Thoughts on Gardening -- BYO beer... and photos

This time of the year is always viewed fondly at our house.
The anticipation of getting our hands dirty out in the garden begins during the ides of March and it builds and builds until we're finally able to bring our grande plans to fruition. In Wisconsin, that's usually somewhere around mid-May. This year, the weather was pretty chilly so we postponed most of our work until Memorial Day weekend.

Every year, we vow that we won't start any big projects.
And every year... there's always something.

This year, we put in a small stone "patio" to house our grill, hose reel, and umbrella stand. Not bad for a couple of hours on a Sunday afternoon, eh?

We also expanded the garden around our lilac bushes. My hope is that this will be the perfect location for our lovely lavendar plants... and a better location for my the scads of lamb's ear that I've managed to propagate.

Although I wasn't inspired to start seeds this spring, we did manage to plant a pretty decent vegetable garden. You'll see we three kinds of tomatoes in there, along with six varieties of peppers (2 sweet, 4 hot), lots of basil, some dill, and a few seedings of scallions, spinach, and kale.

I always forget how much work a garden entails. But, gardening teaches me good lessons. It reminds me that everything that's worth having takes a little bit of blood, sweat, and tears to bring around. Nothing in a garden performs well unless we're paying attention, so it's also a lesson in humility. If we don't stay on top of our game, the gardens suffer. So, we can't be selfish. And we can't rush things. We just have to be diligent and patient -- and the rewards will follow. I can actually say the same for the photos that go along with this post. Peef took the camera with him to Los Angeles this week... and the photos I need haven't been downloaded to the laptop yet. harumph! Rest assured, we'll get them posted when he gets back!

My favorite gardening reward?
A warm tomato, fresh off the vine in mid-July. Just what the doctor ordered.

What's yours?


Adventures in Herbing

8:00 a.m.
*WHEW* We made it. The event officially starts at 9am, but the early bird really does get the herbs in this case. And the crowds start gathering early!
9:00 a.m.
Finally, they open the doors, and everyone starts gathering in the harvest. That's Lo in the yellow shirt (moving so quickly she's all in a blur)!
9:15 a.m.
Some of the vendors are already having a hard time keeping their tables stocked!

9:20 a.m.
Sometimes our eyes get bigger than our arms, so we have to label our boxes and leave them for pick-up near the cash registers. Those gardeners have got to LOVE us.
9:40 a.m.
Eventually, we have enough of everything... and we load it all back into the car.
10:15 a.m.
Our reward for all of that hard work? Why, a bit of brunch at Comet... complete with a couple of Bloody Marys, of course!


Checking In

We had a crazy busy Memorial Day weekend! But, we can't complain.

In between bouts of reading (me) and studying (Peef), we spent lots of time working outside. The weather was fabulous, and there was plenty to do out in the yard. In addition to routine tasks, like mowing the lawn, we also got the chance to tackle some fun stuff. We got the veggie seedlings and seeds all settled into the vegetable garden, planted some new perennials in the flower beds, and even managed to cut ground for the expansion of one of our existing beds to make room for even more plants!

One of the highlights of our weekend was our visit to the Herb Fair and Heirloom Plant Sale at Concordia College. This sale has become an annual tradition at our house. We love fending off the crowds in pursuit of delicious herbs, spending too much money, and coming home loaded down with more plants than we really need!

Stay tuned. We'll share pictures just as soon as we have a moment to spare!


Swell Season: Milwaukee Show for Download

This is pretty cool.

Swell Season recorded their May 8th show at the Riverside Theater, and they've put it (as well as a myriad of other shows) up on the Web for downloading. The entire show is $9.95. As you can probably imagine, I'd recommend it.

Just thought I'd share.


A silly (abbreviated from its original form) Wednesday Survey

What's bothering you right now?
There’s this sort of gnawing feeling in my stomach. Feels like undigested raw carrots. Probably is.

Next time you will hug someone?
I don’t generally plan these things out – but I’ll commit to hugging Peef the next time I see him. I’d love to follow Jess’ lead and hug one of the cats. But, they hate that.

What was the last thing you ate?
Aforementioned raw carrots.

What do you want?
I’d really love for Peef’s accounting class to be over so that I can have my husband back.

Do you believe in soul mates?
I do. And I believe I have proof.

Where do you want to live when you get older?
The Pacific Northwest. But, I’d be content if we ended up remaining in the Milwaukee area.

Do you burn easily in the sun?
There is nothing I do more easily in the sun.

Who do you miss?
I told you. I miss my husband.

What do you usually do during the week days?
My daytime activities include talking with students, LOTS of emailing, Web updates, course planning, and other miscellaneous administrative tasks. At night, I go crazy in the kitchen and then settle in for some reading or silly television.

Are you on someone' s mind right now?
I like to think so. But, hopefully I’m not weighing too heavily.

If an ex said they hate you, you say?
“Wow. I’m not sure I even remember who you are.” Cuz I probably don’t. It’s been a long time since I was dating anyone. Or breaking up with them.

Would you curse in front of your parents?
Would I? I wouldn’t prefer to. But, I have. Being all grown up has made me into a monster, I say.
Do you like drama?
I’m probably more addicted to drama than I will admit to you here.

Do you take daily vitamins or medications?
Yes. Vitamins. Most days anyhow.

Where is your computer located?
On a desk. In a room. Under a ceiling… ok, I’ll stop.

What was the last item you bought?
pita bread

Are you afraid of roller coasters?
No, I love roller coasters. But, they tend to give me headaches.

Do you wear anything with skulls?
No skulls, I’m afraid. Where do some of these questions come from?

What would you change about yourself?
I'd like to worry less. And stop and smell the roses more.

At what age do you want to be married?
I wish to be married by the time I’m… OK, let’s get real. Am already married. And am apparently too old for this very long swiped-from-myspace survey. Which makes me feel OLD.

Where is your mom right now?
You know, I haven’t seen her in weeks.

What are you supposed to be doing right now?
Not sure. I’m at work, but it’s beyond office hours. So, I think it's OK that I'm not working.

Are you slowly drifing away from someone close?
I hope not!

Can you play guitar hero?
I'm sure I CAN. I just never HAVE.

Do you prefer warm or cold weather?
On the cooler side of warm. Please.

Is any part of your body sore?
Yes – the backs of my thighs are stiff. From hauling flagstones around the yard over the weekend (we installed a small patio to house our grill and hose reel).

What is the last movie you watched in theaters?
Oh, my. I can’t remember. Could it have been “27 Dresses”? I’m kind of embarrassed!

How old do you think you will be when you finally have kids?
Really not sure.

Are you where you thought you would be at this point in your life?
Truthfully, no. I think I’ve exceeded some of my own expectations – and gone quite astray of others.

Are you happy with the choices you've made?
With minor exceptions.


In case you were wondering, there is more than one way to get a drink around here.

Yoyo -- in prime form.

Something I Read Today: Pre-Grilling-Season Tips and Cheesy Bits

Spring has (mostly) sprung here in Wisconsin, but the temperatures are still resisting the rise above 60ºF. We've hauled out our trusty Weber grill for the season, but still find ourselves opting for indoor cooking methods most of the time.

Some of you might know that Mark Bittman isn't always my favorite chef. His tendency toward simplicity (often at all costs) makes me squirm a bit. And he always seems to be pointing out things that seem rather obvious to the likes of me. However, I have to hand it to him. He makes some good points in his recent article about "oven options" when it's not quite grilling season.

I'm especially intrigued by the recipe for mock tandoori chicken -- which is sure to get some oven time at our house.

I also ran across a review of one of my favorite cheeses (Oregonzola) over at Vanilla Garlic. So, I thought I'd share. Lots of good cheesy foodie bits there.


Back to school

How does it feel to go back to school after being away for almost ten years? That's a good question to ask Peef. He's taking a couple of courses at MU this summer. And today was his first day of classes.

I could tell by the way he prepped for his day that he was at least a little bit nervous. He got up early and fed the cats as usual. But he seemed to do so with some awareness that today was NOT just like any other work day.

On the way in, he commented on how strange he felt. "It feels weird to be driving in this direction with you in the morning," he said, "Kinda like it's 'Take Your Husband to Work Day' or something."



Speaking of Cat Personalities

We've got some diversity at our house.

Pensive cat.

Snoogly cats.

Smart-aleck cat.

