Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Peas and a Trellis

Back in the spring, when we visited Monticello, I was struck by the beauty of the trellis' that the gardeners used for beans and peas.  Basically, they took cuttings from trees/shrubs and used them to weave together a trellis for peas to climb.  I love the natural look that this adds to the garden.

When it came time to plant peas in my own garden, I decided to try to recreate the look.  Since I don't have willow branches, I used cuttings from my a lollipop hydrangea that needed a really good haircut.

I love how it turned out and it was perfect for the peas to climb!

Peas are one of the children's very favorite vegetables.  We always have bags of frozen peas on hand, but eating peas popped straight out of their shell was such a wonderful and delicious experience!

Harris would sit and help me shell the peas and I"m pretty sure he ate as many as he contributed to the bowl!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Frogmore Stew

I first heard about Frogmore Stew from my friend, Brogann, who's family has a plantation in South Carolina.  Of course, I was interested in it right away because of its name (and because it sounded delicious!).  I love the fact that it is tradition to simply pile all the food in the middle of table and grab what you want to eat!  A one pot meal without a lot of fuss sounds pretty perfect to me.  With the idea that Frogmore Stew might need to become a summer tradition we fixed it last weekend and had some people over to sample.  Turns out that my sister has made this for years but always called it a low country boil.  Whatever the name, it's a pretty fun and casual meal to put together.

There are lots of different variations and it feels very fluid and loose but here's how we put ours together.

Frogmore Stew

3/4 cup Old Bay Seasoning
2 lbs. Red Potatoes, quartered
2 lbs. kielbasa sausage, sliced 
12 ears of corn, cut into thirds
4 lbs. raw shrimp, shell on (peeling is part of the fun)
2 bottles of beer
1 lemon, quartered
the largest pot you have (and it still might not be big enough)

Fill your pot with the two bottle of beer, three quarts of water, the lemon and the Old Bay Seasoning.  Bring to a boil.  Add the potatoes and boil for 15 minutes.  Add the sausage and cook for five minutes.  Add corn and cook for 5 more minutes.  Add shrimp and cook until shrimp are just pink (about 3 minutes).  Drain,  dump on table and dig in!

We also served little bowls of melted butter on the side to dip the offerings in.  My sister made delicious hush puppies that were the perfect compliment to the meal!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Dinner and a Movie- A Hogwarts Feast

This past January, Harris and I began reading Harry Potter together and just this week finished the series.  I treasure the many hours spent reading to both Grace and Harris.  Sharing with them something that I love means the world to me and as crazy as Harris drove me, begging me to read to him at every turn, I wouldn't change it for the world.

These books are so special to me and now to the children.  To celebrate finishing the books, and in anticipation of watching the movies*, we had a Hogwarts start of term feast!

Except for the roast chicken, which was a store bought rotisserie chicken, we used all recipes from The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook by Dinah Bucholz.  With the exception of Hagrid's Rock Cakes, that Grace made, everything was mentioned in Harry's first feast at Hogwarts.

Hogwarts Feast

Pumpkin Juice
Roast Chicken
Sugared Peas
Glazed Carrots
Boiled Potatoes with Herb Vinaigrette
Hagrid's Rock Cakes

Afterwards, we settled in to watch the first movie.  And now I'm sure I will spend the next few weeks hearing repeated requests to watch the remaining 7!

*I wouldn't allow Harris to watch any of the movies until we were done with the whole series.  Movie images can replace your own images formed from the words in a book and I wanted him to see his own Hogwarts, not the movies.

Also, here are some of our other Dinner and a Movie nights.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Father's Day

We had a really great day yesterday celebrating Bryce on Father's Day!  I'm so thankful to be parenting with such an involved and present Dad.  Bryce has always been interested in rock climbing so yesterday we made a surprise trip over to a local indoor rock climbing facility.  We all had so much fun but I tell ya, it's a lot harder than it looks!

Afterwards, we came home and had celebratory cupcakes with rock candy on top.

This years Father's Day gift was a manly new axe! 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Shopping for Grace

If you have girls, I'd like to talk for a moment about clothes.  In the past, as I've written about, Grace has always preferred simpler, more "adventurer" styles of clothes.  She's never been one to want dressy and frilly, never went through a princess stage or begged for scarves to wear around her neck (did anyone else have that trend flare up in their child's school?).  Once I let go of trying to push my ideas of style on Grace, we've had a nice run of fuss free dressing.

But now that she is a teenager, things are changing!  I'm so happy that she is willing to experiment and try new things so I celebrate that, but man it's a scary world out there.  I'm struggling to find a place to shop for her.  She's in that in between stage of being tall enough for adult clothes while not being filled out enough (um, she has a 23 inch waist) to wear them, but the brands we've worn for the past several years don't go up to her size.  Also, and here is where I sound like a prude, everything seems to be so revealing!  Shorts are scraps of fabric, tops show bra straps (on purpose?) and skirts are so short you certainly can't play, or even bend down.  It's important to me that Grace learn the value of modesty even while pushing the envelope as teenagers have probably done since the beginning of history!

