Monday, June 30, 2008

Green Cleaning Recipes

A few days ago I posted about the Clean Green Workshop I attended at my
sister-in-law's house. The products are working really well and smell great!

Here are the recipes:

Super Safe Soft Scrub:
3/4 c. baking soda
20 drops lavender essential oil
20 drops rosemary essential oil
5 drops sweet orange essential oil
2 Tbsp. unscented biodegradable cleanser (we used Dr. Bronner's)
1 Tbsp. distilled water (don't use tap... use distilled!)
1 Tbsp. vinegar (add LAST!)

Put every thing in order into a bowl and stir. We put it into a tupperware-type container for easy use.

Natural Toilet Bowl Cleaner:
2 Tbsp. unscented biodegradable cleanser (again, Dr. Bronner's)
1 c. baking soda
1/4 c. distilled water
25 drops tea tree essential oil
1 Tbsp. vinegar (LAST! to make it foam)

Mix the first two ingredients together with a fork to work out the lumps. Then add the essential oil, stir. Add the water and vinegar last. You may want to add a little more water to get the consistency right in order to put it into a ketchup-type bottle for easy squeeze action into the toilet. Shake the squir bottle well before using and squirt inside the toilet, on and under the rim, and on the seats. Scrub.

All Purpose Counter/Glass Cleaning Spray:
16 oz. distilled water
80 drops sweet orange essential oil
40 drops lavender essential oil
20 drops rosemary essential oil
1/4 c. white vinegar

Mix in a spray bottle. Shake before each use.

Carpet Deodorizer:
16 oz. baking soda
20 drops lavender essential oil
20 drops tea tree essential oil
10 drops lemon essential oil

Mix in a gallon size Ziploc bag. Sprinkle on carpets before vacuuming.

No-more-itchy skin bath:
Fill the tub with water, add the carpet deoderizer (it's natural!!), stir and put the kids in the tub. No more itchy kids!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

The triathalon

I joined two friends on a triathalon team. I'm the biker, Holly's the runner and Cary is the swimmer. We're on Team Mike, in support of my childhood friend Mike DeBruin, who died almost two years ago from ARDS (acute respitory distress syndrome). His wife Korie started Team Mike last summer with a few friends. They worked hard and each completed the triathalon. Our three-some is doing it as a relay, but doing the longer distance. I think I'm riding 30 miles (oops, I mean 40 K.. what's the conversion?)... better check on that. The date is July 12th, so I'm getting close. Here's the route.
I've been getting up at 6:30 to ride almost every day with my highschool volleyball coach (turned personal trainer for me.) It is a struggle for me to get to bed before midnight, then wake up early. Since I stopped working we seem to be a late-to-bed and late-to-rise kind of family. It works great with our schedule, but makes getting up early to ride while Ron is still at home with the kids before work, a little tough. Only a few more weeks!
I ride the Minnehaha Parkway trails near our house. My favorite ride is to Lake Harriet and Calhoun. Tomorrow we're expanding to Lake of the Isles. Maybe we'll stop at Stephanie's for a little morning coffee? Pumpernickel bagel, maybe? :)

Saturday, June 28, 2008

A mystery bloomer in the garden

I went out to water the garden yesterday and found this.

I had seen it growing, but wasn't exactly sure what it was. I didn't plant it. The compost pile did. Actually, there are several of these volunteer plants growing, most likely pumpkins or squash of some sort. I think back to what I scooped and flinged into the compost bin last fall and compare that to the way these leaves look. The blossom makes me very suspicious that it is indeed a pumpkin.
Some brussel sprouts... going crazy! Notice the brick paths, scavenged by my Dad from a downtown building project's reject pile, carried lovingly in canvas bags, trip by trip until we had enough for this path and the perimiter border around my yard. Thanks, Dad!

We're growing potatoes for the first time this year... yukon golds and a sweet potato. I bought seed potatoes at the nursery and supplemented with a sprouting sweet pot. from our own tuber basket. I love the way the sweet potato leaves look... and quite different from the sweet potato vines you can buy at the nursery. The yukon golds are up to Carl's shoulders... that's a tall 5 year old's shoulders. Wow. Can't wait to see what they look like in the fall. (Try not to notice the weeds creeping in.)

