Friday, December 30, 2011

List-posts are easier too

  • I realized last week that I really don't like oatmeal, even Eggy Oatmeal, unless it is well-slathered with coconut oil, applesauce, yogurt, and walnuts down to the very last spoonful.  Otherwise, gag me . . . I just can't hack it.
  • I have recently mastered Vegetable Beef soup.  What a delight!  I will have to post the recipe soon.
  • There is no snow - none a'tall - on the ground in SW Minnesota on December 30, 2011.  Un-un-un-un.  We are having what they call a "dry winter".  My past-self would have never believed it, but I am really pining for snoooooooow.  I feel like it would nourish my soul to see a winter wonderland outside.  But it is just brown, brown, brown everywhere.
  • Though this "dry winter" does make moving around so much easier.  It has been so warm that I haven't had to fuss with boots, hats, mittens, scarves, snowpants, etc.
  • I have started noticing the tunnel-vision that comes with having more children and older, more active kids.  I hardly have the time or energy to focus on anything outside my own little sphere.  It is the strangest thing, something I'm not quite used to yet. 
  • Things like . . . as an extrovert, for the very first time in my life, I am starting to cringe when we need to go somewhere, especially if there will be a large group of people in attendance.  It is so different from my usual mode of operation.  I've never even had inklings of this in the past.  Ever. 
  • It is so foreign . . . but staying home is just so much easier.  Calmer.  Safer.  Less aggravating.
  • I've been thinking a lot about these changes recently.  I feel like I'm just starting to grasp an understanding of WHY.  I wrote above "as an extrovert", i.e. one who draws energy from others.  I am an extrovert.  Historically, I get my energy from interacting with others vs. my own self.  But that's just it.  I am with my children all day, all night, every single day.  Of course I love them.  But I expend a lot of energy meeting their needs and interacting with them.  And things seem to get wilder the more of 'em there are (how did my mother-of-five ever do it??).
  • So as time goes on, I've found that I need down-time.  Time to sit and think and stare.  I need it.  Not just "it's nice", but I absolutely, positively NEED down-time to contemplate life and re-connect with myself.  I feel unkept and ragged without it.
  • Strange (and yet so obvious). 
  • Interestingly, with this realization I have been cultivating a deeper sense of comprehension and respect for Blaine.  (Time alone is something that is vital to his soul.  Going places with gaggles of people isn't his idea of fun.  He loves to be hunkered down at home.  Etc.) 
  • We've been together for 15 years now (married 11 of them) and I am still digging down to deeper layers of understanding.  It feels good.
  • Speaking of Blaine, he had M-Th off this week.  We've had a lovely "stay-cation", what feels like the first real leisure we've had since last spring (which may simply be just a state of mind, because we did have a 4-day weekend over Thanksgiving . . . but it wasn't relaxing at all). 
  • We've stayed home every. single. day. (big suprise) and have done nothing but basic household maintenance and hanging out together as a unit.  It feels so. good. 
  • We missed him today, but we have another 3-day weekend starting now (he just got home).  And that feels very nice as well.
  • 10-4, roger that, over and out.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

'Twas a very merry brown Christmas

50-ish degrees on Christmas Day
In Minnesota, mind you --
U.G.L.Y.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Yessssssssss

I am so very pleased.  I just wrote a rockin' LTE rough draft, representing the Library Board and Friends of the Library here in our little town.  We are close . . . so close . . . to actually breaking ground and expanding at our current location.

We have been two years in process, working and working and working towards a larger space.  There have been city council, library board, joint committee, and public meetings galore to work through all the minutiae of such a big step for a little town.  It has been very exciting at times.  And a little tedious. 

However . . . we have one last hurdle coming in a few weeks, a public forum to give space to the naysayers (though honestly, they've had two years' worth of meetings to have spoken).  But no matter.  We will come through in a blaze of glory, I have no doubt.

All the facts and numbers and emotion is weighted on our side.  It just a matter of holding ground, giving a well-researched presentation and rebuttal to any pooh-pooh.  My specialty.  I should also note that our town has been gifted a new librarian whose organizational skills and professional experience has catapulted our library onto an entirely new level.  She absolutely rulz. 

There is a light at the end of the tunnel....

Rock.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Food preservation notes

METHODS: 
  • ROOT CELLAR (cool & moist): potatoes, carrots, apples, beets (if we had any left...heh), and storage for ferments, canned goods, wine
  • CANNING: applesauce, some salsa, tomato sauce, jams
  • FERMENTATION: sauerkraut, pickled onions, pickled beets, ginger carrots, salsa, pickled peppers, kimchi, "refrigerator" pickles
  • DEHYDRATOR: green beans, zucchini, plum tomatoes, celery, strawberries, watermelon (kind of like candy chews), peas, corn
  • FREEZER: kale, collards, cooked pumpkin, broccoli, spinach, chard
  • UPSTAIRS (cool & dry): squash, pumpkin, onions, garlic

EQUIPMENT:
  • 9-try Excalibur dehydrator
  • Pickl-It fermenting jars (two 3-liters, three 1.5 liters)
  • Half-gallon jars for decanted kraut and/or other ferments
  • Water-bath canner, jars of various sizes, lids
  • Lots of shelving in the root cellar and unheated upstairs room

