Thursday, September 30, 2010

Shoot Me - Fire Pit Fun - 28 of 52

We love to go camping.  Seriously love it.  Unfortunately, with all that went on in the Nagle5 world this summer, we found it impossible to go camping even one time.  It was terrible.  Fortunately, the cool nights have made using our fire pit fun again.  (Sitting around a fire when you're sweaty just isn't fun, you know?)

Last week, I got the opportunity to keep my pinky-promise to Buttercup and we did s'mores.  (I don't get s'mores...I love cooking marshmallows over the fire, but I don't like eating them.  Do you see my problem?)

Valiant (aka the Lord of the Fire!) started the fire...he doesn't like s'mores, either.  Can you tell how thrilled he was?

Buttercup, however, was thrilled!  Can you tell?

Even Charming showed up and enjoyed being with us (even if he hates having his picture taken!).  (He brought homemade pumpkin pie...wasn't that cool?)

The great thing about having a fire pit in our own backyard?  I can show up in my slippers!


Look!  We did scary Halloween lighting by turning off the flash.  It is getting us in the mood for October.

Head over to Carin's at Forever in Blue Jeans to see what everyone else has been up to this first week of autumn.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Picking Apples

Friday we headed to Green Bluff with the Divine Mrs. M to pick some apples from her favorite apple orchard, Yaryan's.  She's been going to this place for years and it was easy to see why.  These people baby their apples...truly.  They don't let customer pick the Honeycrisp apples because they say the plants are too fragile and they can't take the chance.  We had a terrific selection of McIntosh, Honeycrisp, Jonathan, Swiss Gourmet, Gala, and Golden Delicious (I know there were more, but that is all I can remember off the top of my head.)  My family likes a sweet/tart apple (not so tart as a Granny Smith, but definitely not sweet like a Red Delicious), so I bought us Honeycrisp and $0.89/lb and $0.69/lb respectively!!!

It was crisp, but gorgeous.

Look at all those bins of apples.

Buttercup picked out the best for us.  (Valiant stood back and declared he doesn't like apples...who knew?)

The Divine Mrs. M got boxes of apples and while I was helping her pick and choose, I discovered this monster Honeycrisp.

It was huge!  Look at the weighed one pound all by itself!  Crazy...look at the container of Clorox Wipes or the pencil box to the left for visual scale.  That apple was HUGE.  (Mr. Yaryan was talking about how small his apples were this year!!)

...and no, I didn't bring it home.  I had already picked my went home with Mrs. M.

Apple pie, apple crisp, apple turnovers...they're all in our immediate future.  Yippee!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Harvest Pumpkin Brownies

Leaves turning colors, the nights turning cold, and the smell of cinnamon, ginger, and cloves wafting through the house...they are the familiar signs of fall.  Last week, as the weather turned brisk and the season officially changed to Autumn, I made two batches of Harvest Pumpkin Brownies topped by Cream Cheese Frosting.  One was for the 'we-call-it-a-book-club-but-no-one-cares-if-you-read-the-book book club' and the other I divvied up throughout the neighborhood.  (Hey, it was fall everywhere, right?)

Harvest Pumpkin Brownies
from Mrs. R.


For the Cake:
1 can/16 oz. of pumpkin
4 eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour (I did half all-purpose/half whole wheat)
2 cups white sugar
1 Tablespoon pumpkin spice
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons butter (softened)
3 oz cream cheese (softened)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon milk
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 to 2 cups confectioner's sugar (I cut the sugar in half and it was perfect!)


For Cake:
Preheat Oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9 x 13 pan.

In medium bowl, mix together flour, sugar, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In large bowl, mix together pumpkin, eggs, oil, and vanilla until well-mixed. Stir in dry ingredients and mix well.

Pour into 9 x 13 pan and bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes (mine took 30 minutes). Cool.

For Frosting:
Mix together butter, cream cheese, vanilla, milk and salt until smooth. Gradually add confectioner's sugar until you get a creamy consistency. Spread frosting on top of cake and serve.

I still think the term "brownie" isn't quite accurate. It seems more like a dense cake to me. You can see just how moist it is from the picture, can't you? Regardless, it is amazing and you'll be glad you made it.

Happy Fall!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Monday Musings - Would You Hire YOU?