Friday, June 27, 2008

always learning

Just happened upon Elsie's blog. Wow. I LOVE her photography stuff! I sat there wondering, just about to email her to inquire just exactly HOW she creates those colors... when I saw that she had a link to a tutorial on Photoshop for cross-processing. My goodness... just what I wanted. I tried one, a quickie, and here's what I got. Can't wait to stay up til 1 a.m soon to fine tune this process. Now it is time to take a Photoshop class to learn the finer things about the program and so that I can stop calling my brother-in-law late at night to ask questions. Check it out.

Nature Kids

My friend Korie and I decided that we had heard enough about Nature Deficiency Disorder in kids. We are outside putzing in the yard, parks and nature almost daily, so we didn't worry about our kids, but decided to be purposefull in planning our summer activities. We like the neighborhood parks and spend a great deal of time there, but decided that we wanted to add to our repetoire of fun, kid-friendly nature sites. Thus began our blog to document the outings and provide calendar information for future nature dates . We meet every Thursday morning for a kid-centered outing and picnic lunch, somewhere in the Twin Cities area, surrounded by green stuff. So far we've had three adventures and have many more in store for the summer. Check it out. Join us, if you'd like!

These photos were from Afton State Park. We started with a kid-bike ride and then found the river. We couldn't tear the kids away from the water for the rest of the morning. Lunch on the beach was mostly sand-coated. Good for the digestive system, right?

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Velodrome fun

A few weeks ago we went to the Velodrome, a bike racing track, in Blaine at the National Sports Center. The NSC Velodrome is one of only three outdoor wooden tracks in the US. It is made of 42 miles of ultra-durable African Afzalia wood. Ron really digs velodromes, knows where they all are throughout the US, and had been wanting to catch a race for a long time. We packed up the kids and some cold beverages and caught the Minnesota Fixed Gear Classic. Very fun and kid friendly.
Louise got a front row view of the track.
Gus and Berik, future racers, or at least future cold-beverage drinking fans.
This orange-red wall caught my eye. Love the contrast with the yellow staircase.

If Gus were a musician, I'd suggest this photo for his album cover.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

green and clean

My sister-in-law Gretchen had a Green Cleaning product party at her house the other night. No, she didn't make us clean her house... that'd be her husband Tieg who gets to do that. She had a few of us over to learn how to make green (safe!) cleaning products out of simple ingredients like baking soda, vinegar, distilled water, Dr. Bronner's natural soap and essential oils. A friend of hers took a class and shared the handout with recipes, so she decided to throw a party and teach us how to do it. What a party it was! Check out the buckets full of containers to store our newly made cleaning supplies! My favorite was the soft-scrub type cleanser. My sink has never been so clean or smelled quite so nice.

If anyone's interested, I can share the recipes. We made the soft-scrub, a counter spray/window wash, carpet deoderizer and a toilet bowl cleaner.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Happy Father's Day

Happy Father's Day to Ronny, who is the best Dad I could imagine for our three small ones.
Letting them ride on your shoulders, sitting on the front stoop together, cooking a turkey, swinging at the park, watching parades, wearing the Bjorn, riding Thomas the train, teaching how to ride bikes without training wheels, holding, cuddling, rocking, being silly, wrestling,
and rapping... thanks for everything you do to make us who we are as a Welbaum family.
We love you.
Jenny, Carl, Gus, Louise and Molly

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Rhubarb, pt. 2

With this much rhubarb, of course I had to bake a pie.

I found a recipe in the Star Tribune last summer for a rhubarb custard pie. The author was a purist of sorts, didn't like to mess around with strawberries or other potential invaders.

I happen to like rhubarb with most anything, but as I had nothing else to mix it with, I followed her recipe but used these lovely brown eggs from a local farmer near the cabin.

Monday, June 9, 2008

A little rhubarb

The rhubarb is ready to go! My rhubarb plants that were hand-me-downs from two different friends have finally reached their full potential. The boys and I harvested a good share of the rhubarb last week in preparation for rhubarb two ways.
The bountiful harvest, waiting to be cleaned and readied for work.

The recipe is from Dianne French, my dear friend Stephanie's mother. When Stef and I lived together, we ate this jam daily. At every meal. Our favorite way was to take a piece of bread (not toast) and spread it with Old Home Fat Free Vanilla yogurt, then slather on a thick coating of this lovely jam. Very sweet, but very, very yummy!

