Monthly Camping

Warning: This post is slightly photo heavy. Bear with me. :) 

DSC06943 Camping, next to my family and cooking, is my favorite activity. I went so far as to buy my tiny tiny hatchback a backpack so we could  fit 4 people’s worth of camping gear in it and on it! I love getting ready for each trip as I find myself getting more and more efficient.

Once a month, for the last 4 months, we’ve been going camping. It’s been the best. Not only have we been camping, but camping with friends. We have found wonderful friends who share our love of the out-of-doors and who want to go camping just as frequently as we do!

DSC06936 DSC06935 DSC06928 This trip in particular was special as it was our longest outing yet, and all family members on both sides were present. We set up camp together, cooked together, laughed and drank wine (for the adults) next to the fire. The girls played happily (for the most part).

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D and I made this cool spiral path. I’ve always wanted to do this and this was the perfect spot with lots of large rocks!
DSC06905 This swing was made by my dear friend C’s husband, D2. He is a survival instructor and can make just about anything!

DSC06899 DSC06898 DSC06889We hiked together, celebrated the birthdays of both husbands and got completely soaked in the summer rain storms. The rain came raging in every evening around dinner time. Lucky D2 had all the parachutes and rope to help make our little shelter from rain and sun.

DSC06875DSC06880DSC06876I also asked D2 to teach me how to build a fire and now I can start a fire in the rain with wet wood. That’s right! I can even start a fire without matches.

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The girls all got a lesson in fire safety and learned how to properly add wood to the fire. This was a big thing as they wanted at first to just throw the wood in, but that’s really dangerous for a handful of reasons. Little V was the most patient and fearless when it came to adding wood to the fire.

I like meals cooked over open fire. It somehow tastes so much better.

My favorite part of the whole trip was staying up late drinking wine chatting about non kid related things and scaring off the skunks who wanted to eat out of our trash bag.

We already have two more trips planned. If my children don’t  grow up with a deep sense of longing to be outdoors than I shall have failed them. Hopefully not, as they always agree to the next trip!

Posted in Uncategorized | 9 Comments

In My Garden

DSC06848 DSC06846 DSC06845 DSC06844 DSC06843 DSC06842 DSC06841 DSC06840 DSC06839 DSC06837 DSC06835 DSC06833 DSC06828I had no idea how beautiful okra flowers were when I planted the seeds in May, nor did I know just how fast okra grows. I need some okra recipes ASAP! We like to bread and pan fry our okra and dip them in sriracha, but I’m ready to branch out.

The garden is doing well despite the heat. Our days have been fluctuating between 104-110. Ouch!  We joke that anything under 100 feels cool! I would attribute the health of my garden to the timed drip system and lots of mulch I put down. I have three inches of mulch around my plants and that seems to help a lot.

So far I’ve hauled in 35 pounds of tomatoes! The zucchini are still trickling in slowly one or two at a time. I suppose that is a good thing right? But I thought they were supposed to be prolific!

The butternut squash plants are doing well. I need to mulch them too. The popping corn is beginning to dry. There is one small melon growing and hopefully no birds will find it! Oh those birds they are eating up all my zinnias now.

I planted about 50 onion sets. I started onions from seed earlier in the spring and they couldn’t handle the heat, so I went to my local nursery and they had lots of onion sets and told me as long as I mulch heavily and water evenly, they should do fine even in this heat and surprisingly they are.

I think it would be a good time to take a garden inventory of what’s here:

  • hopi popping corn
  • zucchini
  • eggplant
  • melon
  • okra
  • cucumbers
  • rattlesnake beans
  • 4 types of tomatoes
  • 3 types of basil
  • thyme
  • sage
  • rosemary
  • parsley
  • lemon balm
  • yarrow
  • mint
  • calendula
  • onions
  • peppers
  • bell peppers

The peppers are struggling and I’m not sure why, though my sources tell me kelp meal will solve it. The monsoon season is due to start any day now and so I plant to pick up a few more pepper plants. I would really like to have peppers for the winter. The garlic was a bust. I think the soil composition was wrong and I was watering wrong. I lost almost all of the 97 cloves I planted. It was a bummer but a good learning experience. I will do a better job this fall of enriching the soil and proper watering.

So glad to see you all in full gardening mode too! Happy Wednesday!

Posted in Garden | 16 Comments

Summer Solstice

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Yesterday morning I woke to a gift of a paper plate sunflower, so I went outside to welcome the longest day. I did a few sun salutations and then came back inside to let the day unfold.

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We spent the day together as a family: eating sun shaped pancakes, shopping at the farmers market, and playing in the mud. We grilled outside despite the 102 degree heat and said goodnight to the sun as it set behind our garden wall. Hard to believe that Summer means the day will get shorter and shorter.

Welcome Summer! Now time to bring me some rain!

Happy Monday everyone. :)

Posted in Life Notes, Morning Moment | 4 Comments

Insalata Caprese

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I figured no better way to end the week then the way it began: with TOMATOES!

Insalata caprese has been our go to side dish lately; Fresh tomatoes, mozzarella di bufala, basil, a drizzle of olive oil, and a pinch of salt and pepper. So fresh, incredibly fragrant, and no cooking involved! Most of the time these never get to the table or plated up so nicely. They usually get eaten as I am assembling.

Ingredients:

  • two medium tomatoes (from your garden if possible!)
  • one ball of fresh mozzarella di bufala (you can use normal fior di latte, also which is mozzarella made with cow milk)
  • as many leaves of basil as you have slices of tomato
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Directions:

Slice the tomatoes into 1/4 in thin slices. Lay the slices out on a plate. Next slice the mozzarella the same way and place those slices on top of the tomatoes. Sprinkle each little stack with salt and pepper to taste and then drizzle a little olive oil over them. Finish of the dish by placing a leave or pieces of leaves on each stack. Enjoy!

Posted in Cooking and Food, Recipes | 4 Comments

If You Came Over for Tea

DSC01720If you came over for tea , depending on if you’d ever come over before, you’d likely find my house in one or two states: either fairly clean and put together, or a total mess.

If you came over for tea I would welcome you probably with my apron on because I’d be either in the middle of cooking you something or clean up after cooking you something. I would smile and hug you and tell you to come in quickly so as not to let in the flies.

Once inside my home I’d usher you into the kitchen and you’d plop your things down on the bar, and most likely we’d never leave the kitchen. My girls would beg to be held and climb into your lap. Unless you have children with you, and in that case they would be running away to the swing set outside.

If you came over for tea I would attempt to show you all the new things before I offered said tea, otherwise we’d forget and I’d never show you the new chicken coop or how the garden is doing or how we finished re-flooring our house.

When it was time for tea I would offer you numerous herbal mixes and we’d probably pick three or four and then just make pot after pot of tea.

If you came over for tea we’d talk about everything big and small. I would sit and listen to you tell me of all the little things that make your day special or irk you, I’d listen to your stories.

If you came over for tea you’d probably stay longer than you meant to and it wouldn’t matter a bit, because you came for tea and that’s all that matters.

Posted in Life Notes | 23 Comments

Tomatoes!

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This post it just to make your mouth water for tomatoes! (Mom, don’t worry I won’t make you eat any of these tomatoes!) 

This is the first year I’ve taken veggie growing seriously. I planted 25 tomato plants. Only three of them didn’t make it. So far I’ve hauled in 20.5 pounds of tomatoes. I’ve made 4 pint and half jars of puree and frozen them. We eat tomatoes at every meal and for snack, We eat insalata caprese almost everyday and I make some sort of tomato based dish every once a week. We are swimming in tomatoes and I am sooo happy about it.

Now that isn’t to say I haven’t had any problems. Early on I had cut worms take down three plants. I fixed that by putting little cardboard rings around the seedlings. Then I had early blight. Fixed that by removing all the infected material and using copper spray. Now my only problem is lizards. For every pound of tomatoes I harvest, I lose one or two tomatoes to the lizards, which I suppose is a fair bargain as they are also eating all the insect pests.  I would also like to send out a thank you to the mason bees whom I think helped to pollinate the hundreds of tomatoes in my garden.

To all my Canadian and Northern European readers, your tomatoes are coming I promise! If it makes you feel better by the end of this week it will be 112/44 degrees so my tomatoes won’t be flowering for a while. When the summer monsoons arrive in mid July then I will start seeing tomatoes again. That is if the pounding rains don’t take down my whole garden! For now I’m rolling in tomatoes. I feel like a millionaire!

Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments

In My Garden

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Every morning after yoga I go out and check on the chickens. It’s often the highlight of my morning as they come flocking to me the moment they hear, “Good morning!” Chickens grow so fast. We got them the last week of April and now they look almost full grown.

The garden is doing well despite the birds. As of today I’ve picked 13 pounds of tomatoes. We’ve eaten them in pasta sauces, eaten them raw, in insalata caprese, I’ve made some into puree and frozen it. There is always a bowl of cherry tomatoes on the counter now for snacking.

