Monday, April 11, 2011

Operation Yard Make-Over (Part One)

Yard Work.  Yuck!  It might be my least favorite thing about this time of year.  I know there are plenty of people who love to get outside and dig in the dirt.  I just don’t happen to be one of them.  However, I do really enjoy the benefits of a nice backyard.  It’s great for the kids to have a place to play.  I love barbeques and washer tournaments, bonfires and s’mores, and our vegetable garden.  I just wish I could skip all the work and reap the benefits. 

This year, we considered hiring a landscaping company to get our yard into decent shape. It seems as if the previous owner neglected the yard well before the cold of winter.  With two feet of dead grass and debris covering the entire area, this was going to take a lot of work.  After realizing our budget did not leave any room for a professional job, we sucked it up and decided to do it ourselves. 

Unenthusiastically, we made plans to get started over the weekend.  Surveying the damage, we knew we had to do something differently than years past. 

See, I’m great about saying, “Let’s do this and this and this and we’ll be done in no time!”  Then we actually start and everything that seemed so easy turns into a nightmare.  After twelve hundred trips to Walmart and Home Depot and a small fortune later, we have the basic supplies.  What I think should be completed in a few hours lasts for a few weeks.  The next thing we know it’s the Fourth of July and the yard is as good as it’s going to get.

Honestly, I do not have the time or patience for that this year. 

This weekend we made our first steps in “Operation Yard Make-Over.”  Determined to not repeat the mistakes of the years past, we decided to beef up our efforts with some power tools. 

Because the dead grass is ridiculously overgrown, a regular raking would leave us with less than desirable results and blistered hands.  On Sunday, we broke out the power rake (from a local rental company).  In a few hours, the entire yard was raked and bagged!  It was truly amazing. 

What is left (now that dead grass is gone) is dirt.  There’s a few small sprigs of grass popping up here and there…but mainly dirt. Disheartening, yes, but it makes it that much easier to prepare the ground for our vegetable garden.

After several weeks of watching the sun dance over the yard, we finally determined the best location for the garden to get adequate sunshine and avoidance of kid and dog play.  Thinking we would wait until next weekend to dig out the ground, I was delightfully surprised when the garden tiller made it’s appearance.  For years now we had been using the garden claw to irrigate the ground to make it ready for planting.  And for years, I swore that would be the last year we had a garden.  I even suggested doing a container garden this year because I could not go through the agony of hand tilling again.

This tiller thing…my gosh!  We now have a plot bigger than ever.  It’s so pretty and full of potential.  And it took maybe 20 minutes.

This dreaded yard work is becoming much less dreaded.  Who would have thought that all we needed were the right tools!  The cost has been significantly less than hiring a professional.

Next weekend, we have to do something about the grass.  I’ve heard there is a machine type thing that will plant grass seed with precision and ease.  Please reserve one for me!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Birds are Coming Home!

Alright, St. Louis, tomorrow is the day you have been waiting for.  After months of treacherously cold weather and snow, spring will officially arrive tomorrow.

"But, wait!" you say, "Didn't spring officially arrive 10 days ago?  And even so, this crazy St. Louis weather doesn't have me convinced that it really is spring." 

Tomorrow, I assure you, SPRING is here.  You don't need the weatherman or the calendar because as any true St. Louisian can tell you...the new season is upon us.


There is no man that rounds the bases of kindness, passion and creativity quite like Tom "the Cardinals Hatman" Lange.  His hat creations are phenomenal while his smile and kindness are infectious. 

I've had the privilege of knowing Tom and his wife, Anna, since my days of serving them enchiladas and margaritas...and they have remained long time friends.  They are two of the most generous, loving, free-spirited, (sometimes a little crazy) people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting.  Tom's love for his family, friends and, of course, the game is as true as the Cardinal Red you will see him sporting every chance he gets.

In honor of this St. Louis tradition, break out those BBQ grills and coolers, and raise a glass to Tom and the St. Louis Cardinals!

Hats off to the beginning of a fantastic new season!

Go Cards!

Monday, March 21, 2011

A Big Top Event

The circus is leaving town and what an UNBELIEVABLE show it was!  For the 69th consecutive year, the Moolah Shine Circus hosted eight performances over the weekend to crowds topping seven thousand.  From the tigers to the human cannonball, kids of all ages were mesmerized by the magic of the show.

In addition to the perfoming acts in the big top, interactive circus activities were offered for a nominal fee.  Kids could ride a pony or an elephant, have their picture taken with a ginormous snake, get their faces painted and jump out all of their cirucs energy in the bounce houses.

All proceeds from the circus benefit the Shriners Hospital.

If you missed out on an amazing weekend at the circus, be sure to make plans to attend next year.  You can find all the info you need at

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Let the Shenanigans Begin!

Calling all  Lads, Lasses, and Wanna-be Irish-folk!  St. Patrick's Day is only one week away.  And St. Louis has all the festivities to celebrate!

This Saturday, the annual  St. Patrick's Day Parade kicks off with a 5-mile run through the streets of downtown and midtown St. Louis.  The run begins at 9am and is one of the largest events of it's kind with over 12,000 participants. 

