Thursday, August 31, 2006

pickle party

I spent the morning with my friend Barb. She had a lot of zucchini and onions from her garden and wanted to learn how to make pickles. I brought over my canning pot, mandolin, spices and taught her how it's done. It really is so easy. She was amazed, impressed and delighted. She was thrilled with how the pickles tasted and can't wait to make more. Another convert (mwahahaha).

The recipe that we used was pretty much as follows:

4 lbs zucchini, sliced in the mandolin
3 large onions, sliced in the mandolin
put in non-reactive bowl and sprinkle generously with pickling salt
let sit 1 hour
rinse well

In a separate pot mix together

3 C. apple cider vinegar
2 C. sucanat
1 T. mustard seed
2 t. celery seed
2 t. turmeric
2 t. ginger powder
1 T. black peppercorns

Bring mixture to a boil
add rinsed squash and onions
bring back to a boil
jar, seal, hot water bath 10 minutes

This recipe is best when you let it sit for a few weeks before eating

filed under preserving, recipes

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

way kewl

I have always wanted categories on my blog. I didn't know how to get them and truthfully was to tired at the end of a day to look and see if there was a way to do it. Major h/t to Shannon for hosting WFMW and to Overwhelmed! for posting how to do this.

I can see that I may have to tweak/refine my categories and I'm definitely going to have to think about how I post so that everything gets properly filed.

The great thing is that this will make it easier for me to find my own stuff. Nothing worse than posting a recipe and not being able to find it after wading through all the bits and bytes. I'm happy.

wfmw - keys

h/t to Dad for this one. I should explain first that I used to carry all of my keys with me. It was bulky and heavy. When going through a security check somehow my entire keyring disappeared. What a hassle. Now Steve and I each have a carabiner key ring. We keep all our keys on rings and only slide on the ones that we need at any given time. Changing cars? Change keys. I do have a khamsa on mine that D bought me in Israel. But that's it. So much lighter and easier. Plus if I lose a key I don't have to replace everything.

If you want to play along visit Shannon.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

farming in the rain

It was pouring down rain today. When I got to the farm to pick up my share I decided that I did not need the pick-your-own crops quite that badly thankyouverymuch. I still came home with quite a haul.

One lovely watermelon, corn, swiss chard, peppers, eggplant, zucchini, carrots, onions, kale. And a bag full of "seconds" on tomatoes from the "take all you can use" box. They will get turned into sauce, hopefully tomorrow if not the next day.

family fun

Yesterday Steve, D and I got together with my brother and his family. We all went to Six Flags together. We got there when the park opened and stayed until it closed. A really full fun day. The kids had a great time going on lots of rides in the morning. Steve thinks the parks should have a "chicken pass." A special price break for those who won't ride roller coasters.

After lunch we went to IllusionQuest, the magic show. Both my nephew M and I got to be in the show, it was kind of fun. M got to be the magician's apprentice, wearing the coat and hat (too big), with assistants in glimmery short dresses (yech - he's only 8 he wasn't impressed) and to help with the cutting-a-lady-in-half trick. Very fun and we all cheered like mad.

Next he picked me (I didn't volunteer) to lend him a ring which he made disappear. He had a vending machine full of stuff in it and eventually made my ring come out in one of those little plastic caps. It was fun and an interesting trick.

A few more rollercoasters and then on to Hurricane Harbor where the kids and my sister-in-law splashed about. I took a nap in the shade, very relaxing. The race for one last rollercoaster and then the park was closed.

We went to the Red Robin burger restaurant - home of the unlimited-bottomless-fries-basket. We had never been there. The burgers were really good. A fun meal together and then we each headed our respective way home.

