mary mary, quite contrary, how does your garden YOLO?

our garden is small but mighty.  i am blown away by how well it's doing.  it's like all the little seedlings got together at halftime and the pumpkins (who are obviously in charge) were like, 'hey guys, we have one shot at this.  don't blow it.  we're counting on you!'  and then the green beans slapped the tomatoes on the hiney and they jogged out into the field of play to blow the mind of the spectators. 

you know what else, though?  i think i have a problem.  i have stuff planted in like every.single.square.inch of this place.  like, not in a 'square foot gardening' kind of way, but in like a 'hoarders' kind of way.  i grew tomatoes from seed, and had planned to keep four plants: one of each kind (bonnie best, cherry, beefsteak, amish paste).  but then i ended up with three beefsteak plants, and two bonnie bests, and two cherries, and i was all like, 'but all of these are my plant babies and i can't just abandon the extras!  THEY NEED ME!!'  so i stuck them in some places where i had like zinnias and other random stuff.  also, i planted a hill of zucchini...and then another hill of zucchini.  and also, then another hill of zucchini.  i think i'm setting myself up for my own downfall: death by high blood-zucchini levels.  i think eating too much throws your lipids off or something and then you die.

BUT, i kind of don't care, and i will do whatever it takes to preserve every single one of those superfluous zucchini plants.  i was out there today singing lullabies over my babies checking on things like a normal person, and not only did i see TWO SQUASH BUGS, who are my nemeses of nemeses, but they were  you know.  it.  RIGHT ON MY ZUCCHINI PLANTS.

so not only were they populating the army that will bring on the plant apocalypse, but they were doing the dirty on what is going to be food.  FOOD, you guys.  yuck.  so, i did what i swore i wouldn't do: i busted out the non-organic pesticide dust.  so sue me.  you win some, you lose some, but i for one am not going to lose this garden!  AS GOD IS MY WITNESS, I WILL NEVER GO HUNGRY AGAIN from a defunct hobby garden, which isn't true hunger, i realize!

anyway, without further ado, here are a couple of recent-ish photos of my tweaked-out garden:

gaining your bearings from the photo above, in the far left row behind that walking path/actually it's a podunk board: there is lettuce in the far left corner, followed by broccoli, carrots, spinach, peas, eggplant, cilantro, yellow onions, dill, zucchini (that's the massive thing along the left fence, toward the top), zinnias/cosmos/etc, and a tomato plant (yikes, i can't remember which kind.)

then, in the bed that has those pots buried in the ground, in between the stakes (i'm trying 'florida weave' staking this year) i have four tomato plants.  i also have some more zucchini, some basil, and more lettuce.

along the back fence, i have bush beans, red onions, chives, ground cherries, and two pumpkins, which i'm going to let vine over the fence and into the yard, since my garden's so small.

what you're seeing in the above photo:  the ground cherries are at the back, and there's a pot of basil you can see basically buried under some more bush beans.  then, along the little trellis, i have cucumbers, and sweet potatoes planted in front of those.  there's another random tomato plant at the center of the bottom of the photo- i think it's a cherry tomato??

then along the far right fence, you can see some more peas, and those tall things on the far right of the photo are sunflowers.  i have marigolds planted all along the perimeter, and zinnias all along one side, but none of them have bloomed yet.  i think next year i'm going to start them early instead of planting the seeds directly in the ground in spring.

in the far right bed, on the other side of the cucumbers, which is hard to see, i have more bush beans, more yellow onions, more sweet potatoes, a cherry tomato, jalapenos, and bell peppers.

i am in awe.  i mean, i had heard of gardens where unnamed people grow mysterious things, but i have never personally experienced it.  successful gardens were the stuff of legends.  our garden in story city was basically sterile.  even weeds were like, 'nah, i'm good.'  

but here!  here, i'm pretty sure our garden dirt is made of composted fairy bones and leaf mould from leaves right off the tree of life.  i have high, high hopes for this year's harvest.

i worry that i'm setting myself up for dashed hopes.


howdy, y'all.  this week has gotten away from me, as it was the third week of swimming lessons.  i didn't know what i was signing on for, people.  it was surprisingly exhausting, as though sitting by the pool for 45 minutes every morning just sucked every ounce of humanity out of my brittle bones.  it is a rough life i lead.

