Thursday, May 30, 2013

Virtual Happy Hour 2

If we were to meet over beers, I'd probably want to know what was going on with you first and then decide whether I wanted to disclose all my complete randoms floating around in my life/head :)

If I decided to disclose I'd probably tell you some of the following, although in no particular order:

1) I have no idea where this term went. Next week is the final lecture and then the week after that is actual finals week. Seriously, the entire last nine flew by. Ironically, this is the first term in a while that I've been in a pretty good mood with my classes the entire term. As much as I'm nervous about lacking the financial benefits of teaching over the summer, I'm also really looking forward to having a break from my in-person classes. We're also transitioning to a new version of our online system, so I'll need to get up to speed ASAP. This also means that I have two more weeks in my other lil part-time gig....and four weeks until I'll no longer be receiving a paycheck that will cover bills....

2) Which would probably lead me to a discussion about the fact that my old veterans job that I had is rehiring, aka my replacement is leaving the position. I've told my old boss that I will be applying but I've also been putting in calls to my current boss, a couple of my friends, an old distant coworker, and one of the vets to see if it's a good idea for me to reapply. Everyone is telling me that the position would benefit from my return, but wondering if I'd actually like it. A few things have changed, but much of the chaos would be the same and so I have mixed thoughts about trying for the position again.... But of course I WILL apply. Wouldn't it be ironic if I go back to the exact.same.job?

3) I applied for four more jobs last weekend. One of which I was really intrigued by (workplace wellness...I would LOVE to get into this field!). I also was able to see in the online systems that I haven't been disqualified from all of the jobs I've applied for, so there's at least 10 that I appear to (maybe) still be in the running for. I also haven't heard from the last interview I had last week....I'm not sure if that's a good or bad sign at this point.

4) I started trying to transition to just Insanity since M and C are doing it while M is gone...but I'm so stubborn that this notion of trying to maintain 60 miles of running each month is really hard for me to shake. SO I put in a 11 miler this weekend and I ran over 24 miles in the last week, which is a lot for me. I also did 3 insanity work-outs. I've been making sure I eat a nutrient-rich diet and I'm eating protein and/or snacks almost every 3-4 hours.....but still when I stepped on the scale tonight at Granny's I was SHOCKED to see that I've dropped 12 pounds in the two weeks since M left. I'm not eating quite as much as I was when he lived here, but still a 12 pound weight loss in 1-2 weeks seems like a lot. My weight tonight was the lowest number I've seen since I was 12-13 years of age (I'm even slightly lower than I was this last fall), and while it's still a healthy BMI, it's incredibly low for me. (Plus let's get real.....the BMI charts say I could lose another 17 pounds and still be considered healthy...I would hate to see me minus 17 more pounds.....). Needless to say, I'm hoping tonight was a weird fluke and I'll be trying to eat even more, especially if I try to continue mileage AND insanity.

5) I'd probably also end up talking to you about the current interim housemate, L....and I hate to admit it, but she's the first person I've had as a housemate that I'm not so sure that I actually like her. I don't mind co-existing with her, but after two weeks, I'm not really looking forward to her being here for the next two months until she can get into the apartment she put a deposit down on. Two more months of a dog (who has to stay in her room or else he has "accidents" in the house) and her smoking (even though its outside) will be tolerable for the rent money but definitely not an ideal situation, especially since summer is usually the height of my joy ;) The next interim housemate until M returns will not be allowed to smoke nor have a pet....I've learned not to grant exceptions. Which at this point in time, M is planning on moving back in for a bit when he gets back.

6) I'm seriously loving technology. M and I have been able to keep in touch via messaging almost every day since he left (which is great since we're both uber verbal processors!) and last weekend we were able to video chat also. I'm also stoked cause my gal Katie just finally got to Italy with her hub that is stationed over there..and we've already been able to be in touch via text also. Technology is just amazing these days!

