Sunday, August 11, 2019

tomato thief


Today was the very first day I've been able to bring tomatoes into the house. Even though our garden is fenced in I have noticed some baby bunnies hanging out in it. They haven't been thieving the tomatoes though. It's Abe that's been going out everyday and eating all the ripe ones directly from the plants.

I'm glad to have brought a few lovely ripe tomatoes inside today but in reality I LOVE that Abe can go out back and eat fruit and vegetables from our garden. It must be a fun special summer childhood treat that hopefully he'll remember when he's grown.

Saturday, August 3, 2019

zucchini


I've noticed that the zucchini blossoms only open up for a short while in the early morning and once it closes the same blossom doesn't open up again. Those leaves are enormous though. It's hard to tell from the photo but the blossoms are really large!

So far we've gotten four zucchini from our two plants. The fifth one will be picked today. One was used for the weird lemon zucchini bread. One was chopped and roasted. One was grated into the meatballs I made last night. One is currently sitting on the counter.

It's really only been the past few years that I've grown to LOVE the summer harvest. Even though I've only ever had a small little garden, I've completely fallen in love with the task. This year we planted zucchini and tomatoes in our garden. It hasn't warmed up until fairly recently so the tomatoes are slow going but been able to pick a few. The zucchini plants are getting huge. We went blueberry picking pretty much right when blueberry season opened up. And a friend of ours gave me a large bundle of rhubarb that ideally we'll make a big batch of strawberry rhubarb jam with today.

Fall has always been my favorite time of year, followed by spring. I really love sweatshirt weather when there's a crisp breeze in the air. Bonfires and fallen leaves... magical. But summer is really creeping up there as a fabulous time of year. I don't think I will be able to say I have a favorite season any longer. There's just too much joy that comes from fresh summer harvest and watching my kids play in the water during days of extreme heat.

Friday, July 26, 2019

summer is dragonflies in blueberry fields


Blueberry picking season has just begun here. We went picking on Wednesday with some friends and brought home a bucket full of beautiful berries. It was a lovely hot day and the bushes were covered with berries. They'd fall off the branches right into the buckets if you gently grabbed ahold of a bunch and slowly pull them off. The kids had fun chasing dragonflies and eating handful after handful of freshly picked berries. It was a fantastic outing!



My favorite childhood summertime dessert was blueberry crisp. Okay, lets not kid ourselves, here in Michigan we end up with freezers full of frozen berries from the summers harvest and we eat blueberry crisp in the winter too.

I couldn't resist letting today be blueberry crisp day. It's a simple dessert to whip up but SOOOO yummy. Abe and I enjoyed making this one together AND eating it together.


Sunday, July 21, 2019

first harvest of the year and the most screwed up dessert bread ever


Yesterday we picked one gorgeous zucchini from our garden. Today we attempted to turn it into lemon zucchini bread. *Attempted*

My husband is manager over the produce department at his store. I called him at work and asked if he could please bring home one lemon so we could make the bread. I should have just taken the kids to the store before he even got home because, if you aren't already suspecting it he did not bring home a lemon. So, determined to stick to the plan we three ran to the store to get one lemon.

Get home. Start getting read to make bread... uh oh, no eggs. I was not going to run back to the store so Google search egg substitute and land on 1.5 tablespoons vegetable oil, 1.5 tablespoons water plus 1 tsp. baking soda per missing egg.

I debated but I'm the absolute queen of annoying my husband by altering recipes because either I am missing something or I think it sounds good a different way so I just went with the weird egg substitute thing. Abe had a great time zesting and juicing the lemon and he said it was a ton of fun grating the zucchini. At least that part was a win.

After the batter came together I realized it was going to be strange. I threw in a large handful of coconut (because I really like coconut and) to balance out some of the liquid. I had the thought in the back of my mind that it would have been wise to put the mixture in a sheet cake pan instead of a loaf pan. I should have stuck with my gut because the loaf came out WAY more like a lemon bar then a lemon bread or cake.


See all that sugar on top, WELL that's supposed to be a glaze. I had powdered sugar AND we kept back some of the lemon juice to mix with it and make the glaze. I made the glaze (totally according to the recipe) but I'm pretty sure my powdered sugar is way too old and has soaked up every flavor in the baking cupboard because the glaze tasted awful! Okay, lets be clear Abe loved it. He said it tastes... wait for it... just like Willow (the neighbor's dog). LOL
Me: WHAT?!?!?! It tastes like a dog?!?!?!
Him: Yeah, just like she smells but it's good, she smells good!
Me: Yeah, no it's official we are not putting dog frosting on the lemon zucchini weird.

