Thursday, July 31, 2008

Home Sweet Home

I can never seem to get a photo of the two of them looking at me and smiling at the same time. This will have to do. They were both "reading" books on the steps today. I couldnt' resist snapping a few pictures.
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From the Garden

Came home to many tomatoes, two yellow squash and an eggplant (not pictured). I can't believe that I most likely won't have to buy tomatoes for the rest of the summer. I'm starting to recover my $400 investment in the garden (that's just the cost of the bed that was built-- not the plants, seeds, equipment, gardening books, etc.). I figure it will take a few years to grow enough vegetables to pay for itself. What I'm should really factor in is the wonder, amazement, satisfaction and excitement (minus my fear of bugs) that the garden has given me so far. A lifelong passion has been born-- no doubt!
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First lollipop

Alex was sick with Roseola (I think) during the drive to NJ and the first few days. My parents wanted to know why I was so concerned about him-- even though he had a fever he wasn't acting cranky. The problem was he was just laying around and not exploring or getting into trouble-- that's how I knew he was really sick. It's the quiet types of sickness that scare me most. Lethargy is not preferable to crankiness. Not until you know they are ok, anyway. Here he received his first lollipop to make him feel better. A few days later he broke out into a rash and a few days after that he was fine. As far as I know, no one we came in contact with got sick. Whew!
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Beach Time and Friend Time

This is the first time we really let Alex play in the sand. He loved it; we did not love cleaning him... The bottom two shots are at the Levy's and the Munson's. The girls had pizza in Sabrina's princess nightgowns and then a big sundae bar at Lily's house-- Thanks for having us over! It was great to see you!
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Big Deal

It's hard to blog after a vacation. I want to organize my thoughts and write about the great time we had, how visiting family feels so good, about how crazy we are to drive STRAIGHT from Wisconsin to NJ for 15 hours and then BACK from NY to WI a week later-- straight through, no breaks. Visiting friends is great for us and great for Talia too. I can't believe how grown up the kids all are. But I'll never get time to really organize my thoughts and write them down so I think pictures will have to do. It's much easier to write about the little things in life than the big ones. And, of course, I have to get the photo CD from my sis but a few pictures will suffice for now.

One major thing we did on vacation was get Talia's ears pierced. We had talked about it for a while and I told her when she was ready we would get it done. While looking at some earrings in a mall in NJ, I asked her if she was interested. She was. I mean, where else would the daughter of a Jersey girl get her ears pierced but at a mall in NJ? We went to Claire's and got the process rolling. Talia picked out cute little pink and white jeweled flowers (same as her friend Maya, of course and BTW, what happened to suffering for two months with the boring little gold ball earrings? How easy our kids have it!). She was given a lollipop. She held my hand but didn't even squeeze it. I would say she was brave but she didn't even really consider this a situation where she needed to be brave. We had role-played getting her earrings done many times-- like you might role play getting a shot at the doctor, complete with strong pinches to indicate how much it might hurt-- but she really wasn't stressed at all. it was very simple and she was a really big girl. She also lets me clean them and turn them without a fuss. No big deal. I was four when I got my ears pierced (in a mall in NJ) and now she has too!
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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Laugh and laugh and laugh

The kids are getting along really well these days. In this picture Alex is using Talia's arm as a phone. She thought it was pretty funny. I really try to cherish these times instead of being stressed out about stupid shit. The house will either be clean or it won't. We will either eat a healthy dinner or we will eat out. We will definitely forget something important when we leave for vacation. Unless it's one of the kid's blankets, everything else can be bought. You can only be so prepared. Wish us luck on our long drive. Hopefully the person watching the house won't let my garden die and the tomatoes won't ALL ripen while I'm gone. I'm excited to see family and friends!
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Saturday, July 12, 2008


Finished this baby quilt for Ron's friend. I actually added a patterned brown/green binding and ripped the whole thing off because I didn't like it. At every step of making a quilt and I have to remind myself that it's the little things-- like ironing EACH PIECE at several stages of the process and BASTING it with a thousand pins and GOING BACK and redoing a seam that isn't straight is what makes it a great quilt. I would have definitely kicked myself if I left that binding on. It just didn't look right. It's decently sized, maybe 4 by 5 feet? Now I just need to add a label and wrap it up.

I actually DREW the quilting pattern (a sort of zig zag) on the top with one of Talia's washable Crayolas. In orange. I knew it would wash out but I was still really nervous. This is the first time I washed a quilt before giving it away. I really like the crisp look of an unwashed quilt but, of course I had to wash the marker out.

This morning I drew out our family picnic quilt and tried to figure out the measurements. It's going to be big- 60 by 84. I even started cutting. Now I just wonder where I'm going to find about 20 (ok, 40) hours to make it.
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Friday, July 11, 2008

Fruits of my Labor



Considering that I had very low expectations from my first garden (I just wanted a couple of tomatoes) I am extremely pleased with the harvest thus far. I had (have) more arugula than I could have ever used (now it's getting past it's prime-- what can I do with it?), the radishes were fantastic, the herbs are abundant and very useful. I'm not too sure about the eggplant and the cucumbers are completely shading my zucchini plants (who knew cucumbers had such huge leaves?) but I suspect my neighbor will have more zucchini than she can use. If the cucumbers do turn out I will have lots lots lots of them (how many cucumbers can a family really consume in a week-- 4? 6?).

