Thursday, July 22, 2010

Fresh Raspberries

One of the cabins we've been lucky to visit this summer has a great raspberry patch. Every morning, the kids' first chore was to help Grandpa pick berries. A wet summer and recent sunny days made for a seriously over-productive berry patch.

Of course, being children, the berries didn't always make the trip from the garden to the house. They still reaped at least two gallons of berries a morning. I made two pies at the cabin, and one more after we came home.

It's a great way to start your day!

Friday, July 16, 2010

  Have a wonderful weekend!
 May the sun shine through your windows, and warm your heart with joy!

May your soul be filled by good memories and strong thoughts!

Friday, July 09, 2010

At the cabin

I wish I had more photos, or I wish I could get them off my camera... so more pics to come.

We're at the Cabin, on Serpent Lake in Minnesota. Like 10,000 other lakes, there is water, and fish, and sun. There are 5 cousins, ages 4-10 who are having a blast swimming all day! Two grandparents, now four parents, and two dogs. It's a beautiful time.

The raspberries are coming in, and while the kids are a GREAT help, they don't have the staying power that knowing the price of 1/2 pint of the dry red berries in a store. We picked two gallons today, and made two pies. Jam tomorrow!

The lake water is just the right temperature, and the days have been warm and sunny.

How is your summer?

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Summer Fun!

One gift of Summer Vacation in the land of 10,000 lakes is the ritual summer cabin weekend. We are blessed to have lovely family who share their forest-backed, lake-front homes with us. It is so easy to relax and unwind when one steps out of the van to the green-ness of the Wisconsin woods. But, relax does not last long with kids and a lake around.

On your mark

Get set



Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Yes, he's a lab

The Admiral's mobility assist dog, Guido, is a great Yellow Lab, who is a little cautious about going outside in the rain. The silly dog does not like wet grass. And Labs are supposed to like to swim! We took him on a trip to Big Elbow Lake, and discovered that he can swim!

He'd chase that silly dummy in the water for hours if someone would throw it for him.

He did have one little Quirk, if the dummy got dirty, he wanted some human to pick it up for him!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Searching for the Baby River

We went north last weekend, searching for the headwaters of the Mississippi. Lake Itasca is the Official Beginning of Old Man River. There is a fabulous state park there, and one short afternoon picnic and walk was just enough to convince us we'll be back.

The kids were enthralled by the little waterfall at the beginning of the stream that becomes the Big River. I think they walked and waded and stumbled across the river 15 times! J. was the best and the fastest.

The Admiral and I watched, I got my feet wet, but couldn't balance on the rocks.

Where are you going to explore this summer?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Best Birthday GIft!

My father came to visit from his home in central Kansas, two or three gardening zones ahead of Minnesota. He's also got 3.5 acres and a lifetime of farming and gardening to draw upon. His contribution to my birthday dinner was 7 quarts of strawberries.

Fresh from his garden. Judging from this picture he took the morning he drove up, I don't think he'll miss those 7 quarts. There are more to come. My family thought that the fresh berries were almost as good as the fresh rhubarb crisp we made from our local spring fruit. J liked a bowl of berries with a little cream on top.

What's you favorite spring garden treat?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

15 Days of Rain

Will do wonders for your garden, and your grass, and the weeds! The snow peas are about 4 feet tall, and blooming like crazy. I planted a yellow-podded variety. Pretty, I think.

In between the pea trellises are new cucumber plants, they are starting to bloom, even though they haven't gotten their vines yet.

Other things are doing great, mint, chives and cilantro. The basil is being slow. One potato plant is huge, the others are pretty small. and then there are the mystery plants. Did I plant them, did the kids plant them, what are they exactly?

Friday, June 11, 2010

Summer Vacation!

Summer Vacation started yesterday. I think we started off right, a trip to the Library and the Park!

The Library was packed with families, mostly younger kids, but lots more than normal. M and J used their own library cards and we came home with a very heavy bag of books. I need to dig out the wheeled backpack for my library bag. We even got started on the summer reading program. I love starting the summer with a pile of books!

