Thursday, July 28, 2011

Fresh from Our Garden (at least some of it!!)

In the past few weeks, our Super Sweet 100 plants have been producing like crazy.  I just put two more baking sheets full of slow-roasted cherry tomatoes in the oven.  In 6-8 hours, they will be even more delicious!  (Yes, that's possible!)  These are SO easy, you just have to be prepared to give up your oven for the rest of the day!  Also, my kids enjoyed helping me get these ready to go into the oven - making sure the tomatoes are cut side up, peeling the garlic, and snipping rosemary from the garden.

I tweaked the recipe by adding the rosemary.  It smelled SO good!  Now that we have quite a healthy bush, I am thinking of thinning it a bit and drying some rosemary for use in the winter.  

I also used some of our larger tomatoes (not sure of the variety) to make gazpacho late last night so that it would be ready to eat today.  I used this recipe from the latest Real Simple magazine.  I've already sampled it - yum!  It's the first time I've ever eaten a cold soup, much less made one.  It was SO easy, and I'm looking forward to serving it alongside some of my fresh-baked parmesan pepper bread (another first-time-I've-made-it recipe) for an early dinner.

So, now that you know a bit about what's growing in our garden, I'd like to know if you have a garden.  If so, what do you grow?

In addition to what I mentioned above, we have zucchini, green bell pepper (just got the first one this week), banana peppers, okra, lima beans and bush beans, watermelon, parsley, basil, and cilantro that has already gone to seed.  We have had varying success with these, tomatoes and rosemary being our most successful.  I would like to try growing garlic, blueberries (for these muffins!), and give cucumbers another shot (ours are always bitter).  I'd also like to try lettuce, and maybe even potatoes!  So, friends, spill the beans on your gardening successes - and failures!  What have you learned along the way?

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Summer favorites

A BLT made with tomatoes fresh from the garden...

Sweet tea in Mason jars...

Boiled peanuts...

Watermelon with a sprinkle of salt...

What foods (or drinks) mean summer to you?

I'm linking to Ann Kroeker's Food on Fridays, even though it's Saturday!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Mommy, will you...?

This afternoon, as she was laying on the couch next to me, she asked me to rub her back. Remembering the times when I was little and would lay down with my head on my mom's lap, I invited Miss M to do the same. I pulled her pillow over and she snuggled in.

I'm enjoying these moments while I can, knowing they don't last forever. Within about 5 minutes, Mister J asked if she would help him play a wii game - and off she went!

PS - Check out that ponytail!  She decided to let her hair grow so it was long enough to make one ponytail.  Next up, long enough to have one braid, like Jessie!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Step One...

You may have missed our quiet announcement, and now I'm excited to share that today we took the first official step in our adoption process.  Although we've already spoken with our adoption coordinator, been to an information session at our agency, spoken to several adoptive families, and made several of the preliminary decisions, today is the day that we mailed our application.  It's been a long process to get to this point, so getting here is really exciting for us.

Once our eyes are opened, we can’t pretend we don’t know what to do. God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows that we know, and holds us responsible to act. ~Proverbs 24:12

I keep coming back to this piece of scripture over and over again.  I saw it on an adoption blog about the time we finally realized that we were being led to adopt a child - and it didn't just speak to me, it practically yelled.  That was a few months ago, but the work in our hearts started long before that.  It's an amazing story I hope to share here one day.  For now, we covet your prayers as we continue this extraordinary journey.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

My Day in Food

*Apologies in advance for the crazy spacing.  I just can't figure it out tonight.*

I can't remember what I are for breakfast, but it probably had something to do with those evil chocolate chunk cookies from Costco.  But maybe not, since I had an orthodontist appointment at noon. 

I do remember that I had a late lunch.  I made one of my favorite new recipes - Thai Peanut Noodles from Our Best Bites (which happens to be my favorite online source for recipes right now).  I usually add some stir-fried chicken, but I skipped the chicken today.  And Miss M, who has never eaten it when I cooked with chicken, ate a small bowlful today.  She also helped me cook it, which may have also had something to do with her choice to actually eat it. 

Not only are they mildly spicy noodles in a soy/ginger/peanut/honey/sriracha sauce, it's topped with peanuts, green onions, cilantro, and lime juice.  I was thrilled that she liked it!

Later in the day, I decided I'd give a new recipe a try - something I've been wanting to do for ages.  The kids weren't interested - they were more interested in the painting I was starting, but I was waiting for paint to dry so they found something else to do.

Can you guess what I was making?  It's butter!  (Or, soon-to-be-butter when I snapped this picture.)  The process was very simple, though it took some time and plenty of effort.  I was very pleased with the result!

After the dairy adventure, it was time to start dinner.  I did most of the prep work, and hubs did most of the cooking.  We had sliders and "Aunt LuAnn's potatoes."  Delicious!  The kids recognize the potatoes by the aroma, and always love them.  And even though the kids aren't great meat-eaters, they each finished an entire slider.  I'll call that a success any day!

Dessert?  Oh, yes.  I'm all about dessert lately (see breakfast, above) - probably because of the evil chocolate chunk cookies from Costco.  They are really good smeared with peanut butter....

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Mowing Lessons

I am not a fan of yard work.  Anyone who knows me in real life knows that I don't do yard work.  My husband has seen me mow the yard a total of three times in all the years we've been married.  The third time was yesterday.  When I told him I was going out to mow, he looked at me rather like I'd grown another head.  But the yard needed work, the temperature was really nice for July, and it was overcast.  I didn't think he would be able to beat the rain that was coming, so I decided I'd give it a shot.  After all, it's just walking in a few circles around the yard, right?  How hard can that be? 

