Sunday, October 31, 2010

Stink Bugs

I'm sure you've all heard about the explosion of stink bugs this year. The funny thing about these little creatures is that they don't have any natural predators in the US, so they just keep reproducing and there's not really anything to control how many of them there are. For any other bug that presents this problem one would typically just squish them and throw them away when they become a nuisance. Unfortunately, as their name implies, they smell when you squish them. Instead I have resorted to simply vacuuming them up. So far, this seems to have worked. I haven't seen any of them hanging out by the door waiting to come in lately.
Below you'll find a picture of my husband vacuuming one of them out of the light in our living room. (Thanks, honey!)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Planting Tulips

A couple weeks ago I finally had a chance to go out and plant the tulips I bought when my mom was here Remember? I was delayed on planting them because of the sawfly fiasco and then had to deal with the weeds. Anyway, it took me 2 days to plant them.
The first day I started by digging one hole, putting a bulb in, covering it and moving on to the next hole. I quickly realized that this method was going to take FOREVER. So, I decided to dig out a whole row and plant an entire row of bulbs at once. This method was much quicker. I got through about half of the section where I wanted to plant the tulips before I called it a day.
The second day I decided I would just dig up the entire section that was left and plant all the tulips at once. Yes, this was the best idea I had yet! Hooray for efficiency! Here's a picture of the tulips before I covered them back up.

As you can see - this was definitely the way to go. That whole side where the pile of dirt lies is where I planted on the first day. Can you imagine how long it would have taken me if I had planted each tulip one by one? I probably would still be working on planting them...
I can't wait to see them bloom in the spring! I shall post pictures as soon as they sprout :)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Pecan Encrusted Chicken

I was on a walk today with a friend and we were talking about some of the meals we like to cook for dinner. Sadly, my list seemed to be very short. I think that's because my husband and I both like routine, so we don't mind having the same (or nearly the same) meals every week.
One of our favorite meals is pecan encrusted chicken - I make it almost once a week.

I don't have an exact "recipe" for the chicken because it was more an attempt at me remembering a recipe in one of my cookbooks. I remembered a vague combination of ingredients for some sort of fish/seafood dish in a cookbook I was thumbing through once and decided to try it out on some chicken since I wasn't able to re-locate the recipe (I tried - I swear!).

For the topping/chicken coating I mix approximately equal portions of flour, brown sugar and chopped pecans. The brown sugar gives the chicken a little sweetness and helps keep the chicken from drying out, and the pecans give it a good crunch.
Next I coat the chicken with the mixture and place it on a baking tray. I then cook the chicken for approximately 20 mins in a 350 degree oven (although thicker pieces of chicken may take a little longer).

I generally cut my chicken into strips that way I can get a better topping-to-chicken ratio :) I also tend to scoop any of the extra topping mixture I have left over onto the chicken because I'm not very good at getting it to stick, and that way I have as much of the topping on the chicken as possible (but you definitely don't need to do that).

So, I realize this isn't the most appetizing-looking picture,
but  it's the only picture of the pecan chicken I have.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Bringing a little structure into my life

Let's be honest - staying at home all day every day can be awesome (every teachers knows this during the summer). Having a wide open schedule to do whatever I want whenever I want is (usually) pretty sweet. But lately I've found that I'm craving structure. I want a little routine. Being the type A person that I am means that having all this free time can drive me a little crazy sometimes. So, I've decided to plan out my days in order to create set goals for each day.

Before my idea to structure/plan out my days (ok, so Will suggested the idea to me) I had a general idea of what I wanted to accomplish in the long run, but I never put any sort of time line to anything. 

I started this week by making a list of everything I wanted to accomplish by the end of the week. I then sat down and wrote out what I needed to do each day. For example, on Monday my schedule looked like this:
9:00-10:00 - go to mass, pray, eat breakfast
10:00-11:00 - run errands
11:00-11:30 - workout
11:30 - shower
12:00 - eat lunch
1:00 - organize the shed
2:30 - leave for soccer

I didn't plan out the evening because my evenings are pretty routine by now.

I was able to stick to that schedule pretty closely, but I think I may have switched "eat lunch" and "organize shed." And I didn't actually get to finish organizing the shed because it was raining. But I did put the shelves together to go in the shed. Now the shelves are ready for all the stuff to be organized.

So far the schedule has been most helpful for me with planning out meals, making sure I take time to pray each day, and (trying to) make sure I workout. Yesterday I didn't set times for everything because laundry is done in smaller chunks of time throughout the day, and my schedule wasn't quite as tight in general. So, I just made sure I completed all the tasks on my list. I also decided that I'd try to leave Friday's open for anything I didn't finish during the week (that means I'll finish organizing the shed this Friday). That way it would be a sort of incentive for me to actually accomplish what I scheduled for each day so I would have Friday "off" to sleep in, lounge around, or do whatever I want.

Next to my list of what I wanted to accomplish for each day I wrote a list of "other stuff" that needed to get done at some point during the week (mostly scheduling appointments, making reservations, etc.). And, as I have time to do these things I just do them. Most of these items aren't time-sensitive.

So far I'm doing pretty good with my schedule. We'll have to wait a few weeks to see if I'm able to keep up with it, but so far I'm liking the structure. And, if I ever decide I don't want the structure anymore I can just throw the schedule out the window :)

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Tree is Gone

Will and I have been wanting to cut down a tree in our backyard for a while now. We talked about it a little bit in late spring/early summer then let the idea percolate in our minds a little before we decided we were actually going to go through with it.
I called a couple different people to give us an estimate and finally settled on one. The guy didn't give me a definite date, but said he'd call before he came out. Since I'm home most of the time I figured that'd be fine. So, he called me on a Tuesday night a little over a week ago and said they'd be able to come out the next morning. Sweet! I was excited that this was finally going to happen. We needed this tree down before we could even think about re-grading or re-seeding the backyard. So, here are a few pics of what the backyard looked like before the tree was taken down (sorry about the poor lighting - it was getting dark out).

See the really huge tree right in the middle?

view with the tree on the right and porch on the left

view from the porch
Now for some pictures of the after. It's kind of funny because I took these during the day so it's nice and bright. It reminds me of those "before" and "after" pictures you see in adds where the lighting is different and makes a huge difference. But, I don't think it's JUST the lighting that makes the yard look better in this case.

See the pile of mulch? That's where the tree used to be.
So much more sun!!!
view from the porch
Our backyard gets so much more sun now it's insane! I think grass will definitely be able to grow now. And I plan on using the mulch from the tree in our flower bed in front of the house :)