There is a nice park just behind the library, and it was filled with kids as well. We went around the corner to another park, and had fun playing until it started raining

How is your summer starting?

Monday, June 07, 2010

I'm a Guest Greenie!

Come on over to Sweet Greens!  I'm the first Guest Greenie to post with Jeannie for a whole week! Today's post is all about Lasagna Gardening!

Thursday, June 03, 2010

The Admiral

I may be piloting this big boat around, but I have a great Admiral! We visited his cousin's house on the lake for Memorial day. As the sun went down over the water a few of us got in the boat and did a few rounds on the tube.

It was a great evening, rounded out with S'Mores! What's your favorite campfire treat?

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

VIctoria Day

I got to visit my N for his Victoria Day holiday! What a joy to be escorted around Vancouver by such a fabulous host. Even if he did tend to ride off ahead once in a while!

This shot of the constantly moving tour guide is in Stanley Park, and on Victoria Day there were loads of people. People sitting, picnicking, walking, riding, skating, just enjoying the day outdoors.

Our favorite site was Capilano Suspension Bridge A really wonderous park just outside North Vancouver..
The trees were HUGE! Of course, this is coming from a girl living on the edge of the prairie, where trees are generally stunted. This coastal rain forest was a really vivid green that can't be captured on film, or in pixels.
This place rivals one of my all-time favorite destinations; Muir Woods. The trees in California are a little bigger, and the undergrowth a little thicker, but I loved the feeling of height here in Capilano. What is your favorite outdoor destination?

Saturday, May 29, 2010

All that and a cup of tea

Chai, sweet, spicy, and way too often found in a hermetically sealed box.

This weekend my mother and I found a lovely tea shop near my favorite thrift store, Hidden Treasures.
Tea Source has two locations in the Saint Paul area. One on Cleavland near Ford Parkway, and one in Saint Anthony Village. Lovely shops, with more types of tea than you can imagine. I thought it smelled great, and enjoyed a cup of Pink Iced Tea with real hibiscus leaves. Karkaday for you who have been in the mid-east.

Note; These are not Hibiscus flowers, they are Azaleas, but they are pretty and they are pink, and I have no hibiscus blooming in my yard.

Mother had a nice cup of Chai, with a real cardamom and a much fuller spice flavor than one can get from a box. We found the secret: A separate spice mix, steeped in sweetened  condensed milk, to be added to the fine Assam black tea. We bought it, and what a great way to make tea! You won't burn the milk, and all the flavors are real!

Next challenge is my own spice mix. (Especially since I'm sending the Tea Source tins home with mom)
I know there will be cardamom in it, and probably ginger and cloves. What are your favorite tastes in tea?

Friday, May 21, 2010

And the winner is....

My random number Generator spit out the winning number: 444

M Hoch Drei! 

Apples for my baby.. she loves to put them in and out and in and out of a basket...

My humble bag will soon be flying across the big pond to Germany! 

Thanks to everyone who visited! I've had a lot of fun this week!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

OK, why didn't anyone else notice that the 20th is Thursday??

The Big Giveaway is nearly over!
My original post said it would end on Friday, May 20th. well, the 20th is Today, Thursday!

So I'm closing comments tonight at midnight, right between May 20th and Friday.

Since I happen to be in vancouver for the weekend, I'll be really nice and close it Pacific time.

This has been the most fun on a blog I've had yet! Winner will be posted on Friday, May 21.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Big Giveaway!

I've been meaning to do this forever! The people over at SewMamaSew finally got my intentions in gear.

Here's what's up for grabs...

Burlap basket: size large. This one's a big 9inx9inx9in! You could put a pile of books in here to keep you company. Several skeins of yarn and a large work-in-progress would fit nicely, and look better than stuffed into a plastic bag! If you live in a warmer climate than Minnesota, take it to the Farmer's Market for a large meal's worth of veggies!

