Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Quilt in Progress

Been working on this one (in 5 minutes spurts) for a while. I'm proud to say the quilt top is completed. Sadly, that's only half the work. Obviously, I used Denyse Schmidt's Hop Skip Jump pattern (although I did it freehand). I love the fabrics in this quilt. It's a baby (boy) quilt for a good friend of Ron's. I know she will like it-- but I doubt she has any idea of the work that goes into making a quilt! Does anyone?
Posted by Picasa

Suggestions Please!

Something is eating my tomatoes! Any ideas? I've seen chipmunks and rabbits in my neighborhood (and many many birds) but I have not seen anything in my garden. There are bugs but nothing that I've specifically noticed hanging out on the plants. Maybe slugs? I left some beer out for them but nothing has crawled inside. Also, are the "rips" in my plant leaves from pests or wind? Help help help!
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Freezer Paper Stencil: Kids' Artwork

I've been meaning to do this project ever since Talia started developing representational art skills. I gave her a thick sharpie and had her draw on freezer paper. Then I used an exacto knife to cut out the drawing and ironed it onto a T shirt. I only took a photo of the beginning of her drawing (Sorry). I edited out a lot of the elements (a teddy bear, a house, beds, a flower) for simplicity and I moved Alex's name to the bottom (it basically said taliaalex without any space). That is Talia's exact handwriting and her exact drawing of herself and her brother. I painted the stencil with fabric paint, let it dry and pulled the freezer paper off. As Talia might say, "Tah-dah!"
Posted by Picasa

Monday, June 16, 2008

Garden Update

Things seem to be going well. I'm still amazed that putting seeds into soil can actually result in food. It seems so basic and yet so foreign. We've had quite a bit of rain and wind but everything looks ok. I see actual tomatoes on the vines and arugula that I can already eat. I have to force myself to actually USE the herbs instead of just letting them sit there. I feel like if I use them now I won't have any later. I have to convince myself this is not true. I planted basil and parsley from seed recently because I know I won't have enough from the transplants. When I use fresh herbs I use a LOT! Talia and I printed out pictures of vegetables, colored them, laminated them and attached popsicle sticks with medical tape to use as garden stakes. Hopefully they will last a while in spite of this strange and rainy weather.
Posted by Picasa

Sandhill Cranes in my neighborhood!

I love the entrance to my neighborhood. Everyday, often several times per day, I get to pass by this grasslands area that is home to many different types of birds. The prairie grasses change each week-- from purple to white to yellow. It really delights me and I usually drive by quite s-l-o-w-l-y. In the fall (or was it winter?) I saw a bald eagle there. I thought I must be crazy, because where I'm from bald eagles live only in the Grand Canyon or someplace exotic like that-- certainly not your backyard. I was so convinced, however, that I looked it up online and sure enough, there is a large population of them that visit a town about an hour from here. I was comforted to learn I wasn't crazy! A few weeks ago I saw a crane in the grasslands. Overjoyed, I told Ron and he nodded knowingly and said I must have seen a Canadian Goose. Luckily we spotted it together a week or two later when we were taking a family bike ride. I was vindicated! Then I got a post from the neighborhood association proclaiming the sightings as true as well as announcing that a baby Sandhill Crane had been spotted. Driving by the other day I saw the whole family of cranes just hanging out, presumably looking for food. I grabbed my camera and took a few shots. They are gorgeous and move gracefully. I can totally see how birdwatching can be extremely exciting. I see golden finches, little swallows, red-winged blackbirds and cardinals on a daily basis. Two days ago I saw a hummingbird. This is something I love about Wisconsin.
Posted by Picasa

What We're Eating: Spring Panzanella Salad

I'm 2 for 2 this week! The Lentil Rhubarb Soup was a huge hit and this Spring Panzanella Salad went over really well also. The recipe is from It's the second or third recipe I've tried from that blog and those were good too. The only difference I made to this recipe was... I used frozen peas because I couldn't find fresh. It was quite easy to make and quick to clean up.
Posted by Picasa

Friday, June 13, 2008

Spring Fling Round Robin-- Received!

This is the quilt I received from the Spring Fling Round Robin. I have to say I didn't particularly notice it as the progress was being posted on the site. I think the small pictures there don't do it justice (so make sure you click on this picture to take a better look). Holding it in my hands I absolutely LOVE IT. The fabrics are fantastic. It's a great color combination (the patterned green pinwheel is my fave followed by the print in the outer border). I love how the quilt combines traditional blocks, like the pinwheels and a basket block, with modern fabrics the raw applique butterflies (such a nice touch!) and modern quilting. It's free-motion machine quilted which is a complete mystery to me. I once bought a darning foot to try it out myself and it got lost in our move. Unless you have a longarm machine I don't see how it can be done so well (do you have a longarm Kathy?). Thank you thank you thank you to everyone who worked on this quilt. I loved being part of this challenge. It's great to work with other women to create beautiful art- especially since I don't really know any other quilters in the "real world". You have become my friends and I look forward to working with you again!
Posted by Picasa

Thursday, June 12, 2008

What We're Eating: Lentil Rhubarb Soup

Despite the tornado warnings, hail, gusty winds and torrential rain, we picked up our first CSA box today. In it we found spinach, rhubarb, radishes, chives, mixed greens, garlic scapes, a basil plant and fresh chive goat cheese. It was pretty much what I expected (but what are garlic scapes?) and I was prepared with a lentil rhubarb soup recipe. I love to cook but I don't enjoy baking so I didn't want to make a rhubarb crisp or anything like that. Recently I had tried a lentil rhubarb side dish at Whole Foods and I was hoping to make something like that-- a savory, non-sweet rhubarb dish. I googled "lentil rhubarb" and got lots of hits. I printed out a few and decided on Lentil Rhubarb Soup with Creme Fraiche. It was a Cooking Light recipe so I tweaked a few things to make it less light, mainly using olive oil instead of cooking spray to saute the vegetables. I can say, without a doubt, that it was ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS. Here's the recipe, reprinted without permission...

