Thursday, July 31, 2008

Berry picking time

It's blueberry season!

Although we have planted a few blueberry plants, we haven't had much luck with them. So, we girls headed over to the blueberry farm this morning to pick our berries. They were nice and big this year.
I snapped this one just as Julianne started eating one. Gotta make sure they're sweet, ya know.
Here's our morning's work. We picked 29# in about 2 1/2 hours. We've had better picking conditions in the past but we've also had much worse. It probably would have gone faster if I hadn't seen so many people I knew and visited with them. We saw a girl and her mom who used to go to the library story time with us, a former co-worker of mine and her husband, a customer from my working days, and my old dental hygenist. Most of these people don't live close to the blueberry farm but there aren't too many places to choose from so they make the drive.
We forgot sunscreen so we may be very sorry we were out so long by tonight. But we will sure enjoy our blueberries all winter!
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Canning season

My first seven quarts of green beans are canned! I am hoping for many, many more as we have depleted our stockpile completely. Most years, we have lots still on the shelf when we start canning season but I didn't can many beans last year -seems like we had a disease problem with the beans or something-and a severe lack of time.

That figured into our camping schedule this year. It isn't much more expensive to stay for a month than it is to stay for 10 days so we have had the trailer at camp for a month at a time the last couple years. Clarence would stop at home to do his chores, then head over to the camp each night. I'd come home often enough to throw some laundry in, pick up some food from the pantry or freezer and go back to camp. Unless it rained a lot-then we'd stay home for a day or two.

Unfortunately, that doesn't work really well if you want to maximize the garden harvest or preserve any of it. This year we decided to forego the month-long camping adventure so we could try to salvage our garden. Only being home when it's raining means you never pull weeds or pick much.

So, the annual canning adventure has begun. I am thankful that my family cheerfully helps me every year so it makes it more fun, less like a chore. By the end, it is indeed a chore but I am so happy all winter long to have our own organic beans, beets, and tomatoes on the shelf. We usually also do purchased peaches and the past couple years have added pears to the list.

Last year, I experimented with one canner of pears. I added vanilla to each jar (I hope I wrote down how much in my book!). They were extra yummy so I'll be doing that again if we get ahold of any pears this year.
Posted by Picasa

Monday, July 28, 2008

The missing photos

I realize this is all out of order now but this newbie to blogging has no idea what I've done wrong that prevents me from using all six photos in one post. Any suggestions?

This is the zucchini after baking. It probably could be browner but it was getting late already and it smelled so good.
Tonight's dinner. We had a late lunch so this was perfect. Of course, I did have seconds on the zucchini...hopelessly addicted, as I said.
Posted by Picasa

Honey Roasted Zucchini

Our zucchini are finally big enough to pick. One could have been picked last week while we were away, as is always the case with zucchini, it seems.
I prepared my favorite zucchini recipe tonight for dinner and took pictures as promised. Served alongside fresh green beans from the garden-it was wonderfully yummy. Ask Kathy how good this stuff is-when I shared the recipe with her a couple years ago, she became highly addicted to the stuff. It’s that good.

The original recipe can be found in “new kitchen garden” by Adam Caplin with recipes by Celia Brooks Brown. As I recall, it’s a beautiful book (I checked it out from our library).

You start by cutting the zucchini into long, chunky strips. I use as much zucchini as I can fit on my baking sheet(s). And yes, I made two pans of it for my family of four. We, too, are hopelessly addicted to this stuff.
I toss it with about 1 Tablespoon olive oil and the equivalent of 2 cloves garlic. Or more. Lots more.
Spread it out nicely on the (sprayed) baking sheet. This usually requires that I re-distribute the garlic onto the zucchini. Otherwise, lots of it just stays in the pan. It's still good, of course...I just like it on the zucchini.
Drizzle with about 2 T. honey, then sprinkle about 4 ounces of crumbled feta over the zucchini.

Bake at 350º, or 400º, or 425º until golden brown. The original recipe says 425º for 20-30 minutes.

Hmm, two of my pictures are gone. That's odd.

Here's how I make this-as always, it is adapted from the recipe I discovered in the book.

