Admittedly, a few birds did act strange…

7 Mar

Steve Guttenberg recently left a mail order nursery (as in the plants, not the babies) catalog on the kitchen counter for me because he thought I might like to look at it.  This may have been a mistake because in this catalog I saw blueberry bushes and immediately decided that we would be growing blueberry bushes in our yard this year.  They’re actually rather pretty bushes with little white flowers and they turn all firey red during the fall.  See?

Big G(uttenberg) was not thrilled with the prospect of blueberry bushes.  He said, and I quote here, “How will we protect them from the birds?”

Get Cathy and Lydia out of here!

Silly, it was just a movie.  No birds will attack our blueberry bushes.


Anywho, let’s get back to business.  It’s almost time to start our indoor seedlings.  (Is that what you call them?) Last year we grew beans, tomatoes, bell peppers, lettuce, carrots, zucchini, summer squash, broccoli, cauliflower, and sweet corn. Everything did okay but we’ve elected not to repeat the sweet corn.  Our cobs were all half empty of kernels and they didn’t seem worth the space they took up in the garden.  We’re also going to forego lettuce because the stuff last year was incredibly bitter and we ended up not eating it all.  We need to start our broccoli, cauliflower, and bell peppers earlier (inside) so that they actually produce more and we need to plant our bell peppers away from our tomatoes.  This year we’re going to add radishes and possibly onions.  I’ve also been turning around the idea of growing cantaloupe as I saw seed packets at the Home Depot and maybe some late season squashes.  And, as always, we’ll grow some cilantro, basil, and maybe one other herb.  Our own little CSA.

This year, too, we finally have compost with which to supplement our nutrient sparse soil.  Stevie Wonder bought me a raised, rotating composter last year as a gift. (How romantic, no?  He knows just what I like.)  And we’ve been throwing all our vegetable and grain scraps in their all winter, along with some leaves and other browns.  Once it heats up, that thing is going to stink to high heaven but it will also turn into a splendid mulch for our vegetable garden and flower beds.  We also have a tiller this year, passed down to us from Stevie Wonder’s parents, so we can till our rather dense and clay based soil.  We had trouble last year with our carrots which only grew about 3 inches into the ground (as far down as our top soil went).  We’re hoping everything roots better this year now that we have our tiller.

I’m also hoping to add a hydrangea bush to the side of our house, some low-lying border lilies to our flower bed, a new flowering bush out front, and, if I can convince Stevie of the amazingness of this, a dwarf, weeping tree.  Some friends of ours have one and I am in LOVE with it.

That’s really all I have to say today.  I’m just getting so pumped about starting our outdoor projects that I can hardly stand to wait for the snow to melt.  Given our ten day forecast of low to mid-50s, I won’t have to wait much longer.

Anyone else starting some seeds inside or planting a garden this year?  Anyone have any ideas on how to convince Steve McQueen that those blueberry bushes are a fantastic idea? Anyone else remember this song?


Do Wah Diddy, Diddy Dum, Diddy (New) Do

4 Mar

I hate putting pictures of myself on the blog.  I also hate taking pictures of myself.  If I had it my way, I would always, always, always be on the hidden side of the camera.

But, if I did that, I’d never have pictures of me and Steve or me and my mom or me and anyone because, obviously, I’d never be in a picture.

I’d also never have these lovely pictures to show you of my new hair do.  That’s right, a new do!

Some of you may not know this but I only go to a salon about once every 2 years or so.  I find it difficult to articulate what I want and absolutely abhor talking to the hair stylists…not because they’re mean or snobby or anything, but mostly because I am convinced they don’t give a darn about anything I have to say and they feel forced (much like I do) to maintain a polite conversation for my benefit.  But this weekend, I did it.  I went and endured two (mostly pleasant) hours of small talk and nerves.

Before I went, I asked Steve if he thought I should jump on the bangs band wagon.  And his exact words to me were, “be bold.”  So behold, the bold:

I don’t think it’s half bad.  I like the color, which is a lot more red than these images suggest.  And it took about a day but I got used to the bangs.  Now, if only I could grow into that nose.


