Monday, May 30, 2011

Leaving Las Vegas

Home Fireworks

As we sat eating a wonderful dinner on our peaceful wrap around porch on this warm evening, just jostled by a light wind that gave a breath to the heat,  I began to think about milestones.  Those most important markers that make you reflect.
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 Ten years ago today, we packed up our life and ventured across country with our then six-week old baby girl.
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We signed the papers that sealed the deal for our business and hit the road, Sidney was an amazing traveler for our marathon drive.
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Since then we have carved out a special life, and in the absence of local family, have been so fortunate to have found the most amazing group of people to share it with.
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So here is raising a toast to making a leap, and taking roads less traveled.
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Sláinte



Sunday, May 29, 2011

A Full Sunday


We had a warm, yet foggy start to our day.  Charles helped us get some garden work done while Sidney worked with her show Silkie.   We then made an ambitious plan for what we would do until mid afternoon when the storms descended upon us.  B went to the farm supply store to get a few things we needed to put our ideas into action.  I went about chicken duties and some weeding all while listening to the thunder slowly roll toward me, first as a very distant low growl, then as a much more present threat as the sky darkened to evening (at noon). 


So now, inside the house watching the steady rain that seems to have dominated our week,  we are doing our first processing of the season.  Our mutant rhubarb plant supplied the perfect muse to spend our afternoon.  I would be surprised if farm box families didn't see a little jar of Rhubarb Ginger Jam.


We had such great surprise this afternoon as we were ladling the jam into hot jars.  A friend of ours came bearing 2 week old chicks to share.  We split the hens between us and now have six new babies!  Since we only netted two hens out of our egg hatching experiment, this was great news.  We now have two additional Rhode Island Reds, two Wyondottes, a Burr Orphington, and a Barred Rock.  So exciting!


If you would like to see hear a little bit about this weeks planting I talked about it here and if you would like some food for thought on honeybees and the colony collapse syndrome, I talked about it here.  Now I'm off to have some of B's wonderful Asparagus soup!
 

Rhubarb Ginger Jam

20 C Rhubarb cut into 1 inch pieces
6 C Sugar
3 pkgs. 8 oz Strawberry Jello
1 12.6 oz Jar Candied Ginger, chopped into fine dice

Place sugar and rhubarb in a stockpot over medium heat and cook until softened.  Using an immersion blender, process rhubarb until desired consistency.  Stir in jello packages and diced ginger and cook until dissolved and smooth (the jello adds the color to the otherwise dull cooked rhubarb).  Process into jars and/or refrigerate.

This yielded 23~ 4 oz.  jars & 6~ 8oz.  jars

***I sifted through tons of recipes and this was one we made up of several.  The original proportion was 10 C of Rhubarb to 6 C of sugar which was WAY too sweet & before the jello.  So we cooked up additional rhubarb without sweetening and it came out the perfect balance of sweet and tart.  Unless you too have a mutant rhubarb (this recipe barely made a dent in this plant~yes a single plant), please reduce the ingredients proportionally.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Homemade Pizza 101


I think one of the easiest and funnest comfort foods to make is homemade pizza.  So, what better way to launch into a holiday weekend than throw some dough around the kitchen?  I have made these pizzas lots of times.  We went basic this evening, but I have done them for kids sleepovers and had each child create their own shape and put on whatever toppings they want. This has got to be healthier than the delivery or Digiorno and we can customize however we choose.  During summer we can load them with garden produce, at less cost and with fewer food miles.

Homemade Pizza

I purchase frozen pizza dough balls made by a local company at the grocery store, for $1.  I should try to make my own, I'm sure it's simple, but for a buck on a busy work/school night, it is worth it to eliminate the clean up!


 Once you have thrown the dough around a bit and shaped it however thin or thick you want, slather it with a good tomato sauce, or use some of that wonderful pesto you froze at the end of last season.
 Sprinkle with cheese.  You can use whatever mix you like, but I like how mozzarella and provolone melt together and I grate fresh parm on top when it comes out of the oven.
 Then place toppings.  Tonight we went the Hawaiian route.  Canadian bacon and pineapple, something about that combination is so pleasing.
Sprinkle a little more cheese on top, just to seal the deal and put in a preheated 400 degree oven for 25-30 minutes or until cooked depending on your crust thickness.

And there you have it!  Easy prep, little mess and happy family!
I had an extra dough-ball that I defrosted tonight, hmmm I think I'll add the sweetness of cinnamon and sugar and make some breakfast thing tomorrow....

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Finito!

Finished!
It is all done!  I finished my Geese in the Park quilt pattern from Moda Bakeshop!  I have to say that this was one of my most challenging patterns yet, lots of cutting and piecing, but I love this modified flying geese pattern. 

I made it with my niece, Katie, in mind.  When I first began quilting last year I made her little sister Madeline a Birthday Cake quilt for her birthday.  Now it is Katie's turn as she is reaching the big six next month and I wanted her to have something special.  I thought that the fact that the fabrics are from the Central Park Collection was very timely as my brother and his family are being transferred from California to New Jersey this summer and will be living a very short ride from the real thing.  I backed it in a soft warm flannel so that she can snuggle up as she sees the colors change for the first time and watches her first heavy snow fall.

Flannel Back
I must say it was ironic that our first really warm days was when I was quilting it and I can attest to the fact that it is quite toasty ! :)   Happy to report~ Finito!! What projects have you been finishing up lately?

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Gift of Flight


Have you ever had one of those conversations that came at you out of nowhere?  Over the weekend I did and it got me thinking, reminiscing really, about growing up and all of those things that shaped me as a person.  What I remember:

I remember family dinners around the kitchen table, every night.  
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Playing ball with my dad, brother, and the neighbor kids in the street.  
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Going to dance lessons with my mom, the adult class, every Tuesday night followed by Arby's.
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Long walks to the ice cream parlor, late on a summer night when it was too hot to sleep.
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Family vacations and holidays.
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Going to the pumpkin patch and playing hide and seek at the Christmas tree lot.
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Shopping with my mom (before the dreaded teen angst years), and loving every minute of it.
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Long hours spent with my mom drilling multiplication tables and thinking I'd never get it (I did).
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Hours volunteering with my mom and late nights slap happy laughing.
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Always hugs and I love you's.

These few things, among many, shaped who I would eventually be and reflect what is important to me. As the parent of two amazing, intelligent young children, my upbringing (as well as B's, who also comes from a strong sense of family), shape how important we view family.  We make sure that the kids know how very paramount family is, all family.  In our want to give them as carefree an experience as possible in what are sometimes, less than carefree times, we have created a life emulating those simpler things that we feel best bring us back to our childhoods. Times when free play, open space (I so remember the forts we would build on the vacant, tree shaded lots), running home to dinner in the evening, rosy cheeked and dirty, and most of all family, were pivotal to childhood.  The twenty-four hour news cycle, and volatile antics are merely distractions, and unfortunately sometimes profound ones, from those, most important life lessons that shaped my growing up years.  I hope that all of the efforts we go to, to teach our children about life, the importance of family and how to be open minded, and conscientious people will give them the foundation to make their own informed decisions and give them the wings to fly.  

What a beautiful gift I was given, flight.  Thanks mom & dad! 


This is my contribution to Jill's May challenge~ Childhood
It's not too late, there's a few days left to join in!!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Mom, It's Affecting Us Now!

2nd Grade Rocks
I try to stay away from blatant politics on this blog, simply because I hate getting in lose, lose conversations.  These days people either have one opinion or another and never the twain shall meet.  I make sure to never very rarely get into the conversations with family members because I do not want the fight.  I will however, occasionally mention something when the passion brims over, and this is one of those times.

Our state is headed in a very scary direction.  New legislation is being passed down regularly that is terrifying.  As I talked about here, it is important for us to participate in the democratic process and teach our kids the same.  We have explained to them that they may not see any immediate effect in things like their schools, but the reason we are speaking out is our concern for what we feel the repercussions will be in the future.  We have also explained that there are others that feel just as passionately that what Scott Walker is doing is right.  They know our reasons for our beliefs, but we are also teaching them that other's have different beliefs, just as strong as ours, and that is ok. 

Yesterday when I picked up the kids at school, Sidney came running up and said "Mom, the changes are affecting us now!!!"  They had made an announcement at school that 3 TA's and the school nurse would be gone next year.  Sidney said that all of the girls were crying.  The kids have known these teachers since first grade and they have been important in their learning, or in helping their friends.  I am afraid that this is just the first round of news as the superintendent announced there were going to be  a lot of cuts, including 125 positions district wide. 

Appropriately, this may very well be the end of the world as we know it.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Weekend Wish

 
As the yellow flowers turn to fluff,
our spring takes one step closer to summer.
Life seems to continuously speed up, this year has flown.
So, before I caught up further in the whirlwind of this busy, soon to be balmy season,
I wanted to take a minute to thank you for reading. Your comments
mean the world to me and I so appreciate you!

My wish for you~

That your soul may soar like these feathery little seeds lifted by a soft breeze.

