Saturday, August 30, 2008

last blast of summer.

The boys and I made homemade marshmallows yesterday. So what else can you do but start a fire, get out the skewers, and roast some marshmallows and make s'mores!

We have family in town this weekend, so they came over last night and we all sat around the fire. The kids played and ran around and when it was time for marshmallows, we invited the kids playing in the alley to come up and join us. Everyone had fun roasting marshmallows and fixing their s'mores. So yummy! The boys were very proud that they had homemade marshmallows, and one four year old told his mom, "There are two recipes we need to get from them. First, the homemade pizza recipe, second this marshmallow recipe." :)

After the kids were stuffed with graham crackers and marshmallows they rode their bikes, played hide and seek, and then put together a bunch of glow bracelets grandma brought as a special treat.

The adults all sat and watched the kids run until the darkness descended and the kids went inside for bedtime. It felt like were were celebrating the ending of summer - and while I know we will have many more hot days, those long summer nights are indeed almost at an end. Lovely evening!

Get the homemade marshmallow recipe here...

Thursday, August 28, 2008


Thursday is our CSA pickup day. One of the things we really wanted when choosing a CSA was not only organic produce and a nearby location, but also having an on farm pickup. We used to have a wonderful CSA, but the pickup was in someones garage as the farm was pretty far away. I love the convenience, but having a farm that the kids can see and visit and experience is priceless, I think (especially when it is only 12 miles away!). I think of the things I remember from my childhood, and I hope this is one of those things lodged in the memories that make a part of who they become.

It has been pretty hot and sunny recently, so we have just been picking up our boxes, chatting with the boys favorite farm worker for a bit, and perhaps visiting the tractor or stomping in mud before getting back into the car to go home. Today was cloudy and cooler so we were able to get out and walk around.

We first walked out into a field to visit the turkeys. These guys are pastured American Bronze Heritage Turkeys. They get moved around a bit, and today they were at the far reaches of the fields. As we approached they all walked over to look at us. I think having a hundred or so turkeys staring at you en masse all fluffed up is disconcerting.

See what I mean? So I suggested that A sing them a song. He happily crooned and sang to them, and sure enough, at several key points to the song, in perfect unison, ALL of the turkeys spontaneously gabah-gabah-gabah'd along! Too fun.

From there we visited the hoop houses to see tomatoes, basil, peppers and drying onions. On the way home we stopped by a few farm stands as well to pick up some more goodies - and so the boys got to socialize a bit more before coming home. Always a good afternoon.

Tomorrow afternoon we are headed out to pickup a bushel (53#) of canning tomatoes and then to pickup our eggs. More fun - and lots of kitchen work this weekend to make sauces, salsas and other goodies with all the tomatoes. Yum!

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Garden - August.

I can feel it. The garden is almost peaking and from here we will count the days until our nights are cold, we check for frost warnings, and fall will come. I love the fall and look forward to cooler days, but I also enjoy reaping from the garden what we have worked so hard on all summer. Everything is so lush and green and tumbling on top of each other overtaking every open spot. The best part of summer.

(click on the links below to see the full size image)
1. sunflower., 2. tomatoes. , 3. leeks., 4. slicing cucumbers., 5. butternut squash., 6. tomato time!, 7. beans., 8. pumpkins., 9. dill., 10. Peppers., 11. peppers., 12. bee butt.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Lake fun?

We had so much work to do this weekend, but with such beautiful weather and energetic boys we knew we had to get out for some fun too. The boys have been asking to visit a beach and go for a nature walk, so we scanned the state parks for water quality and swimmers itch reports and picked one nearby state park which has a large lake, walking paths, picnic areas and playground equipment. The boys were both excited - they don't really like swimming in the lakes, but love playing on the beach and in the shallows.

The boys played for ages, happily building with rocks and digging in the sand. G doesn't like to get wet much (unless in a warm swimming pool) but did wade and splash a bit. A loved playing in the water, seeing all of the other kids swimming and splashing around, and watching boats speed by pulling people on ski's and tubes.

As we headed out we found a spigot for a full body rinse and scrub down. After changing into fresh clothes we headed out for a nature walk. What a lovely day!

But, after we got home we found that A most likely got swimmers itch. We had checked the reports online before we left, asked about the water with the ranger at the check-in point, and looked for posted signs upon arrival. After all of that, we thought we would be OK to walk and wade in the water a bit - but still did rinse off and scrub dry to be safe. Ha. Poor guy. He has crazy itchy red bumps all over his thighs, bottom and waist. Hopefully the itching will clear quickly. I love that we live around so many lakes, but it is so hard when you cannot ever touch the water - with the algae blooms, flooding and ag runoff, and trematode parasites.

This has A interested in all the details and facts, of course, so we have at least a day of reading and research ahead of us!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Local foods at their best.

