Friday, August 22, 2014

Favorite Things #44

For Christmas this past year my Mom gave me a set of 3BBags which are reusable produce bags.  They are intended to replace plastic produce bags at the grocery store and I love the concept of them.  After all, I dutifully try to remember to tote all my bags into the market to load our groceries in, but then use a dozen little plastic ones for our fresh fruits and vegetables.  Unfortunately, I still sometimes struggle with remembering to bring them into the store with me!  The bags come in various sizes and I appreciate that one of the sizes is really large so that my lettuce can fit in without getting torn apart and squashed.

I have loved having them at our CSA this summer.  They are perfect to bring home our haul in and I have been stopped at the farm many times asking where I got the bags!  The only caution I would give you is that they aren't perfect for actually storing greens in the refrigerator.  I've found that the greens go limp more quickly if left in the bags.  My solution is to go ahead and wash everything and store in in the appropriate container (often ziploc bags saved and reused for this purpose).

Thursday, August 21, 2014

An Ice Cream Scoop

I recently bought a wood handled ice cream scoop that we absolutely love!  It even came in it's original, crumbly, falling apart box.  The Gilchrist Company made scoops for ice cream parlors and consumers in the early 1900's and used the logo, "Better Than Need Be Goods."  Apparently, the quality was so good that it has made their value as collectables rather low since they are still in abundance in the marketplace!  Which is happy for us as we can find one and use it without worrying a bit about preserving it.  In fact, I didn't even keep the box as I have no intention of getting rid of it.

I recently realized that I have a collection that I never even realized that I was collecting! Apparently, I have a soft spot for wooden handled kitchen utensils.  Actually, very few of these were purchased by me.  Many/most of them were given to me from my mother-in-law who got them from banks/stores in Iowa!  Apparently, banks used to give out these wood handled utensils as a thank you to new or loyal customers.  What's wonderful about them is that they are such good quality items (many were made in Japan).  You just can't beat something that looks good, feels good and gets the job done.

Time and again these are the utensils I reach for, in fact the long handled spoon on the left is one that I use every single day while cooking dinner!

P.S.  The toffee ice cream that is in the scoop above was declared by Harris as "the best ice cream I've ever had."  I got the recipe from  "Ample Hills Creamery: Secrets and Stories From Brooklyn's Favorite Ice Cream Shop."

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A Few Airstream Touches

We finally took the Airstream out this weekend for a quick trip and it was so wonderful!  We love her so.  We've recently added a few more homey touches that are starting to make it feel even more like our home away from home.

I found this little oil painting quite by accident and knew right away that we needed it in the Airstream. Mary Maxam painted the sweet piece and I love what she said about it in an email we exchanged:  "We were passing through one of the small towns in South Eastern Idaho when this little Airstream stopped and blinkered right, then left, then right again and it was fun to think about them just trying to figure out what adventure to go forward with!"

Also, I found a CatStudio pillow of the United States in our local consignment shop and couldn't pass it up.  We already have two of their state pillows (they were special gifts) and felt like one in the Airstream would be appropriate.

My sister gave us CatStudio dishtowels for the National Parks we visited on our trip West and they are very cheery and homey in the kitchen.

We've also added a map of the United States to keep track of our travels.  This map is specifically for keeping track of National Parks visited, but we are also putting map pins in every place that we visit with the Airstream.  

Monday, August 18, 2014

Vacation Books

Typically, before we go on vacation I find a book about our place of travel for the children to read. Before our trip to Washington I took it a step further and found something to read for myself!  Broken for You by Stephanie Kallos takes place in Seattle, Washington.  It was such a great book and I highly recommend it!  I couldn't find a book for children specific to the National Parks in Washington nor Seattle, but Our Only May Amelia by Jennifer Holmes at least takes place in the state of Washington.

I think reading fiction about your destination helps to get a sense of place about where it is you are visiting and it's super fun to recognize things that have been mentioned in the book.  I think I'm going to make it a practice to always find a book for me about our vacation destination and continue to do so for the children.  In order to find the books, I did a google search and I thought I'd share some of the resources I found...

