Thursday, May 28, 2009

A visit to the vineyards

A little over a year ago I went on a wine tour in Williamsburg, VA.  The atmosphere was excellent, the people interested, and many of them knowledgeable.  After a tour of the vineyards, we visited the "dungeon" where they keep the barrels and where the wine is made, I guess, that was pretty cool, literally.  My favorite part was the actual tasting of the wine.  They had several bottles ready for us to taste but no one told me there would be a quiz. 

I hate tests.  Well, it was more like we take a sip and we had to write down what we tasted.  To me, at the time, wine was wine--it tastes good, I wrote after my first sip.  Then I heard others call out "citrus, grapefruit, peach, oak"  --what the heck..there's oak in my wine?  Any way, I failed miserably but I still got to drink my wine.  

Oh yeah that was the other thing, they provided us a bucket to spit out the wine -- seriously, that's just wasteful.  I wont be needing a bucket, thank you.  Thank goodness I was not driving that day because after tasting several varities I was feeling pretty good.  

I decided that day that would try harder to really pick out the flavors, to better understand wine and the makings, and to educate myself a little more about wine and food combination.  

I ran across Neil's blog On the Grapevine recently and became interested in what he had to say so I invited him to be a guest on my blog.  He will give us a few lessons, ideas, and maybe even answer some questions about wine grapes, wine selection, etc.  Don't be shy, ask away.  I plan to post about wine when the mood strikes us or when we have a really good recipe deserving of some really great wine. Check out Neil's blog too, full of information and ideas.

Guest post coming soon...stay tuned!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Outdoor Wednesday #20- Ferrel Kitten

I could not wait to post these outdoor shots...I was so excited to show these babies off.  This morning as I was feeding my own little baby his breakfast I spotted this momma cat in my garden.  I remember when she was only a kitten herself a couple of years ago.  Her momma still hangs around.  Anyway, she came out then out came her baby...and Oh My Gosh, is she cute or what. 

Enjoy these photos and please, visit Susan to see more of the outddors from her own view as well as others.

Now on to see the kitten frolic in my garden :-)

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Sunday, May 24, 2009

Memorial Day -- a day to remember

And I'm proud to be an American,
where at least I know I'm free.
And I won't forget the men who died,
who gave that right to me.
~Lee Greenwood

Friday, May 22, 2009

So much can happen in 24 hours

It it amazing how much trauma can happen in a short 24 hour period.  Things don't always go as smooth and it seems that the minute Daddy goes on trip I get a few more curve balls to keep things interesting I guess.  Funny thing about all that is that when he is home he doesn't have to deal with any of these little events, yet they still happen but only when he's gone, of course.

Peanut(6, 1st grade) saved her milk, from her school lunch, in her back pack.  It spoiled, spilled and needless to say, it was a stinky mess.  We just threw that bag in the trash - it was getting small for her anyway.  Daddy can get her a new bag.

My little Bear (2.5) decided to go fishing in his diaper this morning.  I'm not going to get graphic here but if you have kids you might have experienced one or two fishing expeditions in your kids life....let's just say, it was yet another, stinky situation at eight o'clock in the morning.  I wasn't sure where to start but I knew I had to get things cleaned up quickly so I put him in the tub with very warm, soapy water and had Peanut watch him while I disinfected his crib, wall, and anything in the area he might have touched. Yuck!  

Peanut wanted to be helpful so she got a bag to empty the upstairs trash cans...she try, but the trash landed on the floor instead of the bag...OK.  I'm going to breath in and breath out.  "It's OK honey, you did your best" is what I said to her...what I thought will stay in my head for now.

So now the baby is clean, the trash is picked up our hands are washed and the room is being aired out.  Life is back to good.  NO! I accidentally hit my coffee mug which was half filled with spilled all over the floor, table, chairs...etc.  Another clean up job for MOM.  It was at this point when I felt I could scream that my Peanut looked at me with her beautiful brown eyes and said "Mommy, today is not your day is it.  Do you want to go back to bed, I'll take care of the baby?"  I laughed because after all, it's just a stinky mess here and there, spilled trash and tea, not the end of the world.

