23 August 2011

End of Summer Cramming

Phew!  We've been busy, busy!  Mostly traveling, but I also started a new job doing graphic design.  It's a nice, stay at home type job, but I am out of practice.  It's kind of like stretching a muscle you haven't used in a while, so that has been taking up lots of time.  Actually, I should be working right now, since the kiddos are asleep and the husband is doing husband things, but my brain seems to have reached capacity for today.  I realized as I was cleaning out the fridge and dumping out moldy, forgotten food, that I must be avoiding my work if I was actually cleaning out the fridge.  I never clean out the fridge if I can help it.

So, I figured I'd take advantage of my shirking of work to post a quick thought here on my blog.  I have been trying to check in with the blogs on my reading list, but I know I've missed some good stuff.  I was all set to post a garden update, but then I lost the camera for about a week.  I found it again, at my mom's house, so hopefully tomorrow I'll share some pictures of what's going on there.  Or maybe it will be the next day after that.  I'm hoping to cram one more activity in tomorrow before school officially starts.

About two weeks ago, we suddenly realized that school was upon us and we hadn't accomplished a fraction of the things on our list that we wanted to do this summer.  I hate how school abruptly ends summer like that.  Can I homeschool my kids until October and then send them to public school?  I'm not ready to be tied down like this.  There's still so much nice weather ahead.  Trails to be hiked, marshmallows to roast, creeks to swim in, fish to catch!  It's a panicky feeling knowing that the freedom of summer is nearly over.

Anyway, we tried to cram as much in as we could.  We've been fishing and hiking and camping and museum exploring and grandma visiting and I think some fun memories have been made.  We did discover that the baby is not yet responsible enough to sleep in a sleeping bag, or anywhere else that allows too much freedom of movement.  We did not sleep well because she did not sleep well... that and we forgot any padding to sleep on.  I am amazed at how uncomfortable the ground is now that I'm past 30.  I used to camp all the time as a younger person.  We would sleep right on the ground without a tent.  I don't remember ever being uncomfortable.  I am  now joining the -camping with an air mattress- club.  My 16-year-old self is ashamed, but my back insists.

Aerospace Museum
Tomorrow, I hope to go for one last hiking/fishing expedition before I admit defeat and surrender to the inevitable start of school on Thursday.  Who starts on Thursday anyway?  Who starts before Labor Day, for that matter?  Obviously, nobody asked my opinion on this matter.

09 August 2011

Canning rhubarb

It was just one of those days yesterday.  One of those days that I actually accomplish things.  I love those days.  In spite of sleeping in a bit and dinking around on the computer for a while and then looking up at the clock to see that it was already 11:30(!) I still got some things done.  Or maybe it just felt like it.

Two loads of dishes in the dishwasher and two loads of laundry were washed (but not yet put away).  A double batch of bread was baked.  Two summer squashes were cut up and dehydrated (an experiment).  And two jars of rhubarb were canned.  There was a little trip to the grocery store in there somewhere and then the evening was spent transcribing a couple of interviews that my husband needed for a school project.  He still owes me a massage.  I was too tired last night to collect it.

The rhubarb came from a neighbor.  He swore that they didn't want it and they were leaving on a trip anyway, so I just needed to take it.  I have this rule of never turning things like that down, even though I had no plans for rhubarb anywhere in my head, yet.  My girls decided that the rhubarb stocks looked good enough to chew on, so thinking I'd get a fun show, I let them have some.  The baby was hilarious with her little sour-face spasms and then going right back at it.  They stuck with it for a lot longer than I expected. 

I decided to make a few pies, even though my husband is not a big fan of pie.  He says the crust is too much.  Plus, he's a bit wary of rhubarb tainting the fruit.  So I generally save the pie making for when I'm at my parent's house.  However, there was a neighborhood cookie social coming up and since I didn't have all the ingredients for cookies, but I did have the ingredients for a pie, I made some strawberry rhubarb pie.  The kids and I made mini pies out of the extra stuff in the muffin tin.  Those disappeared quickly.

To my surprise, my husband bravely ate some and liked it!  This is a momentous occasion in our marriage.  He even had some for breakfast this morning.  I always eat pie for breakfast if there is any.  It just tastes so good! 

After the pie making, I still had some rhubarb left over, so yesterday, I canned it.  I'll probably give it to my mom, since she makes pies much more often than I do. 

To can rhubarb, cut stocks into about 1" pieces. 
Add 1/2-1 cup of sugar per quart of cut rhubarb.
Heat up a bit so the sugar becomes a syrup.
Put into sterilized jars and can in a water bath canner.
The starting time is 10 minutes and then you add 1 minute for every thousand feet above 1000 feet.  So here near 5,000 feet, it was for 14 minutes.

Now you'll have rhubarb ready for your desserts all year long!

Well, look at that.  It's 11:30 again.  Guess I'd better get something done today too!

03 August 2011

It can't be August already!

Did you know it's August already?  It kind of snuck up on me.  Now school's right around the corner and we still haven't even scratched the surface of all the things we were going to do with the kids this summer.  We started out with such a good schedule, but inevitably chaos overcame my best of intentions.  Now, we sleep in as long as the baby will let us, eat a late breakfast, try to clean some area of the house (to the harmony of two whining children), eat a little lunch and kick the kids out of the house so I don't lose my sanity.  Then I track them down for a late supper and send them to bed with nasty threats of big spankings if they don't settle down and go to sleep.  Yep, that's my day in a nutshell.

Of course, there are family reunions and last minute get togethers peppered in there, so we are in a constant state of either packing or unpacking, with loads of laundry on both sides.  Oh, and the A/C quit in our van, so we're stuffing ourselves into the little Mazda to get from here to there and back again.  Then I get involved in three projects all at once and the whole house seems to fall apart... and the next thing I know, it's August already! 

I enjoyed my first red tomato last weekend.  It was a tiny little thing from the Stupice tomato plant.  I would have had a few more by now, but the baby decided to pick all the pinkish tomatoes from one plant.  They did ripen up, but they just didn't look that great after being played with by an 18 month old.  Little stinker.  The other tomatoes are slowly, but surely turning red and making me very happy.

That's about all the news from our corner of the world, except that the little man caught his first fish.  Much excitement around that event.  And at least one thing accomplished off of that long list of summer activities. 

I'm off to get working on one of those projects.  Hopefully I'll come up to the surface before September!