26 July 2011

Travelin' Tuesday!

It's late, but it's still Tuesday!  I forgot to get this up this morning since we were headed out the door on a family excursion, so here it is now.

Our next stop on our Germany trip was the well known, touristy town of Rothenburg. 
 It's a big tourist spot for a reason.  

Every street is like a postcard.  
 It's just beautiful.  
It has the stone wall running around the old part of town and so much history packed inside. 
 We took the night watchman's tour and learned quite a bit.
 We watched the sun go down and shine beautifully on the town.
Watching the light fade over this pretty town was definitely a high point of the trip.

 See the doors at the top of this big building?  I found out that they were for food storage way back in the day.  It was a law that you had to have a year's supply of food put away to feed your entire household and the attic was the only dry place to put it.  They would use a pulley system to hoist it up there.  As a food storage lover, I found that interesting.
Here I am, trespassing to get a shot of the garden gate.
 This is a stinkin awesome water wheel that we stopped to take pictures of on our way to Rothenburg.
Even though I kind of frown at being the typical tourist, I have to say that I loved my visit to Rothenburg, Germany.

25 July 2011

Food from the garden and bugs

While we would still probably starve if we were depending on the garden, we finally harvested some actual food this week!  Other than the many salads we've harvested, we have now enjoyed two zucchini, two one ball squash, 16 green beans and five little strawberries.  The strawberries were a fun surprise.  I had forgotten about them completely.  I was walking into the house with a squash when I noticed some red in that pot.  We enjoyed them on our ice cream after dinner.

 There is a lemon cucumber almost ready and one little tomato that is turning red.
 That one is on the heirloom plant called Stupice.  It beat the early girl plants by a long way and they had a huge head start.  I would write this down in my garden journal, but I can't find it.  If you could see my desk, you would know why.  My desk looks like this because I have an 18 month old monster that can now reach on top of tables and desks, pulling anything and everything down onto her silly little head.  So we've had a few desk avalanches and the result is not pretty. 

For fun and because I had a packet for some reason, I planted buttercup squash.  I know nothing about them except that the seed packet said to let them climb up a tomato trellis.  They are up and out of the tomato trellis and fighting the tomatoes for their trellis.  Those vines crack me up, how they twist around anything and coil up so tight. 

The one ball squash are making a comeback.  This one will be ready to eat in the next few days.  These squash seem to be attacking the tomatoes too.  Instead of hanging out from the garden box like I thought they would, they are leaning back into the tomatoes and making quite a jungle.  Their prickly leaves have helped keep the little monster from getting too friendly, so I guess the jungle is a good thing.

 Here's that buttercup squash that is trying to take over the world.  You can't see the cucumbers next to them.  The bees have really loved these flowers, so maybe I have this plant to thank for my one ball and zucchini finally coming around.
 My neighbor found a horn worm on one of her tomatoes, so we're now on high alert.  I informed my kids that I will pay a penny for every caterpillar and grasshopper that they kill and bring to me.  That resulted in a bull-like six year old tearing through my plants and breaking a few things.  Maybe I'll take the horn worms over the six year old...
 I did find a grasshopper tonight and I squished it with my bare hands.  It was gross, but I didn't want it to get away.  I have given my son two chances to catch grasshoppers I found and he's 0 for 2, so I did it myself.  And then I found two earwigs hanging out on my lemon cucumber plant.  Even though I hate them with all my being, they are way too creepy to squish with my bare hands.  I moved one to the sidewalk, where I stepped on him and the other one got away.  Yuck.  Earwigs give me the shivers.

We are having a problem with the sprinklers.  These big beautiful blossoms catch so much water and then can't be pollinated.  I went out this morning to drain the blossoms and found a dead bee in one.  I need those bees, darn it!  We don't have control over the sprinklers, but we did try to figure out how to change the schedule.  The little timer thing says they are all off, so that's a little confusing.  I'll keep my husband on that one.  Maybe if we get the sprinklers to come on earlier, the blossoms won't be open yet.  Worth a try, I guess.

I'm linking up with the barn hop!

20 July 2011

The view from my window

I think I've mentioned before that I live in a basement, without many windows.  The one big window we have is in my bedroom and it looks out to the patio in back.  This morning, as I was trying to wake up fully, my husband zipped open the blinds and, um, blinded me.  As soon as my eyes adjusted, this is what I saw.  I had to go outside for a picture, what with the screen and window being in the way.