Wet and Dry Wall

24 Feb

When Steven King and I were first talking about buying a house, he had a condition that it be no more than 20 years old. I disagreed and since our house was built in 1965 you know who eventually won that debate. Steve McQueen wanted a newer house because newer house = less repairs and less maintenance costs.

That’s probably true in a general sense but not necessarily true on a house by house basis. But I remember telling Mr. Wonder that he would get bored in a newer house because he likes to do “projects”.

This is an undeniable truth about him. When his mom and dad come to visit (Hi Tom and Vicki) we always do projects. Since we’ve been in this house, they’ve helped us repair the water heater, wash the siding, trim the trees and bushes, pack up more than 20 30 gallon yard waste bags and, in one “Amanda wasn’t around” moment, take an entire tree out of the ground. Oh, and Boy Wonder and his dad also went on a scavenger hunt to track down a snow blower this fall…one which we have yet to use.

All this to say that I was not surprised when I walked into the kitchen today to find this:

(Don’t worry.  He didn’t nick the wires.)

Stevareno was sawing out our water damaged drywall. We actually talked about this in the car on the way home from work and Steve said, and I quote, “I don’t want to take out the ceiling until we have another piece of drywall to put up in its place.” **Cricket**

Patience is a virtue…acquired if you can…seldom given to women…and never to a man.

For the record, in the time it took me to write this post, that hole became 3 feet by 4 feet.


23 Feb

**Please excuse this post as it’s a little bit all over the place today.  I think it’s hunger.

The original intention of this post was to update you on the progress of our kitchen walls.  This past weekend we put the first coat of Gardz up (Gardz is a paint that acts like new dry wall facing) and the walls looked like this:

We actually did that Saturday morning.  Then on Sunday while I did the taxes, Stevie Gonzalez spackled a bunch of the holes and re-mudded one side of each corner.  So we’re further along than this picture demonstrates but not finished yet.

People have been asking me what color we’re going to paint the kitchen.  It used to be yellow which always made me think of this:

I don’t like yellow for the kitchen anyway because I desperately want a chalkboard wall in our home and the best color to go with black is white.  I know chalkboard walls are kind of old hash in the decorating world but I don’t care.  I am definitely doing it and am definitely going to play school on that wall.  Reggie can be my pupil.  Here are a couple of pictures to give you the idea:

Today I saw my first “Whiskey Plate”.  Here in Minnesota, if you get a DUI you have a special license plate put on your car called a “Whiskey Plate”.  Basically, it’s any plate that starts with the letter W.  It alerts other drivers, but it also gives the fuzz the right to pull you over at any time, for no reason.  You know, to make sure you’re sober.  They look like this:

It was interesting.  Mostly because the guy was driving like 75 MPH in the right hand lane and his car had very stinky and very visible exhaust.  Steve and I wanted to report him to the EPA.

Lent started today.  Normally I give up some type of food thing because I love food and it’s always a challenge passing on the Oreos in the grocery store but this year the mister and I are doing something different.  In an effort to get more done, we’re giving up TV.  I think it’s a good fast because I love TV and am going to miss zoning out in front of the boob tube (full disclosure: we are allowing one half hour of the news each morning as we like to hear the weather and traffic before we leave for work).  I am hoping to add into my routine an hour a week at the perpetual adoration chapel at a nearby parish.  And, in the interest of not taking things too far, I’m going to feast on Oreos, Cheetos, salsa, Dove Chocolates, M&Ms, donuts, homemade chocolate chip cookies (because, you know, I’ll have time to bake them and everything),  pulled pork sandwiches, and ice cream.

I had an amazing pulled pork sandwich one time at a restaurant in Duluth.  The restaurant was Sir Benedict’s and the sandwich was called the Cubano, in case you’re ever in the area.  Since then, I’ve been trying to recreate that sandwich after an email begging them for the recipe and promising I would not use it or sell it for financial gain or to put them out of business was denied.  I still have not gotten the recipe right but now, once I do, I will post it for the world to see and use.  Because everyone deserves a good pulled pork sandwich recipe.