Mr. Musician (18, 12th grade) had an event at the school last night.  He was performing and I didn't want to miss it but dad wasn't home to help with the kids so everyone went to the show. Thankfully, the baby sat through it and played with his food ate candy, cake, and spaghetti...nothing like a little sugar to get him all hyped up.  The performance was great as always, the Freshman kids have a lot of courage to go up there and sing as amateurs.  The did great.  My M&M (15,9th grade) filmed her brother -- she was so proud of him, as was I.

There's more going on to day but thinking about all this just makes me want to crawl back into my shell.  I need a break!!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Outdoor Wednesday 5/20- a Squirrel

Outdoor Wednesday hosted by Susan takes us outside and makes us look for the little things we sometimes fail to see.  

I was already inspired to look deeper into thing this week when Queen B posted her photo for Blue Monday.  I was touched.  

Anyway, I always like photographing those moments in time when someting different, unique, or natural is happening.  No posing, no waiting, just shooting and capturing what I see at that very moment.

This is a sweet little Squirrel in my yard.  Probably an offspring of one of the Squirrels living in the wooded area behind our house.  They just love a home with birdfood but lately they haven't been around because I have failed to fill my birdfeeders again.  This little guy is trying to figure out how to jump from the fence to the bird feeder.  I once had a tree there with a branch that extended down to the birdhouse.  It was very convenient.

So it's time to figure out what in the world happened here.  He knows there was something here and now, not even a fence.  Well, we're working on that.  First we have to grind the stump, then we'll be able to accomodate the squirrel and its family.

The good thing about squirrels...they can practically fly.  This was an easy jump.

And off he goes in each of a better place to find food.

...oh the stories I could write using this little scene...I think I'll get working on that because my little man really enjoyed watching the squirrel make its way around our yard.

Enjoy outdoor wednesday and enjoy the life that nature breaths into your world everyday.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

He just had to try his way first

My husband seems to always want to save a penny or two by doing certain things himself. That generally turns into a disaster and we still end up spending the money, sometimes more.  I say let's stimulate the economy and hire someone to do the job.  But no, he has to give it a go first.

Last week we realized that our Oak tree was definitely dead.  It needed to go before the wind knocked into our house because you know that's exactly what would happen if it fell on it's own. Never mind that there's an open field on the other side of the fence.  Anyway, he asked me to call around and get some quotes. My neighbor also said, get lots of quotes.  OK, I get the idea, I'll get quotes.  So I arranged for 4 or 5 different tree service companies to come around and give me a quote with and without the stump grinding.  We had one guy come by and he said the tree was dead (duh...really? Thanks dude) and that it would require a lift because they could not climb a dead tree.  Basically, our tree was so dead that it could fall apart if someone tried to climb it.  He said he would send us a quote.  Never heard back.

No big deal I have a few others lined up, or so I thought.  Another guy came over gave my husband a quote (big mistake) and they singed a contract on the spot.  I was very upset because first, I felt we were getting ripped off.  He was charging us $650 without grinding the stump.  My neighbor's tree was about the same heigh and he paid less.  But he didn't need a lift..OK I get it.  Needless to say, I had to call all the other guys to cancel the quote.  They all told me I was getting ripped if that changed the fact that we had a contract!!!  Yes, it was too late to know, the three day rule.

So they came, they took down the tree in a matter of ....well pretty quickly, they left with their check in hand...happy as a well fed pig.  (I have no idea where that came from) anyway, my dear husband, Mike, decided he would take care of the stump.  With a machete, shovel, a wedge, and some other tools he should be able to get it down low enough so it's not very noticeable.  

