Monday, May 25, 2009


Annie & Steve are here in town -- YAY!!! Please excuse Jason. He was very excited to see them.

Lucky for us, their visit coincided with Steve's parents' annual Grass Family Memorial Day Weekend Summerfest Beer Tasting BBQ Extravaganza. Otherwise known as Summerfest. The premise is simple: everyone brings a favorite summer beer, all the beers are sampled and voted upon, and a winner is declared. There are no prizes, only the glory of bringing the winning beer!

The competition was pretty stiff this year, as there were 15 beers to taste! Trust me, even for a beer lover, that is a lot of tasting and ranking to do! There was definitely a clear male-female divide in the voting, with most members of one gender ranking beers the opposite of the other gender. I wonder if someone could get a grant to do a research study on that??

Of course there was also food. Lots and lots of food. Mainly involving things you can put on a BBQ.

We had a blast, of course catching up with Annie & Steve. This was also the first time I had seen Steve's parents in a few years; they got to finally meet Jason after hearing many tales! It was a wonderful way to spend the afternoon: beautiful weather, good food and beer, great friends, and lots of laughs.

As a bonus, Jason brought not only the winning beer, but also the close second. Let's hear it for Chamberlain Pale Ale and Sam Adams Summer Ale! It was a sweep for New England. Too bad the Red Sox couldn't do the same this weekend........

The darkhorse entry was Grandpa Earl's Big Ass Beer. It was a surprise tie for third! You never know what Grandpa Earl has got up his sleeve.

And that concludes our Memorial Day weekend. Tomorrow we're heading north with Annie & Steve, to go camping in the redwoods all week. I'll have lots of pictures when we get back and hopefully some good tales. Viva les S'mores!!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Outdoor Wednesday

I thought I would share with you all how well our little garden is doing so far. This past weekend it was over 100 degrees -- yuck! Thankfully, we'd been really generous with the watering and all our veggies seem to have taken off. The heat didn't seem to phase them and there is already evidence of deliciousness to come!

The red lettuce and Chinese cabbage are already going strong:

The cucumbers have a lot of flowers on them and the beans are happily climbing their trellises. Many of them already have pods!

The tomato plant is looking a little sad, but hopefully these yellow blooms will bear some juicy fruit:

And last we have the salsa garden. Green onions in the front, I've never grown them so I don't know if they look healthy or not?

I'm hoping for a bumper crop of all these hot peppers!

The roses in the front yard seem to be in their final bloom for now. They've still got a few gorgeous blooms left on them:

This little tea rose wasn't trellised and it got so heavy with blooms it just flopped over on its side!

And finally these little guys, some annuals that I had planted in my hanging baskets last fall. At least I thought they were annuals. Jason swore they were going to come back to life after the winter and I really didn't believe him. Now I have to admit, he was correct:

So that's what been growing around our little homestead! I still have a bunch of wine barrels to fill on the side of the front yard. I'm looking for something tall, colorful, likes partial sun, and will survive a brutal Sacramento summer. Any ideas???????

I'm linking up to Outdoor Wednesday at A Southern Daydreamer. You should head over there too and see what else everyone has been to up to outdoors. I'm counting on lots of spring flowers and early gardens!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Getting the Mojo Back

Thanks to some prodding from Mara....I realized I had not been scrapping since...ummm.....before Christmas?? The sad thing is I made a December Daily album ala Ali Edwards and took pictures all through the month for it. And then never put it together. Nice. Thankfully she prodded me right back over to two of my favorite scrapbooking message boards and encouraged me to join in on some May fun and motivation. And boy has it worked!!

In case you were unawares (and could you possibly not know), May 2nd was National Scrapbooking Day! Did anyone catch Michelle Obama showing off a few of her favorites layouts of Barack and the kids? Okay well she didn't really do that...but it's just one short step from organic gardening to scrapbooking. Back to reality.

Color Me Daisy and Moments 2 Remember are two awesome places to go for some scrappy fun and inspiration. CMD is having a month long "Be Happy" online crop full of challenges and prizes. Leave a comment on their blog, because they are awarding a RAK a day for the entire month to commenters! They have a fun message board and their kits are to DIE for. Always chock full of beautiful paper, lots of embellies, and beautiful add-ons to tempt you!