check out the extreme Arms:Legs tan differential.  #momlife

i'd say we did other stuff too, but that would kind of be a lie.  i mean, i guess there was some stuff.  like that one time on monday i fell off a riser at boot camp and sprained my ankle.  i felt dumb about it for like .2, and then i remembered the last time i sprained my ankle, in which i inexplicably slid off a stationary inner tube into three-foot-deep water and had to miss horse camp and take an entire year off of pointe training.  so flash forward to this week's ankle-tastrophe, i stopped feeling dumb pretty quickly and was like, 'all things considered, i bet i looked downright cool when i fell down just now.  the fact that a 5'0 mustachio'd man is allowing me to use him as a human crutch is just the icing on the cake.'

so then i laid low for the rest of monday (other than, you know, swimming lessons), and skipped cycling on tuesday and thursday (big fat boohoo tears over here because i love that class with all eight parts of my combined quadriceps) (not).

laurelai had a doctor's appointment yesterday, which i can tell you about next week if i actually blog like i pretend i'm going to.  she is a growing human, which is good news, and the doctor gave the stamp of approval on my practice of highchair-feeding laurelai small cubes of straight butter.  or, at least, she didn't tell me to stop doing it, which i like to construe as approval.

and today i'm helping a friend with our second-weekend-in-a-row garage sale, because last weekend just wasn't enough time to hawk all our junk on unsuspecting strangers.  because it was a lot of junk.  there were six families involved, and one guy asked if it was a church rummage sale, and another couple asked if we were raising money for some kind of good cause.  noper.  just some people who own too much stuff who happen to need some cash and also happen to all be friends with each other and have the weekend free.  but then again, if that's not a good cause, i don't know what is.  (actually, i could name about a bajilliondy things that are better causes, but it's not a bad cause, which i like to construe to mean it's a good cause.)

oh, two other things worth mentioning: 

1.  over father's day weekend, i painted what will soon be the Boys' Room, and this week i sewed and hung curtains.  they've got a new rug, and will soon have a new light fixture and, after this weekend's trip to ikea, some bookshelves!  (we have lived this last year with nary a bookshelf! HOW?!?  idk, but the madness has to stop.)  i'll probs someday show you pictures.  ANTICLIMACTIC!

2.  cherry tree = winning. 

oh happy day!

swim lessons!

this morning was the kids' last morning of swim lessons for the summer.

this was like the only activity she would do voluntarily without crying first.

this is how this girl spent her time during swim lessons.

one more, because HELLO.

dueling wedgies.

how finn and i spent our time during swim lessons.

atticus will be moving on to the next level, and penelope will try again at this same level next time we enroll in lessons.  i like to think these certificates REALLY say 'certificate of showing up most of the time' and are made out to paige van voorst.  because, HELLO.

he looks like he's noodling on some deep truths.

she looks like she's whispering tiny prayers over her sucker.

this is how we roll every day, minus the paparazzi and plus i'm usually in workout pants.

swim lessons?  more like WIN lessons.

video vednesday: sssshhhhhhp. woooo!

you're going to want to watch this one.  first of all, his name is MICHAEL P. VIGILANTE III.  second of all, his moves are awesome and his jacket is yellow and he is wearing a wedding ring somehow.  third of all, his name is MICHAEL P. VIGILANTE III.

thanks for sending this, kristy!  you have made my life worth living.

fun in the sun at YaYa's house.

we went down to my parents' for father's day weekend.  the kids spent most of the time playing outside.  i am convinced we need a kiddie pool because, a) the kids (and especially atticus) loved it, and b) i got super tan sitting there, watching them.  that's what we like to call a win-win situation.  a tan mommy is a happy mommy.  (vitamin D, okay?)

yep, she's eating grass.

(bi)weekly what's up.

wow.  a lot has happened.  so here's a list.

1.  todd and i hauled massive amounts of river rock out of our front planting beds, which were small and looked rinkydink.  i like a planting bed with some girth.  some... hoomph.  you know?  plus, rock beds aren't really my thing. so after we hauled the rock out, i got to rototilling and pouring in topsoil and laying down weed fabric and mulching... it's kind of been an undertaking, to say the least.  it's still not done.  i ordered some annabelle hydrangeas and am waiting to plant them once the rain lets up.

don't you worry your pretty little head about those peonies; i moved them to the side of the house.

