Friday, September 12, 2014

Kids' Project Idea: One Sheet Plywood Boat

We were looking for a boat that we could build ourselves and came across and his great video.

As you can see, it takes him ten and a half minutes to make a boat.

I did not quite explain the subtleties of camera cutting to my older child (now 6), who watched this with me and decided this boat was something we could do.  We are good at rough carpentry, and not that great at finish work.  This looked like it was just up our alley.

So we made a materials list and went to Home Depot.  We managed to get help loading the sheet of plywood both into the cart and onto the car, so we were off to a strong start.

We encountered some difficulty when it took me over an hour to clean silicon caulk off my hands (I missed that part of the video where he says to wear gloves, and I am not great at caulking to start with).  But we perservered, and even set the trim.

My son noted that Gardenfork was a lot quicker at this boat building business than we were.  I then explained video cutting and time lapse and saw the light bulb go off in his head.  We let the caulk dry and called it a day.

Priming was messy business with three kids around (we babysat a neighbor kid that afternoon), and I lagged in motivation to do the final coats.  The boat sat for a week.

Then we got too annoyed at it in the driveway and did a coat one day.  Then another coat the next day.  Then we did touch up paint.  

Then the stickers my son made went on~ one said the boat name and the other two were the registration tags~ and we added hooks for the deck hands and the rope.

Then he had to design and make a rolling cart to move the boat.

And it worked to get the boat to the nearest body of water.

And it was deemed seaworthy!

The little deckhand did his job.

And it was even sturdy enough to be a stand up paddle board.

This was a fun project.  It was a bit slippery inside for me when it was my turn for a ride, but I went barefoot.  Those tub strips for babies might be a good addition.

The boat got a little scraped up on the pool edges, so we have some tires laying around and are going to make some bumpers for it.  I also need to talk him out of trying to get it to a reservoir/ lake and using it there.

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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Chapter Book Recommendations as Child Gets Older (non-reader in Kindergarten)

  1. Anything by Shel Silvestein or Dr. Seuss merely for the language and rhythms
  2. Diary of a Wimpy Kid Series
  3. Snow Leopard (Jackie Morris) 
  4. Treasure Island (RL Stevenson)
  5. The Ramona series (Beverly Cleary) 
  6. The Little Prince (St. Exupery) 
  7. James and the Giant Peach + others by Roald Dahl
  8. Mr. Popper's Penguins - A real classic for a child!
  9. How the Elephant Got its Trunk.   
  10. Diary of a Worm
  11. OOPS!  (Alan Katz)  
  12. ANYTHING by Judy Blume;  The Fudge series 
  13. Stuart Little
  14. Indian in the Cupboard books
  15. Winnie the Pooh
  16. The House at Pooh Corner
  17. Charlotte's Web
  18. Magic School Bus Series
  19. Magic Tree House Series
  20. The Lemonade War
  21. My Father's Dragon Series
  22. The Borrowers
  23. Nate the Great
  24. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
  25. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
  26. The Mouse and the Motorcycle (Beverly Cleary)
  27. Pippi Longstocking
  28. Mary Poppins
  29. Swamp Scouts - good but LONG
Diary of a Wimpy Kid Magic School Bus Books Pin It

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Recipe: Tortilla Soup

Tortilla Soup
modified from Eatwell Farms Kitchen recipe

2 T fat (bacon grease, lard, coconut oil, or butter)
2 sliced onions
1 c diced peppers
2+ cloves garlic, smashed
4-6 tomatoes, quartered
1 c summer squash, diced
1 bunch kale, chopped
1 qt. bone broth
1 t cumin
1 T diced fresh oregano
2 t chilie powder
1 t smoked chili salt
pepper to taste
red chili flakes, optional and to taste
cayenne pepper, optional and to taste
cooked meat, optional
1 T lime
avocado chunks
corn tortillas

Heat fat.  Add onion and garlic.

Add peppers.  Let them soften.

Add squash, tomato, kale, and spices.  Cook for a little bit, then add the stock.

Bring to a boil and add cooked meat and heat through.  Turn off heat.  Add lime juice.

Serve in big bowls and top with tortillas and avocado.

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Monday, August 18, 2014

This is How we Roll

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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Why I'm Quitting Blogging and Facebook

On Facebook, you see frequent "goodbye" posts, then the person appears again slowly. What is it about Facebook that is so compelling?

Let's start with me. What do I like about Facebook?

1. You have "friends" without any real effort. Went to high school together? Friends. Joined a mom's group that met half a dozen times then flopped? Friends. I can spend all day with my kids and still have friends. In real life, you need to call and see each other.

2. Someone cares about my daily tasks, feelings, and emotions. And if they don't? They scroll right on by.

3. Likewise with photos. I now have something to do with my really cute digital images I am never going to print.

Cute, huh? Maybe I should post it to Facebook.

4. I actually find scrolling through statuses relaxing and a decent source of news (don't judge me). I click through and read some interesting stories and blog posts. Some people are funny, too.

5. When I first got an account, I found it really neat to find all of the people I had connected with in the past, then lost. It's also fun to find some who you know the same as someone else but not through the same thing.

6. Birthdays! The first few were cool. Now I have stopped wishing everyone Happy Birthday and feel bad when I selectively post.

7. Life events. This is my actual favorite. I love reading about pregnancies, babies, marriages, moves, deaths, new jobs, etc. This was what made Facebook so interesting when I first joined.

That being said, what don't I like about Facebook? Why am I quitting, and why do people post they are quitting all the time?

1. It is organized funny and keeps choosing what to show me by what it thinks I want. So I scroll and click on what is interesting then an hour goes by with me having done nothing but read about someone's sandwich or kid's tooth and some blog posts or news articles.

2. Did I say an hour? Yes. Which keeps me awake at night when I should be sleeping or reading a book. Though it could take longer if I wasn't tired.

3. It is tempting to try to "keep up" on Facebook, and then you check it multiple times per day. It doesn't take as long in the evening, but you are constantly on your phone or tablet. Hate it.

4. Really? Do you love your life/ girlfriend/ baby/ job/ lunch/ dog every day? Even when you get spit-up on? 'Cuz that's what it sounds like to me.

5. I spend my "friend energy" on 300-something people who slightly care instead of using it on the 10 or so who actually care. I could (and should) write actual emails back to people with sentences and information and make actual phone calls to people who want to talk to me. If I have limited resources (in this case it is energy after being with the kids all day, getting a workout in, keeping the house and bills and animals in order, and talking to my husband- oh, and bookkeeping part time), why should I be using it reading snippets of information about people who I may or may not recognize on the street?

Which brings me to the blog.

That was the other half of the "snippets of information" bit. I read other blogs and have learned a lot and tried a lot but it's really just snippets and blogs are nice because you get to know the writer. But not too much. And not too deeply. And for goodness sake, not in real life.

My blog has stayed steady at around 150 hits per day for a while now. I have a few posts that get most of the action, and I think the rest must be people I know checking in on me. Again, we are skipping the actual interaction in favor of one through the computer.

I started the blog as a way to keep track of sewing projects and links to patterns and sewing blogs that were useful to me.

As my older son (who will be 6 this summer) got older, I have been doing less sewing. He started napping less, and staying the same size for longer. We have plenty of stuff. I don't need to sew anything else except a dozen pairs of pants twice per year (mostly).

So I started blogging about other things. It was a nice place to post pictures and get into a detailed description. I added garden posts and food posts. I started writing for the local mom's newsletter (it's on real paper and comes in the mail every month) and I would post those on the blog so I wouldn't lose them.

And, like sewing projects, I am out of stuff to share. My kids are aging out if this and it is time for me to spend my free time elsewhere.

Maybe I should pick up sewing.


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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Primal Wild Plum Torte

We have talked about our wild plums before, as we have a number of trees around our house that are generous.

This year, I have been making a delicious torte with them (this photo is of it, uncooked).

Primal Wild Plum Torte

2 cups wild plums (can use regular red plums), pitted (I use a cherry pitter)
1 cup almond flour + 1/4 cup
1 cup other flour you are comfortable with (Einkorn, coconut, etc.)
1 egg
1/2 cup butter, softened (can sub coconut oil), split into 2 portions
1 teaspoon sea salt, split into 2 portions
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup rolled oats (wait, did I call this recipe Primal?)

Mix 1 cup almond flour, other flour, egg, half the butter, half the salt, and vanilla.  Press into torte pan.  If you want to use a pie tin, double the recipe.

Spread plums onto crust in a decorative pattern.

Combine oats, salt, butter, and 1/4 cup almond flour.  Spread/ crumble over plums.  Option- add 2T honey for sweetness.

Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 25+ minutes.  It will be bubbly when finished.  

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Sunday, July 6, 2014

Xtracycle 2 Kids Seating Arrangement

We changed the Xtracycle Edgerunner into yet another seating arrangement.   This is how it had been for a while (two kids with hooptie and homemade seat as a divider and water bottle/ bag holder).  The new arrangement  is quite similar to how it is shown in the ads (kids in hooptie on back). 

Then my older son, who is almost 6, started doing this:

No training wheels!

And now he wants to do a lot of that.  So I don't need the extra weight of the homemade seat to divide them (his brother is just 3), especially if he is doing a lot of riding and a little sitting, and when he sits, I drag his big bike in the back.  So I need my bike to be as light as possible (because it gets heavy quick when I have them both up top and a bike dragging along in back).