There's a fence behind the tree and it was now cutting accross the stump, needed to be replaced, etc. etc.  He spent a good 4 hours outside trying his best to chip away at the stump, with little results.  In the mean time I called one of my tree guys and arranged to have them come by on Monday to grind the stump...after spending $650 what's another $100 to get rid of the stump? Well, it's way more then we would have spend if I had arranged the whole thing but since Mike made the decision to hire the first guy he had a chance to speak with we ended up spending way more and he spent 1/2 a day outdoors in the heat, wasting his time.

Lessons learned.  If you hire someone to do work, let them do the whole thing and be done with it.   Get quotes!! There are so many tree service companies out there, it is amazing the range in prices they charge.  Shop around.  Evaluate what your time is worth and if it's more than what it would cost to pay someone else, say a professional, to do the work then it's time to call that pro and let them handle the job.  

I could go on with all the little things he tries to do to "save" money, and in the end, it costs us the same or more.  He sort of reminds me of Tim "the toolman" Taylor.  Our tree stump will be gone tomorrow; Mike will fix the fence this coming week--yes I do trust he can do that better than anyone else; and then we can move on to other details we need to focus on to get the house ready for the market.

I do appreciate that he tries to help.  We do get to laugh often about his little mishaps and mine, except I don't have as many-- no really, I don't. Hmmmph! 

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Foodie Friday- Granny Smith Nutty Salad

It's foodie friday favorite time of the week especially when I have something to share.  This is hosted by Gollum.  Visit her at Designs by Gollum for more tasty treats.

I love to have fruits and nuts in my salad so I'm always coming up with a different combination to keep things interesting. We had this for dinner on Thursday night and it was delicious.  Mr. Navy made steak on the grill so we topped this with a few slices of meant and, yum, very tasty.  If I had craisins and bacon bits I would have added that too but it was good none the less.  Enjoy!

Romain Lettuce
Granny Smith Apple
Parmesan Cheese
Olive Oil
Lime juice

Don't bother with measurements, you know how much you should be eating...toss it all together and add grilled chicken, beef, or salmon for  nutritious, filling meal.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

5/13 OW #18 - the good and bad in my garden

Today is Outdoor Wednesday, hosted by Susan at A Southern Day Dreamer.  My favorite part of the week as far as blogging is concerned because I can share my outdoors and everything happening in my garden, especially today. Visit Susan for more outdoors!

This is what's been happening or growing in my outdoors.  This makes me very happy!

These are tiny little grapes on the grapevine.

Tomatoes = home made salsa..yum.

~     ~     ~     ~

This makes me sad because I don't know what it is and I'm afraid it will mean I have to cut down my is apparently suffering and I don't know what to do.  The problem could be in my soil so I guess I can have my soil's nutrients and fungus measured if there's such a thing but many things just aren't growing in there, an oak tree died and we had to cut it down and now this.  If you have a clue, please fill me in.

This is some tumor growing on the grapevine.  Kind of creepy.

Here's a shot of a different part of the grapevine and it's tumors.

Bye bye oak tree, hello- guess we have to fix the fence now!

After you give me some advice about my garden issues, please visit Susan and see other nice outdoors you'll find around the world.  Thanks for coming by.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Blue Monday 5/11 - Settlers of Catan

Blue Monday is here again! Hosted by Smiling Sally, you get to share your blue anyway you want it and then go visit others to see what blue they have to share.

Today I'm sharing a fun, family game.  Settlers of Catan.  Have you heard the news, have you seen it, have you played it?

Settlers of Catan is made for 3-4 players and suitable for ages 10 and up. In it, you are a colonist looking to settle the newly discovered continent of Catan. To accomplish this you build settlements which generate resources. You then use these resources to build roads, soldiers, cities, and more settlements. In the game, each settlement is worth 1 victory point, while each city is worth two (a city is an upgraded settlement). The first player to get 10 victory points is the winner.

Well, my husband has become somewhat addicted to this game, so much so, that when we are not available to play with three or more players, he will play it online with people from...well, I don't know who these people are, probably other addicted people killing time that cold be best put to use doing other things.