M2R is also having a month long online crop to celebrate National Scrapbooking Day. They have an around the world theme, with challenges based on different parts of the globe each week. Their design team does incredible work and the crop has been very inspiring....really gotten me off my butt and back scrapping again. Their message board is super friendly and supportive; I know several of the ladies have become friends in "real life." They have monthly challegnes, and the design team also does monthly tutorials on different techniques. Everyone that posts there is really talented, lots and lots of great eye candy in the gallery. And if you want one of their kits, you have to act fast, they always sell out super quick!

So enough talk. The point is that I've been diving back into my pictures and getting a lot done and having fun! If you need some inspiration too, check out these sites, they'll be sure to get your creative juices flowing again. I'll leave you with some of my recent favorite layout and projects. A lot of them are really simple, but I've definitely got my mojo back!

Thanks for looking!!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Uppers & Bottoms & Counters -- Oh My!

Susan is hosting her weekly Metamorphosis Monday blog party over at her blog: Between Naps on the Porch . Check out the changes that have been going on around here, then head over her way and look at all the other amazing transformations!
I know all of you have been waiting to see some pics of our kitchen remodel. Try to hold down the excitement. We debated redoing the kitchen....over and over and over. We are really hoping to sell the house this summer and have been a bit addicted to HGTV lately (okay I have, but Jason watches it too!). After hearing "kitchens sell a house" about a bazillion times, and looking at our crooked cabinets every single day as we walk in the front door, we decided to take the plunge and go for it!

We're still in the middle of things, but I'll update you so far. We've been doing the vast majority of the work ourselves. So for time and budgetary reasons, things have been done piece by piece. Which has actually been a good way to do things, I can't imagine living without a kitchen for weeks on end!

Without further ado, some befores:
Nice empty space in the cabinets. And where's the stove you say? Waaaaaaaaaaaaaay over on the other side of the room:
No, it's not my photography skills, the cabinets really are that crooked. And what about the fridge? Surely we have a fridge? Ah yes, it's tucked around the corner:
Work triangle? Ha! We don't need no stinkin' work triangle! Moving walls and plumbing and gas lines was not an option. We needed to figure out a better flow and a better way to define the kitchen from the living room, while keeping the same general setup. The front door opens right into the "great room" which is currently defined by this lovely sight:

Sweet lino in the kitchen, nasty carpet in the living room! First order of business was putting up a half wall. I was a little unsure about this, afraid it would make a not-too-big space seem even smaller.However, once it was up, the kitchen area felt twice as big!
Now we have room for a little rolling island/cart up against the wall (which I don't have a pic of). Since there is hardly any counter space next to the stove, this is perfect for rolling over there to do veggie prep. Jason and Roger did an awesome job!
Plus, when we have people over, they'll be able to sit in the living room without feeling like they're in the sink.

Next step? New cabinets! I absolutely, completely, without reservation HEART our new cabs! They are the already assembled, straight off the shelf line from the Despot. Verrrry convenient:

And they look great! It's so nice to put dishes on the shelves without being afraid they'll bow and crack. Old crooked shelves and sticky hood:
New straight cabinets with new microwave/hood combo. Love the space-saving!
We ripped off the old white laminate and forest green tiles (matched the carpet) and put down the lower cabs. We also hung a new upper cabinet on the left side of the window, to help define the kitchen space. Between that and a corner base cabinet, we gained a lot more space. Plywood is all ready for new counters!

And so I bring you, our granite counters. They are so beautiful, I love them, so glad we picked this color. This is where we wisely let the professionas take over. After all the work we have done to the house, it was quite an indulgence to watch somebody else! Besides, granite cutting is really better left to those who know what they're doing:
They did a fantastic job! Check it out:

Now the half wall is a sweet little spot for sitting and having breakfast in the morning (and checking my blogroll on my laptop!). It'll be a perfect bar for parties too. We got a new stainless dishwasher and sink and now the stove looks really crappy so that's next on our list. Yea.

We're thrilled with how everything's turned out so far. There's a lot of work still to be done, but seeing this progress is super encouraging. It feels like a different house already! I'll try and be better about they aren't as long as this one!

Head on over to Susan's to check out more cool metamorphoses.

And make sure to check back here. Next up........we're tackling this: