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Showing posts from 2011

Happy New Year!

Wow, what a wonderful few weeks!  I'm both sad the holidays are over and happy that things will resume as usual again.  Happy New year to all!  May this year be the best one yet!!
We had a beautiful, peaceful Christmas.  The big kids were really into santa this year (though I'm still torn about it).  The joy in their eyes was absolutely wonderful.  Ladybug got a dollhouse and GreenEyes got some monster trucks.
For Christmas Eve this year, I learned to truss a pork loin.  I brined a whole pork loin, filleted it, then stuffed it with a pesto-garlic mixture.  Then I roasted it atop a root vegetable medley.  Good stuff.   (Thanks to Guy Fieri.)


I also got two new lenses with my Zazzle/Cafepress earnings.  I can't stop taking photos of late, much to my family's chagrin.  I got a 35mm/1.8f and a 55-200mm/4.5f .  I really love the fixed lens.  It rocks my world.  It's been a year since I've had my DSLR and I've just started to get my sea legs so to speak with my came…

Tree House Update

Believe it or not, the pic below was taken in mid-October.  We've long since completed the tree house (phase I).  Sure, we still need to paint and add some accessories, but it's pretty much done.  I've just been plain ole lazy when it comes to posting about the project.
Nick putting on the roof.
 All the windows have been put in (well, except the cutsie arc window which is a bit of a story).
 The hatch was installed....
(sorry for the blown out photo... I'll replace this at some point)

.. and finally, the door and trim.  We've had it this stage for over a month though Nick just recently installed the actual door nob.  Not bad for an old recycled door, huh? 
Now... if only the kids would remember to shut the door...

and the kids would stop tracking mud in the house.

The kids use it just about everyday and they use it to gather and store all sorts of goodies for the bears.  They love to make stinky cakes (a concoction of mud, sticks and rocks) as well as acorns and pine co…

Christmas Tree Brownies

I'm so excited for tomorrow.  I'll be helping out at my daughter's preschool Christmas party.  I am in charge of drinks and dessert.   I went through a million different dessert ideas on Pinterest before I settled on this one.  These Christmas tree brownies seemed REALLY easy and yet super cute.
 GreenEyes decorating his own.  Notice the glob of sprinkles in the middle.
We had a good ole time today making them and eating a few of the extras.  This idea was so easy, I didn't even read the directions which was kind of dumb because getting them out of the pan would have been much easier if I used foil on the bottom like the directions said, lol.  It still worked out fine.

The Airing of Grievances

It's almost 13 years now since my mom left the Earth.  The anniversary of her death is just days away.  She died on Dec. 8th, the day before my dad's birthday.  I can't believe it's been so long.  Thirteen years.  It was such a tough time for me (and still is) but I remember getting a bit of comfort from her side of the family.  My aunts and uncles assured me that they'd still be there for us and that they were just a few hours drive.  One of my aunt's, Aunt Bea, even went so far as to say she'd be a mother to me since my mother couldn't be around.  It really touched my heart that day.  It made the hurt a tinsy bit less though my heart was still pretty heavy.

I took Aunt Bea for her word.   I was in college and I was getting along good enough.  I'd call Aunt Bea occasionally and sometimes she'd call me.  But I was never really offered or extended an opportunity to spend any actual time with her.  It was a lot of, "maybe we'll get togeth…

Treehouse Update

The tree house became semi-functional for children as of yesterday!!!! It has primitive railings (they still need to be finished), a ladder, and the kids can use the slide, and deck.


However, there are a million other things yet to be done including windows, doors, rope climb, roof, climbing wall, and a gate of some sort to keep kids from falling out the bottom, probably not the least of which is the latter. But with a little supervision it is usable!



We will be doing a board and batten exterior.  Hopefully we'll finish it by next weekend.
 Even I installed 5 of 9 of the rafters.  There is still a lot to be done to the roof.
Nick constructed a ladder and he installed one of the easiest windows to install (the picture window) on Friday.  We have another 3 windows and a door to go.

Even if only semi-functional, the kids are already have a blast on it.  With the work it has taken, hopefully, it will last more than just a few hours of entertainment.

Treehouse Update

All the framing is up!!!  I can hardly believe it.

