Friday, August 31, 2012

{this moment} - her drumming class

{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.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Yarn Along

I've been absent from the Yarn Along for the last few weeks, but that doesn't mean I've neglected my knitting (or reading, for that matter).  I'm still working on Finn's Christmas sweater, although not as much as I should be.  It really takes concentration, so I have to find time to work on it when I won't be interrupted and when I can spend more than 15 minutes working.  (Ha!) The design is really starting to show up and I love the way it looks.  Maybe now that the kiddos are back in school, I can get more accomplished on the sweater.

I've started reading The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane to the kids at bedtime.  I read it to them years ago when Finn was a baby, but Philip doesn't remember it.  And, of course, Finn didn't hear it.  The older 2 don't seem to mind the repeat, and Edward Tulane is really my favorite DiCamillo book so I'm happy to get the chance to read it aloud again.

For some mindless knitting, I started another pair of socks for Finn.  (He should be set for wool socks this winter!)  The yarn is leftover from a pair of socks I made for Paul 2 Christmases ago, which I apparently neither blogged nor put on Ravelry.  I'm not sure how that happened!

His other socks that I started a few weeks ago are complete.  They are exactly the same as his Christmas socks, since I had the extra yarn and he loved them so much.

I'm sure he'll get plenty of use out of his extra pair of "cozy socks", as he calls them.

Monday, August 27, 2012

muscadine jelly

Oh, how I love the August farmer's market!  Ok, I really love all of the months of the farmer's market.  But the beginnings of apples, pears, especially our favorite Asian pears, and grapes, coupled with the end of the peaches, beans, and tomatoes.  The bounty is ripe and I have a hard time not buying more than we can consume, or put up, in a week.

This weekend the muscadines were calling my name.  If you haven't heard of muscadines, you are not alone.  They only grow in the southeast and a few parts of the midwest.  Even on the coast of SC where I grew up, I don't remember ever seeing muscadines.  In fact, I was probably an adult the first time I tried one.  They have become a part of the late August farmer's market for me now though.  I usually wade my way through eating a pint each year, which can be quite a chore with the thick skins and large seeds, much like trying to eat a fresh Concord grape.  After my lone pint, I'm happy to limit my muscadine consumption to an autumn bottle of muscadine wine.

This year I decided to try my hand at making muscadine jelly.  Like most jellies, this is a multi-step process and not as quick and tidy as making strawberry jam, but my mouth is almost watering at the thought of some sweet and tangy muscadine jelly on my next dinner roll.

And I inaugurated the food mill Paul bought me for my birthday.  It's quite a handy little kitchen tool.

Once I had as much juice as I could squeeze from the skins and pulp,

I poured the juice through a loose-weave napkin. (I don't own a jelly bag, and I'm not sure I'll make enough jelly to make the purchase worthwhile.)  This method seemed to work quite well.  I left the napkin strainer to do it's job for about an hour to make sure I got as much juice as possible.

As for the canning, I use the Pomona pectin, so I followed the concord grape jelly recipe in the box of pectin.  I had slightly more than 2 cups of muscadine juice and after the addition of the necessary lemon juice, pectin, 3/4 cup of sugar, etc, I had 3 half-pint jars of muscadine jelly.  I processed 2 of the jars for later in the winter and the other will go straight into my fridge once it's cool.

Warm yeasty rolls with muscadine jelly for dinner anyone?

Sunday, August 26, 2012

late August weekend

This last weekend of August found us with friends in town, enjoying the beautiful weather, including cooler temperatures than we generally enjoy this time of year.  We played cornhole, ate blackberry cobbler, did a bit of gardening, chatted late into the night, and generally savored our time with these dear friends who are like family. 

I hope your last weekend of August was similarly wonderful.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

a new normal

I've been missing from this space for the better part of a week, not for any good reason really.  Sometimes when I'm not quite sure what to say, I avoid saying anything at all.  We're all in an adjustment period around here which means our usual crafting, creating, etc, has taken a bit of a back burner to life. Paulie and Philip begin school in just a few days, and Elizabeth and Finn are finishing up their first full week of school.  

There have been many adjustments and flexibility has been the order of the day in Elizabeth's classroom as they are the first 6th grade class in an expanding school and in a temporary space to boot.  She's thrilled to be back with her friends and in her familiar learning model so the adjustments and flexibility are just peripherals to her.  I've spent an hour or more in her building nearly every day since school began, although I'm happy to be able to assist with this new adventure.

Finn, with his highly emotional personality, has been adjusting in his own way.  He always needs extra space with transitions, and this new school venture has been no exception.  After spending his days keeping up with new schedules, routines, and adventures, he's often cranky and tired in the evenings.  He largely spends his evenings looking like the picture below.  Playing quietly, listening to audiobooks.  And then he crashes into bed.

