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.