Too Cute: Part 4

Marge makes this face when she wants to know why you are stopping the walk to take pictures of the big ugly cows.

"Who needs to photograph those fat things when you can take pictures of me with my ear inside out?"

Too cute.

New Favorite Wine

Mon Amour and I enjoy wine. We don't drink it all that often cause it doesn't fit very well into our budget. But occasionally we splurge.

Last week was one of those occasions.

I let Mon Amour pick out the wine. I always pick lame wines. Which is weird, cause Mon Amour and I both use the same system to pick out wines - we choose based on the coolness of the label. Yet some how he always picks the good ones.

Case and point, this wine:

A penguin! How adorable. And its a Shiraz. Sooooo yummy.
In fact, after sampling it with a variety of different dinners, I think I have safely concluded that it is my new favorite wine. Shiraz with a penguin on it - does it get any better?

Actually it does....

Penguin Shiraz that is CHEAP! This is the price for a 1.5 liter bottle (i.e. the larger size of wine bottles)

It's so yummy, Marge likes it.

Just kidding. Marge will never try wine. Nor will she ever again stand on the counter. This photo was Mon Amour's idea. Marge was confused by the whole situation.

Anyway. In summary:
Cute Penguin on the Label + Yummy Shiraz in the Bottle + Cheap price tag = my new favorite wine.

Vanilla Walnut Pear Muffins

Along with my bag of free apples from the other day, came 3 frozen then thawed, slightly mushy pears.

There was a recipe in a cookbook of mine that I have wanted to try for a long time, but I never think to buy pears, so I have never tried it.

So with the help of these three pears, I made these:

Yes, they rose a lot more than I thought they would. The recipe said to fill the muffin cups 100% full....I filled them 3/4 full and still ended up with massive muffins!

How did they taste? Ok I suppose. I am not a big fan of pears, but they are nice and sweet, so I like them. Mon Amour likes them, though, in his words to me "They are not the best muffins you have ever made".

In summary, I am not rushing out to buy more pears so I can make these again. But if more free pears land in my lap, I think I will give it another try...and perhaps make a few adjustments to the recipe based on my own feeble knowledge of baking and what needed tweaking.

Note: These were not yummy enough tempt me to post the recipe. But, if you really like pears, and want the recipe, I am willing to share. Just let me know.

Three Mile Island

A while back, Mon Amour and I were up in the PA area; and it turns out, we were a mere mile or two away from 3 Mile Island. I don't know much about this place, except that there was a nearly catastrophic malfunctioning of the nuclear power plant on the island.

It is clearly a landmark, so, being so close, we could not pass up an opportunity to visit and take some photos. While there we were impressed by how bleak and ominous it felt due to the combination ice-flow and nuclear power plant vapor clouds. So Mon Amour took lots of cool photos.

What was most crazy was how close so many houses were. Where we live, I always think its a little crazy to give directions that go something like "You will pass some cows in a pasture, then turn right after the big red barn". But how much more weird would it be to say something like "Come down wandsuchstreet, and when TMI comes into view, we are the house directly on your left". That would just be disturbing.

Homemade Applesauce

This baking moment is brought to you by a free bag of apples that I got from work. (Yes, it's a sort of a weird work perk...but not the weirdest I have ever gotten. I have a strange job, with strange perks) The apples were left over from an event, and had been left in someone's car, so they froze. Then they thawed. They felt a little bit mushy, and my coworker was about to throw them out - when I snagged them!

Less than perfect fruit is excellent for baking with. I decided that these 7 huge apples, would be excellent for making applesauce with. After searching high and low for a recipe I thought I would like, I settled on this one. I think I may have used a bit less sugar than it called for. I can't remember exactly.

It was very easy. In no time at all, I took this:

And with the help of my friendly potato masher...

Made some yummy, homemade applesauce.
Conveniently, I had cleaned and saved an old Acme Apple Sauce jar, which I filled completely 48oz full. So now it is in the fridge looking store bought, but tasting so much better.

Side note: Generally I believe homemade things to be cheaper than store bought; however, in this case, where, I typically pay about $1-2 for 48oz of applesauce. I am pretty sure that the 7 huge apples it took to home-make the same amount would have cost more than $2 (had they not been a work-perk). Though, this homemade stuff is amazingly more delicious.

What I did with the 3 free, slightly mushy pears that I also received is a story for another day...


We got to visit with this adorable baby again recently.

And once Mon Amour was armed with his fancy camera. So he took lots of pictures. There are too many cute ones to pick is but a sampling.

Love that color-accent feature!

I think this is her confused face.

This is a yawn.

Not to be confused with this - an unhappy cry.

This is why she was crying - she was fighting beautiful, blissful, sleep.

Awake again. Still adorable.

