Thursday, November 29, 2012

New digs

Moving forward.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

And now for something completely different

I'm looking forward to looking forward.  New blog coming, to match the new life.  Stay tuned.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Last call

This is it, the night before the 'little move.'  For the next month we will be living between two houses: our old house here, and the park residence.  The residence has no tv, internet, phone, appliances, furniture.  We'll be sleeping on mattresses on the floor, keeping milk in a dormitory refrigerator, and cooking in a crockpot, hot plate, George Foreman grill, or over an open fire.  I'm just glad it's got modern plumbing.  We'll be coming back to the old house when we can, to continue packing and to do laundry.

The 'big move' will be the first week of October, if all the paperwork goes through okay.  I am trying to keep on top of things, but it is a losing battle.  I had to drive four hours round-trip today to drop of a check for earnest money on the new house.  I swore I mailed that check last week.  Apparently I didn't.

We are still madly packing, packing, packing.  The dust we are kicking up, excavating corners that haven't been disturbed in years, is making everyone sneeze and snortle.  We leave after breakfast tomorrow.  We'll see how much sleep I get tonight.

I shouldn't have sat down at the computer.  This sitting-down thing is pretty awesome.  Not sure if I can get back up again.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Where we'll be

Eventually, after we close on the house.  Yes, THE house -- we have found a house and have signed a purchase agreement already.  A lovely old house in town, on a city-sized lot.  I'm going to have to brush up on my urban gardening.  Closing date is September 27.

We have one more week before the little move to park housing, where we'll rough it (no tv, internet, major appliances) until we have the big move to the house in early October.  So, there will be a dry spell of blogging during September.  Much like what happened last year, only this year I have a legitimate reason.

So much to do, so much to do, so much to do. 

Friday, August 31, 2012

Smelling of elderberries

My good friend Rebecca brought over a bag full of elderberry branches this afternoon, a most generous gift.  I have no time right now to do anything besides freeze them, but when life settles down a little bit I will make some elderberry syrup.  I hope it will help ward off the worst of my family's flus and colds this winter.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Two weeks

This is a drawing of Fort Ridgely, located near Fairfax in south-central Minnesota.  The fort served as an army outpost from 1855 to 1867 and played a prominent role in the Dakota War of 1862.  The Minnesota Historical Society has marked the 150th anniversary of this war with a series of educational programs and museum exhibits, including one we visited while at the Minnesota History Center in July.

This is also the location of Fort Ridgely State Park.  And where, in approximately two weeks' time, I will be starting my new job.

Yes, you heard me right, my new job.  And yes, in two weeks' time.

Life right now is pretty crazy, and it's about to get a whole lot crazier.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Wordless Wuesday


Okay, that's enough of this wordless stuff.  Look at the picture above -- doesn't that look like tomato hornworm damage?  Me too.  The tops of my tomato plants all had this munching stuff going on last week.  But after searching those plants from top to bottom, could I find a hornworm?  No.  My friend Rebecca suggested that the birds got them.  Plausible, since the foliage on the plants is beginning to grow back.

Sigh, I guess I just can't avoid the tomato blight/wilt issue in my garden.  It's there for keeps.

Beautifully blooming marigolds.

Beautiful blooming asters.

Stunted ugly carnations.  Will these ever flower?

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Rub a dub dub

Four men in a canoe.  It was the first time canoeing for Graham and Benjamin.

Owen loved it, Benjamin liked it, Graham wasn't so sure.  I'm afraid he's inherited my Nervous Nelly genes.  We'll try it again on a less windy day.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Graham's Olympics

 A few days ago, while watching the Olympics, Graham got an idea.  He went outside, gathered a few bits and pieces from various places, and summoned his brothers and mother outside.  We were going to have our very own Olympics, in our very own backyard.

The first event was the discus throw.  We tried to throw the discus the way the athletes do it, but in the end we determined it involved far too much spinning.  More often than not the frisbee ended up in the wheat field. 

Next we had shot put.   Here you can see Graham trying his best with the proper Olympic form.

We did pretty well, considering that were using a wizened old kohlrabi from the compost pile as the shot.

The hammer throw was done with a trapeze ring from our outdoor playset.  This was undoubtedly the most dangerous event of the afternoon.  Looking back, it probably wasn't a good idea to let my children spin around several times while holding onto a heavy chain, and throw said chain in a direction vaguely and hopefully away from cars, houses and people.

The javelin throw was only slightly less deadly.  We used a garden stake for the javelin.

The triple jump came next.  Here you can see that Owen's toe is clearly over the line (garden hose).  Good thing the judges weren't fussy about fouls.

And the line-up for the 100 meter dash (once around the house).  Benjamin strategically takes the inside lane.  However, his unconventional choice of footwear (flip-flops) will likely end up being a major handicap.

In a photo finish, Owen wins by a length!

And Benjamin, coming up the rear and claiming the bronze!

