Posted by: mindyjoy | June 19, 2009

Recycling Overload

Okay, we’re not the most fastidious couple on the block.  We sometimes let dishes sit longer than we should, and laundry, both washed and unwashed, has a tendency to pile up in the hamper or baskets.  We aren’t pack rats, however….except when it comes to recycling.

We are big fans of recycling and have given over most of the closet under our stairs to a recycling center.  The problem is that we’re bad about taking our accumulating recycling to the recycling center.  Despite this, we won’t start throwing stuff away.  We just add more bins (and eventually pile stuff on the floor in the closet).


That means we end up with a mess like this.  Fortunately, Dave and I are in cleaning/organizing/get our lives back on track mode, so we sorted it all out and carted it off to the recycling center.  (We kept the cat.)

Posted by: mindyjoy | June 15, 2009

Dinner = (partial) Fail

Now that Dave and I are back from our travels, we’re determined to get back on a normal schedule and back to cooking so we can get back on track with weight watchers and get to our goal weights.

With this in mind, I hit the c-ville farmer’s market on Saturday and Wegman’s on Sunday (we try to be environmentally conscious, but driving is really the best way to get good food a decent price in this case).  Saturday ending up being a lost evening cooking-wise thanks to an afternoon of wine tasting, so we got back on track last night.

Dave wanted to grill, so he found a recipe for a grilled flank steak over a bed of arugula dressed with a balsamic glaze.  I added a side of fresh peas to the menu thanks to an impulse buy at the farmer’s market.  The peas were wonderfully fresh (fresh peas are really the only way I’ll eat them), and the steak was beautifully cooked…the best Dave’s ever cooked meat on the grill.  He’s gaining some “mad skills” as he’d say.  The glaze was a disaster, however.

Dave put it best by asking me, “When was the last time you worried that an entree would remove a filling?”  The glaze wasn’t so much a glaze as it was a hard candy coating over the beef and greens.  Dinner was actually fairly good once we picked off the glaze pieces, but it left us with the cleaning of the saucier we used to make the glaze.

balsamic glaze_resize

 Yes, the pan is hanging by the spoon…that’s how firm the glaze set.  It all worked out in the end, and I just dressed a salad with sherry vinegar for lunch today.  While we’ll try the idea again, we will definitely search out a new glaze recipe!

Posted by: mindyjoy | June 14, 2009

The Crises Continue

Okay…we’ve both been bad about blogging, but I, at least, am determined to be better about this.  That way I can keep people up to date on all the weird and wonderful things that make up my life while I also get to feel like I actually accomplish stuff.  (After all, have you ever noticed that to-do lists are self-regenerating….it really sucks!)  I’m taking the same approach in blogging about my research life, so we’ll see if I can keep up the pace.

So, in the months we haven’t been posting I had a failed experiment with making wine jelly but think I know how to fix it for next time.  Dave put in a patio and assembled a temporary screen house to save me from bugs until we can afford a more permanent structure in a year or two (or ten).

backyard progress_summer 09 004

We also actually got our garden planted (we’re co-gardening in our yard with our friends Shawn and Thadd.  We waited out the frost date of May 15th, planted, and then got a hard frost….

backyard progress_summer 09 001

The sheets weren’t enough protection given the tiny nature of our seedlings, so we then had to go buy plants.  Oh well, next year we’ll start the seeds earlier, use grow lights, and build a cold frame out of old windows.  Live and learn…..I just try to think of it all as an experiment.

So, stay tuned to see what our next crisis will be, how it’s resolved
(or not), and how insane it makes me (or Dave).

Posted by: virginialandscaping | March 26, 2009

Oven Progress

Nope, none to report. BUT, the fence is almost done. Which means that instead of being able to have the forklift operator set the block and bricks next to where the fireplace is going, we’ll get to hand carry them from the driveway, through a 4 ft gate. Well played!

Posted by: virginialandscaping | February 16, 2009



MJ keeps threatening to post pics of the piles of stone and dirt that have sat, unused and forlorn, in the backyard for weeks. I guess the idea is to shame me into dealing with them. I have now stolen her thunder.

In all seriousness, I’ll probably take a day in the next week or so to spread dirt and get the patio started. I have a plan for the backyard (finally), and I’ll post elements of it here and on my Northern Virginia Landscape Designer blog. It’s going to be really cool, and not super-expensive.

Further updates as events warrant (from one of my fav Calvin & Hobbes strips).

Posted by: virginialandscaping | February 5, 2009

Are You Kidding Me???

So I’ve been asked to design an outdoor wedding venue in a pretty cool location. I have my ideas for what could be pretty awesome, but to see what the cool kids are doing I did a Google Image search on “wedding arch.” You know those blow-up Christmas and Halloween decorations that everyone has now? You can now get married under an INFLATABLE WEDDING ARCH.


Seriously, I feel like MJ and I would be rich like astronauts if I just stopped trying and started churning out utter crap like this.

Posted by: virginialandscaping | February 5, 2009

They’re Heeeeere!


That was amazingly fast. I ordered our seeds from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange Monday, and they arrived today. I’m really excited, but it’s a little daunting- looking at all the packets laid out there, knowing that inside each are dozens of seeds to plant, water, nurture, and raise to be big, healthy plants… I’m way too neurotic to have kids if pole beans have me this worked up.

