Monday, June 29, 2009

sneak peek

Here's a sneak peak of the big, big, big project. I've overcome the intimidation that precedes any big project and have made cuts in the fabric. Not only cuts, but some pinning and sewing.

This part is almost done. Now only 4 more parts to go. Looks like everyone is getting a PB & J for dinner for the next week.

new things

A few new things have been added to the shop recently.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

what will it take?

Do you think if shopping were this fun and spontaneous Greg would agree to go shopping with me more often?



I can't pick on him today because he did go to Target and the grocery store yesterday with me.

With minimal harassment.


Cool video.

P.S. Does this mean I can bust out my gold lame pants now? I've been saving them for a day like this!

Friday, June 26, 2009

remember when your mama used to cut your hair?

I used to hate it when my mom cut my hair. It took so long. It always ended up short ~ sorta Dorothy Hamill. I know you know what I'm talking about! Plus I got in trouble for raising my eyebrows when she cut my bangs. Take a minute to think about how cute I must have looked after that!

The kids usually get to go to the salon for their hair cuts. But I was thinking I could just do it myself. I've done it once before. And before they decided to grow out their bangs I cut their bangs frequently.

Then I was thinking even more (dangerous levels of thinking going on here) and decided that I can do it on the back patio, then sweep the hair into the grass. Less mess. I informed Greg of my brilliant plan and he suggested just cutting it IN the grass. Crap! Why didn't I think of that? My plan was to do it as the sun was setting, so it wouldn't be super hot & sunny. For weeks now, that hasn't worked out for me. Not willing to wait any longer, I got the kids up super early this morning to give them hair cuts before Papa came to collect them for a sleep over.

I woke Heather up at 6:15. I know, cruel and unusual punishment.

When I told her to wake up so I could cut her hair, she was actually quite willing.

After giving her mom just a little sass she told me it was okay with her if I cut her hair all the time. Why? To save money and to take pictures of her for the blog she told me. Plus she was enamoured by the idea that the birds may use her hair for their next.

Heather's cut turned out to be pretty easy. Whew! Cuz the last time I cut all of their hair it took forever.

Stephanie was decidedly less thrilled about getting up so early.

She wanted to know why I didn't just take them to the salon. Because I'm your mother and my main job is to torture you. It's been happening for generations all over the world, why stop now?

There we go ~ a little bit better attitude.

Stephanie's took a little longer, but still seemed so much easier than the last time.

We ended up on the patio & not the grass because I couldn't remember if the sprinklers were supposed to come on one more time or not.

So maybe they didn't get a fancy wash with a little bit of a scalp massage. But when else do you get to have your hair cut in your jammies while the birds sing and you watch the sun come up over the mountain? Oh, and then there's the hug and the kiss from the hair dresser after the cut!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

blueberry syrup

This past weekend we made blueberry syrup. This was a very quick, simple recipe. I challenge you to try it while blueberries are reasonably (sort of) priced. This recipe is from The Complete Book of Year-Round Small-Batch Preserving.


2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
1 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup water
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Combine blueberries, sugar, and water in a medium saucepan.

Add cinnamon,

and lemon juice.

Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat, cover and boil gently for 10 minutes or until fruit is tender.

Caution: While waiting that 10 minutes, do not idly step outside on the back patio with your spouse to admire the growing corn and watch the birds gracefully dip in and out of your trees and yard while they sing playfully to each other. We walked in to find our syrup has surpassed the *gentle* boil and was raging over the sides of the pan.

Strain through a lined sieve; discard solids. We anticipated a lot of solids, so we used a potato ricer to squish out as much juice as possible over the cheesecloth covered strainer.

While fun, the potato ricer is not necessary.

You can just as easily mash out the liquid through the strainer using the back of a spoon.

Pour syrup into a clean jar with a tight-fitting lid and store in the refrigerator. Our vinaigrette cruet does the job nicely.

Makes 1 cup.

See how easy? Quite tasty too! I'm thinking you can substitute raspberries or blackberries for the blueberries and get the same results.

Monday, June 22, 2009

big, big, big

I have a big project in the works. Really big. I washed, folded, and petted the fabric. That's as far as I've gotten.

It's a big project. An important project. It's making me nervous. I think I might pee my pants.

This, on the other hand, is a smallish project that is turning out to be bigger than I planned. I've started on this one. I should be finished sewing it today. It's for the kids. They will be so surprised because I told them it was for the shop.

And then, hold onto your hat, cuz there will be tutorial in the works.

more prairie adventures

This past Thursday, the kids and I checked out the weekly Farmer's Market. I had high hopes of being able to buy super fresh produce for super cheap. Greg had a new project in the works and our garden was not going to be able to provide a large enough crop.

The Farmer's Market was a little bit pitiful. There was only one stall that had anything I'd consider buying. So we did. They gave us samples of some huge strawberries. Oh, they were good. Stephanie and Heather managed to bat their eyelashes at the grandma-lady and get more than one sample.

A couple of Saturdays ago when I was gone for a while for the kids' dress rehearsal for their dance recital, Greg went to the library. I came home to find him knee deep in books about canning. He told me that he wanted to try canning. I got so excited and told him that I had always wanted to try canning. He told me to back off cuz this was his project. Aw, heck.

We couldn't find a pressure canning pot ~ or any canning pot for that matter ~ in town, so we ordered one. We figured out the cheapest place to get the jars. The canner came Thursday, so off we went to the market.

Saturday morning there was another Farmer's Market at a community center. We got cherries and blueberries there.

We were ambitious. We picked out five recipes to try.

Look at those tomatoes, Kim! Although these are quite good, I am happy to say that the ones we grew and the one I got from my student tasted better than these. Wait a minute, I paid for these! Well, I'm happy that Greg is turning out to be quite the farmer. Next year we will plant far more tomato plants. The one we have this year got so heavy that the cage couldn't hold it up and it toppled over. We don't think it will give us any more tomatoes this year.

Even though Greg declared this his project, he was happy to receive help from the girls and me. We even let them use the sharp knives. We all tested the fruit as it was being prepared. See Stephanie chewing? During the cherry pitting, I just about got myself in trouble because I tested a lot one or two of those cherries. I was suddenly reminded about a house my family lived in for a few years when I was a kid that had a cherry tree. The cherries off that tree were divine. I had forgotten about that tree. These cherries tasted the same.

The kids were such good helpers. I had already planned a shopping trip with Suzanne for the afternoon, so for a while it was just them and Daddy cookin' in the kitchen.

Greg is patient about letting them help in the kitchen.

I'm so paranoid about them helping around the stove. Greg is far more laid back about it but thinks my rules are reasonable. They must stand on a stool and pull their hair back.

Some projects required a long wait time until the next step. Stephanie kept notes about when the project would be ready for the next step and taped them on the cabinet doors for everyone to clearly see.

We canned Saturday and Sunday. Here's what we made:

Strawberry Preserves Supreme

We haven't tasted this yet. It takes about 2 weeks to fully set up. We got 11 half-pint jars of this recipe.

Apple Pie Conserve

We had a little extra of this that didn't fit into a jar. We had some on biscuits Sunday morning. It's like apple pie on a biscuit. So good. This only made 4 jars.

Blueberry Syrup

Technically, this is not a canning project, but the recipe was in the book and we had enough blueberries.

Blueberry Orange Marmalade

We had a little extra of this too. We haven't tried this one yet. This was in a short batch recipe book. It was supposed to make 3 cups, but we only got two.

Maraschino Cherries

This batch was supposed to make more, but we only got 3 jars. Again, a little extra that didn't fit in the jars. We had it on ice cream last night. Do you think Greg will notice if I hid in the closet with a jar of this and a spoon? We need to get more cherries.

Overall, canning was a success. We finished all the projects we set out to accomplish this weekend. Greg has decided that he prefers the larger batches over the short batches ~ more bang for your time. Greg got to spend Father's Day weekend doing exactly what he wanted to do. Greg said he really enjoyed this project because it was less about the cooking and more about the science.

Next up? I think we should try something with tomatoes. Or maybe peaches. There are so many tempting recipes!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

are you paying her?

So, you know Greg is a.l.w.a.y.s on my case about getting places on time. And you know, I'm typically late. However, I am almost never late for work. I leave later than I'd like, but I'm still rolling in the parking lot in time for me to be on time, maybe even 10 minutes early. I know, shocking! My aspirations of being really early to work just never pan out. Generally, we need to be in the car no later than 8:00 a.m. and all is good.

