Monday, August 30, 2010

a late-August walk through the woods

The woods in August are such a thing to behold, so very different from the spring and early summer woods. Here, especially with the rain we've gotten this summer, the trees and undergrowth are lush and dark green and provide nice shade for walking on a hot late summer day. We were fortunate to take a short hike with our friends before they had to head back out of town. I can't think of many things sweeter than seeing my childhood best friend's daughter holding hands with my own daughter walking through the shady, green woods.

The season's first fallen acorn appeared while on our walk, and Finn was thrilled to collect it for our nature table.

Philip found a less-than-healthy butterfly and cradled it ever so gently for a while before carefully placing it on a log out of harm's way. He's our gentle soul, that Philip.

And the forest mushrooms...they were everywhere!

I don't think Finn had every noticed a mushroom before this hike through the woods, or maybe he just didn't have the interest before this walk. With great intensity, he examined every clump we stumbled upon.

He even found some teeny, tiny ones, as evidenced by how huge his finger looks in this photo.

If anyone knows a simplified book on mushrooms for the preschool or early elementary aged set, I'd love a recommendation. I think my kids would be fascinated to be able to identify some of the forest fungus we keep finding.

In addition to the tiny mushrooms, we found some saucer-sized, flower-like fungus growing on this log. So many beautiful treats for the eyes on this walk!

Paulie, with his razor-sharp observation, noticed a couple of stick bugs on one of the hiking signs. Aren't they amazing?! They really look like little twigs attached to the sign. They didn't even move or twitch with poking and prodding, just like the little twigs they pretend to be.

Soon, the littles became tuckered out so we headed out of the woods. Hopefully, we get a chance for another hike or two in these deep green woods before the leaves begin their autumnal changing.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

last August weekend

Even though autumn doesn't officially start for another few weeks, for some reason the last weekend of August feels like a last summer hurrah. Fortunately, the temperatures in our parts cooperated so we could spend most of the weekend outdoors. The kids were even able to spend some time out riding bikes, which steaming hot asphalt has prevented in the last several weeks.

On Saturday morning, we headed over to our favorite local creek (inside of a park), and thanks to a new friend, Finn had his first donut!

Then the kids headed down to the creek to trap water bugs, build dams and splash rocks. Don't you love Finn's desperate grasp on his shorts? He fell into the water almost immediately, which happens nearly every time, then had saggy britches for the rest of the morning.

Finn kept finding gum tree balls and thought they were the coolest thing, except he called them acorns. He needs fall to come around again so he can get straightened out on these things.

The aforementioned rock splashing:

We ate a later Saturday Lunch than usual with some out-of-town friends. We feasted on scrambled eggs, fried potatoes, peppers and onions and the ever-popular cheesy snails.

We desserted on heaping spoonfuls of fresh peaches and the last of the season's blueberries.

After a few minutes playing in the backyard with our friends,

we called it a day.

I hope you had a wonderful last weekend of August!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

sweet beets!

After seeing this cookie recipe linked by a friend, I thought they looked too adorable not to try. I realize that beets in cookies is rather unorthodox, but I'm always up for a new recipe and placing a power-packed veggie in a cookie is a fun challenge. After all, it's not as if I'm trying to hide livermush in them! (...which I wouldn't do anyway since we're veg.) These little sweet beet cookies turned out so adorably cute in their hot pink/reddish way, which is what tipped off the kids that I may be trying to pull a fast one on them.

Elizabeth: Mom! You don't use red food coloring...what did you put in those cookies?!
Me: ooh, but aren't they so cute. look, I even made a heart-shaped one for you!

Elizabeth: Mom! What did you put in them?!
Me: Look did you see the little trees too. :) <--yep, I smiled just like that, even tilted my head sideways
Finn: Trees?! Where are the trees? I want all the trees; can I eat all the trees; how many can I have anyway; three, mommy, I want three trees!
Elizabeth: (wrinked nose) nevermind. I don't want to know what you put in them. They taste like corn.
Paulie: I don't think I'm really very hungry for a second cookie...
Philip: (mouth stuffed full) I want his!!
Me: corn?!

So there you have it, in glorious detail. Two thumbs up, two thumbs down...which is sort of par for the course around here. Maybe I'll try again at Valentine's Day.

PS. I used a little powdered sugar glaze to try to sweeten the deal. I used this basic recipe only I just made a tiny bit so I sort of guestimated the ingredient amounts.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

scenes from a random August day

We're starting to get into the full swing of school now with Paulie and Philip starting tomorrow. As such, things have been a little busier than usual. Ok, actually, the busyness might have more to do with the fungus that was found in our crawlspace and the expensive, time-consuming solution. I'm choosing to focus on the positives the ones below:


::Elizabeth-made dessert of blended mango sorbet, frozen strawberries and OJ::

::watching little boys try to eat drippy desserts::

::and say, "ooh, yucky!!" then cackle while he slurps up her concoction::

::new ways to read bedtime stories::

::indignance over extra kids in the book version of Mary Poppins::

What are the positives in your life right now?

Sunday, August 22, 2010

diary of our weekend foods

Sometimes I find myself struggling to remember a good dish we really enjoyed or the ingredients a particular meal that went over well with the kids. I frequently find myself surfing back through my blogposts in an attempt to refresh my own memory of our food life. This weekend, we used the basic ingredients of our Friday dinner to make 3 additional meals, all of which went over really well, so I thought I'd diary our weekend foods. We only had Finn around this weekend so I'd have to greatly increase quantities in order to accomplish this same feat with all 6 of us in the house.

