Friday, October 29, 2010

Shall We Talk Garden?

Ironic, isn’t it, that this started as mainly-a-garden blog. Guess you need to have actual crops to have a garden blog!

Our weather this summer was not. Summer, that is. We had a gray, cool summer with a couple of warm weeks here and there. Thank goodness this was not our first gardening year; we would have been devastated! We did have a couple of mixing bowls of tomatoes after all, and I’ll bet I’ve whined about the rest of the lack of crop for one year.

Tonight I went out to pull some carrots for the little girls’ stir-fry, and found carrots plump but maybe an inch long. Same variety as last year, when they were actually carrot-sized.

We’re finishing fall clean-up, so this evening I weeded empty beds and Nigel shoveled dirt into the beds that have been settling. Then I started transplanting my herbs, a job which I’d intended to do ALL summer. When I’d first plotted out all of my beds, I’d used seed catalogs to estimate how large perennials would get, then planned out a large herb bed based on those numbers. Well, some of the herbs are lovely and large, but the great big bed I planted them in turned out to be just too big. So tonight I transplanted a bunch of them into a smaller bed. The two varieties of thyme, which came here a year-and-a-half ago as little single stalks, are now bushes probably 18” in diameter. It smelled heavenly to transplant them! The sage has done just as well. I also got a couple of rows of chives transplanted before I lost light altogether.

So we do have a few stunted carrots still in the ground, and the kale is still going strong, but that’s it for now. Love that kale; so easy to run out and cut a couple of leaves for my morning smoothie!

002 This was a funny moment when Clara was making leek soup, went to harvest more leeks, and found an onion! Guess it snuck in the leek starts that we bought.

003We did end up getting a few zucchini – not as many as ten. Crazy when even the zucchini won’t grow.

019 We harvested somewhere in the neighborhood of three of these colanders.

I think where my garden inexperience came in this summer was the inability to counteract the influence of weather. In retrospect, I should have kept the tomatoes covered through the day much later, and should’ve covered the broccoli, as well. I have an online garden heroine, in my local area, whose experience in gardening shows that crops are possible in any weather – if you want to learn a bunch about gardening, check out The Modern Victory Garden blog. The how-to articles off to the side are valuable, and Laura is generous with her time and wisdom in the discussion forum, as well.

So for the 2010 gardening season: that’s a wrap.

Last Gorgeous Fall Day for the Year?

Might be, anyway . . . cold and rain in the forecast. It has occurred to me that we use a lot of pumpkin around here, and hmmm, brilliant idea . . . what if I bought some from the farm and froze it?!!? Snort. I am always so late to the party :-).

It was so fun; I had Clara running the numbers for me in the van on the way there, to see, “OK, if we bought enough pumpkins to make our pumpkin bread recipe once a week for the whole next year, how many pumpkins would that be?” When we arrived at the farm and saw the sign “pumpkins .30¢”, the question was, “We can’t spend more than $50.00 on this, so what is that in pounds?” Here’s the fun part! When we rolled the wheelbarrows full of pumpkins up the ramp to be weighed, Clara had calculated we needed 140 pounds, and we had . . . 145 pounds! We’d thrown in quite a bit of squash there as impulse buys, but when the lady rang up our order, get this, $50.12!!! Love that.

Choosing pictures is going to be excruciating here, as it was such a sunny day and the event was so fun, we ended up with a ton of great shots. Get yer scrollbar ready!

Nigel and Sophia were off from college-school today, so we were only missing The Patriarch (well, and always missing Malcolm away at school):


Scholz Pumpkin Farm 005This is fun – wouldn’t it have been great to have discovered this when we moved to Washington 13 years ago?


Scholz Pumpkin Farm 006Tarquin loves these riding horses, and we just don’t have space at home for one.


Scholz Pumpkin Farm 007 Looks like Lucinda put on a bit of weight there, and no, I’m not trying to say that Araminta is “dopey”!


Scholz Pumpkin Farm 016Look! A corn maze! Lucinda and Tarquin head in first . . .


