Sunday, May 27, 2012

Preservation Sunday's Return

A few years ago, I began a series of posts called Preservation Sunday.  It just seemed that was the time when much of our food storage would take place.  Today as the temperatures are beginning to soar and I am in doors from the garden, I decided to take care of some of this weeks harvest.  On Friday we harvested about 10 pounds of Rhubarb.  Today, in the spirit of the wonderful cordials that I began making last year, I made a rhubarb cordial...and I must say it's amazing!

I started with a bunch of rhubarb, this was just under 4 1/2 pound.  I cleaned it, trimmed the ends, then gave it a large chop and tossed it into a big pot. 

Then added 1 3/4 cups of water, brought it to a boil then reduced the heat and allowed it to simmer for 30 minutes.

 At this time I strained all of the rhubarb, carefully trying to catch every last drop until I was left with this amazing pink liquid. 

I returned the liquid to my big pot and added 1 1/2 cups of sugar.  Once again I brought it to a boil stirring frequently, and then simmered it for 5 minutes. 

 During this time I skimmed off the foam.  Once done,  pour it into sterilized bottles, refrigerate, and enjoy!  A little time consuming, but very easy and with great rewards.

You add one part cordial to two parts liquid.  It is as simple as mixing it with a little ice water, or a great additive to lemonade or soda water.  My personal favorite is to add some to a glass of white wine.  So many uses, and never enough cordial.  It always disappears much too fast, but I guess that works out, because I'll soon be on to all of the berry cordials. 

Silent Sunday ~ Golden Willow

Friday, May 25, 2012

Managing Chaos

Yesterday at work I was deep in thought, typing out a correspondence regarding a marketing campaign.  Out of the corner of my eye a flicker distracted my attention enough that I turned and saw a good friend, client, and business partner standing right next to me.  It is very rare that someone who is not one of our employees approaches me in the office area.

After the split second it took me to register his face, I mused on how reminiscent it was to when  B was in veterinary school and friends would just meander in and out of dorm rooms without knocking.  It was so comfortable, so easy,  just community.   Unfortunately, due to extraordinarily busy lives, we don't see him or his wife often enough, mostly on business related things.  He had come in to purchase some medications for his pets and we spent a few minutes catching up.

The last five years have been a challenge for many and we reflected together on the good and bad, how to cope, make it through, and do it with your sanity and some semblance of peace intact.  He then said something that put three short words to the flood of feelings that I have felt over the last five years.  Feelings that have built to a fevered pitch over the last 18 months.  He said, while laughing:  "All we can do is manage the chaos!"  Truer words have never been spoken.

Our world if full of unease.  Some chaos you have no control over, and some you can work at managing to make it more balanced.  B and I are beginning a new chapter that after many false starts, I think may actually take this time.  As we enter this memorial day weekend, the traditional start to summer and the growing season here in Wisconsin, we have cultivated and put all of our plants in the warm ground to grow and produce this years farm bags.  We are also looking to the longer brighter days of this new season to shed a fresh light on an aspect of our lives that has been wanting.  In the process we hope to recapture some of that ease of friendship (mentioned above) that has gotten lost in the chaos.

Today I'm leaving you with a little song, wishing you a warm holiday weekend full of hope for managing the chaos!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Morning Farm Work, Before Heading To Work

We are early risers, we like to have our coffee, read and listen to the news and just have some quiet time to ourselves.  There is another motive.  Once lunches are packed and just prior to waking the kids up, there are a few little items to be taken care of on any given day.  The animals need to be tended to, the garden (when it's warm and dry as we have been) needs to be watered, and something is always in need of harvesting, even this early in the season.

This morning, I harvested a fraction of our blooming chive flowers.  It is going to be very warm today and I was concerned that by the time we got home, they would be past their peak.

Once picked, rinsed and spun, I load them into quart canning jars 2/3 of the way to the top.

Then, I pour white wine vinegar over the top of them, turn them upside down once and let them sit in a dark cool place for two weeks.

When they're done the vinegar will be a beautiful pink and perfect for dressing salads or marinading any number of things.  A little taste of early summer to keep!

When I went to buy the vinegar last night, I was struck by this mislabeling of the bottles.  In fact, I needed to stare at the bottles for a second to figure out what was going on, was I seeing  the color properly?   This made me marvel at our brains and how they work as they register things that aren't as they should be.  It put a little smile on my face.

Oh yes, and then I try to get a blog post in before the kids come down to breakfast!  Good Morning!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Sous Chef

After a long weekend of soccer, little boys still have boundless energy.  Especially when dad asks them if they would help and it involves sanctioned use of a knife.  So boosted up by a case of dog food, Charles handled the chef's knife with ease and dad boogied to the Gibb brothers, while mama took pictures.