The okra is coming in and so is the eggplant. The corn silks are turning brown, meaning we might have home grown corn for the 4th of July!

I stepped up my defenses against the flocks of neighborhood birds and installed bird netting over all the tomatoes and eggplants and kale. I’m pretty excited about those hoops, they make the garden look so “gardeny”, like a real food production space. But seriously, if you have any other suggestions about the birds let me know! It was cute when they were just eating aphids but now there is a whole flock that comes and goes…

The mini orchard is doing well too. I need to do summer pruning, as a mini orchard needs pruning twice a year.

I hope your gardens are doing well!

PS. If you signed up for the postcard exchange the emails with your exchange person’s address with be going out shortly. There are so many of you from around the world it’s very exciting! 

Posted in Garden | 18 Comments

On being American

IMG_1372IMG_1364IMG_1362IMG_1369IMG_1368 This past Friday was a huge day for my husband and I. It was the culmination of 10 years worth of paperwork and occasional worry; he received his American citizenship!  As I sat in the courtroom watching the ceremony I looked around at all the people there, coming from 19 different countries from around the world. Every continent was represented! So many people from different cultural background wanting to live in this country. They are all proud to be here. The emotion in the room was one great sigh of relief.

The judge who presided over the ceremony said something that really caught my attention and that made me realize just how special this country is. He said, and I am paraphrasing here, that if you were to go to another country, Iraq, Nigeria, China, Italy you could become a citizen by law but that wouldn’t mean you were truly Iraqi or Chinese. The culture in other countries is too strong.  But here when you become an American you are just as American as anyone else because America is mixing pot of cultures built on immigrants. We all come from immigrant parents or grandparents. My great grandparents for example immigrated from Germany to Michigan…

During the ceremony they played the national anthem, they made the candidates swear an oath of allegiance and then everyone was asked to say the pledge of allegiance (I like the first version of the pledge the best from 1892). I hadn’t said the pledge since freshman year of highschool. I remember standing silently every morning as the pledge was said over the intercom and I would think to myself what does this even mean. Having said the pledge everyday since kindergarten it completely lost its meaning and importance for me by the time I was 15. So I stopped saying it. Then Friday without a blink of an eye, I recited that pledge like I’d been saying it every single day for the last 16 years. This time it was important though, it meant something. It meant comfort, security and home. I’ve traveled the world and lived in other countries, but I like this one a lot. The freedom we have here to be exactly who we want to be is incredible. (I know some of you will say that isn’t true, but it really is for me). Sure we have our issues (there are many issues), but where else can you go to the store in your pajamas and not be called crazy? It doesn’t matter where your people came from, if you live here now you are American.

So now that D is American; what does that mean? It means we can travel freely without worry of detainment or deportation. He won’t have to worry that any involvement in the law might be cause for deportation. Deportation is a damn scary word when it involves someone you love.

One last interesting note: in order to become American you have to have an interview and pass a test. The interview requires you to say 10 words of English and you have to get 6 out of 10 civics questions right. There are other things like background checks and applications and years of other paperwork for work visas and green cards and such let’s not forget the thousands of dollars to process the paperwork.

Here’s a link to the study materials for the civics test! How much do you remember from school (if you are an American reader that is)?

I do feel like I should add that Canada, the UK, Australia and New Zealand would probably also rock, but I’ve not lived in those countries so I can’t really vouch for them. Tell me what you love about the country you live in!

Posted in Life Notes | 18 Comments

{this moment}

DSC06770Joining Soule Mama for {this moment}

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

In My Garden

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This week in my garden has been pretty scrumptious. We are eating all the tomatoes we want. That means I am saving $3.49 each week now (that’s how much a container of organic cherry tomatoes costs here).  The garden doesn’t look very different from last week, totally overgrown and now covered in bird netting. I blabbed too much about how I had so much kale I didn’t know what to do with it and so the birds decided to come and eat it. Since I do actually want all that kale I had to cover everything!

Our chickens are growing and happy. I put out ice water, green leafy treats and frozen melon everyday for them. It’s hard to be outside in 100/38 degree heat. So I try to keep them cool in the shade with a nice cold drink.

I imagine you all are eating from your gardens now! What are you cooking?

*** Don’t forget to enter the Summer Postcard Exchange. There is still time, I will close the entry form on Friday night. Then next week you will receive your postcard buddies address. 

Happy Wednesday!

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Posted in Garden | 6 Comments