RECOMMENDED READING: 
  • Root Cellaring: Natural Cold Storage of Fruits & Vegetables - Mike & Nancy Bubel
  • Food Drying: How to Dehydrate, Store and Use Vegetables, Fruits and Herbs - Phyllis Hobson
  • Well-Preserved: Recipes and Techniques for Putting Up Small Batches of Seasonal Foods - Eugenia Bone
  • Put 'em Up!: A Comprehensive Home Preserving Guide for the Creative Cook, from Drying and Freezing to Canning and Pickling - Sheri Brooks Vinton
  • The Lost Art of Real Cooking: Rediscovering the Pleasures of Traditional Food One Recipe at a Time - Ken Albala and Rosanna Nafziger
  • Preserving Food Without Freezing or Canning: Traditional Techniques Using Salt, Oil, Sugar, Alcohol, Vinegar, Drying, Cold Storage, and Lactic Fermentation - The Gardners and Farmers of Terre Vivante
  • Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods - Sandor Ellix Katz

Monday, December 12, 2011

Root Cellar 2011

From top to bottom:
Blaine's homemade wine
Pickled onions, tomato aspic, grape jam, salsa verde, apple sauce, tomato sauce
Kimchi, pickled peppers, cantaloupe pickles, fermented salsa
Tomato remnants, fermented sweet pickles, sauerkraut
Apples (in box on floor)

 

Glamour shots:
Pickled onions, tomato aspic, grape jam

More glamour!
Blaine's gorgeous wines

We also have a good number of boxes filled with carrots and potatoes, but that isn't quite as beautiful.  Additionally, our apple harvest was pretty small this year; otherwise we would have had more storage boxes filled to the brim.  Onions, garlic, and squash are all upstairs in cool, dry conditions.  Dehydrated green beans, zucchini, plum tomatoes, celery, and herbs are in kitchen cupboards for easy access.

Looking at these pictures, I am amazed at how different it looks from years' past.  I didn't even post a picture last year, because it was so pitiful.  I remember being embarrassed by it!  Both our tomato and apple crops were a blow-out in 2010, which lessened the output.  I didn't ferment as much (more on that in the future).  I was pregnant, but that doesn't seem like it should stop my production.  And I don't think I was able to get my hands on as many grapes. 

But I digress...
Here is 2009 for comparison.


Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Jamie's baby-signing skillz

As reported yesterday, Baby Jamie has started signing.

Our family's baby-signing repertoire is pretty simple.  We have kept it to the basics: "eat", "milk", "more", "all done", "help", and have also added our own versions of "hot", "sharp", and "snuggle".

"Hot" is an outward-facing palm of the hand moving back and forth, frontwards and backwards. "Sharp" is the pointer finger of one hand poking into the palm of the other. This sign is my personal favorite, as Diego made it up when he was just a little guy in response to a pokey-sharp cactus. It made perfect sense and so we went with it. "Snuggle" has simply been a palm to the cheek, mostly me asking Schtinks if he wants "milk" and "snuggle".

Just last Friday, Schtinky signed "hot", "sharp" and "milk" consecutively, in perfect form no less, in under one minute.  It is like the synapses connected and the signs suddenly gushed forth.  Up until that point, he signed "more" and "all done" correctly and in context, and did his own version of "milk" (I knew what he meant).

Since then I've had little mini-conversations with him about either the hot stove or a sharp cactus.  I will bring it up asking, "Remember when we went down to the basement and Dada lit the fire?", to which he will respond with the sign and saying (in a whisper), "Haaaaahhh, haaaaahhh".  Or "remember that sharp cactus?  Ouch!" and he'll sign "sharp" with the fattest little finger and sometime even sound like he saying, "aaaaawp, aaaaaawp".  (Again, in a whisper.)  And sometimes he brings it up all by himself.  Adorable.


Studying his big brudders in action.
Just look at those fat toes, like little peeps. 
And that little pinky finger!
♥♥♥

It has been so fun to see some of the inner-workings of his mind.  I love seeing him sign "hot" and hearing the little whispering "haaaaaahhhh" when we walk by the basement wood-burner or I turn the stove-top on.  It is exciting!  And precious.

And . . . he's also started giving slobbery kisses.  It is all the rage in these parts.

Now, dinner.


Monday, December 05, 2011

JSS: Haaaaaaaaaht

Long time, no post.

I just popped in here to record an adorable and amazing event.

We have a gas stovetop.  I just turned on the burner to start heating up our soup for lunch and lil' Jamie in the baby backpack started saying, "Haaaahhhh, haaaaahhhh" and making our sign for "hot" with his fat little hand.  Un-un-un-un. 

I sometimes forget he's there and BOOM, there he was, signing and saying hot, noticing all the little things around him.

11 months yesterday. 
How did that happen?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Stuck in my head on repeat

i

Why Does the Sun Shine?
I just love TMBG.  Seriously.  Adore.



And looking for the vid of it led me to this version, the original.  I am smitten by it's charm!  I'm totally looking for that at the library.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Four year olds say the funniest things

 
"Hmmmm . . . I think we need to go to Maliformia."

