Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Summer Is: Gathering With Friends

We had an indoor BBQ on Friday night with Kerry and Sarah's families. It has been raining almost non-stop here lately and we had hoped for a little break. The rain continued, so we just took the party indoors. Since we met we've been gathering with kids and just as women, so this was the first time we included the husbands. Of course, they got along fabulously and it was very difficult to get the kids in the car at the end of the evening.I had to bring dessert, so I opted for a Rhubarb Streusel pie from and fresh rhubarb from our garden.
I also brought along some sugar scrub for gardening hands. I found the idea over at House on Hill Road. It is sugar and dish soap stirred together. I used Mrs. Meyer's Lemon Verbena. It smelled so good and had the consistency of frosting... I wanted to lick the spoon! (note: it mixes together really well, but it separates after a day or two. You'll want to mix it up right before you use it to wash your hands.)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Summer Is: Homemade Pizza

There's nothing like discovering there's nothing that looks good for dinner... and then rallying with something that everyone loves. This time it was pizza. I remembered about 20 minutes before Ron came home that I had a bucket of Artisan Bread in Five dough in the basement fridge. Shredded mozz from the freezer, a can of stewed tomatoes from the cupboard and a few bits of this and that. Mmmmm. Just add a cold beverage and your loved ones. Welcome to summer.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Summer Is: Face Painting

There's nothing like some face paint and a few costumes with the neighbor kids to make the afternoon pass quickly by. I have a sneaky suspicion that we're going to be doing a lot of this.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

An Iowa Adventure: Seed Savers

A few weeks ago, Saturday morning came very early. My alarm went off at 5:15 in preparation for my day trip to Seed Savers, near Decorah, Iowa. My friend Janet had been wanting to visit for at least ten years and asked me a few months ago if I might have any interest in going. Need she even ask? I, too, had been wanting to visit for years. She found a tour of Seed Savers with an early morning bird watching and wild flower viewing focus and thought that we would enjoy it along with a pancake breakfast served on the sprawling lawn outside their new visitor's center. We left Minneapolis at 6 a.m. and arrived in good time, ready for hot pancakes served with compostable plates, forks and coffee cups.

Our tour guide Larry was the most knowledgeable outdoorsman I had ever met. He had stories about plants and their scientific names as well as their primary and secondary common names. He told tales of wild outings where he and friends had foraged for entire meals. His recall of bird sounds was outstanding. And his excitement when he saw a bird he had been hoping for? I thought he might break into song.
Such beauty, such amazing preservation of seeds and so close to home. We also enjoyed a little tour of the old barn and former visitor's center. The highlight for me (having just gotten through our own recent infestation) was seeing the mouseproof room where seeds were stored... covered from floor to ceiling with mesh. A mouse-proof fortress.
Next time we'll bring our kids and maybe our husbands. The chickens, ducks, and geese were just too much fun to keep them to ourselves. But just for that day... we loved every little moment of quiet...and a greasy hamburger and beer on the way home.

And here's a little background on Seed Savers, straight from their "About Us" page on their site.
"Seed Savers Exchange is a non-profit, member supported organization that saves and shares the heirloom seeds of our garden heritage, forming a living legacy that can be passed down through generations. Our loyal SSE members have distributed an estimated 1 million samples of rare garden seeds since our founding nearly 35 years ago. Those seeds now are widely used by seed companies, small farmers supplying local and regional markets, chefs and home gardeners and cooks, alike.
Seed Savers Exchange was founded in 1975 by Diane Ott Whealy and Kent Whealy to honor this tradition of preserving and sharing. Their collection started when Diane's terminally-ill grandfather gave them the seeds of two garden plants, Grandpa Ott's Morning Glory and German Pink Tomato, that his parents brought from Bavaria when they immigrated to St. Lucas, Iowa in the 1870s.
Today, the 890-acre Heritage Farm, Decorah, Iowa, is our home -- and Seed Savers Exchange is the largest non-governmental seed bank in the United States. We permanently maintain more than 25,000 endangered vegetable varieties, most having been brought to North America by members' ancestors who immigrated from Europe, the Middle East, Asia and other parts of the world. Unlike Fort Knox, Heritage Farm is not surrounded by security fences and guards. Our perimeter is patrolled by Bald Eagles, red-tailed hawks, deer, raccoons and other wildlife. The farm is ringed by 8.5 miles of hiking trails that take visitors through majestic scenery, past some of our 23 acres of certified organic preservation gardens, historic orchard and ancient White Park Cattle."

Friday, June 4, 2010

In Search of Summer: June 4

We've been in search of beautiful flowers here. As May tumbled gently into June, the spring and summer flowers have been at their peak of beauty. Gus and Louise helped me remember to stop and smell them.

My favorite flowers of the early summer have always been tulips and irises, but this year the peonies have been calling my name. Poppies too. I think when we move to the farm I might just have to plant lots and lots of them. So beautiful, and so bright!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

In Search of Summer: June 1

Memorial Day. The true beginning of summer. A day of picnics and family time. A day to remember. Our day was filled with all of these important events. The kids and I went to Lakewood Cemetary with Ron's parents to visit the family graves. The cemetary was filled with people, flowers and flags in hand, some smiling and laughing, others with tears streaming down their sad faces.
For us, it was a day of discovery and adventure, a day of respect and education. We showed the kids how to carefully wipe the leaves and grass off the grave stones, how to tip-toe around the cemetary, making sure not to step on the names and why it is important to remember those who have gone before us. Carl at his ripe age of seven seems to recall having a picnic with Ron's parents near the graves when he was 2 1/2, conjuring up amazing details of the day. We had a snack near where we placed our flowers, then continued on to the beautiful nature that abounds in the gorgeous grounds of Lakewood. Catfish in the pond, monarch eggs on the milkweed, caterpillars climbing on Great-great Grandpa Ralph's grave.

Afterwards, we took the refurbished street car from the cemetary to Lake Harriet for a mere $2.00. If you've never ridden the line, put it on your must-do list for the summer.