The other day I had finished getting the girls' hair fixed and I was getting dressed and doing the last minute primp before making my lunch. Stephanie comes careening in my room and frantically says, "Mom, it's 7:43 ~ let's go!" Huh? Ok, thanks, Big Ben. Last time I checked I wasn't late ~ yet.

Greg is also always telling the kids (and maybe me) to turn off the lights when we leave a room. We They are really bad about leaving them on.

Just now she comes upstairs and asks me why I'm up here on the computer (just checking email real quick) and my sewing machine light and closet light (iron is in there) are on. I asked her if she is the electricity police.

Greg, are you paying her to harass me or what?!

strike up the band

and cue the choir!


I'm on track break!

If you listen carefully, you can hear the angels singing.

I went back to bed after Greg left this morning (just kidding, honey). Now I don't know what to do first ~ sew, paint, scrapbook, do laundry, read a book, organize my material collection, clean the craft room, have a nap. Be on the lookout for some fun projects I will be working on during track break. Some will be for us and some will be for the shop.

All I know for sure is that today I will not leave the house or get dressed. I will consider brushing my hair and my teeth before I walk to the mailbox later this afternoon.

The kids have already been outside to play and declared it too hot. They have decided to stay inside all day too.

Monday, June 15, 2009

wipe out - an update

Remember the story about Mr. Strange and his wipe out?

Right. I feel like I owe it to Mr. Strange to provide a public explanation.

Because what either you or I thought happened, did not.

This past week during a bathroom break he came up to me and said it again. Again! At first I just told him to go on into the bathroom. But then...curiosity got the best of me & I stopped him. I noticed he put his hand up to his head when he said it. I asked him what he meant by "wipe out." Then he explained to me, the very best he could, what he meant. Basically, he wasn't paying attention and "blanked" on whether it was his turn or not. It was his brain that had the wipe out.

In other Mr. Strange news, he also said to me last week, "Mrs. Robinson, something very weird is in my head."

Yes, yes, I know it is.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

faux fried ice cream

My love for mexican food is no secret! After? You need fried ice cream, of course. That can be a little tricky at home.

I'm guessing.

I've never tried because I have the perfect recipe for Faux Fried Ice Cream.

Faux Fried Ice Cream

vanilla ice cream
Frosted Flakes

There are no measurements. Just add each ingredient in the quantity you think you will like. First, dish up the ice cream. Shake some Frosted Flakes on top. I like to get enough so there will be crunch in each bite. Drizzle honey over the top. Dust with cinnamon.

This is the perfect ending to that home made mexican meal. Or any meal. Or for the meal.

Right now you are probably thinking this is the strangest concoction! Don't be a hater, skater. Try it. You'll be addicted. I had some for lunch (yes, I did) and now I'm wanting more.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

this little monkey

This sweet little monkey is in town to see his cousins dance on the big stage for their recital. He allowed his mommy & daddy to come visit too. We are grateful they are here!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

still tryin' it out

Last year we had some successes in the garden. Some not. This year we are trying again.

We grew roma tomatoes last year. They were delicious but with only one plant, we didn't get very many. This year we planted a beef steak. This week a few of them were ready. Also, one of my students brought me a tomato and zucchini from her garden. So the kids and I had a taste off with the tomatoes. Both were good, so good. Much better than what you get in the store. But Katie's were sweeter. I told her mom this and she told me she uses celebrity variety. We're trying that one next year!

The bottom three tiers of planters are still without plants ~ we will fill them in slowly. So Greg decided to plant several test gardens this summer. We planted corn and pumpkins in our regular garden last year. The pumpkins actually grew some pumpkins for once, but they didn't fully mature and something got to them. The corn was nice and sweet, but very puny. Greg planted corn and pumpkin in the lowest tier on each side of the island just to see how his garden would grow.

Both the corn and the pumpkin on one side of the island are going to town. The other side of the island is doing well, except where it receives lots of shade from a tree. The actual garden area where the tomatoes are thriving? Not so well. The tiers get a lot more direct sunlight. We're thinking this is the reason they seem to be doing so well.

Right now we have the corn fields out in the back 40, hoping for a good crop! It's making such a lush, green backdrop for when I make the kids pose for pictures.