Monday, July 28, 2014

Hearty Dinner and Large Slabs of Stone

I'll start with the large slabs of stone... This is the load dropped off in our yard today which will be part of our Phase II backyard renovation.  This kind of flagstone is not cheap but it really looks nice.  The larger pieces will make for firmer footing -- and fewer weeds!

Jimmy and I sat down together and I told him what materials I wanted and how I envisioned the fence.  The goal is to make the area look like a courtyard. I don't want it to look like a back yard.  I want it to look like a court yard.  We also went down the basement and I showed him the old front door that I want on the front of the garbage can shed.  We'll shave a foot and a half off of the top and a half foot off the bottom.  With some distressing and white paint plus the shed painted blue, it will match the house nicely.  Phase three of the project (some day) will be a new poured concrete driveway with flagstone stamping.
This barley was the basis for dinner tonight.  It has mushrooms, onion and celery in it with a half squeezed lime.  The stock was a mixture of home-made chicken (from thigh bones we ate the in the last week) plus the remaining carton of seafood stock.  Near the end, I added in left-over barley from the other night.  After I spread it on the plate, I topped it with freshly grated parm.
The plate was topped with a portion of salmon grilled in foil with garlic and more freshly squeezed lime.  I topped it with sunflower seeds and EVOO.  I could not finish this plate!  A single size of salmon seems small but when you pair it with a hearty base like barley and a veggie laden salad, it fills you up for sure!

There's plenty of this left and I think it will make two lunches during the week.  As the week wears on, I'll start planning meals for us plus Jimmy and James who will be working in the yard.  Hard working guys deserve hearty meals!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Sunday is Not My Day of Rest

I have needed to wash this new set of micro-fiber sheets that I bought from HSN and finally got to it today.  They are now on the big bed.  We needed to get more sheets for that bed and I wanted to see if these would be lighter and cooler.  They weren't very expensive so I'm willing to see if it makes sense to move beyond my 100% high fiber count cotton philosophy.  I also washed the sheets for the second bedroom which I mostly sleep in due to snoring and other considerations.   This was all fit in with a couple of loads of laundry, one of which I managed to line dry.
I did some grocery shopping tonight and stopped at the Dollar Tree to get a couple of boxes of stock.  It is hard for me to resist bargain beauty supplies.  The boxes of supplements (for hair, skin, nail) usually sell discounted on Amazon for twenty bucks a piece.  I'll probably go back to see if they have more.  There are a few eye make-up goodies too.  If I'm going to wear the stuff I might as well try some fun things like purple glitter eyeliner.  And yes, I'd wear that to work.
My clothes for the week are lined up.  It looks a mess so I will try to break it down.  One goal is to never repeat an outfit the next week.  That works well with the laundry schedule too!
This purple Simply Vera dress caught my eye at a thrift because I knew I had pumps that would go with it -- of course, I have not verified this and I am color-blind so I could be wrong.  I think my new glitter eyeliner pen will work well too.
This is another outfit -- I think I'll wear it Tuesday.  This silk tank is really nice and it might seem like a winter/holiday type of thing but I think you can work it into summer with lighter colored accessories. 
This is a "push the dress code" ensemble. It will be within the rules because it will hit my knees -- but it has a longer netting under-layer that makes it a little saucy. I plan to wear it with these black pumps and my net stockings.  I'll tone it down with plain pearls.

Well, that's it for my exciting Sunday. I managed to get in a power walk/trot and also used the shedding rake on the dog.  She had a visitor whom hadn't seen her since she was a pup and it was also a "Teddy Trifecta" day -- a swim, a walk and tosses in the field.

It was a good weekend for sure!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Free Ideas!

It is Buffalo Garden Walk weekend! While I only got to tour a few of the 350 gardens, the first one I walked into had my dream fence.  This is the fence I'd been unable to accurately describe to The Big Guy and Jimmy-Jam.  They just weren't getting the concept of me wanting it framed in and that included the top.  Being able to take a picture and have something to show them is a huge help.  This particular garden was in a sort of carriage style brick city home and it will be the site of the owner's wedding next weekend.
This is what the framing looks like from inside.  I like it because it is neat and it makes for a very even line at top.  There are a few other ideas popping around in my head but one of them is to hang a huge mirror within one set of the frames -- and I have the mirror in our basement.  While we don't do a lot of fancy planting we like having cocktails at night -- so cool lighting and reflecting surfaces are on my list of "wants."  We've already done well with lighting but I hope to improve on that.
This is one idea I really liked.  A wood screen with baskets.  These could easily be made using pallets and that's something I'm going to try to work in.
This is another cool idea.  That is actually a ceiling light mounted on top of some decorative scroll work.  I am going to use this somewhere for sure.  This was the porch of a lovely Victorian and the light just added to the charm of the porch.

The best part of this walk and the ideas is that they are free.  My friend Jim over at the Art of Gardening just relinquished his seat as president this year but has worked very hard with a number of devoted and passionate volunteers to make our garden walk an International tourist event.  I only made it to a small number of the gardens and there are many other events related to garden-tourism here.  It's a great way to steal great ideas and it's free -- what a bargain!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Three Pigs...

Every one at Chez Petite has the same problem.  We've all put on 15 pounds since I went back to work!  Maybe we should call the place "Chez Oink!"

We took Teddy to the vet tonight to deal with her hotspot once and for all.  She has gained 15 pounds this year!  Last year the two of us were out every day and taking swims and long walks.  Now that I am working, we just get about 20 - 30 minutes together a night.  I've missed swimming laps due to The Big Guy's hernia and he hasn't been able to exercise at all.  It's shameful, really!