--- TJPS, looking at a scrap of fabric that he is using as a "map" during some heavy-duty concentrated play with Diego this afternoon.

****

"Me and Diego have a TON of grandmas and grandpas!"

--- Truen, on the phone with his Grandma O. this past week.

****

"I don't want to call him Stinky anymore . . . I just want to call him Babezilla."

--- Truby, in all earnesty, last week.

****

"Mama, did we butcher Thunderheart...?  That is a chicken I used to love."

--- Truby, checking in about Thunderbird, his favorite hen (though he mixed the name up with a mama-bear in an audio book that we recently listened to).  We didn't butcher her, we sold her, which comforted him.

****

"I was outside sniffing the air and it smelled nice and wonderful!"

-- TJPS, on a crisp October morning.

****

"Take this away...  I is full and the bugs is not!"

--- TJPS, refusing to finish a donut his Daddy brought home for him.


Blowing out the candles on his 4th birthday,
Wearing his favorite "bowling shirt".


Dada: "Yuck!  These aren't sweet enough.  What a disappointment.  Here."  (Hands a Charantis melon to Truen, who is notorious for feasting on half-ripe melons of all kinds.)

Truen: "This is your fruit, so it is your problem to eat it."

****

Truen: "My poop is yellow sometimes when my tummy hurts."

Diego: "My poop is black!"

Truen: "It's camouflage poop!"

****

"My name is Truen Pun'kin Julie!"

--- You know who, this summer.

****

Sunday, November 20, 2011

It's been awhile

Oy.  Time flies.  Especially with my three bouncing boys.

Since my last post, Schtinky has started walking with purpose and intention.  He is now using it as his main mode of transportation.  Wow.  Amazing.  Especially since I feel like he should still be a sleepy newborn; but instead is he catapulting towards toddlerhood, and fast.

He's so cute, like a little drunk Franken-baby.  He can pivot in mid-stride and just this week he walked right over the vacuum hose without missing a beat.  Un-un-un-un.  He is obsessed with the stairs, climbing in general, and stray banana peels.


Meanwhile, Diego is obsessed with dalmatian dogs, specifically Pongo and Purdy and all the pups of Disney's 101 Dalmatians.  He is also pining for fish.  Fish, fish, fish!  "Alice, I like fish," he has said to the lady at the front desk at our library.  His two goldfish are not enough, he wants more.  His two goldfish, incidentally, were named by Truen and are called Orangey and Goldy.

Truen is intrigued by our dwarf orange and lime trees, snow and winter, pollination, and his "fruit book". Sound like anyone familiar? His daddy, I wonder...? He still needs to nap every day and is officially wearing 3T now that he is four years old. I love his little chipmunk smile and the way he says "I want a snee-ack, Mama".


Blaine and I are simmering down into late fall/early winter.  There isn't as much work to do, which is a blessed relief, but we've found that we both feel like we don't know what to do with ourselves. 

It is a strange sensation to not feel the pressure of "what needs to be done next".  Sure, there is still plenty of work to do, especially catching up on basic indoor maintenance, deep cleaning, organization and the like.  But it isn't with that same pressing urgency.  It is quite refreshing, though we are a little restless. 

I am hoping to melt into a relaxing, snowy winter.  It already feels so nice....

Friday, November 04, 2011

Mrar, then mrarweeeee!

It's been a rough week.  I feel like I'm still suffering burn-out from the mania of this fall.  I look around and see nothing but messes and work that needs to be done and re-done on a daily basis. 

Our house is a stye and my little babe sits in the backpack while I battle demon housework.  And in my brain, I wonder: shouldn't I be sitting and playing with my baby? shouldn't I be enjoying that little guy? all my little guys??  But if I did . . . what would we wear? and what would we eat? and wouldn't I feel all the more upset with the piles of junk and filth everywhere?

I'm sure it is more of a feeling than anything, because we did sit in the sunroom this afternoon and played Babezilla, where the boys built towers of blocks, then unleashed the fat, sweet, baby-talking monkey-do on it.  And then laughed and laughed and laughed.

Arise ye fool!  Up from the quagmire!

