Archive for June, 2011

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wide awake with wonder

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

It is late. And I need to go to bed. But I cannot fall asleep! It is the end of June, and I find myself pausing to take in the wonder.

The beauty of Summer finally here after such a long and weary winter. The smell of fresh-cut grass after Craig mowed tonight. Our little house slowly transforming itself with new floors, a new fan in the living room, a porch waiting to be loved, walls waiting to be painted. Our car finally inspected after having to get the windshield replaced today after it cracked this winter. Our fridge stocked with freshly picked lettuces and baby spinach and sugar snap peas and garlic scapes from the garden. A new jug of straight-from-the-cow raw milk that my Mom picked up from the farm today. Bills all paid for the month. My running shoes taking a break after a hearty workout. Stacks and stacks of books piled neatly on the dresser waiting for me to dive into them. Work completed today and still more work just waiting for me to tackle tomorrow.

I am so thankful for how busy and wonderful and productive June has been. I have been making such a conscientious effort to be more efficient and productive this month. No matter how often I get frustrated or how often I feel overwhelmed with how much I have to do and all that I want to get done, I have been trying harder than ever to go with the flow and take very slow—yet very deliberate—baby steps to get more things accomplished in my day-to-day. I am a lover of to-do lists, but they often get recycled from week to week and not much ever gets crossed off.

But not this month. I set out with some pretty ambitious goals, and I made them happen one small step at a time! And that is worth celebrating! Here are a few highlights:
refinish hardwood floors in living room and dining room
buy ceiling fan for living room
get ceiling fan installed
remove knob and tube wiring in the attic
rewire upstairs hallway light
• install new outside outlet near driveway
rewire basement
get rid of old couch
get quotes for painting living room and dining room
decide on new paint colors
weed garden
plant tomatoes
clean gas grill and use it!
fix cracked windshield on car
get car inspected
make and keep dentist appointment
• make and keep doctor’s appointment
make and keep annual exam
make running a priority
• remember to take vitamin and fish oil
• reorganize and de-clutter basement
• get porch repainted! (working on it… TBD… asap!)

Phew. It’s been hectic and rewarding and awesome around here. But right now I should be asleep! Still so much swirling around in my brain. Taking it all in. I feel good. I feel relaxed and invigorated and satisfied… albeit wide awake.

Some old habits die hard I suppose. Happy June to you! I hope your month has been everything you wanted it to be!

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Posted in Household Management 101, Let's Get Physical, The Daily Balance, The Growing Season | No Comments »

rainy and humid june

Monday, June 27th, 2011

Helllllooooo! It has been quite a week. Busy and full. And I cannot believe that the end of June is here. Do I say this near the end of every month? Yeah, I pretty much do. The work/life/home balance right now is definitely doing its dance. Happy Summer by the way! Summer is officially here! We are in it! Wahooo!

Last week was filled with electrical work on the house. Two full days of it. We had electricians roaming all over the house doing a bunch of work on the master home to-do list. We got rid of the last of the knob and tube (eek!) in our attic which involved rewiring the light in our upstairs hallway. No more knob and tube!

We added a new outside outlet near the driveway so we can vacuum the cars and work on outdoor projects without having to run an extension cord from the kitchen window. We had some rewiring done in the basement. And we had our living room wired for a ceiling fan. The new ceiling fan was installed in the living room… except that it isn’t functional yet because the wall controls didn’t work. Total bummer. Our poor electrician on Tuesday was in a panic because he couldn’t figure out why the fan wouldn’t run. Turns out the wall switch was DOA.

Now we are patiently awaiting for the new wall switch to arrive. It was backordered until the end of July. But I pitched a fit and the manufacturer found one that they said would ship this week. Fingers crossed. Then the electrician will come back and finish the job. And THEN I will finally post pics of our updated living room room with new floors and fan!

Been raining on and off for the better part of the last 2 weeks. Rain almost every day! We are trying to have our screened porch painted, and so far we have been delayed 2 weeks by the rain. Hopefully this week will finally be a go! I feel like we are juggling so many projects and none of them can quite get done. I just want to be able to enjoy our porch and fan while it is still summer!

What else? Oh yeah, the camera. Not working again. And I think it has to do with the recent humidity. Every time the camera will not turn on, it is usually because of hot, humid weather. I really want to be able to take pics, so I have to figure out a long-term solution.

Now for the positives… I have had two really good weeks of running. I love running in the rain. Sloshing through puddles! I have also gone on a few enjoyable and challenging bike rides. I want to go on more and more. Biking is such great exercise and is also tons of fun. I’ve been (mostly) getting to bed earlier which I think is a direct result of working out harder. Makes me tired and eager to sleep.

What else? Since it is June and summer is upon us, here is a pic of one of our blueberry bushes coming along quite nicely!
blueberry bush

Should be real, ripe blueberries very soon!