Superman and I were discussing home improvement projects the other day and Superman said something that has been bouncing around in my head ever since.  With respect to paying someone to work for you, he said, "You pay people thousands of dollars to do the job and you don't want to have to worry about the job.  At that point, you just expect it to be handled."  He's absolutely correct.  On the rare occasions that we've paid someone to perform work for us, we've just expected it to be done expediently and correctly.    Once we've made the decision to let someone else handle it, we pick someone to do the job that will, in fact, do the job, thereby freeing us to move on to something else.

That conversation got me thinking about work we don't pay someone else to do.  Work we've held onto as our responsibility and how we handle that responsibility.  I was looking at my bathroom (my not-so-secret shame) and thinking that I would definitely NOT hire me to clean bathrooms.  I just don't clean them enough.  Seriously.

That is how it started.  After that, I assessed my performance as I performed all sorts of everyday tasks. In some cases, I was pleased by my performance evaluations.  In others, a bit chagrined.

Here is what I concluded:  I'm an okay jane-of-all trades housekeeper, but I still have stuff to learn from Aunt Bee and June Cleaver.  I would NOT hire me to clean floors, but I would DEFINITELY hire me for vacuuming.   Dusting?  Once a week has to be good enough.  Windows?  Uh, moving right along.  Cook?  I would hire me to cook if you like "plain" fare, but if you're looking for exotic meals, I'm not your girl.  Kitchen maid?  My kitchen is clean and organized.  Laundress?  I am your girl.  Bookkeeper?  For plain-vanilla record keeping, I'm definitely worth hiring, but that is partly because I'm really good at the next task.  Organizer? I would not hesitate to hire me to keep the house organized, too.  Gardening and yard work?  Not so much, but I'd make a really good apprentice (I have the desire and commitment, but not the know-how.)  Auto Maintenance?  LOL!  We pay people to do that!

What about all these other jobs?  Financial Manager?  Supply Officer?  Wardrobe Mistress?  Fitness coach?  Nutritionist? Social Director?  What is it you do all day and are you doing it well enough that you'd hire yourself to do the quality of work you give to yourself and your family?  Have you ever thought about it in those terms?

In this day and age, we all have the option of working outside the home or staying in the home.  We also have the option of having smaller homes or larger homes.  How many of us, however, treat the tasks we have in conjunction with those choices as jobs we've agreed to do.  Using my bathroom example (yes, I'll take one for the team here):  By failing to clean my bathrooms often enough, I am failing to do a job I was "hired" to do when Superman and I agreed that I would stop working outside the home and takeover the home-caring duties.   No one forced me into this "job".  I chose it very deliberately.   I worked outside the home (in offices) for 20 years.  Filing was boring, but I never would have refused to do my filing on the grounds that I "just am a slacker in that area", so why is it that I think it is okay to shirk my bathroom cleaning duties?

It comes down to these ideas:

Acceptance of responsibility:  It really is my job and I agreed to do it when I accepted the job.  I doubt Aunt Bee complained to Sheriff Andy that she didn't feel like cooking dinner for Opie and him.

Objective assessment:  Would I pay someone to do the job I'm doing?  (Um, in the case of my bathrooms...yes, I'd pay someone to do the job I'm doing, but she'd need to show up to work more frequently.)  I doubt June Cleaver was ever embarrassed to have someone see her "cat bathroom".

Prioritization and Standards:  I have to decide if a certain task really needs to be done (and how frequently).  Some things don't really need to be done.  What do I mean?  I really, really didn't want to be a "Pool and Spa Boy" a few years ago, but Superman's job was leaving him with insufficient time to handle the job himself.  (It had been his job.)  After a summer of inadequacy (and a green pool), I convinced Superman that since neither of us wanted to be the "Pool Boy", we should just get rid of the pool.  Oh, the feeling of release that came when that happy young family took off with our pool.  I can't tell you.  No longer did we have a job that we did poorly, instead the job went along with the pool.  In short order, we figured out neither of us wanted to be the "Spa Boy", either, so the hot tub left a few months later.  In effect, we "quit" those jobs.  

Caring for a home is a job made up of many different jobs that you've accepted when you made the decision to live someplace that doesn't, in fact, have full time housekeeping.  It is just the way it is.  No more wouldn't accept them from somebody you were paying to do the job, so why are you accepting them from yourself?

Me?  I'm just not getting the bathrooms cleaned frequently enough and I'm unwilling to get rid of them, so I've got to stop doing such a poor job.  I signed up for this.

