Projects · Summer Bucket List

Summer Bucket List: Make a Fire Pit

We finally got around to making a fire pit in our back yard, and I’m super proud to say that it cost us exactly $0. That’s right, we didn’t have to pay a cent to make it!IMG_20140816_145626_806Some of you who know me have probably heard me talk about the work we’ve been doing on the front of our house, specifically describing the hours I spent pulling rocks out of the side garden. While it was a huge time investment to gather so many rocks, we were able to put them to use when we made our fire pit. We were able to use some stone borders from the front garden as well. IMG_20140816_151515_972

Chad dug the pit, and we worked together to cut out roots and arrange the stone border.

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Once that was done, we added some dirt back into the pit around the sides of the border for support, and then sprayed everything down with water to help sink the border down and stabilize it.  IMG_20140816_152922_529

For the last step, we took some of the rocks I had pulled from the front garden (yes, even after this project we still have leftover rocks!) and arranged them around the fire pit as a border.

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We tried a little fire right after that, but then I had to go to work. Unfortunately we’ve had a lot of rain since then, but we’re really looking forward to having a bonfire and whipping up some delicious s’mores soon!IMG_20140816_154953_269

Have you ever been able to up-cycle something for a project in your yard?

Food & Cooking · Tried

A Gorgeous Day for a Picnic!

 

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Yesterday I made a little picnic lunch and went to Rosy Mound in Grand Haven. I had never walked there before, and boy was I in for a treat! It was a gorgeous day, and after eating lunch under the shade of the big, beautiful trees, I started my walk. I didn’t get very far before I heard a “thunk, thunk, thunk,” sound and saw hunks of bark falling from a tree beside the path. I looked up, searching for the culprit of the noise and the falling tree bark, and saw two pileated woodpeckers! I was so excited–I don’t remember ever seeing them in real life before. I laughed to myself as I saw them pecking away, reminded of the Woody the Woodpecker cartoons I used to watch as a child. A man came up behind and whispered excitedly, “A pileated woodpecker!” I said, “Yeah, there are two!” He told me that they usually travel in pairs, keeping the same pairs for life. He had seen them in Florida before, but never in Michigan. A nice surprise for both of us.

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Continuing on the trail, I came upon a view of the beach. I always love it when you emerge from a wooded area and catch glimpses of the blue water in contrast to the green and brown of the trees.

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As I continued on the trail, I couldn’t help but smile. I felt so much joy at the breath-taking sight of sunlight on water. Seagulls played together in the sand and in the air, I saw butterflies fluttering about, and I thought of a line from Anne Frank’s diary: “The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quite alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature. As longs as this exists, and it certainly always will, I know that then there will always be comfort for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances may be. And I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.” What an encouragement!

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I sort of ate my share of some Peach Tarts I made before going on my picnic rather than taking them with me, but I’m sure they played a role in my lovely time.  I didn’t have any pecans around, so I used some Hazelnuts instead, and they turned out great!

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Below is the recipe for the tarts, sure to result in a happy mood when combined with a walk outside on a gorgeous day.

Peach Tarts

  • 2 large firm-ripe peaches
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped pecans (or hazlenuts or walnuts)
  • 4 sheets phyllo dough, thawed if frozen
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1. Place a rack in center of oven and preheat to 375°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment.

2. Cut peaches in half and remove pits. Place a peach half cut-side down on cutting board. Holding it together with one hand, cut 6 to 8 even slices through the stem end, then push gently to fan out. Combine sugar, nutmeg and pecans in a bowl.

3. Place one phyllo sheet on counter with narrow side facing you. Brush bottom half lightly with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar-pecan mixture. Fold top half over bottom half, pressing lightly. Repeat, folding top half over bottom half. Repeat again, this time brushing and sprinkling left half and folding right half over. Repeat once more. You should now have a 3-by-4-inch rectangle. Place on baking sheet. Repeat with remaining 3 phyllo sheets. Place a fanned peach half in center of each phyllo rectangle, brush with remaining butter and sprinkle with remaining sugar mixture.

4. Bake until phyllo is golden brown and crisp and peach has softened, 20 to 25 minutes, rotating pan halfway through. Place on a wire rack to cool.

Recipe originally posted here.