7) I feel like there have been a ton of lil highlights I've been loving lately. I'm so glad that in the last month, my mood and outlook has done a 180. It was so needed! So some other things I'm loving: I thought I killed my artichoke plant but there's an artichoke growing, Mom & Dad are headed up tomorrow for another yard work weekend, Anna is back to being 100% healed, one of my students brought me two amazing smelling pink roses cut from her garden, and another student asked me to write her a letter of recommendation. And honestly, I realized that even though I started to truly hit rock bottom, somewhere deep in me I still had a glimmer of optimism and faith/hope. In my interviews this came out when I was questioned about why I want the jobs I apply for. I kept responding with things like "passion" and "because I believe in truly making a difference" and "because the most rewarding thing for me in a job is seeing CHANGE actually occur." And while these are probably usual interview catch phrases.....the thing is that ....I truly actually believe them. So the best part of these interviews (maybe) has been realizing that well, my soul is still alive after all.

And with that I'm pretty sure, we'd have finished our drinks. ;) What's been going on in your worlds?

What I'm Eating: Rest of May

Again joining Heather over at Townsend House for her What I'm Eating Series.

Toasted Almond Butter & Banana Sandwich
w/ Mixed Greens, Strawberries, Sliced Nuts, & Mandarin Orange Salad

Tuna Salad Melt w/ Avocado on a Hoagie Roll

Baked Sweet Potato w side of Steamed Broccoli & Cauliflower

My stand-by Baked Cajun flavored Salmon w Roasted Baby Carrots & Cherry Tomatoes
w/ Blueberry/Spinach Smoothie (w flax seed, almond butter, vitamins, protein powder, coconut milk)

The usual go-to cans of V-8 and bags of almonds & cranberries while teaching.
I'm back to an every afternoon or evening protein smoothie. 
Mixed dried fruit has become my go-to evening movie snack food.
Tonight I gorged on beef jerky (can I call myself a vegetarian in recovery?!)
And I'm still using the breakfast burrito & homemade huevos rancheros as my go-to quick meal.
The daily Chobani yogurt taken with my D vitamins and a cup of dark roast coffee w creamer has become my regular breakfast, and really seems to have done the trick of helping ease stomach issues. 
I also was able to bring home the left-over fruit & veggie platter from last week's work event, so those in conjunction with my quick grab handfuls of almonds became my weekend snack foods.

Today I did my big 6 week Costco run: more food for the animals and more food for this human. Organic black beans, PNW sustainably farmed eggs, peach salsa, hummus, refried beans, yogurts, salmon, tortillas, organic bread, dark roast coffee, cranberries, frozen fruit for smoothies, beer, V8, and coconut oil. And tonight I did my weekly grocery store run: cauliflower, bananas, coconut milk, kale, avocados, cantaloupe, peaches, red wine, sweet potatoes, and two big sweet onions......

...cause on the docket for this weekend is to make some of these awesome looking blooming onions!

No Buy 2013: More New Twists

Ha--in looking at combos this week, I'm noticing a distinct lack of color. Oh well!

Brought out the old black button-up again since I'm trying to get it into rotation more. And you can't see it in this picture but I also did the double necklace thing here. I paired a simple strand of pearls with a silver Oregon sunstone pendant. Threw on my leopard print flats and my easy go-to gray cardigan.

Pairing the shirt with a blazer look again and I really liked this combo actually. 

Tuesday: Work
Work Bermuda shorts. I don't know why these are always hard for me to put an outfit together with, but they are so they rarely get used. On this day the sun came out just long enough that I could put the shorts to use and still come up with a professional enough seeming combo here.

Wednesday: Errands
Seriously threw this together this morning...and I loved it.

Wednesday: Work
Decided to transition the top into a evening work look and what better way to do that than to add my "uniform" of a skirt & cardigan :)

I'm really enjoying that I'm still coming up with new combos..and some of this stuff I'm really loving!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Projects: Simple Center Pieces

So I'd mentioned having the opportunity to work on creating center pieces for our banquet tables. The original idea had been to buy pre-made herb assortment planters, but I couldn't find any available. (This being sustainable Portland, we wanted to have something that could be used again and/or planted.) In my searching I did notice that calla lillies were on sale for $7/pot, so I had the idea to use them as elegant, simple center pieces for our tables. The black pots were ugly however so I decided to fix them up a bit: 
Washed & dried 3 yards of burlap for 8 pots. Cut a square for each one.

