Monday, May 26, 2014

Converting a halter a two strap suit!

So last year, at the end of the season, I found several tankini suit tops on sale...and they were fine, but they are all halter tops.  These don't give me the support I need AND they hurt my neck.   But with three suit tops...I can't justify spending money on another new suit.

So I decided to convert one of them to a two strap suit!  Here's how it started.

I checked the suit straps....getting a good idea of how to far in fro the sides I needed to go and how tight the straps needed to be.  I pinned them with safety pins so I could try this on without worrying about stabbing myself with straight pins or pulling them loose.

 I tried two different widths to see if I liked one better than the other.  In fact, I liked the one that was closer to the edge than the center.  I measured with a ruler and pinned them both again, tried on once again to be sure.  

I hand stitched these down - using a backstitch across the width of the strap. Then I used a whip stitch to secure the strap down against the top of the suit.  I wasn't sure about whether the placement was perfect, so I wasn't ready to cut the last bits off the straps till I wear this a few times to be sure.  I think you could machine stitch and be perfectly fine.  Make sure you secure the ends and stitch this down tight - nobody wants an unfortunate swimsuit accident :)

I can't wait to convert the other two suits the same way now that I know this works! 

Friday, May 23, 2014

Update: Patio Garden and my ON-GOING battle with the Squirrels!

So I hate squirrels.  I've wavered on this a bit, but the longer this battle continues, the more sure I am that I absolutely hate them!

After my plants were repeatedly knocked off that very cool pallet garden....knocked down, dug through and even eaten, I had to move them.

Remember this?

It happened OVER AND OVER AND OVER!  These squirrels are finding joy in annoying me!

So I took my plants off the shelves.  I happened to find these fabulous old apple crates at my parents' house, hiding in their garage.  This was a perfect alternative.

The plants are in the center of the crates, making it harder to knock them down (though I'm sure these rodents will find a way) And I only stacked them two crates high to cut down on the temptation for the little pests.

And even with all that frustration, my plants are growing!

My tomato bloomed its first tiny yellow blossom this week.  My lettuce is growing out of control.  And the KALE!  See the two kale plants on the top of the crates?  Those were once tiny little kale plants with hardly any green leaves!

I think I'm MOST excited about my rosemary right now because this weekend I plan to make Rosemary Blueberry Ice Cream from The Paleo Kitchen, a new cookbook from PaleOMG and Civilized Caveman!  The cookbook comes out in a couple of weeks, but this sneak peek recipe from PaleOMG has me convinced that I must have this book!

I've harvested lettuce and cilantro and rosemary and basil and mint more times than I can count!  I can't wait to get some peppers and tomatoes and kale on my table!

The squirrels won the battle of the peppers (ate both my jalapeno plants), thai basil, one strawberry plant (and they have nearly killed the other), 5 of the 6 daffodil bulbs, one hosta.   But I am winning this war!

I bought two 2-gallon pepper plants, hoping that a heartier plant would withstand the torment of these creatures.  However, after the first day, this is what I found:

That little bugger was digging in my brand new pepper plant!  He broke off one stem (that had a bloom already!) and exposed roots on the other, in addition to making quite a mess.  

So far I've tried cayenne pepper, chili powder, human hair.  All of them work for a day or two, but after watering they stopped keeping critters away.

Up next is some dog hair (luckily one of my friends has a really hairy dog that sheds a TON of hair) and dried blood (mixed reviews on this one, you buy it at no worries about me butchering something).

I also found an ultrasonic noise machine that is supposed to keep them away...but I'm nervous about using it since I live in an apartment.  I don't want to drive my neighbors dogs and cats nuts! 

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Wining Adventures!

Northern Virginia has sooo many wineries!  Lots of beautiful wineries, many delicious wines and lots of crazy experiences!

(Chester Gap)

Just over a year ago, two of my girlfriends and I started our Northern Virginia Wine Tasting Adventures.  We picked up a map and set a goal to visit all of the Northern Virginia Wine Region.

(Stone Tower)

We started out with the 2013 Virginia Wine Map and started planning our weekends.  Usually on Sundays, we would visit 2 or 3 wineries.  We'd pack snacks, enjoy a tasting, sometimes spend some time in the sunshine or near the fire (during the winter months!) and take some notes.  We developed our wine tasting abilities.  We refined our likes and dislikes and quickly figured out what kind of wineries we like!

(Pearmund Cellars)

We found wineries were opening and closing all the time!  The map kept changing, just when we thought we were finished we found new ones!   Plus we kept going back to some of our favorites over and over!