So, I just topped it with plain sugar. The glaze had 1 cup of powdered sugar in it and I might have put a 1/4 cup of regular sugar on top instead so it's healthier now, right...

Wow. That poor zucchini, sacrificed it's short life for vegan lemon coconut olive oil zucchini weird bar bread cake. For the record, it does actually taste good but I think I need to hide it from my husband who has been napping during this entire ordeal. He will never let me live this one down.



Saturday, July 20, 2019

Taking Inventory of 2019

2019 is half over, and some. I survived the long winter. We've had a really great family vacation to the Wisconsin Dells. My baby girl had her first birthday. Little Abe learned how to ride his bike without training wheels. Got the garden planted this year and it's doing pretty well. I'm back to my pre-baby girl pregnancy weight. I've seen my mom and sister almost weekly. I've kept in close touch with my best friend who lives an ocean and longer away. Somehow I've been staying on top of Abe's schooling which usually seems an impossible task. The kids and I have had a ton of fun outings. This year, as normal, has been flying by but if I stop to reflect it's been a good six months.

I think one thing that's lacking has been time with family. I haven't seen my dad but once, in March around Abe's birthday. I haven't seen my one remaining grandparent at all. I've hardly seen my brothers or their families. Life is always so crazy busy. I never get even half of my to-do list items done. Taking inventory on the first half of 2019 leaves me happy but realizing I need to make some more time for family. It's weird to think that my little feisty princess is already a year old and my own dad has only seen her three times that I can recall.

Life is exhausting, really, really, really exhausting but it is amazing too.


Friday, July 12, 2019

zucchinis are growing

The tomatoes are growing too.



Photo on the left is from one month ago.
Photo on the right is from today.

There's a zucchini plant that we grew from seed in the very front of the photo and another one back by Abe's foot. I squeezed three tomato plants in directly next to the fence. I sort of weave them into the fence and tie them to it with string so that I don't have to cage them. You can't see the tomato plants as well in the newer photo but they are doing good. They are the three little green spots in the first photo.

We haven't had any harvest yet but I'm really happy with how well the plants are doing.

Gardening has definitely become one of the major highlights of summertime for me.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Finally got the training wheels off of Abe's bike

We are so glad that summer finally showed up. June was really cold, following up cold January thru cold May. The heat that's finally arrived has been wonderful and we've been outside quite a bit.

Today was monumental as Abe is now riding a bicycle (no training wheels). Hooray!!!

We made a very short video highlighting the event, hehe

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

two new monarchs


On June five we brought two tiny white eggs in the house on two separate milkweed leaves.

On July three we let two gorgeous butterflies go into the wild (well, not so wild since we live in the city but it was so cool).

The new butterflies wings aren't able to fly when they first come out of the chrysalis.

This was the first butterfly to emerge.


This was the second butterfly and little sister was up from her nap when we let this one go.

Monarchs are so beautiful.

It jumped on his face when he was looking at it on his arm.

SOOOOOOOO fun!

butterfly day

Our caterpillar project now brings us to five chrysalises 
and just this morning two of them have become completely transparent. 

Today's the day!


Saturday, June 29, 2019

Kid is cookin

I got this boy a kid's cook book a few days ago. He's gone through it a few times. Of course the first thing he wanted to make was a dessert. I told him he'd have to pick a dinner to go with. Overflowing with pride and joy here are his results.

Homemade tomato soup. 
Honestly from scratch.
With cupid croutons.

The soup was delicious! He actually LOVES tomatoes and he'll eat anything if you put oregano on it so the soup was a perfect pick for him. He chose the recipe specifically because of the croutons which he was a little let down by because they turned to mush as soon as they hit the soup but this was a total win none the less.

No bake snake cake.

It's rice krispie treats. How awesome did he do?!?! Now, I'm a big fan of sugar. I mean a huge fan. I love candy corn and Cadbury eggs and ain't much on the planet sweeter than those two candies BUT rice krispie treats don't need frosting. Even so, this thing is cute!

Throw in a ton of sun, lots of water, and just enough coffee for this mom and today was wonderful.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Our baby girl is one year old

We went on a family vacation for four days to the Wisconsin Dells, scheduled around our little one's birthday. Our celebration of her was so much different than our celebration of Abe. We had a huge party for him. We rented a room, invited tons of people; the whole shebang.

