Friday, August 29, 2008

Summer lovin'

Salad greens and a sinful dressing.
My new favorite dressing-de-sin is Brianna's Home Style Blush Wine Vinaigrette.
The first ingredient is sugar. yaa. that kind.
I usually make my own, but this one is so.... unusually pleasing haha. We've been eating as much lettuce as I put out if it is dressed with this. Colven eats more than we do.
Everyone needs guilty pleasures in life (well, I think so anyway!)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Confession: We have a lawn.

And I can braid it.

I read so often about the naughty lawn,
as in the environmental wasteland of a typical lawn.
The water waste, the chemical mayhem.
We chose ours well, it isn't your everyday grass patch.
Our grass is native to our area. We obtained the seed from a local ecological restoration company and established it with winter rain. Our lawn is long enough to lay over and provide it's own cover and mulch. It is beautiful!
Now that it is well established, it needs to be mowed
maybe two or three times a year.
It won't die if it completely dries out. It just goes dormant and springs
back to life when it gets watered again.
Our lawn lives next to our organic garden, where we grow food in every season. Colven and I go out and lay on it and check out all the life in the lawn. It's an amazing wealth of insects and worms. We also lay on it just to take in the clouds, or talk about funny silly things, or tickle. I can picture us out there in just a few short years musing about the meaning of life and all that it holds.
I love our lawn.


My friend Sarah and I have decided, for the sake of sanity, to start a Tuesday exchange with our boys. Our first day was yesterday. I had both boys for the day, and it was fabulous! Marek and Colven get along so well (they always have, ever since the beginning). I set up some paints and board canvases under the shade canopy on the lawn and they had a blast painting. Colven said they were making art. :) I agree.

Monday, August 25, 2008

A funny...

The chicken coop, in progress.

Cyrus worked the bulk of the day on Saturday on our chicken coop for our family of chickens. Cyrus just doesn't build things.... he BUILDS things. He is so creative and so good at building that he makes the entire process seem easy. (it isn't, I've tried!) We were going to try and use all reclaimed lumber, but in the end Cyrus couldn't bear to slice up some of the bigger pieces to make little studs, so we did buy some mini-studs. All of the cedar and redwood, however, are reclaimed deomolition lumber from various job sites, as are the greenhouse windows.
These are the future nesting boxes:

My contribution

Friday, August 22, 2008

Children create the most beautiful flower gardens

Even a favorite toy is abandoned when there is the option to create!

Savannah came over to play yesterday afternoon, and after a good romp in the mud Colven and Savannah decided to plant a flower garden in the loose dirt of a garden pathway. They worked together so well.

And created a true masterpiece!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Another good use for an easel

Yesterday I used the easel as a safe place to put tomatoes from the garden, since as they ripen they are being eaten alive so I must pick when semi-green still.
This afternoon I cleared them all off and put them on the outdoor table and brought the paints out for Colven. I went inside to make a snack for us. After a few mintues he came in, grabbed my hand and brought me outside. He had moved all of the paints and the paper onto the table and all of the tomatoes onto the easel.
"No paint mama, mae-toes" and nodded yes.

Priorities of a toddler :)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

We have chickens!

We did it! We took the plunge!
We have 10 Buff Orpingtons
2 Golden Laced Wyandottes
2 Americaunas (I think I'm going to add 4 more today though)
Aren't they adorable?!
They range between 5 days and 2.5 weeks old.

Colven is completely smitten.

Friday, August 15, 2008

The County Fair

I haven't had so much fun at the fair (and I haven't missed a single year in a looong time) for a long time! When I watch Colven and his cousin, Savannah, having so much fun together I can't help but reminisce about when my brother and I were little at the fair together. And now our little ones are viewing the whole shebang just like we used to. I'll have to do an entire fair post, but this image from tonight is so fitting because while it is all fresh in my mind this photo, not unlike the fair, is a big blur of fun and rides and animals and lights and...

What a fabulous Friday night!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Sex in the garden

(I'm talking pumpkin fertilization)
Look at how our pumpkin vine has grown!
It is covered in male and female blossoms.
The male blossoms are found close to the core of the plant and are born on long, slender stems.

The female blossoms are found farther out on the vine and have a little pumpkin bud beneath it, a bud that will only continue to grow if it is fertilized with pollen from the male blossom.

This is the stigma of a female flower:

And this is the anther of a male:

To ensure pollination, this morning Cyrus took a fresh, bright male flower off the vine, stripped the petals away, and rubbed the male anthers on the stigma of a fresh and bright female.

I can't wait to be posting progress photographs of how big the pumpkins are!

Monday, August 11, 2008


A few years ago Cyrus brought home some fresh nopal leaves and we set them on the soil in the corner of our veggie garden. I just harvested the first leaf off of them today! I had previously refrained from any harvesting so the plants could establish a good, strong base from which to harvest future leaves.

I decided to make some quesadillas for lunch today with them.

Nopales Quesadillas!

I picked one leaf, being careful to not get poked
(but was poked anyway of course)

I shaved off all of the spines with a sharp paring knife, trimmed the outer edge, and thinly sliced them.
Then I sauteed them for about 5 minutes in a bit of grapeseed oil along with some slivered elephant garlic and white onion.

After laying some cheese in the tortillas I spooned the mixture in and threw some halved yellow pear tomatoes on top.

