Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: heavy reading

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

the garden: beer and broken babies

It seems like every day this week I've come back from the garden check with tomatoes in my pocket and squash in my hands. very exciting.

this was Friday's haul.
Daughter spent about 20 minutes counting and recounting and triple checking her count.
she was sure the final count was 14.

Saturday, Husband cut the grass and I had the bright idea of instead of just cutting the grass around the mystery vegetable vines (aka butternut squash) that I would hold the vines up off the ground so he could weed eat under them. It was a horrible idea. Two babies broke off the vines. Daughter has been calling the larger one a "ka-wash" and the little one a "baby watermelon" I call them both "broken babies" and vow to never suggest Husband weed eat that close to the garden again!

ALSO, last weekend I noticed the snails ate our first few strawberries and at least two squash! ugh. I'm talking to my mother about it and she suggests I use beer to get rid of them.

Sure, whatever, mom.

Then I start googling and she was right. short of spearing them or picking them myself the safest thing for the garden was to put bowls of beer out in the garden and the snails crawl in and drown. cruel? maybe. less cruel than salt, I think.

So I sacrificed two bottles of red stripe in two pie tins and in the morning ... 8 snails. That means there are 8 fewer snails out in my garden eating my produce.

My friend, Jamie, suggested I just get ducks to eat the snails ... bc the kids would love them. I just laughed and laughed when I read that. I could imagine Son and Daughter running around the yard chasing ducks so they could pet them.

(right now I'm making 18 "sun dried" tomatoes in the oven. Food Day Friday post upcoming on that)

Friday, June 25, 2010

food day friday: blueberry ice cubes

Man, I've gotten a lot more use out of these baby food freezer containers (post baby food) than I ever thought I would!

Put two, three, four (depending on size) blueberries in ice cube trays.

fill with water. freeze.

blueberry ice cubes served with lemonade.

Just in time for July 4th.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

blueberry boy

Son loves blueberries.

frozen blueberries.

it's true. he can't get enough.

The State of my Squash

Before I give a report about my squash plants, here's what I picked out of the garden last night.
Those tomatoes are from the stupice plants. The heirloom. These are the first two we've picked and I don't know what I was expecting them to taste like, but they just tasted like really good tomatoes. They were really hearty and meaty and incredibly juicy. We sliced them and ate them with dinner, sprinkled with salt and pepper. (this was our 4th squash)

Because I got a request on to the state of the squash:

First, I should say that Mel would be disappointed to see how closely together I planted our squash. He recommends that 1 squash plant take up TWO squares. (you cut or remove the middle divider) I have 4 squash in 4 (almost 5) squares. The left most squash has started to grow into the vacated square beside it. It definitely makes me wonder how big they would get if they had more room to expand.

The reason they're like that is because I planted extra seeds. The "just in case" one doesn't survive, it's ok. There's another one thing. Well ... all four seeds grew into hearty seedlings and quickly into strong plants. Truth be told, I didn't have the heart to rip up a perfectly good squash plant.

It's hard to tell when one plant ends and the next begins but I tried to get decent pictures of each of them. I also used a pair of standard scissors as a point of reference on size. Basically, the plants have a squat base where the vegetables grow out of and then long stems with huge leaves branching out.

These are all four plants. They take up 4 (almost 5) squares so what you're looking at is 4ft X 18ft of squash.

The first one. Notice the scissors on the bottom leaf to give you an idea of how big the leaves are. And see the squash only growing out of the base (would this be called a bush, M?)

The second one (it seems to have the smallest leaves and the fewest blooms/squash. I would guess that's because it's doesn't have enough room.

The third one. It's a good producer, but also has smaller leaves.

The fourth one. I remembered to use the scissors again. You can almost get an idea of how big the main "base" is by them. This is the plant that's growing into the next square. It also has REALLY big leaves, like the first plant.

I have a suspicion that if I pruned off some of the stems and leaves (making the plant smaller), they might produce better because there isn't as much energy going to the leaves. I don't know yet. I have to do some research.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

bath tub fun

I'd like to start out by going on the record saying, "I do not approve of this much water in the tub for the kids ... even if Husband is in the bathroom the entire time."

Husband took these pictures on Father's Day while the kids were playing in the tub.

He literally took over 50 pictures. He just kept snapping and snapping and snapping. (I think any good photographer will tell you that's the key to getting good shots ... just keep snapping). And he did. There are about a dozen that I said, "wow. that's a great shot," when he showed them to me later.