Posted by: mindyjoy | February 4, 2009


Before you get really worried, our house was not attacked by zombies…although Dave and our friend Thadd have a plan in case zombies ever do attack Culpeper.  Instead, the crisis of last week revolved around making a Zombie cake for Thadd’s birthday.

When we heard about Thadd’s upcoming birthday and his plan to cater his own celebratory dinner, Dave and I started thinking about what we could do for him.  Since Dave and Thadd fear/look forward to the above-mentioned zombie attack, Dave thought making a zombie cake would be a great gift.  He searched the internet for inspiration and found this cake.  He got Shawn, Thadd’s partner, and me on board.  Shawn may be a personal chef, but pastry is not her thing, and while I can bake a tasty dessert, I just don’t have the advanced pastry or art skills necessary for this kind of project.  We had Dave, however.  

Dave is a landscape designer with a large streak of warped creativity.  On top of that, he has a bit of cake decorating experience as I gave him a class as a birthday gift when we lived in AZ.  Dave was confident he could come up with something that would work, so the project began.

Dave and Shawn did some advance planning, came up with a shopping list, and made plans to meet at our house on Thursday night while Thadd was at spin to get as much done as possible.  Here comes the first crisis……

We wanted a tasty cake since this would be the dessert (which Thadd had asked me to bring to the party).  Dave tried a new yellow cake recipe late that afternoon, but it didn’t rise…at all!

cakes should be thicker than cellphones!

cakes should be thicker than cellphones!

Plan B involved me buying box cake mix on my way home from work.  We then spent the night bakeing off 4 more cake layers while trying to figure out what we could get our hands on in Culpeper or Fredericksburg to let us make a hand.  Clearly day one of the great zombie cake experiment resulted in very little accomplished except for frustrating Thadd who had no idea why his girlfriend needed to be gone for three hours on his actual birthday while still coming home empty handed.

On Friday, I suggested that Dave make another 2 layers as I was worried we wouldn’t have enough height to get a credible head sculpted.  While he baked these off, I stopped at tons of different stores to try to find candy we could use to decorate the face and make the hand.  Then Dave, Shawn, and I assembled at our house again to create our very own zombie! (although Dave did most of the work and Shawn and I mostly served as photgraphers)

Dave gets started with our handy electric knife!

Dave gets started with our handy electric knife!

it eventually results in something vaguely face-shaped

it eventually results in something vaguely face-shaped

white forsting for skull and gray/green for zombie skin

white frosting for skull and gray/green for zombie skin


Dave scultps zombie teeth out of lemon and vanilla tootsie rolls

Dave sculpts zombie teeth out of lemon and vanilla tootsie rolls

hot tamales and oney served as the brains

hot tamales and honey served as the brains

chocolate covered cherries with the bottoms removed served as eyes

chocolate covered cherries with the bottoms removed served as eyes

now the endless hair creation begins...

now the endless hair creation begins...

the eye even began to drip!

the eye even began to drip!

can't forget to add the blood

can't forget to add the blood


Shawn and I finally get into the act by crushing to cookies for dirt

Shawn and I finally get into the act by crushing the cookies for dirt

sculpting the tootsie roll hand

the final piece: sculpting the tootsie roll hand

zombie fingernails

who knew there was a use for necco wafers: zombie fingernails

after 4.5 hours, we were done for the night, but our kitchen was a disaster (for days)

after 4.5 hours, we were done for the night, but our kitchen was a disaster (for days)

The final product!

The final product!

Thadd's surprise made it all worth it

Thadd's surprise made it all worth it

notice how the sideburns match!

notice how the sideburns match!

who doesn't have a huge knife on hand for slicing up zombies

who doesn't have a huge knife on hand for slicing up zombies

and just for Thadd…..notice the detail Dave carved into the teeth:


So, at the end of the day, I may have earned a place in the van in the event of a zombie attack by being part of this great suprise (plus I make a mean rum cake, but that’s another post).

For Thadd’s own take, check out his blog, and for more photos, check out Shawn’s flickr page.

Posted by: virginialandscaping | January 28, 2009


Posted by: mindyjoy | January 27, 2009

Welcome to Our Insanity

Dave has been blogging about landscaping and gardening for some time at Revolutionary Gardens, but I’m new to this.  We started talking about blogging about food and gardening together as we both like to cook and I’m looking forward to eating and canning what Dave grows this summer.

As you can tell from the title of this blog, what started out as a simple idea that some friends and clients might find interesting has morphed into a venue to discuss whatever craziness is going on in our lives….and there’s always plenty of crazy! (The header photo actually is of the back of our house when we were trying to get the sewer line fixed….unfortunately this kind of thing happens a lot around here.)

Dave’s a self-employed landscape designer, and I’m a college professor, so there is little in our lives that actually holds to a standard schedule.  On top of that, we’re both overachievers who do too much and seem to like it that way (except for the lack of sleep).

Anyway, whenever we have time, inspiration, or a new crisis we’ll write about it so you can empathize (or make fun) and generally know what we’re up to.  You never what we’ll talk about: a kitchen or yard disaster, a bad week at weight watchers, another problem with my car.  The possibilities really are never ending at the house of perpetual crisis!