Don’t stop bein’ Steven doesn’t like mustard.  I don’t like that he doesn’t like mustard.  It puts a damper on some of the things I want to cook.  He also doesn’t like sour cream.  Or ketchup.  Really, most condiments.  Which I find weird because if you ask me, the meal is just an avenue for the condiments.  For example, hot fudge on ice cream, gravy on mashed potatoes, whipped cream on pie, peanut butter on jelly.  I think I’ve made my point.


(Isn’t that the most beautiful picture of a mushroom you’ve ever seen?)

We had a couple morel mushrooms in our backyard last year.  Steve McQueen didn’t know what they were and pulled them out of the ground and threw them away so Reggie wouldn’t eat them before I could enlighten him.  I am hoping they come back so that I can eat them.  Mushrooms aren’t really something you grow in your garden.  And morels are outrageously expensive.  I bought them at the farmer’s market once because some guy talked me into it telling me that people loved morel mushrooms and there is even a festival devoted to them because they are so phenomenal.  But they were just okay.  Good enough to eat and good enough that I’d pull a free one out of the ground and make a dish around it but not good enough to pay $2.50 a mushroom.  Please.

One of our cars needs a major repair.  We are declining the service in favor of saving $1000.  However, because we know the car is on the fritz, Stevie Wonder and I have been discussing the possibility of a new vehicle…down the road when his car is completely useless, however.  Either way, we went back and forth about cars vs. SUVs for a while.  Neither of us really wanted an SUV but it’s hard to ignore the space.  We always have tight quarters when we need to travel home since we have to put Reggie’s crate in our car.  But that just didn’t seem like a good enough reason to get that kind of vehicle.  After all, the vast majority of our driving is city driving with just the two of us in the car. To and from work.  Then, a few days ago, we realized that all SUVs have started to look like minivans.  It’s as if the car companies decided to hide a minivan under the name and guise of an SUV.  See evidence below:

Can you even tell which one is the SUV?

I know they haven’t always looked like minivans.  I’ve definitely seen some cute SUVs but not the newer ones.

We finally got snow around here.  I think our total snowfall is up to 16 inches now for the winter.  I believe the average snowfall is in the high 50s of inches.  It’s been unusually warm and dry this year.  As it has been everywhere, I am sure.  We’re hoping for a wet spring.

Here’s a video of Reggie being a goofball in the snow.  Sorry there’s no sound.  I was going to set it to music but my song wouldn’t download.  Bummer.

Enjoy anways.

At least your mother didn’t name you Lenora Nell

28 Jan

We have a large, on-going house project again.  Walls.  Walls always take a long time.  So, while you wait, here’s a peek into my family life.  I noticed on this blog that there are a number of posts about Steve McQueen’s family but many fewer of mine.  That’s because Stevie’s family visits more because his uncles are also here.  So we see his grandma and his aunts a lot more than I see mine.  But that doesn’t mean we don’t see my spectacular family at all!  In fact, we’re looking at an Enderiffic spring coming up this year.  I am eagerly anticipating the Spring Garage Sale extravaganza.  Pining even.

I digress.  Here’s the scoop.  WAY back in September, for labor day, my family got together in little old Cataract WI for my Aunt Lori’s 50th birthday.  Lori is my mom’s little sister and what you need to know about her is that she loves the Packers (who doesn’t?) and is hysterical.

Steve and I drove down to Cataract for the day.  The party was actually on a side road that was conveniently unnamed so we drove back and forth through the city of Cataract five times before we finally found the place we needed to turn.  And each time we drove through the city, we passed Lori’s house.  And each time we passed I was convinced she’d see our MN license plate and figure out something was up.  But she didn’t and when we finally got to the house where the party was, Steve and I awkwardly stood around chatting with a bunch of Lori’s friends whom we had met the first time that day.

After a while, the family got there and we started goofing around.

That’s my cousin, Adam, above there.  He’s such a nice guy and a good sport when I say, “Adam, stand there like those are your horns.”  He didn’t even correct the horns part.  And notice that Packers t-shirt.  Like mother, like son.

