29 August 2013

Champions League Draw

Well, in case you missed it (and I'm guessing most of you did) Celtic FC had a historic comeback last night in Glasgow.  After losing in Kazakstan 2-0, they came back to Scotland won 3-0, scoring the last goal a couple minutes into stoppage time.  This put them through to the lucrative group stages of the Champions League.  The draw for the group pairings took place today and Celtic's Group H is probably the toughest one in there.  Barcelona was in the same group as Celtic last year and the Hoops were able to take a game off the Spaniards so anything is possible.  AC Milan is a team that is going to be tough.  Young, aggressive with lots of striking power (Mario Balotelli, El Shaarawy, Niang).  And Ajax of Amsterdam is another of my favorites.  And the stadiums!  Camp Nou, San Siro, Amsterdam ArenA...incredible European nights!

26 August 2013

Friday Night Visitor

"Take the girl, go into the bedroom and close the door."

Those are words you hear in a tense thriller movie and most normal people don't get to say them too often.  Well, I can proudly say that those words were delivered by me on Friday night.  Nothing like coming home from a delightful trip to Snookie's for ice cream, only to have an indoor bat visitor turn your family into a bunch of screaming, crying lunatics (I was in the screaming group, not the crying one.)  And I was amazed at how much larger a bat looks when it is flying at you in your living room, as opposed to thirty or forty feet above you in the trees.  (Isa said she thought it was a hawk.)
His shiftly, unpredictable flying style left me swinging at air a few times with the tennis racket, but eventually I took him down and pinned him to the ground under the racket.  At this point I called Sylvia out to assist.  I wasn't sure if he was dead as he hadn't moved, so I wiggeled the racket a little.  It squeaked out its bat noise, we both screamed, and I bopped it solidly on the head several times with the other tennis racket.  And that ended that.
That night all three of us slept together with the door closed. 
Rest assured though, we have a bat exclusion expert scheduled for this week. 
Sidenote: Isa later asked if we could keep the bat (it was in the freezer) until Halloween and use it as a decoration to scare people. 

22 August 2013

Ashton (Chris) Being Real

I love seeing a celebrity using those spotlight moments for something actually worthwhile.  Even better when that celebrity is a young man from Iowa. 
Nice work, Ashton!

21 August 2013

Project: garden shed

When we were checking out the new Fleet Farm in Ankeny, one thing that caught my eye (along with an axe, a gray Carhartt hoodie and some birdseed) was a plastic tool shed.  I'd been looking at DIY plans online and found a couple that I thought might work.  This one cost about that same as I would've spent on supplies to make one myself, it was simple to put together, and it was plastic.  Sadly, it was also out of stock.  And they had no idea when they were getting more in.  Nor did those facts change in the multiple phone calls we made to then in the following days. 
Not one to sit around, I looked around online to see who else was selling that same brand and model.  Lo and behold, Home Depot sells it online.  I had to go through a couple people to get it all squared
away, but they shipped it for free to their West Des Moines store and I went out and picked it up. 
And by picked it up, I mean I had four of their workers put it on top my Jeep and I strapped it down for the short ride home. 
We have the perfect hidden corner for it so I just had to rake away all the mulch (during which I found that they already had cement pavers down covering half the area), lay down some more pavers (purchase at the Habitat ReStore for $9), level it all and then
assemble the thing.  I am thrilled with the size.  It won't block the window view.  And there is room in there for the mower, the snowblower (thanks Greenleafs!), the edger, the wagon (a great Orscheln purchase to replace the wheel barrow that I hate) and all the gas and birdseed!
Plus the leftover box makes a great play "dog house" for Isa!

16 August 2013

The Stomach Talks

"Jakee, can I have those spicy chicken leg thingies?"

This is what Isa leans over and whispers to me during church yesterday (completely out of the blue). We had had leftover buffalo-style chicken wings on Wednesday evening and were surprised that she not only ate them but loved them.  She can be a little sensitive on spicy things but she chowed them down. 
We thought that was that, but obviously she hadn't forgotten about them so quickly.  ...And she was hungry. 

11 August 2013

Lemonade Stand, Outdoor Movie Party and a Tree Cutting.

Lots of fun to finish up last week!
On Thursday evening, Isa ran a lemonade stand for the first time.  And, while I was skeptical of business on a Thursday evening, she did fantastic.  I will say that she diversified her product line with some top quality, home grown produce (two varieties of heirloom tomatoes, poblano & hot peppers and cherry tomatoes) and I think that appealed to some prospective buyers.  Mainly, though, the credit has to go to her soft skills.  She waved and smiled at every car that passed, engaged every walker in conversation and ended up reaping the benefits.  Her clientele was really spread across the age spectrum and by the end of it I think she had caught the entrepreneur bug.  She kept asking to be able to stay out a little longer and earn a couple more dollars. 
Friday we had a good crowd on the patio for some food (grilled chicken sandwiches & hot dogs), fun and a showing of Brave, as chosen by popular vote.  Popcorn and smores over the chiminea during the movie were a big hit and the weather couldn't have been any better.  I didn't get to see much of the movie because one of my good friends brought his chainsaw over and just after dusk we cut down a big arborvitae evergreen on the front corner of my house.
And that provided my fun for Saturday.  I was in the yard by 8 and taking all the branches off, stacking them up, bundling them and then finally getting out the chainsaw and cutting up the trunk.  I came across a bird's nest on the ground so I set it aside and later, we went and found a new spot for it in the bush adjacent to its old home.  Hopefully its previous tenant won't mind the slight relocation.
After all that, I needed someplace to stack up the wood and stuff from fallen large branches that we will be able to burn in our fireplace this winter.  So, using a couple tips from my friend, I fashioned a wood stack, using entirely stuff I had around the place.  Twelve bricks, two 2"x4", and two steel fence posts.  I was happy with the finished product.
...Now how to get rid of five large bundles of evergreen branches?
Oh, and here's the best "before and after" I could do for the tree removal.  I forgot to take a "before" so I had to use this one from the assessor's page.  Sorry they aren't from the same angle.  It makes such a big difference in the look of the house from the road, as well as the amount of light coming in the master bedroom window there.  And it really opens up the walking path.

06 August 2013

Jersey Boys

I already knew I loved Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons music.  Oldies get heavy rotation at our house.  I just wasn't sure about a musical focusing just on that one group and mainly on the story of the band's history.  Well I was pleasantly surprised.  minovia and I went out for a nice dinner at Alba and then to the theater for Jersey Boys on Friday.  (She had been comp'ed a pair of tickets for her involvement with the Civic in her classroom!)  The show was fabulous.  The performers voices were stellar and the hits (as they say) just kept on coming!  Super enjoyable.  And we capped the night off with a couple drinks at the Lift and were joined by caboose & Angela. A great night for sure.

05 August 2013

Salsa Verde

My garden is really starting to put out some produce.  And we had tomatillos left behind from the Greenleaf visit, so I decided to make a quick salsa verde last night.  You can see the ingredients (plus I added some salt) and it turned out delic.  HOT, but delic.