April Garden Update

Spring–along with its appropriate weather–has finally arrived.  Right now I am loving watching everything come to life in our yard.

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As part of my birthday present this year, my mom gave me little figurines to make a fairy garden;  at first I was skeptical, but I gleaned some ideas from Pinterest and created this:

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Hah!  Isn’t it cute?   I visited our local greenhouse earlier this week, and they apparently have an entire section dedicated to fairy gardens, complete with mini plants and figurines.  Who knew?  Fairy gardens are a thing.  Andrew thought it was ridiculously frivolous when I showed him, but ultimately conceded that it is kind of cute, then wished the tiny lawn ornaments the best of luck against the squirrel thieves that frequent our yard. 🙂

To balance out the frivolousness of the fairy garden, we do have some very practical plants growing: our vegetables!  Lots and lots of vegetables.  We started our seeds at the beginning of March (then started some more a few weeks later), and now we have quite the greenhouse of our own.

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Here’s what we are growing:

~Tomatoes- Brandywine, Black Krim, Yellow Pear, and Sweetie (Cherry)
~Peppers- Red Bell, Yellow, Pimento, and Jalepeno
~Squash- Yellow, Zucchini, Spaghetti, and Butternut
~Tomatillos
~Eggplant
~Watermelon
~Cucumber
~Green Beans (not yet planted)
~Strawberries (already in garden from last year)
~Kale, Spinach, Lettuce, Chard (already planted in garden)

So, it looks like we’ll be able to eat this summer.

In a few weeks, once the outside temperature is more consistently warm and the plants have a little more time to grow, we will plant them in the garden, which is prepped and ready!

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Vegetable gardening season, we welcome you. 🙂

-Are you growing any vegetables this summer?
-Have you ever made a fairy garden?  Have you ever heard of a fairy garden? 😀

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Fall Decorating + Weekend Recap

Happy Monday, folks!

As fall officially arrived this weekend, I spent a little bit of time Saturday decorating for my favorite season.  I gleaned a few ideas from Pinterest (which I find overwhelming, but I’ve decided this is the norm), made a trip to Hobby Lobby, and went to work with the hot glue gun.  Here’s our newly decorated-for-fall mantle:

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These vases were 50% off at Hobby Lobby, and I think they are the perfect link between our typical blue and green color scheme and the fall yellows.

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As for the crafty part of the decorating process, I made these guys:

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My original plan was to wrap all the glass vases with twine, but as it turns out, the process is very tedious, and even OCD has a limit on how much hot glue can be taken to the fingers. 😉

Other highlights from the weekend include:

-Bowling with friends Friday night and earning what’s probably my highest bowling score of all time:

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128!  And that was with two gutter balls in the last frame 🙂 I was on fire up until that point.

-Bowling again Saturday with some youth and a few of our friends from the Virginia Home–a residential facility for adults with disabilities.

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They always make me smile.  The man about to bowl in the photo is hilarious and ever-willing to give fist bumps and secret handshakes.  I shook his hand when he arrived, and he looked down at my ring and said, “Married??”  I laughed and said, “Yeah, I’m married.”  And he threw his hands up in the air and said, “God D***IT!”  😀

-Football–we watched the Virginia Tech game Saturday, and Andrew drove to DC to see the Redskins game Sunday with his dad and friend.  Despite the Redskins losing, they had a lot of fun!

-Youth Group–love these guys and girls 🙂

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Overall, the weekend was low-key, but good.

What was the highlight of your weekend?
Do you decorate for fall?

The Weekend: Family, Vegetables, and a Police Report

What a weekend!  I may need a few days to recover from the busyness.

I kicked things off Friday evening by filing my first police report after being stalked in the grocery store and parking lot.  I’ll write a full post on this either later today or tomorrow, but suffice it to say that it was a very scary experience, and I’ve been a little bit on edge ever since.

On Saturday, we held a memorial service for my grandmother, and it was all that we wanted it to be.  After the service and wonderful reception put on by the Bereavement Committee at church, family gathered back at our house.   We had a veggie tray with a lot of goods from our garden, as well green salsa that Andrew made from our tomatillos!  It was a lot of fun to show off the garden to our family members who had heard about it but never seen it.  After the weight of the day, it was so nice to relax with family, share the Grandma Tudor stories that weren’t appropriate for non-family, and laugh.

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The nieces and me before the service 🙂

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My brother and brother-in-law passed out in my living room 😀

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Andrew, Ross, and my dad in the back;  Aunt Ann, Kendall, Lauren, Whitney, and me in front (Charles behind the camera!)

On Sunday, we slept in and skipped church (I know.  Sometimes you just need to be a recluse for a day, and yesterday was one of those days for me.)  Andrew and I went for a walk, then spent a few hours working in the garden–harvesting, weeding, pruning.

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We finally harvested our beets and carrots and had a good laugh about it:

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Five tiny carrots and a toothpick, and a bunch of beets… the largest of which is roughly 1.5-inch in diameter 😀
(Side note: I just started using Instagram!  Follow me @ctstorey)

You win some, you lose some, right?  Well, what we lost in root vegetables, we are winning in squash, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers…

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Yesterday’s harvest (minus the beets and carrots) + the crazy-tall tomato plants (those are 6-ft stakes!)

After gardening, lunch, and a few episodes of New Girl, Andrew went to the gym, and I stayed home to lift weights in the living room (again, the recluse thing.)

In the evening we went to Bonefish Grille to celebrate my mom’s birthday!  We love Bonefish.  Four of us split an order of Bang-Bang Shrimp (which I’d never had before because I always go with Andrew, and he can’t eat it… it’s delicious!) and an order of Saucy Shrimp.  (My mom’s friend Bill then ordered another Bang-Bang Shrimp for himself…before his entree. ;-))  For dinner I had the grilled scallops and shrimp with steamed broccoli and garlic whipped potatoes.  Mmm. 🙂

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We loved celebrating with my mom (and we missed you, Whitney and Charles!)

The weekend was a bit of an emotional roller coaster, but held more smiles than tears.  I was able to see so many of my favorite people all at once, and for that, it was awesome. 🙂

What did you do this weekend?
Any tips for growing full-sized carrots and beets? 😀

Bike Rides and Bee Hives

Sunday morning, Andrew embarked on day two of kayaking.  Assuming he would be gone for a while, I decided to go for a solo bike ride after church and rode to a nearby park to enjoy the trails.  We’ve biked the trails at this park before, but for some reason I was struggling yesterday!  The ride to the park was fine, and the wider paths were no problem.  One particular stretch of trail was so narrow and uphill, though, that my Garmin kept switching to the “auto-pause” mode, meaning I was riding so slowly it thought I’d stopped.  Hah!

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One of the wider trails in the park 🙂

Try to picture this:  I’m pedaling very slowly, uphill, navigating between trees and over roots, and up ahead there is a large stick on the path.  Let’s say it’s a small log.  It was about 3-4 inches in diameter–no big deal if I’d been going downhill or at a decent speed–but uphill at a snail’s pace?  That thing was going to bring my bike to a complete stop.  I decided the only thing to do was pop my front tire over the log.  As I did so successfully, I congratulated myself aloud with an enthusiastic, “YES!”…at which point I noticed a woman walking and looking right at me, not ten feet away, on the paved path that winds through the park.  She definitely heard me, and I can only imagine what she must have thought.

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I ended up riding about 9 miles in just over an hour, which means I had a few pretty fast miles going to and from the park to balance those really slow miles in the park. 🙂

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When Andrew returned from kayaking later that afternoon, he decided to mow the grass while he was still gross from the river. (If you aren’t familiar with the James, it is a very dirty river.  I stopped Andrew just in time a few times this weekend from sitting on the couch in his dry, but river-funky bathing suit.)  I had cleaned up from my bike ride and was upstairs getting ready.  About five minutes after Andrew started mowing the grass, I heard the lawnmower stop.  Then I heard the front door knob turn.  I knew it was locked, so I went downstairs to let Andrew in.  By the time I got there, he was walking in through the garage.   I asked if everything was okay, and Andrew, with as much calmness and little emotion as if he were telling me the weather forecast said:

“I think I ran over a beehive with the lawnmower.”

“Oh no!  Did you get stung??”

“Yeah.”

With that he bent down and lifted the bottom of his pant leg, and two yellow jackets flew out!  I would have been freaking out.  Andrew’s attitude was like, Eh, yeah, there are some bees in my pants.  Whatever.  

Thankfully he was only stung once.  (He did clarify later that the bees were trapped around the ankle of his pants and not just flying around his legs.  I feel a little better about that.)  I walked outside with him to investigate, and we saw bees swarming around a few holes in the ground.  The grass in the part of the yard remains uncut for now.  :-/

Bee sting aside, we had a great weekend!

What did you do this weekend?
Have you ever run over a beehive with a lawnmower?

Father’s Day, a Retirement Party, and a Wedding

Andrew and I kicked off our weekend with a date night Friday at the Mellow Mushroom–a new-to-Richmond pizza restaurant.  We had learned they make gluten-free, dairy-free pizza, so Andrew was excited to try it (as excited as you can be about GF, DF pizza. 😉  Don’t tell Andrew I said that… I always tell him his pizza tastes delicious.)

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Overall, the food was really good!  Andrew ordered their version of a supreme pizza, minus the ground beef that usually comes on it, and I had a cheese pizza with Roma tomatoes.  My only complaint is that I received a rather pitiful amount of tomato, as you can see in the photo above.  One thin tomato slice per pizza slice?  Come on, Mellow Mushroom… you can do better than that!  We both definitely enjoyed our meals though… and had plenty of leftovers!

