Monday, May 31, 2010

plOTTing and planting: Our Landscaping Project


After months of talking about it, we finally planted the Landscape in front of our house!!!  You see we bought our house a year and a half ago and one of first things I wanted to change was the landscape.  I'm pretty sure the overgrown yew bushes were as old as the house.  (See below)  But, other projects needed our attention first so the landscape got put on hold, until about a month ago when we decided it was time to start addressing the landscape. 

Now with most projects around the house we have had to learn how to do the project before we started.  (Like last summer when we laid the patio; we read books, asked questions, searched the web, even stood in Home Depot and watched a video on how to do it.)  So when I started talking about the landscape Ott, E thought it was time to start going through the whole research process again.

"Oh no, no, no." I said.  "If there is one thing I know how to do, and if there is one thing I am not indecisive about at all, it's LANDSCAPING." 

What Ott, E knew but maybe didn't exactly realize is that growing up my parents owned a landscaping nursery.  I spent many a weekend and evenings after school helping out with pruning and installation work.  And from listening to them talk about it and seeing it done numerous time, it all just kinda sunk in and therefore, no research was necessary.  I measured out how much edging, weed barrier and rock we would need, and which kind of plants could be planted to give us height, color, foliage and blooms throughout the year.  So after the older bushes were removed we spent the first weekend digging a trench for the edging and laying down the weed barrier. 

The second weekend we planted the bushes and put down the stone.  As you can see in the picture below I placed trees on my corners for height, and then planted the bushes in between in a pattern where one half mirrored the other.  Again, the best tip I can give anyone who is looking to landscape is to make sure you select plants that give you color, foliage, and blooms throughout the coarse of the year. 

We selected a red bud for the corner of the porch and a weeping spruce for the other corner.  At the base of the Red Bud I planted 3 carpet junipers which will eventually grow to cover the ground underneath tree.  Now for color I planted some Gold Flame Spirea and a purple leaf Sand Cherry.  For some different flowering bushes I planted Miss Kim Lilacs (they are a drawrf lilac) a Wegila (which the humming birds like) and 2 Hydrangea (see the red colored one at the very top of the post; it is a Summertime Lace).  And, to ensure we will still have some foliage in winter I planted 2 Birds Nest Spruce.  For some filler I planted two Hostas (these plants do well in the shade) and some Emerald and Gold Eunoymous.

While these plants may look a little small right now, give them a year and they will fill quite nicely and Ott, E will be back out there pruning them. 

Friday, May 28, 2010

Country Side phOTTography: Soybean Field

Ott, E really enjoys photography (or for the purpose of this blog I'll call it phOTTography) and while he's out and about for work he often takes pictures of fields, sunsets, or whatever grabs his attention. So I thought it would be fun to highlight some of his pictures from time to time and we'll call it; County Side phOTTography.

In this picture of a soybean field; you can see they were planted in what was a corn field from the year before.  This is the time of year when farmers are out planting their soybeans and this type of planting is called No-Till as the farmers do not have to disk or plow up the land in order the plant their crops.  This saves time, money, and top soil from eroding or blowing away in the wind.   (Little fact to pass along; last year 77.5 million acres were planted to soybeans in the US.  Soybean oil is used in some common products like crayons and candles.) 

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

plOTTing and planting: Spring Greens


This past weekend Ott, E and I harvested the first thing out of our garden for the season.  Spring Greens!!!!  We planted these right before Good Friday (so late March) and here they are ready to harvest already.  This consists of a variety of lettuce, argula, mustard, cale and other assorted greens. 

It was so nice to be able to walk outside, cut them off, and bring them in the house to make a salad with for dinner.  But of course I first had to rinse them off real good.  Break them up into some smaller pieces.

And then I added dried cranberries, cheese and salad dressing.  Probably in a couple of weeks I will have a second harvest of these same greens for another salad.  If you've never grown spring greens before I strongly suggest giving them a try.  They are quick and easy to grow and in some cases the featherly leaf's or bold colors of the leaves can add some texture to a regular iceberg lettuce salad.       

Monday, May 24, 2010

Ott, A's Versatile Blogger Award

This past week I was very excited to receive not one, but TWO Versatile Blogger Awards. What an honor to be recognized by my fellow bloggers; Alarm Clock Wars a blogger who shares my same Alma mater and an interest in animals and shoes. And 3 Kids and lots of Pigs, this woman can sew with one hand, cook with the other and still find time to raise 3 kids and help with the family hog farm, (multi-tasking at its best). Please stop by both of these ladies blogs and check out what they are up to.

So here are the rules of the award:
Thank the person who gave you this award. (See above.)
Share 7 things about yourself. (See below.)
Pass the award on to 15 bloggers who you have recently discovered and think are fantastic.
Contact the bloggers you've picked and let them know about the award.