Altogether is was a fabulous way to spend the day, one of the last few before summer is over. Wednesday starts the school year.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

ten things

Ooh, I saw this over at Amy's and tagged myself because it was so funny. Unfortunately it was a long time ago and this got lost in bloggydraftland but it has resurfaced and so here it is:

Ten things you'll probably never hear me say:

1. Why of course, help yourself to all of my clothes. (to my teenage daughters - who abscond with my stuff regularly)

2. No, it's fine. Dirty all the pots you want; I don't mind washing up after you. (same kids)

3. No chocolate for me thanks.

4. A pet ferret? No problem.

5. More horseradish please.

6. You want to cancel bedtime, why not?

7. I don't mind buying you $90 sneakers.

8. Let's watch Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo together, it's my favorite show too.

9. You want to go to Chinatown by yourself? I don't see why not. (to 12 year old who thinks she'll just "take the train.")

10. Starting right now I'm going to double your allowance...just because.

Friday, August 25, 2006

quiet joy

I frequently find myself amazed by my children. They are so (insert any wonderful adjective here). Really, they are. I know I'm a little biased but I believe in them wholeheartedly and find myself feeling priviledged (most of the time) to be their mother (that's when I'm not feeling like selling them to the nearest passing gypsy).

One adjective that they are is creative. All three of them. I'm not sure how it happened but creativity just oozes out of their pores. Today I found myself "seeing" a moment that was so precious and wonderful.

It was a rainy, grey day. The kind where you want to curl up in bed for a long time only to emerge to grab a cup of tea, a book and a blanket and curl up somewhere else.

I was busy unpacking, cleaning, organizing, trying to do household stuff. At one point I walked into the kitchen to realize that the counters were all clean, there was gentle music playing, a beautiful just-created sweet bouquet of flowers from our garden and D was busy lighting a lot of candles. She said, "This is warming the spirit on a rainy day. And it did. So sweet and sensitive of her to recognize that we need a slow, calmer pace in the house and to try to create it on her own.

She arranged candles beautifully together and the bouquet that she made was truly a work of art. I don't know how she does it because I'm not that talented. She wanders into the garden, snips a few flowers and poof, a beautiful, coordinated, just-right arrangement. I don't know how she does it but I am grateful that she does.


No pictures from vacation yet. Mostly because I can't find the box with the disk to load the software. Hopefully soon. Bear with me as we struggle with the technical difficulties.

But I thought I would at least talk about Knitting On Vacation.

I managed to get quite a bit done, I was rather proud of myself. This was, of course helped by the fact that the ride was a long one and I wasn't driving. Hard to drive and purl at the same time.

My first project was a cute scarf with a glitzy yarn. Nothing fancy, just knit, knit, knit. No picture because a) see above, and b) it's a gift for someone who reads this so I don't want them to see it in advance.

Second project was a cute little purse with an i-cord handle out of the other skein of the same yarn. I really like this yarn so much, it's from Joanne's, called Radiance (their store brand). Good for cute little projects. When I set out on vacation although I invested serious time in planning for knitting projects I failed to consider all options and did not bring any dpns. So I had to make one with regular needles. For some reason this really bothered my hands. Instructions are: cast on 3/4/whatever. Knit. Transfer to other needle. Knit. Repeat. Bleah.

Third project started out as a fibonacci blue hat. It didn't last long for two reasons. One, duh! I was working with scraps of blue. Hard to plan for longer stretches with that. Two, I forgot part way in what I was doing. Three (okay I can't count), I made an error (I so forgot what I was doing -- I blame it on the vacation air) and doubled back on myself. Did I discover this error? Not until a good 5 or 6 rows later. Did I frog it? NO WAY! This is vacation man, no knit cursing allowed to despoil the idyllic environs. I simply made the same mistake in the opposite direction. Still working on this hat though because I got tired of it after a while.

Project number four was a hat (okay this was crochet but I was still fiberworking here) with white yarn and stripes of leftover purples, ranging from dark down to light. I realized after I did this that I probably should have made the stripes in the other direction but that's okay, it's done now. This is another hat for the Stitch Sisters 100 Hats for the Homeless Project. It will still function to keep somebody warm.

Lessons learned on vacation?

