Porch visitors

We really enjoy sitting on our big shaded porch, and apparently these little guys enjoy it too!

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On the road again!

Well, we’re officially Maryland residents!

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Terrapins?  (Terps?) Marylanders?  Not sure.


Excellent tape-usage planning. Note: a 2-bed apartment takes 4.5 rolls of tape to move.

We’ve gone from an apartment way too big for two adults and two pets (1600 sq ft, two floors) to one probably more suited to us, but we’re a little in shock (1000 sq ft, no garage, very little storage). It has been pretty hectic.


I think I took lots of animal photos to soothe myself.  Here are a few.

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Summer Detox, part 5

1. Our stuff

Our apartment is pretty bare bones.  We thought about renting furniture, but just haven’t.  We now realize that we’ve never fully appreciated a nice chair.


inflatable chairs travel better

We brought a very bare-bones kitchen arsenal. We are very glad to have our mini cuisinart, especially since we’re making lots of salad dressing. Aside from having to do the dishes more often, I’m surprised how little I miss having all of our pots and pans and various baking dishes. We brought a 2qt pot, a 6 qt pot, and three cast iron skillets. We also brought one pyrex (used once) and a cookie sheet (never used).

The huge thing missing in my life so far is internet.  I do have limited data on my phone, but I miss sitting down at my computer and frying my brain for a couple hours a day.  I really hope I am broken of this habit this summer.  We’ll see if we can go another 6 weeks without purchasing internet service.

4. Eat no added sugar

This has certainly been an exercise in label-reading.  While I’ve decided that I’m not willing to give up bread which usually needs some sugar to get the yeast going, we’ve been eating many fewer carbohydrate-rich foods so far this month.  If there’s one thing I take out of this experiment, it’s that controlling your blood sugar is a good thing.  Eating a slice of pie after a balanced meal seems so much more attractive to me now than grabbing a piece of toast or crackers when I’m starving with an empty stomach.

But just to give it a try, I’ve been looking for sugar-free breads, and it is not easy.  I did have luck at the co-op and at TJ’s.  IMG_20140610_223623I’m no rocket scientist, but it seems that sprouted grain breads may not need sugar!  Also they’re delightfully substantial.

Say what you will about Trader Joe’s, but I wish we had one in Lansing.  They are a very cheap source of natural and organic meats, and reliably have breads, crackers, frozen foods, packaged meals, etc. that have only necessary, real ingredients.  Until I am able to make 100% of our food at home and never purchase processed food again, I will love TJ’s.

Boomer’s enemy

We often say that our cat, Boomer, has no fear.  As in, she is not afraid of many things that really should scare her.

In our summer apartment we have this nifty little washer-dryer.  It’s an LG with both a wash and a dry cycle.  Combined they take about 6 hours so we usually just hang our laundry, but still, nice to know someone figured out how to do this.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABoomer is terrified of this machine and all the noises it makes.  However, in true fearless fashion, she tends to keep staring at it in horror.

I can't look away!

I can’t look away!

Summer Detox, part 1

Because of various circumstances, we’ve noticed that we’re faced with some (minor) challenges this summer.

Dave is working in Tennessee most of the summer, and my schedule did not completely line up, so we’ve been living apart this month.  This means:

1. One of us (me) does not have a car

2. One of us (Dave) does not have our “stuff”

I really do not need a car on a daily basis.  We are lucky to live pretty close to the main bus line in Lansing, and I can get most places on it.  I can also bike anywhere I need to go when it’s not raining.

Dave headed down to our empty summer apartment with only what would fit in the car–no bed, no table, no pets!  (They’re going down with me.)

With the changing weather, we’ve been thinking more about eating vegetables, and especially since the lab is secluded, Dave does not have many options for lunch.  He’s started packing salads almost every day, leading us to a vow, seemingly trivial but hard to do consistently:

3. Eat leaves every day

And finally, a friend has roped us into giving up sugar for the month of June.  Again, I’ve been reexamining my cooking habits and thought it best that I take a break from my baking addiction.  Michael Pollan suggests that if you have to have your junk food, at least make it at home–you can monitor what goes into it, and you’ll probably eat less of it because of all the labor involved.  Challenge ACCEPTED.

But really, summer seems like the perfect time for me to turn off the oven, and lay off the flour and sugar and butter.

4.  Eat no (added) sugar

When I take a look at these, I can’t help but think they’re each a kind of detox.  So far I am LOVING not having a car.  Life is a little slower, but there isn’t the stress that comes from cramming in as many errands as you can in a short period of time, or from speeding to work because you left late because you can, because you have a car in which to speed to work.  And I can’t speak to how the apartment is with hardly anything in it, but Dave tells me that our neighbors keep asking when I’m showing up “with all the furniture” (the answer is never).

I’m not going to assume our lives will be changed or that we’ll sell all of our belongings after this, but I am looking forward to a different lifestyle for a bit.  That’s what summers are good for!

The weekend in late summer

How important is the Packers Niners game?

This important:



Meanwhile, I was dividing my attention between the game and this amazing new pot!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe officially got it for all-grain beer brewing – it holds 7.5 gallons and includes a steamer basket which will nicely keep the bag of grains from scorching on the bottom of the pot.  But it also makes a GREAT canner!

A few craft projects

It’s been a long couple weeks dealing with the basement.  We think we finally have it under control.  We are currently running two dehumidifiers, at a cost we estimate to be $80 a month all together.  Hopefully we can turn off the second soon!

I did a little searching about desiccants — things we can put in boxes, etc. to absorb a little humidity.  You can buy them at a hardware store, or apparently you can use sidewalk chalk.  But the coolest idea was this:


100% silica gel kitty litter!

I read that you can “re-energize” silica gel by baking it in a medium oven, but I don’t know how to tell when it’s “full.”


Now some happier projects!  I finished TWO long projects this week, which is a rare event for me since I frequently let projects drag on forever. [True story: last week while going through all of our stuff in the basement, I found a quilt I started for my grandma about 10 years ago.  I should get working on that.]  I started a book on tape for a long trip, but as usually happens, I didn’t finish it on the trip, and so I was looking for things to do around the house while I sat to finish listening.  I started this blanket in the fall.  It is strips of red and white fleece, woven over each other, and anchored in place with yarn, which proved to be much more work than I thought it would be:


And this project is what happens when you are married to a mathematician and have a little too much time on your hands:

P1100462Those are this picture, rendered with 25 colors of embroidery thread:

crossstitchSo yeah, now I should have more time to finish that quilt for my grandma.