1 1/2 cups boiling water
3/4 cup dried petite green lentils (I used regular old dried lentils)
Cooking spray (I used olive oil)
2 cups finely chopped carrot
1 3/4 cups finely chopped celery
1 1/2 cups finely chopped red onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 cups chopped rhubarb (about 12 ounces) (This turned out to be the entire portion of rhubarb in the CSA box)
4 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth (I used veggie broth)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
6 tablespoons crème fraîche Dill sprigs (optional)

1. Pour 1 1/2 cups boiling water over lentils in a small bowl; let stand 10 minutes.

2. Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add carrot, celery, onion, and parsley to pan; sauté for 4 minutes. Add rhubarb, and sauté for 3 minutes. Drain lentils, and add lentils to pan. Stir in chicken broth and salt; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 35 minutes or until lentils are tender.

3. Remove from heat; let cool 5 minutes. Place 3 cups lentil mixture in a blender or food processor. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth. Return pureed mixture to pan; stir in pepper. (I used a stick blender)

4. Combine chopped dill and crème fraîche in a small bowl. Serve crème fraîche mixture on top of soup; garnish with dill sprigs, if desired.

6 servings (serving size: about 1 1/3 cups soup and 1 tablespoon crème fraîche mixture) (Um... 3 servings in my house...)

Nutritional Information
CALORIES 187(29% from fat); FAT 6.1g (sat 3.3g,mono 1.4g,poly 0.4g); IRON 2.2mg; CHOLESTEROL 14mg; CALCIUM 96mg; CARBOHYDRATE 25.4g; SODIUM 523mg; PROTEIN 8.5g; FIBER 7.3g
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


Perhaps I should start strapping him in. Every time I turn around he's on a chair, a step-stool, a table, the couch, the stairs. He even used his baby chair to climb over the side of the couch. Problem is he'll fall right off. He has no idea how to get down but isn't afraid to try many techniques (head first is a favorite). Talia never climbed ANYTHING. I was still helping her onto the couch at 3 years old. Notice our new "stair gate" (a big piece of cardboard painted by Talia and me). It's working so far to keep him off the stairs. I used to consider the high chair a safe place for him while I unloaded the dishwasher (another favorite climbing spot) but I took the straps off because T never needed them. Now they're back on but semi-broken and need to be pulled through the seat cover which I now have to take off to wash all the time. And still no walking...
Posted by Picasa

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Farmer's Market

Words can't fully describe the Farmer's Market here in Madison. If you haven't been there, you just can't know. On Saturday we went for the first time this year. It was amazing as always. It was packed with people (before 9 am, no less), color, and energy-- not to mention the produce, local cheese and meats, bakery items (cheesy bread!), flowers, local artists and many political supporters. It's always hot, always crowded and so hard to manage with the kids. Usually we park on the family on the lawn of the Capitol Building and each take turns wandering around for a while. It's best to meet friends so the kids can play. Ron is pretty claustrophobic there but I just love to go. Maybe next time I'll leave the family at home so I can really get some shopping done! Our CSA starts this week so we're very excited about that...
All in all we had another nice weekend despite the odd weather (rain rain rain, some tornadoes thrown in). We went to the pool Saturday afternoon only to turn around and go straight home when the thunder started. Luckily we ran into friends and we all had pizza and playtime at our house. School starts again this week. Hopefully Talia will like her new classroom and not give me too much trouble. It's all I want from school- for her to not cry when I drop her off. I don't give it a likely chance but you never know...

Saturday, June 07, 2008

It's all happening

My garden is growing! Of course I assumed the transplants (tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, some herbs) would flourish but for some reason I didn't think anything would actually from from seed. I'm amazed that the arugula I sprinkled into the dirt is growing in a sprinkle pattern and the radishes are growing in rows! I can hardly bear to thin them out but I know I must. We've had a ton of rain this week so I haven't been able to get in there yet. This is all very exciting to me! Now I have to keep that bunny I saw out of there...
Posted by Picasa

Sunday, June 01, 2008

What we've been missing

What a nice weekend! We seemed to have the perfect balance of work (completely organized the garage, did a bunch of laundry, gardening, kept the house mostly clean, cooked some meals) and play (a birthday party, family bike ride, outing to the Terrace with friends, new friends over for fun in the kiddie pool). Great weather, mostly good behavior from the kids. Both kids asleep by 8:30 and a movie (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly-- excellent!) for the adults. I may have to take Talia out of school completely. This no nap/ early bedtime thing is fantastic. I feel rejuvenated.
Posted by Picasa