1) Pointing out every knitting/yarn/possible fiber shop to the driver does NOT endear you to them. Nor does it make them willing to stop and investigate if there really is a yarn shop 1/2 mile before where you currently are. Pity that GPS systems don't have a LYS button.

2) Never open the door to let the oven repair man in without putting away your knitting. Otherwise the dog will grab your project, playfully throw in in the air a few times, dropping half the stitches in the process, and then drag/unwind it while bringing it to you for praise and affection.

3) If you are packing at the crack of dawn and put your stitch markers in the way back of the mini-van, when you need one for project #4 a bobby pin will suffice since the aforesaid driver doesn't seem to want to stop the minivan and unpack the whole thing just to find your stitch markers. Neither does he want to stop at a passing yarn shop (see #1 above) to allow you to buy more.

All in all it was a good and relaxing vacation and I did get a lot of knitting in.

five ingredient friday - cuban bread

This is a recipe that I got a long time ago from the Tightwad Gazette that I adapted to my own measures. My family loves it and it's quick and easy.

Cuban Bread

1 T + 1 t yeast
2 T honey (can use less if desired)
1 T salt
2 C hot water
5-6 C flour

mix yeast, honey, salt, and hot water
add 1-2 C of flour and stir well
add remaining flour 1/2 C at a time until dough is formed
knead for 8 minutes until dough is satiny and soft
oil bowl, roll dough in oil and cover
let rise in draft free place for 1 hour or until double
punch down dough, form into ball and place on baking sheet, slash top
let rest 10 minutes
bake 400 degrees for 10 minutes
reduce heat to 350 and bake another 25 minutes or until bread is done (sounds hollow when tapped on bottom)

* I sometimes will substitute different flours in this recipe
* bread can be spiced up by adding ingredients such as dill, sunflower seeds, etc

Feel free to play along at Overwhelmed With Joy

Thursday, August 24, 2006

sweet knits

Okay, sitting here getting sucked into catching up on emails and blogreads when I really should be at least sleeping if not cleaning.

BUT!!! I found This!

Isn't it amazing? Goes along with the knitted cupcakes that everyone seems to be making from the One Skein book.

Can pies be far behind?

book review

I brought two books on vacation with me and so I am sharing my thoughts about these books.

The first one was Dragon's Kin by Anne McCaffrey and Todd McCaffrey. It's a cute book, very easy to read just like all the others. The story line is fairly predictable but enjoyable nonetheless. Truthfully I couldn't tell any difference in the writing style with Todd adding in. I've been out of touch with this series for a long time, apparently Todd is taking over for his Mum. Neat twist in that this story was about the watch whers instead of the dragons so we learned more about them. I was disappointed that there were some unfinished elements in the book such as how the uncle was dealt with and why he was allowed to behave the way he did. Other than that I found it to be a good overall addition to the series.

The second book was the Book of Joe. I did not like this book and did not finish it. The book starts with a graphic description of an act of oral sex and seems to go downhill from there. I valiantly tried to read it figuring that perhaps the author was just looking for shock value but after 20 or so pages had to put it down. Not for me.

This left me reading magazines but luckily there were a number of them at the house we rented.

Back to the library next week to request my next book or two, I'll keep you posted as I work my way through my list (which is getting very long btw, especially due to Kevin's post.)

home again home again jiggity jig

Or so goes the nursery rhyme.

We've been away on vacation with two tiny stops at an internet source...long enough for me to make two tiny posts. But I didn't post about my vacation because

dah dah dah dah!

I got a digital camera! Well, actually Steve bought it for me. And it's very first official outing was to go on vacation (isn't it so lucky). We went to Maine and had a lovely lovely time. If I finish all the laundry and unpacking tomorrow I'll try to figure out how to get the pictures onto the computer so that I can load them up here for all to see.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

wfmw - mom calendar

Getting to be close to that time of year when I need to look for a new calendar. My favorite is the Mom Calendar.

I love this calendar (I've been using this style for three years now) because it has a column for each member of the family. Makes it easy to see who has what without trying to cram everything into one little box. This definitely works for me!

