Thursday, July 31, 2008

Potty training success

Minnie was fairly easy to potty train. Little Man is proving to be much more difficult. He goes through phases where he is really into it, then he switches his attention to something else. So I don't know when The Time will actually be. I'm really looking forward to it though!

So the timing is just right for this great Huggies Potty Training Success giveaway over at Vanilla Joy. If you're getting ready to potty train, check it out!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Family Pictures

This is Suzette and her 4 beautiful kids. They were so fun and easy to take pictures of. We went to the Young Living Lavender Farm - there were some awesome picture spots there.

The two beautiful girls.

And two extra-handsome boys!

If you've never been to a lavender farm, you should really try it! There was a lot of interesting information and the lavender is gorgeous. I even got to try lavender ice cream! Almost all of the lavender is harvested this year but I am making a note to take the kids back next summer.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Blog header

I did a blog header for a personal blog at This was my first attempt at designing in Illustrator, after getting some fabulous pointers from my friend Cicada.

I have a style that is really linear and ordered so I'm trying to branch out and do things that are more flowy and artistic. What do you think?

Monday, July 28, 2008

My precious

I am so sad! On my list of "things I have not found since we've moved" is the armband and case for my iPod Nano. So when I go running I have been tucking the iPod in the strap of my bra where it is nice and safe and cozy.Well, apparently not as safe as I'd hoped. When I got home I noticed that the iPod was dead. Figuring that it had discharged I plugged it in. Except... nothing. No power, no response, no nothing. I don't know if it was heat or a little bit of moisture (there's no condensation behind the screen or anything). My poor precious iPod is no more.

Anyone out there have a used Nano they are getting rid of?

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Welcome to the neighborhood

We have lived in this house for 3 months now - so it seems the perfect time to get a Welcome Packet in the mail. These always claim to have good coupons for local businesses and money-saving things. I'm no marketing expert but that's what I would put in them. I don't know who put this packet together but I would bet that they've never moved before. This packet contained (among the usual 22 ads/coupons/special offers/just-for-you deals for satellite TV, phone service, orthodontics and lawn care):

Customize-your-own-checks service. Nothing says classy adult like Tweety Bird checks.

Coupons for acne cream

Summer Sensations romance novel book club membership (because when you're moving, you pretty much have unlimited free time to read trashy novels).

A limited time offer for The Munster's Halloween Village Highly Breakable Holiday Decor Set. Conveniently it doesn't say anywhere on the order form how much the item costs. Yipee, it's practically free! I'll order 12.

And my favorite - a Collector's Edition of Huckleberry Finn. Regularly $39.95, yours for only $6!. I bet there are NO strings attached here. Besides... what new homeowner doesn't need their own luxurious volume of the Mark Twain classic?

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Newest running accessory

Since I finished the 5K without dying I decided to reward myself with something I've had my eye on for a while. I've been searching the classified ads and sales for a good double jogging stroller. Lately we have been jogging around the neighborhood pushing the kids in our borrowed, 8-year old, 50 pound tandem stroller. If you can even get them IN the stroller without going the rounds over who gets the back seat, you then have to push around a 90-pound behemoth that is always pulling hard to the left. My shoulders are going to look like Joe's before long. So finally I got him to research the side-by-side joggers and he settled on this beauty.

Incidentally, after spending the morning at Babies R Us, can I just say NO FAIR!? There were not this many cute things when I had babies (not really that long ago). Look at this! And this and this! Apparently the new trend of "babies as Hollywood starlet accessories" has made the baby-gear designers really step it up. When I was pregnant with Minnie you basically had three color choices for everything: Basic Black, Navy n' Khaki (makes me think of a prep school uniform) and Winnie the Pooh Pastel. So we own a lot of black stuff. But now... pack-n-plays, bedding, strollers, bouncy seats... everything is so darn cute and fashionable!

Anyway, back to our stroller. How cool is this!? Minnie was highly offended that we didn't purchase the ridiculously overpriced Maclaren umbrella stroller that came in her favorite colors of brown and pink. I'm sorry, but for that price the stroller had better come with a jet propulsion system or a private jacuzzi or something.

My secondary motive here is this: we are going to Disneyland in October. Last time we took two small umbrella strollers and while they are easy to get in and out of cars, airports and doorways... there's still no place to PUT anything! Hanging a diaper bag off the back made the whole stroller tip over whenever a kid jumped out of it. Plus I spent an hour sitting under the Tarzan tree with the stroller tipped back in my lap while Little Man napped.