My post actually ties in nicely with Momstheword's Making Your Home Sing Monday post this week, so I'm linking to her meme.  She's got some really good thoughts about "taking back your home".   (I guess we were both looking around and assessing what we could do better this week!)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Food for Thought

"A smiles is a light in the window of the soul indicating that the heart is home"
- Anonymous

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Sun Dill Pickles

My friend Mrs. M is crazy talented.  Not only does she have two big kids and baby Kaleb (who you've seen here numerous times), but she goes to school full-time.  She has a huge house and is an amazingly crafty woman.  Oh, and did I mention that she's an Air Force wife whose husband is often away serving our country?  On top of all that, she is a really good cook.  So, when she offered to show Buttercup and me how to make her fabulous Sun Dill Pickles, we jumped at the opportunity. 

Have you ever tried to make your own pickles?  Mrs. M's dill pickles will make you a fan of pickles.  Seriously!  They're crisp and tangy and remind me of the pickles that we used to be able to buy out of a barrel at the grocery store.  The best part?  They are super easy.

So, without further ado, here is the recipe for Mrs. M's Sun Dill Pickles.  This recipe makes one gallon of pickles.  (Mrs. M picked 23 pounds of pickling cucumbers for us on Saturday - wasn't that sweet? and that made 5 1/2 gallons.)

4 pounds of pickling cucumbers, washed and patted dry, with stem ends cut off.
1/2 cup of salt (non-iodized)
3-4 stems of dill
2 tablespoons of pickling spice
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 cup of apple cider vinegar

Put 1/4 cup of salt, 1 tablespoon of pickling spice, 2 cloves of garlic in the bottom of a gallon-sized glass jar with a lid.   Fold 2 dill stems and add to the jar.  Add half the pickles, packed tightly.hen top with 1/4 cup salt, 1 tablespoon pickling spice, the rest of the garlic and one cup of apple cider vinegar.  Fill to the top with water.  

See how Buttercup is just putting those cucumbers on top of the stuff?  She just pushed down on the stalks of dill and really packed them in. 

She had quite the assembly line going, didn't she?  She and Mrs. M had quite the system, so I just played with baby Kaleb.  It was a win-win all around, don't think?

Once you have half the cucumbers in the jar, add the rest of the dill and the garlic.  Then put in the other half of the cucumbers.  Top with the remaining 1/4 cup salt, 1 tablespoon pickling spice, the rest of the garlic and one cup of apple cider vinegar.  Fill to the top with water and seal.  Mrs. M adds plastic wrap before she puts the lids on a) to seal better and b) to protect the lids from the corrosive action of the vinegar.  (She's very smart, isn't she?)

After that, you shake it up really want all the spices mixed around in the liquid and put it in the sun for three days, then refrigerate your amazing pickles. That is all there is to it!  Amazing pickles are just a few steps away. This is our jar.  Isn't it beautiful?  (I'm fibbing.  I don't know if that is really "our" jar...I just called it our jar.  Honestly, it was just one of the jars we made that I snapped a picture of after the water had been added and before the plastic wrap and lids had been added.)
These are all the jars we made with our assembly line.  That is a lot of pickles! 

I'm just so tickled to know how to do this myself.  Freshly made pickles from freshly pick cucumbers.  Too cool.  (Guess what we're adding to our garden next year?)

Stay tuned...Mrs. M said she'll show me how to can tomatoes next.  I can hardly wait!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

How to Make Your Own Bows

As the holidays are right around the corner, more and more of us will be wrapping presents.  Throw in birthdays, showers, weddings, and other special occasions and you can find yourself spending a pretty penny just wrapping gifts. 

I'm willing to confess that I'm cheap.  (Yes, you can call it frugal if you'd like.)  I just can't bring myself to spend $7 on stuff that is intended to be thrown away.  I just can't do it.  Just last week I was looking for wrapping paper and ribbons/bows for a wedding gift...even on sale, the wrapping paper was $2.70, the matching bow was on sale for $1.99 and a role of ribbon was $1.50...and all of this stuff was on clearance!

So, I did what every self-respecting cheapskate would do.  I decided I could do something at home.   I headed home and pulled out my stash of ribbons and wrapping paper.  (Acquired at various points for very low prices.)  All of my ribbon, however, is on a spool or a roll.  Time to make my own bows.

I thought you might want to see how to do it yourself, so I took pictures along the way:

First cut pieces of ribbon roughly the same length.  The number of pieces is determined by how puffy you want your bow.  I used 8 or so pieces that were about 10" long for a small bow.  (Later I used about 12 that were 12"-14" for a big one.)  Anyway, take your pieces of ribbon and hold them between your thumb and forefinger in a stack like this:

Staple the pieces to a little piece of paper, roughly 1" square.  (I confess to having borrowed one of the inchies my sister sent to Buttercup.)  You don't actually have to use a piece of paper, but it just aids in the stability.