Here's a couple that I love.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Father's Day 2010 - update

We had a pretty great low key Father's Day. It was too hot to go adventuring (in fact we only ventured out of the house to go to the garden).

We did make blueberry pancakes for breakfast. We were out of bisquik and I had a moment of panic until Husband found a recipe (did you know that homemade pancakes are really just as simple as bisquik pancakes? seriously.)

of course, Daughter helped stir the batter. She kept saying she was making "blue berr soup"

The rest of the day was just a lazy day around the house. It was pretty great. Followed by a great dinner.

eggplant and strawberries - oh my!

Yesterday, Husband and I went out to the garden to look for squash and arugula for Father's Day dinner. We found plenty.

We also found these:

two of the regular eggplants (the kind your normally see in the grocery store)

and 8 of these. They are Japanese eggplants. instead of getting fat they grow long and skinny. They may or may not be Ichibans, they were given to us and our friend couldn't remember their name. (I already have a great recipe idea for these babies)

Husband spotted these. strawberries.
The strawberries inspired some brainstorming about NEXT year's garden. We talked about moving the strawberries (and getting more) to the strawberry box I dug for them. Those original strawberries (the ones that were never alive) taught me a lesson about choosing what you plant.

We also talked about what we'd like to place where next year (and even adding another square)

exciting. I'm getting a lot of personal satisfaction out of this garden. It's nice to start a project, work hard on it and get positive results.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Father's Day 2010

Husband will NOT approve of this picture being published.

He would probably rather I use one like this:
well, this picture is over 9 months old and the first one is about 3 days old. (I guess you get to see both)

Anyway. I love this man. For all the mushy and practical and logical and indescribable reasons I fell in love with him but also for the most obvious one for today.

He is an amazing father.

Sure, he loves to dress the kids in clothes that are in the "these clothes are still too big"section of their closets.

Sure, he doesn't water down the apple juice as much as I would like him to.

Sure, he let's the kids watch Family Guy.

but, wow. hugs, kisses, words of affirmation and love, reading, dressing, bathing, feeding, playing, chasing, building, talking. He loves these kids and shows and tells them every day.

and they think he's the greatest thing in the world since nutella.

I hope I have a fun adventure to report for today.

Friday, June 18, 2010

our first squash

I picked this Wednesday evening and then picked another one last night! Pretty excited. Last year we used our first squash on pizza. I'm not sure what we'll do with these two yet. They are patiently waiting in the fridge.

After Husband snapped this picture, Daughter asked to hold the squash. She declared, "d-his one bigger than my k-wash." yes. yes, it is.

also, I just came in from picking basil. I made another batch of pesto. (we've got 3 batches in the freezer. it's time to start eating that stuff!)


I've been thinking about this pesto recipe for almost a week.

I love pesto. so I wanted it to be fabulous the first time.

and it was.

First, I should say the reason I started with 8 cups of loose packed fresh basil is because that's how much I harvested from the garden (coincidentally, that's how big my blender is too).

Second, do not skimp on the Parmesan cheese. Please don't use the green container of cheese dust. (yes, I love it too, but not for pesto) You'll be able to tell the difference.

Third, feel free to use all pine nuts or all walnuts. I used half and half. Partly because pine nuts are expensive and I wanted them to last longer.

What you need:
8 cups of loosely packed fresh basil
1 cup of extra virgin olive oil (you may want to add a little later, if the pesto is too thick to blend)
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
1 cup of fresh grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup of pine nuts
1/3 cups of walnuts
3 cloves of garlic
salt, pepper and a pinch of nutmeg

blend until smooth

I served it with linguine. The pesto sticks to it really well.

It makes about a cup and a half. Or if you're freezing it (which I've already done and it works, freezes and thaws fabulously) it's about 24-26 ounces - depending on how thoroughly you scrape the sides of the blender. If you're freezing it, do it the same way as you would basil and olive oil.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

the MYSTERY vegetable

If you'll remember, I planted the seeds in the house and carefully marked each container. tomatoes, squash, cucumber, bell pepper, eggplant, etc.

If you'll remember, Husband carefully followed my garden grid and planted all the seedlings and other seeds and bulbs in the garden.

So when something started coming up in the cucumber square that didn't look like cucumber, we were miffed.

