Tuesday, August 12, 2014

2014 Garden: What's Growing On

Garden 2014

I’ve been a slacker on the garden blog this year. Or, perhaps on the blog in general. But fear not: the 2014 garden update has arrived. Overall, it has been a good garden year.  I started my tomato and pepper seeds in early March indoors.  I did a little test to see if the seed starting mixture helped the plants grow any better than regular potting soil. It did not. I’m not with that stuff. Miracle-Gro potting soil from here on out! Because we had such a long, cold winter, which extended excruciatingly into spring, I was not able to plant in the garden until late this year. That meant cold weather crops lasted until fairly late in the season.  It also meant by the time I could actually plant my tomatoes, they had gotten quite large and even had flowers on them (think: comparable with the garden center plants. Hooray!).

From left to right: beans, carrots, lettuce, onions, more lettuce, Brussels sprouts, potatoes. Asparagus in foreground.

Indoor Seedlings!

Here’s a synopsis of what’s growing on in my garden this year:

Monday, August 4, 2014

Off the Grid: Backcountry Camping

Tom and I have always loved camping. One of the things that first drew me to Tom was his love for adventure and the outdoors, and one of the things I appreciate most about our relationship is being able to share those sorts of experiences together.  From annual camping trips to Manistee (Tom's been camping there every year for the past 25+ years), to backpacking on Isle Royale, to hiking at nearby parks and random weekend adventures -- it's been a lot of fun.  At the end of July, we got to add a new adventure to our list: Backcountry camping in the Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness Area.  It's something we've talked about doing for a long time, but had just never jumped on. As we were planning our annual Manistee camping trip this year and realized we might not get a camping site, we decided it was time to give the Dunes a try.  The Wilderness Area is directly adjacent to the campground we normally go to, and we'd hiked a lot of the trails already, but there was still more to explore.  And, to add an extra element of fun, this was the first year we'd have a dog with us!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Happy Puppy OR A Dog and His Dinh

It's true. I've been slacking on the blog. Part of it may or may not be due to the fact that we got our first family pet a few months ago. Tom and I had discussed getting a dog over the years, but somehow this winter it suddenly became a reality. We found a ~10 month old dog at the SPCA shelter that we decided almost as soon as we saw him that he belonged with us. He's a medium-sized shepherd mix of some sort. He was laying down in his cage, giving the best "puppy dog eyes" he could, while the rest of the dogs in the shelter were jumping up and down barking. He just looked so sad in there. My reaction was, "I just want you to be Happy...Happy." -- a line from one of our favorite movies, Happy Gilmore.  And thus (after two days of considering other options), his name was established.  So, without further ado, let me introduce you to the newest member of our family: Happy Gilmore Symons

Monday, March 3, 2014

Cast-Iron Skillet Blueberry Cobbler

This post may surprise some of you who know that I am not typically a fan of cooked fruit. However, after some conversations about Blueberry Cobbler at work last week, I decided I wanted to give it a try.  I had made a Blackberry Cobbler once before after picking fresh wild blackberries with my mom in North Carolina. I thought that tasted pretty good. And, I do like blueberry muffins. Plus, I reasoned, Tom will probably like it, and if all else fails, I'll be serving it with vanilla ice cream that I KNOW I like.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Brew Blog: Schmohz Brewery

We did a little impromptu trip to Schmohz Brewery last weekend before heading over to our friends' house for dinner. I didn't actually know that this brewery was there. When we walked in, I had the immediate impression that I somehow walked through a time vortex straight back into the 1980s. I mean, really. Wood paneling, cement floors, drop ceiling, and tables and chairs that I swear are right out of the 80s. Not to mention the video games...but we'll get there. It had the feeling of an older person's place. Yes, I'm turning 30 this year, but Tom and I were definitely the youngest ones there. It's also the sort of place that puts a QR code on their website, if that gives you any sort of indication.  They didn't have a ton of beer to choose from, and I wasn't really in the mood to branch out and try something new. So, I opted for a soda. They make their own black cherry soda and root beer -- I decided to try the black cherry and it was delicious! It was very smooth and creamy and not terribly carbonated. Normally, I like a lot of carbonation, but this was good just the way it was. 

Brew Blog: Ashley's Belgian Beer Festival

It just so happened that the same weekend we planned a baby shower for my sister-in-law, there was a Belgian Beer Festival going on at Ashley's -- a favorite hangout of my brother's. He was able to participate in the festivities all week, but Tom and I were at least able to join in for part of the weekend. They had numerous events and special menus -- beyond the seemingly never ending list of Belgian Beers on tap. It was really quite an impressive production.

Ashely's Belgian Beer Festival

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Brew Blog: HopCat

The next stop on our brew tour was HopCat.  I think I had actually only been to HopCat once before, and it had been a very long time. I think Tom's been a number of times, but we hadn't been there since we began our "Brew Tour". We had said months ago that we needed to set a date to go there with a friend of ours and his family, and we finally made it there a few weeks ago. One of the lures of HopCat (besides the beer) is their famous "crack fries" -- which I don't think I had had before. Our friends had already ordered some by the time we got there -- and, YUM! They are quite tasty.  I got some more as a side with my burger, too.  Good food.  Anyways, on to the beer.