Sunday, September 26, 2010

Dog Park Fun

So today we tried out Prairie Wolf Dog Park. What an awesome place.
The park was full of people and dogs on this nippy fall day; everyone was out to enjoy themselves. We've visited the Lake County Forest Preserve with our pup before, but to parks where she was required to wear  a leash. These trips have always been fairly pleasant, except for the doggy pulling on her leash, barking at bikers, and a very thirsty puppy. However, at the Prairie Wolf, the pup got to be off her leash which she loved, and they had a drinking fountain at her height. What's even better is the park is absolutely beautiful making great for the people too. And what's great!!!...there is a large pond for the dogs to swim in too. Our pup was not so fond of the water, but it was a great area, and I hope she's braver the next time we go. It was a great day at a great park. Next time I think we will try the Independence Grove Dog Park. I am so happy to live in a county that has such a nice park system. New wish: a Lake County Forest Preserve Dog Park in Northern Lake County.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Nasturtium Vinegar

Today I made four bottles of nasturtium vinegar that I will give away as gifts. The finished vinegar will have a nice peppery bite and will an excellent ingredient to use in salad dressings, sauces, and other dishes. Here's how I made it...
I picked about 4 blooms per bottle and lots of leaves that I cut in thin confetti strips. I put the leaves and blooms in the bottles and filled the bottles with apple cider vinegar. Then I sealed up each of the bottles.

Now to let them sit for at least 3 weeks before using. The nasturtium can remain in for decoration, but you should make sure the vinegar always covers the flowers or they will mold. 

Sunday, September 19, 2010

A few days in St. Louis

In August we went down to St. Louis for a few days to see friends. It was an amazing time. I will mostly share the trip via photo. I would highly recommend any of these locations if you are looking to check out the St. Louis area.

The City Museum, Downtown St. Louis This place would be awesome to bring kids between 5 and 10, but as an adult was very awesome as well. The entire place is a work of art!



We ate dinner at Zia's Restaurant in the Italian neighborhood called The Hill. The food was to die for, especially the Pomodori Fritti as an appetizer. Even though we were all stuffed, we made our way down the street to get some gelato. 

The second day was nearly completely dedicated to the St. Louis Zoo located in a beautiful park area that also houses the art museum. The entire place is a terrific green space. The zoo is free, and there is free street parking; which is a great deal if you ask me!





For lunch we went to Pappy's, as seen on Man vs. Food.. We didn't do the challenge but we did get a lot of awesome food to eat!

It was a short trip, but I feel like we got to see and taste some of the best St. Louis has to offer. 

Garden Kabobs

Yummy Kabobs with fresh garden veggies!!

Nasturtium, chicken and a little salt. Delicious!

Pork, sweet pepper, cinnamon, brown sugar. 

Far right, streak, salt and pepper...also, cherry tomatoes mixed in the other kabobs. 

All cooked up on the grill with a little extra virgin olive oil. So good and fresh!!!

What we did on our summer vacation

We build a gravel patio!!

When we moved in our house a few years ago, the backyard was one of the things that made us say "Let's buy it!" But that doesn't mean we did have some improvements to make. The site of our new gravel patio used to be where the previous owners had a swing set. We have a nice big deck off the back of our house, but the patio allows for more entertaining space and most importantly a fire pit. Below are the general steps we took to make our patio...

1) Dig down about 4 inches the entire area you are hoping to cover with your patio. That seems very simple but for us took the most time. Much easier to say than to do! Also, its good to have a plan of what you might want to with the displaced dirt.

2) Tamp the dirt.

3) Shovel in enough "traffic bond" or small pea gravel to cover the entire area to a 2 inch depth. You will want to make sure everything is relatively level at this step but a gravel patio is much more forgiving that a brick patio.

4) Tamp this layer of gravel.

5) Now the next steps are what we did, but is the fun and creative part, so if you are thinking about attempting a similar project have fun with this part. We added landscaping lumbers that matched the borders to many of our flowerbeds. We then put bricks lining the landscaping lumber. The bricks we used where also left by the previous owners, they are imperfect and discolored and I love them! Under the lumbers and bricks we put leveling sand. This is the part we were most concerned with everything being level. We got a long level and tried our best to have the sand level everything out. Though this was the step we were most concerned with leveling, we eyed a far amount of it too. (Again, way less particular than a brick patio.)

6) We also added a small star burst for where the fire pit would sit. We used a trash can lid, put sand around it, and then leveled out the bricks, each going longways and making a bursting pattern. Then, of course, removed the lid.

7) Pick out your gravel! We discovered while Lowes and Home Depot sold gravel it was much cheaper to buy from a bulk landscape place. However, that might be because we have a truck, delivery costs might drive up the price much more. We picked a purple granite mix.

8) After shoveling out all the gravel in the nooks and crannies, the only thing left to do is place your furniture, fire pit, and have a fire!!!