A few LIFE NOTES --
  • Eating with a 10 month old is like trying to tame a cantankerous caveman.  It's all hollering, pounding, and exuberant signs of "more" mixed in with clunky, fat hands shoving the food into a little slobbery mouth as fast as he can.
  • He's so cute, he really is.  Jamie is doing all kinds of funny things these days.
    • He will fight his brothers for something if/when they try to take it away.
    • He signs "more" and "milk"
    • He hollers through diaper changes more often than not.  And tries to get away.
    • He plays peek-a-boo.  Really!  He holds his shirt or a clean diaper up in front of his face while I say, "Where's Schtinky?" and then flops it down in his lap while I say, "Oh! there he is!" over and over again.  Precious.
    • He likes to clap and say, "yayyyyyy", though it sounds more like, "ahhhhhhh" :)
    • He puckers up his lips and makes whining noises.  To be cute and funny.  No joke.  I thought it was a fluke but he keeps on doing it and it becomes more animated by the day.
    • He loves his daddy.  He wants to snuggle with him as soon as he gets home and often lunges for him if/when he hasn't seen him for awhile.
    • He is OBSESSED with the shower.  It is an almost-daily tradition for the boys to shower with Blaine (I don't know how he stands it) and Schtinky has joined the ranks.  He will make a bee-line for the shower when he hears it turned on and will lunge towards it if/when I am holding him in the bathroom and they are in there.  Loves it.  Loves. it.
    • He is standing by himself for several seconds at a time.  !!!
    • He loves walking behind the little push-car and laughs happily the entire way across the living room.
    • He also loves his brothers, who I call his "brudders".  His brudder and his udder-brudder.  He gets super happy and wiggly whenever they enter on the scene.
    • I can always tell when he is intrigued or excited by something when he is on my hip, because he immediately starts paddling his legs and starts rocking up and down.
  • Diego said his alphabet 100% correct the entire way through.  Yesterday.  For the first time ever.  He was pretty pleased with himself, as he should be.  And I was very proud. ♥
  • We have started formal "schooling" of sorts. 
    • I worked with Diego on his numbers this summer while the other two were sleeping, mostly because numbers seemed easier for him right off the bat.  He is counting, reconizes the basic numbers, and can do simple math.  I used combination of cards from a number-match game and buttons for manipulatives.
    • After this fall, I've realized our school year is going to run from October through May or June.
    • Within the last couple of months I've started getting serious about a structure for the beginnings of reading readiness.  He has never shown much interest in the ABCs and I was always just kind of waiting for his interest to ignite casually.  Nothing much has happened, so now that he is six, the waiting game is over. 
    • Each week is a different letter: Aa, Bb, Cc, Dd, and so on.  This week is Gg.  I keep the Gg flashcards on the table on a prong-thingy so they can see the front and back.  Think, "g-g-g-gate, and g-g-g-garden".  Both boys are excited about the picture, though Diego is also interested in the letter itself.  Over breakfast we talk about all the "g" words and ask them to point out "Big G" and "Little g".  Throughout the week, I have him practice writing the letters he's learned on the chalkboard or on paper. 
    • It is going very well, I am rather pleased.
  • Truen, I realize more and more with each passing season, has a very hard time with change. 
    • This is something I don't relate to at all, but have started getting a better understanding for as I get older.  Change is hard at times.  But for this little guy, it is hard ALL the time. 
    • A prime example.  This morning, I put applesauce in with their oatmeal.  (I actually try to mix it up all the time -- raisins, honey, maple syrup, etc., but we haven't had applesauce for while.)  Truen came in, saw it, and immediately started wailing, "Wahhhhh!  I didn't want applesauce in my oatmeal!" like he was traumatized. 
    • I had him sit down, told him that while it is different than he is used to, he might just like it, so he had to try it.  By the end of the meal, he was proclaiming, "Mama, I want applesauce in my oatmeal every day!" with his spoon in the air. 
    • Uh huh.  Change.  It can also be good. 
    • (We'll be working on that.)
So yes, life is good.  I love my little boys, even when the going gets tough.  (And the tough get going, right?)

Zee boys

 Diego has had a lot of fun setting up his "shop" this fall.
He organizes the vegetables so beautifully, doesn't he??
He has even "sold" several items to his Gramma --
And as you can imagine, it pleases him endlessly.

 Truby is a sweater guy this fall.
He wears them almost every day . . . so cute.
He also has a rotating collection of small stuffed animals
that he totes around and lavishes affection on.
I can't remember this one's name, but
his other two favorites are "Honey" and "Berry".
Talk about meltin' a mama's heart. ♥

Oh Schtinky.
I love your fat little ankles. I love your little tippy-toes.
He was very interested in the bark of this tree.
Which reminds me.
I found a CATERPILLAR in his poop last week.
The second worst thing I've ever found in baby poop.
The worst thing ever?
A watch battery.  Last month. 
GAK!!!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

I love the stars at night



There are so many things I love about this vid, so many things.

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Pumpkin Picture

Laughing at their daddy

I'm lovin' the pumpkin pictures!  I want to make this an annual tradition.  We did it in in 2008 and again in 2009, but when I combed the memory banks this weekend, I realized that we didn't do it last year.  Why not??

And then I remembered.

Blaine carved pumpkins out of the sheer force of will (for the boys' happiness) after a day of butchering 24 chickens.  The day before Halloween.  The next day, as he was laying prostrate on the couch not wanting to move, I gathered my meager reserves and took the boys to their grandparents' house for some trick-or-treating.  Out of sheer force of will.  Hobbling the entire time on my poor pregnant legs.  Then I myself spent the next couple of weeks laying on the couch, practically bedridden.

Things are much better this year.

Blaine did all the carving, following each boy's special request for the shape of the eyes, nose and mouth.  Except Schtinky, who pooped out and had to nap halfway through, and got the cutest little one-toothed baby pumpkin ever.

I didn't carve because I was cutting up apples for sauce while keeping the baby as happy as I could in the backpack until he could take it no longer.  (Sidenote: I canned another 8 quarts of applesauce last night and 9 pints of cantaloupe pickles.)