This birthday trip for our baby Wren was really great. My sister came along with us. We baked a cake for baby Wren while on vacation, spent four days together just our little family and my sister doing fun things and having neat adventures. And that was that. No party. No guests. Just us.

My baby girl loves going new places, seeing new faces, trying out new things; she adores life! I'm glad we had a big party for my boy when he was one year old but it turns out that I ended up liking my husband's crazy idea for a birthday vacation even better for our baby girl.

She thoroughly enjoyed her birthday cake.



Pizza!

Big brother made her a birthday card, 
packed it in his suit case, 
and gave it to her at the hotel.

First stop on the Dells boat tour

Baby's first cake




Sunday, June 23, 2019

Monarch Update

Eighteen days ago we brought in two practically microscopic monarch eggs. This is the most exciting science project Abe and I have done to date. Three days after our start we added one newly hatched caterpillar to our collection and currently we have two chrysalis and one getting ready to enter a chrysalis.

Day 1

Day 5, the caterpillar is next to the hole in the leaf

Day 10, he just molted

Day 16

Day 17, Yesterday

Day 18, Today


We have a small patch of milkweed in our backyard so it makes it fairly easy to collect eggs. One of the things I've learned already, aside from the fact that monarch caterpillars grow extremely fast is that they don't survive in the wild very easily. While collecting milkweed leaves for our little guys (which is the only source of food for a monarch caterpillar) I have noticed a few eggs. I've found after looking rather hard two very small caterpillars. The chew spots outside on the plants where little caterpillars have been snacking are evident but none of the ones outside have survived. The larger caterpillars eat a lot of leaves and they can't leave the plant they're on or they will die (from lack of food). There hasn't ever been enough damage done to the plants for any of the outdoor caterpillars to have lived very long.

I have heard that monarch butterflies are becoming less and less but after having begun this project I can see with my own eyes the reality of this. You know how when you buy a new car suddenly you see that make and model virtually everywhere you go? Well, I can't help but spot milkweed plants all over, every time we go for a walk or for a hike and even while we were on vacation this past week in a different part of the country. Despite all the milkweed making itself known to me everywhere I go I never see any that has evidence of a full grown monarch caterpillar having snacked on it. Crazy!

None the less, our little guys seem to be doing very well and within the next ten days if nature takes it's course as it should we will be releasing a few full grown monarchs into the wild.

The other thing I'd like to say I learned but in reality its simply something I already knew but have had the ultimate pleasure of observing these past 18 days is that nature, life, and the world we live in is amazing! Watching these tiny white dots grow into large colorful caterpillars and hopefully soon become beautiful butterflies has been mind blowing.

____________________________________________

Needless statement but here goes anyhow: We kept the tiny caterpillars in mason jars with lids that we already had (they get plenty of air if you open the lid to clean out the jar and put fresh leaves in each day). And I purchased a small critter cage for just under $7 and a roll of paper towel for $1.

$8 is our total expense for this science project. So as long as we get three butterflies out of the ordeal I guess you could say we paid $2.66 per butterfly to watch them grow, learn a ton, be amazed, and release three butterflies into the wild.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

this week in photos

We've had a very rainy cold spring.
This week the warmth and sunshine finally showed up.
We spent a ton of time out of doors and it was wonderful.

Baby girls first time at the water table

A hike through a dune trail

Loving the sunshine
Six days of raising Monarchs
Kids in our tiny garden;
The zucchini seeds sprouted this week


Friday, June 7, 2019

dog kisses

I can think of several little wins for yesterday:
1.) We didn't get ice cream after dinner. We live in a beach town and there are some very good ice cream places around. It can be very difficult to resist but last night we did resist. Hooray for us.
2.) We brought our dog over to the in laws to see how she'd interact with their dog, to see if it'd be okay for her to stay with them when we go on vacation in less than two weeks time. It went very well and we're feeling pretty excited that this will be the first time we've ever gone away and not had to have someone stay at our place or at least stop over several times a day. (before now the in laws always had several dogs and we'd had our two... it's different now)
3.) I've been battling a fierce cold and the darn thing has been winning. I forced myself to rest when I got home from work, as in I didn't go out and mow the lawn, continue the painting job I've been working on outside, and get started back at the cement patching I began a day or so ago. Nope. I just rested. This is a win for me and I do feel better this morning.
4.) We've finally (as in I've been meaning to for years and haven't ever committed) brought in two milk weed leaves with monarch eggs on them. It's a fantastic science project, a fun learning experience, and a good thing to do in general to raise up monarchs and release them once they've emerged from their chrysalis. So many little wins.

