Friday, April 13, 2012

My work is cut out for me

Spring is here, and I can finally get started on the garden I've been planning since last summer.  But first, the garden beds need a lot of work before they are ready for seedlings.  Actually, the whole backyard needs a ton of work before anything can happen. My to-do list is long...very, very long!

As you can see, the weeds took advantage of the ridiculously warm summer-like weather we had in March, and are already taking over my vegetable beds:

Obviously, I need to spend a good amount of time weeding the beds before they can be tilled.

And I finally gave in to my OCD tendencies and purchased landscaping timber to border the garden beds.  This will give us a clear border between garden and lawn, making it easier for The Big Guy to mow and trim, and better protecting my precious vegetable plants.  Thanks to Handy Freddy for picking up the lumber!

Once the garden beds are weeded and tilled, I'll install the border. Here, I put three sections of the timber together so you can get an idea of where I'm going with this:

I have a few peony plants coming up on the north side of the house, and I need to get some mulch around them before The Big Guy accidentally mows them down.  In which case, I will accidentally punch him in the throat. It happens, right?

Note to The Big Guy: This is what a peony plant looks like. Do not run it over!

In fact, all of the flower beds need to be mulched, as do all the fruit trees.  Add that to the list!

The compost bins (all three of them) are 2/3 full.  I need to do some rearranging of the piles to make room for all of the stuff that will be coming its way in the next few months.

Gasp! See that bed of weeds in the foreground of the picture?  That's where my asparagus is planted.  Weeding is making several appearances on my garden to-do list.

Item #458 on the to-do list is to hook up this rain barrel.  I am the proud owner of two rain barrels, but this one (that I got for my birthday last fall...thanks, Big Guy!) needs to be connected to the downspout.  I'm searching online for a fancy connector that will let me switch back and forth between directing water to the rain barrel and keeping it moving through the downspout, so if you have any sources, please let me know in the comments.  Thanks!

Add to the list cleaning out the gutters, making the trellises, and on and on and on, and I have a very busy spring ahead of me.   I can't wait!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Diabolical genius

A recent conversation with my friend Michelle...

Michelle:  Have you ever baked an Oreo inside of a chocolate chip cookie?
Michelle: I'm thinking of trying that for Easter.
Me:  OMG IT SOUNDS AWESOME!  But how would that work? The chocolate chip cookie dough will slide off the Oreo and make a big mess.
Michelle:  That's what I'm worried about.

For those who might be wondering, I do tend to speak in ALL CAPS.  Quite often, in fact.

And a few days later, Michelle brought this into work:

Looks like a fun chocolate chip cookie in a cupcake liner, right?  But there's more...


This thing was so delicious, it was wrong. But if loving it is wrong, then I don't want to be right.

That Michelle is a diabolical genius.  Emphasis on genius! And diabolical. 

Just to cover all the bases.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Manda Monday--Summer courses at Waubonsee

I have a full roster of classes at Waubonsee Community College this summer...some are old favorites, but we've added two new classes to the mix.  Here's what I have in store for you this summer at WCC:

Coupon Mastery

Master couponers are able to cut their grocery and drug store bills in half and obtain products for free! You can too! Become a master shopper with knowledge of the how, where, and when of serious couponing. Learn the rules for spotting the best deals in stores; pairing coupons with sales, rebates, and customer loyalty programs; and using the best coupon web sites. Join shopper Amanda Grant (that's me!) in pursuit of the perfect balance of efficient and ethical couponing techniques.

Section One:  at the Sugar Grove campus, June 21-July 5, 7:30-9pm.  Cost: $29.00
Section Two: at the downtown Aurora campus, July 9-23, 7:30-9pm.  Cost: $29.00

Live Well, Spend Less!

Join instructor Amanda Grant (yours truly!) to collaborate and share great ways to experience ''the good life" on a tight budget. Amanda believes you can spend less and still live well. Find out how! Get ready to give and receive leads, tips and sources for exciting free or low cost entertainment sources, tips and recipes for succulent meals on just pennies, hip fashion-forward clothing at a fraction of retail cost, and even bartering/trading for goods and services. The group's best ideas will appear on Amanda's blog, "The Martha Initiative." (which is what you are reading right now...mind = blown!)

at the Plano campus, July 19-August 2, 7:30-9pm.  Cost: $29.00

Blogging Boot Camp  (NEW!)