It started out looking like a yellow crooked neck squash plant. ok. that's explainable. Husband just mixed up the squash and cucumber when he was planting. but no, the squash squares are definitely filled with squash. PLUS, mystery vegetable plant doesn't look exactly like the squash plants.


maybe a seed made it out of the composter and randomly started germinating at the exact right time as the other seeds. highly unlikely. especially since we're pretty careful about not putting seeds in the composter.

the mystery continues. It most closely resembles a green butternut squash. only time will tell. What I do know, is that it's the single biggest producer in the garden!!

a leaf. (a big leaf)
notice the vegetable growing in the middle left. it's taking over a tomato cage.

the largest speciman. weird. definitely not a cucumber, wouldn't you agree?

another one with bloom still hanging(with an even smaller one in the left corner) Just hanging out with the stupice tomatoes.

four. FOUR. FOUR different ones. whatever this thing is, it's growing almost a dozen vegetables right now!
We're at a loss. The best we can figure is that seeds got mixed up in the packets. What do you think?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

If it's not Daughter, then it's Son (or Me)

How THIS happened:

Tuesday: I just posted yesterday's garden update. Complete with Daughter's squash.

We spent today's garden check pointing out what Daughter calls "baby tomatoes." She counted them. She kept telling me the babies were green and "no touch"

great. perfect. She listens.

Then I spot a RED one. And I lean in to examine it ... ya know, check for bugs/bird bites. I barely swipe it with the back of my hand and ACK. It falls off!

The first 'picked' Juliet. Much much better looking than last year's first Arkansas Traveler.
Then as I'm quickly slipping my picked tomato in my my pocket (so Daughter doesn't see it and get some crazy idea about picking her own tomato) Son comes toddling up to me with three.THREE.THREE green Juliets in his fat little hands.

Son's tomato fist (and blueberry juice stomach)

Here he is putting the tomatoes on the porch.

he enjoyed it. and is not allowed back in the yard for 2 days ... nah. He's allowed in.

garden update ... tomatoes turning


Our tomatoes are turning red!! yay.

Why didn't Daughter pick THIS squash? It's clearly ready!
We have to teach her more about produce readiness. ;-)

Daughter the (un)helper

Yesterday I went outside with the kids to check the garden. It rained earlier in the day, so no watering necessary. Just a checkup.

I'm pulling grass shoots out of the onions when I hear, "k-wash. Mommy, look. I have k-wash."

I slowly turn around and she further announces, "I pick k-wash ALL by myself." grinning proudly. Her first pick of the year. good for her. It just means that I need to KEEP having the talk about "only picking something out of the garden if Mommy or Daddy say it's ok"

sigh. It was just a baby. Not ready to be eaten. But a perfect size for Daughter to wave around with pride.

"my k-wash, Mommy."

"Hold it up so Mommy can see it."

Saturday: part 2.5 The Alabama stage

First, a little about the Mighty Wurlitzer: It is a Wurlitzer Opus 1783. It has four keyboards, 20 original sets of pipes, 8 sets of tuned percussion units, and all the sound effects needed to accompany a silent movie. There were 8 sets of pipes added later for a total of 2008 pipes! OH, and it raises and lowers from beneath the stage. So cool to listen to.

view from the back

view from the side while the organist is playing

Now for what I think was the coolest part of the day: We were about to leave, but I wanted to get more pictures from the stage. There were people shuffling off and on the stage to take family pictures, pictures of the organ and just well, any other kind of picture ... and to look around, of course.

Well, the organist starts playing Somewhere Over the Rainbow and suddenly, I look around. It's just Daughter and I standing on the stage. And she starts dancing.

I run down the stairs and take a seat on the front row with others who are listening. and I start taking pictures of my daughter. dancing. on stage at The Alabama, alone.

a solo.

I got chills. She was being so "in the moment." I don't even think she noticed the dozens of people in the audience watching her/listening to the organ.

I loved it.

"Look Mommy, I dance all by myself."

more dancing

it was magical
I took a couple of videos of her dancing that I'll have to load soon.

3/4, not bad.

I emailed my mother a few dozen pictures of the day trip and she told me she had never been to The Lyric but used "to go see all the Elvis pictures at The Alabama." cracks me up.

Saturday: part 2.4 The Alabama Projection Room

While Husband and the kids were crawling around in the upper balcony, I sneaked up to the projection room.

well, I didn't sneak up -- it was open for touring. I just mean I escaped before the kids could beg to go with me.

The stairs

This is the spotlight for the Wurlitzer (notice it on stage)

old reels.

the projector

a super zoomed in view of the Wurlitzer from the Projection Room
It was much cooler in there than I expected and I stayed a little longer just to cool off a little!

There was also a spotlight labeled "BIG WHITE AL" I took a picture but didn't load it.