Tuesday, June 29, 2010

sky view.

I have a fear of heights. Ever since I was a child - palms sweat, world spins, can't breathe. I have gotten through it OK for years by either avoidance or confronting it head on (which didn't conquer it but I didn't die ;)) - but certain types of things are really tough, like edges and open air hanging things.

Today my boys decided that they wanted to try an aerial tram ride. This isn't like the ski lifts I have ridden in New Mexico and Colorado - sort of high and above grass or snow. This was very high and above concrete. And on a little piddly lift (of course I was the only one who thought that, since it freaked me out), not the big deluxe ski resort kind. But if I hope for my boys to try new things and experiences and feel comfortable confronting their fears, then I should too, right?

A rode with Brice and G was with me. My death grip on him and the bar made it tough to take photos (!) but I got a few in. Of course he was oblivious to my suffering and was perfectly happy after the first few minutes of nervous and enjoyed the ride - yelling over to his dad and brother and watching the ants, I mean people pass below - he even pranced off when we were done.

Oh, the things we do for love.

(oh my, I am woozy even looking at the photos again!)

Monday, June 28, 2010


Everything is blooming most recklessly; if it were voices instead of colors, there would be an unbelievable shrieking into the heart of the night.
~Rainer Maria Rilke

(from our walk at Olbrich Botanical Gardens)

Sunday, June 27, 2010

end of the weekend.

Oh, Sunday evening is here. What a weekend! Busy busy, overnight guests, life, thunderstorms, family, outings, karate, cooking, cleaning, garden, heat, playplayplay, happy but tired boys...we are all exhausted!

Hope you all had a great weekend!

Friday, June 25, 2010

after the rain.

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. via Soule Mama

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


I love lavender. It smells wonderful, it is beautiful, it has many wonderful properties. I am very sensitive to lavender essential oil and so cannot use any bath/body/laundry/cleaning supplies using lavender oils/fragrance. I can, however, handle the plant itself just fine. And what a plant it is.

We picked up a few bundles of fresh lavender at our CSA farm last week. After letting it dry for a few days, we were ready to go. There are so many things you can make with dried lavender...we decided to make lavender sugar and bath salts. Both quick and easy to make, and the boys love to pluck the buds and shake the jars.

Lavender Sugar.

It has such a nice aroma. It is a great substitute for the store bought sprinkles on top of cakes and cookies. It is really amazing sprinkled over fresh berries (try it, really!) or mixed in at the end when whipping cream for desserts.

1 cup organic big crystal sugar
2-3 tsp fresh lavender buds, dried (don't use the stuff made for potpourri...not for food!)
small jelly jar

Mix together, screw on the lid, and let sit at room temperature for a week or two before using for maximum flavor.

You can put the lavender buds in a little muslin bag inside the sugar to add its aroma but not add the little chunks into what you sprinkle it on if you like - or sift before using. I actually like seeing the little flowers along with the crystals. And they are edible. :)

You can of course also make this with a finer turbinado sugar...and use it for baking scones and cakes. (I'm making a lavender honey today!!!).


Lavender Bath Salts.

I love using dead sea salts as a detox body scrub for me, and it is a great additive every week (or whenever he has a flare-up) for the bath for my son with eczema. Dead sea salt contains many minerals and has many therapeutic qualities good for the skin, the body, and healing - and that combined with the soothing/anti-inflammatory properties of the lavender and the emollient almond oil relieves itching and flare-ups.

1 cup good quality dead sea salt
1 Tbsp lavender buds, dried
1 Tbsp good quality almond oil

Mix together and store in an air tight canning jar. Let sit at room temperature for a week or two before using for maximum scent. Multiply this recipe for quantity...this makes about 2 baths worth.

You can scoop this into a small muslin bag and place it into the bathwater or just scoop right into bath if you don't mind little buds. :)

There are so many great uses for lavender...I'm sure we'll make many more things as the summer goes along. These all make great gifts too (we love testing out recipes in the summer so we can have ideas for gifting in a few months).

Monday, June 21, 2010

happy summer solstice!

After a Saturday full of charter bus ride, fire station tour, and food at a local festival, and then a Sunday morning full of Father's Day love, we finished off with the grand finale to our weekend at a Summer Solstice Celebration with our local unschooling group.

We had a lovely afternoon filled with crafting and play...

...wandering green fields, good food, beautiful surroundings.

Into the evening there was more play and conversation and music and fire. It was nice to catch up with a few familiar faces and meet so many new people.

(A loved loved loved drumming!)

After the sun set we lit our lanterns and walked the labyrinth in the dark. Around and around, chanting our wishes for the world.

After marshmallows and burning away any negative things from the past season, we sat by the campfire until tired little boys wanted to go home to sleep.

What a great weekend and a wonderful way to celebrate the solstice.

Summer is here! Happy Summer Solstice!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

garden 'tour'

The garden is starting to look like summer. We have been getting a few pounds of strawberries a day from our small front bed. Our golden raspberries are starting to ripen and are eaten directly from the cane, rarely making it into the house. Greens are growing like mad with all the rain, and peppers, squash, tomatoes and other late summer veggies are flowering (and today we found our first little green tomato!). I am starting to get that cozy secret garden feeling I love as all of the external foliage is getting thick and green.