2. the kids started swimming lessons.  the weather has been FREEZING in the mornings.  one morning, atticus was all blue and stiff-motioned, and he came out of the pool after lessons all chatter-toothed and on the verge of tears.  and the first thing out of his mouth was, 'I LOVE THE POOL!'  haha, apparently he's cut out to be a polar bear.

3.  girlfriend has been joining us at family dinner time.  her favorite foods so far are: everything ever.  chicken, chuck roast, asparagus, raspberries, salmon.  all are A-OK with laurelai.

4.  we went back to ames for a wedding.  we drove around for no less than half an hour, looking for the park where it was located, and i felt totally dumb.  it was like we never lived there or something.  we ended up missing the ceremony but at least making it to the reception.  afterward, we headed down to des moines to eat at red robin and visit my Love of Loves, trader joe's.  it was glorious: we got imported aged gouda.  good wine.  some garlic-stuffed olives.  grassfed irish butter.  GAHHHHHHHHHH.  it's things like this that make me miss central iowa and all that i took for granted while i lived there.

5.  after heading through des moines, we drove down to visit my mom, who had taken the kids for us earlier in the weekend to free us up to wedding crash.  we spent a few days out there, soaking in the sun and eating barbecue.  i'll have some photos for you next week.

6.  we visited my dad, who has been sick and whom we hadn't seen in a while.  it was a good visit.

7.  on tuesday, i found myself shakily rousing laurelai from conk-out sleep to take her and the rest of the kids down to the basement during the tornadoes.  if there is one thing that TERRIFIES me, it's a tornado.  i really, really, really hate storms.  obviously, we're all okay, and i didn't die of hyperventilation or a heart attack either, so all's well that ends well, i guess, but jeez...

8.  girlfriend is apparently up and about.  she started standing last night, which we noticed when penelope started yelling, LOOK! LAURELAI'S STANDING!  laurelai looks pretty startled by the news herself:

annnnnnnddd, SEEEESTERS!

eat like the van voorsts.

lately, i've been trying to think of ways to get more of our daily lives on here.  and i actually thought of something, which i'll get to in a second, because there's a back story.

when i was a freshman in college, i roomed next door to a girl who made the mistake of burning me a copy of a dispatch cd, and had to spend the next couple of weeks listening through the wall to 'the general' blaring as loud as my speakers would carry it.  on repeat.  yeah, i was that girl.  (sorry about that, kate.)  (and hey, though.  at least it wasn't that nelly and tim mcgraw duet that was popular that year, which is what my roommate listened to on repeat while we slept.  blech.  so at least i wasn't that girl.)

so what does any of this have to do with anything?  well, friends.  i now follow my friendly ex-neighbor on pinterest.  and she pins good food.  and i tried one of the recipes she pinned.  and now it's part of our regular rotation.  hence, posting the recipe is 'getting more of our daily lives on here.'

i don't usually post recipes, mostly because i'm not really a cook and recipes are not really my strong suit.  sarcastic commentary on this season's swimwear?  count me in.  in-depth analysis of some kind of food i made?  not so much.  i mean, i already went to the effort of cooking it and cleaning it up afterward; stuff gets an A+ from me if it's edible and the kids don't cry when i serve it.  so, i realize i'm breaking a trend by posting this, but that's me: a trend-breaker.  a trend-bender, if you will.

what this recipe has going for it is that a distracted idiot cook can whip it up with little foresight and even less time.  believe me.  also, it doesn't make a ton of dishes.  what it has against it is that it involves rice, which van voorst children have sworn to forever align themselves against.  oh well.  i serve it anyway, because i kind of don't care to orient my life around their fickle preferences.

anyway, enough talkie talkie.  click the link to check out the recipe for (and yummy-looking photos of) cheater korean beef bowl.  to make this a Truly Van Voorst meal, make it with jasmine rice and steamed broccoli.

on behalf of kate and pinterest, you're so welcome for this recipe.

video vednesday: obviously we didn't have a bar at the reception... we had more communion.

stinky feet equals dollars dollars dollars!

i was on the craigslist job page the other day, just looking around for other options for todd.  and i couldn't believe our luck! i found the perfect 'plan A' and 'plan B' for him!

wow, i don't know what i hope for more:  that he would end up being a model, or that he would step in to a smells-are-remunerated customer service position.  probably the second, just because i simply cannot imagine a job in which a customer service position is open specifically to stinky-footed individuals.  what kind of customers would he be serving?  and what kind of service do said customers require??

um, now that i think about it, i definitely hope he becomes a tv/film/video/radio model.  specifically, a radio model.  he'd probably get to spend a lot of time at home.