Ginger Cookes

Recently I have been on a bit of a baking kick. I don't have a lot of large chunks of spare time for baking, but have discovered that for the most part, I can find time to do anything that is a high enough priority for me. For the past couple of weeks, that high priority thing with which I am filling in my spare time has been baking.

Some things have been yummy. Some have been not so yummy.

And some have been very very very yummy.

This would be one of the very very very yummy kind.

Ginger Cookies.

They are not very interesting to look at. But they are delicious. They are kind of a mix between gingerbread cookies, and ginger snaps - with the softness of gingerbread, but the flavor of ginger snaps. Amazing.

You can find the recipe here.

It does call for fresh ginger. Which I happened to have when I made these. (It was a present, I wouldn't even know where to begin buying fresh ginger). You could probably make it with non-fresh ginger...but I have not tested that theory. So I technically can't say.


Colored Walls: Part 1: The Kitchen

As previously mentioned, we have gotten permission to paint our house. Which is very exciting, cause we are going to be here for a while, and are trying to make it feel as homey as possible.

Also as previously mentioned, we recently received a bunch of free paint from Mon Amour's parents. So, when Mon Amour found himself with a day off from work, we decided to pull out this paint and see if we liked any of the colors.

We discovered we had 2 half-cans of a green color that was very similar....but possibly a shade or two off. Knowing that we would probably need a whole can of paint, and noting that both cans were of the "Satin" variety, we decided they were safe to combine.

So, into one can went both greens, resulting and a 3rd shade of green in a totally un-reproduceable , but lovely color.

Still not being sure how much paint we would need to paint the whole kitchen, we decided we would take it one wall at a time. Making accent walls, if you will, until we ran out of paint.

Wonderfully for us - we have enough paint to do both of the main (i.e. not cabinet covered) walls in the kitchen. It looks lovely:

My kitchen is now full practically no cost to us.
  • Curtains - Free material from Mon Amour's Mom
  • Paint - Left overs from Mon Amour's Parents
  • Paint Supplies - Gift from my parents and some loaners from friends
  • Curtain Rods - Real cheap at walmart

My favorite part though....was the fact that we had a little bit of paint left. Not enough to do another whole Mon Amour had this brilliant idea (he is the one in the family who has all the quirky ideas that end up being really cool)

Let's paint the trim around the door green!

So we have two walls that are green with white trim
And one wall that is white with green trim.

I love it.

Marge's Addiction

Marge is addicted to chewing things.
She chews her toys
She chews the furniture (less now than she used to)
She chews the towels that make her bed comfy
She chews on the carpet (used to)
She chews on her friends (a VERY bad habit that we are in the midst of breaking her of)
She has even tried chewing on our cast iron stove.

And it seems the stove is pretty much the only thing she cannot demolish. For everything else, it is just a matter of time.

Take this toy for example. Looks pretty tough right?

In fact, is supposed to be indestructible, as evidence by these reviews.

So, what did Marge do to it:

The testimonials from "real clients" state that it is the only toy that lasts more than 1 day with their dog. However, it seems that compared to our dog, these "real clients" hardly have "real dogs". (This toy only made it to day 2 because Marge got a 2nd new toy at the same time - and that one got destroyed first. Then she move on to this one)

Marge has some powerful jaws. And a serious addiction to chewing.
Oh well, at least she enjoyed it while it lasted.

Too Cute: Part 3: Sleeping Photo Shoot

What better thing to practice with a new camera on than an adorable sleeping puppy.
I think Mon Amour took like 100 pictures...and they are all adorable.

Too cute.

Reasons I love Farm Life: Sunsets

Despite not really being enthused by the idea when we first moved here, there are now many many reasons why I love living on a farm.
Not the least of which is the spectacular-ness of every single sunrise and sunset. When we first moved here, I would be inspired to take pictures of the sunrise/sunset every single day. They were all just so much more beautiful than the average ones I was used to. Eventually, however, I realized they were all going to be amazing (mostly because you can see for miles around you get an excellent full view of things). So now we only take pictures when they are exceptionally gorgeous (or when testing out a new camera...which I think was the inspiration for the following pics)

Yeah. I love it.

Part 2: Too Cute

Marge makes this face when she thinks you are being dumb.

Like when Mon Amour is testing out his new camera and keeps telling her to stop licking the lense.

It's too cute.

Free Furniture! (almost)

Recently Mon Amour and I have been trying to make our home more homey and less like just a tiny box that we live in. The new curtains are part of this makeover. The paint samples are part of this makeover. And this fun re-paint-some-free-nightstands-project was kind of a spontaneous addition to this makeover.

Mon Amour found these nights stands next to a dumpster a few weeks ago. There are two of them, and they are structurally in fabulous condition. But the paint is all dinged up, and the hardware is hideous.

With the help of my wonderful father and his sander, we got them this far.

