Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Weekend Away

This past weekend, Zachary and I went a getaway. Zach surprised me about a week earlier with a few days off in a row from his work and suggested we go somewhere for my birthday. After mulling over a few areas to visit, we decided to go Duqubue, IA to visit the National River Museum and wander around from there. I booked our Friday night at Hotel Julien, a beautifully renovated historic hotel in downtown Dubuque. Even though we had their basic room, it was still pretty nice. We had a wonderful meal at the Hotel's restaurant, Carolines. Zach had the Brown Sugar Glazed Salmon and I had Artichoke & Parmesan Stuffed Mushroom and Green Peppers. Mmmm… that was good. Even the ranch dressing on the dinner salad was amazing.
Saturday we headed over the National River Museum. It was really fascinating to see the wildlife of the Mississippi River up close.
We do have a favorite creature of the river… the Otter.
We discussed the possibilities of making an Otter a house pet, but converting the living room into an Otter pool probably wouldn't be the best idea. Plus I don't think Quee and a wet swirling Otter would make a good match. Maggie would probably be all for a wading pool in the house, though. We were also very fascinated with the large retired dredging ship they have on display, the William M Black. I can't imagine how hot and loud it would have been working in the boiler room, to keep ship running. It was also interesting that steam powered paddle-wheeler was still operational in the 1970s. It was retired because of the massive amount of oil it used to heat the boilers.
After a few hours at the Museum, we drove north to Prairie du Chien, WI and found a hotel there. That night we had dinner at the Great River Roadhouse in De Soto. One of our favorite places to get pizza, but being on the other side of the state, we usually try to swing by when we are near.

Sunday we visited Cabelas, and the Cannery, a unique 2-story gift and antique store in a old canning factory building.
We spotted a trail head on the side of the road between Prairie du Chien and Marquette, IA for a lookout in a National Wildlife Refuge on the Mississippi River. We headed down a metal staircase to what we thought was the trail start. Zach startled a Robin, revealing her nest. Doesn't seem like the safest place for a nest?
After a 10 minutes, we dead ended. We could see the lookout deck, but there was water between us and the lookout. We walked back confused, thinking maybe the area was really flooded. Turns out the trail head was actually on the other side of the parking lot. The metal staircase tricked us.
So we found the actual trail and made it to the lookout. A lot of beaver activity around the trail.
After our muddy, but enjoyable walk in the woods, we headed home. Our cat was really happy to see us. I think she got lonely, since Maggie went to my parents for the weekend.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

My Mac Fix

This past winter when I retired my old mac powerbook, I ended up getting a replacement Windows computer at home. I was a little sad, as I am partial to Macs, but it was the financial reasonable thing to do. I am actually enjoying my Windows computer a lot, Windows 7 is pretty snazzy. I am very happy with it. I did say back then I will always have my Mac time at my workplace. We'll my Mac time just got sexier, as my work computer was just upgraded to a 27" iMac. Pretty, isn't it? (drools...)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Shiny Things

We recently made two purchases for our enduring kitchen project, one planned, one not so much. We had an old refrigerator, about as old as I am. Not one of those frost-free ones, so every couple months, we had to chip and thaw the ice build-up in the freezer compartment. Recently one Saturday, I just got back from grocery shopping and I was putting items away. I noticed the ice build-up in the freezer was getting pretty bad, so I decided to chip the ice pieces out with a butter knife. I was impatient, not using a pan on hot water to loosen the build-up. Prying on one particular stubborn hunk, my knife suddenly slipped forward, puncturing the freezer wall. Oh, crap. Instantly, coolant/refrigerant liquid sprayed all over my face. My lucky shot happen to hit one of the lines behind the freezer wall. Within a day, the bottom refrigerator part stopped keeping the food cool.
So we took my dorm refrigerator out of storage and kept our essentials in there and put the rest in the chest freezer in the basement in the meantime.
The unplanned purchase. Our plan was to replace our old fridge after the kitchen was complete, since it was still functioning well. But things don't always go as planned. The flooring will have to wait a little more longer. Don't get me wrong, I love this thing. Uses like a quarter of the energy, but has 10 cubic feet more space than our old one. Plus we are really enjoying the filtered water and ice feature too. And the business we bought it through properly recycled our old one and we will get an energy star rebate for getting a new one.
The planned purchase. A Kitchen Sink! It fits wonderfully in the cabinet we built for it. And we got it for a great price online at Overstock.com and survived the shipping unscathed. We have a few steps we need to complete before we hook it up, like securing the cabinet carcass down to the wall and floor, pouring that section of concrete counter top around the sink, and then plumb the water supplies to it. In the meantime, we just like looking at it, daydreaming of the day we are doing dishes there instead of a bathroom sink. :-)


I finally grouted my mosaic tea candle holder I made last month at the Fire with Kate. It was pretty easy actually. I was trying to go for a swirling pattern, but I think with the colors I picked, it got a little lost. It will still function well as a candle or pot holder. I am excited to go back and try some more projects.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Snow Free Again

The daffodils are in full bloom in the yard right now, unscathed by the snowy surprise last Thursday. I wish I got a picture of the early bloomers weighted down by the snow.
Nutty chickens... this weekend I caught a few of them "burrowing" along side the house. They do enjoy their dust baths. It seemed like they couldn't get deep enough in the sunny loose soil. There are some perennials that are supposed to be coming up there... I guess they are just celebrating spring is back on course again.

Friday, April 9, 2010

April Showers

We woke up Thursday morning, startled to find outside our bedroom window... Snow.
The forecast called for snow overnight, but no accumulation was expected for our area. It was supposed to melt as soon as it hit the ground.
Well it decided to stick. I have to admit, it was pretty.
It will be in the 60's this weekend, so it will be green again.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


Most of the family made it to Easter dinner at my parents house on Sunday. With Zachary and I childless, we tend to stick with the kids table and continue to refuse to believe we will be 30 in a couple years... The kids are more entertaining than the adults anyway :-P
After a delicious filling meal, the gang retreated outside and picked up where we left off at Thanksgiving, Cornhole Championship II. Jordan had to defend his title. This time, it is outdoors. No more arena league. The gusty winds added another degree of difficulty.
There were often too many men on the field.
Many comments from the peanut gallery.
Intense concentration.
Good form.
Musical interludes.
Celebration and defeat.

Jordan started off strong, defeating everyone. But then Zachary challenged him again and schooled him soundly. He is the one to beat for next time.

3 Gallons

I hit the 3 gallon milestone today! In blood donation, that is. I have been a regular donor for a few years now with the Community Blood Center, one pint at a time every 2 months. The neat thing about the Community Blood Center is all the blood they collect in the area communities goes back to the people who are in need in the same communities, through the network of hospitals they serve in Wisconsin. Every two months when the mobile unit shows up in town, I give blood on my lunch break during work. I am not squeamish about blood and needles, and I am healthy, so I figure it is an easy way to help others. If myself or a loved one would fall sick or get injured, I would want that blood supply to be there.

I encourage you all to donate if you are healthy and able. It is pretty painless and quick. The blood takers at blood drives are professionals and constantly monitor you in case you are feeling faint during the donation process. Heck, do it for the juice and cookies after the donation. :-)

Sunday, April 4, 2010


The ambitious little wild pansies started making blooms this week in the rock border around the flower bed. I think the sun warmed rocks give them a leg up on the tulips and daffodils around the yard. I should have some pictures to share of those in the coming weeks.
The weather has been crazy warm lately, with the temperatures in the high 70s F around Friday. Things are sure greening up quickly. The weather is supposed to go back to typical temps back in the 50s this coming week.

Well off to Easter dinner, Happy Easter everyone!