While trying to decide how to secure the burlap, I stumbled upon my bag of saved twist-ties and rubber bands (Thank You Granny for the save everything life lesson :)....). The rubber bands around the burlap still didn't look great but they helped secure the burlap, and then I was able to tie the loose ends up around the base of the plant with twine.

Originally I was going to tie the loose ends up with the blue ribbon, but I liked the ribbon around the center (plus I could keep/hide the rubber band around the middle and pull the burlap up tighter from that central spot). Retied all the twine tighter and pulled the ends up tighter as well. (The ribbon is held in place with double stick tape.)

So much fun and so simple to make! And our guests were stoked to receive the plants as event favors. 

The other arrangements were marigolds & lil blue flowers in terracotta bowls. The only thing I did for those was to tie/tape thicker blue ribbon around the bowls.

Again, I'm realizing how fulfilling these types of projects are for me. It's so rewarding to come up with an idea, work it through, and have it turn out great! (And this time I even got paid for it--woot woot!)

No Buy 2013: More Spring Combos

Mother's Day Brunch:
This outfit got lost in the need-to-update-my-phone data transfer. I technically wore this same thing to Thanksgiving in LA in 2010. I love that three years ago and now, I still like it....

Tuesday Teaching & Thursday Interview:
Ended up wearing the same outfit both to teach and to interview. No point in not rewearing, although I wasn't sure which outfit from this week to rewear cause I liked the one below too.

Wednesday Work Errands:
I'm not one to usually do the skinnies, Tshirt, and blazer look, but on this particular day I gave it a try...and I sort of liked it actually. Inspired from this pin.

Wednesday Lecture:
This was literally a quick closet grab & go outfit, but I love it. I found this mint green lacy long-sleeved top at Target last fall. I wasn't sure what I'd think of it.....but I love it. Mom also provided the earrings from her selection on this most recent trip south. They're BIG silver leaves and apparently too long for her neckline. (She also passed on a silver bracelet, which ironically was similar to one I was eyeing on Pinterest the other day.)

Friday Work Errands:
This is a dress that I'm never sure what to do with it but I keep hanging on to it. I think that today was the first time I'd tried the blue combo...and again, I liked it.

Friday Evening Work Event:
Simple, easy and casually dressy. (Worn with black flats, although I wore this same outfit with black peep toe heels to a wedding last summer.) PS it dawned on me today how long my hair has gotten.

I'm loving pulling "new" items out that rarely get worn. It's almost June...the only new item in the closet since last November is the awesome belt gifted to me by M. I'd venture to say there are still many items I have yet to wear at all. In fact....maybe that should be my newest focus....wearing what hasn't been worn yet this year?

Friday, May 24, 2013

Week In Review

So.....this week has been busy and scattered as I knew it would be. Somehow I'm heading into a (hopefully) low-key and restful upcoming weekend though. I still have the big work event tomorrow night and a garage repair man coming on Saturday morning, but for the first time in the last few months, I've also agreed/planned to see a few people socially this weekend. I'm meeting M's friend/coworker for breakfast on Sunday or Monday and I'm getting together with my cousin on Sunday as well. I'm also hitting up the ex to see if he wants to go watch the new Star Trek movie together....maybe he will, maybe he won't, but I have been open to talking to him/trying to be friendly again lately.

SO the week in review:

---Well, as much as L seems like a good fit, apparently lil dog is not the best fit. He's supposed to be house-broken but apparently he doesn't like the rain. This is not going to fly in my rental. She's got him on a schedule now, but if it keeps up, I'll be asking her to find a new housing option....prontito.

---I've been able to exchange messages with M in Taiwan almost every day since he arrived there. It's nice to be able to still communicate and it makes me really appreciate technology. I didn't realize just how much we'd gotten used to being able to access each other for our mutual verbal processing needs...his absence in life, definitely makes me appreciate him even more.

---One run in yesterday and an Insanity work-out in tonight. I'm thinking about switching back to complete the whole 60 days of Insanity rather than thinking about running, as I think I've partly lost some of my running mojo. Today I was thinking about my ability to run and do Insanity work-outs back-to-back on some of the days during the height of the angst of my divorce, and well, apparently...I'm much more settled because my motivation is much, much less these days! My legs have also been feeling like lead the last couple running outings I've done, so maybe a change of pace might be good.

---Monday interview didn't leave me feeling very confident. I've never had an interview contain so many questions (15!) and I felt like I'd lost them about half-way in. The Tuesday interview I felt I did better on, although it's likely that someone else was more directly qualified. I'm not expecting to get call backs for the second round on either one of those honestly. The interview today, I felt went better. Today's was the job that I really can see myself doing and that might help steer me back in a set direction toward academia and research......but I also didn't feel 100% on it. Apparently out of 100 applicants, three of us received interviews and in my follow-up thank you, I did receive a response saying that their decision will be difficult but that I should know they were impressed. Even if I didn't get the job (I'll definitely be bummed!!!), I am trying to think positively. I am SO glad that I had the opportunity to interview at three places this week and I also know that I have about six jobs in my inbox that I'll be applying for this weekend. I just have to KEEP at it and keep at it and keep at it. And again, I know that I am incredibly fortunate to have parents who will help me in the worst case scenario. In checking my finances yesterday, I just need a job to pan out with a start date of mid-to-end of June.

---One thing that the last several weeks has made me realize is that I love tapping into my creativity. I really enjoyed pulling the rooms in my house together. I like taking inspiration, mixing it with what I have, and creating a space that is representative of me yet inspiring. And right now, I'm loving putting together the table center pieces for our Banquet tomorrow night. I'm not 100% sure about how they'll turn out but I'm hopeful it's all going to come together!....and it's been fun via the process anyway.

---Off to bed, finally. But hope each of you has had a great week too!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

New Combos: Spring Attire 3

This whole last week apparently was trying to put rarely worn items into rotation to keep them in my closet long-term.

Monday Meeting
Loved this! One of only two blazers to survive the last closet purge...and trying to put it into rotation. Inspiration pinned here.

Tuesday Teaching
Wanted to wear the new/gifted belt again and this black shirt rarely gets worn. Am I the only one who thinks of Starbucks when wearing khaki & black together? It's one of my self-imposed rules to avoid, but maybe I'm going to try to break it....

Wednesday Work
Trying out new twists on this rarely worn Target dress. I actually need to bring the straps up (for this day I twisted them up in my bra straps). And I technically wore this with a different than usual black belt and black shoes......although I like this look too. Inspiration pinned here.

Thursday Teammeeting :)
Colder than usual morning (50s) brought out the tall boots. This sweater vest is also trying to make a plea to stay in my closet, since it's rarely worn either. Also trying to bring this long necklace back into rotation....

Busy, Busy, BUSY!

Don't even ask me where the last week went or where the next one is going. Just kidding, but I've been caught up in a whirlwind. I can't even remember what my last update was about.....

....but let's just throw a bunch at ya:

---M flew out on Friday morning. We had a smashing BBQ for him the weekend before this one and he and I went on that great final hike the day after said BBQ. Early in the week, we moved his bed out of his room, transitioned him to the guest room, and situated the house. Thursday afternoon we went shopping for his kid (have I mentioned that yet?) that lives in Taiwan, gathering items the baby needs and M wanted to "build a bear." However much of the week went to helping him be ready to leave and that the house was situated because....

---on Wednesday evening, my new short term housemate L arrived with her lil 7lb dog Sunny. Luckily the dogs get along and L seems like she'll be a great short term option. She just drove out from Pennsylvania so now is in the process of searching for long term housing options and employment. So far I don't know that I'd be opposed to her staying longer than the 1-2 months we'd originally discussed except the extra animal in the house might be a bit much and I think L would get tired of the cats (she's allergic) and of smoking outside long term.

---On Tuesday I got notice of an interview for this next week. On Weds evening on my way to work, I got called for an interview tomorrow, and on my drive on Friday I got called for an interview on Tuesday. Let's just call this interview week....and y'all can get hopeful, but until I have a job offer via phone or my inbox I'm not getting excited.

---Final assignment for the online courses got graded this weekend. Exam week last week for in person courses so I have exams still to grade. A work meeting last Thursday morning to review preparations for our big event this next Friday for which I have duties I have to complete mid-week now (for the very part-time other job I also have right now).

---Thursday evening was my regular evening with Granny, after a quick dinner at home with the new housemate. Granny and I had a good evening together--chatting, filing her nails again, writing out a bday card for my brother and mailing it.