Honey-Roasted Zucchini with Feta

1 1/2 pounds zucchini, whole -- cut into chunky strips
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 ounces feta cheese -- coarsely crumbled
2 tablespoons honey
freshly ground black pepper (I always forget the pepper!)

Put the zucchini in a large ovenproof dish in a single layer. Add the garlic and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Using your hands, toss the zucchini until they are evenly coated with the garlic and oil. Spread out the zucchini evenly in the dish. Sprinkle the feta cheese over them and drizzle on the honey and pepper. The saltiness of the feta means that no extra salt is needed. Roast in a preheated oven at 425 F. for 20-30 minutes until deep golden all over. Transfer to a serving dish and serve immediately.

I am participating in Ultimate Recipe Swap taking place at

Posted by Picasa

A visit from Leta

I know I've been gone a long time. We've been away at family camp the last 10 days-took the trailer over the same night Allison returned from horse camp. Doesn't this group look like trouble? (I'm not sure why the coloring is so odd-a better picture follows but I stuck this one in anyhow so we'd have Julianne in it as well.)

Emily needed someone to watch Leta the first weekend so we brought her along camping. When she was supposed to go home, she didn't want to leave so we invited her to come back whenever it worked for Emily. Grandpa picked her up on his way home from work Wednesday and she stayed with us until Sunday. The aunts are particularly exhausted, I think.

Anyhow, she was able to go to the 3-4 year old classes during the adult services and came back with this beautiful artwork painted on her face Saturday. She loved it and didn't want her face washed all day.

Aunt Julianne and Auntie Alli kept her busy a lot of the time. They took her to the playground, joined her in playing with the toys she brought along, watched Veggie Tales with her, took her for the horse/wagon ride most days. Grandpa and the aunties took her to the beach so she could go swimming. By Saturday night, she was worn out and fell asleep at the dinner table. She missed her mom and dad a time or two, but simply mentioned it in conversation-didn't have a fit or anything.

Camp was a lot of fun, as usual. The services were thought-provoking as well as uplifting. Although having a 4 year old around for an extended visit is a radical change for us, we had a lot of fun having Miss Leta come camping with us. We're looking forward to having her stay again next year.
Posted by Picasa

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Camp fun

The camp Allison is attending this week takes pics of the kids each day and posts them on their website.

Apparently, she's making new friends.

It has been hot this week (90ish) and last night was really stormy. The camp is only about 20 minutes away so I was pretty concerned about what the weather was like for them. We lost electricity and our phone last night. Hopefully, it wasn't too scary for the kids-or the horses.
Doing what she loves the most...
Tomorrow morning Julianne and I will go sit in the direct sunlight (no shade whatsoever!-and another 90º day!) and watch a bunch of kids we don't know ride around the corral doing specific things (all doing the same specific things, of course), for an hour or so, waiting to see Allison show off what she's been doing all week. I've described it quite vividly to Aunt Penny and Grandma M.-and for some reason, no one else plans to accompany us. Imagine that?!?
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Slowly getting there...

I am waiting, not very patiently, for these baby zucchinis to grow. I have a wonderful recipe that I am planning to share with you when the zucchini are big enough to use. I can hardly wait! I once bought some zucchini in the store that had the most unpleasant flavor, like they were moldy or something, though they looked fine. I've pretty much sworn off of store-bought zucchini ever since. That makes the home grown ones so much better, after months of deprivation.
The zucchini have their own terrace out front. I'm still waiting for the promised "they will smother out any weeds under them" phase. So far, it hasn't been true. Usually, they are in the larger back yard garden but we are trying various things in the front yard garden to see how each will do. Hopefully, we will be better able to plan for next year's front yard garden. We are already planning on adding copious amounts of compost this fall. The mostly clay soil got some peat added to amend it this spring (not enough compost ready to use) but I find it still crusts over and cracks in this dry weather.
We will soon have green peppers to use from the front terraces. These are on one of the plants we bought-the ones we started from seed aren't this far along. I'm hoping the harvest will be spread out over a nice long time as a result.