This smile was prompted by Sidney's cry of foul for allowing Charles to handle a knife.  Oh, the drama! 

A couple of other things that made me smile today...

*When today's tournament game was called after the half due to lightening and the fields were being evacuated, our challengers forfeited and left.  So coach handed out the medals quick while we were walking out.   He said: "I think I'll just hang these medals on your children's necks while we're being evacuated for lightening." :D

*I purchased Lisa Marie's album after seeing her on Idol Thursday night and I gotta say that I am kind of digging on it.

*We are 3/4 done with having this years garden planted.  Whew, if that doesn't make you smile, I don't know what will! :)

BTW, our little sous chef was chopping tops off of those fresh from the garden green onions, for tonight's dinner, a green onion pesto.  Bon Appetite!

Silent Sunday~ Tournament Weekend

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Thursday Thoughts

The chickens are out for their evening romp and have created quite the little routine.  They head out of their run area straight across the yard to bask in the shade under a big maple tree.  Alex, the rooster, stands tall and alert as his harem dusts and scratches.  Then they meander to the asparagus patch to pick around.  Their migration next takes them to the raspberry beds until they circle back to the barn to roost for the evening.  

With all of the busyness that seems to consume us every day, the next two nights we have no commitments!  Thankfully, that will give us a little down time to prepare for the next eight grueling days of ultimate activity.  We are on a downhill sprint to the end of the school year, the last few weeks of the soccer season and the upward tick of 4H activities and prepping for the county fair.  This just happens to be the no mans land when everything overlaps.

The signs of summer abound and the berry plants are all beginning to flower.  Our first round should be strawberries and we are so excited to see the volume of little berries to be.  We have been actively planting in the garden and hopefully the promise of all of the emerging mini plants will be fulfilled. 

As we head toward the weekend, I leave you with my Charlie-ism of the week.  He got into the car after school yesterday singing.   "I've got the moves like Fisher, I've got the moves like Fisher, I've got the mooooooves like Fisher."  Sung to the Jagger tune.  Very proud of his recent chess acquisitions!

My Sidney, sheesh when did my kids get so smart moment, when it came to adding fractions with unlike denominators for homework: Me: "Sidney I need to see your text book to refresh myself on this." Sidney: "the teacher never uses the text book.". Me: "well I haven't seen this stuff in like 28 years.". Sidney: "then what's the point of learning it of I'm not going to use it?" hmmmm

What are your thoughts on this Thursday night?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

SOOC Eleven Year Old Style

When I got home last night from my meeting, Sidney was eager for me to transfer pictures off of my camera.  B and the kids had spent the majority of the evening outside and watched the storm come in, race through, and then Sidney decided to capture life post storm.  I am really excited how she is framing shots and what she sees when she picks up a camera.  All of these shots are SOOC, eleven year old style!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Breakfast of Champions

We take such pleasure when the true eating season begins.  The baby plants that we set out early in the Spring are beginning to flourish, and eating commences with thinnings, then moves onto baby plants.  As we await for full harvests, we graze as we go.  We have no shortage of eggs from our girls right now, so we have been having an egg on toast each morning.  Yesterday, I was given this little sandwich and it was such a treat.  Thinly sliced baby radishes carefully placed on buttered toast with tender arugula greens and a sprinkle of sea salt.  I demanded a repeat performance this morning, and B was more than happy to oblige.  That my friends is a true breakfast of champions! 

Tomorrow, oatmeal swirled with Rhubarb Compote.  Ambrosia!

4 Stalks of Rhubarb
1/4 C Brown Sugar
1/4 C Honey
1 tsp. Vanilla
2 Tbsp. Lemon Juice

Chop rhubarb, place in sauce pan with remaining ingredients and cook until mushy and reduced (about 10 minutes).  Enjoy!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Planning and Planting

Sugar Snap Peas
We are early risers. Partially because I don’t want to spend all of the kids waking time doing chores, so I try to get stuff done before they get up, and partially because we need copious amounts of coffee to kick start our day.

This time of year our priorities shift to running out to the garden before work, at lunch, and after work. Today at lunch it was 80 degrees in the shade. Beautiful by all accounts, except for when you need to weed beds, get more seeds set and water young tender plants that are undergoing a temperature shock. Even though it’s technically two more weeks before the generally accepted safe start date for summer planting, we feel a little under the gun to get everything in the ground and started. This time of year is always nerve wracking that way…decisions, decisions.

