Sarah Comes to Visit

Sarah decided to grace us with her presence last week-- we got four whole days with her before she headed home to Virginia. We haven't spent that much time together in a while and sadly, probably won't again before she gets married. Her visit lined up with my first official week of summer, which was perfect. We went to the pool, got our fill of Friends, went running one morning and ate dessert every night (its all about balance, folks), and spent a day in Gatlinburg.  I showed her how to make chicken parmesan (a staple in this house), we baked a strawberry pie, and we went to see What to Expect When You're Expecting, since Deric would rather die than sit through a movie like that. ;) In true sister fashion, we ended up in eerily-similar outfits more often than not, and even ended up with "matching" frozen yogurt. We'll blame that on Mom's insistence on matching Christmas-and-major-holidays dresses while growing up.

We also worked on an impromptu house project for the future Netherys: Sarah found a table and chairs for $30 off Craigslist so we hopped in Deric's truck on Monday and drove across the county to pick it up. We set it up in the garage, where we sanded and sanded and sanded some more so that she could at least paint a few coats of primer before she had to leave. The plan is for me to finish it over the summer and store it until Deric and I can visit the newlyweds and deliver their table.

In a lot of ways Sarah's visit was a flashback to when we still lived together and accidentally wore matching sweatshirts to school. She's still the only person who can make me laugh until I cry, but at the same time she's an entirely different person that I have to get to know. Its a matter of reconciling the Sarah that I know from childhood with the current Sarah who's getting married and preparing to teach kindergarten. Its an odd mix of being so familiar with someone and yet not knowing them at all. Make sense? Yeah, me neither. Anyways. Foo, I'm so glad you came to visit! I miss watching Friends with you!



Lettuce turnip the beet

We are officially gardeners. Our plants are in the ground and growing, so I think that qualifies us--right? We won't worry about whether or not they grow anything edible. For now, we're relishing in the joy that all our plants (except one) are still green and slowly inching taller.

Since this is our first attempt at gardening, we teamed up with a family from church who can't garden in their backyard since their backyard is a forest (literally). They've got the know-how, we have the sunny yard; its a good trade-off. They also have two little boys who are very enthusiastic when it comes to digging in the garden.

Because Tennessee's soil seems to be more clay than dirt, we opted for raised beds so we didn't have to deal with digging through the hard clay. The beds are 5' by 5' and have a layer of weed blocker between the ground and the imported dirt. In Garden #1, we followed a beginners' gardening plan we found online (I don't remember what site). Sadly, our strawberry transplant didn't survive the transition to outside living.

Garden #2 is more of an experiment for the vegetables we wanted to try but weren't included in the garden plan. Per Deric's request we've got a row of sweet corn, I wanted cucumbers, and our friends wanted to try watermelon. Somewhere in the craziness of planting approximately one million seedlings and trying to keep them all straight and accounted for, we lost the watermelon seeds. So last week when I realized nothing was growing in the second half of this bed, I planted a few more seedlings and hopefully they'll catch up soon.

We've also got sunflowers! I'm hoping these guys end up taller than Deric by the end of the summer. How pretty would that be?

We planted the seedlings in the garden beds four weeks ago, and so far the garden's been very low-maintenance. No bugs, no weeds; just daily watering. I may be overconfident at this point, but I've already got some grandiose plans for next year's gardens. I'm thinking lemons (in a container, seeing as we're not very tropical), lots of strawberries, blueberries, a variety of peppers, lettuce...Basically, I want an entire salad from my own backyard.

(Don't get the title? "Let us turn up the beat." Come on now!)



Ants in our Pant(ry)

Our house is old. Not sure how old, but old enough that there are plenty of cracks and crevices to let all types of bugs into the house. Spiders, ants, even a caterpillar once (in the bathroom sink..why, and how?).  The ants are our most persistent house guests, and even though we have the bug guy spray pretty frequently, there's always an ant or two waiting for me somewhere. Our pantry is the hardest spot to patrol because it has very deep shelving and no light, which makes it easy for lots of ants to hide and food to be forgotten. So I've been on the lookout for cheap-ish glass canisters to store things such as flour and powdered sugar which once opened, can't be resealed tightly enough to keep the ants away. A good friend gave me a set of glass canisters for my birthday since she knew I needed them, and I decided to upgrade them a bit with chalkboard paint we had left over from another project (which I haven't shown you yet, but will eventually).

This project was so easy, albeit somewhat time-consuming. It required at least five or six coats of paint to really get the chalkboard feel but I would paint a coat, walk away for a few minutes, and come back for another coat. And while I was at it, I painted a few lids from mason jars for even more storage. Mason jars are the perfect size for things like cornstarch and powdered milk since I don't need huge quantities of them. Now, labeling the canisters on the countertop isn't really necessary. Obviously I know which is oatmeal and which is rice, but I decided to keep them consistent with the canisters I've stored in the pantry. Labeling the jars comes in handy when I'm digging through a dark pantry and can't tell powdered sugar from cornstarch, or Bisquick from flour.

Here's hoping the ants stay outta our house permanently! No more picnics in our pantry.


Charleston Weekender

My sister Sarah graduated from college this weekend. I'm not sure how that's possible seeing as it was just last year I was moving her into her dorm, but it happened. She's now a college graduate and a soon-to-be-wife. This makes me feel too old and too young all at the same time. Old because it makes me realize Deric and I have been married almost two years already; young because I swear I was just starting college myself.

Anyways, this weekend was a blast. I love spending time with my family and my extended family, aka my parents' crazy friends. ;) Deric and I got into town a day earlier than the rest of the fam and hit the beach hard on Thursday. I got a painful sunburn but it was worth it. I had to make my one beach day (possibly for the entire summer, sigh) count! When the fam did arrive, we spent ten straight hours in downtown Charleston on Friday, took a historic carriage ride, ate seafood constantly (or so it seemed), and attended graduation on Saturday. After graduation we went to a barbecue with Sarah's close friends and all their families, but sadly Deric and I had to head home soon after the BBQ. It was a short trip, but it was fantastic. I'm not sure I could have handled another couple days anyways...I'm worn out!

Happy graduation, Sarah! And thanks for choosing to attend school in such a gorgeous city. Makes for a nice family reunion + mini vacation!


The Best Kind of Kickball

Deric has declared "May Madness" for the next few Sunday nights to give the kids a break as they wrap up their school years and study for finals, etc. So tonight and for the remainder of the month we'll be playing games like kiddie pool kickball and enjoying the nice weather before it hits 90 outside. For those of you unfamiliar with kiddie pool kickball, each base is a kiddie pool filled with water. Home base is a slip-n-slide which makes sliding into home much more fun (and much less painful than baseball, I imagine). Everything else is normal kickball, except that you end up soaking wet by the end of the game.

A few of my favorite action shots from tonight: