Monday, September 28, 2009

Happy Birthday, Grandma Bopsie!

What kind of birthday dessert do you make for someone who has recently lost 87 pounds and is still in the losing stage? Of course, everyone knows the ideal birthday cake comes in two forms- a high, light carrot cake with cream cheese frosting and marzipan carrots in a layer or "dirt" made from crushed up Newman's Own Ginger-O's, and the Chocolatey-chocolate-chocolate kind. Period. But, you know, there's something about making a birthday cake that the birthday girl will actually eat that is rewarding, too. And so:
Grandma Bopsie's Peach and Raspberry Pavlova Birthday Cake:
Beat three egg whites, 1/4 t. cream of tartar til frothy, slowly add 1/2 c. sugar. (I thought this would be delicious with some ground pistachios, but I was at Grandma's house, and she didn't have any....) When it is stiff and glossy spread the sticky mixture out in a circle, or several little ones, or a heart shape, or bone shape for Halloween, or whatever takes your fancy, on parchment paper, bake in a 275 degree oven for 60 minutes, and then let cool in the oven.
Top with sliced fruit, sprinkle with powdered sugar, serve with whipped cream or ice cream. Or top with whipped cream (or ice cream) and put the fruit over that. That's what I would do, normally- we were just trying to keep calories and fat lower, and served the cream on the side.
It was a hit. Miles thought it was like eating a cloud. Grandma Bopsie was very happy with her pretty, light birthday dessert. Yay!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Capturing the Sun: Marigold Salve

In the spirit of using the harvest, enjoying the last summer sunshine, making do and making at home, Miles and I created a little homemade marigold salve.

He went out and picked marigolds himself, and washed them, took the petals off, and put the stems and heads in the compost, all by himself. I wanted to use beeswax, and almond oil, but we were out, so we raided the cupboards and came up with nearly a pint: unpetroleum, shea butter, coconut oil, Weleda baby oil, honey. Miles dumped all this stuff in a pan.
Next in the saucepan: all those lovely, sunshiney marigold petals. Miles picked, washed, and plucked petals himself. We brought our concoction to a boil, then simmered for half an hour. Marigold and honey scent filled the house. Then we strained the mixture into a jar, and let it cool. It is a lovely orangey-golden color, smelling flowery and a little bit sweet. The salve itself is soft-ish and melts right in to Miles' eczema-raw arms. Oh! How he hates having lotion rubbed into his skin! This is just perfect for after baths, and Miles is certain it is full of goodness, sunshine, "strongness" and bravery, perfect for Michaelmas coming up, the waning of the sun's season, and all of the things little boys need extra courage to face. "It's like a sunshine hug!"

This was my first attempt at making salve, and it was super easy. I'm thinking, of course, of all the variations to try: maybe something with all that mint outside, what about the lemonbalm, the echinacea? I have comfrey, too! Rosemary? Lavender?

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Where Did We Go?

Can you guess where we were? Here area few clues:
1) We camped out, with COLD nights and warm days.
2) We met a lot of people from all over the world.
3)We hiked around lots of clear, cold lakes, with colors ranging from milky white, all the blues, even jade green.
4)Everywhere you look are rocks in red, green, and white, exactly matching all the mountainsides around.
5)Alpen-like vistas and Swiss-themed lodges kept us thinking "Heidi", chasing mountain goats and singing "The Sound of Music" tunes all day long. (Yes, I know The Sound of Music was set in Austria, but still, who can argue with "The Hills Are Alive With the Sound of Music" as a mental soundtrack to this adventure? Who?)

6)"U" shaped valleys, anyone? Anyone guess where we were yet?

7)Of the 25 glaciers left in the park, all are expected to be gone by 2020. 2020!
8)Water from those glaciers flows to three different oceans- the Pacific, the Atlantic and the Arctic. I think it's amazing to stand on the ridge of the continent and think of all the directions available, and that with just a step one way or another, the path is determined.
Hooray! You got it! Yes!
We were camping in Glacier National Park in Montana.
We had other adventures too, I'll tell you later! For now, just know we're home, we're safe, the old Volvo has mysteriously expelled a semi-truck's worth of clothes and books, boots, swimsuits, snowsuits, rainsuits, camping supplies, dirt, cocoa packets, and sleeping boys all over the driveway and house.
Tomorrow we wash and organize, re-enter the world of work and school, chores and schedules. Tonight we'll leave the windows open, though, and sleep one more night with our dreams in the mountains, trailing off in every direction, to all the corners of the globe.
Good night.

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Rhythm of Our Days is Over There...

I made this neat table, our rhythm/schedule thingy, and tried to post it here, but it didn't work, so here it is, on the homeschool site, even though it's not strictly homeschool....

We're off on a grand adventure this afternoon. I'll tell you all about it later!
Hopefully I won't forget the camera, OR batteries!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

New Friends and Old

Miles describing his new friend "She's nice. She's a good burper. A REALLY good burper!" and his old friend "She's my best girl. Best in the world!".
Just take a moment of grace for you friends, old and new, and appreciate their many talents, would you? Even burping.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Oh Darn It!

I was showing Avery some dumb-but-funny you tube video a friend sent me, which I'd seen and thought would add a moment of lighthearted fun to our day, and he started reading a link title somewhere on the web page. A title that included the "F" word. The real one, not what had passed for the real and still forbidden word in our house until just that moment. I hadn't even noticed it!
I sort of jumped and yelped, "Don't read that!" and tried to exit as fast as possible. Although, I suppose, the damage was already done. And shouting didn't help the situation.
His big eyes filled with water, threatening, just threatening to spill. He didn't know it was a bad word. I reassured him I wasn't angry at him, I wasn't angry at all. Just shocked to hear it from his mouth, surprised it was there in the first place for him to see. He still felt bad, all afternoon, from the unexpected encounter with ugliness, the bad taste in his mouth. The loss of innocence, I suppose. He couldn't quite articulate, except to wonder why people would say something that makes them feel so bad.
Remember being a kid? Being curious about all things grown up and forbidden, but also how raw and terrible those nibbles can be, when we're nowhere near ready for the taste of them? 'Cause, darn it, I do, and it's just as painful on the grown up side, watching the little injuries, watching childhood tear away, bit by bit.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Easiest Summer Landscape Fix

The sunflower! Who doeasn't love sunflowers? Cheap, easy, fast growing, drought-hearty, invincible, cheerful, and self-sowing.
The first spring after we bought this house there were some sunflower self-sown starts in the garden, and a little problem of the big low deck needing something around it to keep a new toddler from thinking he could walk off the edge. Perfect! Our deck is surrounded now by sunflowers, self-sown, and they grow around the sand pit, too, making it a shady little hidden place all summer. Along side the driveway, where nothing was growing and I never water? Sunflowers, cheerful sunshine faces bobbing along in the breeze, peeking over the fence, saying hello to all who pass. There's always one or two who make it through in the veggie patch, and they are always mammoths, with stems I can't get a hand around, and huge flowers, bobbing over everything like massive, benevolent scarecrows (and at least as effective as the straw and overalls variety!).
Their charm doesn't end with summer, either. As the seeds ripen they become a forest of standing, waving, living bird feeders. Even after we pull them from the ground the fallen seeds attract birds, all winter long. And somehow, beyond amazement, there are always still way too many popping up again in the spring, pushing eager heads up and out, searching out the sun with us winter weary citizens. Because of sunflowers we've been able to delay rebuilding the deck, installing irrigation, rebuilding the fence, doing all kinds of more expensive landscape fixes!
Unfortunately my efforts to harvest the seeds have ended poorly, but still there is hope, and my own nest full of hungry birdie-mouths eager for "homemade" sunflower seeds. Maybe this year!