Friday, June 29, 2007

Fabric Project=Small Bag.

I made another new little bag yesterday. We always need something to put water/snacks/keys/sunscreen in when we go to the park or for walks. And the boys always confiscate my bags and use them to transport their toys and I made another one for me (for now, although G already used it yesterday!!!). It is super basic...lined in black felt, 2 pockets, basic straps (long for over the shoulder/neck carrying). The fabric is nice though and it is big enough to carry what we need!

Live from Abbey Road.

Have any of you seen the new Sundance show "Live From Abbey Road"? It is a live music show shot from the famous Abbey Road Recording Studios.

For those of you who don't know me, I am an artist and musician in addition to being a mom with a design biz. I write, paint, sing, play, you name it. I have to create like most have to breathe. Painting/drawing have been a passion for most of my life, and I have exhibited around and sold paintings and just love how it makes me feel WHILE I paint. But my true heart is music. I have been singing since I was 3. I was sent home from preschool and kindergarden for locking myself in rooms, closets or bathrooms to sing. I sang in groups, choirs, my teens and 20's I sang in rock bands, jazz bands, classical groups, sang opera (!), and started to play other instruments too. I went to college and studied music...and art...and have a degree in Music Business. I studied audio engineering in Chicago and in Los Angeles. I helped build a recording studio. I was an audio engineer. I sang as a studio musician for whoever needed it for many years in addition to whatever other "job" I had. I wrote songs. I performed. I learned to play other instruments over the years. But mostly I sang. It was my air.

SO all of that relates to this topic in that I have a thing for live musical performance in recording studios. Doesn't matter who it is or what their musical style - if they have a passion that oozes out of their voice, if they play their instruments well, and write good songs, something happens and I feel the music IN me. I get goosebumps, I hear the music before it comes, it flows like a wave. And the recording studio setting - the walls, the floors, the microphones, the amps, the cords along the floor, the dimmed lights, the energy between the musicians as they play and sense each other, working together like a single living thing - I can almost smell it. I feel the day to day me shift, askew, and the music in me is the one and only thing.

This show is great in that they feature many musicians from all types and styles and backgrounds and seem to capture some essence of their performance and their chemistry. AND the audio mix is superb when many live recordings have horrible sound quality. I suppose if you just listen to the artist as the artist and not the music for the music, then you may have a different experience than I. But relax, turn down the lights, and enter the studio, and perhaps a little will rub off on you too.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

CSA Box This Week, And More...

Today in our CSA box we had more yummy goodies. Lettuce, spinach, parsley, kohlrabi, broccoli, garlic scapes, cucumbers, strawberries (last week!), peas, and onion.

Guess what? Oh you wise mamas with older children who have "been there, done that" know the answer after my post from yesterday. Yes. The x-rays showed another item that required an additional blood test (yes, x-rays too yesterday, but that is a whole other story). The preservative they used in the blood for the other tests made the blood remaining in the vials useless for this particular test. We have to go again tomorrow for G to have more blood drawn. Oh, yes. We get to go to a different location specializing in kids so hopefully it will be not as dramatic or traumatic. We'll see.

We did some basic crafts today. Mostly just gluey, paint gloppy, wax pastel infused messing around. We visited a craft store for a few things to work on this next week...a bird feeder and a few tables to paint, and some items for our summer reading "program" (we made our own this summer) - so that should be fun. G picked up some pom pons, so he was ready to go...he is always more abstract and likes color and texture.

A, as always, built something - this time a bridge out of sticks to run his tractor over!

The sky was glorious tonight.

Edit: A few people have asked about our CSA this year - we have ours through JenEhr Family Farm. :)

Photo of the Day

This is A 3 years ago to the day.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Needles & Big Brothers.

G had to get blood drawn today.