For children:

For adults:

Friday, August 15, 2014

Chamomile Tea

The other day we had a rainy day that was welcome in our household as we sort of huddled up and didn't do much for the day.  I did take the time to try my hand at making some chamomile tea using chamomile from our garden.  Though very subtle, Grace and I both agreed that it was tasty and perfect for a rainy day spent indoors.

Chamomile Tea
3 heaping tablespoons fresh chamomile flowers
3 cups water
honey to taste

Place the flowers in a teapot.  Bring the water to a boil and immediately pour into the teapot. Steep for 5-10 minutes.  Pour the tea through a strainer in to cups and add a tad of honey if desired.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Baseball Camp and a Few Thoughts on Awards

Recently, Harris completed his one and only week of camp for the summer- a baseball camp.  It was one that he was super excited about from the very beginning and it did not disappoint!  On the very first day, after Harris hopped in the car, we had a conversation that went something like this:

Harris:  I was the best pitcher there today (on his team)
Mom:  Oh, is that right?  Well.... (at this point I was moments away from launching into a lecture on humility and egotism)
Harris:  Wait, I can prove it!  I got a pin for "best pitcher of the day!"  And guess what?  They don't give them to everyone!  

On the last day of camp, they have a small awards ceremony where they handed out three awards per division and Harris won the Cy Young Award for pitching!  He was on cloud nine and we were super proud of our boy.

                  (you can't tell but that's Harris running through the line after his named was called)

I find it really interesting that Harris noticed that not everyone got to take an award/pin home (though I'm sure throughout the week lots of pins were indeed handed out) and that it made the acknowledgment more meaningful to him.  I often wonder if we are doing our children a great disservice for so often giving trophies for participation instead of an actual accomplishment?  I'm thinking we don't give our children enough credit because as we walked away after the awards ceremony I didn't see one single child distraught or angry that they didn't receive an award.  In fact, several children came up and congratulated Harris with an awesome pat on the back or a "you deserved it" holler.  I'm curious, what do you think about this?

This past spring Harris tried out for a travel baseball team and didn't make it.  Before tryouts, I voiced my concern that Harris might not make the team.  Bryce was adamant that that was no reason to discourage him from trying as he believes that ultimately failure makes you stronger and helps to develop character, work ethic and humility.  I'm glad that he's wise about that sort of thing because as hard as it is to see your child not succeed in something they desperately want to succeed in, it makes the small victories, such as winning a pitching award at camp, that much sweeter.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Notes from the Garden

Our garden has been such a delight for me this year, but it's also been a huge learning year as some things have been great successes and others total failures.  And of course all of this has only made me wish that I had triple the space as there is so much more I'd like to grow!

The deer have been a real nuisance! There is nothing as frustrating as having watched your young plants grow and flourish only to find them eaten down to the ground in one evening!  They ate the carrot tops, the bush beans and the pole beans!  They also had the nerve to trample in my beds- they are so rude.  Also, the peas never took and I have no idea why. All of a sudden the leaves started turning yellow and that was that.  We were all a bit bummed but will work on it again next year.

Oh, the tomatoes!  I had absolutely no idea that they would get this big.  They have literally overtaken the garden.  But oh goodness are they good!  I love that the children just go and snack on them right there in the garden.  They have overgrown so much that they are covering the leeks and onions and have even smothered the pole beans.  Clearly, I over-planted and will go easier on the tomatoes next year.

A large storm came through and blew down all the zinnias and broke them off at the base.  I had to pull many, but many survived and came raring back to life.  The dahlias are also growing beautifully and I've really enjoyed making little bouquets for the house.

We've had a bumper crop of cucumbers that we've all really enjoyed.  I've even been able to give many away which is always a thrill!  I used some of our chioggia beets to make what I believe is the prettiest dish I've ever made.  

Friday, August 8, 2014

Watermelon Salsa

One evening, while in Seattle, we had dinner down by the lake and Mark's sister, Pat, brought a delicious watermelon salsa.  I had never had such a thing and I couldn't stop eating it!  It was so fresh and clean tasting!  Of course, I asked for the recipe and would love to share to it...