What I love most about this picture of the boys - aside from the yearly tradition it has become, how much the boys are growing, the fact that Truen and Jamie are of similar size, all their adorable little faces, the autumn-ish feel to it, and my fondness for the pumpkins - are Schtinky's tan lines in the fat rolls on the ankle of his right foot.

See 'em?  Precious.

Friday, October 21, 2011

TJPS: Four years old

 ♥ ♥  months old

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ years old

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Autumnal collage


This beautiful little collection represents one of the many things I love about my main squeeze, my only squeeze.  Blaine.  What a man. 

He always has his eyes to the skies (though sometimes looking for aliens, ahem) and adds a bit of beauty in whatever he does.  I love the flare.  And who would ever get that out of the brick wall that he presents himself as?  He has even said he wears his "signature plaid" (after 10 years, I believe it qualifies as just that: signature) because "it's exciting".

Love'm.

Monday, October 17, 2011

This past weekend

We --
  • Prepped/planted garlic
  • Pulled in all the peppers and tomatoes
    • After a very early frost, followed by weeks of very warm temps, fall is coming to stay . . . Jack Frost's ETA is Tuesday night
  • Canned
    • 9 quarts tomato sauce
    • 10 quarts tomatillo salsa
Blaine also cleaned the gutters, cleaned out the chicken coop, and did the beginnings of garden clean-up.  I'm finishing up the salsa/sauce right now, just waiting for it to cool in the canner a bit before setting it out on the counter.  Then, to bed.

But just one more thing . . .

 Can you see it...?

My first baby lost his first tooth

It fell out while eating a donut on Saturday morning.  A donut, yes.  Blaine brought it home from work.  Diego had been fretting about the pain of having it pulled out and wanted it to "just fall out" by itself.  And by golly, it did.  He was very excited about it.

Afterwards he said, "Let's call people and tell them the news!"  We called both grandparents (only one was home) and he gave them the play-by-play.

And while I was initially sad when we realized his tooth was loose, it was an exciting moment for all of us.  My tender-hearted little guy.  Losing teeth.  Amazing.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Backpack Baby

I honestly don't know what we would do
without this thing . . .

A vintage Gerry backpack --
I picked it up off the side of the road
during the "curbside dump" day in Big Town, SD
I thought it might "come in handy" at some point.
And HAS. IT. EVER.  Holy smokes.

At the prairie preserve with Unky Erik

In front of an old shed on our place
Isn't the wood pretty??
We keep on thinking about doing
"family pictures" in front of it.

Our view to the west


Examining the East Garden with Dada after frost

Little lion hat --
Made by LSJF
Presh.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Brag-worthy

We totally conquered this weekend. 

We --
  1. Butchered six chickens
  2. Cut down a tree
  3. Dug up, divided, and moved four bunches of raspberries
  4. Processed 60 lbs of tomatoes --
  5. Which became 9.5 quarts of tomato sauce, an enormous batch of tomato soup, and 6 cups of spicy tomato aspic (pectin-based vs. gelatin -- think savory tomato jelly)
We did this in two days, with two little boys and a 9 month old, just the two of us, with only an hour-and-a-half help from Blaine's parents (the tree).  Un-un-un-un.

Lest our heads inflate, let us remember that the kitchen floor looks like a sandbox yet again; Mt. Saint Laundry Pile sits on the living room couch, where I'm pretty sure every article of our clothing is laying in a big wrinkly pile; and after staying up until 1:45 AM to finish the canning process, I felt like a incoherent zombie when stirred to nurse my little little babe in the night. 

I'm also in fairly dire need of a shower.

But it feels very good. 

And . . . at intermittent moments, my thoughts moved towards winter.  That's when I hope to paint the sunroom, replace the toilet, finish Truen's baby calendar, read a little more, and have time to stare out the window (yeah right).

Friday, October 07, 2011

Another visit, this time with sibs

One month later....

My cousin got married the Sunday of Labor Day Weekend.
The wedding was at Nazareth Chapel at NW College --
Gorgeous atmosphere, amazing pianist, lovely bride.

My dad, two of my brothers, and my SIL were able to make it.
Which was lovely . . . absolutely wonderful.
This was after a family brunch in Stillwater the next morning.
The St. Croix river was particularly delightful this day.
Incidentally, there had been a Bigfoot sighting
in Stillwater just the week before.
We didn't see one.

There is a co-op near the waterfront in Stillwater --
We purchased the raw materials for a picnic
and lunched (a.k.a. FEASTED) on the grass along the river.
It was so relaxing and happy, a truly beautiful time.
The green grass, sailing white cloud-puffs, a bluer-than-blue sky.
And just hangin' out.  It felt so good.

Grandpa snuggled with Lil' Schtinky quite a bit.
We spent the extended weekend with my dad
and this was the last day.
Towards the end of the afternoon he held a sleeping Jamie,
'til his butt fell asleep and he got so sore and stiff
from holding the same position
that he just couldn't take it anymore.
I've done the same thing many times. ♥

Monday night we headed back to our place in the rolling prairies.
I don't have as many pictures of that time because it was
GO TIME!
in the kitchen and garden.  Plus just sitting and talking.
But suffice it to say, it was a lovely visit.
This is the killer pizza that my brother and SIL made.
The one I keep talking about. 
The eggplant and cherry tomato pizza.
It was so. good.
Incidentally, this picture is a good representation of the
INSANITY that the kitchen turns into in September.
Hardly a clear spot on the counter.