Our new stroller one has reclining seats, storage baskets, cup holders and even a speaker that connects to your iPod! I think the only thing that could make it better is a 3-inch-thick, toddler-proof plastic barrier between the two seats, perhaps with a speaker that repeats subliminal messages like "don't hit your brother don't hit your brother don't hit your brother..." Because, as handy as this is, I definitely foresee problems having them side-by-side. Well, either way, I'm really excited about this and I can't wait to get out and use it!


Just for fun, I measured both kids and looked up their height/weight percentiles.

Minnie | 4 | 34.8 pounds (35%) | 40 inches (34%)

Little Man | 2 | 33.4 pounds (88%) | 38 inches (93%)

I wonder how long before Little Man surpasses his sister in both height and weight? I wanted this information so I could use one of those toddler height predictors.

Minnie | 5 feet 3 inches

Little Man | 6 feet 2.5 inches

Friday, July 25, 2008

The results

The official times aren't posted yet but I think Joe and I came in at around 35 minutes. We looked at the clock when we crossed the finish line but it was counting the 10K time and not ours and we didn't know exactly when we took off after the 10K start. Sad!

Anyway, I wanted to run the entire thing but I broke down and walked for 30 seconds a few times... especially up the last hill. We did pass a few people here and there and even ran hard on the last stretch and crossed the finish line strong. I really held Joe back but we kept a reasonable pace and I don't feel terribly sore. All in all it was a success. And I got this awesome t-shirt. Too bad it's a youth-large size instead of the size I ordered. Stupid Run13 did not have enough t-shirts for all the competitors. You can imagine that Joe was thrilled when they gave him the same extra-small size shirt as I got. He'll look awesome in it.

Joe is already training for a half-marathon in September. This cartoon (sent to me by Hannah who saw it on Pedalingfast) pretty much sums up how I feel about that.

Incidentally, if you're anxiously counting down the days to the release of "Breaking Dawn", idle your time away with this awesome quiz by my friend Jenny. I'm almost embarrassed to admit that I have NOT read the Twilight books yet. I have nothing against fantasy (I waited cheerfully in line with hundreds of other nerds for Deathly Hallows last summer). I don't necessarily dislike vampires and I love me a good romance but... I just can't get going on this one. My mother-in-law warned me that the poor quality of the writing would make me insane. So I cheated and read the Wiki-summary of the first three books to see if I was missing out on anything fantastic. Result: I rolled my eyes so hard I think I dislodged one of them.

Update: the official results were posted today

Your chip time is from when your shoe crosses the start line (you tie a timing chip to your shoe) to when it crosses the finish line, so it's your totally accurate time. Sooooo close to my original goal, I can't believe it! I'm really excited.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

It's race day!

My first ever 5K is today. I am both excited and scared of being a wuss/looking like a moron. Have I mentioned that since I started running I've gained 8 entire pounds? If that's not motivating, I don't know what is. Keep those fingers crossed for me!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

DIY Shelf Project

Joe is in over his head with home-improvement projects lately. Between yard work, the garden, sprinklers that need fixed, painting and an automotive repair that resulted a truck that honked each time it made a right turn... he's got a lot on his plate. However he's been complaining that we have no headboard. Our old one was ugly and our new room is kind of short so it wouldn't fit anyway.

Still, when I got these great shelves for our bedroom (to use in place of a headboard) I felt kind of bad asking him to put them up for me. I felt pretty confident after putting up all the blinds in the kids room. Plus I found the cordless power drill. So here we go. Shelf installation for the do-it-yourself mom.

First I located all the studs in the wall and marked them with painter's tape. Surprisingly, without Joe around there were no comments like "this thing goes off wherever I'm standing..."

IKEA instructions are pretty easy to follow because they have lots of pictures, like these:

See how easy? First, you should never rock out with a large shelf as if you're playing Guitar Hero. Second if you lay the bookcase down it will inexplicably spring a leak and sink to the bottom of the ocean... so put a magic carpet under it. Finally if you can't figure out how to stack two blocks together, plug a 1,000 foot phone cord into your local IKEA center for round-the-clock help... kind of like the BatPhone!

Seriously though, the instructions are easy to follow. The shelf mount was kind of a big one and I wanted to get it level (nothing like a lamp sliding onto your head at 2am). So I taped the level to the shelf mount so that I could mark the holes without fumbling around with the level at the same time.