The line-up for the 200 meter dash (twice around the house).  And .... they're off!  Around the corner of the house they disappear.  Owen takes an early lead, rounding the house and crossing the line for another go-round.  But Graham is close behind, and picking up speed.  The two leaders disappear around the house for the second lap, while Benjamin appears from the other side to complete his first.  Who will win -- Owen, the older brother favorite, or Graham, the middle brother dark horse?

Around the corner, and it's Graham in the lead!  Graham crosses the finish line and wins gold!  Ladies and gentlemen, what an upset!  What has happened to the older brother favorite, Owen?

Oh no, our very own Olympic controversy!  Owen is hollering from the other side of the track (house), claiming that Graham shoved him during the race.  Graham claims he is innocent, and the judges (Mom) didn't see anything.  Graham's win is confirmed.  Owen quits the race in protest, and goes back inside the house.  Benjamin and his flip flops, which have fallen off twice, eventually make their way across the finish line, winning the silver medal!

The closing ceremonies, standing at the top of the backyard playset.  Congratulations to all of our athletes, and we'll see you again in two years for the winter Olympics!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

What to do

with all those summer veges coming in?  Not enough tomatoes for canning, not enough peppers for salsa?  Kids threatening to boycott supper if you serve zucchini for the tenth night in a row?

Roast them!  (The vegetables, not the kids.)  Take your summer veges and prep them according to your taste.  I usually peel the eggplant, but not the summer squash.  A bunch of small tomatoes and one large green pepper are added to the mix.  I added another zucchini after this photo was taken.

Chop them into whatever size you want.  I prefer larger chunks, so I can taste the vegetables when I add them to sauces and casseroles.  Also, the kids will whine less if they can pick out the veges they don't like.  If you let them pick out one kind of vege from the mix, they will think they're getting away with something.

Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Place on a tray large enough to fit, or two trays if you've got lots.

Roast them at about 400 degrees, until they are softened and a teeny tiny bit charred.  It's really up to your own personal taste.  Scoop them into bags or containers and then freeze.  We like to add the veges to pasta sauce; it makes a plain spaghetti dinner a little less mundane. 

I wonder what this would taste like pureed in a blender.  Hmmm.  Might have to try that next time.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Garden onslaught

The cukes have arrived!  I am so tempted to pick one of these now, rather than waiting til it gets bigger.  Tomorrow I might succumb.

The tops of the yellow onions have fallen over, but the leeks are still tall and green.  And though my pepper plants look happy and healthy, they haven't started growing any actual fruit yet.  Grrr.

What a horrible year for broccoli.  Just two small heads in June from twenty plants, formed just before the heat wave hit.  Since then -- zilch.  And no heads are forming on my cauliflower plants either.  I think they are just trying to stay alive.  Maybe if I keep them watered, they will trudge through the summer and start forming heads this fall.  I'm not holding my breath, though.

The zucchini is going gang-busters.  How is it that one day I can look through the plants and see no fruit ready for picking, but the next day I will find one two feet long and six inches thick?  My sparsely-germinated carrots are looking good.  Apparently they like the heat.  

Green beans and tomatoes.  Nothing ready to pick from either of them.   Lots of small green 'maters, though.

The vast sprawling expanse of pumpkins and melons.  They are growing over everything in their path, including the four strangled basil plants in their midst.

My row of flowers and my patch of sunflowers.  Marigolds are blooming non-stop and I've got my first aster blooming.  Nothing from the carnations yet.  They were more of an experiment, anyway, so I'm not too concerned.  The melon vines are encroaching on the asters at the bottom of the photo.

Cabbages are ready!

My purple podded wax beans are almost ready for picking.  The purple flowers and stems against the bright green leaves are very lovely.

My potato patch, looking much the worse for wear.  The unforgiving heat has beaten down these vines, with brown crinkly leaf edges and floppy stems.  But I am fairly confident that there is no blight to be seen.  I can see new green growth amongst the older, dryer leaves.

And when I dug under one of the plants, I managed a decent haul of medium-sized potatoes.  Oh, how I love digging potatoes.  It is one of my favorite gardening chores.  As long as the tubers are not half-eaten by mice or speared by pitchfork tines.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

An evening in Morris, part two

Someday I will have an oregano patch this big.

The University had an entire field devoted to strawberries.  Lots of different varieties, plus experiments with low tunnels.  There were some ripe berries under there!

I took some pictures of my favorite plant discoveries, including this Love in a Mist.

I've never thought much about ornamental peppers before, but these caught my eye.

Thunbergia Susie, or Black-Eyed Susan vine.  Not winter hardy for MN, but easy to collect seed and start anew each year.

I liked the salmon color on this verbena.  Does anyone know if verbenas self-seed well?  And what is the 'SY' on the tag?  Does that mean it's a hybrid?

And my favorite find, this multi-color sunrise Verbena.  Sooo pretty!

The gardens at UMN Morris are very lovely.  I'll have to go back again someday, when I have more time (and less monkeys) to appreciate the scenery.