Posted in Household Management 101, Let's Get Physical, The Daily Balance | 1 Comment »

grilled portobello mushrooms

Sunday, June 19th, 2011

What a great weekend it has been! The weather absolutely cooperated, and it was just beautiful out. Sunny and breezy. We went for a 25-mile bike ride into Massachusetts to explore the lovely town of Groton yesterday. We hung out with family celebrating Father’s Day today. And we grilled! So thrilled to have the grill clean and working and ready to go on hot days like today.

clean grill

It took hours to clean the inside and grates a few weeks back, but it was well worth it!

One of my favorite things to grill is portobello mushrooms. They are healthy and relatively inexpensive, and they make for such a hearty and delicious salad topper. I start by buying organic portobellos and marinating them. My favorite way to marinate them is to lay them gill side up in a pyrex baking dish. Then I combine roughly 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil with 1/2 cup balsamic and rice vinegar and add some herbs I have on hand (oregano, basil, parsley) and pour over the mushrooms.
marinating portobellos

Then I squirt a little mustard on each mushroom and a dash of soy sauce. Sprinkle with some dried rosemary, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes. Cover and put in the fridge for a few hours to let all the flavors soak in.

To cook, preheat your grill on high and then use tongs to place mushrooms on the grill, gills up. Cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes and then flip and grill for another 8–10 minutes. You can baste the mushrooms with any leftover marinade.
grilled portobellos

Once they are done, place them on top of your favorite spring/summer salad!

grilled portobello salad

Greens, tomatoes, sugar snap peas, broccoli, red pepper, red onion, broccoli slaw, and grilled portobellos

Did you grill anything amazing this weekend? I am always looking for ideas.

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Posted in Cooking Adventures, The Daily Balance | 2 Comments »

pretty potted basil

Thursday, June 16th, 2011

Herbs are a wonderful way to add color and flavor to your meals, but especially in (almost) summer when you can grow your own. We are big fans of having tons of herbs on hand to accentuate every meal. My two favorites are basil and cilantro. We go through TONS! I like to grow cilantro from seed in our raised garden beds because it is so easy to grow right in the soil, and you can plant new seeds all summer long to have a continuous supply of herbs.

As for basil, I tend to favor “starts” which are tiny, ready-to-go plants that most likely begin in a greenhouse. I have spent a lot of time over the years starting herbs from seeds indoors in the late winter and carefully transplanting the seedlings to my garden. But sometimes I just want a hardy, ready-to-go plant. Sometimes it is perfectly okay to want convenience and pay a teensy bit more to have someone else lovingly start the growing for you. Especially if it is organic.

So I bought some basil starts a few weeks back from my favorite local farm stand and potted them in cute pots I had on hand to decorate my front stoop. And they have taken off! Growing big, beautiful, aromatic basil leaves!
basil pots

I like having potted herbs close by that I can easily water and clip off what I want for salads, sandwiches, stir frys, and more. Basil thrives in semi-shade, too, so you can almost always find a great outside nook to put your pots. Almost anywhere will do. And I love adding color and greenery to the front steps!
basil front stoop

Next on my list is to find/acquire a healthy rosemary plant. I want to pot one that I can keep outdoors for summer and then bring inside once the weather gets cold. I am on the hunt!

What are your favorite herbs? Which ones do you tend to use the most?

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Posted in The Growing Season | 3 Comments »

growing sugar snap peas

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

Sugar snap peas! Crisp and sweet with a tiny bit of tart and tangy mixed in. One of my very favorite veggies. So versatile. You can eat them as a snack, pod and all. You can chop them up to use in salad. They are the perfect complement to a stir fry. You can bake them, roast them, pop them on a sandwich. The possibilities are endless.

And they are so easy to grow. If you have never tried growing a veggie from seed before, sugar snap peas are a great place to start. We started our organic sugar snap seeds back in early April.
sugar snap pea seeds

We planted just two rows of seeds in a raised garden bed, placing them about a 1/2″ deep and sowing a seed every few inches or so.
Within days the seedlings emerged, and within a few weeks, we had growing plants!
sprouting sugar snap peas

sugar snap peas

The key to growing successful sugar snap peas is to trellis them. Sugar snap peas are a viney veggie, and trellising the peas gives the growing plants the support they need. The sugar snap pea plants grow these tendril-like fingers that want to grab hold of a support (or else the plants will grab hold of each other!)
trellised sugar snap peas

The trellis encourages the sugar snap peas to grow onward and upward. You can buy a trellis at your local garden center or big box store. The taller you can find, the better. And the trellis does not have to be fancy.
sugar snap peas trellis

With all the rain we have had, the plants are so very happy! They started their gorgeous blooms of beautiful, intricate white flowers over the past week:
sugar snap peas in bloom

sugar snap peas in bloom

And all it takes is just a few days. From flower to full-length pea pod!
sugar snap peas

To harvest a sugar snap pea, you just twist it at the top until the pod comes off the vine. And as soon as you can pick a handful, a new harvest will be ready in another day or two.

bowl of sugar snap peas

Garden-fresh snack!

My local supermarket sells sugar snap peas imported from Guatemala for $3.99 a pound. Pretty steep (and carbon footprint heavy!) for such an easy veggie that you can grow organically right at home in a raised bed, in the ground, or in a pot.

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Posted in The Growing Season | 73 Comments »

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