The upcycled burlap from my favorite coffee shop is lined with a blue and white ticking that I inherited from my Great-Grandmother-In Law. I've only made one this size.

To enter the drawing, leave a comment about what you would put in this basket, along with your name and your e-mail address. Entries will close on Friday,  May 20th. One lucky winner will be chosen at random.
I will ship internationally.

Head on over to SewMamaSew for more great giveaway links!

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Is it Green, or just lean?

Little J turns 7 years old today! He's been pedaling around on a little 16in bike that was handed down from big brother, and probably picked up at a garage sale before that. Not that it didn't work, it was a fabulous bike, but he really was getting a little long-legged on it. OK, he looked like the big kids who ride 20in trick bikes.

So we found him a new 20 inch bike that should last him well into middle school, if not high school. (depending on his growth rate and current fashion) Doesn't he look happy! This pic was taken a full hour before school and it's only about 50 outside!

Here's my rhetorical question: Is it any greener for him to ride the bike, as the bus goes past with his classmates riding? He takes the bus in the snow, but is switching to riding his bike.

Now, it's never a bad thing for him to ride, obviously it's good exercise. There is a great path from the end of our street all the way to school, and crossing guards. He gets home faster than the bus when he rides, and has made a new friend in the bargain. Yeah for warmer weather!

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Silent Sunday

Today I have no voice, zip, zilch, nada.
Church was a challenge, because people talk to you there and expect you to respond. I couldn't teach or participate in a class. No singing either.

The rest of the day was a lot like this. I like Silent Sunday!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Earth Day Fair!

The Big Boat set off on its maiden voyage today. I sewed and sewed and packed up and set up at Wargo Nature Center in Centerville, MN. The Earth Day clean-up in the morning was a bit of a wash-out due to rain, but the Fair was almost all indoors and lots of fun! The 4-H had a rock painting station, and the Girl Scouts painted faces! One of the naturalists did a Raptor show with his special guest, a Red Tailed Hawk named "Bet." There were lots of good things to see and do.

I brought my Totes and Baskets, Lunch Wraps and Snac Sacs. The big hit was the "color your own bookmark" station with 2x4 inch strips of burlap and markers. I had many very nice comments on my handiwork, and really had a great time meeting people.

In case you're wondering, the backdrop display is a cardboard box, opened up and painted with leftover wall paint. I drew The Big Boat, and the picture in marker and used a bit of acrylic paint on the boat/globe. Very easy and very "Green" There are empty coffee bags for the tablecloth. Easy to carry, and good-looking.

Now I know I  can do a fair! Look out world, here I come!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Nature's Beauty in the Suburbs

Yep, we live in the suburbs, no cabin in the woods for us yet, but we can still find lots of Nature on the short walk to the bus stop.These baby spruce cones are so vividly purple, and some of them look like strawberries among the branches..

Azaleas, I believe! A whole purple pink bush of flowers right under the front window!
The crab apple tree in bloom. M wondered if this tree produced fruit for crabs. I can't find the entymology of crabapple, I just told her the very bitter, little apples made people crabby! (perhaps we'll try some jelly this fall)

Look around your neighborhood for signs of nature! Plant something, in a pot, in the garden, or even in your soul. Here's my favorite Spring poem.

in just-

    in Just-
    spring       when the world is mud-
    luscious the little
    lame balloonman
    whistles       far       and wee
    and eddieandbill come
    running from marbles and
    piracies and it's
    when the world is puddle-wonderful
    the queer
    old balloonman whistles
    far       and       wee
    and bettyandisbel come dancing
     from hop-scotch and jump-rope and
    balloonMan       whistles
    e.e. cummings

Monday, April 19, 2010

You could win SnapWare Glass Lock!

