Saturday, July 11, 2015

The garden

This year has been an experimental one for our new garden. It's the first year I've done a garden here. I got a couple of Frame-it-all raised beds (I had another on order, but they went into bankrupcy!!! BAH) From seed I planted Sheboygan paste tomatoes, swiss chard, spinach (FAIL), Edamame, pie pumpkins, butternut squash, dragons tongue beans, haricot tarbais beans, black aztec (sweet) corn, silver king (field) corn, poblano peppers (fail), paprika (fail), and tomatillos (fail). I got some strawberry plants, a cherry tomato, and some larger poblanos as plants. I've learned some important things for later years:

  1. Spinach sucks to grow around here. Don't do it. 
  2. Starting peppers is hard. Darn peppers.
  3. Make sure not to lose the markers for whats pie pumpkins and what's butternut squash, because they look exactly the same.
  4. Start the tomatoes in March. Figure out something to make sure they get light.
  5. Starting black aztec corn inside works very well, but it works outside too.
  6. Always start haricot tarbais beans inside. They germinate and grow much better.
  7. Always start dragon's tongue beans outside. They germinate and grow much better.
  8. Peppers get horrible aphids inside. At least, mine did.
  9. Plant more edamame. It grows like crazy and is delicious.
  10. Swiss chard grows as well as spinach doesn't. 
  11. Bunnies like pepper plant leaves. WHAT. (Yeah, the peppers have been an uphill struggle)
  12. Bunnies like containers much more than raised beds.
  13. Lemons are awesome. 
  14. Soaker hose is the best. Hope by next year i'll have automated watering too, which would be the BEST BEST. 
I'll update again nearer the end of the year with how well things did. I can report that the swiss chard is wonderful already, and the edamame and dragon's tongue beans have started to produce like crazy. Yay!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

TBT: Our DIY wedding

When we got ready to get married, we didn't have a whole lot of spare cash. We also have always been big on DIY in lots of ways, so we decided to do a DIY wedding. We did nearly everything ourselves - my dress was bought at the local fair, and I altered it; the decor was pieced together from the dollar store, the sale aisle at Michaels, and the local thrift store. Other tips: my bouquet was the seasonal flowers available at the grocery store; Cordi wore my hand-me-down flowergirl dress; I made the ring pillow with silk scraps I had lying around; I catered with long cooked beef brisket, polenta, and curried roasted squash soup (most of which either cooked quickly or were cooked beforehand and were able to be quickly heated); and of course we married each other (and I said vows to the kids) rather than having an officiant, which is legal in WI, PA, CO, and DC. Here are some of our other favorite wedding projects.

Seeded wedding invitation card

We were creating a blended family, and we wanted to make sure the kids felt involved and welcome. The kids all made drawings in crayon that we scanned in, combined,  and printed on seeded paper -- we got seeded envelopes and 8 1/2" by 11" from OfTheEarth. For those that don't know, seeded paper can be planted after you use it and it'll make a tree or a bunch or wildflowers. We hand tore the pieces apart (so there was a nice slightly ragged edge) attached the seeded paper to inexpensive construction paper (which was biodegradable). These made for really nice invitations that were personal and also managed to serve a purpose after the announcement (and the "Yer Ivited" and "Before and After" on the cover are priceless.)

Football guestbook

This one was simple - we live in Wisconsin. Therefore, we are big Packer fans. What better way to keep a record of our big day than tie it into something we love (and can put on display, instead of shoving away in a closet?) So we got a nice Wilson NFL ball and some silver paint markers and made everyone sign it. It now sits on our mantle.

Cake platters

This was fun. My mom made the wonderful cupcakes you see on the right, from my grandma's recipes, which was a wonderful replacement for a tradition cake (especially with kids!). For the platters, we got four fall plates from our local thrift store, and attached glass candlesticks of different sizes to the bottoms with ceramic glue. Total cost was less than 5 bucks for a really gorgeous display. The leaves on the table were from the dollar tree and the tablecloth was from the thrift store.


We knew for our favor we wanted something that could be kept, but that would really reflect "us." We decided to create a simple dice rolling game, where you'd roll the dice and use that to go to a certain page, and then do what it said on that page (and if you were up for a crazier challenge, you could roll a second dice and be told something very specific you had to do). We made every challenge based on something we did or do; things from playing a game or reading a book to traveling or helping your community.

Sunday, January 04, 2015

A 3d pen I really, really want


No, but seriously, I just discovered the CreoPop 3d pen and it's AMAZING and I want one. I've seen 3d printing pens before but the fact that this one isn't melting plastic and more than that the spectacular variety of inks this thing has makes this a must have... when I have the cash (stupid, stupid teeth). The illustrations they have on their site are only ok, but they look more like what most people are capable of instead of going straight to a pro artist (some of 'em are pretty good).

But seriously, the inks! Glow in the dark! Flexible! Glittery! Temperature sensitive! Elastic! Magnetic! CONDUCTIVE?!? The projects I could make! Beyond the obvious 3d sketching - being able to sketch a nude in 3d would just be so beautiful - I'm thinking of mod projects and custom bracelets and glowing ceiling decor and faerie crowns and *sobwhycantijusthaveoneshowupinmymailboxrightnow* *lifeisnotfair*

This has me entirely too excited. I mean, it's so cool. Yes, I'm being entirely overdramatic. But it is a nifty piece of tech that makes me stoked about the possibilities.

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Updated the site again've updated with recent and not so recent projects, including the labels I created for Zander's Christmas present, the new postcards, my Zepplin lamp, and a few other things. I have a few more  presents I made that I need to take photos of; hoping I'll get to that sometime in the next week.

Feedback, as always, is welcome and appreciated - and if you have any ideas for projects I should tackle, let me know!