So... 7 things about me:

1.) I am a little freaked out/scared by taxidermy animals. Ok, not a little… a lot!!!
2.) I have a professional blog The Ag Grant Guru that I manage for work with all the latest grant opportunities for ag producers and organizations.
3.) I only like going to the grocery store with my husband, because when we are both getting items it goes twice as fast.
4.) I love (not like) LOVE sunflowers.
5.) The older I get the more I like Mexican food.
6.) My husband and I keep track of all of the counties in the country we have been to together. We have a map and color them in once we have been there.
7.) I love to eat red meat and drink red wine.

And now on to my fellow bloggers that I would like to recognize in no particular order.

1.) The Flower Patch Farmgirl-This blog has great pictures, and the stories about life in the country plus her kids are the cutest.

2.) The Persnickety Peacock- I like this blog because of her garden updates and other miscellaneous postings.

3.) The Flowering Dogwood-This is a great blog for recipes, crafts and inspiration.

4.) Adventures in Vineyardland- A country girl who lives in a vineyard and drinks wine, what more could you ask for in a blog.

5.) An Oregon Cottage- She hosts Garden Party Tuesday which is my favorite linky party of the week!

6.) Zent Mrs. and the Mr.- A new found garden bloggy buddy. She has such creative ideas for her garden and yard.

7.) Blackberry Cottage- Hands down the cutest blog around. Great tips, recipes, stories you name it she’s  got it.

8.) The Pursuit of Happiness- Although I am not crafty this lady is and I am amazed at the projects she turns out.

9.) Family Stamping and Food- My go to source for coupons, recipes and gardening. Great blog.

10.) My Backyard Eden-Love her linky party and list of linky parties. She also has great posts on gardening and crafts.

11.) Life with the Grovers- Her blog is adorable with recipes, tips and beautifully decorated cakes!!!

12.) My Everyday Graces- She has some great posts about her pets, family, and recipes to share.

13.) Saving Cents with Sense- Love, love, love this blog. Great tips on saving money and gardening (bonus).

14.) Life in a White House on Pennsylvania Ave. - Great postings about her kids and also, gotta love her garden posts as well.

15.) The Newlyweds Blog-And last but certainly not least… because I am a newlywed, I really like this blog because they highlight other newlyweds and garden too.

Congratulations to all the winners, and I hope you will stop by their blogs and tell them Ott, A said Hi!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

3 tied knOTTs

Ott, E is oldest of three boys in his family and this past weekend marked the 3rd and final Ott brother getting married. Let me back up and mention there have been 3 Ott weddings in 20 months. When you think about it... especially from his parents point of view....thats; 3 sets of showers, 3 sets of bachelor parties, 3 sets of tuxes, 3 sets of rehearsal dinners, 3 wedding gifts and probably 3 days after each one to recoup.

It was 600 days ago today that Ott, E and I tied the knot.
It was 376 days ago that the youngest brother got married.
And, it was just 5 days ago that the middle brother got married.

With all that being said, I love to tell people the story of how Ott, E and I met.  On November 17, 2001, I was at a McDonalds on campus and a friend of mine was there talking to this guy. When I walked up she asked me, "Have you met Degler, T’s roommate Ott, E?" (Now I knew Degler, T, but I did not know his roommate and in the back of my mind I was thinking I don’t really care to meet his roommate but I should be nice and at least say hello.) As I looked over at this guy who was eating a hamburger and fries, I said hi, and when our eyes met the only thought in my head was.. this guy has great eyes. I remember I asked him what year he was in school and what his major was. I also remember he was much more interested in his burger and fries than he was in me.

Ironically, Ott, E does not remember this meeting at all. But what he does remember was the very next night I was at another friend’s party and he was there. We ended up talking and I could tell from his accent that he was from Wisconsin and we talked about how cheese curds were made. During that conversation he asked me if I had taken Biochemistry yet? I hadn’t, but really didn’t think any more about it. The holidays came and went and when Spring semester started I found myself sitting in Biochemistry class next to the guy with great eyes from Wisconsin. That entire semester I kept telling myself I have to concentrate on the professor and not “great eyes” next to me.

That summer I did graduate (and pass biochemistry) and went back home to look for a job, while Ott, E ended up getting an internship in a town only 30 minutes away. We hung out a couple of times that summer saw some movies and went to the county fair but we were just friends and when fall came he went back to school while I took a job and started working. We kept in contact through e-mail, and a couple of times (as fate would have it) I even ran into him on campus when I was down there visiting friends or my brother.

Then, Homecoming Saturday in October of 2004 (notice almost 3 years had passed) I went down to the football game and who should be sitting a couple of rows behind me but great eyes from Wisconsin. He ended up coming down and sitting next to me and we talked a lot during the game. A couple of weeks later he e-mailed me and asked me if I was coming to the last game of the season. At the time I didn’t have a ticket, and for some reason I didn’t respond to his e-mail. A day or two later a friend of my mothers offered her tickets to the game and she gave them to me. Again, not thinking much of this I e-mailed Ott, E back that yes I was coming to the game and we made arrangements so we could sit next to each other. By the time the game we had decided to start dating. That was three years and three days after the day we met. And, three years and 18 days after that he asked me to marry him. We were engaged for 294 days.  And today it is exactly 600 days after our wedding. (If you were keeping track that's a grand total of 3,103 days that we have known each other.)  And, I must say each and every one of those days has been a blessing!!!

Monday, May 17, 2010

plOTTing and planting: flower pots


I saw a sign at a craft store the other day that read: “Gardeners know the best dirt.” That brought a smile to my face as I thought about a quirky thing my family does. My grandparents, parents and myself plant annuals in flower pots and hanging baskets every summer to display around their houses. Our flower baskets always bloom and grow like crazy, and while the neighbors may think it’s fertilizers that make them grow, the real secret is in the dirt. That’s right, we make our own potting mix for the baskets. You may have your grandma’s secret cookie recipe, but I have my family’s dirt recipe and just like the Bush’s Baked Bean Dog; “I’m not sharing it with anybody.”

What I can share with you are the pictures of the pots I have planted around my house. Whenever I’m planting a hanging basket or stand alone flower pots there are 3 styles of annuals I match up to give me a great looking planter. Of course I like to coordinate colors too, but that aside, here are my rules for a great looking flower basket.

1.) Pots must contain height (like a spike or a vinca vine)

2.) Pots must contain a plant that will vine and drape over the side of the pot (like petunias or white alyssum)

3.) Pots must contain non-flowering textured plants (like dusty miller or sweet potato) to give the pot some depth and sometimes filler or additional color.

Then in and around those three items I plant flowers (like geraniums, begonia, snapdragons, dahlias, inpatients, etc.) that give the pot color. When all of these items are in place I think you’ll have a great pot with lots of variety and balance to showcase.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Ott, E's Guacamole

While Ott, E. and I were on our honeymoon in Cancun we found a new obsession with the appetizer: Guacamole.  We might have had it a time or two before this trip, but never thought much of it.  By our 2nd day in Cancun we were hooked.  Every afternoon at 4 pm we would go to the veranda of the resort we were staying at and order chips, guacamole and 2 cervezas.  (Hey they say not to drink the water in Mexico so....)  Obviously when we came home we wanted to continue the guacamole appetizer tradition (although we don't have it everyday anymore) but we needed to figure out how to make it.

Ott, E took this responsibility on himself to figure out how to make guacamole and so the tips and recipe I'm about to share are all his.  He is the one who makes it every time at our house so I wanted to be sure and give him all the credit.

The real trick was figuring out how to pick out a ripe avocado.  What we discovered, through a lot of trial and error, was that you did not want an avocado that was hard to the touch as they were too hard to cut and mash up.  However you don't want an avocado that is pretty soft to the touch as they were too far gone and already starting to turn brown on the inside.  What you want is an avocado right in the middle, one that has just the slightest bit of cushion to the touch.  It should give just a little and not let you squeeze it too much.

So after he found the perfect avocado we had to find the perfect recipe. Below is the recipe we use.  We hope you find it helpful and enjoy this appetizer as much as we do!!!       

Monday, May 10, 2010

plOTTing and planting: our garden

This week I am starting a new feature on this blog by highlighting a hobby of Ott, E's and mine.  Once a week we hope to blog on what we have been growing in our garden, yard and flower bed.  We hope you enjoy it and share with us what you have been "plOTTing and planting" as well.

There is something about Springtime that gets me in a mood.  I feel an itch, an urge, almost a desire.  Perhaps it's the warmer days.  Perhaps it's the gentle rains.  As I gaze out my window at the green lawn, leafing trees and blooming Iris's I have a go outside....... and to........ 

Perhaps it's the fact that the blood running through my veins comes from so many previous generations who worked the land and farmed for a living.  It's almost an instinct when this time of year rolls around I feel the need........... to plant something. 

I want to stick something in the ground, water it, fertilize it and watch it grow.  And I can tell Ott, E. has some of the same tendencies.  When we were house hunting almost 2 years ago, the top priority for us was a big yard with lots of open space so we could have a garden.  Once we finally found the right place, Ott, E. started plOTTing and planning where it would go, how big it would be and what we would plant.  And last years garden was a success.

But now we are talking about this years garden.  Back in March we planted 2 different kinds of potatoes, onions, spring greens and kohlrabi.  (There's an old wives tale that you should plant your potatoes before Good Friday.)  Then this past weekend we finished planting the garden by adding green beans (yellow and green varieties), tomatoes, egg plant, zucchini and summer squash.  As you can see in the picture below the potatoes and onions are doing well and Ott, E. and I can rest easy knowing that the seeds are in the ground, however, now the weeding, watering and worrying about how they all will do can commence. 

Friday, May 7, 2010

ChocolOTTe? No. Chiffon Cake!

I enjoy baking and like to try new recipes on those weeks when I knew Ott, E will be around to help me eat whatever it is I whip up. And sometimes I do like to try some more challenging recipes, after flipping thorough one of my cook books I thought I would try a recipe for a Chiffon Cake. So, during our normal Saturday morning small talk over the morning paper and coffee, I mentioned to Ott, E. that I was going to bake a Chiffon Cake for dessert that evening. He asked me what that was and I explained it was a lighter cake similar to an angel food but still had egg yolks in it. By mid afternoon I was separating the yolks from the egg whites, sifting flour and grating the zest off of an orange and lemon to make my cake. Ott, E walks in the kitchen and asks me what I was making?  I respond with, "A Chiffon Cake." (thinking to myself hadn't we just talked about this a couple of hours ago)  He walks over to the recipe, reads through it, and says: “There’s no chocolate in this cake?” I respond with, “No it’s Chiffon cake, not a chocolate cake.” (Shaking my head..someday he will realize not every husband gets this kind of effort for their desserts.)

But, that aside here is my recipe (and some tips) for Chiffon Cake.  (Please note there is no ChocolOTTe in this recipe.)
Tips on stiff peaks:  Beat egg whites until when you pull the beaters out of the mixture; a peak forms and curls.  (see picture)

Also, it says to let it cool completely.  And you need to do just that.  I tried to rush it, and then realized I should heed what the recipe calls for.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

globetrOTTing in Brazil

I had a feeling that picture would get your attention.  My husband Ott, E travels a lot for his work (which is research for an Agri-Chemical Company) normally he stays in the US however this past March he had a great opportunity to travel to Brazil, to see glyphosate resistant weeds in their crops (this means certain weeds are stronger than the herbicides used to control them on crops such as soybeans).  After 12 hours on a plane he landed in Sao Paulo, Brazil, before flying for another hour to the city of Iguacu. While there he was able to tour this amazing waterfall (pictured above) called Foz do Iguacu Falls near the Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina borders.

But after one day of sightseeing it was off to work on a bus tour.  From Iguacu, Ott, E. toured soybean fields.  Due to the climate in Brazil they are able to get in 2 crops a year.  Brazillian farmers were planting corn while he was there and finishing up harvesting soybeans.  As you can see in the picture below their soil is red and is in the Oxisol Soil order (for those Soil Scientist out there).

Later in the week he was able to tour a sugar cane field and toured Coamo Co-Op in southern Brazil where Co-Op agronomist discussed herbicide resistant weeds.

The next day they toured the Embrapa soybean research facility; (pictured below) where they developed tropical soybean varieties and continue to do research on soybeans.

By the end of the week he had eaten several meals of Brazillian BBQ, drank several cups of really strong Brazillian coffee and was ready to come back to the US.  After 13 hours on planes and another 10 hours in airports he was safely back in Indiana and back to looking at weeds growing on a Miami Silt Loam. (hey, gotta keep the Soil Scientist happy.)

Saturday, May 1, 2010

gOTT Scrapbooks?

Did you know May 1st in National Scrapbooking Day!?!?!?  It is!!!  And yes, I am a scrapbooker!  I have the books.  I have the stickers.  I have the paper.  I have the fancy scissors, hole punchers and edge trimmers.  I got introduced to scrapbooking by my good friend Pratt, P. She took me to a scrapbooking party, and after creating one page, I was hooked.  But, here lately I have not had much time to scrapbook.  When you think about the time it takes to get out all your supplies and pictures, then come up with an idea for your page layout you end up dedicating an afternoon or more of time to it.

While I am not giving up scrapbooking by any means.  I have recently come to the realizations that blogging is very similar to a scrapbook.  I can post a picture, write a story and wa-la... virtual scrapbook.  Others can come and view what I've done and where I've been just like opening the pages of scrapbook.  This blog is my way to be able to share more, with more people, more often by keeping up with this blog on a weekly basis.

But what Scrapbooking Blog Post would be complete without a Scrapbooking tip???  I have discovered making a basket weave pattern for a border or edge on my pages.  I simply take one of my hole punches, and punch evenly spaced holes in my paper.  Then I take a narrow strip of paper, in a different color, and weave my way in and out of the holes to give it the basket weave look.  I have sometimes used ribbon to weave on the paper and this gives another nice look, and adds some texture to your design.  (I think the ribbon can make it look cute and "girly" too.)  Happy Scrapbooking!!!