I had been wanting to make it since I first received the recipe from Dianne, maybe, oh my, 11 years ago. Unfortunately, I started the process at about 11 pm one night, too late at night to call Dianne to ask questions about the recipe. Is it a large box or small box of jello? (small) Should I pay attention to the instructions on jelly/jam websites that say not to double the recipe? (yes, but I went ahead and doubled it anyway.) When I put it in the canner, is it really ok to only boil for 5 minutes? (Yes, but she only freezes hers. Hmmm... that would take A LOT less time.)

I went to bed a happy jam maker at 1 am with only a small blood blister on one finger and 12 jars of red goodness to show for my dedication.

You have to let the chopped rhubarb sit overnight mixed with the sugar. It helps the rhubarb juices to release.

Cherry pie filling, jello, rhubarb and sugar. What's not to like? I wanted some vanilla ice cream to pour it over.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Fishin' at the cabin

My parents own a cabin in Siren, Wisconsin. We've been going to the cabin for over 25 years. I barely remember my life before we had the cabin. It was an old fishing resort that was purchased by 10 families, most with kids, so it has always been a wonderful place to visit for kids.

The second generation of kids has fallen in love with the place, just as we did. Over Memorial Day Weekend, Ron had a lot of catching up to do at work and was hoping to spend some time at the office. I had other plans. The kids and I drove up with my parents on Friday night, stopped at Culver's Custard for a little "hangaber" dinner, then headed to Clam Lake. The boys couldn't have been happier with our weekend plans.

They love the cabin for many reasons... the lake, the double bunk beds that they get to share with Gramma and Poppa, the constant supply of red licorice, the buckets of wood scraps they get to build with, worms, bugs, playing with the other kids, but mostly, fishing. Yes, fishing. Neither Ron nor I am into fishing, though I once pulled in a big northern when I was a kid. Fortunately my Dad can be persuaded to pull out the rods for his grandkids and get excited about the possibility of a few fried sunnies for dessert after our main dish. For the past, well, 25 years or so, the fishing off the dock has been less than fruitfull. This weekend was a different story.

All the boys on the dock. Hoping. Wishing. Catching!

Carl and Poppa catch the first sunny of the day.
So excited to catch it, but please, don't make me touch it! A great day at the cabin.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Lemon Cake

My mother-in-law loves lemon cake. Five years ago for her 60th birthday, I made a fancy lemon cake from Bon Appetit that took two days to make, including making the lemon curd from scratch. She talks about it often and it makes me realize how much doing special things for people really matters. People like to be remembered, especially with food.

This year I wanted to try another recipe, perhaps for something easier. I found a lovely recipe in Country Living magazine, maybe in the April issue. In the magazine there were several different versions of the frosting, including this one featured on the website in yellow. I can't seem to find a picture of the one I copied... but maybe I could scan the photo from the magazine itself?!? The recipe is found at the same link.

It was supposed to be a four layer cake. I stayed up 'til 1 am working on it, making sure that both of the two layer pans were perfectly baked. I went to bed totally exhausted but satisfied, knowing that I had finished the tricky part and would enjoy the decorating during nap time the following day. Friday morning we drove Carl to school. Before we left, I made sure that the cakes were covered up with a towel and far from the edge of the counter. While we were gone, the counter surfer, aka Molly, was engaged in a little surf's up activity. She nabbed one of the layer pans off the counter and ate the pan clean. Hmmmm. Maybe I should know better by now? This isn't her 1st time attacking a special cake in our house. Fortunately, the recipe shows that the cake is just lovely as two layers, so I went for it. Here it is in process. Mmmm.

Friday, June 6, 2008

A sneak peek at the porch makeover

My Mom and I decided that we wanted to do our own version of a HGTV makeovers. She wanted to bring some summer to her living room and I wanted to declutter and re-do the color scheme of my porch. Here's a sneak peek of my before pics. (Note: it was raining the night before so I had to bring in all kinds of yard/gardening junk on the porch.)

The before:

We did the work early last week and I'm almost done. Just a quick trip to Ikea this week and I'll be done. I'm so excited!