Thursday, March 31, 2011

Garden Stamp Trial


The stamps finally came and we learned a good lesson. Stainless works a-ok, but I think sterling would be way better.  The softer metal would ensure a good imprint, but this is not too bad for a first shot.  We did our first official label as onion in honor of the 200 onion sets that we planted today.  Yes, we planted and in the ground, not just the mass seeds we have started in the basement!  They will weather a cold snap, but the earth felt warm and ready, so we tucked them in.  Garden....game on! 

Now I'm off to get my game on with the ladies and trivia nite :)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Meatless Monday


When Sidney was six she went through a good eight months or so where she would not eat meat.  She wanted to be a vegetarian and was very adamant about it.  The problem ultimately came as her tastes became a little more picky and we had to explain that she needed to consume certain foods in order to get all of the necessary nutrients.  Since then she has eaten meats, steak tastes pretty good, but still in just moderate amounts.  Back in January, when Charles was at a birthday party, we treated Sidney to lunch at a place called Hu Hot.  It's a Mongolian BBQ where you fill a bowl with any number of items from a large smorgasbord, ladle on some sauces and then they cook it in front of you.  She chose tofu as her protein, and loved it!  Since then she has been on me to cook with more tofu.  Beyond a recipe for a fantastic Asian lettuce wrap with tofu, my repertoire is very limited here.

Over the last couple of months, I've noticed a number of bloggers participating in Meatless
Monday. There was a link in my facebook feed from the kitchn last week to a recipe for Meatless Monday, so we tried it.  Sidney was thrilled with the idea, and as she left for school this morning, reminded me that we were eating vegetarian this evening.  Since immediately after school Sid is participating in battle of the books, I'm doing easy meatless this week.

Pasta a Fagioli
4 T Olive Oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 cans chopped tomatoes
1/2 tsp. basil
1/4 tsp. oregano
1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 box pasta (I used twists)
1/2 C grated Parmesan cheese


Saute garlic in olive oil, and then add tomatoes and spices.  While simmering tomato mixture, boil salted water and cook the pasta.  Add beans to the sauce and cook for about five minutes, then stir in grated Parmesan cheese.  Toss pasta in sauce and serve.  I like to add more parm on top and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes.  Enjoy!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Just Hangin' With My Peeps

 I saw this craft on one of the multitude of crafty sites that I follow in my facebook news feed and I can't remember which one.  I think mommy savers, maybe.  Anyway, one of my friends made a couple of these right after and they turned out so cute, that I had to jump on board.  Find yourself a wreath of any substrate and wrap it in ribbon.  I like fat ribbons that have a little bit of wire in the edges.  Then, take out your trusty glue gun and hang up your peeps.  That easy and a simple festive start to spring!  Have a great weekend!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Jambo!

Jambo is Swahili for Hello

This week has been full of kid activities the crescendo last night with the second grade African feast and drumming.  The second grade class does a unit each year that focus' on Africa.  They dig deep into the culture, language, and all components of the continent.  They eat, sleep, breath and more importantly learn amazing amounts of information in a way that is so exciting both for them and for me as a parent. 
 When Sidney went through a couple of years ago, we made a very ornate entree for the feast.  This year Charles insisted on Tanzanian Baked Bananas, simple, delicious, and he was completely thrilled!  We toured the four classrooms (each one decorated in the theme that class had focused on), we ate, we played mancala, and then we danced, sang and enjoyed.

Lucky Diop and his troop of talented drummers and dancers performed for the kids, taught the kids, and got the parents on their feet.  A memorable learning and cultural moment for the whole family.  As an aside, Naima on this years American Idol is a former student of Lucky's!

Happy Weekend!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Do You Moo?

As we develop more and more ideas, I began to think a little bit about what is it that we call ourselves?  I seem to have different id's for most of my digital groups.  I didn't have the forethought, when I dabbled into the different areas of the online world, that I should use one common name to identify myself.  Now as we ramp up things like farm boxes and are testing the waters of up cycled items, I decided that I should get some little bit of marketing or identification to go along with things we give away and hope to eventually sell.  I love these little moo cards!  They have lots of cool designs to choose from or you can create your own by uploading your photographs, which is what I did!  So now we have branded ourselves a little....

The Homestead @
Ray Family Farm

Maybe not short and sweet, but it is what we are, a family making our way on a road less traveled by.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Almost Half My Life

I mentioned last week that my dad had gotten all of the still photos from when we were growing up digitized to preserve them.  Yesterday afternoon, since it poured buckets all day,  I sat down to peruse more of them.  It was fun to see pictures of the whole family and what we looked like 'back when.'  I think I've got some great photos of my cousins which may appear on fb shortly :).
But mostly, I was struck by the thought that B has been a part of my life for almost half of my life.  Not only do I get to see my whole family younger and remember with a tear those who have now started to pass.  But I realize how much and for how long B has been part of that family.  After all we have been together for 18 years, my brother Billy was just 16 when we met!
I certainly don't feel like that much time has passed or that we are getting older, but the pictures do seem to tell a different story, don't they?  I guess as I look back at the young pictures of ourselves riding off into the sunset, I can see we have seized every moment.   I am so glad that as we grow into different phases, there are plenty more sunsets for us to chase in this life adventure of ours. 
Happy 13th Anniversary B!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

