25 July 2010

From the files of “Might Need a Better Hobby”

Beeb has been checking out some new past-times lately.  I can’t say I have been a fan so far.

Exhibit 1:  Flying


He gets up on the chair with a feather in each hand, flaps his arms furiously, hollers “I fwappin, I fwappin,” then jumps off the chair while hollering “I fie-ing.”  It often ends with “ouch.”  Mostly I’m just happy he’s jumping off the recliner and not the roof of the house.

Exhibit 2:  Scissors


Cutting with scissors is another favorite hobby.  While I am certainly proud of his motor skills and attention span, I think I have picked enough miniscule pieces of paper off the floor.

20 July 2010

The Nature Photographer

We walked to the park this morning.  The park we went to has a small prairie and a wood, so I threw my camera in my purse and my tripod in the wagon so I could take pictures of wildflowers while the kids played on the playground.  When we were heading home, Bug wanted to take a closer look at the bat houses.  While we were doing so, Beeb grabbed my tripod out of the wagon and tagged along, stopping every few feet to do his own thing.

18 July 2010

Hair cuts

Everyone got a trim this afternoon.  Usually it’s just the boys, but Miss Bean decided she wanted to go a little shorter.  I only whimpered a little trimming her long curls, but she looks gaw-jus, so I’ll get over it.

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Guess which one wasn’t cooperating.  But with his hands there, you can’t see how crooked his hair is…little wigglepuss wouldn’t sit still

17 July 2010

Peachy Keen

We have plowed through almost 2/3 of the peaches.   We had peaches and cream one night for a bed-time snack.  I made two small peach upside-down cake (that didn’t turn out…my pan wasn’t exactly the right size and the middle didn’t get baked all the way, but it was still tasty!  I made two batches of peach freezer jam (totally seven pints) and put up six quarts of peach slices in light syrup.  We have also eaten an impressive quantity of peaches just plain.  I guess one of the hazards of eating seasonally is gorging until you are dreaming about the produce item and never want to see another one (well, at least not until next year).  Blushing Peach Almond Freezer Conserve is up next tonight if I can pick up some maraschino cherries at the grocery store tonight and perhaps a peach cobbler for dessert.  Then, tomorrow a batch of spiced peaches and I think that will be the end of the peaches.  Any that are left will either be consumed by the locusts that disguise themselves as my children, or, if I can move fast enough, frozen.


14 July 2010

It’s a peach!


This morning, I got two half bushel boxes of Georgia tree-ripened peaches out of a truck in the bowling alley parking lot.  My weekend plans include peach freezer jam, Blushing Peach Almond Freezer Conserve, Peaches in light syrup, and Honey-Spiced Peaches.  The house is going to going to smell so good!  That is, if the kids don’t eat them all before then.  Also, I wouldn’t be TOO upset if the humidity were to drop a teensy bit before then.  Maybe a peach upside-down cake…oooo, or peach cobbler?  Maybe I should have gotten a couple more boxes!

We are tentatively planning to do U-pick blueberries up in the Dells next week, so canning season is gearing up.

08 July 2010

Garden Report

The alternating hot weather and plentiful rains have gotten most everything growing like crazy.


“Knee-high by the fourth of July” is for under-achievers.  The beans are blooming, the punkins are blooming (with one teensey little green punkin already).  The tomatoes are starting to get a couple of blossoms.  Japanese beetles have become the bane of my existence.  I am keeping a jar of soapy water to knock them into and leaving it in the garden as a warning to other beetles (which hasn’t really made a difference, but it makes me feel better).


I think the bugs have all but killed off the watermelons, but the edamame is flourishing.

100_2467Miss Bean’s geranium is still hanging in there.  The other geranium appears to have bit the dust.  The wildflower mix appears to be long on the wild and short on the flower so far.


The flower in the corner has two buds getting close, so I think Miss Bean will forgive me for breaking off the first flower.  The herbs are growing, though the bugs have been in my basil and marjoram.  Also, the chives appear to remain annoyed at the insult of being replanted.

07 July 2010

Invasion of the Pod People

Last spring, I finally lurched into the 21st century and joined the iPod/mp3 world.  I got a iPod Touch and absolutely love it!  While I’m sure I would like an iPhone even better, I wasn’t crazy about the idea of paying the monthly data charge in addition to regular cell service.  I am managing just fine waiting until I can find WiFi.  I love that my iPod can talk to my email and my calendar and my online to-do list and all that other stuff, but I have also discovered podcasts.  Since one or more assorted kidlets instantly need my attention the second I wearing earphones (or trying to talk on the phone…same phenomenon), I have an adapter that hooks my iPod to the boom box in the kitchen and can listen during meal prep or other kitchen projects.  A few of my most favorites at the moment are:

  • Classical Performances Podcast – classical music from WGBH Boston
  • Earth Eats – real food and green living from Indiana NPR affiliate.  Very inspirational while I’m cooking!
  • Naxos Classical Music Spotlight – basically extended commercials for Naxos recordings, but lots of interesting info about performers/composers and excerpts from the recordings
  • NPR Car Talk – love me some Click and Clack!
  • NPR Science Friday (audio and video) – I have always like SciFri when I managed to hear it, but was rarely near a radio or remembered to turn it on at the right time on Friday.  Now I listen at my convenience.  The bad news is that I am adding all sorts of books to my already ridiculously long to-read list.  Oh and Flora Lichtman’s videos are consistently awesome.
  • PRI Living on Earth – new discovery with a nice mix of science, ecology, and sustainable living topics.

