Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Gopher Plants, Big-Mouth Bass, And Fried Zucchini

The critters and I spent some time in the garden this morning pulling out the gopher plants that are busily trying to take over. The first batch we pulled out a couple months ago were taller than my head and in clumps a couple feet across. Today we pulled out all the little baby plants that had sprouted up in the places we pulled the others.

I'm so grateful that a friend happened to tip me off to the plants toxic nature a few days before we pulled the first batch (positively providential:). Critter #2 and I pulled them while Papa and Big Brother were at swimming lessons. We wore gloves because we'd been told the sap could irritate skin. We also washed our hands, arms, and faces with cool water and soap as soon as the chore was done. By evening the critter and I had blistery rashes covering our forearms which had been unprotected. We also had tiny patches of blisters on faces and legs. I can imagine the misery we would have experienced if we had not been wearing work gloves!

Today we had long sleeves as well and gloves, and the plants were Much smaller and so, I guess, not as 'juicy'. So far no one has noticed any blisters or itchy spots. :)

So we pulled weeds for a while...

And dug up some potatoes...

And washed some chairs...

Then mama decided it was time to head to the pond to pick mint for pesto-yum! Last fall I was looking for a way to enjoy pasta without cheese and stumbled on this super-yummy way of fixing it. Mint and Lemon Balm pesto is delicious on pasta, though the recipe I got the idea from suggests it be eaten with fish (which I haven't tried, I bet it's yummy too). Basically I blend equal parts mint and lemon balm in the food processor with enough oil to make it go. The original recipe called for lots of garlic, I'm supposed to go easy on garlic due to food allergies so I left it out.

After preparing my pasta I add a spoonful of pesto(a little goes a long way) and some salt and pepper and enjoy.

On the way to the pond Critter #1 (inspired, no doubt, by papa's recent ocean fishing experience) decided it might be nice to have a big-mouth bass for dinner. So, he grabbed his homemade fishing pole. This consists of a plastic trowel handle-minus trowel, crochet thread, and a bobber.

Here he is trying to dig through almost rock-hard clay with a toy shovel to find worms...

Needless to say, this attempt lasted about 10 seconds and then he decided it might be worth a little trek back up the hill to dig in the corn patch. This venture met with no success either. So the boy settled for a grasshopper.

Here he is, fishing...

Then Papa appeared on the scene and declared it was too weedy close to shore for the fish. Critter #1 instantly had the joyous idea that papa could take him out in the canoe to fish. After a moment of hesitation the plan was agreed too, and out they went.

No luck... :)
Then Critter #2 got a turn...
And everybody was happy....
I decided to try making battered zucchini for part of our lunch today. I made up a gluten-free mix for batter and was very pleased with the results. The boys ate zucchini without complaint for the first time ever :) Not perfectly healthy, of course, but fun!
Here is what I used for my batter:
(My "parts" were heaping tablespoons)
2 parts sweet rice flour
2 parts potato flour
1 part white rice flour
1 part corn flour
1 part corn starch
1/2t baking powder
I seasoned with cayenne, paprika. basil, salt, and pepper.
I mixed in enough warm water to make it thin enough for dipping.
I found that moistening the zucchini slices and dipping them in rice flour helped the batter stick to them better.
This turned out very yummy. I think I will make some of this mix to have on hand and try some baked onion rings with it.

I almost forgot. Here is a pic of my little bro catching a strawberry in his mouth. Fabulous entertainment on a summer afternoon! :) :)

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Friday, August 22, 2008

Pretty Pictures :)


Fig Leaf



We found this bird nest while out on a walk. It is made of tree roots and lichen.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


I was just thinking about kids, and their varied and unique interests. My youngest loves "workers" of all kinds. Particularly farmers and builders. The interest in farming has chiefly to do with tractors, he does like growing things too, but machinery of any kind is very exciting to him. My oldest like information, especially anything "science-y". He likes words and explanations. He can talk for hours on end.

My honey and I had the fantastic opportunity to go to Kauai for five days for our tenth anniversary. I was talked into leaving the critters(we call our boys lil' critters after the Mercer Mayer books:) behind, and though it was difficult for me turned out to be a good decision. I can't wait to go again and take them with us!

While shopping for gifts I came across a book that both boys really love. 'Old Makana Had A Taro Farm' is a Hawaiian take on Old MacDonald. All the animals and actions in the book are called by their Hawaiian names with the English translation in parenthesis beside them. The book has a number of animals and also actions such as planting and harvesting taro. It came with a CD of 'The Barefoot Natives' singing the song. A little history of taro is included as well.

The boys enjoy learning words in another language and can't wait to try poi when we all go to Hawaii together. :)

It is fun to see which interests the kids keep for years at a time and which are passing fancy. Critter #1 was determined to be a castle builder. For about three years his future was all figured out. He was going to build mama and papa a beautiful castle as soon as he learned how. And then he would have a business building castles for other folks. Papa was going to be his designer. Little brother and one of his friends were going to work for him as builders. :)

Suddenly at age 6 he wasn't so sure of his future profession any more. Maybe a castle builder, or a ninja, or an animal rescuer (courtesy Go Diego Go). Now at 7 1/2 he wants to be a scientist of some kind. There are a dizzying number of choices for a budding scientist--engineers, biologists, astronauts. . . The possibilities are endless!!

Good thing he has a few years to figure it out:)

Critter #2 want to be "every kind of worker". His eyes light up and his countenance positively shines when you get him talking on this subject. He wants to be a farmer, builder, road construction worker, firefighter. . . He wants to "work all day until he is tired" then come home and rest. He vastly prefers tools to toys and always has. He is a very busy little guy and often pitches in outdoor work without being asked. Just this morning he helped papa and grandfather move some gravel to fill in ditch. At two years old he would cry if not allowed to help stack firewood with papa. Of course emptying the dishwasher and putting away clean clothes are not work but a waste of his precious time:)

Each so unique and so much fun. What a grand thing it is to be a mama!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Messin' Around

My plans to clean house this morning (or at least fold the ever-increasing mound of clean laundry in my bedroom!) were hijacked by my dear hubby who decided we should all go play at the park. :) The boys played hide-and-seek and tag and mama took pictures.

Papa likes to keep an eye on the seeker and switch hiding places.

Getting ready to run. . .

Wow, playing tag is hard work!!

When we got home from swimming lesson this evening we picked some corn, shucked it and cooked it for dinner. Yum! The boys sure have enjoyed watching the corn get taller and taller this summer. Now it is so exciting for them to pick something they've watched grow. Neither of them is fond of corn off the cob but they sure have been happily eating it on the cob:)

I did try making the chocolate-covered peanut butter balls last night while papa was getting boys ready for bed. I took some pics but they didn't turn out. The honey flavor pretty much overwhelmed the chocolate. I think if I try them again I will plan on double dipping them. The malt-sweetened chocolate does take some getting used to also. I am used to using it but when I use it to create a sugar-free treat modeled after something else it still tastes funny to me.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Dairy-free, Gluten-free Peanut Butter Playdough

We have so much fun with this recipe. I am so glad we can get powdered rice milk to make this as it is one of the things we were missing when we had to go dairy-free. It just occurred to me the other day that this would probably work for chocolate-covered peanut butter balls. My great-grandma always makes piles of them for Christmas and I love them. A sugar- and dairy-free version would mean the kids could enjoy them as well (and I would have no guilt about indulging!) I don't have any pics of this now, I need to get used to taking pictures of recipes and crafts I want to post:) Anyway--here it is. . .

1/2 cup peanut butter (crunchy or creamy works)
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup rice milk powder (we used Miss Roben's)
1/4 cup sorghum flour (we have also used sweet rice flour and brown rice flour successfully, I like the sorghum best so far)

Mix peanut butter and honey in a medium-sized bowl. Add rice milk powder and sorghum flour and mix thoroughly.

Sometimes the kids play with it and sometimes they just eat it:)

If I were going to make choc-covered balls I would roll tablespoon sized balls, set them on a cookie sheet covered in waxed-paper and chill. Meanwhile melt chocolate of choice. I like Sunspire grain-sweetened chocolate chips. Use a fork to roll the p.b. balls in the chocolate. Let excess chocolate drip back into the pan. Chill until chocolate is firm.

We got the Miss Roben's rice milk powder on-line at Other brands of dairy-free and soy-free milk power are Better Than Milk rice milk; and Vance's Dari-free which I believe is a potato-base milk.

Friday, August 15, 2008

County Fair

Our county fair is something I look forward to every year.  This year we almost didn't go at all between everybody just getting over colds and my husbands work schedule.  We also have a busy weekend coming up. 

We squeezed in a couple hours this morning to wander through the barns and exhibits.  The boys cried a little over skipping the carnival rides and mama is sorely going to miss watching the "Tough Trucks" this evening; but we had a mellow and enjoyable morning wandering through the fairgrounds.

These little guys were born just last night. They are pygmy goats and were born a few weeks preemie, so they are especially tiny.



Is that camera tasty??


Must get the required amount of grease!


Monster Truck!!!!





Thursday, August 14, 2008

Bilbo's Song

I sit beside the fire and think

of all that I have seen,

of meadow-flowers and butterflies

in summers that have been;

Of yellow leaves and gossamer

in autumns that there were,

with morning mist and silver sun

and wind upon my hair.

I sit beside the fire and think

of how the world will be

when winter comes without a spring

that I shall ever see.

For there are so many things

that I have never seen:

in every wood in every spring

there is a different green.

I sit beside the fire and think

of people long ago,

and people who will see a world

that I shall never know.

But all the while I sit and think

of times there were before,

I listen for returning feet

and voices at the door.

J.R.R. Tolkien--The Fellowship of the Ring

Swimming lessons

Every afternoon this week has crawled by as if coated in sticky slime, leaving a trail like the misguided slugs munching the struggling cabbage in my garden. The culprit is the cold virus oozing its way through my system, reducing me to a disgruntled couch potato.

The bright spot in our day is my youngest son's swimming lesson at 5:30. It seems like we stare at the clock from the time we get up from nap at 3:00 until we get dressed in our swim stuff at 5:00. As soon as we exit our vehicle at the site of the lesson my four-year-old is transformed from sleepy-eyed to animated. He skips gleefully through the parking area to the pool. He is, as usual "hyper" throughout the lesson and struggles to wait patiently for his turn to participate.

The blissful look on his face as he floats in the water is heaven itself for this besotted mama:)

Here is a hat I made this week. I saw a picture of one and thought it was too cute, so I whipped one up for my little hat lover. My oldest has no interest in hats but he's hoping I'll make him some crocheted food pretty soon. We'll see how it goes, I'll post pics if I finish anything.