I thought I could take the boys and we would be ok with just me. I sat in the seat with BOTH boys on my lap holding hands (A had to be close) - and two lab technicians helped hold G still as they inserted the needle. I wasn't expecting the first technician to totally miss the vein, and then decide to wiggle and push the needle around IN HIS ARM hoping to actually find it. Nor was I expecting her to just sit and wait to see if blood was ever going to come out (it didn't) for so long as a 2 year old cried. During those minutes, G screamed like he was being impaled, A FREAKED out, escaped my lap and the blood work chair, squatted down and squeezed himself UNDERNEATH a little exam table with shelf, and held his hands over his ears while screaming "STOP HURTING HIM!!!!!!!" over and over. As both boys screamed, the technicians discussed that the vein was "blown", it was already bruising, and no blood was flowing before actually removing the needle. They looked at the vials, and one said well, I don't think this is enough for the tests (um, one vial was only a tiny dribble of red at the bottom and the other two were totally empty - ya think?). One technician then extracted A out from under the exam table and got him some kleenex . After calming down a bit he agreed to sit outside the room as they tried again. G calmed down a little, but when he realized they were going for the other arm, he was NOT happy.

A different technician did the right arm attempt, and got the vein right away without any digging. Blood flowed immediately and filled the vials and G was bandaged up and we were outta there. He cried for awhile (poor little sweetie), and held his arms with the cotton balls/tape out in the air, not letting them come into contact with anything, for a long while.

A had to talk about the blood drawing process most of the afternoon. You see, he didn't freak out about the needle, or the screaming (at first), he said, but about the needle being pushed around so much under his skin. He wanted to know why she did it so hard when it obviously hurt him. He said G is just a little person and she TOLD him it would just be a sting or little prick feeling - but that she didn't tell the truth and it hurt a lot. I have a feeling we'll be talking about this for many more days.

I hope we don't have to do anything like that again for a LONG LONG time.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Hot Hot HOT!

We went to the botanical garden this morning with our neighborhood playgroup (hi!). We decided to walk the outside gardens with the kids first, since it was already ridiculously hot at 10AM. We didn't last too long outside (did I mention HOT?), and went to the lobby to cool off a little before going inside the conservatory. We walked the indoor gardens then a bit before going back outside for one last assault before hitting the car and going out for a lemon smoothie.

When we came into the lobby from the outdoor gardens there was a woman setting up a display. They place various plant cuttings in a display, attach a card which names the plant (Latin & general), and give a little info. It is then lettered - there is a large garden map which notates where each plant is located! A quizzed the lady just about the entire time she was setting it up. After she was done, we talked a little bit about each plant, and of course his interest in finding at least one is what prompted us to go out in the heat one last time. He wants to take a card with the list and find ALL the plants on the map next time!

I have more pix on Flickr!

Fabric Projects=Curtain, and Birds.

I feel that it is one of those weeks...lots on my mind, not enough energy to extract it in a coherent stream. It doesn't help that I was up until 3:30 am reading because I worked too late and then couldn't unwind and fall asleep! :) Instead, here are a few pix. Yesterday afternoon I completed one curtain with the new fabric and used another piece for a tablecloth.

While I was watering plants last night, we had a few visitors drop by for a quick shower to cool down...

Monday, June 25, 2007

Fabric Shopping...

We visited a new fabric store this weekend, and I found many nice cottons for a few projects. This fabric isn't for anything super complicated - just the basics...cloth napkins, table cloth, curtain, pillow cases, birthday banner, small bags, gift bags, etc.

This store is in a small town about 15 minutes south of town, so while we were there we wandered Main Street a bit. We found a toy store, so we visited and the boys bought some new puzzles. G, who is 2, LOVES puzzles, and so needed something new to work on - he picked a pirate ship!

Now if the two year old will work on his puzzle while I spend a little time here and there sewing...and not using the sound of the sewing machine as a cue to start shrieking PICK ME UUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUP!!! STOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOP!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Pete's a Pizza & Pizza Night

Last night we had a pizza night. We picked up our books at the library, which included the book "Pete's a Pizza". I read the book to the boys in the car as we drove to the local Italian deli. The boys helped us select sauce, pizza crusts, mozzarella cheese, and everything else we needed for dinner. When we got home the boys made their own pizzas (which they always love to do). As the pizzas baked, dad "acted out" the book on the boys, which included kneading their bellies, smearing "sauce" on them, and sprinkling on the cheese. They shrieked and laughed and giggled and wanted to do it again and again...until the oven beeped. They then sat down and wolfed down their pizzas, and asked if we could have pizza night every night!