Something I Read Today: OK, two things

So, we've been contemplating getting tickets to see Bon Iver when he comes to the lovely Pabst Theater in August (since it's a $10 show, this is almost a no-brainer... but we like to make thoughtful decisions). We've been interested in him since we heard him on NPR last year, and found out that he's from Wisconsin. Just read this article about him today.

Also happened upon an interesting article about personality tests for cats.

Yeah, diversity in reading is good. :)


Happy Birthday to Me!

Yeah, I've turned the big 3-2.

To celebrate, we declared a "Rib-o-Mama" to take place this past Sunday. Lo and I made a feast featuring barbequed ribs, collard greens, creamed corn, coleslaw, and roasted garlic buttermilk smashed taters. The shindig was dedicated to Mother's Day (and also, more importantly, to my birthday). We finished off our wickedly delicious feast with a delicious 2-layer carrot cake with the best cream cheese frosting you can imagine.

At this point you are probably wondering why you haven't seen any pictures (after all, we're so good at posting photos of our delicious meals). Well... both Lo and I were so busy trying to get food on the table and cut cake that the camera just sat on the counter and never was used. Sorry. But trust me. It was AWESOME!

So, today marks my first official day of being 32. I am drinking some fantastic Northland Coffee, wearing a new tie around my neck, and writing down ideas of all the things I can do this year with my new wooden pen. So far, so good.


Beyond Swell

I'm yawning as I post this, even though it's approaching the late afternoon. We had a late night last night. Translation: we stayed up past 10:30pm. Fortunately, it was for very good reason. More on that in a bit.

First, some background. You might know that Peef's birthday is coming up on Sunday. If you're observant, you'll also note that he has the privilege of sharing the spotlight with all the mother's of the world. Now, Peef wouldn't begrudge anything of anyone (let alone his mum), so he's not upset at all about having to share his big day. But, it helps a great deal that we observe "birthday week" around our house.

Usually, birthday week isn't a huge production. But, we do try to take advantage of some small joys. Last night was the first night of birthday week. And we decided to do it up right. So, we went to a concert. We started off with a great little dinner at Comet Cafe -- one of our favorite hip little dives. Afterwards, we headed off to the Riverside Theater for what turned out to be a great show.

Swell Season
wasn't just any concert. Nope. It was, hands down, the single best live performance we've been to in YEARS. And I'm not exaggerating. Not only were Glen and Marketa beyond fabulous, but the crowd was thoroughly engaged. As expected, the performances were passionate, and every song seemed to push some sort of emotional boundary. You'd swear that the room *sparked* it was so filled with energy. A height of the evening could well have been the band's performance of "Falling Slowly" with the 8th grade choir from WhiteFish Bay, WI. Those kids got the experience of a lifetime performing with the band onstage, and the audience got the unexpected opportunity to see young minds being modeled by the power of music. Truly fantastic.

Suffice it to say, we're exhausted but extremely satisfied.

Want more?
This review on JSonline doesn't do the show justice, but it gets the facts down.


New (or not so new) Music

So, I was out the other week and had a discussion about new music. The overall consensus was that there is a lull in who is the Next Big Thing. Well, I may not be very good at predicting the NBT, but I do have some new-ish bands that you might want to check out. This could possibly be the most odd band names on one list. I hope that doesn't frighten you away...

In no particular order, they are:


Spring has sprung! Really.

The week is just flying past. It's a busy time for universities, so my work life has been anything but boring. And it seems that our home life has been just as nuts.

Spring has sprung here in Wisconsin, and we've become suddenly overwhelmed with new chores! The lawn needed to be fertilized... and the gardens needed to be purged of all sorts of dead leaves and debris... and we even found that we needed to do a little bit of weeding. We're pleased to report that we're winning the war against the dandelions in our lawn (we took a fairly "organic" approach and started to dig them out by hand two summers ago). This year, we did have to fend off a few seedlings that were trying to invade from the neighbors' yards; but, by and large, we're dandelion free. VICTORY at last!

A very HAPPY side effect of the warm weather is that we have a lovely assortment of tulips out front that are in full bloom.

Weekend Thoughts

It appears that my weekend thoughts have extended into the week. Which might not, necessarily, be a bad thing. But, more likely it's indicative of the fact that I haven't been a very good blogger.