Irish Village in Kiener Plaza will also open at 9am providing food, beverages, live entertainment and much more! 

The official Parade begins at noon...rain or shine!  The St. Patrick's Day parade is one of the top in the country, so you don't want to miss out.

On St. Patrick's Day (March 17th), the Ancient Order of Hibernians host their 27th parade in Dogtown.  Although it's floats are less flashy than the Downtown Parade, it's participants are more authentic.  Irish families have been gathering for years to celebrate their heritage and the awesomeness of this event can only be explained by being there.

The Parade will start at noon at the intersection of Tamm and Oakland.  If you want a spot on the parade route, get there early!  Local businesses, schools and churches participate in this event, so you can expect to find an abundance of Irish delectables like corned beef and Guinness.

Participants in the parade are family and friends of the Ancient Order of Hibernians and know how to do Irish.  Costumes and authentic Irish kilts will make their annual appearance.  Make sure to wear your St. Paddy's Day best...and have a designated driver!

For all the information on both parades, click on the links above.

Irish Blessings to you All!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Grab Your Party Hats and Beads....... It's MARDI GRAS!

Spring is in the air around St. Louis!  And what better way to kick off the season then with one of the nation's most popular Mardi Gras celebrations. You don't have to travel to New Orleans to get in on this Fat Tuesday fun.  The City of Soulard has been hosting a Monster Mardi Gras Event since the 1980's, and this year promises to be more of the same fun on a larger scale.

Mardi Gras 2011 kicked off last Saturday with the family friendly Beggin' Pet Parade.  The events continue this weekend through Fat Tuesday.  On March 5th, head down to Soulard early to find the perfect spot for the River City Casino Grande Parade.  Starting at 11am at Busch Stadium and ending at Anheuser-Busch Brewery, the parade is the main attraction.  After the parade, stick around for the city's largest party of the year (although you may want to leave the kiddos at home for this part).  Just like any good Mardi Gras party, beads are a hot commodity, and you'll have to see for yourself the extremes people will bare to get those trinkets around their necks! 

The weather forecast for the weekend calls for cooler temps and a chance of rain .  But anyone who knows St. Louis  knows the ever changing temperatures.  The hottest party of the event (and the best way to ensure your fun regardless of the weather) is at the Bud Light Party Tent.  These HUGE tents are temperature controlled and home to the most popular party of the festival accommodating up to 2000 Mardi Gras-ers.  Make sure to purchase your ticket if you haven't already because this is guaranteed to be the spot you'll want to be.  Included with admission to the tent is an authentic Cajun-Creole Buffet and Open Bar PLUS Port-a-Potties reserved ONLY for ticket holders (this alone is worth the price to admission)! 

For all the other event details and a full map of the parade route visit the official St. Louis Mardi Gras Site.

Veteran Mardi Gras goers please give us your tips and suggestions in the comments below.  Be sure to come back after the party and tell us your stories!  This Mardi Gras is sure to be one memorable occasion!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Bringing Hollywood Home

It’s that time again!  Hollywood is gearing up to honor it’s finest at the 83rd Annual Academy Awards.  While the Oscars are being presented, how will you be celebrating your guests?  For movie lovers and party lovers alike, this is the time of year to celebrate in style.  Hosting your own at-home Oscar party has never been easier…especially if you follow these simple suggestions.


What’s a party without guests? Invitations can be as simple as a word-of-mouth announcement, a facebook event or an e-vite.  For the more elegant of choices, get creative with Oscar themed invitations.


Roll out the red carpet and let your guests strut their stuff on Oscar night just like the Hollywood elite.  Turn your party room into a star-studded event with star shaped cut-outs, twinkling lights and candles.  Break out a popcorn machine complete with movie theater style bags and the intoxicating smell of fresh popped popcorn will have your guests talking for years to come.  Decide on a color theme for your party such as red, black, silver and gold.  Make sure you have adequate seating for everyone to view their favorite actors and actresses receiving their honors.


Fancy hors d'ouevres don’t have to be complicated if served in style.  Mini quiches, cheesecakes, and brownie bites are sure to please even the toughest critics when served on shiny silver platters.  Try spinach dip with pita crisps and fresh vegetables and ranch dip.  Really impress your chocolate loving guests with a chocolate fountain and fresh strawberries, bananas and your favorite fruits.  Fill an assortment of martini, wine and champagne glasses with rich candies and use as center pieces on your tables. Using fine china and silverware will only add the elegance of the evening.  Don’t forget about beverages for your guests!  Make up a delicious award-winning champagne punch or go all out with a champagne fountain.  Have an assortment of red and white wines, beer, soda and sparkling water to please everyone in attendance.


Why let the actors win all the prizes?  Have a swag bag for each of your guest or put together an ultimate prize for one lucky winner.  Before the awards begin, have each guest select a winner in each Academy Award category.  At the end of the show, tally up the points and give a grand prize to the guest who got the most correct.  You can find a nomination form here.

For the biggest night in Hollywood your guests are certain to feel like part of the action at your Oscar party. 

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