Check out Shannon's website for other Works For Me Wednesday ideas.

tags: , ,

Sunday, August 13, 2006

tobi update

We're still trying to figure out what breed Tobi is. Now we've found a picture that looks a lot like him. He's obviously still part pig and part termite (as evidenced by his appetite for compost and trees. However we now suspect there's a lot of Viszla in him.

I'll try to get a picture of him up here one of these days.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

some gave all

Inspired by this post over at Shannon's blog I am compelled to offer my gratitude for all those who serve this country. Those meagre words are not enough especially for the families of those who have given their lives so that the rest of us can continue to enjoy the freedoms we have.

11/21/2005 Dearing, John Wilson "J.W." 21, Army National Guard Private 1st Class

Army Pfc. John Wilson Dearing died Nov. 21, 2005. He was a gunner riding in a Humvee with five other soldiers in Habbaniyah when it ran over a land mine killing him instantly.

Dearing was an honor student and athlete, participating in his school's track, swimming and baseball teams. He had dreams of becoming a professional baseball player, and his hero was Atlanta Braves' slugger Chipper Jones.

He signed up for the Guard as a junior in high school, his unit was based in Saginaw. He volunteered for deployment in Iraq after his unit returned from Egypt. On June 11 he was married and the unit left for Iraq at the end of June.

According to his father Dearing wanted to be a police officer upon his return.

It is hard to contemplate all the dreams and hopes that were so abruptly cut short. I cannot imagine the loss to his family. Please join me in remembering and honoring this man, John Wilson Dearing.

Sources: Detroit Free Press, The Oakland Press, The Daily Tribune.

If you would like you can also join Some Gave All, and pay tribute to a fallen soldier on your blog.

Friday, August 11, 2006


Thanks to my Dad we knew about tonight's perseid shower.

D, her friend N, Tobi and I all sat outside watching the sky. The girls saw one good one and we all saw a number of faint ones. Unfortunately because of the almost full moon the display wasn't that great but it was still fun.

knitting graffiti


Well here's something new and different. I hadn't heard of this before. Interesting concept.

My observation? Why are they doing this in Houston where the trees don't need trunk cozys to keep them warm in the winter?

more books

It never rains but it pours. I've gone from having "nothing" to read to having an enormous amount to read. I got a call from the library, they have a book for me. Run down to get it. It's the One Skein that I had requested I don't know how long ago. I've heard a lot of good things about the projects in this book so I'm looking forward to reading it.

While I'm there I see that I once again missed the book discussion. I seem to read all of the books and never make it to the discussions. The next book discussion is in four weeks. The book? Bel Canto. I've already read this one but loved it. It was so well written and really kept me engaged. The characters were wonderful. So I'm going to read it again. Who knows maybe I'll actually make it to this book discussion.


Another place to find blogs of interest. Now I need a compression reader for my reader feeds.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

books, books, books

Shannon over at Rocks In My Dryer has joined a book meme and issued an open tag. I find this funny since I was just looking for good books, I have a feeling that as I go through the Linky List I'm gonna have a whole lotta readin' goin' on.

So here's my responses to the meme:

1. Book that changed your life: The Little House on the Prairie series. I've read them several times and I always love reading about the lifestyle, the joy that existed in their family and as a kid I was fascinated at this glimpse into a life that was so totally different from my own.

2. Book that you've read more than once: The Little House on the Prairie series and The Golden Key by Melanie Rawn, Jennifer Roberson, and Kate Elliott, and the entire Harry Potter series (I re-read it from the beginning when a new one comes out) and The Shell Seekers by Rosamund Pilcher.

3. Book you'd want on a desert island: Hard to pick just one, I don't really know.

4. Book that made you laugh: Anything by Erma Bombeck.

5. Book that made you cry: A Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Newton Peck

6. Book that you wish had been written: Weed While You Read

7. Book you don't enjoy: I'm really not big on thrillers, intrigue, that sort of thing.

8. Book you are currently reading: I'm about to start The Book of Joe by Jonathan Tropper and Dragon's Kin by Anne McCaffrey and Todd McCaffrey.