Pat's Watermelon Salsa

3 cups petite chopped watermelon
2 jalapeƱos, chopped small (I removed the seeds cause I'm a woos)
1/3 cup red onion, chopped small
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup fresh lime juice

Mix all together and enjoy!  Serve with tortilla chips or pita chips.  I also think it would be good over chicken, pork or fish for dinner!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

A Conversation with Grace

In the car, just the two of us:

Grace:  I don't want to have to find a husband when I'm older

Mom:  Well, hopefully you will find each other.

Grace:  I want a husband that treats me with respect- and others too.  He has to be honest, just a good man in general.  And it doesn't hurt if he's good looking.

Mom:  It never hurts.

Grace: (said with passion) It's not fair that you took Daddy!  He should have been born when I was born!  I want someone like him.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Seattle, Washington

I really enjoyed exploring Seattle and wish that we had had time to dig a little deeper and enjoy more of its "local" options but with a limited time frame we were lucky to explore as much as we did!

Our first foray in to Seattle was on a weekend and I couldn't believe how crowded Pike Place Market was. It was almost impossible to enjoy or explore, it was so jam packed.  However, we did enjoy a really delicious lunch overlooking the water.

From the Market we walked to the Olympic Sculpture Park where the children just enjoyed being together and running around!  Funny side note: on the bus ride home I asked Harris if he enjoyed the sculpture gardens.  His response?  "What sculpture gardens?"

On another day, we went to Fremont in search of the troll under the bridge!

We also visited Volunteer Park and climbed the Water Tower for some great views.

We decided to splurge and eat at the top of the Space Needle.  I cannot recommend this highly enough. When you eat at the restaurant you do not have to pay the admittance fee nor wait in the long lines to get in to the Space Needle.  Also, you get amazing views that aren't hindered by wire and the food is delicious!  However, make sure to make a reservation in advance!  In my opinion, it was totally worth it!

Grace was so excited to visit the first ever Starbucks.  There was a line, but it in fact moved rather quickly and we decided that our Frappuccino and Latte did indeed taste better!

Of all the adults, I was the only one who wanted to ride the Ferris Wheel overlooking Seattle.  Kathleen was a good sport and rode with us even though she is not a fan!

We also visited the Ballard Locks.  These locks are what make it possible to maintain water level between sea water and fresh water (and allow boats to navigate the different levels), keep salt water out of the fresh water and maintain the fresh water levels of Lake Washington and Lake Union.

And that's all for our trip to Washington except for Bryce's climb- which he will soon write a post about!  Thanks for putting up with all the pictures!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Issaquah, Washington

During our stay at Mark and Wi's house the children particularly enjoyed playing at Lake Sammamish across from their house.  There was a picnic area and a small beach that they children all delighted in. Wi would make delicious Thai food and we would sit on the beach and enjoy a perfect afternoon/evening.

We also took the time to explore their neighborhood!  Funnily enough, Sunset magazine had just written an article about Issaquah and so we went about visiting the recommendations in the article.
We explored the Farmer's Market which was a feast for the senses.  The children loved sampling all the wares and it was fun to see all the local goods.

One of the children's favorite things was a visit to Top Pot Doughnuts.  By the time we got there, they had sold out of many of their various flavors but the ones they had left were still delicious!  Harris is still talking about the doughnut he had- it was as big as his head!

We spent an afternoon hiking Poo Poo Point Trail (yes, the name lent itself to many jokes!).  I honestly think that this trail was the hardest hike I've ever been on.  I joked around that while hiking I experienced all the stages of grief; denial, heartbreak, anger, acceptance, etc.  It was a 7.5 mile hike round trip, and 1,858 vertical feet.  We (maybe just me, no one else seemed about to die) were so happy to make it to the top!  As a bonus, we got to watch a few para-gliders take off from the top!

After our hike, we stopped by XXX Root Beer for a giant root beer float and a burger (nothing like eating all the calories you just hiked off!).  As a fan of root beer this was very exciting for Grace!

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