Friday, June 12, 2009

Picnic Dinner at the Farm

The renters at our farm moved out recently, allowing us some time to be out there and actually go in the house, instead of hovering behind trees to use the bathroom. They were great renters, took care of all sorts of farm-related stuff that we are still learning how to do, but I really missed not being able to feel like it was "our" place. Oh well, that's the small price to pay to keep it occupied until we're ready to head to the country permanently. We're planning on using the farm in June and July as a cabin of sorts. When everyone else in Minnesota is off to their lake place in Northern Wisconsin, we'll be on Interstate 35W heading south to our pond place. No lake, just a very algae saturated pond and a slow moving creek, or crick if you prefer.Wednesday night Ron left work early so we could take a picnic supper to the farm. The boys were excited beyond belief and Louise just followed their intoxicating mood. I'm sure she has no idea what the farm means in terms of her future, but she was stomping in the puddles there with the best of them, grinning the whole time. Carl and Gus pleaded with us, "Can't we move here now? I can start 1st grade here... right?" Instead of bursting their bubble with the reality that we're not ready financially to go there, we just focused on how many times we'll be able to visit and sleep over there this summer. And how many times they'd be able to climb the dirt mound. And how many times they'd be able to look for bugs... and on and on and on. They were more than satisfied.And for me? I'm looking forward to bringing the camera along and documenting their wonder and discoveries of nature, farm life and our family. I'm also looking forward to my graph paper pad (list paper of champions!) and starting my lists of all the many millions of projects I can see happening there some day.
And you? What kinds of things will you be photographing this summer? What kinds of lists will you be making? (And what's your favorite kind of paper to write them on?!?)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Last Day

Who is this big guy, busy playing "bubble-gum, bubble-gum-in-a-dish" with all his best buddies at school? Can it be the same guy we dropped off nine months ago, knowing no one? Tuesday was Carl's last day of kindergarten. He's happy to be on summer vacation, but also a bit sad because he'll be missing this same group of dudes here in the photo. Here he is on the railing, watching the busses leave and the teachers wave goodbye. The teachers all have a kleenex in hand, pretending to cry, and wave them in the air as the students leave. What a fun tradition! As walkers, we got to view the whole pomp and circumstance of the ceremonial wave. And can this guy be the same little guy we sent off in September? September 2008- 1st day of kindergarten for Carl
Congratulations on a great year at Spanish Immersion school, Carlitos.
Espero que nuestro verano sea maravilloso!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

New Friends

We've found a few new friends here in S. Minneapolis. We think they might be Frittilary caterpillars, but according to the book we have from the library, they're not very common in Minnesota. So, we're in need of a more exhaustive book from the library or help from a blog land friend in the know. Any suggestions?

We raised monarchs from found eggs last summer and the boys learned all the butterfly/larvae lingo. We have one of these guys that we found last week in a butterfly box that has made his way into his chrysalis. One is in the "J" formation as of this morning so we're eagerly awaiting the spinning of his cocoon and making his way through the metamorphosis. The boys want to stand and watch... all day. As the first day of vacation, I'm letting them set the pace themselves. Look out summer, here we come!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

A thank you

I've been in a sewing funk lately. I think it has been a full six months since I've done any sewing. I was thinking it was burn out after Christmas projects. But now I think it may stem from a giant to-do list that includes such fun tasks as cleaning my desk, vacuuming the basement, finishing several massive garden projects and all that stuff... clutters my brain. To me, sewing is one of the most fun, rewarding activities I do and therefore, always is a low priority. I did some cleaning of my piles on my desk this week and my brain felt clearer. Louise was napping, the boys happily playing Legos and I made a dash for it. I had a project in mind and just decided that it was time. Time to make a Gratitude Wrap, as seen on Soule Mama's blog many moons ago.

I needed a thank you gift for Carl's amazing teacher Toni, the bilingual wonder who has finally shown Carl the light in terms of Spanish. Coming from someone other than his mother, Spanish is finally his thing. I wanted to thank her with something cool, handmade if possible. I had already bestowed upon her several loaves of my bread this year, so that was out. The ideas I've seen on other blogs looked fun, but replicated a few things I've already done or were a bit too cheesy for my taste. Anyway, the gratitude wrap came to mind and I hit the fabric bins. Here's what I came up with:

-a vintage table cloth with a few bad spots looks beautiful when trimmed into a rectangle

-tan linen from the Textile Center's annual fabric garage sale

-white bias tape from my late grandmother's stash

-the $1 bin at Michael's for note cards and a funky orange notebook with a T for Toni

Voila... I love it!
And you? Are there any tasks on your mind that block you from doing the things you love? Does your mind work that way or am I crazy? Also, any good tips for other teacher gifts? Stop lurking and share your thoughts... we'd love to hear from you!

Sunday, June 7, 2009


We love dirt at our house. We have a special area in the yard where the dirt is used regularly for all sorts of things. Some days worms are discovered there, other days it becomes a pond and sludge pit. A few of our garage sale Rescue Hero toys have moved outside to live in the mud and have become part of archaelogical digs. Rescue Hero fossils anyone? Mostly though, they just like to get their hands and feet in it, squishing and digging and playing. I'm an equal opportunity mom too... so Louise is allowed to get as down and dirty in the mud as the boys.
We did a kid swap recently, passing off Gus to Ron's sister for the afternoon in exchange for her oldest son Berik. With his red hair, he looks more like Louise's brother than her own brothers.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Rhubarb season

That's rhubarb string, to the uninitiated.

I've been watching the rhubarb growing with a big grin on my face. I am looking forward to the day when I can get out my jars, the cherry jello, cherry pie filling and RUN OUT TO THE YARD. I'm looking forward to another year of making Dianne French's world famous cherry rhubarb jelly. I've harvested a few stalks here and there... some to make a rhubarb crunch for book club, a few to take to my grandma, a little rhubarb sauce for late night vanilla ice cream and of course the requisite rhubarb swords that the boys like to joust with in the yard. But I'm waiting, waiting, waiting until I know that I'll have a little extra time with Carl still in school to get to work on the jelly. Maybe tonight is the night? A midnight harvest while the kids sleep? The rhubarb has to sit in a bowl overnight with sugar to soften it before you prepare the recipe.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Summer Cooking Begins

We had some friends over for dinner this weekend. We may have finally perfected carnitas, the tasty, tender and stringy pork that is served in Mexican restaurants around the world. Ron and I have both tried our hand at figuring it out.... inventions, recipes, tips... but nothing matches the stuff at real Mexican joints.
Finally, we got an insider tip. A friend of Ron's lives by the owner of a local Mexican favorite. Ron mentioned his love of carnitas and our eternal dilemma in preparing them. He received a phone call a few days later wondering if he could hop over to the restaurant because they were working on the big batch for the week. The secret recipe? We couldn't believe it. A marinade/sauce that contains whole milk, coke, beer, garlic paste and three oranges. 450 degrees for 4 hours in a tightly sealed pan. What? It is enough to make my stomach curdle, but the results were quite tasty.

The corn here is our favorite from Rick Bayless, a chef now made famous by the Obamas and their love for his Chicago restaurant Topolobambo. You use fresh corn cut off the cob, then roasted in a hot cast iron pan without any oil or butter, add some finely chopped serrano peppers, then once they are lightly charred, add salt that has been dissolved in water and some lime juice, along with a handful of chopped cilantro. Mmmm. It even tastes good the next day served cold.

Gotta love guacamole. Even the kids like to eat it. Mmmm, good. Wanna come over for dinner soon?