I'M NOT DEAD, YOU GUYS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

i was such a crappy blogger last week.  and in thinking it through, i realize that it's entirely possible that you thought i was dead.  so, sorry about that if you did think i was dead.

i lost my phone one day last week, and todd tried calling me like eight times, and when i didn't answer, he was positive i had died and atticus had somehow locked himself out of the house while trying to find help and was now just wandering the neighborhood, all alone and freshly motherless.  obviously, that didn't actually happen, but i guess what i'm trying to say is that it doesn't take much to assume someone has kicked the bucket.

so i'm back on this monday to tell you that i am still breathing, still talking, still an all-around living human, generally speaking.  i'm hoping this is good, reassuring news for you to start the week out with.  

so, see you tomorrow! unless i actually die in the meantime, obviously.

short and sweet.

life has gotten circus-crazy around here lately, with home projects and swim lessons and a new workout routine and yard work and whatnot.  so i only have a quick moment, but i thought i'd use it to brag about the fact that i finally finished compiling our family yearbook! ...from 2012!

it's taken a while, obviously, but it is done.  finito.  whew, that's a sigh of relief.  anyone want to send me a prize of some kind for finally doing this?  perhaps some kind of trophy?  or, if the postage on that is pretty outrageous, a ribbon would be fine.  or a copy of a simple letter you sent to your local congressman about how on top of my life i am.  some kind of memoir.  you know.  something.

i suppose just receiving the finished product should be reward in and of itself, right?  but that was a lot of photos...

thinking about starting at square one on 2013's book almost makes me wish my kids weren't so darn cute and photogenic.  almost.

unless you have a toddler of your own as well, and this is therefore normal for you...

...please do not read while eating, or within 15 minutes of planning to eat.  disclaimed.

the other day, finneas was playing with this toy trash truck we have: the kind with a little door-thing on the back that opens and closes, up and down.  so, he closes it.  then, he opens it.  then, he takes something out of it and hands it to me.  and that something that he hands me is a moderately-sized turd.

where he found said turd, i cannot say.  he was not, himself, poopy,  so it didn't come from his diaper, which only means it was just...laying around somewhere.  for some reason.

my best guess is that it was a leftover from an incident that happened two days prior, before church.  i was getting laurelai into the bathtub, penelope was trying to help.  when i looked down, i realized that there must have been poop in laurelai's diaper (whoops, forgot to check.  now it's time for new bath water), and that penelope must have stepped in it.  which is how poop got all over the floor, and why a turd was stuck between penelope's toes.  so then, i made her drape her foot over the side of the tub as i tried to one-handedly scrub the poop off (with my other hand, i was trying to keep laurelai from drowning.  you know, like a good and attentive mother, instead of one who takes her child's diaper off without looking at it and then sets it, open-faced, on the floor.)  then off we trekked to church, like a normal family, and not like one whose children walk around with turd toes.

so, i'm thinking this incident somehow resulted in the rogue turd-turned-toy.  but that means that it was days old and that i had somehow...not...noticed it.  a piece of poop.  just laying around my house somewhere.  

and i did my life get like this?  like, where another person puts a piece of poop in my hand, and my first thought is to CSI it:  where did this come from?  how old is it?  who did it belong to at one point?  why was my first thought NOT: why is there a PIECE OF POOP in my HAND?!

these are deep questions, folks, and ones i'm not prepared to answer.  all i know is that this stuff happens here.

but you can rest assured that the trash truck was immediately put into the dishwasher, right next to the plastic animals that got exploded-diaper-urine-granules all over them.  because the van voorsts have a million kids, and therefore, that is how the van voorsts do.

weekly whut update.

on saturday, we visited the farmers market for the first time this season.  it was kind of a bust in a way, considering hardly anything but lettuce is in season right now, and we already have some growing in our garden.  (i'll get to that in a bit!)  but i did buy some sweet potato slips and a basil plant, and the kids got some cookies.

we walked there from home (about fifteen blocks one way), so we rested a bit before starting back.  while taking a break, atticus climbed a tree...and subsequently jumped out of it.

i've been super busy on the house lately.  i don't know if it's the sunshine, or the fact that we're coming up on a whole year of living here (!), but i've been antsy to get some projects checked off the list.  in addition to painting the kitchen floor, i also overhauled our closet (and quadrupled the hanging space, thank goodness!), which meant (and still means, since i'm not totally done) that our room was DISASTER-FIED.  