(Leaves of Grass)

Today was our last big planned weekend to finish our goal of the Northern Virginia wineries.  We have a few individual wineries that have hours that are difficult to get to, open on an intermittent basis or appointment only or opening this spring/summer.

Where have we visited?  * by some of our favorites!

  1. Cana  
  2. Quattro Goombas *
  3. The Winery at LaGrange
  4. Hunter’s Run Wine Barn
  5. The Barns at Hamilton Station
  6. Bluemont Vineyard
  7. Phillip Carter Winery of Virginia
  8. Chester Gap Cellars  *
  9. Rappahannock Cellars  *
  10. The Winery at Bull Run 
  11. 868 Estate Vineyards *
  12. Breaux Vineyards 
  13. Crushed Cellars 
  14. Desert Rose Winery
  15. Leaves of Grass Vineyard  *
  16. Tarara Winery
  17. Fabbioli Cellars *
  18. Sunset Hills Vineyard 
  19. Cobbler Mountain Cellars  *
  20. Miracle Valley Vineyards
  21. Aspen Dale Winery
  22. Willowcroft Farm Vineyards  
  23. Zephaniah Farm Vineyard
  24. Stone Tower Winery
  25. Chrysalis Vineyards
  26. Fox Meadow Winery
  27. Barrel Oak Winery 
  28. Casanel Vineyards
  29. Dry Mill Vineyards Winery 
  30. Bogati Bodega 
  31. Marterella Winery
  32. Mediterranean Cellars
  33. Naked Mountain Winery and Vineyard 
  34. Delaplane Cellars
  35. Three Fox Vineyard
  36. Cardamon Family Vineyards
  37. Maggie Malick Wine Caves.
  38. Granite Heights Winery 
  39. Molon Lave Vineyards 
  40. Gray Ghost Vineyards 
  41. Narmada Winery  *
  42. Vint Hill Craft Winery 
  43. Pearmund Cellars  
  44. Chateau O’Brien 
  45. Winding Road Cellars 
  46. Vintage Ridge Vineyard & Winery
  47. Hidden Brook Winery
  48. Lost Creek Winery
  49. Notaviva Vineyards
  50. Hillsborough Vineyards 
  51. Doukenie Winery
  52. Loudoun Valley Vineyards
  53. 8 Chains North 
  54. North Gate Vineyard
  55. Glen Manor Vineyards *
  56. Linden Vineyards
  57. Horton Winery
  58. Barboursville Vineyards
  59. Blenheim Vineyards 
  60. Trump Winery
  61. Jefferson Vineyards
  62. Stinson Vineyards
  63. Grace Estate Winery
  64. White Hall Vineyards
  65. Glass House Winery
  66. Greenhill Winery and Vineyards
  67. Boxwood Estate Winery 
  68. Hidden Croft Vineyards
  69. Corcoran Vineyards
  70. Village Winery
  71. Capitol Vineyard
  72. Unicorn Winery
  73. Paradise Springs Winery
  74. Potomac Point Winery
  75. Rogers Ford Farm Winery 
  76. Hartwood Winery
  77. Otium Cellars
  78. Carroll Vineyards/Leesburg Vintner 
  79. Lake Anna Winery 
  80. Mattaponi Winery
  81. Old House Vineyards
  82. Morais Vineyards & Winery
  83. Wilderness Run Vineyards
  84. Sharp Rock Vineyards
  85. Ducard Vineyards
  86. Little Washington Winery
  87. Gadino Cellars

Still trying to get to these this spring and summer:

  • Quievremont Wine - not sure if it's really open. We've had a hard time finding information!
  • Creeks Edge Winery - open now, Taylorsville
  • Berry Hill Vineyards - closed Sundays, Flint Hill, Appointment only
  • Two Twisted Posts - open every other weekend as of Spring 2014
  • Winery 32 - opening June 2014
  • Blue Valley Vineyard - Opening Summer 2014
  • Catoctin Creek Winery - appointment only
  • Catoctin Creek Distillery - closed on Sundays


What have we learned over this past year of wining adventures?

We like small, family owned wineries
We dislike most places that welcome buses and limos and cater to big groups.
We dislike places that feel "corporate" or too commercial.
We like drier wines rather than sweeter wines, with the occasional port-style as an exception!
We like quieter places - although sometimes listening to live music is a great way to spend an afternoon.
We like places where the people are nice, know about the winery and the wine, and where they really take the time to chat with us, not just recite a speech or read the tasting notes to us.
Most importantly we love hanging out with each other and spending time learning more about Virginia Wines!

(Greenhill Winery)