At some point after the guests had arrived, it started to poor rain which was unfortunate as the chicken and fish was being fried out in the yard.

They ended up setting up a tarp over the deep fryers.  Looking back, probably not the best idea we’ve ever had but the food was good.

Finally, after about an hour of raining and waiting, Lori came through the door.

Surprised?  Yes.  Totally and utterly happy and excited about her party? Um…  A good sport?  Always.  (And notice that shirt.  It was even a Saturday so not even a game day.)

The rest of the night was spent eating and chatting and playing with a tiny dog that looked like a pint sized German Shepherd and was the sweetest thing I’ve ever seen.

I love that picture of my dad.  I have a similar one of Steve’s dad that I like a lot.  They’re both looking off the the right.  Their right, my left.  Only in the picture of Steve’s dad, he looks like the captain of a ship.  Both our dads are named Tom, by the way.  Isn’t that crazy?

I love the picture of my grandma talking to my little cousin Brian.  I like when older people and kids interact.

I also love my mom’s haircut.

At some point, Lori opened her presents.  She had a wide variety of things, including these “saggy boobs” from a friend of hers:

I hope you wanted this picture all over the internet Aunt Lori.  Now a Google search for “saggy boobs” will return a picture of you.

But the piece de resistance was the gift from my mom, sisters and I.  At least I think so.  You see, Aunt Lori’s given name is Lenora Nell, after her grandmothers Eleanora and Anelia.  Aunt Lori always complains about this name while my mom and her sisters reminisce about their childhood woes, saying, “At least your mother didn’t name you Lenora Nell.  Try growing up with a name like Le-Noooooooor-Ah.”  And we all laugh, because she’s funny and has great voices when she wants to be dramatic about something.

But that is what inspired our gift:

I love her face in the first picture.  A genuine laugh.

So that was how we enjoyed our day before labor day…celebrating a woman who has labored away for 50 years with a name like Lenora Nell.

I’m sorry, so sorry…for my long absence. But here are our walls!

22 Jan

Holy Blog.  I haven’t posted since October.  Yikes.  I’m sorry.  I have lots of excuses…one of which you will see here today.  But the bulk of the story is that we started tearing down wallpaper in our family room and then hosted thanksgiving and then traveled for Christmas and then went to Mexico and amidst all that I had the end of the semester and a huge project at work.  Whew.  But we’re back now and I am ready to share some things with you.  We’ve been working on the house some and I’ve been working on a new project, Project Amanda, some.  And you’ll get to hear all about it.  But today, today you will hear about walls.

We tore down the wallpaper in our family room.  We had modest expectations for this room based on the wallpaper removal process from our upstairs bathroom (which we did eventually finish and which I will show you a picture of soon, I promise).  Anyway, given that our family room is probably 9 times the size of that bathroom, we expected the room to take nine times as long.



Ahahahahahahahahahahaha!  Oh, my sides ache from the humor of it all.  Us in our naivete started this project in bits and pieces…pulling off loose pieces of the wallpaper…back in September.  Then in October started working in earnest to have it done by Thanksgiving.  We figured if we put in a few hours every week, we’d be done by then.  I’ll save you all the grueling details but suffice it to say that Steve and I worked four about 60 combined man hours removing paper and glue from the walls.  Then, my parents came up and we all worked for about 40 combined man hours doing the same thing.  After that, most of the glue was removed so we moved on to the other steps which totaled at about 40 combined man hours for Steve and I.  It was…a process.

Incidentally, Steve started removing wallpaper in the kitchen today.  It’s older wallpaper so the glue is not as strong so it’s much less strenuous.  I say this so that anyone thinking about buying a house in the near future will not be totally scared away by wallpaper.  Just plan on lots of time.

So, without further ado, here’s some picks of the process.  First, a reminder of what this room looked like when we first moved in (Steve also removed that cabinet in the corner but you’ll see that later.  Also, I didn’t edit any of these photos so they may look off color or a little wonky.):

These next few are from after paper and glue removal.  I’m kicking myself for not taking a picture before the glue was removed but just imagine the image you are seeing with giant lines and patches of brownish-yellow glue crusted all over the walls.  (These photos constitute about 105 man hours of work).