---Friday afternoon I had a different work training but traffic was crazy so I was going to be an hour late to the event from the airport. I didn't want to be rude and come in late, so I took it instead as ample opportunity to pack up my car/dogs and hit the road early, as tomorrow's interview is in my hometown. I've spent at least three hours on the phone with fellow friends/colleagues collaborating for the interview, then have spent another 4 hours (at least) researching for it, and more time responding to a written question sample.

---Beyond grading and interview prepping, I've seriously crashed. I met one of my gals for an afternoon beach session with the dogs but I skipped out on church this morning. I've been sleeping like it's going out of style, but I did finally get out for a run this afternoon (first work-out since Tuesday!!!!) and also soaked in the tub during night one. Mom and Dad have also spoiled me with dinner out on two nights. To say that I'm tired after this last week is an understatement however....

---After the interview tomorrow, I'll drive back up. Chat with L about options, as she wanted some insights about living/work situations. Tuesday, I'll run scantrons on campus, prep for the next interview, do the phone interview that afternoon, and teach in the evening. Wednesday I have a mid morning appt for an oil change, I need to pick up my to-dos for the Friday event (herb center pieces and table decorations), run by the grocery store, and teach in the evening again. Thursday is more interview prep, afternoon interview, finishing any pre-event last minute needs, and an evening with Granny. Friday is a meeting and the evening event. And then hopefully the weekend is a big relaxation session....with maybe some lawn mowing thrown in and online grading. And if I don't get any of these jobs, then we start sending out more applications too....

---Other randoms: this weekend I was bummed to miss out on the PDX Rock & Roll Half to cheer on some of the high school gals that I know who were running it. I AM thinking about running in the Starlight 5k Run the ex and I ran it last year and had mentioned running it together this year regardless of the outcome of the marriage (apparently he has Reserves drill that weekend however....).

---While I've been talking to my gals mainly to prep for the interview, it's been nice to catch up with them quickly also and hear how they've been doing....a couple of them I talk to rarely, so it's been especially nice.

---Garden.....I did check on it this last week and some of the seeds were peeking thru! to grade some exam essays and then hit.the.hay!

Hope you all have been having some great days behind and ahead!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Saddle Mtn Hike

One final hike before M heads for Taiwan, so we decided to haul our somewhat hung-over selves up Saddle Mtn. (A long night of a good-bye BBQ in the backyard the night before....) A new hike for me, a beautiful day, and a real need to sweat some toxins out....

The trip to get there felt a little longer than the 1.5 hours that it actually was so I was itching to get on the trail. We hadn't brought the dogs, as the guidebooks all say that the trail isn't suggested for furry friends. After we made it half way, I was really glad I hadn't brought them due to the heat and the trail. Much of the trail is well worn, so they've put chain length fencing down to allow hikers to grip better--works great for humans, but I think it would have been horrible on dog paws, especially since I'm still slowly integrating Anna back into outdoor pursuits.

The picture below shows the view up to the top of the second saddle hump. The first mountain climb isn't very difficult, but climbing to the top of that next hill was a tad bit more brutal. The 360 degree view at the top is well worth it though!

This trail is well-known for it's various wildflowers and this was a flower I'd never seen before:

Also of note on today's hike: it was great to see so many families and couples out getting exercise, we came upon a snake sun-bathing mid-trail, AND in true Portlandia fashion, we met a natural dude walking his goat up the route..... ;)

The views were gorgeous.

At one spot, people had carved into the rocks....loved this particular message.

On the way down, M and I took a marked side trail and sat for a moment on top of a ridge overlooking more great views and chit chatting about his final week. (Flight is on Friday, new potential short-term housemate is to show up mid-week supposedly.)

And then M had seen this spot on the drive up...and since he's always attracted to the quirky, we stopped here for dinner. We sat up top in the bar at a quiet table and had a simple meal & beers. (aka we could have made better tuna melts & pork-pulled sandwiches at home but it felt great to get some protein and salad in us!...and the atmosphere was nice...)

The restaurant is part of a chain-saw museum of we had fun posing with the faux animals. This bear was slippery and we went rounds until I could get up on his back! ;) 

Altogether, a great afternoon, a good hike worth the drive, and a beautiful outing in nature!