The FAIL for yesterday is an easy one to come up with. I sucked at my job. I went to work with a cold that's kicking my butt and I was incredibly unproductive. I wash my hands a lot and I didn't cough on anyone so I'm not too worried about infecting the masses but I was so lethargic and slow. I hardly did anything in the eight hours I was there. Not my finest hour.

Yesterday's SPICE was priceless. I wish I'd had a camera handy or been able to video it. My in laws have a young golden retriever. As I mentioned before we went over there yesterday with our little old lady to see how the pup and the misses would do together. The retriever is a SWEETHEART! But if you've ever met a young retriever I don't have to tell you how much energy they have. Up until now we've tried to keep the baby far away from her, so the baby didn't get pounced and trampled and so on and so forth. 

Well yesterday little miss Wren was standing on the ground next to her daddy when big, wild, happy, sweet Sugar came right up to her and licked her from chin up to the very tippy top of her little fuzzy head. I was sitting across the room so I was the truly fortunate one who got to see my baby's face. As that big wet dog nose came rushing towards her she squinted her little blue eyes tighter than anyone has probably every squinted their eyes before, her whole face squinted. Her shoulders scrunched up and as Sugar (that's the dog's name) licked her all over my little lady smiled and smiled and smiled with all her might. Granted the entire encounter lasted all of one second but it was adorable!!! Sugar left baby Wren with a mess of sticking up hair and a gleeful smile on her sticky wet face. First ever attack of dog kisses. That's a spice for certain.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

win fail spice

In May I set a daily Win, Fail, Spice challenge for myself. It turned out to be exactly what I needed to get back into blogging/ writing again and it was very therapeutic. I firmly believe, and even though it's my firm belief I often times completely neglect this fact, that when we "stop to smell the roses" as they say life truly does become much more sweet. Simply taking a moment to reflect on what brought joy, or what there was to be thankful for, or a hard point in the day that could have been handled differently, for me it sort of solidifies these important specks in time. Maybe its a little like taking a photograph so you can remember a moment. Stopping to reflect helps make these moments more meaningful, less fleeting, more impressionable on myself.

Needless to say, I think I'm going to stick with my win, fail, spice format at least here and there. I like it!


Sunday, June 2, 2019

we have a walker

WIN: Decluttered the dining room. Oh my goodness it feels so nice to have stuff cleared out of there. Hooray!

SPICE: (I like to end with the spice but I have to list it first because it's related to the fail) Baby girl started officially walking. She's been taking a few steps to us and she's been taking a few steps from one item to another but yesterday she started actually walking through the room. She's doing that adorable little penguin walk with her hands in the air but she is very officially walking. This is such a delightful spice. How many times in ones life does someone experience their child walking for the very first? Amazing!

FAIL: I didn't even think to call my husband at work when baby Wren started to really officially walk. I mean, she has sort of been walking for a bit now. When he got home she was in bed for the night. I told him that she started walking around the room and he was pretty annoyed with me for not having called him at work. Ooops

Saturday, June 1, 2019

yard work blog

This is turning into the yard work blog. Yesterday's WIN was getting a ton of yard work done and cleaning inside the house a bunch while having fun with the kids. It was a gorgeous day, warm, sunny, and the entire world is in bloom and filled with wild life. Wonderful!

The FAIL for the day was eating almost no healthy food.

Yesterday's SPICE was the picnic Abe set up for us in the backyard. Baby Wren's pack and play was already outside because she was in it while I was mowing the lawn. We went inside. While I fed her Abe put a sheet out, set up two lawn chairs on it. A little one for him and a big one for me. He wheeled her pack and play over to it. He brought out six stuffed animals, two for each of us. And then he got some bowls and plates and brought out chips and granola bars for our snack. When he was all done he announced the picnic and it was wonderful.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

SPRING!

Last year I didn't garden. I also hardly did any yard work: mowing the lawn, trimming the edges, weeding the beds... I was VERY large, tired, and uncomfortable with baby girl growing in my tummy and once she ran out of space and was done growing I was very sore, tired, and in new born baby mode for another two months. Our yard was a mess last year. Spring and summer were somewhat of a haze.

I LOVE my little garden each year though. Putting these tiny plants into the ground and then watching them get bigger each day, tending them, and the miracle of food growing as a result of these small plants being placed in the soil is nothing short of exhilarating for me. The thrill of it hasn't grown any less as the years have gone by either. I LOVE IT!

