Wednesday, June 27, 2007

rolling countryside

the other day i had a job in the small town of caledonia, mn, about an hour and a half southeast of rochester on the border of iowa and wisconsin, and i was so enjoying the drive and the scenery that i had to stop and take some pictures to share with you. it's such peaceful country that it almost made you feel as though the world's problems couldn't touch you there. sometimes i think that an old farmhouse in the middle of nowhere and a milk cow and a couple of chickens sound mighty appealing.

Monday, June 25, 2007

recipe recommendation

here is the tuna that i made on saturday night. my latest goal is to try one new recipe every couple of weeks, experimenting with ingredients that we don't usually take the time to try. the fennel and kalamata olives in this dish were new to us, and it really was mouth-watering:

Tuna with Proven├žal Vegetables
- Total Time: 40 min.
- Serves: 4

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound zucchini, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
4 thyme sprigs
4 garlic cloves—2 thinly sliced, 2 halved
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tomato, coarsely chopped
1 small fennel bulb—halved, cored and sliced paper-thin
1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon drained capers
Four 5-ounce tuna steaks, cut 1 inch thick

In a large, deep skillet, heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil. Add the zucchini, bell pepper, onion, thyme and sliced garlic and season with salt and pepper. Cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are crisp-tender, about 7 minutes. Add the tomato, fennel, olives and capers, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are tender, 2 to 3 minutes longer. Discard the thyme.

In a medium skillet, heat the remaining 1/4 cup of oil with the halved garlic cloves. Season the tuna with salt and pepper, add it to the skillet and cook over moderate heat for 3 minutes, turning once. Cover the skillet and cook the tuna over very low heat for 2 minutes longer; the tuna should still be slightly rare in the center.

Spoon the vegetables onto plates. Top with the tuna steaks and the browned garlic halves and serve.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

dinner party

we had our new friends john and kim over for a dinner party last night and had a fun evening getting to know one another. we learned that they have lived in scotland, they love sushi, and they homeschooled their two daughters for a few years when they were younger. we ate out on our deck, enjoying the warm minnesota evening. we had sun-dried tomato hummus on wafers with cherry tomato and thyme garnishes, strawberries, and some montevina pinot grigio for an appetizer. for dinner we had seered yellowfin tuna and sauteed vegetables (i'll post the recipe for you to try) with a mango fruit salad and yellow tail chardonnay. when the mosquitos came out, we moved indoors for dessert, milk chocolate with hazelnut and cups of espresso. we called it a night an hour before midnight, vowing to get together again soon so that they can teach us how to make sushi and so that we can introduce them to the live music at oak center.

Thursday, June 21, 2007


apparently our credit card number was stolen. our bank just called today to tell us that someone had hacked into a vendor site and gotten several credit card numbers. thankfully, our bank discovered it and closed our account before anyone was able to charge anything to it. it's kinda scary how common it is these days for things like that to happen. and unfortunately, people often aren't able to catch it as soon as our bank did. so just a little reminder, keep close watch over those credit/debit card statements!

music review

have you heard of jonny lang? he's a new favorite of ours. his latest album 'turn around' is a great listen. you can check out his website to listen to some of his music ( a couple of my favorites are 'red light' (from album 'long time coming') and 'last goodbye' (from 'turn around').

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

my poor bro

my brother jimmy was at a friend's house yesterday, and i guess they were goofing off and making a video. well, apparently jimmy jumped off of a chair or something and hit the corner of the wall at the top of a doorway and split his head open. he had to go and get it glued back together. word has it that he didn't even shed a tear. what a tough guy. he's such a stud. i love him.

Monday, June 18, 2007

shucking corn

as seems to be the custom these days, we were down in iowa for the weekend. winn's sister kendra and brother tim were there with their families as well. after church yesterday we celebrated father's day with a sunday dinner of grilled steak kabobs, potato salad, dinner rolls, and corn on the cob. we sent the kids outside to shuck the corn while we were preparing the rest of the meal, and winn took a couple cute photos of the activities, as well as the above video.

and here's little paxton enjoying the fruits of their labors:

the kids waited until after we had all finished eating the corn...and then showed us this picture that they had taken (somehow i think uncle winn was involved in it!):

after dinner, gary put on a fashion show of some of the new duds he got for father's day:

daytime slumber party

on saturday my sister-in-law kendra and i took the kids to the pool for the afternoon in bloomfield, iowa. when we got home (while winn and his dad and brother-in-law went golfing), sun-soaked and water-logged and tuckered out, we all climbed into sherill's bed with her and cozied up under the blankets and had a daytime slumber party, watching wheel of fortune and pirates of the caribbean on tv.

Monday, June 11, 2007

shaved heads

we were in iowa again over the weekend with winn's parents. the first round of sherill's chemo treatment was really hard on her, but she was feeling much better by this past weekend. today we went along to her appointment in des moines where she received her second round of chemo. they reduced the dose by ten percent since the last treatment was so difficult, so please pray that this one is not as hard on her. thanks so much again to everyone for their prayers. the doctor said that the treatment is working, so we are grateful for that.

we shaved winn's head over the weekend, so now he looks like his mom. what a cute pair! :)

Thursday, June 7, 2007

it's a boy!

our friends chris and rebecca finally had their baby. arriving early tuesday morning(two weeks late), ashton benjamin hale weighed in at 9 lbs. 2oz. and measured 22 inches long! he's so adorable. i'm in love.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

chemistry at home

winn decided to set up his own lawn chemistry lab at home. he got one of those soil-testing kits to find out which nutrients our poor lawn is lacking. we have really rocky soil (lots of limestone) and southern sun exposure on our hill, which fries the grass. he discovered that the pH was too high, and we needed to add some aluminum sulfate. so hopefully we're on our way to a greener, lusher lawn!

in between rains, i spent much of this week doing yard work and planting flowers and plants in our back yard. i planted some creeping phlox and other perennials above our retaining wall and then laid some mulch. i also planted several annuals in hanging baskets and pots, including petunias, impatiens, and salvias. now it's even more enjoyable to eat our supper out on the deck on these nice summer evenings.