todd also helped me start hauling rocks out of our front beds, so that i can widen the beds, move the peonies to a different spot, and plant some hydrangeas.  ooh, lawdy, do i love me a good hydrangea.  however, this project might just be my end.  did you guys know rocks are heavy?  like, really heavy?

but, speaking of peonies, our vintage-to-the-house, planted-in-the-thirties peonies are currently in bloom and GRACIOUS.  if there's one thing i love that's not a hydrangea, it's a peony.  (penelope thinks they're called 'panties.')

these peonies line our garden, which is currently taking my breath away.  it's  and growing.  and...vegetating.  like a garden ought to do, and which one might take for granted had one not experienced the Death Valley Garden of Story City, Iowa in which nothing, including weeds, would grow.

(would you guys mind if i told you more about what's up in the garden, perhaps next week?  because i'm just so proud of this thing.  it's like my fifth child, only it needs fewer baths and if it dies because of neglect, i won't go to jail, so there's less riding on it.)

and i've got this little herb garden going to town next to the garage.  yes, that is lavender back there in the red pot, and yes, i do go out multiple times a day just to smell it.  heavenly.

and this girl is growing like a weed (or, like a Wando Snap Pea, if you're referring to the van voorst garden and its most prolific grower).  she's large.  she's in charge.  she's chewing on an apple through a mesh bag while sitting at the table like a full-fledged adult, if adults chewed on stuff through mesh bags and had to be strapped to their chairs to remain upright.

man, i love my life.

get your porch paint on the floor tonight, make my day.

i finished painting the kitchen floor.  and it almost killed me.  and i'm still not 100% sold that i love it.  how's that for an opener for this blog post?

ultimately, i would love some penny or hex tile in there.  big ol' squares of tile just aren't really my jam, and i don't really want to carry the hardwoods in there, as i'm wanting to put in butcher block counters and i think that might just be a little too...woodsy.  but while penny tile is not in the budget right now, the c. 1991 linoleum was still kind of getting to me.  especially since we painted the cabinets white and everything in there was just...blah.

this was how the house looked when it was listed.  now imagine that white-and-gray/blue linoleum next to white cabinets and gray/blue counters and white benches and white appliances and white trim... it was a whole lotta 'meh.'

so i figured, why not do something in the meantime that doesn't cost much but changes things up a bit?  so painting it seemed like the best option.

it took FORRRR-EHHH-VERRRRR.  first, i had to sand the floor.  then i had to prep the floor for priming with a TSP substitute.  

then i painted the benches so they'd match the gray squares.  since the floor paint has a 24-hour dry time, i had to wait until the next night to recoat it.

so, the next night, i did a second coat on the benches.

the next night, i taped off and primed the floor and let it dry overnight.

don't mind the crazy nasty paint mess on the walls; i'll be painting (and maybe tiling?) those soon.

the next night, i painted the whole floor white.

the next night, i taped off the squares i wanted to paint (which took a whopping two-and-a-half hours.  it was brutal) and painted the gray squares.

(this is where i really started to panic because the floor looked like a toe-up hot mess.)

the next night, i did a second coat of gray.

the next night, i pulled up the tape and bemoaned all the bleed-under that occurred along the edges.  so then i touched up the edges of the gray.

the next day, i touched up the toe kicks and shoe moulding of all the cabinets, where the paint hadn't stayed in the lines.

(yep, there are definitely crumbs all over my floor already. also, i will be painting that table at some point, but i just haven't figured out exactly how i want it yet.)

and then i stepped back and i looked at it, and i was like, it looks like clown pants.

i'm not one that hates on clowns, but it wasn't really the look i was going for.  i should have made the squares bigger.  it looks like a french country kitchen had a baby with P.T. Barnum.  but maybe it works.  maybe it's like when two weird-looking people have a really good looking baby and you're like, well, that was unexpected, but i'm not complaining about it.

actually, my mood is currently swinging to, HECK YES, IT WORKS.  especially once i get some patterned cushions sewn for the benches, and the walls painted, and my lurbly subway tile back splash and butcher block counters installed...  dream with me here, people.  oh yeah, i think it works.

but ask me tomorrow and i might be singing a different tune.  i'm fickle like that, i guess.