New Combos: Spring Attire 2

Winner, winner chicken dinner :) I never really think to actually wear a T-shirt as a work shirt, but I decided to copy Whitney and give it a go....verdict: LOVE. So easy. Brown cotton shirt tucked into a gray cotton pencil skirt w/ brown peep-toe sling backs, brown woven belt & easy accessories. So easy, totally comfortable, & yet professional! Definitely will be repeating this in a similar combo.

Not my favorite but while running late and it being H-O-T outside, an outfit of extreme basics got the job done.

Sometimes I wonder if dressing like a young 20s surfer is still appropriate when I'm 3-0...but then I've decided....who cares?! Rock the legs, rock the flip flops (even if Stacey & Clinton would die), rock the pattern skirt w a broken zipper and torn seam, rock the running tank. Be happy and wear what you love....

Advisory Board Mtg:
So this actually got worn with blue flats & gold earrings...and was somewhat inspired by this pin. :) Loved it--again easy peasy combo.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Home Spaces I'm Loving

Have I mentioned how much I LOVE my new living room space? :) 
Officially complete with the sign hung!

Finished Phase 3 (?) of the off-kitchen area yesterday. The black shelf is on loan from M while he's gone but goes in this space nicely, and I hope to use it both for a spot to hold canning materials and a quasi-bar. Those are the curtains mom just made, I made the pillows yesterday from fabric on-hand and made the signs two weeks ago. The mirror is an old-weathered garage find from my parents house that I've had for years, the futon was a freebie given to the ex and I (and it's pretty broken down at this point!), and the Ikea chair was a thrift store buy two years ago. The carpet was a Target cast-off I got at a thrift store last summer. I painted the stripes on the walls and the fireplace area to black last summer. There might be a phase 4 to bring the picnic table in come winter, but we'll see.... This space sort of evolved on it's own, but I'm seriously loving it and it's already attracting sitters to the space :) 

The patio is also getting dressed up, although it's not quite completed. Used curtains from the linen closet & tied them up with twine. I'd like to add some lights (Christmas white ones from garage), spray paint a table that's not shown (but need landlord permission), and hang a picture :) Dad built the table about twenty years ago and I picked that lil Target cast-off drape that I use as a table cloth up from a thrift store last summer. Flowers are from the back yard.

Don't mind that pesky finger up top! ;) Sitting corner in the front entry. With that half wall, you can be tucked in the entry in one of the chairs and no one would ever know it..... In this picture you can also see one of the blueberry plants, my tomatoes, and some of the strawberries! 

If you follow me on pinterest at all, then you'll probably see some of the themes from my boards shinning through here....good inspiration that pinterest is! But it's great to have lots of areas that feel homey and like an extension of myself. And I love making people feel cozy and welcome...stay awhile! ;)

Friday, May 10, 2013

What I'm Eating: Early May

Linking up with Townsend House for Heather's What I'm Eating Series :)
So what's been fixin here? Well, I'm glad you asked! 

What to do with all that left-over curry? Well reheat it solo of course, but I also thought it might be good as a wrap. Tortilla, left-over pumpkin curry base, sauteed zukes & onions, bit o' sour cream. Verdict--Delish and filling!

Simple afternoon protein & healthy fats. Half avocado & some peach salsa on top of two scrambled eggs. (This hits rotation multiple times a week.)

Almost daily protein smoothie is always an easy way to pack a big bang full of vitamins & minerals for a meal. Yesterday's mix: banana, half-avocado, greens, coconut milk, part of a cucumber, small handful boysenberries, scoop whey protein, tsp flax seed meal, biotin, EmergencE packet, small handful almonds.

Simple, fast homemade huevos rancheros. Tortilla smothered in refried black beans, two eggs (over easy?) on top, half avocado, salsa.

M's favorite breakfast fixins. Eggs scrambled with hashbrown mix & whole wheat toast w/ my homemade pear butter.

And always, always on evenings when I teach: a small bag of cranberries & almonds, can of V8 juice, and 40 oz of water. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Garden 2013

The chives and strawberries were left over from last year, so I transplanted some of them and then had Dad just till around the others. They take up two rows on one side of a raised bed. In that same bed, I planted two tomato plants and from seed: two rows of carrots and a row of lettuce.

