Monday, September 16, 2013

Summertime doings

Peter and I don't always share interests or opinions, but we do spend a lot of time together. This past summer is a great example of how we can combine interests and still hang out. We were season ticket holders to the Batavia Muckdogs this past year. We spent a few nights a week at games, sometimes with friends and family, but usually we had a great time even if we were on the beer deck alone.

Batavia missed the playoffs by just a few games, and clinched their place outside of the playoffs by losing to the last place team.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

The back deck

When we purchased our home, an early 1900s colonial, we knew it needed a lot of love. There were no structural issues but there were a lot of little things that were... off. The previous owners managed to kill plants which should survive a nuclear bomb, they didn't take care of the soil or lawn, they didn't maintain the woodwork inside or outside of the home, and we still find surprises. We're slowly working on those, and I think I'll post a few of the rooms and spaces we've worked on in the next little while, but this summer one of our focuses was our back deck.

The back deck's main purpose is to access the back yard, and until three weeks ago, for Daisy to lounge on.  My in-laws purchased a bunch of vinyl railings on Craigslist from someone who was re-doing their deck and they had some extra that they gave us (for free!). Peter and I took a day and did some deconstruction and then installed the vinyl railing. Once we did that, we started scrubbing the deck to prepare it to be sealed. The previous owners expanded the deck at some point, but didn't do it entirely correctly, and then never took care of the wood. Two summers ago I scrubbed the deck but we never had more than a few days without rain, which made it difficult to seal. Last summer was super hot, so I didn't do a lot outside.

But this year, this summer, I knew it had to be done. It was slimy and slippery when it rained and it was generally gross.

I scrubbed (with Dawn and hot water) the deck three times, Peter did it twice more, and then we sealed it. It now looks amazing.

We also found out not everything is square on this deck, which seems to be a running theme while we work around the house.

This is what the back yard looked like when we moved in. This and the next two photos were taken by my mother-in-law during the inspection. The weird fence thing is where we think the previous owners kept their dog, that was one of the first things we removed.

The back deck was only partially finished, as can be seen by the lattuce, and we have since replaced the second door (to the basement) that's on the ground. 

Another photo of the fine looking back yard, including the half-finished deck

 Here's the new railing

Doesn't it look like we actually have nice things? The one neighbor said it was like watching Better Homes & Gardens when we were putting it up. 

 This is the difference after the first scrubbing

Another picture after the first scrubbing. I was doing this as we were getting our electical system worked on.

This is what it looked like when it dried out. The red cord is/was Daisy's lead.

This is what it looks like now! It rained the night before this picture was taken, which is why there are still puddles on (not in!) the deck. 

The stairs cleaned up a bit better than the rest of the deck, but it ain't too shabby.

Here it is from a similar angle from one of "before" photos.

I added a garden a few years ago, this photo is from 2011. I don't have one from this year because someone (Daisy) trampled it chasing a squirrel. Maybe I'll get one next summer.

Now that it's all done, it feels so much bigger. We've put some chairs out so that if we're cooking or using the grill we can hang out on the deck. If you're wondering what happened to Daisy, you can read a little bit about the past few weeks on my other blog.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Sangria time

I love summer, it's so warm and full of fresh and delicious produce. I also enjoy the occasional glass of wine. So, for one Sunday "family dinner" I decided to bring along my own wine concoction, which I've now made twice!

I used the basic recipe from Mochachocolata Rita, which I found on Pinterest. I put everything into my fancy drink dispenser, stirred it up, and (for the first batch) drove 45 minutes. Here's what I put in it:

A handful or two of chopped strawberries
One or two pitted and sliced peaches
Half of a lemon, sliced.
2L Lemon-lime soda (to taste)
Cheap red wine (to taste)

The first time I made it, I bought a red Arbor Mist, so I didn't have to use a lot of the soda (I used the whole bottle of wine), but I did add the juice of half of a lemon. The second time I made it with a white merlot (I think?) from Sutter Home. That time I used 3/4 of the 2-liter and all of the wine. You can really choose the wine based on your preferences; I tried to go with fruity, sweet wines, but that's what I generally like to drink. You could also add any type of fruit that's in season or whatever your fruit preferences are.

I set it up with a bucket of ice and a scoop for the fruit. It was yummy and wonderfully refreshing. There was about a third left over, so I took out all of the fruit and poured the rest of the liquid into a container and put it in the fridge. So far it hasn't killed me.

I think this would be great as a wine slushy, but you may need to add some extra alcohol to keep it from completely freezing (depending on the alcohol content of the wine you add).

Monday, June 3, 2013

Stuffed Shells

I like to cook, but I don't always have time. Sometimes we like to throw something in the oven and eat a short time later. This recipe allows us to do both. I usually do a double batch, we get to have a yummy, fresh dinner, but also freeze a bunch to make later. Yes, we could just go buy frozen stuffed shells, but I think it's cheaper this way. 

Also, I don't always use recipes or know the specific sizes of my ingredients because I just know what to buy. Hopefully this recipe will make sense. I promise other recipes will be more instructive. I think. Maybe.

Oh, sometimes I use lasagna noodles or manicotti instead of shells. 

Stuffed Shells
Two boxes of jumbo shells, cooked just underdone
Large tub of ricotta cheese
A block of mozzarella cheese shredded (or buy it shredded, you choose)
Jar of paremsean cheese
Two eggs
Spinach (totally optional, add to taste, I didn't use it this time)
Salt and pepper (to taste)
Yummy tomato sauce

  1. Add a touch of oil to the shells, set aside to cool. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix all of the other ingredients, except for the sauce and some mozz, together, I like to use a large wooden spoon
  3. I use two tablespoons to fill the shells, you could fill a plastic bag, cut a corner, and do it that way (with the lasagna noodles, I spread the cheese on the noodle and roll it up). For a double batch, I usually end up with about half of box of shells unused, I just give them to Pete to eat.
  4. Fill a baking dish with the filled shells, spread some sauce on the top, your left over mozzarella, then cover with foil. 
  5. Cook for 30-40 minutes. I don't like my shells crispy, but if you do you can take the foil off for the last 10 minutes. Everything should be molten and steamy when done.
  6. For freezing/storing extra shells: put uncooked shells on a baking sheet and cover in plastic wrap. Freeze for 24 hours, then transfer the shells to freezer bags. I reheat the same way but at 375 degrees for 45 minutes.
Yummy mozzarella!

Everybody get in the bowl!

All mixed

They looks so nice and neat, my hands did not

I think I used a Wegman's brand sauce for this

I like cheese...

They look good enough to eat, and I did