Try to line up the holes with as many of the studs as possible. Use drywall anchors in any place that doesn't have a stud behind it. A sales person at a hardware store (not WalMart) will be able to help you find the right drywall anchor for your project. If you go to WalMart the person wandering the hardware section will actually be trained in Produce and Intimate Apparel and stare at you blankly before walking away. Alternately you may try to buy paint and the guy at the counter will say "I'm supposed to be in the Tire Center. You might want to come back tomorrow." Because you totally had nothing better to do. Moving on...

Take a moment to admire your level shelf.

Tell yourself that you didn't want it centered anyway...

Repeat with second, smaller shelf. Decorate and admire. Although... what do I do with those lamp cords?

It is pretty painful for me to admit this... but here goes. A few hours after I finished this project (and I was oh-so-proud), Minnie decided to hang from the shelf and pulled it right out of the wall. She felt terrible and I was so sad. Fortunately nothing was broken and Joe said that not enough of the screws were attached to studs to support the weight of lamps, books AND a four-year-old. So he is going to drill holes in the metal to line up with all the studs and says that you will be able to swing a hammock from it when he's done.

So I'm not sure what our take-home lesson here is. Install the shelf yourself? Or leave it to the experts? I maintain that the theory was good. Just don't let your monkey kids swing from it.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Dinner dilemma

Your cooking challenge - should you choose to accept it - is threefold:

1. After a day of fishing, cavorting, boating and frolicking with visiting relatives, you must find a meal that doesn't involve the phrase "would you like to supersize that?"

2. In order to make it through the store without stopping in the Bribery Aisle (cheap toys) you were forced to promise a dessert that was not only fun, but that they could help with.

3. Friends are visiting, so you have two fair maidens and one hero/prince/dragon/dog that are not only hungry, but eager to help with the promised interactive dessert.

Dinner solution: Garden Veggie Spaghetti...

1 pkg Mild Italian Sausage (links or ground)
2 cans tomato sauce
2 cups or 2 cans diced/crushed/stewed tomatoes (whatever you have on hand)
1 onion, diced
2 green peppers, chopped
1 cup fresh mushrooms, sliced
olive oil
Italian seasonings
1 tbsp sugar

Brown sausages in a few tbsp olive oil. Slice links into big bites and put back into pan. Add onion and sauté. Add tomatoes and tomato sauce. Season to taste (the sausage will add a bit of salt so make sure not to add too much. My grandma always added a bit of sugar to the sauce - that's why I use it. Add green peppers and mushrooms last, cook until they're just done (I like the peppers still tender-crisp). Serve over your favorite shape of noodles.

I like fresh spaghetti sauce because you save all the vitamins and nutrients and vegetable-goodness in the sauce instead of discarding it with the cooking water. While I can't always get my kids to eat the actual vegetables, I tell myself that they're still getting some of the vitamins and stuff by eating the plain red sauce on their noodles. Plus it has a lot less salt and sugar than the bottled variety. Because I like my vegetables firmer and not cooked to death, I don't do the cook-all-day spaghetti sauce and instead adapt this quick version to whatever vegetables I have hanging around. My kids like sausage and usually eat this spaghetti sauce right up.

Instead of the Mild Italian sausage, Joe loves the hot variety. The ground sausage adds a little too much heat for me so I always use the links. It's a bit too spicy for the kids though. If you're feeling extra adventurous, crumble a bit of goat cheese on your spicy sauce.

Dessert solution: Frutie Tootie Pie...

1 Oreo cookie crust
1 pkg pudding mix (any type, we had banana in the pantry)
2 cups milk
1 cup fresh fruit (we had a banana and raspberries but you could use anything - mandarin oranges, strawberries, blueberries, peaches...)

Line the bottom of the pie crust with washed/sliced/prepared fruit, save a few pretty pieces for the top. Mix pudding and milk in blender. Pour pudding over fruit. Top with remaining fruit and crumble 1 Oreo cookie over the top. You could also use toasted coconut or sugared nuts if you had them. Really you could adapt this recipe to anything you had in your pantry.

OK so pudding and Oreos wasn't the most healthful thing I could think of, but they did have a helping of fresh fruit with their dessert right?

Monday, July 21, 2008

In which my love affair with IKEA continues...

Little Man was feeling left out of the room-decorating extravaganza, so I had to look for a new blanket for him. And if you believed that... well you don't know me as well as Joe. He didn't buy it for a second. Actually I wanted another trip to IKEA to check out their clearance fabric. Plus I noticed that Little Man's current sheet set was grungified beyond belief. So this is what he got. I didn't get the quilt insert to put inside the cover. Instead I found a lighter-weight fleece blanket that he already owned and put it inside the quilt cover. Much nicer and free! The IKEA insert just felt too heavy and fluffy - this is a much friendlier blanket for the little guy. Also, because he is not a baby, he doesn't need the cute striped receiving blankets. So I'm turning them into a valance. I need to see if I can cut out the pink stripe...