Julianne harvested some basil yesterday for her lunch. We are quite fond of variations on a sandwich we had once at Ikea. I don't remember what the bread was but I always make a braided onion bread for them. The only component we always have is the roasted red peppers-Ikea uses fresh mozzarella, fresh basil and a balsamic vinaigrette. It's yummy. I don't often have both fresh mozzarella and basil on hand so we've reinvented many times. Yesterday, we had cream cheese with fresh chives chopped into it spread on the bread. Jarred red peppers next, then either the leftover pesto from the fridge or fresh basil leaves. It seems hard to ruin that sandwich, I tell ya, and it's great to have something that tastes a little special without having to cook.

I love that we are almost ready to harvest the first green beans. And the peppers. Now if my zucchini would just hurry up!
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

I have been remiss

Mrs. Rabe, of Creekside Cottage, was kind enough to honor me with my first blog award this past weekend.

I know there are things I'm supposed to do with it, but admit that I'm still pretty clueless about how. Sorry.

So, instead, I offer my thanks to her for the honor and ask forgiveness for being so late in acknowledging it.

Be sure to take a look at Mrs. Rabe's blog-I really enjoy it! In fact, today is a tour of her home, complete with before and after shots. Lots of fun!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Totally unrelated thoughts

Yesterday afternoon we took Allison to horse camp for the week. She is thrilled. Surely, she cannot be my child, can she? She is unconcerned about using pit toilets all week. [huge shudder] She is happy to muck out horse stalls, pick horse's hooves, brush horses down, and, of course, ride horses. None of which appeals to me in the least. Julianne, I believe, shares my shock and horror.
We miss her a lot but know she is having a wonderful time around those stinky, nasty horses. Oh, and the donkey and goats and sheep. Ick!

Here is a picture Julianne took of one of my roses yesterday. The girls had asked what I wanted for Mother's Day and I told them "love and obedience". Julianne gave me two rose bushes instead-but named them "love" and "obedience". LOL This is love in the picture.
After reading the comments left on my last entry, I realized that I didn't explain Quiz nationals very well. The girls are on a Bible quiz team. They quizzed over the books of Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon. Their team was undefeated in the round robin 2-day competition but ultimately came in second overall in their division. The first place team was the only team they lost to and it was close all the way. They had 19 quizzes between Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday and only lost two of those quizzes. Have I mentioned how proud of them we are? ;-)

Next year they will be studying Luke.
Posted by Picasa

Friday, July 11, 2008

More Nationals chatter

This is a picture taken near our dorm. There were several of these little drainage ponds scattered around the dorms. On Monday when we arrived, there was more water standing in them. Today, this was the only one that was wet. Monday Josh, one of the boys on our team, took a look at one of these and announced "That better not be the pool!" I laughed thinking about it every time I walked past one.

Fortunately, the kids were able to find the pool and enjoyed swimming every night.

We arrived home safely this evening. Our 18 yo neighbor who was taking care of the animals was here. He had mowed the lawn for us, too! What a sweet surprise, especially since rain is predicted for tomorrow.

I am anxious to sleep in my own bed tonight. Laundry is started and will continue tomorrow. Allison leaves for horse camp on Sunday, so there's no putting it off. Then there's the weeding to catch up, and getting the trailer ready for family camp, and...
Posted by Picasa

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Tournament results

Today was the double elimination tournament.

Not being a sports fan, I really have no understanding of how DE tournies work. The round robin quizzes have an impact on how the teams start out in the DE, but everyone actually starts the day with a clean slate.

It was still a pretty grueling day for our team. They ended up taking 2nd place in their division and it was an intense and exciting thing to watch.

Aunt Penny drove down and watched them all day. Having never seen quizzing in action before, she was quite surprised at the intensity of it. It was a good show for her-they had her on the edge of her seat many times.

We are very proud of our girls and their teammates. Not only for the performance they put in, but also for the sportsmanship they displayed. They are not unique here-there are a few hundred really great kids roaming around this campus this week. It's been a great experience.

Tomorrow is the awards banquet and then we head home. I'll try to catch up with everyone within the next few days.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Round Robin-Day 1

We had a great day today.

The girls' team was undefeated in every round today(7 altogether). Julianne quizzed out in every round but the last one (and individuals). Allison also quizzed out three times today. We are very, very proud of both of them.

Their team worked really well together-they truly had a team effort going. Sometimes, it seemed that their biggest competition was their own teammates. They really spur each other on.