You want the staple to be perpendicular to the pieces of ribbon, so you'll be able to fan them out.

Using your scissors, curl both ends of each piece of ribbon and fan them out from their neat stack to create fullness.

Attach a tape loop to the back of the paper and then tape the bow to the package.

There you have it...a bow.

Oh, and here is how the wedding present looks with a bow made out of two different colors of ribbon.  I even added spirals made out of the narrow white ribbon.   Pretty, isn't it?

Ikea paper I had on hand, a few pieces of gold ribbon from an old package, and white and gold ribbon I had on hand...all that and about 20 minutes gave me a pretty present to give to a newly married couple.  I'd say I did pretty well.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Monday Musings - Cohesion and Clarity of Purpose

How many times have you heard something like this:  Couple achieves tremendous professional and economic success and laments the loss of the modest life they had when they were first married...striving together to succeed...struggling to make ends meet...joyous in their tiny home.  Couple is materially happy, but little more than roommates at the end of the journey.

I don't want that to be how my/our story ends.

Before Superman accepted this position overseas, we were floundering.  Our family was suffering.  Even though he came home from work everyday, Superman seemed, well, absent in our lives.  More often than not, I was lonely.  The kids felt almost fatherless.  It was all very difficult.  Even worse?  Superman couldn't understand what I was trying to say when I was bringing my concerns to him.   How could this be happening to my family?  to my marriage?  What was going on?   My husband loved me and I loved him.  We loved our kids.  And yet, neither of us seemed to be the way we had seemed so strange.

Fast forward one year and my faith has been renewed.  My marriage feels stronger than it has been in years and my kids feel closer to their father than they have in a long time.  My husband talks with me and hears me.  How can this be?  Superman is 10,000+ miles from home; only spending two weeks in the last 8 months with his wife and children.  How can we have grown closer with such distance between us.  Yet, it is true... all of us are happier.

Confused?  I was.  So I started thinking about what had happened.  Thinking about those stories of couples who've achieved success only to realize they were happier before such "blessings".  Thinking about the stories of people who've stayed happily married for decades and thinking about people who've stayed married even as they've watched their marriages slip away.  What was the difference?  I knew there was an answer, if I could just find it.

What would make people look back to a time of little material success and reminisce so fondly?  What is the common thread for those who transcend those problems?

It is cohesion and clarity of purpose.

Cohesion - the act or state of cohering, uniting, or sticking together.  Clarity - clearness or lucidity as to perception or understanding. 

The answer is not letting go of that state of working together with clear understanding and agreement of your goals.

It seems to me that the people who look back so longingly at the "early years" of their marriages are looking at those years in which they and their spouse had cohesion and clarity of purpose as they worked together for their goals.   Their partnership was vitally significant, no one role more important than the other and the results of their efforts were easily perceived.  Being able to make the rent each month, being able to have enough diapers and formula for a baby, buying your first home, these things are measurable accomplishments that required the combined efforts and focus of both partners in the marriage.  Even more importantly, the goals required that focus remained at home.   Yes, one or both partners worked out of the home, but the consequences of that work were immediately tangible in lifestyle.  An extra hour at work (with overtime!) is easily translated to a box of diapers, gas in the tank, or some other vital part  of daily life.  Money saved by couponing is, likewise, seen as having an immediately evident positive effect.  Those feelings of working together towards oh-so-necessary goals is one of joy, isn't it?

So, where does all that joy go?  How can we go from those feelings to feeling of distance, disconnection, and isolation?

I think it happens because those basic goals are met and we don't have clarity of purpose for the next steps.  We have no cohesion.  We might be a united front, but we're not united.  To be blunt, we're no longer working together.  Instead we're working next to each other.  To use my own marriage as an example, Superman was working so hard at work, doing what he thought he had to do, giving all he had to give at work.  Unfortunately, that meant he had nothing left to give at home and didn't think he had anything to do that was as important at home.  Me?  I was working so hard to turn our new house into our home and raising our children, caring for our pets, and caring for him, that I couldn't see how I could do more.  Except more wasn't what was needed.  Neither Superman nor I needed to give more.  In fact, we needed to give less.  We needed to slow down, work "easier", and talk more.  We needed to design the next phase of our family's life rather than both of us just assuming we knew what the other one intended or expected for/of us.