A co-worker bought something like 26 tomato plants a few weeks ago and he says to me, "I think I may have gotten carried away. Do you want any tomato plants if I don't end up using all of mine?" Of course I took him up on the offer. At least a week ago he gave me six gorgeous little tomato plants. They've been hanging out on our back walk ever since. Yesterday's WIN was getting our little garden in. Myself and the two kiddos spent about an hour in the back yard after dinner pulling weeds and grass out of the little neglected patch of land next to our fence that I call a garden. I broke up the soil once the weeding was done, added a bag of dirt and some compost (spent exactly $10 on the pair), got the little tomato plants in, and put up my small fencing to keep the rabbits out. Yay! We're gardening again!!!

FAIL: I don't know. Yesterday I said the dishes but I got those caught up. There are so many things that aren't up to par. Life is really hard, super exhausting, I'm not perfect at ANYTHING but I can't really think of a fail in particular for yesterday. Good enough.

Tuesday's SPICE for certain was having dirt all over my hands. Digging up earth worms. Pulling up weeds. Breaking up the soil. It was wonderful having dirt covered hands again! A plus was giggling about baby girl eating clovers while I dug and watching Abe do his crazy seven year old boy stuff while I was getting the garden in (climbing the fence over and over, squashing spiders, racing up and down the driveway, digging in the dirt with me, ect;).  

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

photos, dishes, and sprinkles

The past few days I've been working at backing up photos from the latter half of last year and the first few months of this year. I keep all of our photos stored on discs organized by month and year. I also compile an album on Shutterfly each year. Yesterday's WIN was finishing up last year's album and photo back up. As well as saving a ton of money on the book. Shutterfly occasionally does a "free pages" promo. I've learned to compile our albums and wait to order them until a free pages ad comes up. Free pages means that you pay the base price for whichever album you choose and no matter how many extra pages you add (generally priced at 95 cents for each page over, I think it's 25 pages) you don't pay the extra per page price. I LOVE the free pages promo! Our album for last year is around 85 pages, came to around $107 and I paid $34 with the free pages promo including shipping. Win! Win! Win!

As for the FAIL I'm going to say the dishes. I have an on going battle with our dishes. They hate me. Okay, not really. I had been keeping up on the darn little buggers quite well but in the past few days I let them get away from me. It doesn't matter though, right? The only problem is that it does matter. I hate it when the kitchen is full of dirty dishes. I hate it when I can't cook until I've washed the dishes that I need in order to start making dinner. That's yesterday's fail BUT today I recovered. Yay!

Mondays I get home from work at noon and my husband goes in to work a second shift. On Mondays I'm so tired. Me, Abe, baby girl, we were all grouchy and irritable yesterday in the evening. I'd asked Abe if he wanted to go for a walk, just to get out of the house, just to leave behind the grouchies. He was totally on board. He put his bike helmet on and brought his bike out. I put a little sweatshirt on baby sister. We all started out for our walk and then it started to sprinkle. Grr... nope. We went for a 40 minute walk/ bike ride in the rain and loved it. SPICE.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

mid week misfire

Tuesday: wake up late for work. Work. Meet family at dentist for cleanings. Head home for a grouchy evening. Wow... Tuesday.

I don't work Wednesdays so today I'm home trying to accomplish as much at my other job (taking care of my family) as possible.

Yesterday's WIN: I'm not sure actually. Genuinely can't think of anything. Okay, Abe didn't have an cavities. I can totally call that the win for the day.

FAIL: The whole day was kind of a bust so I could just go with that. I think that the actual fail for the day is my default reaction to annoying situations. Attitude is everything. I had a bad attitude yesterday.

SPICE: I'm sitting here. Sitting here. Sitting here. Honestly every single day should have several wonderful spices, no matter how simple, how short lived... it's sad to have to sit and sit and sit and think and come up blank. The thing I LOVE about blog challenges like this one is how incredibly apparent it becomes that if you make an effort to notice, remember, and chose to be impacted by the little things in life that can just pass us by, but despite how small they are they do matter, they are what bring joy, they are what impact us and make life worth living, if you make an effort to notice these things they become SOOOOOO very much more impactful. (sorry that was a ridiculously long sentence). When I just go through life, trying to mark off the to-dos, trying to keep my sanity, trying to make it to appointments on time and get through the work day, when I don't make a very conscious effort to notice the little things it's almost as if they never actually happened. So much of life is missed even though it was there.

It's like driving past the most beautiful landscape in the world. You might see it for a few seconds out the side window. It's still beautiful. But if you stop and stroll through the landscape, sit and sip a cup of tea immersed by the beauty it changes you.