Then with the help of some free paint from Mon Amour's parents(that is right, free paint! It was leftover from a project of theirs or something. We actually have a lot of free paint to use for future projects) we got this far:(while we were at it, we also repainted a free end table that we got before we got married, and an old (free) piece of wood that we then hung as a fun and functional shelf, and a coat hanger thing that had some very ugly finish on it).

Then, with the help of eight 98cent handles, we finished off the project:
The color is a bit off in the picture. They really are black. And they really do look quite nice.
Also, we tried to get handles instead of knobs for the drawers, but unfortunately the really ugly hardware was apparently a custom size cause none of the handles available at Home Depot fit. So it was either - drill new holes for the handles, or use cute little knobs. We went with knobs.

Total cost of matching nightstands (to replace one really old table, and one TV tray that were previously being used for the purpose) about $8. Yay!

Marriage Conference

Mon Amour and I returned yesterday from a marriage conference.
It was very cold...

But we learned a lot and had a lot of fun despite the frigidness. There were some great speakers. Some fabulous fellowship, and some all around plain old good times.

However, while the speakers taught us a lot about trusting in God, and showing mercy to your spouse, etc etc, the most fabulous lesson that we learned came when we got to see God's faithfullness first way of a broken / fixed car.

Saturday morning, in the 4 degree weather, we headed out to our car to drive to the conference center. *click click click* was the only sound our car managed to make. We tried again........nothing. Not even the clicking.

Not time to panic we figured. Probably just needs to be jumped. So we summoned the wonderful friends with whom we were spending the weekend and hooked our car up to theirs.

Still nothing. And now we are out of theories (can you tell we are not mechanically minded?)

It was getting late - so we hopped in our friends car, leaving our poor dead car. The trip to the conference center was very quiet - I think we were both trying to think of what we would do - do we take it to a local mechanic and hope it is a cheap/quick fix? Do we bum a ride home, and just abandon our poor dead car?

I must confess I felt very stranded. We were 2.5 hours from home. With no car. And no plan. I was very very distracted through the entire morning session. I was trying to figure out who we could bum a ride home with...then trying to figure out why I thought that would help the situation, cause then we would be home, but with a dead car 2.5 hours away. I was also thinking to myself "Ok God, I am here being freshly reminded of your control over everything...and by everything I am including my broken down car. That was a conscious plan on your part. What in the world were you thinking???" I had some theories as to what He was thinking...but nothing really satisfying.

To make a long(ish) story short, the session ended and I picked up my phone to call my friend and see if the car had magically fixed itself. To my great surprise and relieft, she had already called me and left a message - the car was fixed!! Turns out it was a battery problem....our batter is waaaay beyond the healthy point. The connector thingys were frightfully corroded (thanks guys at the car place who we had look at the battery a mere 3 weeks ago and who told us it was absolutely fine). A little cleaning off of the corrodedness, a little jump start, and a prescription to get a new battery ASAP, and we were good to go.

I am always very relieved when a car problem gets fixed. However I am not always (i.e. rarely ever) inspired to give God the glory for my car repairs. This time I was though. Perhaps that was the lesson I was being praise Him for everything, even mechanical things that seem so far beneath the realm of spirituality.

Beautiful Baby

Today I visited some friends at the hospital and got to meet this beautiful baby. She almost shares my name. She has her daddy's hair. And she loves her mommy. Congratulations!

A New Toy

This year for Christmas, Mon Amour asked for just one thing - a REALLY nice digital camera. We currently owned a sufficiently nice digital camera that my wonderful parents got for us as a wedding present. (Ironically enough, we promptly left the camera at home when we went on our honeymoon...that's pictures of the honeymoon. Oh well, right? Most folks on their honeymoon just take pictures of each other in front of lovely scenery. Which we can recreate at any point if we wanted. )
Anyway, it was time to move on to a bigger and more expensive camera. Fortunately Mon Amour's birthday comes a mere week after Christmas - and he is used to getting presents that "count for both Christmas and Birthday". This, combined with a group effort from a couple of family members, resulted in me being able to purchase him this camera.

Sadly, because it was both a present from his parents as well as me, Mon Amour was not able to open it until we visited his parents for his Birthday last weekend. The wait was worth it I believe. The camera is absolutely fabulous. It is not an SLR - but it is by no means lacking any features. I have read the owners manual front to back and am still not sure what it all means. But, even on the most basic "Auto" setting, it has lovely perks like 10 megapixels, and 20x optical zoom!!

Some of the features we do understand are the continuous shooting function - which will hopefully allow us to get some decent pictures of our ever-mobile dog. The color accent function which is pretty standard for Canon cameras. And the Stitching function which will allow us to piece together some pretty sweet panoramics.

Eventually we will embrace some of the cooler, more high tech functions of the camera. But until then we will just have great auto-pictures, and a few color accent ones just for fun.
Thanks to everyone who chipped in on this present!