Monday, August 15, 2016

Since I've Been Gone: August (So Far)

Ok friends, let's wrap up this time period of me being gone forever and a day. I've finished up talking about July, so let's talk about August so far. August has been pretty typical around here, lots of humidity (oh lord, the humidity) and heat. Also, lots of rain. I'm happy with rain in the summer though, we get such crazy downpours that I don't have to water the garden for 2 days. Talk about shaving some time off the chore wheel. But honestly, when you are talking about August in the garden (at least for me) there's not a lot to do. This downtime feels so crazy after the frenzy of landscaping the hubby and I did during the early summer. I can't complain though, it's a lovely contrast. I much need the rest after having such a full house. And August of the family's stay here was pretty busy-

On August 2nd, my parents and I headed to Huntington, WV to pick up the little bro. He flew into our tiny, Tri-State area airport at the perfect time of day, about 11 am. Perfect for lunch in downtown Huntington, location of Marshall University. I love Marshall's campus in the summertime, it's just green, lush, and gorgeous. 

We had lunch at one of the best restaurants in Huntington, Black Sheep Burrito & Brews. My family loves it just as much as the hubby and I do, and they always request a visit when they are here. Their Smoked Pekin Duck Taco with Pickled Blackberries is a revelation. I know how it sounds, but it is insanely delicious. Oh, and my mom and I were "those" people who ordered margaritas at 11 am. LOL. What is vacation for, am I right?

I chose the Thai Shrimp, Hawaiian, and a chicken taco. Before I get any flak for ordering a standard chicken taco, I just have to say, these are the best chicken tacos I've ever had. My love list of chicken tacos (which are one of my tip-top favorite Mexican fares) goes like this-

1. Black Sheep Chicken Taco
2. Chipotle's Soft Chicken Tacos (with green salsa and guacamole)
3. El Torito's Soft Chicken Tacos (now kaput, so sad)

So, yeah. I'll keep ordering those chicken tacos. Just one though, so I can try other taco combinations :-)

We got the waitress to snap a quick pic of the original 4 of the Rhoades family at the restaurant. I'm not really that tan, I look like I just crawled out of a tanning bed. Yikes. I think it was the lighting in here though, because my dad looks really tan too, doesn't he? 

Mom and Dad outside the restaurant. 

The garden just keeps on cranking out tomatoes. I actually just made pork stock out of a pork bone that I have, just to get the bone ready to simmer in a marinara pot. I literally cannot wait. The house never smells as good as it does on Marinara Cooking Day 

By the way, although these tomatoes are destined for marinara, we called this "Salsa in a Box" :-) And those tiny strawberries? You can see why it's taking so long to fill up a quart-size freezer bag of those!

It's getting to be that butterfly time of the year. The marigolds are all in bloom. My butterfly bush seems to be expanding at exponential rates (seriously, I had no idea they grew that much!). And those magical hyssop columns attract more than just bees.

Butterfly on a marigold.

Butterfly on the butterfly bush. Speaking of butterfly bush, when my parents were visiting, we walked the area around where I live. One day we were walking by a ditch when I noticed a butterfly bush just growing wild! I'm seriously tempted to go dig it up and move it to my yard. I'm just not sure if I want to be that neighbor, ha ha.

Butterfly on the hyssop.

A bit blurry of a photo, but this little bird has been coming to my house each morning for about month. He just sits up there on the eve. He's so fat ,and he always looks wet and grumpy in the morning. I get the biggest kick out of him.

The bees line up at the "beach" like it's a watering trough. I love it :-)

Mariota continued to bond with Grandma.

The hubby and my mom love to put together puzzles. Well, as soon as my aunt arrived from Michigan, she joined the party. There was lots of puzzling going on in this house!

We grilled up some fat steaks the night my aunt and uncle arrived. Oh my goodness, they were delicious. I don't eat steak very often, but when I do, I do it right.

We also made curly fries to go with the steaks. I actually used my Spiralizer to make these. At first, the hubby and I thought that the Spiralizer made the fries too thin, but that worry was quickly forgotten. Most of the fries were the perfect consistency. Some that were too thin got really crispy, and then they tasted like potato chips. So tasty! I'll be making these again, have no worries!

The day before my aunt and uncle headed back to Michigan, we had the hubby's family over for a barbecue. The hubby's sister and her husband brought our nephews and our niece out, and we spent the evening chowing down and playing corn hole. 

I came across 6 or 7 photos of me throwing the bean bags, and I was making a crazy face in all of them! Just call me "Queen of the Corn Hole Face". Ha ha!

My little bro throwing.

And of course, no family get-together is complete without a huge group shot. From the left, there's my Uncle Jack, my mom, the hubby and I, our youngest nephew, my brother-in-law, my mother-in-law, my sister-in-law, my niece and oldest nephew, my Aunt Steph, my dad, and my "little" bro.

And of course, our true colors. Ha ha!

The hubby and I took my dad out one morning and headed up the Ohio River to Ironton, Ohio. I took this picture at the top of an abandoned highway tunnel. You can climb to the top on a somewhat-rickety-feeling staircase, and the view is just gorgeous. The hills in the background here are actually Kentucky. Standing in southern Ohio looking into Kentucky. Summertime here is just so beautiful.

And finally, it might have taken Mariota 5 days to warm up to my dad, but he finally did. Poor dad. All he wanted to do was pet the puppy, and all Mariota would do was bark and nip at him. Persistence paid off though, Mariota was in love by the time my parents had to go home :-)

And that's what I've been up to since I've taken a month-long break. It was awesome and truly needed. I really am going to try to get back on a schedule now, because I have plenty of awesome recipes to share. I haven't been at a loss for pictures, just a loss for words. Time to change that!

Have a great week my lovely friends!


  1. Looking forward to more receipes. Uncle Jack liked the NY Strip so much that we just got 3 to freeze. Until that day at your house he thought Serloin steak was the steak to have. He has now changed his tune! Even if his are cooked to char.

    1. Wow! I'm glad we got those for him to try! Another Strip Steak convert! :-) It's seriously my favorite cut! When it's medium rare, of course 😁

  2. Oh how fun! I am so glad you were able to spend so much time with your family. There really is nothing better in my opinion than being with the ones you love most in life!

    1. I agree! It's crazy how used to a full house I got, very unusual for me. It must come with age, I'm figuring. I could have had everyone stay for 3 more weeks! 😀

  3. Looks like a blast! I think we all have a "game face" when it comes to playing corn hole (or bags as we call it in the far away land of IL!)

    1. Bags! I've never heard it called that before as we called it "Bean Bag Toss" on the West Coast. I was pretty shocked when I moved out here and everyone called it Corn Hole, LOL 😂

  4. I enjoyed getting to meet your family! So - you live near Marshall University from We Are Marshall? I remember that tragedy.........

    1. We live kind of close to Marshall. Huntington is about an hour's drive from us, but we go often. They have the only Target in the area! I never thought I see the day that Target was a special trip, LOL 😂

  5. You have been so busy!!! I thing you are truly the "Hostess with the mostest"!
    I am with you on the chicken tacos. Sometimes the simple original are just the best!

    1. Thank you Kris! I might even do chicken tacos tonight, Mwhahaha :-)


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