I've decided I like pole beans, even though these ones haven't even put out a single blossom.  I like how the leaves are heart shaped and fill the space.  I like how daring the vine is, seeking out for something to climb and how it twists around things so quickly.  I've tried pole beans before, but didn't have any success.  Actually, the twigs I put in the ground for them to climb did better than the beans did. 

In other areas of the garden, there is one zucchini almost ready to pick and a one ball squash that is getting close.  Now I've got to decide what I'm going to fix with our first zucchini.  Should I fry it as a side dish?  Chop it into a casserole?  Mix up a pasta salad?  Maybe grill it next to some burgers?  I know I'll have plenty of opportunities to do all of the above many times over in the next month, but what to do right now? 

I've been discouraged by the summer squash this year.  The plants are big and healthy and there are plenty of blossoms, but the fruit are not growing.  They just rot right there on the vine.  We should have had at least ten of the one ball squash by now, but we're finally getting one.  I've been taking matters into my own hands lately, carrying a paintbrush out with me to make sure those flowers get a chance to produce.  It's a good thing we aren't dependent on our garden to feed us, because the lettuce is giving up, only one pea plant survived, and the radishes and turnips didn't do well at all.  I'm hoping all those green tomatoes will ripen someday soon.  I'm getting anxious for a tomato!

19 July 2011

I survived the princess party

It's over, and I'm alive.  Okay, actually, there were almost as many parents there as children, so my stress level was very low.  My dear husband hauled bags and baskets of food and gifts and then cooked up lunch, a mother helped me round kids up when we needed some structured fun, and another mother took my camera and snapped pictures for me, since she knew that the birthday mother has her hands full everywhere else.  That's the great thing about other mothers... they know.
Ever see a princess on a tire swing?

We decorated crowns with jewel stickers, markers and glitter glue, which takes forever to dry and magically ends up on everyone's arms and hands.  Next time I'll stick with the stickers.  (Ha! next time... I'm so funny)  We blew bubbles and played a few games.  We ate lunch and then we opened presents.  Do we leave that at the end to build up suspense?  I found myself having to explain often during the day that it wasn't time for presents yet and I couldn't really answer why.  She survived anyway and was soon in that present opening zone that makes their eyes glaze over and they start tossing presents already opened out of the way to make way for presents not yet opened. 
After the cupcakes, and party favors were passed out, I snatched the birthday girl (which is what she made her brother call her all day) and made her pose for a few pictures.  I had to commandeer this bridge from a few kids to get this one.  Unfortunately, while they were happy to loan me the bridge, they seemed to not be able to stay out of the camera lens.   Guess I have some cropping to do.

Oh, I made that ribbon crown the night before.  I thought it would be a quick project, but it took me a while.  Here she is showing the ribbons in back.  I think it tops off the ensemble nicely.  I guess my late night was worth it.
We had the dress sitting out on a chair for her to find when she woke up this morning.  It's not often that she is speechless, but we achieved it this morning.  The dress is too big and would fall off of her shoulders, but it was nothing a few safety pins couldn't fix.  I'm just glad it wasn't too small!

So now I heave a big sigh and listen to the noise makers that my husband insisted on buying.  That is, until they get "lost"...  Happy Birthday, Birthday Girl!

Now go to sleep!

Travel Tuesday

Pretty church in Kitzingen, Germany
 We visited a pretty little town near Wuerzburg, called Kitzingen.  The main trademark of this town is this leaning tower.  The story that I was told was that there was an evil man--the man that inspired the Dracula story- that lived nearby.  He did bad and scary things, and when the villagers finally caught him and killed him, they put his heart into the top of the tower.
 On the other side of the street, is the cemetery where his body was buried.  This is me looking at the grave.  Lots of skulls and scary things on it.
 The story says that if he and his heart ever come back together, he will come back to life.  The tower is leaning that way because he is calling it back to him.... Ooooooh.
 Probably just some story for the tourists, but it is kind of cool how the tower is leaning toward the cemetery and if it fell, it looks like it would land on that grave.
This is the palace in Wuerzburg, not to be confused with the fortress that we walked up to.  This is right in the city and has beautiful gardens.  We walked around forever, just enjoying the flowers and trees, the sculptures and the little garden hidy-holes.

18 July 2011

Fair's fair...

Since I created a bright pink princess dress for my soon to be 5 year old, I figured my son could use a little costume love too.  Plus, we needed a "knight" to deliver the party invitations to make things authentic and proper.  The knight outfit was much easier to make.  I didn't even need a pattern!