9. Book you've been meaning to read: War and Peace. I'm determined to read it one day..

10. Book you remember as a real page-turner: Stones from the River by Ursula Hegi, Forest and London and Sarum all by Edward Rutherford, the Foundation series by Isaac Asimov. There's more but I'll stop here.

11. Non-fiction books that you have enjoyed: Cookbooks (I read them just like regular books, cover to cover -- especially the ones with pretty pictures), Knitting Books, Gardening books (especially if they're written by my Mom.

12. Children's books your family has loved: Anything by Shel Silverstein, especially Lafcadio the Lion Who Shot Back, Mrs. Pigglewiggle, Goodnight Moon, and Guess How Much I Love You. There are others but this is a good start.

If you're reading this, consider yourself tagged. If you really want to you can join up with the linky list at Shannon's blog.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

puppy treats

Oh...My...Goodness!!! Girls are just too funny. D and E decided that they needed something to do. So far this sleep-over week we've done pizza on the beach, gone shopping for supplies to decorate a photo box, eaten at Wendy's (urg), chased Tobi, sparkler dancing, hanging out in the tree house and a picnic lunch.

While I was on the phone the came up with a really fun idea! Making a cake for Tobi! The next thing I know they're asking where ingredients are, I hear my KitchenAid whirring away and I'm not sure what I'm going to find. Next long do you preheat an oven? What temperature do you bake a dog cake at?

Near as I can tell the ingredients are dog food, water, egg, bacos, and oatmeal. They're making a two layer cake with peanut butter in the middle. Oooh, yum. LOL. I hope that the dog likes it.

update: He loved it! The girls took it outside on a plate with a "candle" in it (a rawhide twist stick dipped in peanut butter). He wolfed the treat down in less than thirty seconds and then spent 10 minutes licking the grass looking for crumbs. I guess that means it was a success.


I have been so busy reading non-fiction books on a wide variety of subjects and was looking for a good summer read. Somehow I couldn't find what I needed at the library. I don't know why but nothing jumped out at me.

What did I do? I called on my best book reading sources, my sister-in-law and my Aunt. I also asked a friend. Did I get a recommendation? Wow! Look at this list! I can see that I'm going to have a lot of good looking books to read.

1000 White Women
When Crickets Cry
The Historian
Every Mother is a Daughter
The Memory Keeper's Daughter
Can't Wait to Get to Heaven
Dragon's Kin
Dragon's Fire
Water for Elephants
Book of Joe
Bone Weaver

I went to the library and got two that were checked in...Book of Joe and Dragon's Kin. I'll let you know how they were.

five ingredient friday

Baked Mock French Toast

My family loves this because it's tasty, I love it because it's easy to make. It's not the same as pan-toasted french toast but it's still delicious.

milk (we use vanilla soy)
sugar (we use sucanat)

In a greased cooking pan (let's not count that as an ingredient, okay?) lay out bread
How many slices? However many fit in the pan. An 8 x 8 square will hold 4 if you squish 'em.
Mix together eggs and milk enough to cover bread.
How much? For the 8 x 8 pan I use 2 eggs and about 3/4 C. milk
Cover with plastic and set in fridge overnight
In the morning preheat the oven to 350
Unwrap the pan and sprinkle sliced/diced/whatever fruit and sugar on top of bread mixture
Bake approximately 20 minutes until done
Serve and enjoy

For more Five Ingredient Friday lists check out Overwhelmed With Joy.

wfmw (bread tip)

Sometimes I like to buy specialty breads as a treat. We don't go through them very quickly, especially if it's a hearty dense bread that the kids don't like it. So I put two slices at a time in sandwich baggies, rebag the whole loaf and put it in the freezer. Then we can take out just a few slices at a time. Works for me!

Check out Shannon's website for other Works For Me Wednesday ideas.


