A Glimpse at the Gardens

In case you're curious about the status of our gardens, which are now nicely weeded, despite swarms of deadly mosquitoes, I thought I'd share some photos.

And there are flowers too!


Status: No longer amused

I am trying (really hard) to be a good gardener and homeowner. But, it's not easy. I just came in from weeding the garden. Not only is it exceedingly HOT out there, but I am COVERED in mosquito bites.

I was wearing mosquito repellent, but the suckers didn't seem to care. Some of the critters actually bit me THROUGH my clothing. And now, I am a sweaty, itchy mess.

I am no longer amused.

However, while we're on the topic of insects, I thought I'd share this interesting little tidbit with you from a fellow blogger, esprout (Sprouted in the Kitchen).

Slow Times on the Blog

As you've probably noticed, we've been a little slow around here on the blog. There are a number of reasons for that.

First off, Peef has had his head buried in accounting homework for the past 6 weeks. After spending hours and hours buried in homework, he FINALLY finished the course off yesterday! So, give him a big round of applause for that one. I, for one, am not really sure how he made it through. I would have been toast after the first week.

We've also been trying to keep up with tasks around the house (like scraping & painting the garage, and getting someone over here to give us an estimate on the garage roofing job). I'm not sure if we'll be able to paint the garage this weekend or not, since there seems to be a threat of rain showers. But, we're hoping to at least get some of the yard chores finished -- like mowing and weeding. Our vegetable gardens are doing great, but they've gotten completely overrun with weeds with all the rain we've been having!

And, of course, we've been cooking.
This week, our CSA brought us a great deal of bounty, including:
  • broccoli
  • golden beets
  • broccoli greens (these are new to us, so we're excited to try them)
  • eight ball zucchini squash
  • lettuce
  • spinach
  • asparagus
We're particularly excited about the greens, since we eat so many of them around our house. But, I'm also looking forward to the first zucchini of the season. We haven't had zucchini since last summer (we try not to buy it out of season), so it's going to be a real treat.


It Always Gets Worse Before it Gets Better

We've been making excuses for our garage for years.
"Shabby Chic" we've called it. "Charming." "Quaint." "Well-used."

It's time to stop fooling ourselves. So, this weekend, we got to work scraping paint. And we were at it for at least 10 hours before we finished.

We were exceedingly pleased with our work. Now our garage looks twice as bad as it did before. And it's all our fault.

7 a.m.....................................7 p.m.

7 a.m. ...................................7 p.m.

Now, let's pray that the rain holds off for a while so that we can get it primed and painted.


Coffee Buzz

I had an exam this morning, and when I finished, I decided to drop by Lo's office for a bit o' joe. This resulted in the following:

The Caffeine Click Test - How Caffeinated Are You?

Mmm.. this is Lo chiming in. At a slightly higher level.
But, then again, I have the rest of the pot of coffee right next to my desk.

The Caffeine Click Test - How Caffeinated Are You?

Local Eating Resources for WI

As the weather warms up here in Wisconsin, we always get re-energized in our quest to find more local eats. No, you won't find a local source for avocadoes or pineapples here. But, we have access to some pretty good stuff. And here's proof.

This cool interactive map was created by students at UW-Madison. It shows food producers, restaurants, farmers' markets, and other food resources within a 100-mile radius of Madison, WI. Good stuff here, guys.

  • Another great resource is the Farm Fresh Atlas, which includes nearly 100 local farms.
  • Thanks to Amy over at Daily Diner, I also found a great listing of local sources for pasture-raised meats at Eat Wild (I've pointed you at the Wisconsin farms, though they provide information for farms throughout the states and Canada).

What great resources for people interested in trying to eating locally -- especially in these northern climes!


Wisconsin Foodie?

Has anyone caught this show airing on WISN (channel 12) in the Milwaukee area? Is it still running?

Wisconsin Foodie aired for the first time in May, 2008 -- and is set at the Milwaukee Public Market. We've not caught an episode yet, but it seems like something that would be right up our alley. Their focus is on local food attractions, and it could definitely have potential.

Cats Have Hobbies Too!

Can I just vent here for a moment?
I'm really tired of humans acting all surprised when they find out that us cats have hobbies. Just the other day, Lo took this picture of me (I'd just finished up submitting my latest article for Jewish Feline magazine when she came around)... and you should have heard the hooting and hollering that went on at our house as she described my (apparently) hilarious behavior to Peef.

Seriously, folks. You humans lock us up in your homes and expect that we're sitting around doing nothing? What do you think we do all day while you are off galavanting out in the world? Sleep?