Starting to see it come together. 
From the front.  We are going to go with a metal roof so you can hear the rain go ping when it hits the roof.  It's our family's favorite sound.
From the rear.  The larger back wall has the largest window with the best view of the woods. You don't realize just how limited your time is until you try to do a project like this.  Kids make it so much harder to get any real work done.  Add in business trips and Nick being gone for a week... and it's just been all the harder.  
I'm admit that I'm weary.  Very weary.  With Nick being gone all week and now gone all weekend to build this tree house I just haven't had much time to workout or do the things I need to do to keep care of myself or to feel sane.

Oh well, it's just going to be a while.  We're going to have to be patient.  Maybe we can do a November open date?

Tree House Update

As it has been weeks since the last post...  I suppose we need a tree house update.

Nick finished the joists and I helped him secure in the railing posts.  This process took a good weekend and a half to complete.  Mind you we had family obligations and guests in town so that didn't exactly speed up the process.


Once the posts were in, Nick began laying the floor boards.  Nick is just shy of completing these.  It will likely be next weekend until the final boards are laid though.

We will have a hole in the center of the deck by the tree for access from underneath the structure.
We took another trip to Restore, Habitat for Humanity's non-profit store early this morning.  Unlike last time, we really lucked out and found the small windows we were looking for.  We also found a shorter than average door that will just be perfect for the front of the structure.

 miniature door on top of large window
two smaller windows for front and side of the structure
None of the windows match and Ni…

Harvest Time

Well, it's been a crazy couple of weeks and I've been consistently inconsistent with my blogs of late.  Since my last blog post we've had a lot of exciting events, not the least of which was an awesome earthquake.  In retrospect, it was a neat experience though I hope to never again feel one.  We live about 40 miles from the epicenter and felt quite a jolt but nothing to cause major damage.  Our house as well as our in-progress tree house are still standing, lol.  It was nothing more than a scare.  I know it was little in comparison to what California feels but as we aren't used to them, our minds went other places.  Thankfully, we have only felt a few of the aftershocks and things are tranquil again here.  We were only just grazed by Hurricane Irene and now we have a 4" surplus of rain for the month.  Yee haw!!


Summer is coming to an end.  Ladybug had her first day of preschool.  I was a little more teary eyed than I thought I'd be.  It's hard to believe h…

Treehouse Project Update!

It's been another busy week here at Out in Them Sticks, albeit quite pleasant and wonderful.  Our Wisco relatives came for a much anticipated visit late this week and we had such a great time!  How I wish they lived closer to us and we could make visits more frequent.  We had a wonderful time chatting and even doing a little hiking up on the old AT.
After our guests left for their 17 hour journey home and we completed our long run (thanks to G-ma), it was time again to get working on the treehouse.  On Saturday we hit the Habitat Store for some recycled building products for the treehouse.  We were hoping to find a few functioning windows we could incorporate.  We weren't able to find quite what we were looking for but we did find this cute little window that we thought we can incorporate into the house.  In the meantime we'll have to keep our eyes peeled on Craigslist and Freecycle.

When we got back from the store, we got back to the nitty gritty.  By that, I mean I took c…

Tree House Project

With little work to do in the garden, the good news is that we finally got started on the playhouse project.  We were hoping to have our tree house built back 6 months ago when Nick had some paternity leave but it was cold outside and there was barely enough time for him to build new shelves in the pantry and re-do our closet. Both have been wonderful and I've been enjoying them quite a bit but I have felt quite guilty that we hadn't gotten to the kids play structure.

Designing the structure took way longer than I'd like to admit. We kept changing where we thought the tree house should go and what it should look like. In the end, we decided there were no good trees to really attach a tree house to so we decided to do it amongst the trees with a mature pine tree actually running through the deck portion of the house to give it  a tree house feel. Our structure will be approximately 8'x8' with a 4'x8' deck and a 4'x8' shelter structure. The large…

Tomatoes!!

I know the last garden update was a bit of a downer.  While it has been a tough year for our garden, not all is lost!  We have not given up.  Our tomatoes are doing amazingly well and I'm on Vat #3 of pizza sauce.  It's the best year yet for our tomatoes!