Scholz Pumpkin Farm 018  Sophia, focused and determined . . .


Scholz Pumpkin Farm 019Araminta skips in, happily oblivious to the dangers lurking within .  . .


Scholz Pumpkin Farm 020So brave – hey wait, Gareth, isn’t that the wrong direction already?


Scholz Pumpkin Farm 022   Clara seems slightly more reluctant.


Scholz Pumpkin Farm 024It’ll be OK if Nigel goes in after them, right?


Scholz Pumpkin Farm 030Wait a minute, where are they?


Scholz Pumpkin Farm 032Dum de dum de (play ominous music here)


Scholz Pumpkin Farm 037Well whew. Got most of ‘em back, anyway!


Scholz Pumpkin Farm 039Old Mother Hubbard . . . at least had pumpkin and squash.


Scholz Pumpkin Farm 046 Happy farm, beautiful day.


Scholz Pumpkin Farm 050Mommy’s little pumpkin ;-)


Scholz Pumpkin Farm 057OK, now this is what I call a toy!


Scholz Pumpkin Farm 065Scholz Pumpkin Farm 073 Scholz Pumpkin Farm 070

Scholz Pumpkin Farm 076Scholz Pumpkin Farm 078         Scholz Pumpkin Farm 080Scholz Pumpkin Farm 085Scholz Pumpkin Farm 120They had lots of animals, always popular.

Scholz Pumpkin Farm 122    Clara supervises me in the squash bin.

 Scholz Pumpkin Farm 150

What a good day.

Monday, October 25, 2010

A Poem for the Season

Pied Beauty

Glory be to God for dappled things -

     For skies of couple-color as a brinded cow;

          For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;

Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;

     Landscape plotted and pieced – fold, fallow and plow;

          And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.


All things counter, original, spare, strange;

     Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)

          With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;

He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:

