Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Day in the Life

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My days without Rob are coming to a rapid end, and now that I’m more than halfway, my thoughts have gone from “6 whole months will take a while,” to “I only have two more months left to prepare for Rob coming home!”

I have attacked my workouts with renewed vigor, shooting for the hottest bod that can be attained in the remaining time.  I’m actually enjoying the crossfit class on base as well as yoga in my schedule.

The garden is much more high maintenance now as things are ripening and weeds are sprouting.

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My project list is getting smaller (but still formidable) – although the basement is STILL my Everest and I would love to go through more boxes down there and unpack books and find a place for the more “random” items. And my awesome stackable storage boxes still need doors to hide their contents and not make the basement look cluttered and busy.

The days are also broken up with walks for Gus and any friends staying with us, trips to the dog park, calls to contractors for home repairs from the recent hail storm (see pic below for proof of egg-sized hail in late June), a bit of retail therapy always makes me happy (and now I have a good excuse with deployment), and throw in a couple weekly evening get-togethers among the spouses and you’ve got yourself a fairly busy lady.

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Some more pics

Instead of tiling the step, I tore off the nasty vinyl tiles and simply spread some grout over it.

Before

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After

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Tomatoes

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Peppers

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Eggplants

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And figs, oh my!

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I’m so happy the little fig tree made it! I almost thought he was a goner at the end of the winter, but look how well he’s pulled through! Go figgy!

Three Seasons Room

Before

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After

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I LOVE IT!

This was: wall panels, insulation, ceiling planks, granite tiles, grout (lots and lots of grout), paint, trim, threshold, doorstop, and caulk. Very gratifying.

I don’t know if anyone else who’s remodeled a house has this problem, but I really don’t like filling the room once it’s done! This happened with the bedrooms upstairs. As our clothes went in the closet and the dresser, bed, etc filled the space, I was saddened to see all my hard work covered up with furniture. That is why I have left the second bedroom upstairs mostly empty (except for stuff in the closet and a yoga mat on the floor) – I adore looking at the shiny, clean, still freshly painted, uncluttered purity of the redone room.

And this is also why I predict that the patio furniture I was thinking of getting for this room might end up waiting until next year – I love looking at the empty, open room! So clean, so pretty… anyone else experience this phenomenon?

Monday, August 8, 2011

Summer Food

I LOVE cooking in the summer! I love all the… well, all the FRESH! Fresh greens, tomatoes, herbs, peppers, everything feels so clean and light on my palate. I love FRESH!

Here’s a couple fun items recently cooked that I thought were stellar enough to share with you.

A group of squadron ladies got together every week to watch the Bachelorette. Not normally my cup of tea, but the socializing was wonderful and the food was delicious! The B-1 squadrons are full of amazing cooks! One of the latest themes was “tropical” and since I wanted to use my greens from the garden, this just kind of morphed and it’s DELICIOUS!

I call it Almond Joy Salad.

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Fresh greens, toasted coconut, toasted sliced almonds. The dressing is the basic olive oil and balsamic, but sub coconut oil for half the olive oil; and add a little cocoa and honey until it tastes good (maybe 2-3 tablespoons of each). I’m sorry I can’t give more specific directions on the dressing, but that’s how it happened. You want to have the ratio of coconut (from the dressing as well), almonds, and chocolate be about the ratio of an almond joy candy bar. Trust me, it’s yummy.

Smitten Kitchen is absolutely my favorite cooking website! Instead of food network when I want to find something to cook, now I navigate right to Smitten Kitchen and search her sight. I made these for a girls night recently and VERY tasty – a little pleasantly odd mix of flavors that result in goodness. I love these as an appetizer with a glass of wine on the patio. Perfect.

Flatbreads with Honey, Thyme, and Sea Salt

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And this next one turned out to be a wonderful way to use venison with a fresh summery twist.

Skirt Steak with Bloody Mary Salad

The salad I would totally bring to a pot luck and it would be a big hit. Made this one for a girls night and the ladies took home tupperware.

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And finally, because no meals are complete without dessert! This rice pudding (or rather arroz con leche) was a HUGE hit last night at Ladies Bible study!

Arroz Con Leche

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Saturday, August 6, 2011

The Pie Lady

The Rapid City Farmers’ Market is only NOW beginning to pick up with the actual produce offerings. It’s AUGUST! I can’t believe the crazy short growing season! But I digress…

One thing the market excels at during all the months that it’s open is the baked and canned goods. Jams, jellies, salsas, breads, rolls, and pies. One booth in particular… the Pie Lady. Oh, I can’t even write about the pies without swooning. They give out free samples of the particular pie that day and my first sample was mixed berry (blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, and blueberries). It kind of went like this: “Oh, that’s nice – free samples. Thanks so much.” Tasting that one bite, all the latent happiness inside me melted and gloriously filled up my insides while my brain lost all other consciousness and focus, time stopped, and there was only pie. Delicious, wonderful, pie. I was hooked.

Since then, whenever the Pie Lady has been at the market, I have purchased a, to some overly priced, pie, knowing that it’s totally worth it and the most amazing treasure of a treat I have ever tasted and would therefore probably pay twice that and more for its delicious goodness.

I have enjoyed mixed berry (often), strawberry rhubarb, and fruits of the forest (rhubarb, apple, strawberry, and raspberry) and they have all been the best pie in the world.

Some caveats: I love filling. I love it. I love the fruits, the sugar, and the blending of the two that miraculously results in exquisite pie filling. And even though I’m not a crust girl, this crust blows my mind. I eat it all and scrape the bowl for crumbs. It’s buttery, flaky, firm, and soft all at the same time and accentuates the filling with poise and style. Perfect synergy.

Today, I bought my pie and headed home to a breakfast of scrambled eggs and a slice of pie. Awesome. And even though I just bought it this morning, it’s sadly already over half gone. …although I did give a couple slices to a sick friend. I know. I’m a saint.

So, if you’re ever driving through Pierre, South Dakota (as that’s where their little pie restaurant is located and don’t think I haven’t considered driving almost 3 hours to Pierre just for pie, because I absolutely have) you simply must stop and have a slice at Vivian Junction Restaurant. You won’t regret it.