The clearance fabric section did not disappoint either. Check out these hot mod patterns!
I got the first two and the last one. I'm envisioning a few excellent bags (gifts for special someones) and maybe a fabulous accent pillow or two. First though, Hannah has to teach me how to make said bag. I'm sure we'll both have lots of pictures in the next few weeks.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Destination... determination...

OK, it's official. We're registered for the July 24th 5K. I went to the website for the race yesterday only to find out that the first mile or so is uphill. Come on people! Give a girl a break!

So with one week to go, I'm trying to stay motivated, keep a positive attitude and tell myself that Joe is not going to run circles around me and leave me in the dust (it could happen).

Friday, July 18, 2008

Pink pink pink

Minnie went with her grandparents for an evening so I used the time to put her room together. Since this was a project I had to do without Joe, I've learned the following valuable lessons:

1. Clean white blinds are much better than the dusty old curtains that were in the house when we bought it.
2. Check the box of blinds before you leave WalMart to make sure it actually contains the hardware needed to install them (like brackets and screws... important stuff).
3. Don't try to put up blinds with only a screwdriver. Find the cordless drill.
4. If you're going to let a 4-year-old choose her own color scheme, be prepared for the room to look like a gypsy tent. Or a circus. Or, in Joe's eloquent terms "it looks like IKEA threw up in here."
5. If your husband loses the chuck to the cordless drill (or hides it from you) and you have to install one side of the blinds with only a screwdriver, a hammer and a curtain hook, kick him in the shins. Then make him finish the other window.
6. A dresser that you find in someone's yard with a 'free' sign on it holds just as many clothes as a new, expensive one.
7. As annoying as the project may have been, it was all worth it to see her surprised, excited little face when she saw her new room.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Raspberry Nutella Toast

This has been a favorite breakfast item for Bart and Lisa lately - ever since they started demanding fresh berries with every meal! While I don't think it qualifies as "really healthy" it beats any toaster pastry, too-sugary granola bar or a bowl of Sugar Frosted Chocolate Marshmallow Crunchy Sugar Sugar Bombs. Throw in a little glass of milk and you've got one little balanced meal there.

I've met a few people who are not on board the Nutella wagon and, if you are one of these, feel free to hop on right now.
Nutella was discovered in 1812 when Ponce de León sailed his fleet of three ships - the Nina, the Pinto and the San Diego Padres to the New World in search of.... wait...

OK, Nutella was actually created in Italy during WWII when imported things like chocolate were seriously limited. To make the precious chocolate go further, a genius named Pietro Ferrero blended the chocolate with a hazlenut spread - and Nutella was born. Originally an Italian staple, it is now enjoyed all over the world. Nutella is about as healthy as peanut butter (you get some healthy fats) but remember that has sugar and calories and all things that are delicious. Everything in moderation right?

To make this feel like a good breakfast, I do start with some great bread. Homemade, wheat, oatmeal, 7-grain... whatever. I am lucky that my kids have developed a taste for wheat and whole grain breads. Toast the bread lightly and spread a thin layer of Nutella while the bread is still warm. Top with some fresh raspberries and enjoy. My kids usually like simple shapes on their toast - hearts, smiley faces or letters.

love, etc...


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Three against one

My mother-in-law's sister is visiting from back east. We decided to head up to IKEA for a day of walking, browsing and drooling over fine Swedish design. Somehow Joe managed to schedule a meeting with a Gold's Gym personal trainer** right in the middle of our shopping trip, so we also got to take both kids with us - NOT my original plan.

By the time we had wandered through all the showrooms, Minnie had worked herself into a home-design frenzy. She had to touch each bedspread, check out each wall color and decide if every carpet would look good in her room. So when Aunt Karen offered to get her a canopy for her bed, she was in heaven.

I wanted to pick a canopy color that would look good with her room decor and, since she sleeps under some random baby blanket each night, I offered to get her a cute bedspread to match her canopy. I was thinking more along the lines of this...
With the soft blue and the cute flower design and the butterflies... I could think of a lot of cute wall colors to go along with this. So, of course, she runs straight for this.
It's a battle I had no hope of winning. She could not be deterred, dissuaded or derailed. Joe's mom and aunt were in love with the colors and of course had to help her pick out 28 accessories to match. So on top of the bright pink and orange bedspread, we also got pink AND orange curtain panels and a pink canopy for the bed. It's like a sherbet explosion. It's a good thing the walls in the room are still white because your eyeballs would pop out of your head otherwise. I have to get the rest of the blinds installed today and then I will take pictures to post.