This weekend in between soccer games and birthday parties, we were able to get fairly caught up on a backlog of chores that resulted from our 30 year old tractor being perpetually on the fritz. Now, fixed, for the moment at least, we feel caught up and can a little more leisurely go about planning, planting, weeding and implementing. I so look forward to our nightly strolls through the garden, picking our supper and weeding as we meander. To check out what we planted this weekend, go here. What is your process for planning and planting?  Happy Monday!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Hearts in Nature

 I love that I can just glance out the window and have my camera within arms reach.  This time of year the birds all travel in pairs.  Never was this so vivid as in Colorado when we happened upon a ranger leading a party of bird watchers and asked if we wanted to tag along.  It was at this moment that I realized that leaving my camera at home was a monumental error.  I tried my best, but the iPhone just couldn't zoom in enough to capture the great horned owl pair with their owlets just above our heads.  Never again will I leave home without it, regardless of how heavy and cumbersome!  Thankfully, I was able to see this pair of star crossed lovers this morning to begin my day.

 Two hearts joined in nature.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

May 8, 2003

May 8, 2003 at 4:37 pm we were blessed with a baby boy.  
To my little man, who makes me smile daily with his quick wit. 
To my little man, who brings infectious laughter with his boisterous ways.  
To my little man, who brings a deep love to my heart as he hollers 'love you'.  
To my little man, who I looked at in wonder as he began to take apart and reassemble anything as soon as he could sit up.
To my little man, whose boundless energy exhausts me.
To my little man, who has touched this family so deeply.
Happy Birthday, Little Man!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Bucket List

Colorado was wonderful. This time the hiking experience was different. All girlfriends, no kiddos to herd, and the season is only barely beginning. Since it is so early, we felt like we had the
Rocky Mountain National Park almost completely to ourselves.

Many of the ranger stations are still closed so we were faced with 'winter parking', which basically means that you have to hike in further to get to some of the trail heads. Those of us who were lucky enough to hike here last summer, wanted to repeat Calypso Cascades. It was as amazing as we remembered, only longer (with the above mentioned hike in), and we had to navigate the last patches of snow that the summer had long melted by the time of our arrival last year.

I found myself in a state of peace and utter awe, the kind that, I'm convinced, only comes from seeing nature in one of its truest forms. As we headed out, a young couple with full packs was just headed in. They were obviously prepared for overnight camping. I found myself trying to picture a night like that, where there's absolutely no one around, except the mountain and it's natural inhabitants. A true experience in the spirit of those who came before. That may have to be one for the bucket list.

Thursday, May 3, 2012


Flowering Trees

I can count on one hand the number of times that I have been away from B and the kids for longer than an overnight (and of those I can count only 2). I can't seem to get enough of them :) I'm headed out today with a great group of ladies for a long weekend hiking in Colorado. A first for me! Not the hiking of course, simply the girls weekend thing. Another first.... I'm traveling light. Yes, I'm leaving my trusty camera and the lenses at home! I figure, while trying new things... So this weekend I plan on making extensive use of my phone and Instagram. Let's just see how well I do! So in excitement, peppered with a little anxiety at leaving hearth and home, I wish you a happy weekend and I'm headed for the rocky mountain high!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

April In Review

I cannot believe that it is May already! It seems that New Years was yesterday, yet when I start to look at the year, I realize how much has already gone on and how quickly the kids are growing! Here are the shots for my Post Cards To Blog Camp project and I am proud to say that I have not let a day pass by without taking a shot. I have almost made it to the half way mark! April was cold compared to March, yet as I look back through my lens I see that the cold has not hampered growth.
April In Review
 1. 90:366 A falafel kind of breakfast, 2. 93:366 Embroidery Floss Eggs, 3. 94:366 Cookie Dough, 4. 95:366 Spring Grapes, 5. 96:366 Lilacs Opening, 6. 97:366 Twiggy Moon, 7. 98:366 Third Generation Ray Family Farm Hatchlings, 8. 98:366 Time to Color Eggs!, 9. 99:366 Egg Hunt, 10. 100:366 Balance, 11. 101:366 Good Morning Wisconsin!, 12. 102:266 Hosta Glow, 13. 104:366 Umami, 14. 105:366 Toe Touchin', 15. 106:366 Drink~2 1/4 " of Rain, 16. 103:366 Cauliflower Pizza, 17. 109:366 Soccer Field Sunset, 18. 110:366 Ready For Bees, Arriving Saturday!, 19. 111:366 Hippie Day at School, 20. 107:366 Barn Sunset, 21. 108:366 Flight, 22. 109:366 Bees Are Here!, 23. 110:366 Pollen, 24. 111:366 Crab Apple, 25. 112:366 Tired Boy, 26. 113:366 Ramp Love, 27. 114:366 Comb starts on the feed bag, 28. 115:366 Dandelion Seeds, 29. 116:366 Wings, 30. 117:366 Fried Rice Created with fd's Flickr Toys


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