He got to choose the insignia on the front.  I was hoping he'd pick the simple cross, but he picked the lion instead.  I was afraid I would have to bribe him to actually wear this outfit, what with him being so mature these days, but  I was wrong.  He puts it on every morning and we have to make him take it off to go someplace.  He likes it so much, he actually hung it up!  He doesn't hang anything up.  It could be that he gets to carry his play sword when he wears it, but whatever.  He will be doing his part to make the birthday fun for his sister.

And speaking of the sister... ever since the knight costume has been finished, she has been begging me to make her a queen dress.  I keep putting her off, telling her I'll look into it and maybe try.  I have such a hard time waiting until the actual day when I'm excited about a gift and I know that they will love it.  Almost there.  Soon she will be poofing around in a pink "queen" dress.

We're just finishing our party preparations.  Gifts are wrapped, food is in the fridge, party favors are ready.  Unfortunately, the cupcakes are not yet made.  I had planned to get them done during nap time, but nap time ended very early.  It might be a long night!

I will be a very happy momma as soon as all this birthday stuff is over.  Then I will be back to my normal schedule, whatever "normal" is.

14 July 2011

Family reunions and pink puffy sleeves

It feels like I've been gone for a month, but it was only a week.  I spent the weekend with cousins and other relatives at our annual family reunion.  It is a camping affair, but we had a great time in spite of being dirty.  My dad nicely offered his camper to me.  There was a time in my life that I would have scoffed at such an idea.  I thought tents were for sissies.  Then I grew up and had children.  Life is different now.  My older two kids really wanted to stay in the tent, so we pitched it too.  They woke up at 6:30 am, ready to play.  Mom was not pleased. 

There was lots of visiting and catching up.  A big pot-luck dinner and an evening listening to stories of my grandpa, since it would have been his 100th birthday this month.
This is the only picture I can find of Grandpa.  With his team of horses.
After coming back, the reality of my daughter's 5th birthday was looming.  I decided to make her a princess dress.  While shopping at the second hand store, I discovered a great big, pink, girly curtain.  It wanted to be a princess dress, I could tell, so we brought it home and I started thinking about how to make this dress.  Usually, I start a project, thinking I can do it by myself and it ends up in a great big disaster.  This time, I decided to follow a pattern.  It turned out to be the most difficult sewing project I have ever done.  What was I thinking?  Sleeves?  Zipper? Miles and miles of gathers?  The amount of fabric on this little dress is simply ridiculous.  But, it's finished. 

I need to thank my mother for keeping the princess for a few days and my husband for hanging onto the baby most of the day so I could knock this project out.  This dress sets the record for fastest project, clocking in at two full days of crazed sewing.  I did stop for meals.  Oh, and I did give my husband some sewing lessons.  He sewed the lining of the bodice, and did a great job.  (don't tell him I told you).

And that is what I've been up to for the last week.  Now maybe the dishes and laundry will get done, but first I need to vacuum up all these little pink strings...

06 July 2011

Garden update

It's hard to believe that just a month ago, the garden looked like this.

This is how it looked a week ago.

And here it is today!

It's turning it to a jungle!  I think I need to prune the tomatoes a bit.  Any advice on that?  Is it okay to cut off that first big leafy shoot that doesn't produce any flowers, or is that a bad idea.  I seem to remember reading about that once.  I've also heard that you should prune indeterminates to just two main shoots, but I haven't done that yet.  The summer squash are blooming, as are the lemon cucumbers.  I'm finding that it's hard to get a good picture of anything with them all packed in there like this.  They seemed so spread out a month ago.

I can't wait to get more than salad out of here.  I see lots of little green tomatoes and little baby squash.  One thing for sure, gardening tries to teach patience!

05 July 2011

Travelin' Tuesday!

 I'm back for another edition of Travel Tuesday! I do apologize for the number of pictures, but this is my favorite place.  I lived in this city for almost 7 months back when I was 22.  There is a big fortress on the hill with vineyards and a river below.  It's just beautiful to me.

Downtown shopping area.

The Maypole... not a great picture.

The Main River.

The foot bridge over the river.

Statue on the bridge.

Looking up at the hill we are about to climb.

Beautiful chapel on a neighboring hilltop.  We walked up that hill too.

Me, looking lost in a vineyard. 

Looking down on yet another church.