It's nice- with just a pad and the hooptie.  We moved the kids' water bottle holder to the front of the hooptie.  It is zip tied on.

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Saturday, July 5, 2014

Amy Butler Blossom Handbag

This is the free Amy Butler Blossom Handbag Pattern for her "Blossom Handbag."  The photos of hers are gorgeous, and it din't seem as, er, hefty as mine turned out.  It's just a lot of fabric all in one bag.

It's just ok.  In addition to how much is there before you fill it, the top flap doesn't close nicely unless it is full.

I added a side interior zipper for my wallet.

I like the detail where the straps attach to the bag (where it looks like a larger hook).

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Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Monthly Garden To-Do List: Year in Review (School Calendar)

Dry your hot peppers, eat figs and zucchini, prune blackberries, plant lettuce and snap peas and winter veggies, plant garlic, make sure narrow trees are protected from deer.

Clean gutters, mulch garden with fallen leaves or start a leaf mold compost bin, eat kale and chard, harvest winter squash (pumpkins!). Prune the raspberries after you eat them all (twice annual task).

Eat persimmons, store winter squash, order bare root trees, prepare veggie boxes for winter (plant winter veggies or mulch them), plant bulbs for spring.

December/ January
Make applesauce, sauerkraut, split the strawberries and plant bare root fruit trees.  Pay attention to the nighttime temperatures and cover your citrus and avocado trees with frost blankets or tarps. Turn off your irrigation.

Last day of frost: February 18th: take your frost blankets off then.  It's also time to start seedlings inside, and do spring pruning of fruit trees (but take the cuttings inside to enjoy the flowers).

Eat green garlic, plant your summer veggies into your boxes (turn the compost then also add some extra), enjoy the magnolias and the flowering bulbs, plant wildflower seeds and poppies before the last rains.

Pick (and possibly eat) those dandelions, enjoy the California Poppies, strawberries, and perhaps some wild plums, make your last cabbage sauerkraut of the year. Turn back on the irrigation. Prune the raspberries after you eat them all (twice annual task).

Plant sunflowers, pick lavender.

Pick then braid garlic, pick little zucchini so the plant keeps producing, start that summer harvesting.  Strawberries!

July/ August
Harvest Time! Eggs, Basil, Tomatoes, Figs, Pluots, Cucumbers (make pickles!).

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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Monthly Garden To-Do List: July/Aug

Finally!  Harvest time: Tomatoes, Basil, Cucumbers, and Zucchini!  Try to keep cool out there!

One of our favorite mid-summer meals is steak with a Cal-Prese salad (Tomatoes, Basil, Avocados, and an Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinaigrette).  Nothing beats garden-fresh tomatoes (and having a use for all that basil!).

We also love making our own full-sour dill pickles.  We use the recipe from The Joy of Pickling but there are a ton of recipes out there. 

Our wild plum trees are ready just about this time of year.  There are at least three varieties: deep red, yellow/ green, and red.  We use a cherry pitter to get the pit out, and eat these by the handful.  They also make fabulous jam, sorbet, and torte.

HOT out there!

This was our 3rd year harvest from our Dapple Dandy Pluot tree, the most fruitful in the garden.  For perspective, we planted a dozen trees that same year, and the next most fruitful had 6 fruits.  This bowl shows less than half of what the tree produced that summer.  And they were delicious.

The kids debated the peaches from our Saturn Peach tree's harvest (which didn't "Saturn" but was delicious)-- which was best.  

We have had great luck with alpine strawberries, both in red and alpine (white) varieties.  These don't travel well, but fall off the plant in the garden and are delectable out of hand.

Both pf these buckets are full of August apples- from an early-season tree.  Keep an eye out.  Also look for the sunflowers and their varieties.

Our chickens love the long days and reward us by laying almost daily.  Here is a mid-summer cucumber and zucchini as well.  Make sure to pick both before they get too big.

Figs fruit twice per year- once on old wood in late spring, and once on new wood in late summer.  We like to plant our trees and use live mulch; in this case, we used strawberries on rocks with lavender at the corners.  The strawberries crowd out weeds, and the rocks make a nice landing place for the berries (to keep the slugs at bay).  The lavender helps attract bees for pollinating.

What's Ready?

  • Carrots
  • Chard
  • Corn
  • Cucumber
  • Eggplant
  • Grapes
  • Green Beans
  • Kale
  • Lettuce
  • Melon
  • Nectarine
  • Onion
  • Peach
  • Pepper
  • Plum
  • Pluot
  • Radish
  • Strawberry
  • Summer Squash
  • Tomato
  • Turnip

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