And we are dealing with new territory in that, for the first time ever, she wants a bikini.   I've always maintained a "no bikini" party line, however, I realize it's a tough spot to be in since the vast majority of her friends wear bikinis.  She went to a pool party a few weeks ago and she was the only one in a one piece and that can be hard for a 13 year old; even one that's pretty comfortable in her own skin.  So I'm trying to come up with a compromise with more of a tankini style (she doesn't want that) or more of a sporty type of bikini.  But where do I find such a thing??  Or do I just let go and embrace the bikini stage?

A few days ago, Grace and I spent a few hours shopping at the mall and at the end of the day Grace had picked out some really lovely, and appropriate, clothes.  In the end, I smiled because even though she is stretching her boundaries, everything she picked out was still "Grace" but with a bit more style!

So I'm really curious how you deal with this?  Or is it not an issue for you?  Perhaps I'm being entirely too old fashioned?  Or maybe I"m just not shopping in the right places?  If you have good sources to purchase clothes, stores or online, please share!  Surely there is somewhere besides Forever 21 and Aeropostle, though, frankly, that seems to be where the kids want to shop!

P.S.  The above photo is of one of Grace's favorite finds from our shopping day.  A whole store (Forever 21) full of lacy and on trend items and picks out a Cherry Coke sweatshirt!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Favorite Things #49

Sadly, strawberry season is coming to a close around here.  These two to three weeks where strawberries are growing abundantly are the absolute best; we love fresh strawberries picked off the vine.

I've always disliked cutting the stem off a strawberry with a knife as you lose precious berry that way. A few year ago, I was given this little gadget for hulling strawberries and I love it!  It makes quick work of stemming berries without waste or fuss.  Most certainly worth the $7 and it's small so it doesn't take up valuable space.

So far this season, we have made berry crumble, strawberry doughnuts (for national doughnut day), strawberry salads, and several berry drinks (the Pimms being my favorite).  However, we have mostly enjoyed the strawberries straight from our hands!

Monday, June 15, 2015

New Cake Paintings

Recently, we received our two newest cake paintings from Carey Haynes.  We continue to love adding the children's homemade cakes each year!

Grace's cookie cake

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

In a Weekend

We had a crazy busy weekend wrapping up sports and school, and celebrating friendships, birthdays and graduations!  Here's a peek at the past weekend...

Harris wrapped up a spring season of baseball by playing in the championships against his best friend Matthew.  I love these two boys and their special friendship.

We attended Marshall's graduation from Waldorf.  He's one of our favorite kids and it's hard to imagine he and Grace not being in school together (8 years!).  I'm so proud of him and who he is.  

Grace had to work the graduation so she had changed out of her nice clothes by the time I took this picture

Grace went on her school trip and her Dad chaperoned.  This year it was a service trip where they did lots of manual labor clearing trails!  

While Bryce and Grace were away, Harris and I had a grand time.  As ribs are one of Harris' favorite foods, we sought out a rib spot we've never tried.  Delicious.

In the space of one weekend, all four of us celebrated a birthday.  Grace and Harris went to two separate pool parties and Bryce and I attended a beautiful and lovely dinner party.  We also got to have dinner with our dear friends, Mark and Lori.

On Monday, I got to spend several hours with another dear friend, Cindy.  Cindy and I taught together many years ago and I can't say enough wonderful things about her.  She was visiting a nearby college with her niece and I was lucky enough to spend time visiting and having lunch with them. I'm so thankful she took the time to get in touch with me.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Roses and Rose Rosette Disease

We are coming off of one of the busiest weekends in recent memory!  It was full but also filling, which makes the stress of trying to jigsaw puzzle everything together a little more palatable.  I'll work on a little synopsis but in the meantime I thought I'd share a few pictures of the beauty, and the heartbreak of roses.

Every single year, I swear that I will get rid of and plant no more roses.  And every year, I see a bloom on a shrub and can't stop myself from believing that this rose will be different and be a survivor.

You see, several years ago an eriophyid mite was carried by the wind into our yard and thus infected several of our rose bushes with Rose Rosette disease.  This disease is fatal to roses and there is really nothing to be done.  I cut out the infected branches as they appear but know that eventually the rose will have to be removed.  You can probably imagine my sadness when I discovered that my gorgeous New Dawn rose, the one that climbs on the garden shed, was infected.  The disease is characterized by red pigmentation, a profusion of thorns and twisted leaves, known as witches'-broom.

I always spray my shears with alcohol after I'm done pruning any of my rose bushes.  I'm not 100% sure it helps but it makes me feel better.

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