Being "kneaded".
It's done!
Mine too!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

In Our CSA Box This Week...

This week has even more...strawberries. A friend brought me some rhubarb from her garden, so my husband would love a strawberry rhubarb crumble...But for now, I washed them, trimmed them, and bagged them for the freezer. They will be great in our yogurt smoothies. We also have lettuce, spinach, cucumbers, snap peas, scallions, garlic scapes, broccoli and parsley.

Paper Toys - Fun Kids Craft.

Free Paper Toys from the Toymaker!

We discovered a website with cool templates you can print, cutout and create with. There are spinners, boxes, bags, and much more. Today we printed out and made spinners. I did the cutting, the boys folded, glued, and inserted string. It was a quick but fun project, and they have 6 of them, since they will not last too long between a toddler and a preschooler. I also created a box, which had a bear insert, that they were fascinated with. I can't wait to try out more of the patterns in the future. Great artwork!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Strawberry Jam.

Yes, more strawberries. This time, home made jam!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Photo of the Day - Carousel Ride.

Monday, June 18, 2007


A has been really wanting to write, and has done well learning to write his name, mom, dad, etc. We have a big wooden chalkboard/easel for him, as well as a set including good paper, colored wooden pencils, and his own sharpener and eraser, but he wasn't enjoying writing with either, and he said he wanted something different. He said he wanted a workbook instead.

Let me just say A LOVES "workbooks". He loves those little books of mazes. He loves the sticker books which name every single thing in a theme (tractors, ocean, butterflies, trains). He loves those books with the combo of puzzles, mazes, matching games, and fill in the blank. He hunts for them whenever we visit a bookstore. So we looked together and he selected a write on/wipe off I Can Print book. He has been writing a little bit every other day since then, and has gotten much better with the consistency and size of his letters in only a few days! Definitely a better fit for him right now. And he will still sit happily and sharpen his nice wooden pencils to nubs all day long, just not write with them.

His very first page of trying out his new workbook when we got home from the store.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Strawberries #2: Home Made Strawberry Ice Cream

Our second recipe for this week is for the homemade strawberry ice cream we made with our fresh sweet strawberries. Use the freshest, organic milk you can find, which makes it super creamy and rich. We started with a Vanilla Ice Cream base, and then divided it and kept 1/2 vanilla for the boys, and then made 1/2 strawberry for us.

Vanilla Ice Cream Base:
1 c whole milk, chilled
3/4 c sugar (I have heard you can use honey, sweeten to taste)
2 c heavy cream
2 tsp vanilla extract
(fresh strawberries, pureed or chopped finely - we used about 1 cup...)

We use a cuisinart electric ice cream maker since it does it quickly and prevents ice crystals from forming. You could use the rolling ball maker too.

Whisk the ingredients together until sugar is dissolved. Pour into ice cream maker and let it mix until thickened, about 25-30 minutes. Fold in your strawberries, and let it go another 5 minutes or so (to get strawberries up to temp). Put your container/bowl in the freezer to harden a bit. EAT!!!

Kids can help with most of the steps - it is really easy. G helped measure, mix and pour. Both boys cut strawberries (cutting boards and butter knives). I just smushed the berries a little more with a fork to get smaller bits after they were done.

We still have some strawberries from our CSA box left - and I am making fresh Strawberry Jam as I type~!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Strawberries #1: Mixed Berry Scones

Here is our first delicious strawberry endeavor this week.

Mixed Berry Scones with Orange Glaze
Preheat oven to 400 degrees (F)

2 cups unbleached flour (plus a little more for rolling fruit in)
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/3 c sugar
1/4 c unsalted butter chilled/cold and cut into chunks
3/4 c buttermilk (or you can use cream)
1 egg

Fresh berries: I used 1 c frozen blueberries, and 1 c fresh cut up strawberries

Sift together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in a big bowl. Mix. Cut in butter using 2 forks or a pastry blender. The butter bits should be coated with flour and look like crumbs.

