Monthly Archives: June 2013

Adding Color

Well I went two weeks without writing a post.  It was bound to happen, and really I have nothing to blame other than just needing a break. Now I’m my brain is fresh and ready for a new (long) post.

When you live in a grey house that has black trim and white windows like we do, the outside can seem a little dull and lifeless all winter long with no plants to add a little color to the curb appeal.  When spring comes around I go a little crazy adding plants to the front of the house.  This year was definitely no exception.

One of the gerbera daisy plants in a flower bed.

One of the gerbera daisy plants in a flower bed.

 

One of the hanging baskets I created for the front yard

One of the hanging baskets I created for the front yard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This year, I started by adding pink and yellow gerbera daisies near our front door in an area that gets a lot of sun.  They were the flowers that were in my wedding bouquet, so they have a lot of sentimental meaning to me.  I try to plant a few of them every year.  I also create my own petunia hanging baskets to hang near our front yard light.  Every single year they had died nearly as soon as I planted them.  Not to sound like a commercial, but last year I decided to try Miracle Gro potting soil, and they’ve been amazing ever since!  They even looked great through the drought year last year, and they’re doing great again this year.  I’m all over the Miracle Gro potting soil from here on out.  It makes my life easier!

Eric's flower pot for the front of the house

Eric’s flower pot for the front of the house

 

My flower pot for the front of the house

My flower pot for the front of the house

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Every year we also arrange 2 flower pots for the front of the house.  Eric picks the flowers for one, and I pick the flowers for the other.  We always follow the rule of one tall grassy plant, a couple types of flowering plants, and then one vine to grow over the side.  I always have a couple of purple plants, which are  not blooming in this picture to go with my purple potato vine.  Eric usually goes with the orange flowers.  I’m pretty sure if he could find blue flowers he liked that he would have an Illini pot every single year!

This year all our flowers are looking really great!  We’re hoping to add some shade perennials to the front of our house this year to make it look a little more interesting, but I think we really added a lot of color to perk up the drab front of our house this year.

Our first ripe tomato of 2013!

Our first ripe tomato of 2013!

Also with our green thumbs, this year our garden is doing ok.  I’ll take some pictures and do a full update later, but we did get our first ripe tomato last week!  It’s the earliest we’ve ever gotten a ripe tomato.  Usually it’s not until at least the middle of July.  It’s tiny, about the size of a ping pong ball.  It also have a sad looking spot on the bottom of it, so there’s not a whole lot to eat there.  It’s still early though.  The best part by far was that I finally beat my Dad to having a ripe tomato!

Getting ready to clean up the back flower bed!

Getting ready to clean up the back flower bed!

 

 

 

 

The last thing I’ve been working on outside is around back.  About 3 years ago we redid the backyard patio and added these flower beds.  They’re gorgeous, but the mulch was looking really sad, and the weeds were coming up through the weed blocker, so it’s definitely time to redo it.  This is as far as I’ve gotten so far getting rid of the old mulch.  The question is do we go with rock, which we won’t have to replace again in 3 years and Tyler won’t try to eat, or with the cheaper mulch again.  I’d really love not to have to redo these in just another few years, but the rock can be really expensive compared to the mulch.  I’ve already gone with a higher quality weed blocker at least, so hopefully I won’t have to rip it up again!  What do you all think?  Cheap but short lifetime or long lifetime with a much higher price tag?

 

 

 

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There’s No Nuts in Nutella!

Ok there are actually nuts in Nutella, but it doesn’t taste like there are, and that’s all that is important in our household.  Neither Eric nor I like peanuts or walnuts or cashews.  It’s actually pretty surprising that Eric likes peanut butter (which I don’t).  However we both love Nutella, so when I decided that I wanted to make ice cream, Nutella ice cream seemed liked something we’d both enjoy.  By the way, be prepared for lots more ice cream recipes as we move through the summer.  I love my ice cream maker plus in my mind, if I make it, it’s not nearly as fattening! 🙂

All the steps towards making the ice cream.

All the steps towards making the ice cream.

I made a recipe found here because it wasn’t just a smooth ice cream but is “crunchy” as well.  Compared to some of the ice creams that I’ve made this one has very few ingredients, egg yolks, heavy whipping cream, half and half, Nutella and salt.  I only had to buy the half and half for this recipe. The reason that this is termed crunchy was because at the end more Nutella is swirled into the ice cream, which is really tasty and ramps up the Nutella flavor.  I didn’t swirl all of the 1/4 cup in, but I wish I would have.  For us, it didn’t seem to add a crunch as much as just a different texture.  It’s kinda like finding chocolate bits in your ice cream.  It makes it go from tasting like chocolate ice cream to Nutella in my opinion.  One note from me is that you might want to put this in something microwaveable. It gets VERY solid when it’s completely frozen and even our really sturdy spoons and ice cream dippers felt like they were going to bend when dishing this out.  A quick zap in the microwave would really save some spoons I think.

The ice cream has the nutella swirled in and is ready to go into the freezer

The ice cream has the Nutella swirled in and is ready to go into the freezer

We’re still finishing this ice cream off.  It’s hard to have a dessert in the evening when you have a toddler you don’t want to share with and he keeps going to bed later and later!  Not to mention trying to eat a little healthier.  It was really good though, and I now want to try other Nutella desserts as well!

My dished out ready to eat bowl of ice cream.  Yum!

My dished out ready to eat bowl of ice cream. Yum!