Congratulate us! We finally installed those screens that we've had in the garage for oh, around 2 years. (If you remember, we actually had the wrong size screens in the garage for 1.5 years - we only just exchanged them about six months ago because we were going to install them... and then left them in the garage for six months.)

The inspiration for this motivation? Last Sunday was just beautiful - probably the last nice summery day of 2009. And I just felt like opening the french doors. So Mike installed the screens - easy as pie, can't believe we waited 2 years. I like the fact that from a distance on the inside looking out, you can't even tell the screens are there.

It was pretty funny, when we first installed them and opened the doors, one of our indoor cats, The Fidget, made a run for the outside and crashed right into the screen. Hilarious! Of course, she had her revenge a couple days later when Mike forgot the screen was there and did the same thing. He knocked the screen right off the tracks, but it didn't break. I can't believe I wasn't the first one to do that.

Now we keep the screen open most of the time, unless the doors are open. It's just safer for the screens that way.

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Together Again

Last weekend was fabulous. With a capital F, A, and B. Just what I needed after a maddening string of presentation-prep at work.

Saturday I managed to finish some much needed cleaning and run some much needed errands. Sunday, Mike and I got hungry and bought a bunch of junk food. (Sounds funny when I write it out like that.) But seriously, we hadn't eaten and by 3pm found ourselves rushing to the grocery store for hamburgers, eggs, cheese, breadcrumbs, heavy cream, nuts, oatmeal cookie mix, brownie mix, caramel sauce and choco-shell ice cream topping. The rest of the day was spent making eggplant parm and oatmeal cookie ice cream brownie sundaes with caramel sauce and choco-shell ice cream topping.

Which, by the way, was so delicious, I'm going to share the recipe:

Oatmeal Cookie-Nut Ice Cream
1 package of oatmeal cookie mix
1 pint heavy cream
1-2 cups 2% milk
1ish cups walnuts
1 cup sugar
2 tbls vanilla xtract
3 tbls caramel sauce
And whatever the oatmeal cookie mix package calls for to make cookies - usually butter or oil, eggs, and a little bit of water.

First, separate your oatmeal cookie mix, adding half to one mixing bowl and half to a second mixing bowl. Then, add the heavy cream, milk, sugar, and vanilla extract to one of the bowls of cookie mix. Blend well, wrap in plastic wrap, and place in your refrigerator for several hours. (Or overnight if you can.) This is a good time to put your ice cream machine innards in the freezer too.

In the second cookie mix bowl, follow your package instructions, cutting everything by 1/2. (Calls for 1/2 cup butter, use 1/4 and so on and so forth.) Bake cookies as directed on the package and let cool to room temp.

Now, remove your ice cream machine innards from the freezer and your milk/cookie sludge from the fridge. Start your ice cream machine as directed by the directions, then pour in your milk/cookie sludge mixture, making sure to get all that good cookie sludge into the machine. Wait as per your ice cream machine directions - mine takes about 20min to get to soft serve consistency.

Once you're at that soft serve consistency, turn off the machine and empty the ice cream into a suitable container - one that's freezable with a tight sealing lid. Something like a tupperware something or other would be good. Now the fun part! Get your actual cookies that you baked - tear them into bite size pieces and stir into your ice cream. (Yes, you will have a lot of cookies in there - that's the point. If you think you have too much - trust me, you don't, just keep stirring them in there. The whole) Then, stir in the walnuts and caramel sauce. Again, you can never have too much - go nuts! (Literally)

Now here comes the hard part - freeze for several hours or at best, overnight. Yes, you'll want to eat it immediately, but your patience will be rewarded. The soft serve freezes to ice cream consistency and the cookies absorb the ice cream and get all soft and the flavors all meld together. Trust me - wait. It'll be awesome.

Now if you want to make sundaes - and you may not want to because the ice cream is awesome all on its own - make the brownies as per your package instructions. Cut yourself a slab and then top with the ice cream. Then apply caramel sauce, extra nuts, and choco-shell ice cream topping. Allow the shell about a minute to totally shell up. And there you have it - the most delicious and decadent thing ever.

I have yet to try this cookie-mix-ice-cream method with anything besides oatmeal cookie mix - but I imagine it would work well with cake mix, brownie mix, and other kinds of cookie mix. Sugar cookie would be wonderful around the holidays - and then add in traditional icing and decorations when you add in the cookies.... mmmm. I'll let you know when I try it.

Anyhoo - back to the house-bloggerness of this posting. Monday we had a baby free day and decided to use the time to work on the siding. The work definitely went quicker with me helping out. Mike would measure and cut, then I would paint and test, then Mike would nail.

As you can see, we completed most of the french door area save for a little sliver at the top - which will be a difficult cut. We also re-attached the exterior light and doorbell at long last. Once that last sliver is done at the top of the door - the bottom part of the front of the house will be complete. We'll only have to finish the part above the farmer's porch roof to call the front of the house done - completely.

We hope to manage it before the end of fall. It's so funny, I seem to remember myself thinking that somehow we'd have the hardwood done in the living room before the annual halloween party. Now I feel like we'll be lucky to have the rest of the siding done in time!

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