1000 Cranes

 I found through Caroline at Constantly Evolving, that there is a flickr group folding 1000 cranes for Japan.  If you are unfamiliar with the tradition, in Japan, the folding of cranes is a labor of love.  The crane is a mystical creature that is said to live 1000 years.  When someone has a wish whether it be for health, luck or peace, the folding of cranes is a symbol of the work that will make that wish come true.  The energy coming from a community of so many hands working toward positive thought is uplifting.  If you wish to join in this project, this is a link to the tutorial that I used.

Friday, March 18, 2011

The World Beneath

 As the rejuvenating warmth of Spring slowly blows in,
we begin to see a glimpse into the world beneath the snow.

Happy Weekend!

Cultivate


Back in December I participated in #reverb10 which was thought provoking in so many ways.  I was challenged to analyze what I had accomplished, and then I was given the task to decide where I wanted to see myself.  The first question was to pick one word that describes yourself this year.  That was easy for me.  When, later in the month, I was asked what I wanted to achieve in 2011 I really had difficulty pin pointing clear goals in my head. 

As 2011 has slowly begun to unfold for me and the harshness of winter, recession and local politics have all weighed on me. It came to me.  I found that this cocoon of the blogosphere has allowed me to search and grow.  When I found and blogged here about the amazing yet not new concept of wabi-sabi, I did so because I was truly touched by what it means, and the clear simple steps outlined.  It really envelops everything that we are trying to accomplish.  The thought process is very earthy and zen, with a focus on simplicity and peace.   I then came across lizlamoreaux's amazing etsy store and was captivated by her soul mantra necklace.

My mantra
~
 Cultivate
~
Webster's Dictionary defines:
    To prepare and work on land in order to raise crops.
   To develop or improve by education.
    To promote growth or development.
   To devote oneself to art, science, etc.
    To seek to promote or foster friendship, love, etc.
~

Wabi-Sabi says:
Cultivate Slowness, Vision
Craft, solitude, space,
silence, soul, imperfection
hospitality, and simplicity.
~
I will cultivate our homestead.
I will cultivate our children,
socially
conscientiously
with a regard for our earth
and all of the people on it. 
I will cultivate new ideas to expand our families horizons.
I will use this mantra as a source of motivation, inspiration and peace.

What one word will you use this year??

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Slainte

 
 Blarney Castle~1982 (Mom, Billy & I, on the right)

May love and laughter light your days
And warm your heart and home.
May good and faithful friends be yours,
Wherever you may roam.
May peace and plenty bless your world
With joy that long endures.
May all life's passing seasons
Bring the best to you and yours! 

Lá Fhéile Pádraig Sona!


The photo above was taken on my families trip to Ireland in 1982.  I got a package of three DVD's in the mail from my dad this week, he'd had all of the family photos ever taken digitized to preserve them, this was one of them.  Thanks Dad!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Creativity

 It has been a long several days.  Sidney had a bad case of the flu and was pretty much couch ridden.  So what does mama do in between child snuggling, house cleaning, and running around managing the crazy stresses of chick hatching?  Well this mama put on her thinking cap for a new project.  I began really thinking about the creative process when I read this post of julochkas.  I tend to gather things around me that inspire me, some things I find patterns for, then kind of go it on my own to see what I can come up with.  Just like when I am cooking.  When I try something new, I need a recipe, then I start adding and substituting my own stuff and it evolves into something else. 

I fell in love with the amazing art work on these towels.  So I thought, kitchen towels are a cool way to go.  I began drawing some homestead inspired pictures, started sifting through my stash and tried my hand at my first applique.  Not too shabby for a first go at it!  I tried to embroider a nest under the eggs on one, and that was an amazing failure, so I guess I need to decide if I'm going to add more finishing pieces or leave them minimalistic.  What do you think?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Encouragement



The Japanese will send orchids when someone is hospitalized. The Meaning of this action is to express encouragement.  Sending love and encouragement to the people of Japan.

If you can, text "Redcross" to 90999 to automatically donate $10...it's safe and easy.


**Our New Years Orchid is still blooming, today it's glowing light is for Japan

Don't Count Your Chickens.....

Before they're hatched!


As of this morning 4 hatched, two close and maybe counting a little :)

Friday, March 11, 2011

Adventures in Soap Making


What does one do when you have a sick little fever girl sleeping on the couch?
*
Spend way too much time on pinterest, how cool is this?!
*
Help the husband get the cold frames up and warming
*
and
*
What else?  Make soap!
*
Today I'm sharing my first soap making adventure over here!  Come visit!