I am not a big board game person because I don't like conflict and fighting over fake money, just seems silly so I might as well not play.  My oldest son and husband both think it's war, for real.  This game has been a blessing because, although we have our friendly competitions, we play for fun and there are not fights.    I recommend it, loads of fun.  Learn more here and here.

The downside for us is that 2 of our kids are not 10 years old; however, we play age-appropriate board games with them earlier in the evening and then when they go to bed we play this fun game.  If you have play this version or the expansion, please tell me about it.  We are thinking about expanding and would love some reviews.

Don't forget...go visit Smiling Sally for more Blue Monday or to participate like I did!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

ONE special day for moms

Photo by desireux

I keep wanting to ignore this "special" day mainly because as we all know, this level of attention, affection, and appreciation should happen more than once every 364 days, don't you think?  I don't know, maybe it's just me.

Over that last few days I've evesdropped on conversations that take place at the check out counter at the grocery store and oh how much there is to tell the strangers that we meet.  Some discussed their plans to go out to brunch right after church and others discouraged that since every body and their mother (I mean that literally) had the same idea.  Others talked about how their kids are going to make them breakfast in bed and yet they criticized the partially burnt meal. (So ungrateful..geeez!) (I hope she had to get up and clean up the mess they left in the kitchen)!  One lady even complained at the kids attempt to make a her a home-made present because she had to help them with the project and clean up after they wre done" -- (I guess the bonding time you spent with your kids means nothing to you.)

I actually get a little annoyed when people ask me "so what did you get for mother's day?"  Well, let's see I have four kids and they give me all the bad mouth, attitude, slammed doors, messy rooms, whining, selfish acts of LOVE a mother could ever ask for.  Every once in a while I get hugs and kisses followed by "can you take me to the mall?" or "can I use the car?"  Why ask that question? Don't ask!  Well I know why they ask...because they want to tell you what they got for Mother's day, probably something expensive.   Well good for you, now don't forget to take it off each time you wash your hands which means you wont ever get to wear the precious jewel.  Oh darn. 

To me, everyday SHOULD be mother's day but no one ever asks what I got on the other 364 days of the year, just on this special day because apparently this is the only day we deserve to get anything.  Oh good heavens am I whining?

No.  I'm not whining, just making an observation.  But if asked what I want on Mother's day, I think I will ask for 

one respectful act
one selfless act
one I love you
one Thank You
one "how was your day mom"
 every day for 364 1/4 days.  

That's all...pretty cheap huh!!

Here's a little story with a twist written by my friend Queen B, that is a mother's day gift from me to you.  In the spirit of celebrating, I want to wish all the mommies of the world a very happy mother's day, everyday of the year.  You deserve it!  

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Politics and Friends - is it possible?

"Friendship" by Jofel Tobias

"Friends are those who know all about you and still put up with your crap!" 
(don't know where I read this so if it's you, I will be happy to give you credit, just leave me a comment)

I do not like debates or confrontations, nor do I like to impose my views on anyone, at least not on purpose.  I may occasionally have a brief discussion about politics or religion with someone who is more like me - non-confrontational and those usually end with a roaring laugh and we move on to more present issues like "what the heck is he putting in his mouth now--eww!"

However, I have several friends who absolutely love to talk politics AND religion.  Not just talk, they will fight you tooth and nail about what they think is the "real truth" and even go as far as quoting several TV and Radio personalities who supposedly "know the truth."  I don't care much for what TV and Radio people say because for the most part, they are imposing their views on us as well and many are just trying really hard to scare the bejeezus out of people and life is just too short to live in fear.  Anyway, I'm more interested in what my kids have to say and how their day at school went and how my clients feel after a good workout...and, oh my gosh it's almost 5 and I haven't even started dinner!!

Some of my friends already know how I feel and try to avoid the subject but somehow always manage to go there and it makes me avoid their calls, just sometimes.  I love my friends, don't get me wrong, I don't let their views get in the way of my affection for them. But it just seems so much more difficult to visit with them and have good old fashion fun when we're both edgy about any topic.  Me because I don't want to say anything that might open up a can of worms and them because they are trying to avoid the topic so hard that they stop having fun.