Well, I'm here to let you know that it's simply not true. We spend our time doing any number of interesting things. I, for one, spend my time studying the Torah (and I have become quite the guru in my own circles). I also enjoy writing in my journal, mastering the human language, and teaching Izzie Cat not to act so neurotic. I'm not certain I'm being terribly successful with the latter, but I'm hoping for a breakthrough very soon.

Speaking of crazy little Izzie, she spends most of her time doing odd things that will eventually earn her a place of honor at I Can Has Cheezburger. But, she keeps a pretty good cover while Peef and Lo are around. Yesterday, they caught her balancing precariously on the edge of one of the wicker chairs in the turret, but I don't think they suspected anything.

Yoyo has a modeling contract, the terms of which are often somewhat difficult to manage since she can't work outside the house. But she manages quite well by posing in the front windows. For such a young one, she really does keep herself quite busy.

Believe it or not, even Zoe spends her free time productively. Her hobbies include knitting blankets for homeless outdoor cats, teaching herself Engrish, and (more expectedly) plotting Yoyo's demise.

For those of you who have been frustrated by the ignorance of humans, I'm here to tell you that you're not alone. I also have a few words of encouragement. Take heart, my feline friends. It's probably just as well that no one suspects that we are productive members of society. It's far easier to get things done when the humans leave us alone.
Signing out for now... elmo


Something I Read Today: Alternatives to bottled water

We've been trying to cut back on bottled water at our house for quite some time. There are all sorts of reasons to do this... the environment being a really big one.

We know why people love bottled water. It is is ever-so-convenient. And habits can be difficult to break.

BUT, I found something that might help. Amy's got a really great list of viable alternatives to bottled water on her blog. Including an option for people who love to drink SPARKLING water (something I never thought about).

And trust me, these things really are do-able.

The only place I'd depart from her wisdom is with regard to the Brita pitcher recommendation. If you look into Brita, you'll find that the filtering process is only marginally useful (and really only filters out chlorine taste/odors when it all comes down). So, I'd recommend an alternative. We use a PUR pitcher, which is effective for water in our particular area. But, depending on your water conditions, I'd recommend a bit of research in that area.


America For Sale!

There's no doubt that the American dollar has seen better days. And unfortunately, it seems that the whole of America is now up for sale.

We were watching a report this morning about the possible sale of Anheiser Busch to beer giant, InBev. Also mentioned was the possible sale of the Chrysler Building. And the recent sale of the Flatiron to the Italian Sorgente Group. It's crazy how much of the U.S. may soon be sucked up by foreign enterprises.

Well, never fear.
Some of you may already know that Peef has an uncanny knack for finding simple solutions for the "big issues" in life. So, you won't be surprised when you read what his response was to all of this.

"I think we should sell our house to the Germans," he said with a wink.


Something I Read Today: Growing Better Tomatoes

If you're interested in raising vegetables, you'll find some interesting stuff at Grow Better Veggies, a site that promotes biodynamic approaches to vegetable gardening.

Their advice on growing tomatoes is really fabulous, although I'll warn you that they recommend putting a whole BUNCH of stuff into those planting holes. We stopped short of the fresh fish heads. But, we are taking a bunch of her advice to heart.

I know this post is coming a bit late for some (after all, it's mid-June), but I also know that quite a few of you haven't quite gotten your gardens underway this year, due to lots of inclement weather. Plus, with all the news about salmonella in the grocery store tomato supply, growing a few of your own might not be a bad idea at all. So, I'm sharing. If nothing else, you can stow away the good info for next year's garden!


Being Grateful

Yeah... the weekend was a bit tragic for us. We're still trying to get a hold of our roofer so that he can survey our damage. And, in the meantime, we're trying to dry things up. But, we're really very grateful that things aren't worse.

Surveying the damage that others in the state of Wisconsin have incurred, we can't help but feel thankful for the fact that our home is intact. The photos of some of the damage in the Lake Delton (Wisconsin Dells) area really illustrate this well. Lake Delton is a popular resort area in the Dells. During the storms this week, the lake drained into the Wisconsin River after a highway embankment failed and water poured out of the lake, essentially emptying it.

We'll be sending out thoughts and prayers to all the families who weren't so fortunate this time around. And we'll be praying that the rain holds off this week so that everyone can dry out!


The Terrible, Horrible, No-Good Weekend

Normally, we live for the weekends. It's the time when we can lie back a little, relax, and spend our time doing things that we truly enjoy. Unfortunately, this particular weekend had other plans for us.

