Friday, May 30, 2008

Andrew Jackson State Park

After church last Sunday, we turned right on the 521 instead of going left and headed to Andrew Jackson State Park. We heard about it but hadn't been there yet, and thought it would be a nice place to go on Memorial weekend. We quickly changed in the car into our shorts and tennies and were ready to see a crowded park of families. We were surprised to see that it was nearly empty aside from a few folks enjoying the tranquility of the lake.

This couple was enjoying a romantic day of reading in the park... not to each other, but each was engrossed in their own book. And, the gentleman had his guitar at the ready to serenade his love, most likely.
The lone fishermanMe posing but trying not to look like I'm posing (I'm still working on this technique).
This little nature trail goes around the whole lake ~ 1 mile.
Paul says, "The water's warm!"
A gaggle of geese! We had never seen Canadian geese so close. These guys ( A mom, dad and their kids) really liked to follow us and eat the grass at our feet. They never looked at us as if they were expecting food, and they were eating as voraciously as if the grass was running away from them. They just seemed to like company while they were eating- the more the merrier!

This is a great park complete with camping. The campground was full, but it was small and so there was still a very peaceful quality to this place. We loved it!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Potato and Leek Soup Recipe

Paul had his wisdom tooth pulled last week due to an infection that had started beneath the tooth. Soup and smoothies have been the foundation of his/our diet all week and so we needed a bit of variety: Split Pea (check out my recipe link for the recipe), which is so simple and good, and Potato and Leek, one of Paul's favorites.

Potato and Leek Soup

2 leeks
1 medium onion
1 Tbs. grape seed oil (or olive oil)
~ 6-8 potatoes
4 cups of water
1 qt. of chicken broth or 1/2 cup rotisserie chicken drippings in 1 qt of water (even better)
1.5 tsp. Italian seasoning (thyme, oregano, marjoram, basil, rosemary, parsley)
~ 2 cups of milk
chunks of chicken (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in a large soup pot over medium heat while chopping onions and leeks. Saute onions and leeks until soft. Add the water, chicken broth and potatoes, and bring to a boil. When potatoes are soft, turn off heat and add the soup in batches to a food processor or smoothie maker and puree. Return to the pot, add seasoning and chicken (optional) and simmer over low heat to blend flavors ( I let it simmer for an hour or so if time, but not necessary). Just before serving add milk and heat to desired temperature, but do not let it boil once milk is added.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Couch Critic

If Paul could sell his skills as a couch tester, I think he'd do alright. He uses some of the classic couch potato postures and moves to different areas of the couch, rating them on:




This matching couch and chair set passed all categories with flying colors (including color) and was the only couch to pass the cuddle category- Paul sits in the corner with his arm on the armrest and I can cuddle him with out feeling like I'm sitting uncomfortably upright. This couch we give a 5 star except for the price. Hence our search continues....

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Books Completed

I have finished reading a couple of books that I have mentioned earlier- "Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict" and "These Three Remain." Both books were good in totally different ways, but both related to Jane Austen's books. "Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict" was humorous and modern, portraying a 21st century woman who was somehow transported to Jane Austen's time. The girl wakes up to find her mind is in the body of a woman living in the Regency period. The 21st century self had a loser boyfriend and was used to the modern liberties that women have these days, and yet she finds herself learning much about life and a little more self respect during her stay in Jane's time. It was a fun and entertaining book, although if you are a Jane traditionalist like myself, it might be difficult to get really into the main character since she is more from our times than the Jane Austen characters.

"These Three Remain" was outstanding, and I really recommend it if you like Pride and Prejudice. This book stayed as true to the times as possible, which is pretty amazing considering it was written by a modern day American author. In this last book of her trilogy, the author presents the final portion of the Pride and Prejudice book from Mr. Darcy's perspective. Pamela Aiden adds much to the characters and makes them so likeable and believable. I hope she writes a sequel.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Furniture Fest

While in Kinston, NC this past week, I stopped by an antique store to check out furniture and oil lamps (I collect oil lamps). I fell in love with these Victorian chairs instantly and thought how perfect they would look in the sitting room off the master bedroom, which we decided would be like a library / spinning room.

Most of the time I like to get up before Paul, and love to read while he's still sleeping. And, sometimes I like to spin at night after he's in bed, but don't like to hang out alone downstairs. So this little side room off the master bedroom is perfect for times like these. Paul let me have free reign to "decorate as girly as I please."

The above chair is supposed to be the gent's chair, according to the tag.

And this is supposed to be the ladies' chair. But Paul thinks this one looks more manly.