On Saturday morning I went for my first run since hurting my quad during softball.  I kept it to an easy 30 minutes, and my legs felt good other than being a little achy from not running a lot lately.  Success!  I am going to take a break from our softball game this week, then hopefully play again next week (with a thorough warm-up and stretching.)

Saturday late morning/early afternoon, we worked in the yard (ah, the joys of home ownership. :))  I weeded the garden bed around the perimeter of the back yard, Andrew mowed the lawn, and we cleaned up the vegetable garden a bit.

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(Also, I think it might be time for me to buy a new camera.  All my photos have been blurry, regardless of the setting, lighting, etc.  Something is “off,” and I don’t think it’s just user errors.)

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…And we picked and ate our first green bean 😀

That evening went to our good friend Erin’s wedding.  Everything was wonderful–Erin looked absolutely beautiful, and both she and Nick seemed so happy.  It was a joy to celebrate with them!

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(I may have borrowed this photo from Facebook…)

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Additionally, we were able to visit with friends who came in town for the wedding.  We don’t get to see them as often as we’d like, and it’s always great to catch up!

Sunday morning we went to church to hear our pastor’s final sermon before retirement.   John has served our congregation for 16 years!  It was a bittersweet day, full of emotion as John’s wife, Julie, escorted him out of the sanctuary at the conclusion of each service.  After the final service, we had a reception/farewell party in our fellowship hall.  The committee in charge of decorations went all out!  They created a “tailgate” theme and used the school colors from John and Julie’s alma maters:  Randolph-Macon, UVA, and Duke.

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For Father’s Day, Andrew and I were limited to phone calls with our dads–mine lives near Atlanta, and Andrew’s dad was at the Cape.  In honor of my dad, (Papa Walt, as he has been renamed since the addition of my nieces, the next generation,) I resurrected this photo gem to post on Facebook:

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This was taken at the preschool party for my 4th birthday.  Andrew pointed out that I still make that face, minus the green marker on my nose. 😉  Papa Walt is the best dad a girl could ask for;  I love you, and I’m so proud of you, Daddy!

Sunday afternoon, after an accidental nap on the couch, Andrew and I went to the hardware store, purchased supplies, and built a more permanent cage for our strawberry plants.

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We bent 2-ft tall chicken wire to make a box, secured the top with small wire pieces, and added a rope handle so we can lift the whole thing off.  Take that, birds.  I am 83% sure that our neighbors think we are nuts. 😀

And now, off to tackle Monday!

What was the highlight of your weekend?

Squeaky Clean

Saturday night.  9:30 p.m.  I just started the washing machine on a hot water cycle, no clothes, lots of bleach.  Why?  Oh, friend, take a seat…

After a long day working in the garden, Andrew and I cleaned up to go out to dinner.  Around 7:15 p.m., right before leaving home, I remembered I desperately needed to start a load of laundry if I wanted to wear clean clothes to church in the morning.  I started the laundry.  We went to dinner at our favorite Thai restaurant.  Andrew kept his dish mild, while I requested the medium heat.  We talked about our day.  We talked about our friends.  We talked about tomorrow, and Andrew suggested that perhaps I was unnecessarily stressed this week.  On the way home, we stopped for sorbet.

But all this is irrelevant to the bleach in the washing machine.

When we returned home, I remembered that I needed to put my clothes in the dryer.  I began pulling the clothes out of the washing machine, a few pieces at a time, shaking them gently to avoid wrinkles.  As I neared the bottom of the washer–only a few socks (no matches) remained–I saw something at the bottom of the drum, partially hidden by the agitator (I just Googled, “washing machine diagram” to learn the technical names.)

Is that a…?  No.  No way.  Catherine, you are being neurotic.  It’s just a big wad of lint.  With a tail…

“Andrew…?”

“Yeah?”

“Can you please come here?”

“What’s wrong?”

“I think… there’s a mouse…a dead mouse…in the washing machine.”

Oh yes, indeed there was.  I considered not writing about this because it is So. Gross., but figured the story was worth it.  We have no idea how it got in the house, much less the washing machine.  The best guess we have is that it came in through the garage, which opens right by the door to the laundry room.  We had been keeping a double-bagged bag of bird seed in the laundry room because when we had it in the garage, a mouse broke into it. We checked the bag, and it had (recently) been chewed, so we think the mouse must have smelled it and sneaked in while we were working in the garden with the door open.  Gross, gross, gross.

So now, 10:08 p.m., I put my wet, took-a-bath-with-a-dead-mouse clothes back in the washing machine, shaking each item individually, intentionally–just in case.  Just in freaking case.

I will not wear dirty clothes to church tomorrow;  they will be squeaky clean.

(Squeaky clean??  I can’t believe I said that.  Great word play, horrifying mental image.  I’m so sorry.  I might wear dirty clothes tomorrow.)