(Bee-tee-dubs, when we removed that cabinet, we found no less than four different types of wallpaper back there.  Apparently this room has been redone more than once.  I know I have a picture of that but cannot for the life of me remember where it is.  I will post it for you as soon as I find it.  Some of the wallpaper is really spectacular.)

Next, after we let the walls dry for a few days, we had to put up a layer of clear, watery paint called Guardz.  It creates a new facing on the walls so that the spackle that we had to put up doesn’t sink into all the areas where the original wallpaper facing was stripped off by our scraping.  I don’t really have pictures of that step either since it doesn’t change how the room looks.  It’s just that when you tapped on the spots where the drywall facing was stripped off, it was hard.  Quite an interesting product.

After we put up Guardz, we had to spackle and sand every hole, every tear, every divet.  Steve also taped and spread the corners of the room as they didn’t join together correctly.  He also filled 5 holes in the wall with new drywall.  We spackled and sanded everything twice, then washed the walls again.  When all was said and done, we were left with this:

After all our spackling, we put up another layer of Guardz to seal the spackle so the paint didn’t sink in.  Then we primed and painted.  To give you an idea of how busy we were, I didn’t even take pictures after we finished our walls.  The next series of pictures I have is from the warm fall day in between priming and painting when Steve and I spent an entire afternoon raking and bagging the leaves from our gigantic yard.  Then Thanksgiving.

I didn’t even realize this until today when I came to write this post and was all, “Where in tarnations are my pictures?” and “Hot damn!”  So I took some.  The AFTER:

Sorry for the streamers and stuff.  They were decorations from Thanksgiving but we just left them up because we like them.  And for the ugly chair and the screwy light.  The chair is going to be redone and the light normally points down.  I just needed the light for another picture.  Also, boy is our house messy.  I blame laziness and Stevie Wonder and I both being involved in our own house projects this weekend.

Steve Harvey can still see some imperfections in the wall and it bothers him because he is a perfectionist.  But I think they look so good and I am so proud to have accomplished that room I can’t even describe it.  I feel like knocking on all our neighbors doors and saying, “Please come and look at my walls.  They’re so smooth and cool and nice to look at.”  That’s what she said.

Fairly Odd Behnkes

23 Oct

Steve McQueen and I had a busy labor day weekend. Yes, labor day.  I’m that far behind.  In fact, I still haven’t blogged about stuff that happened in July.  I know.  I’m sorry.

We went to Sparta, WI on Saturday for my aunt Lori’s 50th birthday (whose pictures will be in another post) and then on Sunday went to the State Fair with Stevie’s family.  On Sunday we hosted Steve’s aunt Julie and uncle James for brunch, which was delightful, though we didn’t take any pictures.  I made a German pancake which is quite possibly the most delicious breakfast item in the world.

But today’s post is about State Fair.  So without further ado, here’s some photos.

We saw lots of people.

We ate lots of things.  I tried fried pickles for the first time, which I thought would be phenomenal but were really just okay.  They didn’t really taste like pickles…they tasted like warm vinegar surrounded by crunchy.  But I’m still glad I tried them because otherwise I’d be thinking about it for years.  Like how Stevie and I used to go to Breakfast on the Farm back in college and I always wanted to hold a baby chick but never did because I was too embarrassed to charge into all the little kids and ask to hold a baby chick.  And I still regret it. But, what can you do.

We saw fair type things like agriculture flowers and veggies.

We saw 4H stuff like Mother Theresa made out of macaroni and Harry Potter made out of gourds.

Steve is growing a beard and he found a kindred soul.

We saw cows and other things.

But my favorite part of the day was the giant sing along.  It was a big screen with karaoke and a bunch of microphones. Don’t stop bein’ Steven was a little embarrassed to sing so I sang with Julie and Kellie and Al.

I love the State Fair!