Pizza dough rising (left) and the 3rd vat of pizza sauce reducing on the stove (right)
We are expecting guests in town later this week, so I whipped up some whole wheat pizza dough this morning to go along with it so we can all make our own, fresh pizzas later this week. When I was at Whole Foods last week I noticed 1ball of pizza dough cost $2.99 each.  I made 8 of them just over a buck.  That's a savings of over $22 bucks!!!

Cloth Diaper Update

As I have no garden post (the tomatoes are doing well and I made a giant vat of homeade pizza sauce on Friday so that's good), I'll thought I'd give you an update on our cloth diaper experiment


Hubby set up a line in my laundry room for year round diaper drying  LOVE it!
I couldn't be happier with cloth.  Wow, what a difference it makes on the pocket book!  I was nervous about it with all the problems that can happen with ammonia build up, detergent buildup, etc.  No one wants to invest in a system that ends up failing on them.  But, so far, so good.  I use Arm & Hammer Sensitive and use the tiniest bit of bleach on my diapers once every month or so making sure I do plenty of extra rinsing (stripping) to make sure it's all gone.  That's about it.  We are at month 6 with plenty of time to continue to bank our savings.  Sweet.

I'll be posting soon on our newest project, our tree house/play house.  We couldn't be more excited about that.  For now thou…

Garden Update

Well, it's been a while since our last post.  I meant to post after the last leg of our Wisconsin/Chicago Trip but it just never happened.  We spent the week after the last post in lovely Chicago so in total we left our garden unattended for two weeks.  Yikes.

Photo taken from Hancock Building

I figured things wouldn't be too bad.  I kept eyeing the weather in our area and it appeared as though we got plenty of rain during our vacation.  In fact, when we got home, we had gotten a total of 3 inches according to our rain gauge.  Most of the organic gardeners in our area aim for 1" a week to keep plants strong.  It seemed like we got that.
Our weed garden
Unfortunately, things did not fair so well. 
Where to start?  Let's see... the onions never grew into anything so I guess trying to overwinter was a bad idea.  Last year they did so well that I'm downright SHOCKED!!
All the squash died pretty much.  Not cool.  Yield was low to dismal.  They got a white chalky mildew and …

Wisco Trip (Part 1 of 2)

Monday has come and gone and I have no garden update because last week we were in Wisco and a little preoccupied visiting family and friends.

We made the trip in two legs.  On the first day we drove about 10 hours and made it to Lafayette, Indiana where we were blissfully unaware as to what time it actually was.  The clocks in the hotels were on eastern daylight time but I thought we had made it to central time so we had no real idea what time it was that night.  It didn't really matter...  we were on vacation.

Oddly, when we crossed the Wisco  line the next day it got really cold.  Our temperature gauge on the dashboard said it was only 57 degrees.... in the afternoon, no less!!  We had been dealing with highs in the upper 80's and low 90's with very high humidity for so long that it was kind of refreshing though I felt woefully unprepared.  I could have sworn to you that I saw forecasts in the upper 80's for the area before I left (and it was was by the way!).  Anywa…

Eat 'em Up!

Healthy lunch in 5 seconds flat...

Homemade Pita Bread and Hummus with Carrots
Yeah, that pita bread and hummus is proving to be really handy around the house.  I might have to make it more often!

Good Eats: Whole Wheat Pita Chips and Hummus

Don't these look yummy? 

Did you know that hummus sandwiches are the PB&J of the Middle East?  At least that is what I heard on Oprah.

I don't know what possessed me...  maybe it was because I was missing Oprah, or maybe I was missing all the delicious restaurants like Lebanese Taverna  my hubby and I used to visit in fancy pants Northern VA...  but out of the blue today I decided to make my own pita chips and hummus from scratch. 

I just love, love, love baked pita chips but the store is so far away and I had a pile of laundry a mile high I had to tend to....  So, what's a girl to do but make them herself!

The first part is pretty easy.  Like most any yeast recipe you start the yeast, then you mix up the ingredients (I cheat and use my dough hook instead of kneading it) and just sit and let it rise.  Then you punch it and roll it out and let it rise again, bake and your done!  It may take some time but it is pretty easy.

I used this recipe for whole wheat pita brea…