It's amazing to see these kids recall so much of what they've studied all year-not just our girls, but all the quizzers. It's a wonderful experience.

The girls are off to the "Olympics" tonight. The college admissions dept. plans activities for the kids in the evenings. It should be lots of fun. Clarence and I will take in the coach's meeting (even tho we aren't coaches).

Monday, July 7, 2008

Safely here

We arrived safely at Quiz nationals this afternoon. We've had our opening session tonight and now there are games for the kids or they can go swimming. Our girls chose swimming. ;-)

Tomorrow starts the 2-day round robin competition. Thursday is the double elimination competition. The "individual" rounds take place in between some of the team rounds. Julianne is competing individually, Allison isn't old enough to qualify. Individual finals are Friday for those that make it that far.

We are all renewing friendships made through the year with kids and coaches from other teams. It is off to a great start. Continued prayers are appreciated, as always.

I didn't expect to be able to get near a computer here but most of the kids are doing other things tonight it seems. I'll post again if I get a chance-but I'm thinking it isn't likely.

Burn, baby, burn...or not

These daylilies are on the hillside between the driveway and back yard. I don't mind them there too much. We have others on the hillside between the new terraces and the driveway, tho, that I have been trying to get rid of with my weed burner. I finally quit torching them when the remaining ones started to bud.
We have been exploring many books this spring/summer on edible landscaping and edible flowers. These carefree, invasive flowers are among the edibles so last night we tried some on salad. They are surprisingly sweet flavored. Julianne read that the lighter colors are sweeter as a general rule, and darker ones can be bitter. So, if you want to try yours, you might want to taste test before adding them to your salad.

Oh, and another little note-the book said that daylily can be somewhat diuretic so enjoy them in moderation.
Posted by Picasa

Saturday, July 5, 2008

4th of July reunion

Yesterday we attended a family reunion for Clarence's dad's side of the family. We had perfect weather for a day at the park.

I didn't get pictures but both our girls met and spent the day with cousins that were their ages. They had a lot of fun. The newly acquainted cousins are far enough away on the family tree that I don't know what we'd call them. Their great-grandmother was the sister of our girls' great-grandfather. I think. So, are they 3rd cousins? 4th cousins? __cousins __removed? I get woozy thinking about that type of stuff-so they're just cousins.
Clarence and I had fun visiting with lots of relatives we don't see often (and some that I didn't know prior to yesterday). I learned yesterday that the family includes a famous artist a few generations back!

It's a weekend long reunion with various activities planned but we only joined in yesterday (Clarence is working today). The activities for today include a driving tour to visit all the old family homesteads in the area, dinner out together, and a visit to the cemetery. Sunday they plan to be back at the park to share brunch. My hat is off to the couples who planned it all-what a lot of work!

We are spending our day finishing laundry to pack. Bible Quiz nationals starts on Monday and we will be gone until Friday. Any prayers are appreciated-for the girls and their teammates as they compete all week-and for us old folks who are just as tired as the kids by the end of the week.
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Teenager in the house!

Thirteen years ago we welcomed this wonderful girl into our family. Today, my cousin and his wife welcomed their first child, a son, into their family. Julianne is thrilled-she said that was the best present of all. (We’ve prayed and prayed for them, both before and all during this pregnancy-so I think she feels particularly excited about sharing a birthday with such a special blessing.)

We had a pretty low-key day today. Julianne chose the dinner menu once again and opened her gifts from Allison and us.

Clarence and I have been laughing because one item on Julianne’s gift idea list was a library card. Yep, a *free* library card. Poor child, her mother has never bothered signing her up for one at the library we frequent the most. So, last week she and I did the necessary paperwork. Her card came in the mail Saturday so, cruel mother that I am, I added the envelope to her gift.LOL Clarence’s coworkers want him to bring them some of our water. They can’t believe how easy to please these girls are.

Julianne-your dad and I are so thankful God blessed us with you. You have so many talents and gifts-we are often amazed at everything you can do. I am thankful for your helpfulness, and how you always help with a cheerful attitude. I am thrilled to know your heart for God and your desire to put Him first in your life. I am so happy to know that you are as beautiful inside as you are on the outside. I am excited as you enter this next stage of life. Happy Birthday, Sweetheart!
Posted by Picasa