Without cohesion, our efforts weren't actually getting the results we wanted.  Without clarity of purpose, our marriage wasn't enriching our family.  With our only contact now being deliberate, purposeful contact (via Skype), our conversations have become far more than "the kids have a doctor's appt tomorrow/I have a meeting at 7:30 a.m. tomorrow".  They are back to being more "what do we want our lives to look like in five years?" types of conversations.  United in the goal of healing our marriage and family,  paying off our debt, and positioning our selves for the next 20 years we'll spend together, we're not making assumptions that we know what the other is thinking.  We're once again creating cohesion in our marriage and, once again, we're feeling the deep-seated contentment that comes with that journey.

Cohesion and clarity of seems so simple, yet so many of us don't even realize when it fades away or is drowned out by the demands of daily life.

I wonder how many of us could improve our relationships with deliberate cohesion and clarity of many of us would take that fork in the road that we're too busy to even see most of the much internal contentment we could reap with the deliberate attention focused on regaining that which we had at the beginning of this journey?  It is worth thinking about, isn't it?

(Photo:  Escher Relativity in Legos)

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Food for Thought

 "Give what you have.  To someone, it may be better than you dare to think."

-  Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Amish Baked Oatmeal

I got this recipe for Amish Baked Oatmeal from Blissfully Domestic in 2008.   I don't know if it is really Amish, but I do know that it is baked and has oatmeal.  What?  You don't know what baked oatmeal is?  Basically, you mix together oatmeal, milk, butter, egg, a little sugar and bake it.   It is a great thing to have as the weather cools down.  Best of all, you can prepare it the night before and put it in the oven when everyone is in the shower.  A half hour later, warm breakfast is ready for everyone and you did not start your day by slaving over a stove.  What can be better than that?

Amish Baked Oatmeal

1 1/2 cups quick cooking oats
1/3 cup brown sugar (recipe calls for 1/2, but I reduced it)
1/2 cup of milk
1/4 cup of butter
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Pinch of salt (I used 1/8 teaspoon)

Mix all together and place in greased 8 x 8 pan.  Cover and place in refrigerator or leave uncovered and bake immediately for 30 minutes at 350F.  (If you leave the cover on when you bake it, it is too soggy.)

Top with berries or eat plain (we like it straight out of the pan).

Seriously, is a quick and easy addition to your breakfast rotation.  

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Before and After of my Own...Drawers to Shelves

I have loved my desk since we bought five years ago.  It has served its purpose well.  In five years, however, my needs and wants have changed.  I've reduced, tremendously, the amount of paper I'm keeping/storing.  The drawers were inefficient for my purposes, so I decided to do something about it.

This is what my first one looked like before I modified it.

This is what it looks like now.

I liked it so much that I decided to do the same thing to another part of the desk.  This time, however, I took pictures along the way to show you how I did it.

First, I pulled out the drawer.

Then I removed the drawer hardware.

Then I added those little blocks of wood so I could attach a new shelf base to the section.  [I had to redo those little blocks of wood because my original ones were too thick and didn't allow the bottom drawer to close.]

Then I attached a board (the back from one of my Ikea shelves, cut down with the saw) to the center divider and to the pieces of wood I added.

Viola!  I went from a drawer to a shelf and my efficient use of my desk.  Oh, and yes, those are Swiffer refills...if I have them in the basement with me, I dust the basement more often!

I can't tell you how much more I like this desk.  Having a place for more of our school books and a better way to store my various papers and reference books feels so nice.

I am SOOO cool!

For this moment, at least, my kids say that I am sooo cool!  In case you don't read the date/time on blog posts, I'll fill you in.  As I type this, it is 12:48 AM on Tuesday morning.  We got home at 12:20 AM.  Yes, we have been out quite late, especially for a Monday night.  Why?  Well, for those of you who might not know it, at 12:01 AM this morning, Halo Reach became available for sale.    You also might not know that we all need to find out if Halo is worthwhile without the Master Chief.  Now, don't ask me anymore.  That was the sum total of my knowledge.

No, I am not cool because I knew that.  I am cool because I loaded up the kids, drove to our local Best Buy and waited around until 12:00 AM to be let in the store so that Valiant (and Buttercup) could buy Halo Reach long before the traditional 10:00 AM store opening.  (Apparently, those 10 hours are vital to game play.)

Look at those faces!  Even after spending their own money, these kids are happy campers.  So, for this brief moment in time, my kids think I am cool.  Now that I'm done being cool, I'm going to bed.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Food for Thought

The golden opportunity you are seeking is in yourself. It is not in your environment, it is not in luck or chance, or the help of others; it is in yourself alone.
- Orison Swett Marden

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Life is Right Now

One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon-instead of enjoying the roses blooming outside our windows today.

