Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Come, Mister Tally Man, tally me banana

Yes, I did.
I planted a banana.
I cannot even begin to tell you how crazy that is.
Planting a banana.


There it is.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Rocking'n Rolling

This past weekend, Main Street in Springfield was rocking and rolling again. Vintage cars, both lovingly restored and works in progress, paraded up and down our Main Street, admired and cheered on by hundreds of neighbors and visitors.

I snapped a couple of pictures while trying to convince the puppy that no, nobody was out to kill us and that yes, everything was perfectly save. He didn't think so but soldiered on by my side.

This was the second time that our neighborhood put up this event and people traveled hundreds of miles to participate. Here's a video link of News4Jax (click here) and an article with photo gallery on First Coast news (click here). In case you missed it and you are beating yourself up over it, no worries. It was so successful that the organizers have decided to make it a monthly event.The next one is scheduled for Saturday, August 24, 2012, at 6:oopm!

Until then, I leave you with a few snapshots to tide you over ...

Monday, July 23, 2012

Starting off with something sweet

 Since it looks like I broke my toe stubbing it against a part of the craptastic wrought iron railing on our front porch (bloody thing needs to go, like -now-), I needed a pick-me-up.
I did.
So I made the bestest comfort dessert I could think of: Coconut Tres Leches Cake.

Coconut Tres Leches

Doesn't get any better than that.

1 box of yellow cake
1 can of sweetened condensed milk
1quart of heavy whipping cream
1 can of coconut milk (not sweetened)
vanilla extract
toasted coconut flakes

Bake your yellow cake according to the instructions on the box. When you take it out of the oven poke it thoroughly with a fork until it looks like a well loved pin cushion without pins.

Mix sweetened condensed milk, coconut milk and half of the whipping cream. Add a splash of vanilla extract (Warning: Please be aware you will need all of your willpower to put the spoon down after mixing and to keep yourself from drinking the whole jug of milk syrup. You have been warned.)

Pour the milk syrup over your yellow cake until covered, then allow the cake to cool in the fridge. It'll soak up the delicious milk syrup and develop an almost creamy texture.

Whip your remaining whipping cream, add a little bit of sugar to sweeten it and cover your Tres Leches Cake. Sprinkle toasted coconut flakes on top. Serve pieces with an extra splash of milk syrup

Optional but so so good are diced banana on top of the slice of wonder :o)

Summer is almost over so it's no big deal if you start ruining your bikini shape now.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Free Printable

In an effort to help Little Man remember, you know, like typical bathroom activities, I whipped up this little printable. I still need to frame and hang it, but I thought I'd share with you anyhow.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Pool Surround

Sure enough - I have prepped and primed molding waiting for two coats of white paint in the dressing room but of course, anything, -any-thing- sounds more fun and is a lot more interesting to do than, you know, painting trim.
Since it seems that I have caught the gardening bug, most of my latest endeavors have been aimed at the yard. There were certain areas that had me itching to do something about them. Case in point: the area around our pool. Last year, I whipped up our little  patio area from pavers found all over the yard, some edging and a couple of bags of pea gravel, and it has held up beautifully and provided us with a nice spot to sit outside in our back yard.
This year, during the big clean-up of the pool when we emptied it out completely and pushed it back about two feet, we ended up with a patio that felt more spacious and less closed in by the pool, but it also left us with a pretty bare spot of dirt between the pool and the patio.

See? That's really nothing worth looking at. An above ground pool is really and truly an eye sore but the benefits definitely outweigh that particular drawback.

One day (this weekend), however, I'd had enough of the crummy looks and decided to just do something about it. After a quick trip to the orange box, I returned with a small car load of marble chips and an armful of plants. I choose to go with Liriope and Ferns for some hardy planst that can deal with the poor soil, partial shade and the abuse they'd experience in those particular spots.

[Six bags later ...]

I alternated my plants, added a stepping stone to get to the pump for easy filter changes and clean feet and then covered everything with the pretty, sparkly, white marble chunks.

So. much. better.

This is much nicer to look at already, and I might even have an idea to ...ahem, prettify the big blue menace at some point.
After I was done and I began to coral the odds and ends we keep on the patio (bugspray, sunscreen, skimmer, etc.), I grabbed an old wire windowbox, zippy-tied it to the fence right between grill and pool and used that instead. It had never worked as an actual planter, not holding enough moisture to keep plants alive baking in the Florida sun, but it had found a new calling.
It's perfect!
No water can pool in there and provide breeding space for mosquitos (they are bad enough as it is already - no need to help them populate the world even more!), yet it holds our patio essentials nicely and works great as a holder for the skimmer with its long handle.

Sooo .... what to tackle next?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Make way, make way!

Lately - despite the summer heat, high humidity and pesky mosquitos - I've been feeling rather outdoorsy and needed to nurse my inner gardener. I don't have a green thumb per se, but I do enjoy digging in the dirt, planting and pruning and the challenge of experimenting with plants to find the one, the few who are able to thrive in what we consider "soil' here in Florida.