I'm getting tired of plastic leftover storage. I love the ease of cleaning glass, and the weight of it. Earlier I was reminded of these:

My Mom has them in her cupboards and uses them all the time! So simple, and the vintage patterns are fabulous! I'm going to keep an eye out for more this spring! But until I find some, I'm entering Sweet Greens Earth Week giveaway for SnapWare GlassLock! I've got a couple SnapWare that I love, so finding them is glass is even better!!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

 Peace be with you!
My peace I leave with you

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


M's preschool is having a basket raffle soon, and the one for her class is themed "Move It". I wanted to make something fun for the basket that would get kids moving, outside if possible. I came up with a new hopscotch game I'm calling Alphastones.

A while ago I saw a post on making little pyramid bean bags at Ikat Bag.  She knew them from her childhood in Singapore, so I made a set for my cousins who lived there for a while.

The concept is so simple, take a rectangle of fabric and sew a square pocket. Turn and fill with beans and sew shut. But instead of making a flat bag, you sew the last seam perpendicular to the bottom and it comes out in triangles! I keep getting little stone shaped pieces when I square up the corners on my bags, so I made some orange and green ones at Easter that have turned into pincushions.

This time I made 7 stones, from 3in X 6in scraps of denim. (No new jeans were harmed in the making of these stones, all the jeans had huge holes in the knees!) Then I painted the letters of the alphabet on the sides with fabric paint. All the letters are there, plus an extra A and U for good measure!

Here are the rules:
Draw a grid on the driveway with chalk, putting all the letters in the squares.
You can do this in any order, QWERTY if you have a keyboard handy for reference, or whatever.
One player is the "Jumper" and they stand near, or on, the grid.
One player is the "Caller" he tosses the AlphaStones in the air, then picks up each stone and calls out the letter on the bottom, and a form of movement.

So, the Caller may say "jump to letter N" and the Jumper will jump! Or hop, spin, wiggle, whatever.

Here is the command "Fly to letter K." I'll put the stones in a little bag and write up the directions. I've already got one more set on the sewing machine to keep at home.

By the way, helmets are not required, unless you are riding your bike in-between rounds of the game.

Monday, April 12, 2010


It is a sign of warmer weather, when I actually light the chiminea, and get out all the supplies for s'mores. This year, I made home made graham crackers, so I had to light the fire for the first s'mores of the season.

 See, they were so good I couldn't even get a picture before Jonah took a bite out of his.

the recipe came from Angry Chicken, with a couple adjustments. They were wonderful, much better than store bought, and we could cut them in any shape we wanted. This will be my go-to animal cracker option! I made the squares a bit small for S.mores, yumm!

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Spring has Sprung

Each petal perfectly aligned with it's neighbors, in colors that artists and photographers struggle to reproduce. A flower is a celebration of creation in miniature.

Spring is here, and the world in central Minnesota is waking up again. The kids are playing outside and neighborhoods seem to be occupied for the first time since the snow started piling up.

Today, a good friend of mine is ready to receive her own spring. She is prepped and ready for a new heart.A real beating heart, to replace the one she has that is tired and broken.

It is a bittersweet beginning, in the knowing that one life has ended, and in ending has gifted her with beginning. Like the end of winter coming with the spring.

Peace, to the family who's gift has brought life, and Hope, to the family who is beginning anew!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Windowsill Envy

We are visiting my parents this week. I have windowsill envy:
Yep, 48 feet of south-facing windowsill! Ferns, begonias, african violets, purple oxalis (shamrock) and a few other random plants up here.

Friday, March 19, 2010

More Spring happyness!

I know, it's still March, and Show is inevitable in Minnesota in March or April, but 6 50+ degree days have warmed my blood, and I'm sure that Spring will actually return! The Rhubarb is making its way through the mulch to fill a pie crust someday!

The Iris were green when I raked off their bed for the first time this spring, they are small, but they will be blooming before I turn around.

The best thing growing in the yard, in my opinion, are the neighbors! Finally all those kids who scurry to the bus stop, and scoot right back home are appearing after 4:15 and riding bikes! Yesterday was cloudy, but still in the 50's and there were 6 kids in the driveway! Rip Sticks, RC cars, Chalk, and energy. It was a beautiful thing!

This one was jumping for joy! Me too, to be honest!