We did have a good weekend. In part, we spent our time coming up with freaky new ideas for BURP! the imaginary restaurant. Always a good time.

We also cooked a bit. Lately, we've been sticking to old standbys, so it's been nothing to blog about. However, if you missed our latest on the BURP! blog regarding our "Sammie Sunday" you've missed the best thing to grace the Fredrich household in a very long time. The sandwich concept started when I decided to thaw one of the extra turkeys I purchased right around Thanksgiving. We plunked it into our very favorite maple brine, and looked forward with great anticipation to the delicious turkey leftovers. We never eat a turkey dinner these days. We just roast up a bird and call the whole thing "leftovers". After all, the leftovers are the best part, right? Anyhow, the sandwich concept developed from there. I'd enjoyed a decadent turkey sandwich at The News Room in Minneapolis the last time we were there -- with brown sugared bacon and pears -- so we used that as our template. The resulting sandwich was beyond fantastic, and will go down in our memories as one of the greatest ever. And the less extravagent little replica sandwiches we've been taking to work all week have been pretty good too.

Mmm. Could be why the weekend is sticking with me.


I Have Arrived.

Maybe you remember me? Elmo the Cat?
I used to write a column in the old Peef & Lo newsletter... until they so very rudely took their show online.

I apologise that it's taken me so long to make an appearance. It's been quite a challenge to get sufficient laptop time to actually compose anything of substance. But, after weeks of covering my tracks by "napping" on top of the keyboard, I've finally finished my first Web composition.

It's been a long time since I've written. And, in that time, not much has changed. The kittens that my owners brought home appear to be here to stay. Zoe is not particularly happy, but I have learned to find some joy in their company. I have employed Yoyo, the silly one, as my personal assistant. She keeps me warm during my naps, and keeps my head well-groomed. Izzie is another story. She stalks me at every opportunity, and hovers around me when I eat. She is a smelly, danderish beast, and I would prefer not to have to keep her acquaintance. But, she is generous with giving me bits of her breakfast every now and again, so I can't complain too loudly.

I am still plotting my escape to the Holy Land. And today I hope to put my latest plan into action. I've been feigning an ear infection for almost a month in the hopes of getting my masters to take me to the vet. I am not a big fan of the vet, but it does give me the opportunity to get outside, smell the fresh spring air, and get a good look at the terrain. If I'm very lucky, I'll be able to don a disguise and make my escape sooner than later.

I overheard that we have an appointment today at 10:45am.
Wish me luck.


How I Spent My Week

Having typed out that title, I now feel like I'm a fifth grader writing an essay (What I did over my summer vacation). But, I'll try to get over it.

The reality is, I've had a very surreal week.
When I came into the office on Monday, I found out that my boss had to have emergency surgery to re-attach the retina on his left eye over the weekend. Not sure if you know much about that surgery -- but it's major, and the recuperation requires you to sit with your head down 24/7 for 2-3 weeks post-surgery. What does this mean for me? Well, I'm spending a lot of time going to meetings for him, reading him his email over the phone, and trying to get my own work done in the meantime. I feel terribly for him, so I've also been putting together a "visitation" schedule so that he doesn't get lonely while he's at home, staring at the floor.

In happier news, we've celebrated two birthdays in the past few days. Lily turned three, and her party was on Sunday. It was was a blast! She loved her "measles" cake, and she hooped and hollered over all of her very exciting birthday gifts (Play-doh, a "Dora" suitcase, a "Baby Alive" doll, cool clothes, and the like).

My mother's birthday, which we celebrated on Tuesday, was a bit more sedate. But, my sister and I managed to put together a fabulous weeknight dinner of "Tuscan Adventure" salad, white lasagne, breadsticks, wine... and a white chocolate ganache cake with black raspberries for dessert.

Tomorrow, I have plans to take little Elmo to the vet, as he has been suffering from an ear infection. Turns out those the ear mite scare wasn't the real problem. And the meds that we were given for a bacterial infection haven't done the trick either. So, I'm hoping we can get to the bottom of what's really going on!

I'm not sure what it is about this week, but I'm feeling utterly exhausted already. And it's not even over! I guess my system can only stand so much excitment.