**As a sidenote, all the personal trainers have names like "Brick" and "Snake" and I really hoped that Joe would come home with his own American Gladiator-style gym name. He was shooting for "Crash Fistfight" but I think it's too long for everyday use. My friend Cicada suggested "Offroad" which I thought was good. Any other nominees?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Running update

3 - number of miles run (no walking!)
36 - minutes it took
1.5 - miles it takes before I quit hating it and wanting to stop
475 - calories burned
5.5 - speed I run on the treadmill
1 - speed that Minnie walks on the treadmill while I stretch
9 - days before our 5K

Monday, July 14, 2008

Papa's garden salad

This was a simple garden salad that my Papa would make fresh as often as he could. He had an enormous garden by the riverside and we would just go pick the ingredients straight from the ground in the summer. I think he would have (and often did) eat this every single day the vegetables were in season. This salad is always a real winner because it's

1. super simple
2. comprised of relatively inexpensive ingredients
3. beautiful when dressed
4. not too weird for picky sorts
5. new to most people (not the same old same old)
6. packed with good-for-you veggies and very little fat
7. so so yummy!

Papa's Garden Salad...
1 cucumber
1 bell pepper
2 medium tomatoes (or a handful of grape tomatoes)
good-quality olive oil
red wine vinegar
seasoning (I use garlic salt, Italian seasoning and fresh black pepper)

Chop the vegetables into bite-size pieces, place all in a bowl. I always half-peel the cucumber that way because it is really pretty and the skin of veggies is so good for you. Sprinkle with seasonings (go easy at first and add more later if you want). Drizzle about 3 tbsp olive oil (I break out the good stuff for salads) and 4-5 tbsp vinegar. Toss salad. Check seasonings and adjust if necessary.

Pan-fry a simple chicken breast and you have a delicious summer meal in less than 15 minutes. Beat that Rachael Ray! Pick up these three simple ingredients and get ready to be a hit at your next BBQ, potluck or summer party.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

More berries

Sadly, I think we've seen the last few strawberries for this year. Berry season should last longer! But if it did, maybe it wouldn't seem quite as exciting and special every year.

Fortunately our raspberries have started getting ripe! We go out and pick them every day - braving the honey bees and getting scratched and scraped to make sure not one ripe berry goes un-picked. Or in the case of my kids... un-eaten!

Lisa is a good berry-picker. She loves to look for the bright red gems among the leaves. She knows to gently pull the berry loose from the cap and place it in our basket. If she can't reach them, she'll at least point them out to me. Bart on the other hand... fingers and lips stained with juice, he will eat right off the bush, not even bothering to pull the berry free. My only hope is that he still can't reach very many and instead follows me around asking "Mommy, I have dat big red one? I have the huge?"

My big dilemma - what to make with these little beauties. I have some lemons... I'm dreaming of shortbread... I'll have to see what I come up with tomorrow.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Digital thermometer

Ordinarily I'm not much of a gadget person. I don't like a lot of one-use items cluttering up my kitchen (space I could be using for beautiful serveware!) I find most of the choppy, slicey, dicey, gadgety things to be flimsy and not very useful after the initial excitement wears off. Make your own salsa and smoothies, bake a three-layer cake and construct a radio-controlled rocket - all with this simple blender/chopper/grinder/screwdriver! Yours for only $19.95!!! However, here is a handy little item that I have come to love.

One year, I got to give my mom this awesome digital remote food thermometer for Christmas. Except it was from my dad. So I didn't so much give it to her as I talked my dad into it, drove to get it, wrapped it and brought it to our house and let my dad take all the glory. Oh well.

Anyway, it wasn't the same Christmas but Joe (the gift tag said it was from Emeril but I think I'm on to him) bought me a probe thermometer of my own and I loved it and cherished it and used it all the time. Until he broke it. Joe broke it, not Emeril. So your take-home lesson is that these might be safe in the oven, but not so much in the BBQ. Apparently the probe touched the grill rack and cranked itself up to 328 degrees... and there it has stayed for 2 weeks. Sadly, it's time for another thermometer.