After my parents left, I used part of the trellis from last year, some old scraps, and twine to create an improved trellis for the other raised bed. (The third cinder block, lower bed I didn't cover during winter and it got overrun with weeds--it'll be laid to rest this year....). I also moved the artichoke (it doesn't look too great here, so we'll see if it survives.) Two pepper plants (red & yellow), a basil start, and two zukes all got added to this box. From seed: a row of cucumbers (down by the zukes on the left), a row of pole beans, and a row of bush peas. 

The kiwi is in full growing mode!
The garlic and rhubarb are also up and high in their respective spots. The mint is coming in already and the blackberry is just starting to send out its runners.

Each year I add a few more fruits & veggies to the entry way area. We planted three blueberry bushes when we first moved in and last summer I added strawberries which are still there. This year I'm trying two tomatoes and watermelons, so we'll see if they take!

Still to plant (there's still room in the raised beds):

Also sitting on a table not pictured:
Another basil

Ironically most my seeds were left overs from previous years and at least 1/2 the starts I got using a gift card my Dad gave me at Christmas. 

We'll see how much of it takes the first time around!

A Wonderful Parental Visit

Sometimes I think I take for granted just how amazing my parents are and how blessed I've been to have them. As they creep toward 70, I notice them slowing down and having more health issues, but I'm always amazed at how much they continue to give and give and give. In the moments when I've asked Dad how he's able to give non-stop to others, he always says that the greatest joy he gets is by serving others. If only I could adopt his same attitude to the manner of which he has it!

My parents arrived about 6:30pm last night (Monday) and before the sun gave way, Dad unloaded all his "goodies" and we got under way. I'd spent the day pulling weeds, planting a few flowers, cutting back bushes, and organizing the yard/patio a bit. So Dad and I walked the yard and I pointed out the areas for spraying, and Dad got to work with the first application. I can't remember the last time I've used a weed-eater and I'm not going to lie, it was pretty fun edging the lawn and chopping down the grass that the mower hasn't been able to get to in the two years I've lived here! 

Once I got my section of the yard duty done for the night, I headed in to get started on dinner. I threw together a salad and got the seasonings started for the boil, while Mom helped prep the veggies and helped peel the shrimp. While I'd definitely increase the spices next time (I should know at this point to double every spice recipe!), it was a ton of fun creating a different type of meal for my parents and everyone was satisfied with the shrimp, corn, and red potatoes. (Have I mentioned Mom is gluten-intolerant and pre-diabetic and Dad can't eat high-oxalate foods? I don't eat most meat and M doesn't eat tomatoes.... Hahaha) Between the boil and the salad, there was something for everyone and with only enough left overs for the dogs to get a couple potatoes and Lady got two shrimp ;)

After dinner (at 9pm), the evening entertainment was watching Dad (with a lil help from M) hang my sign in the living room. My father is a perfectionist, so it was going to be done right, although he did compromise on a few matters (and learned that I'm missing some tools that he wished I had) :)

The day itself had been H-O-T (87 with no breeze) so after we sat around enjoying my living room for a bit, we were all pretty ready to get into bed.

In the morning we were up and at 'em. Dad finished spraying round two on the weeds, while I ran up to my aunt's to borrow the tiny tiller. Both beds were tilled by 10am:

Then Dad couldn't help himself and he had to mow my lawn, while we waited for Mom to get back from the fabric store and I worked on planting my starts in the boxes. Dad and I ran the tiller back up to my aunt's and visited for a few. Then we came back and both devised a potential plan for how to replace a section of my falling down fence (on the cheap and mainly reusing various wood) and discussed moving some of the bushes out front. And then Mom got home and whipped up some awesome new burlap curtains for my off-the-kitchen area:

They look great! (Another pinterest-to-real life idea!) Then the two of them loaded up and I cut some peonies for my mother. (I'd also gifted her a potted pansy set for this upcoming Mother's Day (using a gift card my parents ironically had given me!))

Then I had them pose for a picture: 
Seriously, seriously blessed.

Looking forward to them coming back in a couple weeks for the next visit!