Happy Weekend, my friends.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A Photoblog Tour & Challenge

Bloggers
image uploading

What a diverse and beautiful mosaic of images, no?
It just so happens that each of the above images came from a different photo-blogger.
Can you pin the photo to the blogger based on their individual photographic style and/or content?
Let's have a little fun and see if anyone can guess them all correctly!

Here is the list of bloggers who contributed one of the above photos
Even if you are not familiar with a particular photographer
please take a few minutes to browse through their blog, say hi, then come back here and leave your guesses below
On Blogger blogs, the "dynamic" view has been linked for easy browsing.
To leave a comment on their blog, just delete /view/mosaic in the URL window to get to their homepage.

Creating a Life of Beauty: http://christinemyoung.wordpress.com/

Now...off you go
and enjoy the photoblog tour while you're at it!
It's guaranteed you'll see some excellent photography!


Have Fun!

**Special thanks to Jill for all of her hard work organizing this fun photoblog tour!!





Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Caught Jumping

 I have to apologize for not being horribly chatty the last few days, but we do have family in town.  As you can see, I let the kids play hookie from school yesterday to spend some time with Grandma and Aunt Sissy.
Even though it was blustery, the sun was shining and the kids convinced Sissy to join them on the trampoline.
As with any of us adults who first get on, there is a period of time trying to find balance, and then giggling with every jump.
What's left is fun had by all around, and me catching the incriminating photos and posting them in blog land :)
Life is good!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Letting Off Some Steam

It has been a crazy busy weekend with prep, soccer, family coming into town, rain and blustery cold (you know it's bad when the weather where my SIL originated from in Portland was MUCH nicer than here)!
Family
So after more than two hours in church this morning and after a two hour rehearsal yesterday, these second grade first communicants needed to let off some steam!
Post Ceremony Shennanigans
It was a full day, and this evening, though incredibly windy, the sun has come through! Hope you had a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Men of the House

Charles is a very hands on kid.  So when presented with the opportunity last night to help dad get the ramp for the chicks put together, he was all over it!  It was a heart-warming moment on a soul-warming balmy night with a hint of lilac in the air.
First whack of the thumb.  He gritted through it, and bit back possible tears, yet did not complain once or want to stop, just kept working.
Lining it up.  Charles is a total switch hitter.  He is absolutely left handed, he writes left handed, shoots a bow and bee bee gun left handed, yet he throws right handed and hammers quite effectively with both right and left hands....though I think the left hand is dominant.
Proud daddy looking on at the progress.
I know I get frustrated when a nail goes sideways, but oh no, he perseveres.
Teamwork and bonding 
at the end of a warm day, priceless.

Monday, May 9, 2011

What's Undercover?


When I looked at this picture the first thing I thought was *wow* there are a lot of things covered up here!  The row covers are covering all of the beds, warming the soil so we can plant.  The milk cartons are covering up all of the peppers that we planted today.  They are much too large to keep in the house or cold frame now, so they now each have their own little greenhouses.  The white cover is protecting our cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower from flies who like to lay eggs at the base of the stems, which lead to the dreaded root maggots. Then, the black plastic in the foreground, is suffocating out weeds in the new expansion area.  So, there is a whole lot of undercover work happening in the garden right now!  If you would like to read a little on the companion planting I did today head over here.  Happy Monday!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

A Mother's Day Birthday

I can think of nothing more appropriate than celebrating Charles 8th birthday on Mothers Day, after all, that is what it is all about isn't it?  After celebrating the "best birthday party yet" yesterday, today was the perfect combination of Charles and Mama's day.  A special breakfast, followed by presents to be played with all day long, while mama and dad spent a very productive day in the garden.

We began the first mow, laid out pathways, put down black plastic to kill off weeds in the expanded area, planted the strawberry patch, readied the chicken tractor for the babies transition outside tomorrow, and bought a big flat of marigolds to companion plant in the garden proper.  As we walked the homestead late this afternoon, the kids were playing a very intense game of "spy" on us and came in with bright rosy cheeks and full of winded smiles.

Now we are settling down, basking in our accomplishments, and readying for a birthday/mother's day supper.  Charles is immersed in his new Lego's set, building as much as possible.  Sidney is settled in watching a little television.  B is working his magic in the kitchen.  Me?  Well I am marveling at how fast the Internet can be on a new computer and looking oh so forward to singing Happy Birthday to my little man.
And of course digging into a Mother's Day Birthday cake!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

It's Here!

You will have to excuse my limited posting this week, but it is here and I am having loads of fun trying to get it all figured out!  What a difference a decade makes in technology (as if I didn't know that, but it's still fun to find out)!  Now, we need to see if we can get all of our music and photos recovered from the old mac as well as the external hard drive which apparently has had some problems of its own.