I have had a lot of emails asking for a 'tour' of the garden ... I am exactly the same way - while I love the close-up shots of peoples gardens I want to see how it is laid out, what it looks like as a whole. So, here is a bit of a 'tour' of where we are mid-June with some close-ups, and some bigger views.

I have had lots of questions about fruit in a small/urban garden. We are growing currants, strawberries, raspberries, and garden huckleberries this year. We have two areas where we have raspberries. We have a small spot right up by our front porch where we have golden raspberries (we get a lot from a small space). It is probably a 4 foot deep by 6 feet long. We can reach raspberries from the front porch or yard, so we could make it dense since we can access from two sides. I like the early golden raspberries because while they do spread and cane out a bit, it isn't out of control, and we have been able to keep it mostly in the one spot. They also start fruiting in June, and continue for most of the summer! Yum.

We have a second raspberry plot in a small strip of space out back right next to our driveway and alley (below) which contains late season bearing red raspberries. It started out as a few gifted canes last year and this type of raspberry is much more invasive, um, I mean aggressive and has taken over an entire bed, and escaped all around the (lined) bed (must be all the coffee grounds I've been putting on them since last summer). We are letting it go this year and will be thrilled with the massive amount of raspberries we will have, and will pull and pass along canes next spring to all who want some.

We have two large white currant bushes along the outer wall of the garden and it looks like we will be getting a lot of currants this year (yay!). The huckleberries are spread within the inter planted beds, wherever we had some space. Our strawberries are in a 4'x8' bed that we put right up in front next to the sidewalk. Once the strawberries are done, there are some of the brightly colored hot peppers that will take over for the rest of the summer!

While we don't get full sun all day in our garden due to the two houses side by side, we do get decent radiant light from the light colored buildings. We are careful to use a dark mulch, fertilize with kelp and fish emulsions often, and use what we know of where the sun is during the day to keep things like tomatoes in the 'hot spots'. We get great fruiting and growth in less than ideal light.

Our beds have been widened a little bit every year, and we have about a 6'-8' wide strip of grass left - just big enough for a little pool, soccer game, picnic table or water blasting match. ;)

I love walking out into the garden each morning and weeding, watering pots, filling the birdbath, seeing what is ready to harvest, and saying good morning to our resident chipmunk. It has been so nice bringing in bowl fulls of goodness from the garden again - I love that.

Everything is still pretty small right now, but in a month or so it will be very filled out, many feet taller overall, and pretty much jungle-like on the sides - as the taller plants shade ground plants, and everything is mixed in closely with flowers, fruit, vegetables and herbs.

Our deck in back is a very used spot - Ms. Hunka has her outside hutch there, we sit and read and hang out at the table/chairs in the shade, and there are tons of herbs and veggies in pots tucked into every available spot (the front porch is full of pots too!).

To make it feel more like a room, we grow clematis, peas and beans up the deck rails and by mid-July we are almost completely enclosed and shaded. Just in time for the hottest part of the summer.

We also have a lot of lemon balm and other herbs planted around the deck to discourage mosquitoes and to smell lovely on those hot summer nights. This year our lemon balm bushes are massive, and I'm excited to dry a lot for tea and make some infusions and oils.

It is small, but it is ours, and we love it. :)

So there is a tour of most of the garden - I'll do some more next week. I think I'm going to go outside and sit on my deck with Ms. Hunka and have a glass of wine while the boys play in the alley! Have a great weekend!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

CSA season has begun!

Today was our first CSA box of the season! Yay!

>>In our box this week @ cook.eat.think.


Creative people are curious, flexible, persistent, and independent with a tremendous spirit of adventure and a love of play.
~Henri Matisse

Play is training for the unexpected.
~Marc Bekoff

A child loves his play, not because it’s easy, but because it’s hard.
~Benjamin Spock

Play gives children a chance to practice what they are learning.
~Fred Rogers

Children learn as they play. Most importantly,
in play children learn how to learn.
~O. Fred Donaldson

Life must be lived as play.

Play is our brain's favorite way of learning.
~Diane Ackerman

Whether we are by a creek, in the woods, at a playground, in our yard, in the car, at home, or at the library -- wherever we go, whatever we are doing, we have tales and adventures that come along. Ocean rescues, super ninjas, scientists saving the planet, knights on a quest, treacherous mountain treks, friendly dragons, amazing characters and plots and story lines. We take the play with us. Doesn't get much better than that.

Monday, June 14, 2010

skate park.

Today the boys had their first skateboarding class! They have been looking forward to this for weeks, and even a cool gray rainy morning couldn't dim their enthusiasm.

G's class was first. G was great - he is so graceful he glides in anything requiring balance. The instructor is nice and laid back too (which means we will probably make it through all 3 weeks of the class! ;)).

A's class was next, and even though the sprinkles turned into steady rain, he kept going! You know he likes it when he stays on through that - he is a particular kind of kid. His class ended a bit early with all the wet, but not so early that he didn't get in a few of these...

...you know, the down the ramp sitting on the board - yep, that is him whizzing along feet up in the air. He got so much speed going he made it all the way to the edge of the parking lot! Woo hoo!

They get to go twice a week for a few weeks and they are hoping to improve their skills enough to try some new tricks, learn how to do small ramps, and just feel more comfortable going faster on their boards. Fun!