Monday, June 29, 2009


So, I got off nights this morning and mowed the lawn, then plopped on the couch for a nap. Around 2:00P.M. I heard the doorbell ring. I was sleepy and kind of out of it but got up and answered the door. It happened to be someone who was working on re-paving Hwy 7. He asked me if he could park a piece of equipment in Hope and my driveway for the night. I said, "uh, sure". Little did I know I was going to be the parking lot for the whole company!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Today's Harvest

Here's are some photos of today's harvest. We're getting lots of sugar snap peas and green beans. We should also have zucchini and summer squash later this week. The squash plants are in great shape. Here are the dogs posing beside them (for perspective). I would have used Brian, but he was working. The dogs were happy to help out.On a slightly sadder note, a swarm of baby grasshoppers seems to have taking refuge in my garden. The are thousands and thousands of them. I'm not sure if there's anything I can do about them, but thankfully they aren't attacking everything. Mostly just some of the lettuce and the leaf herbs. I think I may put the herbs in pots and have them live on our deck instead of the garden. Here's the lettuce looking like swiss cheese.And finally, here is my first tomatillo.

The end.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Bad Weather

Here's the storm cloud that I raced into town this morning. I would have beat it if I hadn't stopped to take a few photos. I told the dogs to hide in the basement if there was a tornado before walking out the door. There's scary weather here in Iowa.

Sunday, June 14, 2009


Brian leaves really (really) early for work. When I was sending him out the door this morning, I noticed there was a very pretty sunrise. Could resist taking a photo and posting it. Now its back to bed...

Strawberry Harvest

Yesterday we harvested strawberries from the garden. (Notice my new bowl that I found while antiquing with my mom a few weeks ago- I actually found the whole set.)And made strawberry shortcake (with baking powder biscuits, of course). Yum!

Date Night

On Friday night Brian took me to a new restaurant a few towns over called the Otho Pub. Its just a hole-in-the-wall place, but its specialty is stuffed hash browns. They take hash browns and stuff them with mozzarella cheese, onions, and peppers. The place was pretty dark, but here are some photos showing Brian enjoying the speciality. The portions were huge...this was the first time that I've ever heard Brian ask for a doggie bag.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Something special from Galena...

My sister-in-law Jennifer asked if I bought anything special in Galena. To answer her..."Why yes, Jennifer, I did! We found the an original Parcheesi Board- just like the one my Grandma Ouillette has (the one I grew up playing)! I was VERY excited! Parcheesi is the greatest board game ever created."

Garden Update

Here's a garden update, especially for those in Uncle Larry's Garden Club, my father-in-law, and Uncle Gary.

Here's the garden from the back.
Everything is going pretty well and (thanks to Mom Platt who helped me plant during her visit a few weeks ago) at least all my seeds are in the ground. The dogs are also doing their job chasing bunnies away. Mattie actually caught and killed one last week. (Which I admit was sad, but probably good for the garden.)

Here's an update of everything that I (attempted) to grow, the status, and some photos. I took these pics this evening after coming back from a long weekend away. The weeds were under control when I left, but came back in force during my absence. I'm slightly embarrassed by the apparent weeds, though I'm sure that all fellow gardeners will understand. We had thunderstorms today, so it was too wet to weed tonight, but I'll be fighting back once things dry up.
Strawberries are just starting to ripen. The apples are starting to form as are the raspberries. Grapes: Looking great! Brian plans on making wine this fall.
Corn: Had some germination issues and cut my losses. This is Iowa, after all. Sweet corn is readily available, so I took the space where I had planted the corn and added additional squash. There are still 7 corn plants growing. Brian is hoping to get at least one ear. Need to do some additional research (or be more patient) next year.

