Monday, June 26, 2017

The World of My Littles

Audrey kicked off her morning today with a request for fresh batteries in her camera... she then spent over an hour with her Bubba outside taking pictures. When they came in she proudly announced her camera memory was full, and insisted we upload them immediately and take a look at her work.

There were 206 photos and videos.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand so we did, with her recapping what was being done/ being said/ being smelled in each one (I'll spare you the details, because after all the photo is supposed to tell the story). Here's a little peek into their morning photo session:













































 Each time I get to see what they see, unedited and uninfluenced, it feels like such a thrill... it's like having a peek at something forbidden and mysterious... the world of my Littles through their eyes, through their lenses. It's pretty cool.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Little Campers :: Nature/Solstice Project

Happy Summer Solstice! Today for our Little Campers session, we blended some of our well-loved family solstice activities with our weekly LC activity: we took a nature walk to gather summer flowers, we talked about the tradition of the Solstice and how important science and asking questions are...







...we made blackberry lemonade...



...and then with our bevs within reach we broke out the beads and pipe cleaners and made some firey-colored solstice ornaments!



 

The ornaments we made in this session will double as our Nature/Solstice Badges.


Side note: As you may know from past blog posts (like this one and this one), we choose to incorporate nontraditional holidays- like the solstices- into our family rhythm to preserve the meaning and the sacred in the why behind what we do day to day. As a family, we truly believe that an ethnocentric existence robs one of the richness that is the human experience. Our gracious friends joined in for the fun of it, and we had a great time! 

Next up: First Aid!

Last time: Gardening Project

Monday, June 19, 2017

Weekending





This weekend, we...

...woke up early on Saturday morning to greet the sprinkler guys, made some scrambled eggs and coffee, and packed up the car for a trip to the annual company picnic.
...ate BBQ, played outside in bathing suits with new friends, and returned home to a completely irrigated garden (so exciting!).
...took the fastest mid-afternoon showers ever and hit the road again to visit a new-to-us hole-in-the-wall Latin taco joint (and it was good). We tried two kinds of empanadas, barbacoa, guava-melon agua fresca, fresh plantain chips, and cinnamon-chocolate paletas, among other things.
...woke up early once again on Sunday, snuck out of the house for our traditional Father's Day doughnut run, and then returned to shower Daddy with presents and hugs and appreciation for all he does for us. The kiddos gave him portraits they painted of him, and we also gave him a new pair of house shoes to replace the pair he's completely worn out.
...spent the rest of Sunday lazing around the house reading books, rediscovering old toys, and playing a little Minecraft, all in the name of avoiding the heat and humidity.
...wrapped up Father's Day with a big dinner, early bath times, and cartoons in bed.

This weekend we spent our time celebrating the man in our family who works so hard to take such good care of us, all the while thinking of our own dads who did the same for us while we were growing up. 'Thankful' doesn't even begin to describe our weekend vibes.

But we are. We are so thankful.

Happy Monday, may we strive to keep in mind all we have to be thankful for!

Friday, June 16, 2017

Hibernation

This week has been the first week of the season with a heat index of 100 or higher every day. This makes it extremely hard to be outside doing the things we love, and it marks the beginning of the downhill spiral for all our plants and flowers.

It's been hot, y'all. There really is something to be said about "dry heat." This ain't that.

Predictably, we've withdrawn into our sheltered, shaded, air-conditioned spaces, and just as predictably I've started eyeballing the nooks and crannies around the house that have fallen into chaos and disorder. My kitchen pantry caught my full attention today.

In the last few days (with the help of the steroids), I've canned four quarts of chicken stock and 27 1/2 pints of homemade jellies.

Yes, I said twenty-seven and a half.

But when it was time to put my lovely jeweled jars away on their shelf, I found there just wasn't any room.

Exhibit A:



So this afternoon I tackled the clearing of the shelves with vigor and actually got the kids to pitch in! In purging the expired pantry items (we had a jar of Nutella that expired the Christmas after Henry was born!) and gathering together all the odds-and-ends that were tucked here and there with no rhyme or reason, a funny thing happened; we found ourselves moving from the pantry to the cabinet over the appliances, and from there to the cabinet over the microwave, and from there to the cabinet over the chest freezer... and we probably could have kept going.  

By the time we needed to break to make dinner, my dogs were barkin'! But we had a neat-as-a-pin pantry (with lots of freed-up shelf space!), all our canning jars back together in one space, room for all our coffee mugs to be in one cabinet, and all my crocks and fermentation weights together in their own space. 

Exhibit B:


If I can keep up this motivation for the rest of the oncoming summer swelter, we'll be pretty well off for it come fall! 