As for the dog, she is now on a cycle of expensive vet antibiotics, steroid/antihistamines, and she got a steroid shot.  We were told that the ear wash we use can be put on her sores.  Then we did a full wellness blood panel and fecal test.  He told us that we can let her back in the water and that he didn't think she needed the cone of shame at this point.  We paid for an extra supply of the steroid/antihistamine pills because it's probably going to be a long summer.  If we need the antibiotics again, I'll ask for a script and fill it at Wegmans where they have special pricing on the stuff.

We did score a good "freebie" today.  TBG had his car inspected in February and we just noticed this week that they didn't change his sticker!  He had the receipt and the bill was on the computer at the shop.  So in order to get a new sticker he had to bring it in for another inspection -- which was free.  Now we have gained an extra five months on the inspection.  It's actually strange that we hadn't been ticketed because the police are vigilant here.  But it also shows you how observant we are!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Back Yard Project Phase 2

This is how our yard looked when we first moved in.  The tree kept the ground shaded -- and damp/soggy after a rain.  Grass grew in clumps and it just wasn't very pretty.  Our dog was really wet and muddy a lot of the time.  Painting the house and garage and putting in a patio out back was our first project and we spent a substantial amount of money on that.

This is what the yard looks like today.  Literally!  The patio cost around seven thousand dollars to build which included removing the silver maple and grinding the trunk.  It was a big job to get the roots out.  Extra was spent on building an interlocking stone wall as well as a special circular pattern for the dining table.  We are happy with the space but are ready to take it up a notch.  The flagstone is nice but some of the smaller chunks shift out of place easily.  We are replacing as much as we can with very large pieces.  The fence in the back is not holding up as well as we'd like and the chain link fence is ugly.  So all of that is coming out and will  be replaced.
The constant war on wisteria is absolute torture so it is coming out too.  Our new neighbor said we can just build the fence as far as his garage and then cut in.  That will save us some money on wood and he won't have to worry about getting back there to clear weeds.  The "garden" needs a clean-up.  Someone gave us wild flower seeds and while some nice stuff came up, we are basically growing weeds.
There are some nice flowers and foliage in the bed so we'll hope to keep what is pretty and get rid of whatever is weed.  We've never regretted putting up the wall as it's a great additional seating solution when we have parties.

Our estimate is for seven thousand dollars.  The plan is for it to start Monday and take ten days.  I am hoping it stays close to plan.  It's not a job I want to drag out.

My contract is now renewed until the end of October so I am assured of a paycheck for four more months and will make myself invaluable enough to hopefully get converted to a permanent position.  While planning the yard is a bit of a splurge, we have the cash and can replenish the source over the next couple of months too.  I do see this as an effort that will enhance our quality of life and be a good house investment too.  There are no plans to sell any time soon but having a patio which we believe will last should help us down the road.  I'll be sure to post on the progress!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Big Dinner

This was not the exact piece of lasagne that I had for dinner, but it's a picture of a piece from the restaurant we ate at.  Mulberry's Cafe was featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.  Although it is neither of those things.  It's a nice quality casual old world Italian restaurant that I'd wanted to go to for a while.  The place is popular so I knew a Friday or Saturday night would be tough. 

TBG is back from camp and we splurged.  It was not a cheap meal but I have a big hunk of left-over lasagna that he can have for lunch.  The food was prepared fresh and the service was good.  We drove to South Buffalo so it was a bit of a hike, but well worth it.

I try not to totally avoid more pricey meals out like this.  As great as the food was, it was super nice for me to see TBG really enjoy a meal.  We don't need a special occasion to go out for a special meal.  But then again, special meals are that way because they don't happen all of the time!

Monday, July 21, 2014

It's Monday Night and I Think I'm Caught Up...

Boy did I get behind yesterday! I met TBG and the girlie at camp and she was going to stay up there with Daddy until tomorrow -- until I noticed a new hot-spot on her face.  She is back home and wearing the cone of shame.  The spot is getting treated with Gold Bond powder.  We are going to the vet on Thursday.  It is almost time for her yearly check-up and we are going to arrive at a better regimen for dealing with her summer allergies.  The Zyrtec helps a lot but TBG forgot it so she had a day without. I'm not certain that made a huge difference.  She might need monthly steroid shots this year since things are so bad.  This time she adapted to the cone much quicker.  They are not strangers after all!

I made it out to Dollar Tree today with the intention of buying chicken stock for a buck a box -- I don't have time to make stock like I used to.  Imagine my delight when I say boxes of vegetable as well as seafood stock.  This is why it's always worthwhile to visit the dollar store.  I also stopped in to Amvet's to pick up a few skirts.  There was an elderly woman with a walker and she was exhausted so I offered her a ride.  She lived back in our old part of town and it was nice to help someone like that out.  People say it's easy to be poor because you just sit back and accept your assistance.  It's not.  If you're poor, you have to take the bus on ungodly hot days and walk to boot -- after shopping at thrift stores.  No, it's easier to walk and drive around wherever you need to go!

I splurged last night and bought a bag of already cooked tail-off shrimp.  I made half of it into shrimp salad to put into wraps for lunch this week -- adding in corn, grapes, cheese and vinaigrette.  My dinner tonight was pasta with beans, mushrooms, onion, shrimp and cheese along with a healthy glass of wine -- which I didn't really need since Emma across the street had already given me a glass.

This business of weekend housewifery with yard work thrown in is tough.  Yesterday I had to mow the lawn, pick up weeds, clean the car and deal with the trash.  It doesn't sound like a lot but I also found a load of laundry in the wash that someone forgot to hang up and that had to go through a cycle again.  Luckily, I had one outfit put together that I hadn't worn last week and there wasn't too much to clean up around the house.

TBG is back from camp tomorrow -- I can't wait until he's fully back on his feet.  I won't miss days of posting!