locals tried to convince me that last summer was not the norm, but I would hear nothing of it. As I sit here in my air conditioned home with the thermostat cranked almost as low as it can go and with the sultry, 90+ degree weather since the weekend, I’m starting to believe that I was a little deluded last summer.

first pickins’

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

Mike was so excited to see that some of his radishes were ready for picking. The girls were super ecstatic, too, and insisted on trying some. They weren’t too thrilled when the taste didn’t match their enthusiasm. Hopefully, there will be more vegetables to pick soon.

just zoo it!

Sunday, June 21st, 2009

The Jake Hawley Crew came out for a quick visit this weekend. As part of their time here they wanted to hit up the Milwaukee Zoo. Mike was actually back in Minnesota running the Grandma’s Marathon, so it was just me and the girls here. We met up with them at the zoo yesterday. The girls and I hadn’t had the opportunity to see the zoo yet, so we were very excited about the adventure. The Milwaukee Zoo is actually a nicely equipped zoo, and Jake even commented that he thought it was better than the Minneapolis Zoo. After zoo time we headed back to our house. Jake, Stephanie, and Dylan had plans to attend a Phish concert nearby, so the girls and I got to hang out with Maya for the evening. Maya is finally at that age where she loves playing with other kids, so all 3 girls stayed busy until bedtime. The kids got to scamper about with each other for a couple of hours this morning as well. It was a nice visit, and I’m glad we had Jake and Stephanie on our turf. Have a look-see at a few zoo pictures.

Look at how close this cheetah got to us. I’m sure all he was thinking was, “SNACKTIME!”

Doesn’t he look cute enough to cuddle with?

Fierce leopard (he’s actually yawning).

Peacock in a tree. The peacocks were free to roam around the park.

This peacock felt compelled to show off his plumage to the concrete wall.

The kids got along so well with each other. Mimi hasn’t stopped talking about Dylan since he left.

We had our own little zoo in the backyard this afternoon. Mike spotted this garter snake while out in the yard and demanded that we all come outside to see him even though I had just put the girls down for their nap. He’s actually pretty long–about 2 feet. Annie declared, “He thinks he’s famous!”

While Jake and Stephanie were here we had the girls sleep in their sleeping bags on our bedroom floor. The girls love doing that so much, and they asked if they could nap in them today. Of course, I had to put them in separate rooms or else it would have been party time for the girls. Each girl had their lovey sleep in a sleeping bag as well (the storage bags for the sleeping bags). Mimi has her horsy, and Annie has her red bear.

The dog sometimes naps in with Mimi and sleeps under her bunk bed.

Mike has a new toy. An AR-15. He bought the various parts and then put it together himself. He’s very proud of it. Not sure why he needs such a scary-looking gun, but he apparently has a bunch of buddies that are also fairly new owners of the same gun. Peer pressure, I suppose.

4 princesses and an ascot

Thursday, June 18th, 2009

The girls were invited to a neighbor’s birthday party this past weekend. As part of the festivities the kids were supposed to wear costumes. Can you guess what Annie and Mimi wanted to dress up as? That’s right, princesses. I can’t blame them since we’ve got plenty of princess gear from which to choose.

And wouldn’t you know it, all the other little girls at the party also decided to come as princesses.

Mike also decided to join in on the fun and wore one of his jumpsuits, an ascot, and his aviator sunglasses. Unfortunately, the people at this particular party didn’t seem to grasp Mike’s uniqueness. He got a lot of inquisitive looks, and one guy asked him if he was supposed to be a sailboat captian. Poor Mike, nobody will ever understand his “vision” (including his own wife).

I went to pick up one of those green alien men left over from our alien party and realized this particular one was actually taped to the paper under it. After reading it I couldn’t help but snap a picture of it. Apparently, Annie was trying to explain the meaning of love. She clarified for me that the flower (the dead one taped to the right of the alien) represents “love” and the alien represents “not love” since aliens are bad.

alien autopsy

Monday, June 15th, 2009

Mike was on the phone the other day with a local friend when they started talking about the series of books he’s reading about alien vampires. This provoked further conversations about other, more serious alien books and movies. It was decided by the end of the phone call that we should have an alien-themed party. And an alien-themed party we had on Friday night. Fortunately, our new friends from church somewhat get Mike’s humor and idiosyncrasies and didn’t bat an eyelash at Mike’s party plans. Each couple brought along alien-themed dishes. At the end of the night we watched “Fire in the Sky”. Apparently, it’s based on a true story. This now confirms Mike’s suspicions.

We treated everyone to an entree of spaghetti and space balls.

Another dish we contributed was alien soup. However, it was forgotten and didn’t get eaten until dessert the next night.

Alien autopsy strawberries.

Alien bread.

The prize for the evening. The maker of this cake went all out. When I questioned that the icing should’ve been more green I was corrected by the “fact” that alien skin has more of a grey tone. My mistake.

The alien decorations: alien creatures, little green martians, yellow slime, glow sticks, and green and black streamers. We went all out.

The wives minus one who arrived later.

The girls are now home from school and keeping me on my toes. Annie wants to be constantly doing something fun. Today we set up a job chart for the girls where they earn stickers for tasks and get rewarded after so many stickers. They (mostly Annie) are very excited about it and are constantly asking what job they can do. I wonder how long that novelty will last.

Yesterday the girls attended a costume birthday party. I’ve got pictures and will more about it tomorrow.

espn ocho

Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

I used to pride myself on how I had a husband who was not that interested in sports which meant he was unlikely to want to sit to down watch a game of any sport on t.v. Yes, we do attend the occasional Super Bowl party or will go to friends’ homes to “watch” a certain football game, but Mike and I really don’t get involved. This all changed today. One of Mike’s loyal friends called to inform him that the Foosball Masters Tournament was being televised on the Versus channel. I have to admit that I had never heard of this channel before and was equally dumbfounded to discover that we have this channel. Mike intended to go out to do some yard work this afternoon. Instead here he is watching “the game” on t.v. and forgoing all other responsibilities.

In other news, this weekend we finally started on one of our outdoor goals of re-doing the front landscaping at our house. The previous owners let it go by the wayside, and most of the foliage is either dead or dying or just plain ugly. The former homeowners also decided to plant a spruce tree about 2 feet away from a corner of our house. Go figure that it started growing into the house. Didn’t anyone warn them that those things get really big or where was their commonsense?

Here is Mike in the process of cutting it down.

TIMBER!! And good riddance.

Unfortunately, sacrifices had to be made when the tree was cut down. Let us mourn these poor, unborn baby robins:( Let’s be honest though, Lucy would have eaten them the first chance she got. That’s what she did last year this time.

Mike also decided to put the dutch oven to use. No, he didn’t trap me under the covers after he farted. Not this time anyway. He actually cooked something in the dutch oven. Two things actually. Friday night we had some chicken, rice, cream of mushroom soup concoction for dinner. On Saturday morning Mike made us peach cobbler for breakfast. Both dishes we very tasty and filling.

Here’s a look at the peach cobbler, half eaten.

I will say that cooking in the dutch oven takes a long time and is a lot of clean-up and maintenance afterward.

dirt bug

Saturday, June 6th, 2009

Some of you have already had the pleasure of seeing (and even riding) the dirt bug. Mike came home with this gem after his trip to SD. It was a “gift” from Matt’s dad. I personally think Matt’s dad was relieved to be rid of it. The dirt bug has been a source of entertainment for all our neighbors and friends. Who am I to take away that kind of fun?

Annie never turns down a ride with Daddy.

Could Mimi be any more excited?

Mr. Cool and his ride.

Mike finally got me to take it for a quick spin.

It sounds like a sad lawn mower motor. Dirt bug even has a hard time getting up hills and requires Flintstone power.