I just wanted to plant some lilies…

Tonight I wanted to plant some lilies. Two pots of Casa Blanca lilies, to be precise.

They have been sitting behind the garden shed (which once was a chicken coop eons ago!) waiting since the day I brought them home from work… a month ago. Now they are budded and beginning to bloom (and smell like heaven), and next week I’m going to be gone for 5 days, so I wanted to get them planted before I go an they die because no one is here to water them. The problem is, the spot I wanted to plant them is undeveloped hillside. I while back I hired a strapping young one to dig and hack through the wild grasses to prepare the ground for a new flower bed (because we all know that’s exactly what I need!), so at least that part was done. But it’s a hillside, and like the rest of the hillside I’ve conquered, I intended to put in tiers with loose-laid rock walls, as seen here.

The upper tier is still a work in progress.

 

As I was saying, before verbosity too hold and we got carried away, I just wanted to plant the lilies. Just dig a hole and plant them, and worry about the stone walls and tiers and landscaping and whatnot another time. But of course that didn’t happen. Two hours later I came in to shower, covered with dirt from head to toe, sore hands and aching back, a good 8′ section of stone wall in place, a patch of rogue sumac pulled up by hand (because I’m dumb that way) and a large swath of the hillside leveled and smoothed and beautiful, ready to plant. But of course I didn’t plant anything. It got dark and the mosquitoes were descending en masse. I guess I know what I’m doing tomorrow.

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The Inspiring Blog Award

 

I’ve been given the Inspiring Blog Award by Andi of Will Cook For Food. All I can say Anne, is from the bottom of my heart… awwwwwwwwwwwwwww!!! 🙂

 

So now I’m supposed to share 7 things you all don’t know about me. Hmm.

1. Teenagers terrify me. Which is odd, because I was one that so many years ago. I think they terrified me then, too. I’ve always been much more comfortable with any generation but my own- my parents’ and grandparents’ friends I would visit with, and I’d play with little kids. But those teenagers who won’t look you in the eye, who have cliques and won’t speak to anyone else, who make you feel like if you don’t flat-iron your hair to death and wear strappy tank-tops with your bra straps hanging all over the place then there must be something wrong with you… yeah, they scare me. I know it’s silly and that by NO means do all teenagers fit into that category. But it’s how I feel. 😛  It’s only in recent years that I’ve developed friendships with people my own age, but they never were ‘typical’ teens to begin with. They were strange like me. 😉

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Break out the food-themed party hats!

And wish Mr. Alton Brown a happy birthday!

So suave in a nerdy way. I love how he teaches the ‘why’ behind food, and doesn’t just give us more recipes to try.

In honor of this day, go read “I’m Just Here For the Food” from cover to cover in one sitting like I did. Honestly.

(In a dorky way, I’m very excited that this, my 100th blog post, is Alton Brown’s birthday post…)

30 Day Meme, Day 16: Disney Princess

16. Your favorite Disney Princess movie

I thought this would torment me since I love Disney movies in general, but surprisingly I know which one is my favorite!

Tangled comes very close. I adore that movie. But I found that it’s confusing the children. I’m not suggesting a boycott or any such silly thing, but most of the kids I know who like Tangled did not know the story of Rapunzel before it, and so their idea of the story is the backward version Disney put forth. HE was a prince, SHE was the daughter of peasants, and they wandered TWO YEARS before finding each other again. For me, part of the charm of the movie was seeing the re-interpretation of the story, but sadly, too many think it IS the original. Take my advise – go forth and read unto thy children the original before they watch the Disney. This goes for pretty much all the fairy tales.

Enchanted also bounced around in my head for a few minutes as a possible favorite candidate. I like how there are references to all the classic princess movies throughout. I love how Disney was laughing at itself. I like how she fell in love with a normal, imperfect guy and saw how unrealistic the love-before-first-sight thing is. But it didn’t quite make the cut because frankly, I hate the scene toward the end with the witch turning into a dragon. It’s really painful to watch and listen to. The dialog is painfully cliche and awkward. I feel like a five year old wrote it. I sometimes fast-forward to where she dies and just watch the kiss at the end. 😛

So, the winner iiiiiiiiiiiiis:

Cinderella.

As cheesy as it is, as un-empowering as it is for girls, I love Cinderella. From the first bit of narration while the book is opening, it will give me goosebumps. I wish my voice would split into multiple parts so I can sing all of the harmonies in Sing Sweet Nightingale. Jak-Jak and Gus’s attempts to get the key and climb up that huge flight of stairs makes me break out into a cold sweat. Okay, maybe I’m getting a bit out of hand, but I did beg for the newly released DVD for my 18th birthday, and as a child I did once have a dream that I was Cinderella and Prince Charming gave me a box of chocolates. Yes. And part of it is the beautiful, beautiful artwork. Aaaah, they rarely create animated movies with that quality of artwork any more.

So, where were we?