Then, I saw this beautiful mahogany corner cabinet that I adored so sent pictures back to Paul to get his stamp of approval to have this in the living room.

On my way out of town on Thursday, I stopped by the antique store and they helped me load everything in the truck. I bought a tarp in case of rain and tie-downs at Home Depot for the occasion. Good thing because once I got to Greensboro the rain was coming down in buckets and I hate to think what would have happened to the beautiful furniture in the back.

I did the obligatory stop at Dairy Queen in Cary-- this was the biggest Dairy Queen ever! Mom you would have been in heaven.
We assembled the bed that we bought last month and arranged the furniture in the bedroom to how we think it will stay.

Oh it is so pretty!

The sitting room with chairs and empty bookshelf.

We also set up our hummingbird feeder this weekend- it is so beautiful in our backyard! No visitors yet but they'll find it before too long.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Humans in the Headlights

Jerry and I were walking across a big meadow yesterday, heading out to check on a creek running through the facility. We had a long pole rigged with duck tape and a scooper and it was rather cumbersome. We were preoccupied with our trek across the field, keeping our eyes open for snakes, and making sure we didn't trip on the pole and scooper. I happened to look up in time to see a deer running pell-mell straight at us.

"Jerry, should we be concerned?" We both froze in our tracks and stared at the fast-moving animal heading straight at us.

"Nah, she sees us." We kept standing there.

"Uh, are you sure about that?"

And at that point the deer seemed to wake up from some inner reflection and said with it's eyes and panicked expression, "Oh, deer, there are people in the road!" Brakes slammed and it zig-zagged off into the trees 20 feet away.

Whew-- we all three sighed with relief -- we didn't get run over, and the deer didn't have us on it's windshield. That was a close one!

Monday, May 12, 2008

A Day at Lake Wylie

There's a really neat relationship in our office between us and our client. Our client shares their office with us and rather than having that sort of formal relationship, it really feels like we all just work together as a team.

This picnic is a great example. The guy pictured on the left is part of the client team and he decided since we all have been working so hard in the field, he'd host a picnic on the lake where he lives. So on Saturday we had a divine barbeque of cajun sausages, burgers, hot dogs, and grilled veggies including asparagus.

We ate, and ate, and ate some more... this included everyone's families by the way- about 20 people or so altogether. Actually, that wasn't worded too well- we didn't eat our families, our families ate with us!

Then we were taken out for a boat ride to check out the lake and all the fancy houses. It was perfect weather and a perfect day.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Update on The Sweater and other projects

I've kept The Sweater under wraps lately even though I've made slow but steady progress. Who wants to see pictures of the same sleeve with 1" improvements made each week? So here it is with the sleeves done and the neckline in progress. This has been my favorite knitting project on the large scale because it was such an easy pattern that didn't require sewing pieces together. I don't like knitting in the flat and then trying to make sure it all matches up. This knitting in the round makes so much more sense!

However, I recently bought a book called "A Fine Fleece," which teaches how to plan knitting projects based on handspun yarn characteristics, and how to spin a yarn for a specific design. This book has way cool sweater patterns that are knitted in the flat and sewn together. So I will have to give them a try because the patterns are worthwhile.

On the wheel right now I have some very very fun fiber that Trish from Tanglewood Fiber Creations sent me as a special project. This is yak fiber that I'm to spin with thicker portions (aka "slubs") intermingled with thinner portions. It has been a big challenge to keep the thinner sections from overtwisting and keep enough twist in the thicker sections so they don't come apart. But I love that it's something new for me. This is a big batch but it spins up really quick compared to what I've been working on for Trish in the past.

Sunday, May 4, 2008


It all started with bringing the birds out on the deck for some fresh air. While we were at it, we went around different parts of the yard, layed down and took pictures looking up at the trees (I want to paint a treetop scene on our dining room tray ceiling). Paul was in his pj bottoms as this didn't start as a chore morning.

While I was taking pictures, I realized how many strangling vines we had in our trees and so brought out the loppers and began extricating vines one at a time. Paul began helping and his job ended up being pulling down vines from the trees after I lopped them off at the roots. Well these suckers were really wound up in the branches and so Paulzan had to swing from the vines to try and get them down (didn't work by the way). He was still in his pj/boxer bottoms which with a little imagination could pass as a Tarzan loincloth- maybe?

Friday, May 2, 2008

Weeds Aren't Always Ugly

This isn't the greatest picture, but I saw the prettiest flowers scattered throughout a wheat field in Virginia. They are undoubtably weeds since they are growing in a wheat field, and a weed is any unwanted plant growing in an unwanted place. I like how these bright purple flowers are bold rebels in a field of uniformity.