Saturday, July 30, 2011

Saturday lunch and apron-wearing

I've never been much of an apron wearer. Probably because my mother and grandmother didn't wear aprons. In fact, I'm struggling to remember if I've ever seen anyone in my family with an apron. So I decided a couple of years ago that I wanted to be an apron-wearer. The problem is that when the kids are buzzing about and I'm focused on a recipe or ingredients or searching out a long lost staple from the depths of my pantry, I'm rarely thinking about putting on my apron.

So when Paul's aunt and uncle sent me this beautiful, hand-printed organic cotton apron for my birthday, I knew that something must be done to turn me into an apron-wearer rather than a wannabe apron-wearer. So a hook now hangs between my refrigerator and pantry door and although I don't use it daily, I'm much more of an apron-wearer now than I was pre-apron-hook.

And amazingly, I don't have to change shirts following every baking session now. Those 50s wives might have been onto something after all.

Today felt amazing to have Saturday Lunch again after traveling over the last couple of weekends.

The farmer's markets in our area have hit their peak and I'm visiting not one but two weekly now just trying to keep up with all the lovely produce. I even managed to put away a little stock of pesto and chopped green peppers this week.

For today's Saturday lunch, we had local mozzarella with basil from the backyard and heirloom pineapple tomatoes drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

We also had corn bread, made with locally ground cornmeal and local eggs, marinated cucumbers, and a fruit medley of nectarines, plums and blueberries. Our fruit stash is literally bursting at the seams. We have bowls of nectarines, peaches, plums and a watermelon littered across our countertops and that's not including the blueberries invading both our fridge and freezer.

While I know we'll be ready for the harvest tastes of pumpkin, sweet potatoes, and winter squashes when they come, we're sure enjoying the tastes of summer right now!

Friday, July 29, 2011

{this moment} - trying to capture Alaska

{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.

{photo by my husband}

Thursday, July 28, 2011

creek wandering

Although I firmly believe that children (and adults too!) should spend time outside every day, some days when it's in the 90s for days on end and the humidity is high and 9 am feels oppressively sticky already, it can be hard to find the motivation to find somewhere to explore the outdoors. It is then that I'm thankful for the many shady creeks in our area, especially the one in the local park where all the poison ivy is cleared away and the water is never deeper than mid-calf even on Finn. It is this creek that we often find other children playing, sometimes even children who don't mind picking up crawdads to put in the bowls that my children brought for holding crawdads even though my kids won't actually touch them. I'm grateful that they occasionally see a salamander here and that Finn found a "beautiful poky-dotted leaf!" But mostly I'm grateful that my kids can be outside exploring without complaining of the oppressive heat.

Now, where will we venture today...

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Yarn Along

Joining Ginny again for Yarn Along, I was fortunate enough to find plenty of time for reading on our trip to Alaska, although a trip to the library yesterday meant that I only have one book left to show you. I read Jaycee Dugard's A Stolen Life and Matt Logelin's Two Kisses for Maddy, and both were moving memoirs from people dealt an extraordinary difficult lot in life who are doing a marvelous job overcoming adversity. Both can be graphic in description (Dugard's, in the description of what happened to her; and Logelin's, in the description of his grief) so just a word of warning there. After finishing those two, I began A Tale of Two Lives by Marie S. Walsh, the memoir of the suburban mother who was arrested 30 years after she escaped from jail where she was serving 10-20 on trumped up drug selling charges. It's an interesting look at the judicial system in an area where local police officers, attorneys and judges will do anything to further their own careers, including ruin the lives of those less fortunate or less prestigious.

Also, while on our trip, I began my yearly stocking stuffer hats for the kids. Finn picked out this Punta Yarns bulky cotton in cherry red that he loved, but I only brought my size 11 needle when I really needed a 10, so I'll likely frog it and start over on 10s. Fortunately bulky hats knit quickly!

Paulie wanted another hat identical to his favorite, which I knit 2 years ago from yarn from South Africa. I did find a similar yarn in my stash though, an organic wool from Lorna's Laces. I used smaller needles to accompany the DK weight, but the hat is nice and stretchy and longer than his old one so I think it will fit nicely.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Blueberries for Finn

After seeing my friend, Mary, do this project with her little boy, I decided that we needed an in-house blueberry picking day as well. I began the morning by bringing the tin pail out and asking Finn what the pail reminded him of. Although we've only read Blueberries for Sal a few times this season, he immediately recognized the pail as Sal's. I asked Finn if he'd like to make some blueberries for the pail, to which he looked at me confused and said, "can't we just go to the farmer's market?" That's my boy!

But he indulged my idea, and we rolled pea-sized amounts of sculpey into little blueberry balls, then placed them in a pan for baking.

Once they were hardened and sufficiently cooled, we painted them with a dark blue acrylic.

Although Mary's presentation on the green felt bushes was nicer, Finn preferred to roll them all over the kitchen floor so he'd have more "picking" to do.

One by one, Finn's berries went "kuplink, kuplank, kuplunk" until he'd gathered all of his blueberries into his pail.

And then we paused for a snack of more edible blueberries. (I love the little fingernails trimmed in blue paint.)

What a tasty treat!

When we finished gathering blueberries a few more times, Finn asked if we could read Blueberries for Sal again and again until lunchtime. We settled on 3 more readings.

With Finn providing the "kuplink, kuplank, kuplunk", of course!

Monday, July 25, 2011

North Pole, Trans-Alaska Pipeline and Pioneer Park

This is officially the last post of all things Alaska. There were a few minor adventures that I didn't want to include in some of our bigger days so I decided to save them for the end and put them all together. They definitely deserve mentioning; I mean, we went to the North Pole, for goodness sake.

Speaking of which, when I told the kids we were going to the North Pole to visit Santa's House, they all looked at me quizzically and said, "The north pole is NOT in Alaska!"

Although North Pole, Alaska would have you think otherwise.

We did meet a few reindeer and the house was a pretty cool experience with some lovely handmade ornaments that I fell in love with.

And the kids were able to pile into Santa's sleigh. How cool is that?!

We also visited one of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline sites. This site, near Fairbanks, had a visitors center with lots of info on the pipeline, it's purpose, and the building and management of the pipeline.

Paulie had to jump up and touch it, of course.

Our last evening in Fairbanks, we visited Pioneer Park, which Paul and his siblings actually visited as children.

They had lots of cool memorabilia and artifacts from the early days of Fairbanks, including the railcar that Warren G. Harding rode in during his Presidential visit to Alaska.

I think the most popular attraction though was the -40 cooler room that you could visit.

They weren't kidding! It's really 40 below!

Paulie brought a cup of hot water to watch evaporate before it hit the ground. Philip brought one too and actually threw it on Paul requiring him to make a hasty exit with a frozen-burning scalp.

The rest of the walk around the park was less eventful, and it was a fun place to spend an afternoon learning about the pioneer days of Fairbanks.