I started writing my blog post in my head about 10 minutes after I started mowing.

Really, though, it started before I even went outside.  When I told my kids to behave because I was going outside to mow the grass, my son said, "Wow, Mom, I didn't know you had mowing lessons."  Ouch.  But in honor of his observation, here is my version of mowing lessons.

1) Fuel - Be sure you have spare fuel on hand.  I was pretty disappointed to find out that we didn't have any, but I was too excited about getting started to go and get more.  I figured that if I finished the front yard, I'd just stop there.  After all, it looked like rain was coming, so I didn't have time to spare.  And also?  I could close the gate and the taller grass in the backyard wouldn't show.  Great idea, right?  Until I ran out of gas in the middle of the front yard.  Phooey!  There wasn't anyone who could run to the gas station for me (hubby was working from home, so he couldn't just jump in the car and do it for me), so off I went.  I hope he will forgive me for ever being annoyed that he asked me to go get gas for the mower while he was mowing the yard.  Now I get it.

2) Hat - Wear one.  Headsweats caps are not just for running.  I wish I had worn mine.  I didn't think I'd need it because the sun wasn't out.  Also, I honestly didn't think I'd get all that hot since the weather was cool for July.  I have never had so much sweat in my eyes.  Also - I just might wear my running clothes next time.  Wicking fabric is good.  Cotton is not.

3) Method - I've heard you should not mow your grass in the same pattern every time.  No need to worry about that!  I am quite sure I looked as amateurish as I felt.  I had to go back for missed spots, and still left a few (tiny) bits of taller grass.  And I don't think my hubby will ever mow in as patchwork a fashion as I did. 

4) Mower - Especially in the thicker parts of the grass, it would have been kinder (to my mower) to mow half-widths on each pass.  My mower let me know this by protesting at one point - and turning off.  I could not believe I was out of gas again - then I realized I wasn't.  At least I was able to restart it without getting my husband to come outside and do it (again)!  Also, our mower didn't particularly seem to like going uphill, at least at the pace I was walking.  When I'm running, I don't like hills, either, so I decided to change my method  in the middle of the backyard and go across the incline.  (Oh, yes I did - see #3.)

5) Corners - As far as push mowers go, self-propelled is your friend, but it still doesn't make turning corners any easier.  I openly confess to having not a lot of upper body strength.  I can still pick up my kids (and can still carry my youngest), which I thought was decent strength, but I felt like I was working hard to turn corners and work around obstacles (swing set, raised garden beds, mailbox, trees).

After I learned all of this with the mower, I looked at the yard and felt pretty good about what I had accomplished.  But it still looked unfinished.  So I decided I'd do the weed eating.  And I had to get my husband to start it for me (wimpy upper body strength - embarrassing).  And then he had to remind me to wear eye protection (thanks, honey!).  And then I busted the strap that was supposed to help me carry it around the yard (sorry, honey!).  But I still did the weed eating.  And I wondered how long my work would last if I scalped the edges of the yard because weed eating was not as fun as I thought it would be.  Probably because I busted the strap.  And also because my arms were already tired from pushing and maneuvering the mower.  But - the yard looked even better when I was done!

So then I decided to crank up the blower and clean off the driveway and the front walkway and around the air conditioning units.  And I had to ask my hubby to come out and crank it for me.  (Are you sensing a pattern?)  I'm chalking that up to having tired arms - you know, from maneuvering the mower and then carrying the weed eater with the busted strap around the yard.

And when I was done, I wasn't sure I'd be able to lift my arms to wash my hair.

But the yard looked nice, I was proud of the job I'd done, and I had so much more appreciation for the yard work my husband has been doing for so many years.  It wasn't perfect, but I still enjoyed the sense of accomplishment.  Don't tell anyone, but I might just mow the yard again sometime.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

I found that little cord...

I finally hooked my camera up to my computer again, and found SO MANY photos that I wanted to share!  I don't have time to show them all, so I thought I'd share just a quick summary of the last month or so.

These two kiddos wrapped up another year of school! 
(For those of you paying very close attention, those are glasses frames you see on her face, but no lenses in them.  They were a favor from a friend's birthday party, and she wore them nearly every day for about two weeks.)

Compare to the same time last year....
If anyone knows the secret to make them stop growing, let me know.

Also on the last day of school, this little girl had a dance recital.

I also finally gave in to letting this little girl loose with some paints - thanks to her Daddy's encouragement.  She didn't make a mess like I feared, and really enjoyed the process.  

Also, when I wasn't looking, she turned five. We had a sweet little tea party at home with some friends, and I really enjoyed the smaller celebration.  I also loved all of the 'tea party food' that we served - and I think she enjoyed most of it, too! 

Although we had planned to picnic at a local park on the 4th of July and watch fireworks the that evening, our picnic got rained out.  We changed our plans to a back porch picnic, then a den floor picnic due to the rain, but did end up getting to see the fireworks. 

We're spending our summer days playing outside, cooking (because I'm serving a lot more meals now that I'm not packing lunches), and spending time with friends and family.  I also recently wrapped up my part-time, work-from-home job, so I'm hoping to add a few more things into our days - library visits, blueberry-picking, and other fun summer activities.

How are you spending your summer?  Can you believe how fast it flies by?

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Hee hee...

This sweet girl just looked at me and whispered...
"I'm trying to keep my eyes open..."

Love her!