I've recently found a new place to hang out in the blogosphere. Lots of mom blogs here. The hard part is I see my blogroll increasing, again. The good part is I like what I'm finding.

When I started reading blogs they were mostly knitting and craft related. Then I began to find food blogs, then fun blogs, then educational blogs, the list just kept going. As I've continued to read and explore I find that I have mercilessly dropped some of my older reads in favor of new ones. Some of it is time but some of it is also because I've realized I can only read so many craft blogs at one time. And I can only read so many vegetarian blogs at one time too. I do wish I had kept a list of what I used to read though, I think it would have been interesting to track the evolution of my blogreads.

But I like what I'm reading now and that's what is important. Check out the link above, maybe you'll find some new blog reads of your own.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006


Of the girly persuasion. D and E decided to take some sparklers outside for a bit of summer entertainment (with permission of course). After getting a cup of water for the used stems they began to light up the sparklers, twirling, writing, dancing around with them. I sat on the front stoop and watched them. It was so sweet to hear their girly giggles as they played outside in the still air with the crickets chirping in the background. What a sweet summer memory.

stitch sisters

Lots of fun tonight. We had dessert to go with our knitting (which of course meant we had to put our knitting down for a while but no one seemed to complain). Raspberry sherbert with peaches and also including blackberries from my garden. Quite a tasty treat to go along with our usual goodness of community gathering.

We also collected 7 more hats! I'm so impressed by how many hats we have managed to make. It's really wonderful to see the collection growing. So many different styles, colors, sizes. It's going to be great when we take them to the shelter.

Speaking of hats one of our members brought a fabulous book to the meeting. So many cute designs (and babies). We all passed it around and admired it. The sister who brought it threatened to beat any of us with a purse if the book went missing :-D

All in all it was the usual wonderful get-together that it always is.

farm day

Today was farm day. D's friend E is visiting from out of state for a few days and so she went with us. She was much more excited about picking things and cutting the flowers than D is. I guess the novelty has worn off for D after doing this so often. Not for me but then again I'm not a teenager.

In today's lovely collection: sun gold cherry tomatoes, sun flowers, green beans, wax beans, a bouquet of mixed flowers, swiss chard, potatoes, zucchini, tomatoes, lettuce, beets, kohlrabi, mmmmmmmmm. Lots of lovely fresh food. Even E noticed the difference as we all happily munched the green beans on the way home. I know I'm getting back on my soap box here but I am still amazed at how wonderful it is to buy local, fresh, organic food. So much tastier, to much better for you. Plus we're helping to support a farmer, show the kids where our food really comes from, and get a back-to-nature break at least once a week. All good stuff.


A ps to Tackle It Tuesday...I did this exact same thing (tackling, decluttering, flying, whatever you want to call it) for my Aunt the last time I visited her. We got rid of lots of stuff, reorganized stuff and came up with a decluttering plan for other stuff.

I guess it's easier to throw out other people junk because their junk is junk and our junk is stuff. Here's George Carlin on this very subject.

tackle it tuesday

I have resisted joining in because...well I don't know why. But yesterday I tackled such a huge job that I knew I had to join here. We are in the process (don't ask me why because again...I don't know why) of rearranging several (five to be exact) spaces in our home. Some of them had to be done at the same time because we were flipping one room for another. Example: S's room became the guest room and the guest room became S's room. Never mind that two floors separate them and all the lugging and heaving up and down stairs of furniture. This necessitated the play room (next to S's new room) becoming an overflow room.

Then D wanted S's old room, the new guest room. Luckily (or not depending on your point of view) she decided that if we rearranged her room, swapped out some furniture and reorganized things she liked her room just fine, thank you very much. Then V got into the act and decided to reorganize her room. The office became the overflow area for their rooms. As you can see I'm going to have LOTS of Tackle It posts coming up.