I spoiled myself with a trip to the App store and downloaded Aperture, I have only used iPhoto in the past and played a little in picnik, so I am excited to learn more!  I thought this was an easy way to get my feet wet without making the financial commitment to photoshop....at least yet.

I am off this afternoon to my little man's birthday party, he seems to be doing pretty good after our appendicitis scare earlier this week.  Hopefully it is the last we hear of that nonsense!  Then, I will immerse myself back into figuring out my our new toy.

Happy Weekend!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

A Typical Spring Day

Morning Dew
Each morning now begins dripping with the promise of new life and growth.
Light Frost
Every living thing is still kissed by the last of winter's ice crystals.
Grape Hyacinth
Yet, by the end of the day, the warmth prevails and we are all enlivened by Spring.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Teaching Water Off A Ducks Back

Drops
Children are such sponges.  Every new experience is an opportunity to learn, expand minds, pretend, play and evolve.  I hope as a parent to tap into their impressionable minds to instill values, morals, and encourage an ability to reason through life's gray areas.

 I remember, as we all do, September eleventh vividly.  I was visiting my family in California, with my then 5 month old baby girl, while B was here in Wisconsin, unable to break away from our newly acquired business.  The following days were a whirlwind of emotion, the nation (world) was glued to their televisions, dad went to donate blood and everyone was trying to figure out this new world we lived in.

I was on one of the first flights out of Los Angeles after the airspace reopened a few days later.  My father had to drop me at remote parking so I could shuttle into the airport because no one could be dropped off within the airport proper.  It was of the utmost importance to national security that you did not let your bags out of your possession. Now picture this: new young mom, infant, stroller, suitcase, diaper bag & stairs on and off of the bus.  This was highly stressful, yet a dear sole on the bus helped me, handled my bags, so that I could get myself and Sidney off of that bus with our way too big, first time mom stroller.   Security lines were immense, but the feeling of camaraderie was amazing and all of the travelers were very patient.  Our country was bound together, person to person, stranger to stranger via this great tragedy in a way that I had never imagined.

Fast forward almost ten years, the "new" way of life has become the norm.  My now two children know about the twin towers falling and last September eleventh, we sat as a family and watched the re-cap.  We discussed with the kids what happened in more detail to answer all of the questions they had from the bits and pieces they had learned at school and heard from friends.

 May 1, 2011 Osama bin Laden is killed in a covert action ten years in the making.  What happens?  The solemn news is announced in a rare nighttime address to the country by our President and the media is a flutter.  I just read that Nielson company tallied that it was the highest viewing of a presidential address, despite the time of evening.  Everything from news organizations to facebook lit up. I read things  reflecting a gamut of emotions from folks damning our president if he even attempted to take credit for any involvement with the action, to vivid pictures posted of those who celebrated our tragedy of 9/11, to prayers for the fallen and people breathing a sigh of relief that this symbol of our changed world was gone.  I support our military and am thankful for their service and sacrifice.  The grave decisions made to "take someone out", no matter how despicable a person they are, should be met with reactions reflective of the gravity of those decisions.  Gratuitous celebrations can only lower us to a level that I am not willing to encourage in my children.

Today, our senators don't stand on the capitol steps singing God Bless America.  No, they spend their time exerting energies on the blame game and jockeying through calculated political moves  in order to make the "other side" look bad, either now or at some intended future date undoubtedly linked to an election.  Such great examples they are.
Science & Industry
So what do we teach our children?  Do we teach them that life is like a video game and we can easily get to the next level by "taking out" the bad guy or someone they disagree with?  No repercussions, just finish them off two taps to the temple (literally or figuratively)?  Or do we teach them that there is bad in the world and difficult decisions need to be made.  That right from wrong is not always black and white but shades of gray that we have to navigate.  That we can not listen to the sensationalism around us, rather, take it like water off of a ducks back, and process the information, research what is out there to find the truth, so that they can make informed and conscientious decisions about what is acceptable behavior.  Then, as a parent, I can hope that I have given my children the tools to be thoughtful human beings in this post 9/11 world.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

April's Postcards

Well I ended April having taken a ton of pictures, but our ol' trusty (and 9 year old) Mac finally died Friday night.  So the pictures are a captive audience within my Canon.  I plan to be blogging this week, while I wait for my new shiny Mac to arrive, but please excuse what is destined to be a litany of iPhone photos :)

April was wet and cold, yet we made the best of it and it was a memorable one indeed!  Today, the first of May, has greeted us with a gorgeous bright sun that will warm our hearts into a fast approaching summer.  Here is a little bit of what April brought me through my lens.
April Postcards

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