My long-haired brudders.
This was right as we were saying goodbye to Brent --
he took the bus back to Minneapolis that Thursday,
flying back to Colorado the day after that.

On Friday afternoon, Erik and Ash started the
long, winding trek back to Kelowna, BC, but first --
We went on a mini-hike and picnic to the prairie preserve.
Also lovely.  My word for the day.  Lovely.
The texture and color of the grasses is so Martha.
If that makes sense.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Fragrant Kale Potato Soup

I am canning applesauce this afternoon, sealing the first two batches and cooking the second batch at this very moment.  I expect approximately 12 quarts.  Not too shabby.  We picked apples yesterday, a pleasant task for all involved.

It is the second-poorest apple crop we've had, but the tree is still recovering from the massive prune Blaine inflicted upon it the winter of 2010.  And honestly . . . we don't mind at all.  The amount is "just right" for this year.  The only sadness is not having extra to give away.  Otherwise, we are perfectly content.

Blaine has had the baby in the backpack most of the day, with short snuggle breaks with mama and/or sleep (it is nap-time right now).  The house smells lovely and the thought of applesauce on our pancakes this winter makes me smile.  The sun is shining and the day is warm . . . I couldn't ask for anything nicer.  As my MIL likes to say, it is a "Perfect Ten".

We have been feasting on an absolutely scrumptious soup of late.  I adapted it from the Kale Potato Soup recipe in Simply in Season and added "fragrant" to the title because of all the garlic and celery.  We had it for both lunch and dinner yesterday!  Yo.  It is that good.  Tasty and filling.

FRAGRANT KALE POTATO SOUP

Part I
  • 2 TBSP butter
  • 2 onions
  • 4-5 stalks celery
  • 3-4 cloves garlic
  • 4 large potatoes
  • 4 cups stock
Saute onions and celery, then garlic in butter while dicing the potatoes.  Once wilted, add potatoes and stock, cover partially, and cook until tender.  While simmering, go to Part II and prep. 

Part II
  • 2 large bunches kale
  • 4-5 sprigs parsley
  • 1 cup yogurt, sour cream, or homemade cream cheese
  • 6 cups stock
  • 1 tsp salt
  • pepper to taste
De-stem kale, roll leaves and chop.  Chop parsley.  Add everything to the pot, then cook, partially covered, until kale is done, maybe 10 minutes.  Use a stick blender to blend to a chunky (or smooth) consistency. 

Serve with grated cheese and/or croutons.

In the past I've blended this soup into a puree, but I prefer it chunky.  It is nice to have something to bite down on, and I especially like the chewy texture of the kale.  De-wisch-shush.

I also have to note that everything in this soup was grown or produced by us, including the homemade cream cheese (though the milk came from a local farm) and the chicken stock.  Butter, salt and pepper are the only items that weren't produced on the premises. 

Huah!  Awesome.

2011 Apple Harvest




Thursday, September 29, 2011

Yours?

I was contemplating cookbooks while making breakfast this morning.  [Four itty-bitty zucchini fried with butter, garlic and salt and four over-easy fried eggs.]  A friend of mine, a former vegetarian, is looking for a new cookbook that incorporates meat-based recipes.  That's what got me thinking.

I keep a regular rotation of library-borrowed cookbooks to sift through for inspiration and new ideas, which is very helpful.  But I have two old standbyes that I reference on an almost-daily basis.

The first: How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman.  This is my all-time, most-used favorite-favorite cookbook.  I used this sucker to teach myself how to cook.  It was a wedding gift from a much-loved Soc. professor in college.  A paperback copy, it is water and food stained, scribbled in, and now exists in three pieces.  I look at this one almost every day.  If you have a piece of food or meal genre that you wonder what to do with, this book will provide 2-3 (or way more) answers.  It awesome, just awesome.

The second: Simply in Season by Marybeth Lind and Cathleen Hockman-Wert.  When eating from a garden or CSA share, this book is extremely helpful in assisting the brain providing various options on how to use it on a daily basis.  I reference this book year-round, but it is particularly useful while the garden is putting out.

All this made me wonder . . .

What is YOUR favorite cookbook?

Please dish.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Oh no, oh yes --

A couple of weeks ago, Diego was outside and romping around in the grove (trees that surround our house) while we were in the garden picking for our baby CSA.  (We have two subscribers this year . . .  just the right amount with a babe, working FT, and picking from our home garden.) 

While he was out and about, he somehow ensnared a softball-sized mess of cockleburs in his hair.  He came inside while I was trying to organize the kitchen for dinner with a baby on my back, probably around 8:00 PM.  "Hold on a bit," I told him, "I can pick it out later . . . I really can't stop what I'm doing right now."

He disappeared and I forgot about it.