A very long explanation to get to what I did. With the help of my dear friend Holly I now have a cleared out and reorganized one-half of the playroom. We purged while we were at it and the back of my minivan is full of junk to go to the dump today. I feel so good about getting rid of old papers, little bits and pieces of stuff I don't need and making the space more usable and organized. Holly was amazing, encouraging me to get rid of stuff, helping me sort and organize it's great. I still have a long way to go in there but now you can walk into the room, sit down on the sofa and get to the stuff on the shelves. WOW.

If you want to play along go visit 5 minutes for mom.

Thursday, August 03, 2006


I'm learning that simplicity is a relative term. I'm speaking of simplicity as it relates to life and life-issues.

For many people that term conjures up images of voluntary simplicity also known as simple living. It means living with less stuff and spending less.

For some it conjures up ideas of living off the land like Helen and Scott Nearing or even Henry David Thoreau's Walden Pond experience.

But I have recently come across another explanation which startled me. Why did it startle me so? Because I have always assumed that in order to live more simply one must follow the above examples. We, meaning my husband and I, try to live a lower impact lifestyle, recycling heavily, composting, doing things for ourselves, trying not to buy excessively, all of that; and so do many of our friends.

But now I have a friend who has shown me another example of simplifying her life. She is moving not to a more rural area where she would have to do more for herself, but to a more urban area. Her husband is being transferred but she sees the simplification of her life in not having to drive so far to get the kids to all of their activities. The simplification of having a grocery store close by instead of 30 minutes away. The simplicity of having public services, parks, amenities available. I had truly never looked at it that way before and I am stunned by the realization that if indeed the purpose is to simplify your life, the end result is the same no matter how you get there; less stress, more time, more of whatever you are looking for, less of whatever you don't like.

So now instead of trying to do more I am back to my Aunt's philosophy (which I had lost sight of for a while), do less. Do more of the things that matter but less of the things that cause stress. I'm also still following my Mom's good example and trying to re-examine what I own to see if I can part with more stuff. Less stuff means less dusting, less clutter and for me that means a lot less stress.

Sometimes that different perspective is so healthy and really opens up new pathways in the brain, we just need to be open to the circumstances around us to see those opportunities.


My children go to public school. At one point I thought I might homeschool but then, for various reasons, we decided to leave them in public school. Overall it has worked out well for them. However, we do have continuing learning going on at our house because I believe that learning does not and should not stop when you walk outside the four walls that define a public school. Learning is a lifelong endeavor, there is always something new and interesting to learn. If you are in the habit of continuing to exercise your mind all your life it is better for you.

In the summer we try to do some sort of homeschool. Although the public school sends home a math packet and a reading assignment we would do more than that. When the kids got into high school they could choose an independent study project that thaty had to research, write a paper about and work with me on. When they were younger (and still my youngest) we picked a subject of the summer (one summer it was the solar system, one summer it was insects, etc) to study as our primary subject and then we would also touch on some basic history, math, science, nature, english/literature.

For the last few years I put up a Word of the Week on the pantry door. It was a word, with its definition, its part of language, and synonyms. I figured this would be a good thing for SAT practice and word acquisition. Then I started adding a quote of the week, something that I found inspirational that I thought would be good for my children to learn. In the last six months I added a place of the week. Someplace in the world that they might not know where it is, a little history about it and a graphic of a map of the area.

It's all good stuff. But here's where it gets interesting. I wasn't always as motivated as I should be to change the page every week. Then my kids started noticing and pointing out to me that I had forgotten to change the page. This summer life got very busy for a number of reasons and we (read I) chose to forgo home summer school. The youngest missed it!

In my browsings and wanderings in the blogoshpere I found This! post. I realized that I am most of the way there. I can expand this idea to help my youngest with the Spanish that she will be learning this year (and which Steve and I would like to learn) and cover other subjects that may need help. It's a fun way to share information and learning. But I am going to make it more visually interesting and colorful than it has been in the past. Hopefully this will help me regain my motivation and recharge our learning efforts for the upcoming school year.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

saft sirop syrup

I have finally found a recipe for making saft which is a fruit syrup concentrate that you add water/seltzer to to make a nice refreshing drink. I have been wanting to make it for a long time and lost my recipe.