We weren't looking forward to this weekend QUITE as much as we might have, in part because we planned to spend it painting our garage. For years, I told people that the garage was "quaint" or "shabby chic". But, those of you who have SEEN the garage know that it is actually a mess of chipped-up paint right now, so this is a project that has been in the works for quite some time.

Well, the painting plan was the first to go wrong. Turns out, the weather was destined to be stormy. We'd both taken off on Friday to take care of the painting prep work (scraping, sanding, etc.), so we had the day off... we'd also called the A/C man to come and inspect our central air unit for the upcoming warm season. (Yes, we do get one of those. Even here in Wisconsin.)

When the A/C guy showed up on time at 9:30am, the day was looking like it might look up. Until he gave us the bad news. We had a bad capacitor on our a/c unit -- and it would cost a bit to replace. Not only that, but the failed capacitor had everything to do with a leak in the unit, so we'd have to refill the freon (more $$ down the tubes). And we hauled out the checkbook... STRIKE ONE.

Rather than dwelling on our less-than-good luck, we decided to reclaim our time. We called up our garage painting friends and took a field trip to the LakeFront Brewery for an afternoon tour. Fun, fun... When we got done there, the sun was shining, so we grilled out (and had bison weenies!). Yay! All was right with the world.
Our hopes up, we entered into Saturday with a great deal of enthusiasm. After cleaning the house, we headed off to the farmer's market to see what we could see. Not much available yet (although there were plenty of plants there, symbolic of the bounty that is to come!), so we headed off to run a few errands. On the way home, we got caught in a serious downpour that left us sitting in the car in the yard, watching the rain, for about a half-hour after arriving home. No big deal. Or so we thought.

Turns out that nasty, monsoon-like down-pour, had wreaked some havoc on the house. We found water streaming down one wall of the basement. And down the wall in one of our closets. After some investigation, we determined that the water was emanating from the roof. Peef was Very Brave and he got into the (tiny) crawl space in our eaves and hunted around for the source of our grief. Sure enough, there was a problem with the roofing in a section of the eaves. BLEH. STRIKE TWO (complete with photo).
Peef called out to Lo, who was sitting in the closet with a flashlight pointed into the crawlspace. "Can you run and get a bucket?"

So, Lo tromped down into the basement to retrieve an appropriate water-collecting device. On her way down, she stopped short of the last step. Water was rising slowly against the bottom step in the basement. The sewer drain had backed up. STRIKE THREE (we've spared you the photo). She held her screams to a minimum as she hopped OVER the water to retrieve the bucket for Peef. Running up the stairs, she tossed him the bucket and ran back downstairs to see what she could do about the water.

A bunch of mopping, some rags, and a few nervous breakdowns later, we had at least some of the water under control. Now, it was time to wait things out. As the storm receded, so did the water in the basement. Thank goodness. We'll be having someone out to look at that once Monday rolls around. The roof is another story. Looks like we'll be calling our ne'er-do-well roofer for another go-round. Hurrah for us!

Sunday has come and (almost) gone. But the rain hasn't (and the forecast seems to indicate that we're going to be dealing with storms all week). So, we've been faithfully emptying our bucket, changing our rags, and waiting. The power was out for about 3 hours today, which curtailed some of our activity. STRIKE FOUR? (God, isn't that enough?) Maybe. But, there is still enough light to read, so Lo is working on "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" (Kingsolver) and Peef is managing to get some of the studying for his accounting exam done, despite all the craziness.

Maybe tonight the rain will stop. Maybe.
We're crossing our fingers.


CSA Season Has Arrived!

We are exceedingly pleased to announce that we did decide on a CSA to join for 2008. And today was our second pick-up. Yes, our second... since Paul stole the camera and escaped to Los Angeles, we couldn't get pictures of our first "harvest". Plus, the excitement was diminished a bit since he was out of town. So, today was the first pick-up that we could enjoy together.

And what a feast! This week's share includes:

  • Lettuce (Flashy Trout's Back and Italienischer)
  • Asparagus
  • Rhubarb
  • Spinach
  • Arugula
  • Garlic Chives
  • Sorrel
  • Small red radishes
  • Red Kale

  • The farm we chose this year is called LotFotL (an acronym for: Living off the Fat of the Land). And you can read more about them online.


    The pictures have arrived!

    Paul got back from Los Angeles yesterday... and he brought the digital camera back with him, safe and sound. He was a bit jet lagged when he got back, but he's finally had the time to download some photos.

    What that means is that you can now see all the pictures of our fabulous yard projects! CLICK HERE or just look below.

    Aren't you excited??

    If that doesn't flip your lid, you can always check out the pictures of last night's dinner (lamb burgers with a side of grilled asparagus)!