The next morning, I saw his head tipped at an odd angle in the sun and blanched.  Hack job.  "You cut your hair?!" I yelped, "I thought I told you I was going to pick it out."  Gak!

"Oh yeah," he said,  "I didn't do it.  Dada did."

 Hacked

Great.  Dada did.  So after a couple of weeks, I finally finished the job.  I shaved his head, ladies.  I did.  Just this weekend.  His beautiful curls, gone.  Just for now, of course . . . but I do miss them.  And I hardly recognize him from a distance.  It feels strange to see his hair so short.

 His new 'do
Check out that cow-lick!
(Truen's hair is my own personal hack job)

His hair hasn't been this short since infancy
♥ Awww, shucks ♥
I entitled this .jpg "Jellybean"
Precious and sweet are the days gone by...

Friday, September 23, 2011

Ye Olde List Post

A few things I want to remember:
  • Jamie started "pbbbbt'ing" yesterday.  The cutest.  And very slobbery.
  • Diego and Truen have been playing a game called Mouse Town recently.  They set up an entire village for imaginary mice, complete with shops and bridges to get from place to place.  It takes up our entire living room, which is enormous.
  • The boys say "it broke to parts" or "it will fall to parts" vs. the more common description "fall apart".  I love how we have our own micro-dialect going on here. 
  • "Imn't" instead of "I'm not" is another common one.  It is used like this: "I imn't going to". 
  • Both boys also say "schickens" instead of "chickens".
  • I'm already missing eggplant and zucchini (both are kaput for the season).
  • Though honestly . . . I realized today that I don't mind.  Eating seasonally makes everything twice as wonderful.  It is something to look forward to, a seasonal delight that will be savored for a window of time.  It's fun.
  • Annnnnnnd . . . life seems to be going by so fast that I haven't had time to miss things like baked apples.  But we had some the night before last, and my goodness, but it was scrum-diddley.  Definitely worth waiting for.
  • With that in mind, I absolutely, positively cannot wait for next summer's garlic scape pesto.
  • Or the eggplant-and-cherry tomato pizza that my brother and SIL made for us a couple of weeks ago.
  • Our house has been c-c-c-c-old this past week.  We haven't turned on the heat or lit a fire, but I pulled out my wool sweaters and slippers.  It is chilly.  We had an early frost last week and many days with virtually no sun.  And even though it has been sunny the last couple of days, it hasn't been able to warm the house up.  It feels colder inside than out.  Thus, the slippers.
  • Ugh, speaking of slippers.  I've noticed that if my feet are cold, my legs and hips feel it.  This is new, like within the last couple of years.  My body is aging, and gak . . . that is hard to take.  My little guys have been running around barefoot while I'm holed up in slippers.  I keep on checking their feet and checking in with them about how they are feeling and they are always warm.  Say it isn't so.  Things are starting to change...?
  • I'll be 34 in a couple of weeks.
  • Truen will be 4 a couple of weeks after that.  He's wearing a 3T this fall, which means he is growing right on schedule (he was in 2T last winter).  No prob.
  • Meanwhile, our gigantic almost-9 month old is wearing 12 month clothing, some of it what Truen was wearing when he was learning to walk backwards.  He does still fit into the 6-9 month size, but not for long...
  • Jamie is 22 lbs (maybe more . . . that weight is from almost 2 months ago).
  • Truen is approx. 28 lbs.
  • Heh. :)
  • I'm so glad that I was able to have a little, tiny guy sandwiched between my two hulks.  My wish would be for people with small babes to stop worrying -- if they are developmentally on track, growing and bright-eyed, it is foolish to spin the mental wheels of worry.  Some kids are just small.
  • My little guy was (is) so easy to carry around and was always so darn cute because he was littler than everyone else.  And carry him, I did.  A lot.  Petite, sweet, and just darlin'.  It is also easier to pretend they are younger than they actually are when they are so little. ♥
  • Meanwhile . . . I dug into the storage bin for 12 month clothing yesterday and realized it is all SUMMER.  Oh no!  Oh yes.  But of course!  I never contemplated it beforehand, but Diego (who Schtinky matches for size) was a summer baby and the seasons are switched.  Doh.  Truby was always so tiny that the 12 month clothes fit him during the winter months, in spite of the seasonal difference.
  • So that means I have lots n' lots of onesies and cute little short-outfits and not much of the warm stuff.  None, actually.  Aside from the gifts we received this time 'round and the two outfits I snagged at the thrift store yesterday.  And the 12-18 month stuff is too big.
  • Oh well.  I have enough to make it until the remnants are thrifted.  (Good thing I discovered it in September!)
  • All three boys are sleeping simultaneously this afternoon.  A rare event and a blessing, indeed.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

I wanna shuffle too



I'm obsessed.  Hammer pants and all. 
It just looks like so. much. fun.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

"Bountiful Harvest" 2011

I adore tomatillos
On the vine: beautiful and intriguing
In the mouth: delicious

Garden path
Mah boys.

Mid-August Garden
It is starting to look dry at this point in the season,
and some things are going to seed.