While I definitely appreciate a lush lawn, it's the one thing that comes at too high a price for us here in the Sunshine State. In order to keep your lawn lush and green and alive, you have to battle a fight to the death, constantely, and on all fronts. From bugs to drought to weeds, a nicely maintained lawn is always under attack. Bare dirt, however, just sucks. Pondering and exploring alternatives of groundcovers such as lowgrowing thymes and perennial peanut didn't really yield the results we were looking for either. Add to that the added difficulty of having to have a walkway cutting right across the front yard so we can get to the backyard gate and our trash cans, a significant drip line along the same line where nothing growns, not even Florida's hardy weeds, and a part-shade, shade setting and you're in for a real brain twister.

After tackling the sunny part of our front yard (read about it here) and really, really loving the black mulch, I decided to follow the same idea over on the other side.

I bought some more no-dig edging (LOOOOVE the stuff) to create the pathway, wide enough to walk and roll the trash can in and out comfortably (Yes, I did take them for a test drive to make sure it'd work). I've used that edging before and it works beautifully. No digging trenches - just lay down and stake into place. Very gratifying, I'm tellin' you.

I covered the planting area with the lovely lovely black mulch, and added two more plants I hope will do well in their new spot: pink calladiums.

There's definitely a pink 'thang' happening in my front yard right now, but even the husband likes it.

Here's another favorite of mine, happily thriving in a sunny spot of the front yard: a grass.

I love how lace-y and feather-y it looks. And of course it's pinkish-purple-ish!

We're getting closer to some actual curb appeal here at the Ugly Duckling. Next, we'll buy some gravel for our walkway for a more finished look and we're planning our fence.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

[A "Before" and "After" in the same picture:
What better way to show they are all worth saving]

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

No more fetch

 [Rest in peace: Buttons ~October 2011- July 2012]

Yesterday couldn't have been any worse...

Running around in the morning getting Little Man ready for Cubscout Camp this week, our world suddenly fell apart. What first seemed like a case of "The Hairball of Doom" turned into seizures and convulsions within moments. We rushed Buttons aka Ms Mittens to the vet but before we got there, in less than twenty minutes from noticing something wasn't quite right to the tragic end, she had crossed the rainbow bridge.

She is gone.

The kitten who loved to rough-house with the dog.
The kitten who left toys in front of the dog's crate to comfort him.
The kitten who had set aside a special beard-rub to greet the husband.
The kitten who would sleep on her back curved around my should each and every night, and who greeted each morning with the happy exuberance of an energized toddler.

We miss her so much.

And we wonder if that's why God sent along Ferbie, our porch cat, and her kittens so we would be comforted when he took back the kitten that played "Fetch!" better than any dog.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Summer Vacation

(At least) Once a year the husband's (core) family tries to get together. Ever since his younger sister got married and we added another family's claim to the available holidays, this has gotten more difficult and so the idea of an annual family reunion was born.
This year the clan got together in South Carolina's Muyrtle Beach for family fun for a week in a rented beach house.
Surprisingly enough all nine of us enjoyed the family vacation, nobody got murdered and we're still talking. How awesome is that?

We had a rollicking time and I thought I'd share a few pictures with you. Granted, us Florida folks are mighty spoiled when it comes to beaches but we did enjoy the tourist attractions you find all over the place and discovering new restaurants (Duffy Street Seafood Shack - try the pirate platter; you won't regret it).
The Beach House

Exploring the beach right after arrival

Myrtle Beach Pier
 (we also grabbed a delicious lunch in the restaurant on the pier)

Myrtle Beach skyline
Looks like an east coast LA

We really loved Ripley's Aquarium

Little known fact: Yours truly did some diving in her youth and got to snorkle with white tip reef sharks during a vacation on the Maldives. I've been madly in love with sharks ever since.

Squishy hugs from Little Man

There was minigolfing

And yes, we're geeky enough to enjoy a game of MagiQuest.

And lots and lots of delicious food!

Friday, July 6, 2012

A Summer wreath

Looking through the 1000+ photos I downloaded from my camera the other night, I realized there are pictures of stuff on there I haven't talked about here at Little Old House.

Online house journal FAIL.

Here's me, playing catch up with and for you.

Our front door wreath changes with the season (click here for an example). It had sported pink, black and white patterned hearts for an embarrassingly long time and a change was long overdue. So at the end of a trip to the craft store I made sure to pick up a few items to change its look to summer.

Some burlap trim, a box of starfish and a napkin ring looking like a sailor's knot later I had all my ingredients for my summer make-over. Thanks to a coupon the whole loot came in at less than $5.

Stripping off everything but the big white 'G' (it's the first initial of our family name) I had a blank slate.

Voila! A quick and easy fix to bring summer to my front door! I added a sprig of faux fern for a pop of green but love the simple natural look of brown and white against the red backdrop of the door.