Sunday, June 20, 2010

Summer Pasta Salad

I have always loved a good Pasta Salad.  It's such a great salad to make in the summer, what with all of the great vegetables that you can get at the Farmer's Market.  There were plenty of times on a hot summer night that this would be our dinner.  I would pack it full of everything I could find, mix it up and feel good about not heating up the kitchen to make dinner.  This filled us up plenty!  You can really put in anything you like - this is what I had on hand, but I have been known to add mushrooms, brocolli, corn, ham, turkey and loads of whatever I had available.  The sky's the limit!  Oh, and really, there is no measuring involved - just add away!
Start off with a box of Tri-color Rotini, cooked al dente - 8 minutes.  You want the pasta to be cooked, but not overcooked. Overcooked causes it to lose it's color and fall apart when you try to mix it up.  

Then, start adding whatever you would like - Green olives, drained and halved...

Black Beans, drained and rinsed....
Black Olives, drained and sliced...



Grape tomatoes - whole (these are small enough to leave as is.  I find that cutting the tomatoes makes it too soupy, so leave them whole).  If you use cherry tomatoes, slice them, but scoop out the seeds and membranes.


Green onions sliced - both white and green parts

Tri color peppers - red, orange and yellow - so pretty and fresh!

Don't leave out the green bell peppers - they want to belong too!
I love to add summer sausage and pepperoni - gives it some great flavor and texture.
Block cheese cubed - this is Monterey Jack and Colby


Now, how pretty is this? 
Dump a bottle of ranch dressing into a bowl, and mix in some dijon mustard.
Pour it over the top...
...and enjoy!!!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Memories of the Sun

Given the fact that we have had nearly non-stop rainy days, I thought I would finally put up my post about the wonderful bike ride my husband and I took a couple of weeks ago.

Last year Tony and I gifted each other with brand new bikes for our 50th birthdays.  Aren't they beautiful?  Both are basically the same style - his is a darker blue and mine a nice powder blue.  You'll notice thart mine has the larger seat - we bought it special for me for more comfort of course!

We are fortunate enough to live between 2 bicycle paths - both of them former railways. We have both the Illinois Prairie Path and the Great Western Trail and they are equal distance from our house, one in each direction. Usually we ride on the Prairie Path, but it has become very crowded with walkers, bikes and runners, not to mention dog walkers, and it makes it pretty difficult to maneuver a bike - especially when you don't ride often enough to be fully adept at it. We chose the Great Western Trail for our Sunday morning ride. There was not a cloud in the blue sky, and it was neither too hot nor too cold - in the words of Little Red Riding Hood it was "Just Right".



I took all of these pictures from my cell phone, so the quality is not that great, but the day was beautiful and the sights interesting. 




Wild flowers were growing all along the trail - these pretty white flowers, and there was also purple clover and bright yellow wild daisies.





This picture absolutely does not do it justice, but this was a beautiful backyard that had a cute brick path that led it's way from the yard up to the bike path.
Getting up the hill to ride over the four lane I-355 was quite a breathless experience, but pausing on top to check out the traffic (not to mention the construction) was fun.  It was breezy up there, and a great way to cool off after pumpoong our way up there.
This was an indoor pool house with solar panels in someone's back yard.  I've decided that my next home will be up against a bike trail like this.  So peaceful and scenic!

We are hoping to get some better weather this weekend so that we can ride again.  I'll be sure to bring my camera this time, as the phone pictures just don't cut it1

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Games

We have a lot of games - we like games.  Game Night is one of my favorite things, but it does not happen often enough, if you ask me.  Scrabble is a favorite of ours.  Last night we played Yahtzee.  My personal favorite is Balderdash.  If you look closely, you will see a preponderance of a certain game.  Look closer....


Now tell me...does one really need 5 different versions of Trivial Pursuit??

Saturday, June 5, 2010

The Garden Materializes

My tools of choice for this project

I began by defining the area for the garden - and since I did not have the energy to try to remove that big boulder, it defined the back end of the garden.  Again, using that great narrow shovel with the straight blade helped to keep the line straight.

This is an awesome tool - spade on one side and "forked tongue" on the other.  Really helps get the surface weeds loose and break up the clumps of dirt.

Pretty well defined - it looks crooked, but it's not - just the camera angle - yea, that's it - the camera is at a weird angle...

Raked out the excess weeds/grass



Now to keep the critters out

I bought some cheap "granny garden" fencing...

...and lined it all along the outside of the garden.

Then I took rolls of poultry netting and plastic zip ties...

...and attached the netting all along the "granny fence"...

...using the zip ties to keep it all in place.

i used (3) 10 foot packages of the green fencing and (3) 24" x 10 foot rolls of poultry neeting

It's a fairly small garden - I have 3 pepper plants, 6 cherry tomato plants, 1 roma tomato plant and 1 Big boy tomato plant.  With any luck, everything will grow as it should, and I'll have plenty of my 2 favorite veggies!

Hosta Wrangling

Remember This?

Well, I moved the hosta plant next to the shed.  Here's how I did it:
First, I dug a hole in the place that I planned to move it.


Next, I dug all around and loosened the roots and dirt from around the hosta.


As I began lifting it, it started to break off into several pieces.  That's ok as I would just plant them both together into the same hole.  If I wanted to, I could plant them seperately.  Seriously, there is no way to kill these things, which is nice if you don't really have a green thumb.  I have quite a few of these giant hostats in my yard, and they all came from one hosta that my mother gave me about 20 years ago. I split them numerous times over the years and planted them in various places all over my yard.  But let's get back to the task at hand.  Check out the large root that the hosta had been growing around!

Next I put it into my garden cart.  I got this at Home Depot a couple weekends ago and it's been a life saver!  I used to carry the darn hostas and they are heavy!!
Carted it over to my previously dug hole, and realized that the hole was not big enough, so I had to make it larger.  I love this skinny shovel - it's my favorite (as far as shovels go, anyway)


Set the hosta into the hole

and fill in with dirt.  Take any leftover dirt back to where you dug out the hosta - you'll need it.

Press around to tighten up the soil.  (I know these are not proper gardening footwear - don't judge)


And there you have it - my hosta has a new home, and I have it out of my garden. 
Coming soon - how I created my garden

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Best of Intentions

See these tomato and pepper plants?  We bought them last Saturday.  They need to go here:


But, in order to get them here, I have to do this, first:


But, it's hot out, and I have a headache. 
I have every intention of making it happen.....just not today.