Lacking the $50 it would take to replace my thermometer with the Williams-Sonoma brand, I've been searching other stores. I've found a few promising ones at Target, like this one.
I like that it has a pot clip - very useful for candy-making (I used to attach the probe to my wooden spoon with a twist-tie to keep it from touching the bottom of the pan). Another plus - it's fairly inexpensive. Anyone out there have some other good recommendations? Also, I might splurge and get this for husband as well...

Friday, July 11, 2008

Raspberry Cheesecake Ice Cream

The original recipe for this came from Cafe Johnsonia. I modified it a little bit but the credit for this luscious summer treat should, of course, go to her.

Ice cream base...
2 cups heavy cream
1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk

Raspberry swirl...
2 cups fresh raspberries
1/4 cup sugar

1. Mix softened cream cheese and sweetened condensed milk together until well blended. Add lemon juice and vanilla.

2. Slowly add cream and beat until it's thick (not thick like whipped cream, but just short of it).

3. Pour thickened mixture into your ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer directions (about 20 minutes).

4. Wash raspberries and pat dry. Toss with 1/4 cup sugar and allow to sit in the fridge until the berries start to break down and release their juices.

5. Try not to eat these scrumptious little sugared berries.

6. When the ice cream is done mixing, it should look like soft serve and start climbing the sides of the mixer. Scrape it into a freezer-safe dish.

7. Drop berries and all the juice by dollops onto the ice cream. With a spoon or spatula, swirl into ice cream (don't stir to much). Cover tightly and allow to harden in freezer (at least 2 hours).

The ice cream was so smooth and silky - it rivaled the most expensive store-bought ice cream I've ever had. The berries were so fresh and so tart and complimented the cheesecake taste perfectly. I had some extra cream and I made a larger batch than the recipe called for. However, next time I'm sticking with the instructions as written because it diluted the cheesecake taste a little too much. I think I will add more raspberries too! I think the real danger here (aside from the danger to your waistline) is that no ice cream that you can buy will taste as good as the stuff you can make. So if you're ready to spoil yourself, here's a great place to start.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Attempts at homemaking

I pulled the first vegetables out of our garden yesterday! I have about 12 small bush bean plants that have survived late frost, bugs and trampling-by-small-children and they're starting to produce. I got 1-3 beans from each plant, which was just enough for dinner (Joe caught 4 smallish trout so we had an excellent, fresh dinner!) My favorite way to prepare beans is to boil them for a few minutes until they're tender but not mushy. Slice half an onion, sauté it in a bit of butter or olive oil, add a sprinkle of garlic salt and toss with the beans.

In celebration of our not-dying garden, I bought something I've been eying for a while now... this beauty of a pressure-canner. I have crazy dreams of being able to bottle my own beans so that we can have fresh, nutritious veggies throughout the winter months. I think my only real obstacle will be not eating every bean as it comes out of the garden. Because they were so tender and so flavorful and sweet. YUM! I sowed a second crop yesterday that will hopefully have less frost problems and give us a fair amount of beans later in the summer. Also, if you're not living on a farm and gathering bushels of beans every day, how do you keep them fresh long enough to fill a few bottles?

Last year Hannah and I turned into crazy people and decided that, with no experience, help or know-how, we would learn to bottle our own peaches. We read this website numerous times, assembled our equipment, turned on a movie (Jane Eyre) and just went for it. It was a LOT of work, but we did get our boxes of peaches bottled. I ended up with 16 quarts of peaches and 14 small bottles of peach butter. It's been over 8 months of eating delicious bottled peaches and, since no one has had any botulism complaints, I figure we did everything correctly. Except we didn't get the lids wiped off well enough, so opening each sticky lid is a challenge. Live and learn right? Also my kids would eat an entire bottle on their own if I let them, which makes me happy.

Oh yes, as a sidenote, check out Hannah's blog because she's giving away a blog-header and believe me, you want it. That looks like a fun give-away. Maybe I'll do one in the future. Anyway...

Back to canning and bottling. I'm really excited about this! I'm hoping that in the late summer and early fall, we can get a group together again for Handy Homemakers Part II. So get your bottles, fruit and veggies and your home-makiest apron ready for fall. I can't wait.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Family Pictures

I did family pictures for a large family yesterday. And I do mean large. We had 30 people in the group shot.

This is my friend Aleah's girls, Azlynn and Brielle. Both of them are so photogenic, and so strikingly beautiful!

It may surprise you, but this group of kids was pretty easy to wrangle. Most of them listened to their parents, stayed where we put them, and were full of smiles.

All of the kids were so beautiful, with really bright and sparkly eyes.