Chives: Nice! These were here when we was the asparagus. We'd stopped cutting the asparagus for the season and are letting it go to seed. My snap peas are strong and healthy. They are a bit behind Uncle Larry's, but are at the point where they need to be staked up. I'm hoping to get that done in the next couple of days. Seeing photos of what you do for your peas was inspirational. Thanks! I didn't really know where to start... The bush beans aren't doing quite as well as the peas. We've had a lot of rain recently, and I'm hoping that's why some of the leaves are slightly yellow. Thoughts?
The same thing is happening to my peppers. HELP!The lettuce was a real success story. Looks and tastes fantastic! I have 8 hills of cucumbers (3 different varieties). All are doing well. In addition, my summer squash, zucchini, and winter squashes (Hubbard, butternut, and acorn) are also about this size. My watermelon and cantaloupe just started coming up this week, along with my pumpkins. These pictured below are watermelon, but my cantaloupes and 3 varieties of pumpkins are the same size (and look pretty much the same). I had to forgo planting my decorative gourds because I didn't have enough space in the garden, was afraid of cross-pollination, and Brian said I couldn't extend the garden into his lawn. I need to find a place for my gourds next year. Tomatoes *sigh* are a little behind. Here's my largest- a yellow pear plant. I have about 15 plants in the ground- 6 varieties. As some of you might remember, I started most of my plants from seeds in a starter box. Well, some evil milkweed plants grew in the box along with my tomatoes. Young milkweed plants look an awful lot like tomatoes, so I have a half dozen milkweeds that got special treatment. At this point I have sorted all of them out and ripped out and disposed of the milkweeds. The tomatoes aren't doing so well with all the rain we'd had, but I'm hopeful that things will dry up this week. I have a few more plants to transplant from my starter box to replace the milkweeds that made it into my garden. Tomatillos are going well. Does anyone know if this is a vine or bush plant? Becky? Cabbage (8-10 plants). Growing well. I started these in my starter box and ended up with more plants than I could use. Cauliflower, same story as the cabbage. Beets are great- all three kinds. This plant I'm not sure of. I didn't label my seed box quite as well as I should have (lesson learned). I think that it is Romanesco, but I'm not 100% sure. I have 10 of them that I (Mom, actually), transplanted from the starter box.
Sweet potatoes. Ordered small plants from a seed catalog. They didn't make it.

Tabasco peppers. Same story as the sweet potatoes, though I have one that's still holding on.

I'm sure that I planted onions, but they haven't yet made an appearance (or at least I can't tell them apart from my beets). With all the wind here it is impossible to mark rows. Next year I need to not only make a chart of where I would like to plant, but where I actually end up planting everything.

The garlic looks good (pictured), as do my parsley, dill, mint, and basil.

I haven't yet done any fertilizing. I would prefer not to, but does anyone have an opinion about my tomatoes? They're really the only plants that I'm truly worries about!

Mont Rest

Back in February Brian booked a birthday trip for me to Mont Rest, a B&B in Bellevue, IA. I had to wait a long time, but this weekend finally came and we were able to explore a very interesting part of the state. Here's a picture of Mont Rest- a mansion on the shore of the Mississippi. Our room was in the tower- the circular room at the top. Here's the staircase we had to use to get up to our room. The Angelic Tower Room. It was hard to take a photo because the room is perfectly round, but this photo gives you a general idea. A truely unique experience. We knew that we had found a great B&B when we found they had a separate beer fridge. Here's Brian at the top of the stairs after making a beer run. Our view. The mansion was beautiful. Here's a photo of us in the big living room mirror. Bellevue is home to one of the many locks along the Mississippi river. Here's part of the lock from the shore. By the way (to all reading this entry), Brian has decided that he wants to be a Lock Master on the Mississippi. As part of our weekend package, we were taken on a boat ride up the Mississippi River to the Galena river and to the town of Galena, IL. Here's the boat.Unfortunately the day of our trip it rained a lot of the time. That's okay, though, we had a lot of fun and met some very interesting people who were also along for the ride...and on the way back it was cloudy, but dry. We spent the afternoon in Galena, hometown of Ulysses S. Grant. Grant wasn't the only hero to come out of Galena. This town was actually home to 9 Civil War generals. Aside from that they also have lots and lots of cute shops......and some great eateries. Here's Brian trying out a 312 Wheat Beer from Goose Island at Gobbies Restaurant.
The only sad part of the weekend was this lost puppy who had obviously been sitting in this barbershop window in Bellevue for a very long time. I hope that someday he finds his owner! Oh yeah, and Mom Bickmeier, we found a present for you in Galena and will be sending them along to North Pole.