Friday, August 31, 2012


I"m sitting in the recliner by our front picture window looking out at the "blue moon."  Alida is sacked out on my chest.  Gone are the days when her little body tucked up under my chin and didn't even reach my waist.  But she still fits and so I'm trying to savor it while it lasts.  I'm not sure what was bugging her such that it was hard for her to settle tonight, but I wondered about a tummy ache, possibly spurred on by her and Kali eating close to a quart of frozen blueberries this afternoon?! They are quite the pair these days!  When they tired of shoveling them in their mouths, Kali got paper for them to make "blueberry print" drawings.

Today was my first Friday at home after a somewhat grueling stretch of work, putting in about 35-40 more hours in two weeks than I normally do.  Have I mentioned that I love my days at home?  Today was one of those days where my list of things I wanted to do kept growing and growing and I reassured myself by remembering that it was only Friday and I have the weekend at home yet.  What a fun day it has been!

On the counter is a canner load each of pickles, ratatouille, and green beans.  In the fridge is a large batch of pesto. A double batch of green rolls and a large batch of green pasta were made from lambsquarter, swiss chard and amaranth greens picked from the garden this morning. The large batch of mint tea I made is almost history and the girls enjoyed a bedtime snack of a portion of the triple batch of granola that came out of the oven while we were eating a late, but scrumptious dinner at 9 p.m. or so.   On the stove is several gallons of tomato sauce that will simmer down overnight to be ready to can tomorrow sometime.  The diapers and laundry are clean, while the rest of the house is hoping for a bit more attention tomorrow...

I could wish that these days would end slightly earlier but they just seem to go so fast and before I know it midnight is quickly approaching.  Our eldest is not bothered in the least by this, as she continues to hold fast to her conviction that she does not need sleep.  It seemed that her doctor got a kick out of her at her yearly appointment earlier this week when her main questions for the doctor were about how to be able to drink more, how to not forget things, and how to not have trouble getting her chores done (these are from a chart that she made up but that she is considering modifying when she needs a reprint so that there aren't so many - we could argue about whether it entails much work or not...).  Anyway, I was super thankful that those were the most pressing concerns for her yearly exam - she checked out super healthy growing over 2 inches since last year.

Today wouldn't have been nearly as fun without the girls around to add spunk and laughter to the day, as well as loads of cuteness.  And I wouldn't have gotten near as much done without the help of fellow Tangly Woods women (thanks, Joyce and Rachelle!).  Having folks close by that the girls love to be with continues to be so heartwarming for me.  And having friends to chop veggies with, share food with, and converse with as we work side by side is about as good as it gets for me.

Our dinner: Tomatoes, greens, beans, corn, basil, & garlic from our garden. Cucumbers and dill from neighbors and friends.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Kali is 9!

Kali doesn't get her fair share of exposure on the blog these days.  She is also cute and fun and creative and huggable and all those things.  But she is not nearly as busy.  And it would be a very boring video to put a clip up of what she is doing for many hours each day!  We have ourselves a tried and true bookworm! She devours chapter books at an impressive rate.  She is very into the Mandie series (after Joyce, who lives with us, gave her over a dozen).  She came home from the library the other day all excited to report to me that there were more in the series than she knew (40!). 

It appears that she is enjoying community living as much as the rest of us.  She also enjoys her post as "mail lady," though she has given herself Wednesdays off. 

She had a very fun week transitioning from 8 to 9 years of age.  Her actual birthday was celebrated at the Rockingham County Fair.  We were all pretty bleary eyed when we arrived home close to 1 a.m. after a full evening of rides, a birthday picnic, looking at animals, going to a hypnotist show, riding more rides in the dark and then ending the evening with ice cream and a few presents (the evening doubly fun since Emily and Jonas joined us for the festivities).

We recovered from the fair just in time for our first ever New Fool's Day party.  The mystery dinner was almost over when I realized I was having so much fun and so busy serving that I did not take any pictures of the meal (I never really did get good pictures)  The menu included:

take a stab at it
weed strips
bumpy ride for an ant
big bird would feel right at home
a relative of a snooze
energy saver's delight
eco-friendly and good for your heart
a cuddle
if chickens grew on trees
food needing an antidepressant
don't scare the birthday girl
midnight ball drop

You are welcome to try to match them up to lambsquarter pasta, fancy cut carrot circles, black olives, no bake chocolate peanut butter cookies, string beans, fried eggplant, frozen blueberries, sesame seed bread, a spoon, fork, knife, napkin and tea.

The rest of the evening was spent having fun with water balloons, playing attraction repulsion, eating funny cake pie, sitting around the fire roasting marshmallows and trying to think of jokes, dancing out on the lawn, being unsuccessful at finding a single lightning bug to release at midnight, toasting toast (and sparkling juice) to ring in the next year and finally crashing after 1 a.m. (of course Kali was not tired!)