I also have an adaptor so I can play my iPod over the car radio and the kids have their own set of podcasts for car time

  • 60-second Science – from Scientific American…quick reports and commentaries on what’s happening in the science world.  They are made for grown-ups, but the kids enjoy finding out about stuff in small doses.  Sometimes we find topics that we can go looking for more age appropriate material at the library to learn more about it.
  • Classics for Kids – a six-minute long weekly podcast built around a different composer each month with all kinds of topics in music and music appreciation.
  • FETCH! Podcast – not very frequent updates, but the kids love watching FETCH! with Ruff Ruffman on PBS, so these were fun while they lasted and there may be more coming.
  • The Story Home – stories for kids
  • Storynory – stories for kids.  We’ve tried several story podcasts, but these two are our favorites…good stories and good readers!
  • Why! The Science Show for Kids – not my favorite of the bunch, but the kids enjoy it.  Fortunately for me, there aren’t very many episodes.

Disclaimer:  No one has paid me for any of these endorsements, but in the interest of full disclosure, I should probably confess a wee crush on Science Friday’s Ira Flatow.

06 July 2010

Finally finding a kitchen system

Making grocery lists and planning meals have long been a bane of my existence.  I have A LOT of trouble finding the mojo to sit down and plan a week’s worth of meals, especially doing so the evening before I might actually have a chance to get to the grocery store during a part of the day when the kids aren’t completely tired and acting that way.  For a couple of years now I have been compiling a binder of recipes we use and like so I can flip through it for ideas rather than dragging out a bunch of cookbooks.  Also having my own copies makes it easier to make out a grocery list as some cookbooks have some of ingredients tucked into the instructions, which I never discover until I am standing in the kitchen, knee-deep in prep.  I have a standard format for my binder, so I can find ingredients or prep time in the same place for every recipe.  More recently, I have been experimenting with ways of listing out meals so I can remember what I have ingredients for.  I rarely plan out which meal for which day, but I may make a note that a particularly quick meal would be good for say, Wednesday, when we have park day in the later afternoon and I don’t have a lot of time to get supper together.  I also like to have notes to myself with reminders of things that need to be defrosted (e.g., big ol’ pork roast) or that need some attention first thing in the morning (e.g. crockpot).

While this system has been better than panicking nightly when it is time to start supper there were still a couple of big obstacles.  First, I was having trouble making the list of of odds and ends that come up during the week mesh with the list I sit down and prepare before doing groceries.  Second, I wasn’t very consistent with checking the meal plan list to actually notice the reminders for night before or early that morning jobs.  Nothing like discovering that the only meal that you have ingredients for is a crock pot meal and it is just an hour until dinner.  Third, I rarely get everything we need in one place.  Now that we are in summer, I get my pastured meat and eggs from a nearby farm, my veggies from our CSA on Thursday, other veggies from the local Farmers’ Market on Friday, milk from the mystical milk fairy on Thursday.  Occasionally, I need to run up to the Fitchburg Farmers’ Market if I need pastured lamb.  Several time throughout the summer, we go berrying (strawberries in June, blueberries in July, raspberries in August or early September) or pick up canning quantities from either the CSA market or the local Farmers’ Market.  So…complications combined with the attention span of a fruit fly…not pretty!

There have been two recent additions to my method of madness that seem to fill in the missing pieces.  First, a homeschooling mama at park day said something about using dry erase markers directly on the refrigerator.  Genius.  My dinky dry-erase board wasn’t doing the job, but a big space…


I can list out what is in the crisper drawers from the CSA so I don’t have to go digging.  Upcoming meals are easy to see.  I can make lists of other kitchen business.  The notes in red were items stuck in the upstairs freezer without labels when I finished a roll of masking tape and discovered that we didn’t have anymore (Ms. Bean, the artiste, goes through a LOT of tape these days).  Once I got the tape, I got the jars labeled and in the deep freeze.  I have made notes with cookbook pages for recipes.  Plenty of room for everything I need to remember and easy to wipe off when I don’t need it anymore.

The second element is ZipList in conjunction with my iPod touch.  Since I can no longer live without my iPod, it is always close at hand, so I can add a couple of items to my list as I am standing in front of the fridge.  I can add other things when they occur to me.  Plus, ZipList has all sorts of neat tricks.  List items can be assigned to stores (Co-op vs. Pick-n-Save) and aisle order can be set up for each store so the list appears in the order you go through the store.  There are a few minor kinks that I am sorting out and or getting used to…for example, the last time I added ‘hot dog buns’ to the list, the default aisle was pet supplies.  I am also still working on getting the aisles in order for the stores I use.  Plus getting used to how it works and where things are.  But, I think it will be a workable system in the long run.