In a second bowl mix together the buttermilk and egg, and then add the flour mixture. Mix just to incorporate - don't overmix or you will have rock scones.

Roll berries in flour to coat. Fold the berries into batter, being careful not to bruise the fruit. Drop large tablespoons of batter on an ungreased cookie sheet, or use a scone pan.

Bake for about 15 - 20 minutes until brown. Cool before putting on the glaze.

Orange Glaze:
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup powdered sugar
1 orange, juiced and zested (no oranges, you can substitute 1/4 cup or so of fresh OJ) Using lemons instead also makes a yummy glaze.

Glaze: Stir the butter, sugar, orange zest, and juice together. Microwave in 30 second spurts (stirring in between) until butter and sugar are melted and the glaze has thickened. Remove from microwave and beat a little bit to incorporate and thicken. Drizzle or brush on top of scones and let it dry.

Just a note: If you use frozen blueberries, they will bleed some color into the dough - fresh won't.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Another fun book.

Don't Touch My Hat by James Rumford

A goes to a "Donuts with Dad" storytime at the library once a month. They have a morning snack, several stories, and a craft related to the theme. Last week they read several western books, and made spurs. A loved one book in particular, so we checked it out and have re-read it many MANY times this week.

The artwork is nice, and the story a bit funny. A cowboy/sheriff thinks his big 10-gallon hat makes him who he is, but in the middle of the night he is called out by his deputy. There are cattle rustlers, brawls, and disputes all going on at once in town. In the dark and in his haste, the cowboy accidentally puts on his wife's big flowery hat. He catches the rustlers, stops the brawl, and settles the dispute. When he gets home he realizes what happened, and that "It's the heart, not the hat." Cute.

A has worn his spurs, boots and a cowboy hat much of the week now (see him when we picked flowers for pressing).

Pressed Flowers.

We have been working on some fun projects that A has helped plan. Yesterday, we started a batch of pressed flowers. We had read a bit about flowers from seed to seed, and so it tied right in.

- fresh flowers/herbs to press
- tissue paper
- book (we used a blank journal with heavy paper)

We went into our garden and the boys collected flowers and herbs in their baskets. I cut tissue paper into rectangles the size of the book. Each boy would place one piece of tissue paper on the page, add a few herbs/flowers, and then place another piece of tissue paper on top. Turn to a new location in the book and repeat. Once you are done, close the book, and place it under something heavy. Let it sit a few weeks, and voila. Pressed, dried, flowers! We'll see how ours turned out in a few weeks.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Drum Roll Please, Strawberries in Our CSA Box!

Yay. Today the strawberries are here. And we get to go back during U-Pick hours for another 10 POUNDS which is included in our share. Can't decide if we want to make some jam/jelly, freeze them for smoothies, or just be decadent and eat them all. They are SO sweet and delicious. This week we also received Romaine Lettuce, Spinach, Rainbow Swiss Chard, Scallions, Garlic Scapes, Cucumbers, and Sugar Snap Peas. We had an amazing dinner tonight. Mmmmmmm.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Organic foods, going green.

I know how lucky we are to live in an area of such agricultural richness with access to great organic fruits, vegetables, meats, cheeses, milk and more (check out our fabulous Farmer's Market). Of course I live up north, so in the winter we still rely on either what we have preserved from our summer bounty, or buy from the grocer or co-op. We work hard to buy and eat in season, and buy local whenever we can, but sometimes that isn't always an option. I know I hear many moms say that sometimes they just cannot find or afford ALL organics or don't have access to anything local. So what to do then? The Environmental Working Group publishes a shopping guide list of fruits & veggies...those with the most pesticides and those with the least, so you can know which ones are most important to select as organic, and which conventionally grown ones are ok when organic is not available.

Along those lines, Sign On San Diego had an article today titled "Simply Green. Little changes in the kitchen can make a dramatic difference in the environment.". Click here to read it!

Tomorrow is CSA day - STRAWBERRIES!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am excited.

Cute kids, summer days.

It has been hot hot hot. The boys have enjoyed getting outside in the yard and playing in the water to keep cool. You can see it in their faces - they love these fun, relaxed summer afternoons.