Case in point--I invited one of my really good friends to a girls get away and for the first time she told me why she could not come.  She said "I just wont have fun because you guys don't like to talk about the things that interest me, like the current events, i.e. politics, economy, religion, etc."  My answer was, "why do we have to touch any of those topics, ever. Can't we just talk about life, our kids, where we hope to be in ten years, our dreams or heck the sunset, that would be an awesome conversation starter."  Well, she's not coming and I guess it's for the best :-(

I actually stress when we have friends come over whose views are our polar opposites because I'm afraid someone will get on a subject of insulting a political somebody and it will all go downhill from there.  Recently I decided that the best way for me to deal with this particular stressor is to identify immediately when the conversation gets sour and kindly tell my friends the following:  "It's obvious that we have different viewpoints so lets agree to disagree now, hey did you like the wine, would like something else to eat, so how are the kids....etc."

I just feel that everyone has a right to their beliefs and their opinions but I don't think it's my place to use my social time to impress my views on my friends.  If the purpose of our meeting is to discuss the current state of the nation, political views and/or religious views, then I will do my homework so that I can try to have an intelligent conversation, share my views and hope we could still be friends in the end.  Otherwise, I just want to have a nice visit, share some family updates, maybe even talk about the past or the future without getting into a heated debate about who said what and who is wrong or who ate what where, etc.

I have better things to do with my time.  My family, education, job, home, living everyday as the gift that it is.  I also like to drink my wine, eat good food and THAT I will share with my friends!!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Outdoor Wednesday #17- kids

Outdoor Wednesday is hosted by Susan at A Southern Day Dreamer.  Stop by to see what other outdoors everyone else is showing off today.

I love this picture of my two youngest know, lovingly holding hands, not fighting, walking not running...ahhhh!  So sweet!  I better enjoy it because soon they'll grow up and become teens....ugh..scary!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Blue Monday - El Obelisco del Malecon

Blue Monday, hosted by Smiling Sally.  
Visit her to see what other blues others are sharing today.

Today I am sharing a photo a took when I visited my home, my parents, in the Dominican Republic, several years ago.  I forgot I had taken this picture for the purpose of finding out more about it.  For one thing, I didn't realize there were so many obelisks throughout the world.

Anyway, back to this one.  This is the Obelisco en el Malecon commemorating Las Hermanas Mirabal (the Mirabal Sisters).

These four  women followed their convictions with bravery and selflessness to fight for what they believed. To fight against a dictators rule they felt was wrong. Three of them - Patria, Minerva, and Maria Teresa - gave their lives for their cause.  They were killed savagely by some henchmen following the Dictator Rafael Leónidas Trujillo orders. They were a threat to this commanding man because they were involved with trying to over throw his cruel, ruthless and fascist government.

The story is one of bravery and justice in the end.  Read more about it here.

El Obelisco del Malecon in Santo Domingo, is painted with "A Song to Liberty." (by Elsa Nuñez) This 137 foot tall Obelisk, that Trujillo had built to bring honor and recognition to himself, was converted to honor the Mirabal sisters. It is now painted with the three women he had murdered. It was unveiled on March 8, 1997 in honor of International Women's Day.

This is a close up version.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Explain to me how do I enjoy the outdoors...

...bug free?

OK so maybe I'm doing it all wrong but how does one enjoy the outdoors without being chewed by mosquitoes, finding a tick somewhere on the body or sharing a meal with flies?

Please, I beg of you.

I love going outside. It is one of the activities I look forward to the most in the Spring, Summer, and Fall but man, there are mosquitoes, little no-see-ums, and soon flies just buzzing and wating for their next meal.

Sometimes I just want to sit out back, drink my tea, and watch birds eat from the feeder.  But I'm contantly swating and trying to keep from getting bites all over.

So if you know of a safe, pesticide free way to really enjoy my back yard, please, tell me. 

What do you for yourself and for your family too?