Lemon cucumbers, a scalloped summer squash, zucchini

A Sphinx moth caterpillar!
These suckers are gigantic --
as thick as my thumb and longer than an index finger.
He was feasting on immature garden huckleberries.
He swung himself back and forth threateningly
when the boys poked at him too much.
(Cute.)

Cabbage waiting to become sauerkraut --
My favvvvvvorite.

I am crazy-in-love with eggplant this year --
Gorgeous and delicious.
My brother and SIL made an eggplant and cherry tomato pizza
while they were here last week (ugh, pictures coming) --
I drool every time I think back on it.
It was muy delicioso.  Muy.
I want more!
(btw, you can go to her blog for pictures from the visit)

Tomatoes!
Black Plum, Cream Paste, Tangerine Mama,
Brandywine, Cherokee Purple, German Pink --
and Jimmy Nardello's peppers

A gorgeous Charantis melon
Such a sad story --
This year's growing season is about a month behind
and with approx. two weeks before frost,
combined with a 30 degree night this last week,
very few melons, if any, will ever mature.
This little beauty wasn't even ripe.
Every year there are
VICTORIES
and losses.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Worn out

Friends, I am weary.  Weary.

Both Blaine and I are nearing burn-out this season, amplified by the screeching baby on one back or the other.  No, I shouldn't say that . . . he is happy most of the time (while he's on our backs), but having a baby has definitely complicated and/or added to the workload this year.  Burn-out always seems to rear its ugly head in September anyway.

Our house looks like it has been hit by a cyclone.  One task after another glares at me as I walk by: tomatoes, dishes, laundry, tidying, the sandbox-like kitchen floor.  It seems insane, making me wonder what I do all day long.  Am I really just spinning my wheels?  It feels like it.  Then there is the little boy who wants me to cut out paper bats for him, and the littler boy who wants me to read to him.  And the even littler boy who needs to be held and cuddled just a little bit more.

I can't wait until winter.  I want to be snowed in, totally unable to go outside.  It sounds delicious.

But then . . . I look at my cupboards and I do realize what I am doing.  I have a whole list of things to offer up as proof.  I have all year to battle my housework, but a window of only a week or two to make grape jam.  Grape jam that we will enjoy all winter and spring.  And little boys that need to be loved on while they are still little.

Yes, it is worth it . . .

2011 Food Preservation Record
  • 12 quarts sauerkraut
  • 9.5 quarts fermented salsa
  • 7 jars grape jam (3 pints, 3 jam jars)
  • 3 quarts pickled pearl onions
  • 3.5 quarts dried plum tomatoes
  • 1 pint dried peas
  • 3 quarts dried green beans
  • 2 quarts dried celery
  • 1.5 quarts dried zucchini
  • 1 cup basil leaves packed in olive oil
  • 1 cup dried dill leaves
  • 1/4 cup dried marjoram
Huah!  I am proud.  And there is more coming.

Deluxe


This coy look displayed by Schtinky was a limited, one-time-only, special-edition head-tilt available for purchase on one day alone: Monday, September 5th.  The cost?  Saying, "Jamie-Jamie-Jamie-Jamie-Jamie-Jamie" over and over and over again.

He had never done it before and hasn't done it since, but it sure was cute while it lasted.  He also learned to clap that week and added high-pitched, piercing shrieks to his repertoire.

Oh, Schtinky ♥
(I mean . . . Jamie)

Monday, September 12, 2011

A quick list of why you haven't heard from me

  • Gallivanting (to the TCs for a cousin's wedding)
  • Visitors (brothers and SIL)
  • Grapes (jam)
  • Tomatoes (salsa)
  • Cucumbers (refrigerator pickles)
  • Three squirrelly boys
  • Manhandling living quarters back into submission

Monday, August 29, 2011

Photos from my parents' visit

So . . . . one month later --

 My parents came for a week at the end of July --
It was a nice time with many games of
Go Fish, Old Maid, Candy Land
and general lazing about.
Jamie snoozed with Grandma that first night.
She has a "mother's touch" for sure --
No sleepy baby could stand a chance against her.

 In the middle of the week we went to a beach,
for some swimming and sandy sitting.
The boys L-O-V-E-D it, as you can imagine.
Even Jamie got nakey and splashed in the water.

 This is Truen pretending to be a hammerhead shark
It was sooo adorable, even more so with how small he is
Diego is above --
He hovered around these kids, staring and splashing,
Until they they all started playing together.

 I love this scene --
Diego's birthday, at the park
All the colors and activity just makes me smile.
He spent his 6th birthday with both grandmas and grandpas.

 Double-double baby bubbo --
With Grandma & Grandpa's shiny rental car.

 Diego was writing letters in the sand at the park

Diego's birthday was a (fun) doozy. 
We went to a playground, then out for lunch,
then to another park to for presents and lemon bars,
then swimming at different park because we knew they'd love it,
then out for dinner again because we were all so hungry.
This was Truen after swimming --
He just couldn't last a second longer.  Totally asleep.

Our last day with Grandma & Grandpa --
I made the voyage back to the Twin Cities
to spend a couple more days with them before they had to leave.
We went to a child's indoor dream-park,
Edinburough Park in Edina, which, of course, they also loved.
I like the pell-mell feel of this picture.