YUMMM Colven ate an entire quesadilla all by himself.

Worm bin!

Look what Cyrus and Colven built yesterday!

All materials were reclaimed!

Now I just need to break my habit of throwing our compost items off the edge of our deck! haha. I'm excited to load the bin up and start collecting worm compost and castings in as little as 4 months from now.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Ode to the cloth bag

My sister-in-law recently did a post on her blog about some new cloth bags she had discovered. She renewed my interest in the quest for the perfect cloth bag. Through my search I found that there is not one, there are many! SO MANY!

Here is the first type of cloth grocery bag I ever purchased. From Whole Foods, obviously, for 99 cents. I ended up purchasing up to about 10 of them, as at the time they were the only bag available. I think I was pregnant at the time, and I loved that I could throw the long strap over my shoulder to pick up just those few little things (ohhhh... the old days!) at the store. I loved everything about them (especially the statement I was making as not many people used cloth then) except for the strange smell they had. But I could deal with it!

Then one day, I saw THIS bag! It was sleek, it was glamorous, it was NEW! I had an infant snuggled to me in the Moby Wrap and this just seemed so .... beautiful! (haha) I purchased 3 of them. They are still my favorites. More sturdy, more stable. Not smelly. A bit bigger.

Oh and more attractive and I love that the recycled content is proudly displayed.
Again, these cost 99 cents each!

Then one day I was at Ikea. I couldn't help but go in since I was driving right by it.
I saw these bags and WOW they were so great! STILL my favorite farmer's market bags. They are SO BIG and hold SO MUCH. And they are stupid looking enough to be cute.
And I was satisfied.

Then I had to go and read about these cute little bags that folded up to nothing.
I needed some!

These little bags with two wide shoulder straps are such a great size and easy to use and so convenient to carry along since they fold up to be so small.
But my quest didn't end there. I had a yearning, a hunger!
Which led me to...

This next bag, my new favorite. I love the colors, the shoulder patch, the single long strap so I can put it over my neck...

The way it "tumbles" up

And how the bag that holds it together doubles as an inner pocket. I never carry a purse (not enough hands) so this little pocket holds my keys and chapstick.

This bag will always be a special bag for me... since it was given to us when our son was born. It also turns out to be a fantastic milk bag for those heavy glass jars!

These organic cotton mesh and muslin drawstring produce bags are FABULOUS! Even when I had gone completely to cloth, I sometimes HAD to use a plastic bag for mushrooms or little tomatoes, etc. NOT ANYMORE!

Oh cloth bag, how far you have come!
Now if everyone could find you and eliminate mountains of waste.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

We made pizza dough today.
So we could have pizza for dinner, per request of Colven. He kneaded the dough and brought me the basil! When I asked for oregano he looked at me with the "huh?" face and brought me a marker. But he knows his basil. He even brought me two types.


Colven, sliding on his own. He had requested that I come to the top of the slide for kisses. I sat and watched him go down the slide without me there waiting for him at the bottom. He went round and round until I remembered to take the camera out of my pocket and capture a small moment in the growing process of my boy.

Here he is.

Pancakes and syrup

Cyrus asked if I would make some Nanaberry syrup this summer. I made only two containers since I wasn't sure how my first attempt would come out, using only honey to sweeten. I figured I could always make more but then I ended up canning the rest of the bounty as preserves.
This morning Colven requested pancakes for breakfast... I coudn't help but break into the syrup. I was trying so hard to wait until winter haha. NOW I really understand the philosophy behind canning cupboards: Out of sight, out of mind! (kidding :)

Colven ate 5 pancakes and licked his plate!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Spots of rain at sunset

Wasn't I *just* complaining that we didn't have any beans yet?

I obviously wan't looking close enough!
We feasted on them last night.
Butter, garlic, onions, beans.
Oh my.

No grocery store for a month

Who came up with this nutty idea anyway?

Well me of course. My intention was to reduce my household waste, reduce my relatively new found reliance on packaged products, spark some creativity to come up with snacks and meals from our garden and farmer's markets and farm stands and local houses where I can get eggs that I trust (Colven and I get to visit with the chickens even! We leave our cash in the fridge and leave with eggs!).

MY PLAN HAS WORKED! genius! ;)

Here is what I miss so far:

-I am out of my favorite salt.
-We are out of our favorite cheese.
-I am low on milk and cream.
-I am low on butter.
-Almost out of oatmeal.
-I love the meat counter at Whole Foods and I miss it terribly.

What I am happy about:

-We have almost ZERO garbage waste!
-We have ONLY been buying local eggs and produce.
-I have greatly reduced my weekly grocery bill. That extra $ has gone into SAVINGS!
-All of us have been eating better.
-The local pier has insanely good fish for crazy decent prices. And I *know* it has been line caught!

-Nothing from our garden has gone to waste this year. We used to be realllly bad about not harvesting "excess." Without the convenience of the grocery store, I am actually watching for things to be ripe and ready to pick.
-Every dollar I have spent in the past few weeks has supported the farmers who live and work all around me.

What I am unhappy about:

-Without careful planning meals can really suck.
-I know that my petroleum consumption has gone up since I drive to several places to buy our food instead of one big place.

more later... a toddler wants attention :)

Sunday, August 3, 2008

How I cope

with a cranky child who refuses to sleep or eat anything but popsicles?

Bring out the art supplies! and let the paint fly