I, on the other hand, am happy to admit that I'm tired.  And for that reason here are two other random fair pictures that I'm putting at the bottom of this post because the formatting is going bonkers with me trying to insert them where it makes sense to put them!  The month of August is nearing the end, and I'm about as tired as I expected I would be.  But it has also been a really good and fun month in so many ways.  There have also been some very visible changes outdoor as Jonathan (part of the Tangly Woods crew) and Jason get more into some of the permaculture mapping of our place (and designing some areas, which includes clearing, which means big visual changes).  I'm noting here, as I know is a goal of both Jason and mine, that we are going to work at slowing up this winter - at least for a little bit!

Alida update

The little gal is sleeping (which is the only reason I can sit here typing) and what am I doing - blogging about her and watching little video clips of her. I guess we don't get enough of her in her waking hours...  She is one busy girl these days.  She now has a full mouthful of 20 teeth, her vocabulary has exploded and she has quite the sense of humor as this first video will show.  Her little "what?....ahhh" routine is a current favorite:

She is loves to stand on things - small things.  And in the case of the toy pictured here, she found a new way to play with it without her hammer.

And, finally, Kali's birthday (which I hope to at least report on briefly in my 3rd post of the evening) could have been Alida's birthday as she was quite fond of the county fair. We even paid for her to have an armband to go on the rides, though she was too short for most of them.  When we finally went to the barn with the cows in it towards the end of the evening, we realized that that was where she would have gladly spent her entire evening, running up and down the long hallway pointing out all the cows to us.  Here she is petting the cows from the very herd where we get our milk. 

Thankfully Alida still very much enjoys doing things with me in the kitchen - if that ends, I'm in trouble (or let's hope it hits in the winter and not canning season).  She is quite the "helper" peeling garlic or better yet taking things to the compost for me.  It's still a bit of a balancing act to start AND complete a canning project with her in tow, but we are finding our way, and normally all feeling pretty cheery throughout. 

This week I put in a 50-60 hour work week due to new student orientation for the graduate program.  It felt like LONG days.  Most evenings (into the night) were spent canning and freezing.  This week we've put up pesto, salsa, peaches, peach rhubarb jam, green beans, pickles, and okra.    We've been grateful for some extra adult hands around every now and then, for chopping or playing with the girls.  I had a hunch I would enjoy community living again, but I'm even surprised how fulfilling and fun it has been!

Why we are NOT blogging regularly!

Looks very innocent doesn't she?  But she has her "foos" in her hand which means she is ready to go somewhere!

If only they stayed so pretty when cooked.  Jason came in today with close to 3 canner loads of beans.

Picking peaches from our tree from seed is one satisfying task - here they are in rhubarb peach jam.

My favorite room in the house - if we need to seek coverage in a tornado we will not go hungry.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Garden update and scary Alida!

There will likely be fewer posts in the coming weeks. In short because August is upon us.  That normally means the convergence of several things:  Kali's birthday (and her never "normal" birthday parties), tomatoes ripening, and my work ramping up for the new school year.  Not much down time for blogging (or much else).  Kali just returned from a very fun visit with grandparents and one of her cousins in West Virginia. Not surprisingly, she is spending most of today introverting with her books. 

While she is reading and the baby is napping, I'll let the pile of dishes sit for just a bit longer as there are a few things worth noting, particularly one thing that to others may not seem all that noteworthy.  Jason has finally given in and used row cover!  He dislikes it, but also doesn't like that we haven't been able to grow certain things successfully - so there are some fall cole crops hiding away under the stuff (and I happen to think he was able to make it look quite tidy).

While those are growing, we are enjoying many other fruits of our labor (and some things not due to our labor).  The potatoes are mostly dug and drying in the garage, with the onions (Alida helped with both!).  The garlic is processed and being put to good use already.  The last of the beets have been pulled and the beet greens utilized and another round of beets has been planted.  Our first round of strings beans has been consumed or tucked away in canning jars or the freezer and the next round is just days from the first picking.  We continue to enjoy an abundant supply of lambs quarter, amaranth and chard - for whenever green dough or noodles are in the making (which will be later today).  The chickens are ramping up their egg production, with new ones starting in several weeks before Jason was expecting them to.  We get a cucumber every now and then from our garden, and many every now and then from friends who have an abundance.  The squash didn't survive long, but it seems that when one is looking for summer squash at this time of year there are usually folks just hoping they will find someone to take some off their hands - we've been happy to provide that service!  And, I haven't mentioned tomatoes.  We are eating them to our heart's content and the first batch of sauce is in the freezer with more to join it soon.  Peppers are ready to eat if you want green ones but we are holding out for truly ripe peppers.  Salsa making is just around the corner! 

Our basil plants are flourishing after a rough start due to slugs.  I'm enjoying making several batches of pesto here and there and have a helper cleaning out the blender.  No, she does not like anything with it (unless it is just a conduit for the pesto, which she licks off and then returns for replenishing):

Another favorite of Alida's right now is cucumbers IF they are in cucumber dill salad and if she can have all the leftover dressing.  I think she would drink the stuff if we allowed it:

Time to turn my attention to plans for "New Fool's Day" which will be celebrated at our home two weeks from today in honor of Kali's 9th birthday!  A report on those festivities very well may be the next update.  In the meantime, if you need a little scare, you can hang in there for one more video.