Blogging does not come naturally to everyone - don't be intimidated - be outstanding! Discover best practices and tools and techniques for creating an effective online presence. Find out how to use blogging techniques, learn the critical elements of every blog, and how to make a good blog entry even better. Note: Novice and experienced bloggers welcome.

at the Sugar Grove campus, July 14 (Saturday), 9am-12pm.  Cost:  $39.00

Facebook 101 (NEW!)

Facebook is everywhere, but do you ever feel like maybe it?s not all that clear to you? Discover the simple tools you need to reconnect, keep in touch, and have a presence on the web without the necessity of building a website. You?ll learn the tools necessary to help you become a networking socialite. Note: Beginner and experienced Facebook users welcome.

at the Sugar Grove campus, June 18-21, 2:30-4pm.  Cost:  $39.00

Online Social Networking for Beginners

Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, blogging, and more - these forms of online social networking can be both exciting and intimidating for beginners. Learn the basics of each program and application and how to apply them to your life for job searches, reunions with old friends, communication with loved ones, and creative self-expression. Online social networking has its own etiquette, language, and pitfalls - we'll explore how to use the various forms safely and effectively.

at the Sugar Grove campus, July 19-July 10, 7:30-9pm.  Cost: $39.00

Online Social Networking Continued

Gain confidence and skill with social online networking! Continue to develop the skills you learned in the beginner class. Further instruction and practice will increase your ability to apply and adapt online networking into your life for communication with loved ones, creative self-expression, and job searches.

at the Sugar Grove campus, July 17-31, 7:30-9pm.  Cost: $39.00

Interested in any or all of these classes?  Begin the enrollment process here.  I hope to see you in class soon!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Coloring eggs

We dyed eggs after dinner this evening. In fact, my freshly bathed and pajama-d kids are in the process of covering said eggs with stickers. 

Which is where I'm off to...there are some stickers calling my name.

Have a very happy Easter, everyone!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Eggs-cellent decorations

My Big Martha is really talented at holiday decorations, so much so that when she is in the mood to decorate, I simply get out my storage totes of seasonal eye candy and let her do her thing.  Here's what she came up with for Easter at my house:

Isn't that mantle display gorgeous?  I love it!  Thanks, Mom!

I put the plastic eggs and bunny ears in the baskets from Easters past, so at least I contributed in some small way. The beautiful "Happy Easter" banner is from Wanessa Carolina Creations, and it is available for free download on her blog

My Big Martha also made a display for the media cabinet.  The carrot Easter basket is the perfect size for holding our DVDs from the library, making it both functional and decorative. Score!

Finally, here's the tablescape on the dining room buffet.  It's two Easter-themed tea sets, a bunny pitcher, candy dish and two sets of salt-and-pepper shakers.  They're bunnies, of course.

For the most part, my kids are really great at not touching any of the breakable decorations.  They understand the difference between a "pretty" and a play thing, and so far they are content to look and not touch.  Even with the jelly beans!  I wish I could say the same for myself about those.

Though I notice that the bunny salt-and-pepper shakers occasionally shift position ever so slightly.

I suspect Little Miss might have something to do with that.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Martha Monday--Easter time!

Easter is quickly approaching.  On Saturday I took the kids to an Easter egg hunt, and this Saturday we'll have breakfast with the Bunny.  Fun!

I'm not hosting Easter this year.  Instead, we'll do an egg hunt at home with the kids, and then it's off to the grandparents' houses for dinner and family fun.  What are you doing for Easter?

If you are in need of inspiration, be sure to check out Martha's Easter menus, decorations, and crafts.

If I were hosting Easter dinner, then I might have tried my hand at this table-scape: 

Maybe if I get it started now, I can have it ready in time for next year's Easter celebration. 

Happy Monday!