It is that time of year. Gardens and farms are bursting with life, and we are picking, canning, freezing, baking and cooking. The boys love all aspects of this part of our summer. The weekly drive to the farm for our CSA share pickup, the morning rituals of visiting the garden to pick and water and gaze, the stops at our favorite farm stands to get just picked sweet corn or melons. The mountains of produce in our dining room and kitchen which need to be cleaned and cut and prepped. All reminding us where our food comes from, and that we are a part of this cycle.

The table in the very top photo is from yesterday. We picked up our CSA share and visited two farms on the way home - both with awesome farm stands. The first stop was for sweet corn and apples. This farmer came out to chat with the boys and let the them walk around and pet his groundhog, donkeys and goats. Our second stop was to a beautifully organized organic farm where we picked up some amazing mushrooms, beans, onions, and flowers.. The boys looked around and climbed some rocks as we chatted a bit with the farmer there before heading home.

The table also has what we picked yesterday - TONS of cucumbers, tomatoes and beans. We have been getting at least a basket full from the garden each day. The boys love walking through and picking, taking turns holding the basket, peeking for the hidden treasures. That is the best time to bird watch too, as our feathered friends are not so worried about our presence, and swoop, drink, eat and sing to us as we walk our tiny yard.

Each time we visit a farm the boys want to stay. They know each place we visit by identifying landmarks - this barn, that sign, this stream, those trees, and know what to expect at each place. I do think it is a lot of fun, but I also imagine it weaving invisible threads from the fields and farms and garden to their minds and hearts. And while they may not want to eat all of the goodies we buy or pick, they have a sense of what it requires, where it came from, and the people and places necessary to make it all happen. And those threads, I think, are what will keep us connected to all that which sustain us!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


I'm generally of the thought that when the boys are ready, show repeated interest, and take action to take a class, we will do it. I don't just sign them up for classes on my own - unless those 3 things happen. Of course, at their age they don't know what is out there so we do chat about what type of classes are available as their interest is piqued along the way. Most of the time they are not interested in the group instruction dynamic, and we do so much as a family that we cover most of their interests.

As A is getting older, he is beginning to independently request to learn more about things he is interested in, and ask specifically about classes, outings, or activities. One interest lately has been karate. After looking up everything he could about local schools and class options online, we went to observe a class last weekend. He loved watching so much that he wanted to start n-o-w!!! The owner brought him onto the floor for a second class so he could participate a bit too. We asked if this is what he wanted, and he answered with a very enthusiastic YES! He surprised me by asking about his gi (!?), which is the uniform, and did indeed receive one to wear to class. Monday was his first full class, and he had the biggest smile - literally from ear to ear - the entire time. He laughed and giggled and smiled for the full 30 minutes - bursting with joy. He went again today for a fundamentals class, and he loved it (and did NOT want to leave). This is all from a boy who is super intense and usually has a hard time with new situations and places, transitions, groups of unknown people, and loud places. I think that since he picked this all out himself and is in control of the decision, it paved the way for him to relax and enjoy himself. And, he obviously chose this because he is indeed ready for it.

It is fun to watch him learn and grow - I see him going from that little kid to the next level and I am awed by his energy and enthusiasm! Love it! Now G, he wants to take a class to do somersaults - still working on that request!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Photos, and no Photos.

One year ago. I love seeing how much they grow and change, and yet how much they look the same.

I'm almost in the home stretch of my long dark iPhoto tunnel. Whew. I have a software engineer for a husband and even he couldn't get it work the way it is "supposed to". I must have 200 photos on my camera waiting to download - I haven't been able to pull them off with all the stuff running, backing up, restoring from backup, moving, re-building, not working, not launching. But we are almost there! My husbands laptop had a catastrophic hard drive failure in the middle of my iPhoto debacle, but we got a new hard drive and managed to restore the entire thing from back-up (THAT worked just like it was supposed to), so after an extra few days of computer chaos, we are back on track and hopefully things will be good to go soon.

Lots of catching up to do!

Hope you all had a nice weekend!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Photos of the Day.

Be like the flower, turn your face to the sun.
-- Kahlil Gibran

My husband moved my iPhoto library and the whole thing became, while he is restoring from back-up and putting it all back together I cannot access photos or get them off of my camera. So here is a picture from Sunday - I love the colors of the 7' tall sunflowers blooming in our yard, and how the birds and bees spend so much time on them!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

loose change.

The boys have been interested in money lately. For A, he wants to know how much coins are worth, how many bills the coins equal, how much money it is in relation to things he wants to buy or how much things in our home cost. G is interested in that he wants bubble gum, and is whatever he holds in hand enough for bubble gum? Of course I should mention he has never had bubble gum, but loves the idea of it.

So, both boys have been collecting coins. Digging in my purse, finding coins in the car, and asking to put any coins we get as change into the "money bowl". I have used this big wooden bowl for change for years, and when the boys were old enough to put things in their mouths, it went up high. As they get older, they want the bowl down where they can add to it and see how much is in there. They have been adding to the money bowl for months now. They recently decided that the money bowl was full enough and we needed to go shopping for a few things they were saving for. We discussed how most places wouldn't take 30 pounds of coins and that we needed to go to the bank to trade it for bills! So we poured the coins into a portable container and headed to our local credit union. The boys were disappointed to discover that the coin counter was in a back room and they could not see it. As the woman left with their coins, we heard a familiar voice. One of our neighbors now works at that credit union and was behind the counter and offered to take the boys back to watch! We went to the back room and the boys used a little paddle to push the coins into the opening as it clinked and whirred away, counting.