I am NOT a hot weather person - I like it cool and rainy - but I remember how magical summer is for kids -- playing at the park, going somewhere special for ice cream, icy cold sprinklers, cold little pools in the backyard, looking for bugs, hiking, "camping", birdwatching, riding bikes, and all kinds of fun things. So I try to remember to just be, relax, get outside even in the heat (as long as there is shade & sunscreen) a little every day, give them the tools to experiment and have fun with it, and plan special summer treats as we go. It is going to be a fun summer to watch them grow.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Photos of the Day.

Weekend Wanderings.

One of our weekend things we like to do...go to Deerfield (About 15 minutes from us, Pop. 2,200), and go for a walk or bike on the Glacial Drumlin Trail. Then, abutting the trail, is the Cuda Cafe. Built in an old tobacco barn, it now has a cafe, bar, art gallery, live music venue, and bike rentals (and a big toy box + healthy options on the kids menu).
The boys of course love the local Wisconsin ice cream they serve. Yum.
The other residents of the cafe even sing to you as you eat, from their custom artist created (and for sale) birdhouses. It is nice and easy and the boys are relaxed and enjoy themselves...a nice quiet excursion with no crowds!

What do you do on your weekends?

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Our Garden...Blueberries, Herbs & Tomatoes

So much is happening in the garden, I love seeing everything coming along, and the boys get so excited whenever they see things growing and fruiting. They love to walk with me to check all plants, pinch suckers, and of course water.

We have blueberries! This is the first year on this bush, so it is small and we won't get much, but what we do have is coming along nicely. I cannot wait to taste!
I am an herb freak. I love walking out my front door and pinching off fresh tendrils and leaves for whatever meal I am preparing. The herbs are finally getting to the point where I can use them, which ties in perfectly with our first week of our CSA share. Right now I have cilantro, parsley, sage, rosemary, oregano, thyme and dill. I made a dill dressing for our greens tonight and it just tasted like "green". YUM.
A is so proud of his tomato plants (he specifically pronounces it toe-mah-toe, for some reason, not the normal american toe-may-toe).

Thursday, June 07, 2007

First CSA Pick-Up of the Season!

Today was the first CSA of the summer season. We switched to a new farm this year, so that we could be closer for the u-picks, and participate more in other events. Picking up directly at the farm and not just from another member's garage makes it seem more *real* for the boys too, I think.

Pulling up to the farm A noticed the rows and rows of flowers and vegetables. We parked at an outbuilding, and A stopped to listen to the loud tat'a'tat'tat sound of the plastic over the hoop houses frantically flapping in the 35 mph winds. We walked into the barn and he inspected everything. The wash troughs. The chalkboard and checkoff sheets. The big cooler filled to the ceiling with boxes of produce. The box breakdown area. All fascinating.

He helped load everything one at a time into our cooler. Lettuce. Spinach. Rainbow Swiss Chard. Radishes. Scallions. Cucumber. Rhubarb. Frozen Paste Tomatoes. Fresh Basil (I know! In Wisconsin, in the first week of June!). He then helped select the Sun Gold Tomato Plant that we got to take home - and carried it gently to the car. He stood in the driveway for a minute to inspect the area - the house, the barns, the outbuildings, the equipment, the hoop houses - before hopping in.

We had to hurry home as massive storms with hail/winds/tornado's were threatening to hit. As soon as we got back we rushed to pull all of our potted plants up against our house under the cover of our front porch, secure all of our toys, tables and chairs from the wind, and then come in to unload our bounty. A wanted to review each item again, asking what it was and what it tasted like (no, he won't try most of it yet) and how it grows. G just wanted to stick two pieces of rhubarb in his mouth like walrus tusks (where do these ideas come from???), growl, and chase a shrieking big brother through the house. I think that about sums up their personalities!

I can't wait for strawberries.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

"To My Future Grandkids in 2020"

Another great visual piece by artist Franke James.

"To My Future Grandkids in 2020."

Her visual essays are always great, and this one in particular impacted me, as this is something I think about quite often...our human legacy to our children and grandchildren in regards to the planet and quality of life in the future, and what I am doing day to day towards that.