Happy Weekend!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

A Day Away

 Today I had a fantastic and tiring day with Charles' class on a field trip to the Milwaukee Public Museum.  The kids are in the midst of their Africa Unit, an amazing experience that I'm proud to have my second (second grade) child participate in.  It was also strangely relaxing to be unplugged and away from the disturbing events happening here.  The kiddos had a blast and amazed me with their knowledge of all things Africa.  They soaked in the museum like a sponge on crack.  They moved so fast and absorbed so much that it was hard to keep up.  Yet, they get it.  We are lucky enough to have a butterfly habitat at the museum where the kids can go in and see chrysalis' hatch, and walk among hundreds of butterflies who flitter, flutter and ultimately land on them.  A day that does the heart good in heavy times.  I am proud of our kids and their amazing, patient, inventive teachers who so beautifully expand their minds.  I hope that in depth programs like these will be available to kids who come after mine and will continue to enrich my children. 
I will have to talk about this fantastic sweater that I got from The Painted Daisy in my new found etsy habit, thanks Beth for addicting me!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Truly Inspired

Downy Woodpecker
The late afternoon is quiet.  B is napping. Charles is noshing on toast and Nutella. Sid is basking in the afterglow of a long phone conversation/website design session with her best buddy (yes, she's designing her own role play website).  And me?  Well, I am watching the birds slowly emerge outside my window and am relishing in the fact that I found out that we do have the Cooking Channel, and Jaimie Oliver is on.

This has been a weekend of inspiration and creativity.  I volunteered for a few hours Friday evening for some friends who run and annual event called Belle of the Ball.  An amazing event that combines generous donations of gowns, lots of girls looking forward to prom, and recycling at it's best.  I functioned as a "personal shopper" and there were ton's of dresses in all sizes to choose from.  Then, the girls could cycle through shoes, bags, a jewelry consult, seamstress' to help take in or hem, and finally end up at hair and makeup.  How amazing it was to see faces light up when they found the perfect dress. 

Yesterday was running with the kids, brainstorming farm box additions (so much to add, where to start!?), and spending a few hours with good friends and brainstorming more home grown, local ideas.  Oh the possibilities!

We began this morning in the root cellar, pulling out our largest Purple Vikings stored from last season, and B spent the day creating an amazing creamy potato with bacon soup for this years Empty Bowls.  Another event run by amazing and caring people who create and give back.

I am so fortunate to be surrounded by these amazing energetic souls who create and add such value to our community.  I will go into the next week, truly inspired.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

15 Days In


We have a grand experiment going on. Since our rooster is no longer with us, we decided to try our luck with incubating eggs. Three years ago we made an attempt but only had 4 eggs to do it with and none hatched. This year we began with 19. We need to keep the incubator between 99-100 degrees, humid, and turn the eggs three times daily.  At day 19 we need to keep the incubator closed and stop turning, by day 21 we should have hatch-lings.

We had a scare about 9 days in where the incubator, for reasons unknown, got to 110 degrees for somewhere between 15-45 minutes. I researched desperately the repercussions and was a little disheartened to find that this may have, even for a such a short time, ruined the batch. We then began to collect eggs again over the next couple of days toying with the idea of starting over (there's a limited time frame for fertile eggs). So the day that we were making the final decision to start over, B decided to crack one of the eggs to see if there was any life. For the good or bad, there was a chick and it was alive. Unfortunately, we had to sacrifice the one to allow us to determine that the eggs were OK and we could continue on. Then, we began to notice an odor coming from the incubator each time we turned the eggs. After some research, I found that a rotten egg could spoil the batch and the last thing you want is for it to explode. Yikes, they can explode!? We learned that the eggs are porous enough that by smelling them individually you can easily tell which one is bad. B & I carefully examined all of the eggs at turning time and discovered one that was not right and eliminated it.   I now truly know where the adage, one bad egg can spoil the batch comes from!!  Now the incubator is a happy odor free place, where hopefully we'll have chicks in 6 or so days! Wish us luck!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Tweet, Tweet, Honk


As spring approaches I am beginning to hear more birds chirping and can catch a glimpse of them coming out of there confinement here and there. Mostly, we still have lots of Canada geese about. In particular one yard between here and work has hundereds of them.  It seems to be a stopping place for them.  I think that the owners of one of the houses feeds them, so they just set up shop there.  Today on the way home from school we stopped so that I could catch a few pictures of them.  Their symphony of honks was mesmorizeing and served as the perfect backdrop for capturing the scene.  Are you starting to see the early signs of spring life?

This post is part of Jillsy Girl Studio's prompt me segment. This weeks prompt is actually a month long photography challenge called tweets around the world.  Click on this to get all of the details and join in the fun!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

February's Postcards

This is what February looked like through my lens for my Postcards to Blog Camp group.  I've found that though I take pictures daily, I'm not sure how I feel about the more relaxed pace this year.  When I had the PAD deadline, it forced me to really challenge myself for shots.  I think I may spend the rest of the year with several of the others continuing with the PAD :)

Welcome March!

February's Postcards

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