When it was done it displayed a total and printed a receipt. Wow. They had saved over $300 in change! :) We took our receipt to the counter and our neighbor counted out the bills. The boys each put spending money in little zipper coin pouches that they were carrying, and the rest went into their savings. They were so excited!

I love how every day experiences often turn into the best learning moments - all on their own. Awesome.

Sunday, August 10, 2008


Today we went back to a partially 'normal' Sunday. Today is the day we usually get out in the morning for some fun and a cafe, and then we come home to all of our weekly kitchen projects - usually baking and preserving. It is fun - but with 2 adults, 2 kids, and a super tiny kitchen, it can be a bit nuts! I love it!!

This morning we went to our local botanical gardens. My back is still better with walking than sitting, so it is great to have such a beautiful place so close to home. We slowly walked the gardens and soaked up some sun, bumped into our neighbors, and ran into long lost friends. From there, we went to a local cafe for lunch! G loves the big chalkboard there - and the fresh lemonade!

Back at home, we started our projects. Today we made more traditional pickles with all of our garden cucumbers, a batch of pickled garlic, and fresh homemade ricotta cheese! Yum.

The boys love helping along the way - they stir, check the thermometer, scrub veggies with the brush, measure salt, pour things. When the afternoon in the kitchen was done, the boys strapped on their helmets and went outside to ride bikes and play with the neighbors while I finished everything up! I probably overdid it, but what a fun day. I'll be posting more food pics and some of the recipes to my food blog tomorrow!

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, August 09, 2008

On the Mend...

I feel like I am slowly returning to the land of summer and fun and sun and happy children. I have been in a fog of pain and immobility - back pain is no fun, let me tell ya. It has now been 17 days since I shoveled heavy dirt at a weird angle down the hill and felt that back twinge. At least the first 10 days of that were just painful. The last 7 days is where it got crazy.

I, for some silly reason, thought to attempt to visit a regular chiropractor since there were actually 6 to choose from in our entire greater metropolitan area covered by our insurance. Ahem. After 2 visits and me looking at this person babbling on in very odd ways and then being sent away (again) because I was in pain (uh, I thought that is why I was visiting??) and basically told to go to the ER and get and get prescribed some drugs first (?huh?) and come back when they sent me for physical therapy, I walked out that door (well, limped slowly clutching at the wall) and visited an acupuncturist/massage therapist that very hour.

Now, I will say that I have had a few awesome chiropractors over the years, but after my experience this week I wasn't about to play insurance roulette again, and I am very glad I didn't. One acupuncture visit and 2 acupressure (including a partial maya massage) appointments later I am walking. I have been following recommendations and taking chinese herbs and arnica, drinking kombucha and am getting much better. I can walk. I can sit for a little while. I can dress myself again. I can breathe. I got out of bed all by myself this morning. Yay! Slowly but surely doing better. Life is good.

OK. Enough rambling on about myself. Geez. :) The boys have been really great through all this and were so helpful this last week - but I have been feeling bad that they had so much inside time when it is SUMMER! So, since I was moving better today we took the boys to a local park. They splashed in some water a bit, walked around the pond, identified wildflowers, and played on a nice shady playground.

We all needed some sun and fresh air. They were so happy - what a nice time.

Thanks, little guys.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Sidewalk Art.

I don't want to go on about how I cannot move and how bad back pain is. I can walk a little bit without help tonight - which I could not even do AT ALL this morning, so that is a good thing! Instead, how about an awesome image from an art fair I limped through yesterday when my husbands family was all in town for the day. It was a small art fair with a few interesting highlights - one of which was this family creating chalk/pastel art on the street - amazing (click on the image to enlarge)!

A had to go rub and feel the chalk and street (of course they were using high quality pastels with good pigment...doesn't come off of hands, face, legs or clothing!) and was so interested in their work.

While in art college I often drew chalk art on parking lots and sidewalks with friends from school on those hot summer evenings. It always drew a crowd. I don't think this talented family was getting enough attention for this at the here they are!

Saturday, August 02, 2008


I love Saturday wanderings. I hate planning things in advance too much ... I know if we hype what we will be doing the boys will get overly excited and something will not work out - which tends to send spirited boys into a tailspin. So today was a good day. We wandered and did a few things the boys wanted to do, and surprised them with a few other places as well!

A few images from our morning::

Fun day!

Thanks for all the back advice - I started taking Arnica yesterday morning and went from being unable to even sit down without major pain at noon to being able to stand up and sit down and bend over without needing help! Still pretty sore and not completely mobile - but wow! Thanks.