I've been wanting to experiment more with sprouted foods and grains so I began with sprouted lentils for this meal. I soaked them around 9 am on Thursday and let them soak until around 7 pm when I strained them and put them back in a bowl covered loosely with a dishtowel. This was the sprouting that had occurred at lunchtime on Friday.

I also fancied up my standard sourdough recipe (spelt, this time) into a harvest loaf with extra honey, zested grapefruit rind, dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds and a generous spoonful of ground cinnamon.

The lentils were made into a dish from Mollie Katzen's Vegetable Heaven: soft lentils with roasted tomatoes and caramelized onions, which is a very long name that describes almost exactly how to make the meal with the addition of a small amount of salt, pepper, balsamic vinegar and brown sugar.

Friday's meal consisted of the lentils, harvest sourdough bread and steamed broccoli.

Finn was my sous chef during Friday's dinner prep and carefully measured and mixed the ingredients for Peanut Butter Fudge Brownies, also from Vegetable Heaven.

It was his first time going solo on the mixer and he did a great job! He wasn't even sure what brownies were (I think this was his first time eating them.) but he was extremely excited about the process.

Look at that brownie! Maybe Finn will be my pastry chef instead of my sous chef.

On Saturday morning, we had half of the leftover loaf of harvest sourdough bread made into french toast with a bit of powdered sugar on top.

Our Sunday lunch was grilled cheese made with the other half of the leftover harvest sourdough loaf. The sharp cheddar was such a nice contrast to the sweet cranberries and crunchy pumpkin seeds. A great bread for grilled cheese! On the side we had onions, red peppers, yellow squash and red cabbage stir-fried in olive oil and a bit of salt.

For Sunday dinner, we used the leftover lentils, already cooked with the roasted tomatoes and caramelized onions, and I made some roasted garlic mashed potatoes to spread on top of the lentils which I then baked until the lentils were heated through. On the side we had corn quinoa salad, from last month's Vegetarian Times, and banana oatmeal muffins. Recipe for the muffins can be found here, except I used sunbutter this time instead of almond butter.

So there you have it...lentils and sourdough made into 4 meals.

Not to be forgotten, our fresh and local Saturday lunch. Tomato-basil-mozzarella salad, fresh peaches and blueberries, and whole wheat rosemary flatbread.

Finn made his own Saturday lunch, which he wanted me to post, mostly mozzarella slices, crackers and lots of peaches and blueberries. I think he had 4 helpings of the fruit!

Corn Quinoa Salad
~ Vegetarian Times

1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
1 1/2 cups halved grape or cherry tomatoes
1 cup finely shredded red cabbage
1 cup diced cucumber

1/2 cup olive oil (I used a wee bit less)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3 Tbsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp salt

1. Bring quinoa, salt, and 1 1/2 cups of water to a boil in a saucepan. Reduce heat to med-low, cover, and simmer 20 min or until water is absorbed. Set aside, covered, for 10 min.
2. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in separate saucepan. Add corn, and cook for 1 min. Drain, and rinse under cold water. Drain again. Stir together corn, tomatoes, cabbage, cucumber and quinoa in bowl.
3. Mix all ingredients for dressing in blender until smooth. Stir into salad.

I hope your weekend was just as delicious!

Friday, August 20, 2010

{this moment} - movie night

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. See Soulemama to play along.

{watching Emma with my best girl}

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

WIP Wednesday & 4th grade

I took a bit of a break from Elizabeth's sweater over the last week and decided to finish an even older project that I was getting desperate to remove from my WIP basket. These tractor mittens first cast on in May (eek!), but the first one turned out wonky. The second one turned out nicely, but I was over working with so many colors at once so the project languished at finding another nice mitten to replace the first wonky one. Finally, this week in a burst of ambition to tackle those multiple colors, I finished it.

I hadn't planned on giving them to Finn yet, but too many of the kids saw them and kept going on and on about how much he would love them...and he does.

I've also been working furiously on a sweet set for an expectant mommy friend. Her 9th month kind of crept up on me, and I'm hoping I can get these finished and to her quickly. I found this yarn at Purl's in Asheville over the weekend (on the way to pick up the camping kiddos) and thought it would be the sweetest little baby girl hat and mittens. Of course, I lost the label before I could copy down the specs (which were alot of angora and a little bit of merino), but I think it might have been this one.

The hat is completed as well as one of the mittens. Both patterns came from Natural Knits for Babies and Moms, my very favorite baby knitting book.

Last, although definitely not least, my baby girl started 4th grade this morning, which also explains my absence over the last few days. Between washing and folding all the camp paraphernalia and collecting school supplies, we've had a busy few days. We pulled it off though, and Elizabeth began school this morning at her beloved artsy charter school (which begins a week earlier than the other public schools in our area). It seems like just yesterday that she finished kindergarten, and today she's saying things like, "Have I told you enough about my first day yet? Because I really want to get back to my book..."

Sunday, August 15, 2010

leaving camp

Our departure from camp today was fraught with all sorts of emotional ambivalence. Paulie and Elizabeth were, of course, eager to see us and excited to fill us in on all the goings-on around camp, but they were equally sad to leave their friends and the camp they love so dearly. Between gardening, dancing, canoeing and earth arts, which were Elizabeth's classes, and fishing, various sports, earth arts (with Elizabeth) and warrior training, which were Paulie's classes, they had so many new and exciting experiences that they were bubbling to tell us about.

We first approached Cabin 2 in search of Elizabeth.

And we found her with a group of amazing cabinmates.

including a warthog in disguise!

Then we headed down to find Paulie.

He was eager to show us his warrior staff.

Lightfoot, his warrior name, shows great promise in his warrior training.

A few last hugs from wonderful counsellors.

Until next year...