                             Praise him.


~~~Gerard Manley Hopkins

We’re Just Swimming in Birthdays!

Just in time for elections, we have another voter; Nigel has turned 18. Seems like every mama makes the same comment at these moments, “I just can’t believe it . . . seems like just yesterday he was a cute little toddler . . .”

You know you want to see some adorable Nigel pictures, right? Yeah, I thought so.

Just a wee little newborn here:

baby nigel


Nigel at about 2 months, his first Christmas:Nigel 2 months


9 months old – look at that hair!

9 month nigel

Don’t worry; I won’t take you through all 18 years here :-). Just one more . . . Nigel had a little sister when he was only 15 months old! Isn’t this a sweet picture of him holding baby Sophia?

nigel 15 months

And now he’s such a fine young man, and we’re so proud of him. Strong (can break stacks of boards with his hands or a kick) yet endlessly patient with Tarquin, who has always, since birth, been bonded to Nigel quite ferociously. Faithful and quiet, creative. Such a joy! Here he is with his raspberry chocolate cheesecake (my children pick such odd things for “birthday cakes”!):


And another for fun (Tarquin begged Nigel to be “Luigi and Ma-wio”):


Saturday, October 23, 2010

Troubles with Tarquin

Tarquin’s receptive speech is delayed, as well as his expressive speech. He’s done very well in speech therapy, but he does still lag behind your average four-year-old in understanding many concepts. We don’t worry particularly about this, as we’ve been through the speech therapy process once before, and it all evened out at about age five.

Anyway, this means that Tarquin has some pockets of toddler sort of understanding. For instance, he has just recently noticed toy catalogs. So he’ll sit down, or lay on the floor on his tummy, and very seriously look at each. and. every. item. He’ll tell us, “Daddy, we need to play with this. Will you get in the car and go to the store and buy it?” The Patriarch has started to say, “put it on your Christmas list” (which he was just sayin’, I don’t know why). So now Tarquin seems to think that “put it on your Christmas list” means he’s getting each and every item at Christmas. Arrrrggghhh. Maybe if we hide the catalogs now?

He also wanted a pumpkin (we don’t really “do” Halloween here), which I was able to indulge him in. He spent a blissful evening with a Sharpie, “Makin’ my pumpkin”, and since then every day he gets a dinner knife and “makes” his pumpkin some more . . . the poor thing (the pumpkin, not Tarquin) has cuts and hole all over it; quite gruesome!



“Think I got it!”



And I won’t even go into the fact that every day we have Tarquin in our homeschool, he and I have an argument on the subject of the alphabet. Sigh. “No, I the teacher!! Tarqui the teacher!! This is a letter p! Not q. Letter p!!”

Yup, just when you think you’ve got the whole parenting thing sort-of kind-of partially down . . . God gives you a Tarquin :-).  

Another Belt Testing Today

Gareth belt tested today, and I’m happy to report he did well and now wears a purple belt. It was Nigel’s first time sitting on a testing board, as well – he’s been to belt testings since becoming a black belt but not judged before today.

It is very fun, as Gareth improves, to see him develop his own style. Nigel has always had a very panther-like style, or perhaps cobra-like . . . smooth quiet movement, then snap a kick or punch out of nowhere. Gareth is emerging quite differently. His movements are abrupt (that sounds like a bad thing . . . but I’m not meaning it that way), with a distinct pop, pop, pop to his movements. Nigel and I were discussing this, and if Gareth can really develop the power behind those “pops”, then he will have a style to contend with.

Anyway . . . pictures. Not very quality ones, as I couldn’t get anywhere close, so just rather blurry far away pics with my zoom. And it’s not my camera – the light in this gym was really that green!



And geared up for sparring:


Nigel judging forms:


And sparring:


Gareth being belted:


And doing 70 pushups afterward!


New purple belt


Friday, October 15, 2010

A Dress I’d Love To See

Hi, Mama’s readers!

This is Clara, and I’m hijacking Mama’s blog so I can show my dress design for Shabby Apple Dresses. Shabby Apple is a website which has gorgeous dresses, and we frequently have to wipe drool off our keyboard after looking at it.

This is my design:

blue dress

This dress is inspired by a chocolate cupcake with blue icing atop (I excluded the sprinkles, though). I imagine the body of the dress made up in blue tropical weight wool, and the belt, the pieces on the arms and the pieces at the top of the pockets made of brown suede.



Saturday, October 9, 2010

Mmmm, dinner

Back on my meal-binder post, I mentioned that each of the three older children has one day in the eight-week menu plan where they do a “try something new” meal. This keeps it fresh, and they add to their repertoire. Tonight Nigel made a dish that involved phyllo pastry, spinach, sausage, parmesan, lemon zest, and he asked me to go harvest some fresh garden sage. I didn’t know what he was making, but the smell was amazing!



It’s “Sausage and Spinach Pastry Squares” from Rachael Ray’s 365: No Repeats in case you want to replicate the bliss!

Another Birthday

Well, a couple of weeks ago, anyway!

Lucinda turned nine, which in our family is the year that the girls may get their ears pierced if they wish. She’d gone back and forth, but decided it couldn’t be more painful than the allergy shots she gets every week. We had a little surprise for her. Usually the ear-piercee gets to go to a mall store and buy a piece of clothing. This is a huge event, since we don’t really do retail. And in particular, my girls were all excited about the upcoming (in December) opening of an H&M. Well, H&M had opened early, and we just kept that fact a secret from Lucinda.



The little girls can’t have birthday cakes, of course, but they do enjoy requesting various flavors of cake for the rest of us to eat (and it gives them candles to blow out). Lucinda asked for a strawberry cake this year, and you can’t quite make it out, but that’s purple sparkly gel frosting making a fairy wand on the top.



At the mall, all ready to get ears pierced . . . last pic of those unpierced ears:



Not so sure about this . . .



OK, totally worth it!



Where on earth is mama taking me?



Tee hee hee; won’t she be surprised?



And found the cutest outfit!



Plus a hat to go with it for that “Lucinda” touch:


Grandma and Grandpa sent longed-for “Fashionista Barbies”, too. An altogether happy birthday!