My first ripe tomato. It was shocking to see the flash of red in my garden and I gasped loudly. I think I even scared Alex. I brought it inside and I was excited to show it to Talia. I worried that her response would be underwhelmed but she was extremely excited and surprised. She wanted to touch it and even taste it. She had a bit of a sour face when she ate it but she said, "Mom I like tomatoes now!" so I guess it wasn't too bad. I think she might really enjoy plopping some sun warmed cherry toms into her mouth. Of course we are going away soon-- just when the tomatoes will be ripe for picking. Luckily a neighbor has been gracious enough to offer to water the garden, pick up our CSA share and eat whatever is ready! Looks like I may end up with WAY more tomatoes than I can handle!

Lastly, I'm pretty sure the "pest" I thought I had in my garden was hail damage. I haven't seen anything else eat my tomatoes or damage my leaves. Nothing, that is, until the Japanese Beetle invasion of July 08. Hopefully the traps will do their job...
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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Plays Well With Others

The kids played together for a least a half hour on the fatboy beanbag (Ron's Father's Day gift). They just kept making each other laugh. It was such a nice treat to just let them do their own thing. They are truly in love (for now). I realized I hardly have any recent pictures of Talia on the blog. She doesn't really smile for my camera anymore and makes stupid faces. It's annoying!
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Saturday, July 05, 2008

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Note to Self

No more Nutrigrain bars for Alex. This resulted in a morning bath and laundering of the high chair cover. Very sticky.
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Wednesday, July 02, 2008

What We're Eating: Radish Feta Salad

I grew something! These are the last of the radishes from my garden. I can't believe how easy they were to grow. I never really cared much for radishes-- I only planted them because I heard they were easy and really quick. I loved watching them grow and it was very satisfying to have a crop of anything so early in the season. I have definitely grown to enjoy eating them as well. I sliced these up, drizzled them with olive oil, lemon zest and juice, salt, pepper and fresh mint. We've had mint growing on the side of our house from the previous owners. We have a TON so if you need some, let me know! There seems to be two kinds-- regular mint like you get in the store and maybe a spearmint as well? or a chocolate mint (is there such a thing?) I have soooo much. I love not having to buy herbs at a store. They are so very overpriced. I have basil, parsley, sage, oregano, rosemary and thyme now. I have a little tarragon but it doesn't seem to be growing. If anyone has a good herb cookbook to recommend, let me know. I'd like to use more of the herbs I have. Also, I now have an empty spot in my garden so if anyone has an idea of what I can put in there that is appropriate for this part of the growing season, please tell me!
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What We're Eating: Fresh Peas

Ron and I picked these up from a farmstand on the side of the road. Of course they only had 5 pound bags. That's a LOT of peas! I froze some (blanched them for two minutes and then put them in a ziploc bag in the freezer) and also made Risi e Bisi, an italian pea risotto. This isn't the recipe I used but it's pretty close...

Risi e Bisi -- Italian style rice and peas

1 quart stock (I use Knorr's Vegetarian Cubes-- high in salt but I can't find another boullion I like)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 rounded cup Arborio rice
Salt and pepper
1 cup frozen peas (I used 2 cups of fresh)
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Place stock in a small pot and warm over low heat.

Heat a medium sized skillet over medium heat. Add extra-virgin olive oil 2 turns of the pan, and garlic. Saute garlic 1 minute, then add Arborio. Toast the Arborio rice 2 minutes, then ladle in 1/3 of the stock. Bring to a bubble. Stir rice occasionally, allowing the rice to get starchy and the stock to cook into the rice. Add more stock when rice starts to become dry. Continue stirring and ladling broth until rice is al dente, 22 minutes. Stir in peas and cheese and season with salt and pepper, to your taste. Serve immediately.
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What We're Eating: Garlic Scape Pesto

We've been getting garlic scapes from our CSA for three weeks. The first week I just kept adding them to salads and sautes. The second week they sat in my fridge until the third week when I finally decided to make something with them. The pesto turned out to be delicious. I mean, add oil, lemon, salt, pepper and parmesan to anything and it will be good. The recipe called for spinach but I used arugula fresh from my garden. I served it over tortellini and spread some of bread as well. Talia ate it the first night (a miracle considering that while she eats pretty healthily she does not eat foods that have more than one ingredient in them at a time) and Alex ate some leftovers. It is fabulously lemony.

Garlic Scape Pesto with Parmesan (from the Vermont Valley CSA Website)

1 cup (packed) fresh spinach (I used arugula)
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 LB garlic scapes; use bottom part below the bulge. Cut into 1 inch lengths
3-4 T. lemon juice (I think I may have zested the lemon as well)
1 cup olive oil (I hope I used less but I didn't measure)
2 cups parmesan
1/2 t. salt (I'm sure I used more)
20 grindings of pepper

In food processor, put in spinach and walnuts; process until finely chopped. Add scapes and process again until very well ground and blended. With motor running, add lemon juice and olive oil. Scrape down sides and add parmesan, salt, and pepper; process briefly to combine

Makes about 2 cups, or enough for one full ice cube tray. Freeze.

Can use as a spread on pizza or bruschetta; toss with pasta, fresh tomatoes, and feta or mozzarella; stir into mayonnaise for sandwich spread or potato salad dressing.
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