Basically you take some fruit (I'm using raspberries and blackberries), mush them up with a little yeast, let it ferment a while, strain, add water and sugar, boil and process.

The recipe I have calls for 5 pints of fruit, 1 t. yeast, 2 C. sugar and then the water is added proportionally to how much juice you have. It smells VERY yeasty at the moment but hopefully that will calm down over the next day or two. I'm really thrilled to try this and see how it turns out.

I'm hoping it turns out well and that the kids like it. I'm also thinking of trying a second batch using something other than white sugar (perhaps sucanat or honey). We'll see how the first one turns out before I make that decision.

the best laid plans....

I'm always trying to organize better. Truthfully I'm not sure why. I guess I somehow feel that if I could be better organized life would run more smoothly. That may not necessarily be true, but I still try.

I have found lots of help and inspiration at The Flylady and Organized Home.

In my continuing quest for order I decided that I was going to tackle D's room while she was away at camp. Being the procrastinator that I am I didn't manage to get to it the first week. No problem, week two was there. Steve helped me and we made significant progress in the first two days clearing out her room, cleaning, re-arranging.

It all came to a screetching halt right there. I took a day off to go visit my newest niece, K. I had a really lovely visit with my sister-in-law and got in lots of baby cuddles. While I was down there the camp nurse called home. D had a very high fever and with no air conditioning at camp they felt it was prudent to bring her home. Steve went and fetched her and all of her stuff from camp (which ends tomorrow - whether she makes it to the banquet depends on how she feels). She was happy that her room was clean and rearranged but all the stuff it out of it. I had been hoping to get rid of more than I suspect I will be able to now. But we're organizing and sorting and the end result will still be better than what she had before.

Lessons learned? I still procrastinate more than I should. I try to tell myself it's because I have too much to do (which is true) but I have also learned that part of the problem is that I never seem to find the time to do just one thing at a time. There are always too many tasks demanding my attention (laundry and cooking are two biggies that come to mind).

Other lesson learned? I have improved. As I was working in her room I realized that although I may not be as organized as I would like to be, in the last few years I have made significant progress. So there's hope.

Last lesson? Kids are pigs. Goodness knows I love 'em to pieces, but they are just the messiest creatures ever put on the face of this earth. The good news? One day they move out, you get your house back and whether they keep their own place neat becomes totally their responsibility. Now if I can just hold on to that thought for the next however-many-years.

tag issue

In case anyone is wondering (and I suspect no one is) the tag issue has turned into a non-issue. I got two offline responses telling me that they never checked the tag links I put in. So I suppose I have a 100% response in favor of dropping tags. Actually it's easier for me so that's a good thing.

Just in case you were wondering.

However, if you wanted to learn more about tagging here is the Technorati site that explains it.

farm day

Yesterday was farm day. It was so hot and humid (up in the triple digits) that I chose to forgo the flowers but still managed to pick a quart of wax beans and my share of cherry tomatoes.

Inside the barn the mix and match selection included 8 ears of fabulous corn. Mmmmmm, so good when it's fresh. We also got eggplant (the small purple and white ones), kohlrabi, sweet carrots, zucchini, tomatoes, garlic, red onions, sweet onions, lettuce, beets, and swiss chard.

Dinner was a medley of veggies from the farm including grilled corn-on-the-cob. Boy was it good.

We're getting into the part of the season where the share equals more than we can eat in a week. Soon it will be time to begin pickle production. I have two friends who also belong to the farm who want to learn how to make pickles so perhaps we can do this together, should be fun.

wfmw - puppy treats

Our puppy, Tobi, loves peanut butter. Stuffing it into his doggie toy is a bit messy and he manages to clean the thing out in under 10 seconds. D, came up with a fabulous idea. She makes globs of peanut butter on a plate and puts it in the freezer. When we want to give him one it stuffs into the toy very easily and he really has to work at it for a while to get all the peanut butter.

It works for me.

Check out Shannon's website for other Works For Me Wednesday ideas.