I sort of dropped of the face of the blog-sphere for a couple of weeks, but here I am again! Did you miss me? Wait, don’t answer that…

I have been having a ball, taking some art classes again after TEN YEARS of doing it all on my own. I have been planning and working bit by bit on illustrating a children’s book for several months (nowhere near done, but it looks great in my head. Harhar.), in a medium that I was not as comfortable using as I should have been. I know, I know, why use pastels for a project like this when you don’t know how? I’ll tell you why. It’s because I have a screw loose.

I actually thought it looked really simple, and in a sense pastels ARE simple. But I was floundering, not really satisfied with what I was coming up with on my own, really not terribly happy with what the internet had to offer – beginner pastel instructions that I found were for beginner-everything-else-too. I’m an advanced amateur, for crying out loud! 😛 So you can imagine how utterly delighted I was one day while strolling casually through a nearby city … village? Cute old town?? Anyway, I was strolling through and found an actual ART STUDIO SCHOOL that I never knew was there, and they were offering pastel classes the very next week. There is something about having a teacher right there in person that can never be replaced by books and videos. Soooo I promptly signed up. I even gave up a chance to see Mark Lowry live in order to go to this. That’s how excited I was.

Results after three classes.

It went really well! Right away I got along with the teacher. She was able to suggest things without being overbearing (unlike an oils teacher from days of yore who actually took the brush from my hand and painted a section on my canvas without asking. Ask me if I was steaming mad.) and when she mentioned that she specialized in portraiture, I knew I wanted her to help me try a portrait. They have always intimidated me, and I’ve never done one in color, so it was the perfect opportunity.

Not perfect, but she’s my first try!

That’s where I’ve been the past two weeks. Being a student again, and loving it. I think I want to be a professional art student.

To see more of my recent pastel drawings, check out my facebook page!

Summer Fun: Home-Made Cherry Coolatta

You will probably never hear the end of my xanthan/guar gum fascination. About a month ago while trying to make a coolatta type of beverage, I ended with ice slush and flavored juice at the bottom of my cup. Mmm. After 30 seconds, all the flavoring is gone and you are left with a cup full of ice. Not thrilling, people! But THAT is why you use these marvelous gums. Seriously. Just look at that glass full of ice-cold pink perfection! I am going to attempt to give you a recipe, but be forewarned I’m kinda “Some of this and a slosh of that” when it comes to drink recipes.

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Summer Harvest

 

 

Mom planted a mix of zucchinis this year. I like it! The yellow is pretty funky. Yes, it IS yellow zucchini, not summer squash. Behold the stem end. See? Nothing is not zucchini. Anyhoo. Four hills are giving us four zucchini a day currently, so I’m playing with a number of zucchini recipes! Most of them I love so far. Some to come shortly.

 

Click through for more summer yummies.

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Summer fun: Strawberry Soda

 

I heart Chef John. Every video he puts up makes me want to go cook. Sometimes, I even have the right ingredients to do so! For the 4th of July, I made his strawberry sodas for my family. Some of them had no comments about it, but others were really thrilled about the extra little touch to make the picnic special. My mom especially was excited about REAL strawberry flavor in her drink. I’m not going to put the recipe up here, because you can follow the video link to find that.

The one thing I will point out is that I made regular strawberry syrup, and then a sugar free version for myself and my dad (one is dieting, the other is diabetic). I did everything the same except for when it’s time to add sugar, I put in the equivalent with a mixture of splenda and stevia. The results were tasty, but not as beautifully clear and sparkling as the real-sugar version. Still.

 

30 Day Meme, day 15: Junk Food

15. Tell us your favorite junk food.

 

This is NOT my favorite junk food.

THIS is mint chip ice-cream. Which is all very well and good for the most part. Delicious, cool minty ice-cream goodness.

The real problem is the chocolate.

Please don’t hurt me. Just listen for a second. You are eating and enjoying creamy, smooth ice cream. Then – WHAM – you break a tooth on a rock-hard chip of frozen chocolate! I mean, really, WHO came up with the idea that eating frozen chocolate would be fun? Hmmmmmmm? As a child I almost wouldn’t eat mint chip because of this. I wondered why in the world someone wouldn’t just give me smooth pure mint ice cream. That’s not a bad idea! To get around tooth-breaking chocolate I would sometimes just suck the ice-cream until it melted or swallow the mouthful without really enjoying it; either way, you never taste the chocolate, so what’s the point?

Enter Stewart’s Mint Cookie Crumble ice-cream. I wish I had a picture for you. I scoured the internet and alas, came up dry. Just picture the chocolate wafer part of oreos, ground up fine and mixed with fudge sauce and swirled through mint ice cream. Oh good heavens. You taste the mint. You taste the chocolate. It’s soft and delectable. You don’t make any emergency trips to the dentist after eating a bowl of it.

Stewart’s is a chain store that’s pretty much only in parts of NY and VT, so most of you won’t get a chance to try it (sorry) but I’m sure there are big brand-name versions of it out there. It won’t be as good though. Stewart’s honestly has the best ice cream I’ve ever had. Their vanilla, when you let it soften a while, tastes just like home made ice cream. Ohmahgoodness.