Friday, January 02, 2015

Another retro-futuristic Merrill postcard: Chips!

I've added another postcard to my retro-future Merrill collection: Chips.

I'm pretty stoked about this one. The Chips building by itself is retro, so it really lends itself to this style. Let me know what you think. You can pick up the card on Zazzle, and you can see my previous entries here and here.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Turbografx-16: Legendary Axe Edition

This christmas we decided that the family was going to try to make all the gifts. We managed to get the immediate family covered (next year, grandparents!), but I managed to fall ill pretty much constantly since Halloween and barely made it through (and I still have to apologize to Duncan because I'm still working on his backpack). But I did manage to get my hubby's present done: a Legendary Axe Turbografx 16 with led mod. You can see his reaction:

For more on the system, including video, you can check out his post: The HuPack: Turbografx-16: Legendary Axe Edition. I'm just glad he liked it :)

Monday, December 29, 2014

Best Cream of Chicken Soup

Update: I can officially call this my award-winning soup, since it won the soup contest at my husband's workplace. Woo!

Yeah, this is bragging, but this is the best recipe for cream of chicken soup bar none. This recipe makes about 12 cups- just enough to feed our family. Enjoy.

Sweating the onions
Broth added, starting the 40 minute cook
Crazy Good Cream of Chicken Soup

Yeah, this is bragging, but this is the best recipe for cream of chicken soup bar none. That's just my opinion, of course.

  • 1 meduim-large onion, quartered
  • 3 celery stalks, trimmed
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 2/3 cup wild rice
  • 1/2 cup long grain white rice OR
  • 1/2 cup brown rice
  • 7 cups chicken broth
  • 2 lbs chicken breast
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in about 6 tablespoons of water
  • Salt & pepper to taste


Puree onion, celery, and garlic in food processor. In stockpot heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat and add puree; sweat 10 minutes. Add wine, and reduce about half, another 5 minutes; add thyme, wild rice, chicken broth (and brown rice if you're using it). Bring to a simmer and cook 40 minutes. While it's simmering, sear chicken in a cast iron pan over high heat - you're not trying to cook it through, just get nice color on the outside. Cut into small 1/2 inch cubes. After the 40 minutes add the chicken breast and white rice and simmer an additional 20 minutes. Add cream and salt and pepper to taste, add cornstarch mixture and stir until thickened. Serve with crusty bread or dinner rolls and a nice white wine.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Excuse me, please, and thank you

One of the things we've tried to teach the kids from the start are excuse me, please, and thank you. You say excuse me when you're interrupting someone or you want someone's attention (not "Excuuuuuuse me!", the polite "Excuse me?"). You say please when you'd like someone to do something. You say thank you if someone has done something for you (or something you generally appreciate).

These words are more than just polite manners (this isn't like keeping your elbows off the table). They inform how we view the world. By using please, thank you, and excuse me you're acknowledging the other person, and re-enforcing your empathy and compassion towards them. You're saying "I understand that you are a person with your own plans, thoughts, and feelings, and I respect that."

I'm hopeful that the kids, as they grow up, will continue to use these words even if they aren't face to face with someone. If everyone kept "excuse me, please, and thank you" in mind while driving, for instance, there'd be a lot less problems with traffic. The internet would be much better if people used these words in earnest instead of in sarcasm.

It's essential that our kids know that they are important, and have a sense of their own self worth; it's equally essential that they know that they aren't the center of the universe and that other people are also important. Excuse me, please, and thank you are good steps to remembering the humanity of others.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Jambalaya - chicken, shrimp, pork, sausage, seafood, whatever

Photo by liz west
I know there are tons of recipes for jambalaya out there; this is the one we use (and put up by popular demand). One thing you'll notice with our recipe is that we puree the vegetables. This is a good way of hiding the veggies from the kids so that they don't even know that they're eating them.


Makes enough to serve 6ish, depending on people's appetites. The nice thing is you can sub a pound of whatever for the chicken and or shrimp; often I'll make a braised pulled pork several hours or the day before, rubbing it with the spice mix and then braising it in a little water at 350 until it was fall apart tender (6ish hours), and then add it when I'd usually add the meat. For seafood, chicken, and tender cuts of pork, you'll want to add it raw when the recipe says.

  • 8oz raw shrimp, peeled and de-veined
  • 8oz chicken breast, cut into 2 inch cubes
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon fresh oregeno cut fine (for dried 1/2 teaspoon powdered)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, crushed (for dried 1/2 teaspoon powdered)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder (or whatever your favorite hot pepper powder is)
  • 1 andouille sausage, chopped
  • 1/2 large yellow onion
  • 1 large red bell pepper (or two. Really. Can't have too many red peppers.)
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 6 medium garlic cloves, chopped fine
  • 6 roma tomatoes
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce (I recommend Bourbon Barrel Worcestershire sauce, it's YUM)
  • 2 teaspoons Louisiana hot sauce (Franks is probably the most well known, but any Louisana style that you like would be fine)
  • 1 1/2 cups long grain white rice
  • 5 cups chicken stock
 Mix together spices and coat meat in it; set aside (if using more/other meat, just use about a teaspoon per lb). Puree onion, pepper, and celery in food processor and saute in large stock pot over medium heat for about four minutes. Meanwhile, puree the tomatoes. Add garlic, tomatoes, bay leaves, Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce, and cook for 4-5 minutes longer. Add rice and chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add meat and sausage and cook 12 minutes more. Serve in bowls.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Pizza 'N Games V logo

Thought I'd show everyone the new Pizza 'N Games 5 logo and website. OK, it doesn't really have any new info on it, but it does have a new design and logo, inspired by the Final Fantasy series (obviously). Lemme know what you think!