And as for me, well, my days are spent somewhat how they've always been, cooking, gardening, knitting, cleaning (all my helpers are back at school!)  I've been reluctant to tackle anything new over the last week though as we all adjust to our new normal.  My new normal is definitely quieter at home, and I'm spending more time outside the home than usual, as I strive to be as present in my children's schools as possible.  None of which is very blog-worthy, really.  So I'll be here when the time or occasion seems right, but maybe not as much as usual for the next few weeks. 

I'm still trying to find my new normal.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

garden update

The summer garden spent the last 2 weeks being largely neglected, although Paul did religiously turn the compost while I was gone so we were ready to get out into the beds and work this morning.

I pulled out the summer squash, zukes, and cukes about 3 weeks ago so we added some compost to that bed. (Apparently, the eggshells and avocado seeds are the last to compost.  Who knew?) Next week, we'll turn the compost into the bed and prep to add seeds for our fall garden.  The few beets that remain are still doing their thing in the corner of that bed so we left them...for now.  I plan to add more beets, carrots, and onions to this bed in the next few weeks.

We added a bit of compost to the second planting of garden peas.  I also added some new string to the teepee for them to climb.

I've already harvested several acorn and butternut squash from the opposite end of the garden pea bed, but I found a few more today so I guess those plants get a reprieve from being ripped out right away.

Once the tomato collapse happened mid-summer, the bell peppers, which had been too shaded by the large tomato plants to thrive, began to really blossom.  They don't look too great in the picture below because they were a bit upset by the tomatoes being ripped out around (and through) them this morning, but they really have quite a few peppers on them.  The jalapenos at the end of the bed are still producing quite rapidly as well.  About half of that bed is now empty and sporting a bit of compost.  I'll likely start putting lettuce, spinach, and kale in this bed in the coming weeks.

The herbs are still doing quite well.  I'm hoping for a second harvest of basil and cilantro in a few weeks.  The chives really need to be trimmed and dried.  I plan to harvest some thyme, parsley, and mint for drying this week as well.

How is your garden growing?  Any plans for a fall garden?

Friday, August 17, 2012

{this moment} - reading "mazagines"

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no a few 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.

"Paulie? Would you read me a mazagine?" he asks almost daily.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Fortune Wookies and other paperfolding

We've had many things going on over the last week, with Elizabeth and I returning from camp and school starting for Finn and Elizabeth.  Of course, during one of the busiest weeks of our year, an author that Paulie and Philip have come to love came to town for a book signing.  I wasn't able to attend because it fell on the night before school started, and Finn needed a good night's sleep.  Paul took them to the book signing, and I received a complete debrief on their amazing evening when they returned.

Paulie and Philip returned from the book signing with Tom Angleberger's most recent edition in the Origami Yoda series, The Secret of the Fortune Wookiee.  While they were at the event, they not only pooled their money to buy the latest book, but they received a printout of a foldable Chewbacca to bring home.

Included inside the book was directions for making an origami Chewbacca and bonus directions for making Hans Foldo (ha!)

Needless to say, the kids spent most of the last few days making origami Star Wars characters.

Paulie eventually made Han Foldo, Chewbacca (the Fortune Wookiee), Jabba the Hutt, Darth Paper, Yoda, Admiral Ackbar, R2-D2, and a storm trooper.  (You can find the instructions for folding most of these at the Origami Yoda site.)

When we had exhausted all of the origami Star Wars characters, Paul sent us this link he found with some folded paper gnomes.  The boys had a great time making paper gnomes to use as finger puppets. (Finn only had to go to school for one day this week he was able to get in on the paper folding fun.)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

a new beginning

Elizabeth and Finn started school today.  I tried to reflect a positive attitude about the beginning of school despite the close proximity to the end of camp and not quite being ready for the summer to end.  Paulie and Philip have another week and a half left of summer so you'll likely see another one of these posts coming up soon.  

Finn was a bit ambivalent about the beginning of school.  Excited about his cool art supplies on the one hand, concerned about the newness and detachment on the other.

Elizabeth was just thrilled to start another year.  Although our original plan to homeschool was tossed out some months ago, she has really embraced the arrival of middle school in a small, insular environment, full of the experiential learning and arts-based schooling to which she is accustomed.

I, for one, am happy that she gets to remain with her elementary school friends and will hopefully stave off the jaded attitude and other middle school issues for just a bit longer.

Finn says that his first day went well.  He likes his teacher and he proclaimed his day "fun".  He also enjoyed attending music class for the first time as a student instead of a volunteer like he was last year at my side. :)

We celebrated with gelato after school.  A treat to start the new year off right.  Here's to a new beginning!

Monday, August 13, 2012

the rest of camp

We had a fabulous rest of the week at camp and now we are trying to simultaneously get rested, wash an enormous amount of laundry, and get ready for school, which starts for Finn and Elizabeth in 2 days!  What a whirlwind of a week!  I hope to be back in this space more regularly once things calm down a bit (not sure when that might be though!)