(But who am I kidding, I only have 3 more days of steroids left and then I'll probably be done.)

I'm happy for the progress we made during these first few days of summer hibernation, though, and look at all that room for the salsa and canned pears and apple sauce to come! Even if we don't lift another finger to purge or organize, I'm feeling pretty good about it all.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Puttin' Up Zucchini





























 Oh, this glorious pile of green and yellow! Look at those zucchini (green and yellow) and crookneck squash... oh how my family is tired of eating them... already! Time to start thinking about the seasons upcoming where they won't be coming out of our ears...

Today I started processing some of our summer squash (after giving away another bag full to some family friends). I'm keeping it simple for this first round and cubing/blanching/freezing them. However in my initial looking around, I found some good ideas for inspiration when the next wave comes. Check it out:

  1. Topping my list is this recipe for zucchini-pepper sweet relish. A few of my peppers are taking off, so this might happen soon
  2. I might also take a swing at zucchini pickles, if I can convince myself that the texture won't be off-putting 
  3. I really liked this little article for six ways to preserve zucchini, and that spread might win a chance at a few of my green beauties
  4. This all-purpose general article about preserving and using preserved zucchini will also be one I'm sure I'll look back up again
  5. Today, though, I started simple with this very basic blurb on how to freeze zucchini, and I have a tray of cubed squash in my chest freezer doin' their first freeze right now
I think I'll also be revisiting this recipe for zucchini bread (which everyone over here will actually eat, especially with a smear of cream cheese), and maybe a double-batch will put some in the freezer for later, too.

I'm not tired of the bounty yet, and quite frankly the steroids I'm on for the poison ivy I've had are kinda helping me tackle this mound and keep everything else up in the air at the same time, so there's always a silver lining, right? Who needs sleep, anyway?! LET'S MAKE SOME ZUCCHINI STUFF!

*ahem*

Yay, summer squash!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Little Campers :: Gardening Project

Little Campers session #2 went down today, and we unintentionally ended up building off our service project from last time: today's topic featured the ins-and-outs of Gardening. Although it is hard to start something growing in mid-June in Texas, we brought our A-game and high hopes and planted zinnias, a sweet Carmen pepper, a baby basil plant, a yellow squash, and an heirloom tomato scavenged from what was left in a local garden supply store. Us mamas tried to leave most of the work to the kiddos, making each responsible for a different plant (tried being the operative word).









While we worked, we talked about the basics of building a garden, the importance of soil health, why we mulch, and the work of good bugs.




Afterward each kiddo was quizzed with a gardening question, and upon answering received a Gardening Patch made with scrap leather and my wood burning tool.


We left the garden(s) in Piper and Spencer's capable hands, and hopefully it won't get too hot too fast for these little plant babies to establish themselves!

Up next: Nature/Solstice Project!

Last time: Service Project

Monday, June 12, 2017

Right Now




Right now, I'm...

...itchy. Oh my goodness y'all, I'm experiencing my first reaction to poison ivy, and lucky me it's systemic. I created my own worst case scenario by inadvertently inoculating my blackberry thorns with poison ivy oil (from ripping poison ivy stalks out through the brambles), reaching my arm in afterwards to pick the berries, and scratching that oil right into my bloodstream. I'll be heading to the doc later today to get on a steroid treatment. I look like I could be a Marvel monster right now, no joke.
...being a glutton for punishment, because despite being covered in this doo-scusting rash, I can't help but continue my monitoring of the blackberries. Those canes are just loaded! I'm definitely going to take more protective precautions for future pickin', though.
...looking forward to a blackberry jelly-makin' get-together with my like minded girlfriend later this week, to add to what we've already fermented (in the form of blackberry wine of course) and stored in the freezer.
...feeling hopeful for a modest honey harvest this year! I checked on my bees over the weekend and found that South Hive is already starting to store surplus honey, and Middle and North Hive were ready for another box! (I took that picture of the three hives with their new stories while wearing my veil and gloves, so sorry about the wonky framing.)
...planning some time to research what to do with excess squash. My plants out there are doing amazing things and it's about time I figure out how to put some of it up! We've been eating and sharing it like crazy, but it just keeps coming in! (Of course I've already made my must-have fav zucchini cake...)
...loving the fact that we've got a surplus of anything after that rocky start we had out in the garden, and not begrudging having to deal with it one bit.

Right now I'm planning a week with the romantic summer kitchen work of puttin' up squeezed in between meetings, swimming and music lessons, and routine errands and chores, and I'm actually quite looking forward to it all. Now I'm off to put together the dehydrator and start gathering jars before the house wakes up... happy Monday!