-Dale Carnegie 1888-1955

On the anniversary of the 9/11 hijackings and the destruction of the World Trade Center Twin Towers, the damage to the Pentagon, and the crash landing into field in Pennsylvania, I urge you not to forget.  Ever.

As we watched in stunned shock, almost 3000 people died.  It wasn't an accident.  It was a coordinated effort by a small number of people to do tremendous damage and cause extensive loss of life.  There is no nice way to describe it.  It was deliberate, it was well-orchestrated, and it was largely successful.  Evil has always existed.  That is just a fact.  The truth, however, is that your life, my life, all of our lives is right now.   Everything can change in an instant...

Beyond this moment, we have no guarantees.  So live...just live.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Not-so-Green Smoothie

Have you ever heard of Green Smoothies?  I heard about them by reading The Lazy Organizer's blog.  She was really inspired by them and her success with incorporating them into her family's lifestyle.  They are so popular, there is even a blogger called Green Smoothie Girl who has written a book and has quite a following.  While I'm not going vegetarian anytime soon (I just haven't gotten there), I'm definitely learning to eat fewer and fewer processed foods and trying to get us all to eat more and more vegetables and fruits. 

My point is that I'm not particularly hard-core, but I'm always willing to learn new things.  Combine GreenSmoothieGirl with a few demonstrations of the Vitamix and the Blendtec at our local Costco and you have the inspiration for the increased usage my blender is getting quite the workout.  It sounds so weird, but I've stepped up from just fruits and started incorporating leaf spinach into my smoothies. 

They look really weird/gross, but the kids think they're fabulous.  Also, if I can't make things the kids and I will eat and enjoy, I certainly can't justify buying a better blender.

This smoothie?  1 1/2 cups of fresh baby spinach, one frozen banana, one cup of frozen strawberries, and three little apples from our tree, all combined with some ice and some water and blended with my cheap-o Oster blender from Walmart.

So, I'm here to tell you, you can't judge a smoothie by its color!  Be brave and try something might turn out really well, just like my "not-so-green smoothie".

Fertilizer Friday--Season is winding down.

Nature's bounty...

Look at what our apple trees have produced thus far this year.  Isn't this absolutely amazing?

Buttercup took these fabulous pictures of our first apple harvest and there are still a ton of apples on the tree.

Our tomatoes look fabulous.  They all started growing well and bearing fruit.

Now we're just praying for the freeze to hold off long enough for them to ripen.

We had pollination issues with our zucchinis and pumpkins (as in, they weren't pollinated unless we did it manually with paintbrushes!), so we've planted some "bee attracting" echinacea in hopes that we'll have better luck next year.  (Anybody have any other tips?)

We'll be wrapping things up in the next few weeks.  Two bags of bulbs need to be planted and our poppy seeds need to be planted.  Our vegetable garden needs to be cleaned up and prepared for winter.  I love this time of year, as fall is making herself known and summer is having her last fling.  I'll miss all my flowers, but I like the downtime that winter provides.

Head over to Tootsie's place and join Fertilizer Friday.  You can always learn something new and at the least see some gorgeous gardens.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Shoot Me! 27 of 52

It is hard to believe it has already been almost two weeks since Superman flew back to work overseas.  The two weeks we had together made the time we'd spent apart feel like it hadn't happened.  As it drew to a close, we gathered all the people who'd helped us welcome Superman back to the states and we went to a farewell breakfast before we saw him off at the airport.

The R family (sans the Gamer who wasn't feeling well) and our dear Miss S joined the Nagle5 at Denny's.

We were tired from two weeks of fun and games, but we gathered one more time.  Do you see me?  I'm there! 

With no prior planning, the Nagle5 wore black...including the one of us who doesn't even live at home.  How funny is that?  Anyway, it made for some fun photo ops.

Look at my new header picture.  Don't we all match?  Notice that Charming is watching me try not to crack up.  It was all fun and games.

Even got a hug with Superman for posterity.  We are so cute, if I do say so myself!  (Although, I did notice immediately that I need to cover my gray and cut my bangs...we are so that way, aren't we?)

So, here you have it.  My Shoot Me for this week.  Thanks for sharing my last morning with Superman with me.  I hope you can see how much fun we were all having.

Head over to Carin's to see what everyone else has been doing these past few weeks.