Thursday, April 30, 2009

It's a tough row to hoe....

...when you're a little guy. Gotta catch your zzz's where you can.

Actually, I woke up this morning to see Big I's little baby blue's barely smiling at me from over the crib rail as usual; he looked like Kilroy. I closed my eyes again and when I opened them "Hi, Mama!" He had gotten himself all the way into a sitting position and was as proud as he could be of himself. Luckily he hadn't pulled himself up yet.

He looked so cute with his blue puppy jammies and his green blankie. But it also meant it was time to lower the mattress. I was in the throws of doing just that (NOT a one person job, by the way) when he decided he was tired. Poor little guy put himself out before I could finish.

For an encore, I was checking my email this morning and when I turned around, he had pulled himself all the way to standing on the futon. Geez, now I really have to watch him.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Good Reading, Better Thinking

I added a new book to the "Good Stuff I've Read" list. Mother Angelica's Little Book of Life Lessons and Everyday Spirituality.

I rank her work and writing up there with Mother Teresa...but with a very different approach! If you've never listened to or watched Mother you're missing out. She's hilarious. Next time you see her on EWTN as you're flipping channels, instead of rolling your eyes at the frumpy-looking nun, stop for a few minutes. I found the book at my library. Maybe yours has it too.

"Where most men work for degrees after their names, we work for one before our names: "St." It's a much more difficult degree to attain. It takes a lifetime, and you don't get your diploma until you're dead."

Monday, April 27, 2009

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Oh my gourd!

You never know what may survive the compost pile. These popped up the other day:

They're some sort of money is on pumpkins. The one on the side, this one...

looks like maybe a zucchini or some such.

I think I'll tell Craig to avoid them with the mower and we'll let them ramble. They may be the only thing that produces a crop this year!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Friday, April 24, 2009

A plethora of pretty plants

We went to the Collin County Master Gardener's spring plant sale last weekend. I purposely only brought $20 in cash so I wouldn't over do it. Craig's mom, however, whom we happened to run into, had her check book.

(For the sun, three types of salvias, Henry Duelberg, two lantanas, little bluestem, dwarf maiden grass, Jewel of Opar and I don't remember what else.)

(For the shade, inland sea oats, two colors of turk's cap, Texas columbine, and horseherb combined with a few I had already hanging around: hostas, heuchera, violas and my big pot of mint.)

(Last but not least, two Eve's necklace trees to replace the crepe myrtles out front.)


In veggie news, I thought I'd use my staw bales to do some 'straw bale gardening'. A couple more tomatoes, peppers and basil. We'll see how that goes.

The squash is blooming. Only one so far, so I need to wait for another bloom so I can pollinate them by hand.

And one of the prettiest things in the yard right now I didn't plant: buttercups!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Like Father Like Son

I go in to see if Craig's still sleeping...

I check to see if Big I's still sleeping...

Good grief.

Once up, of course, it was time for their usual shenanigans.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Saving some for later

So many things going on I could tell you about, but I'll keep it practical.

My 'farmers market' had yellow squash and the hilariously billed "Italian Squash" (aka: zucchini) on sale the other week. (Actually, the store is a retail chain, but it's funny that they call it a 'farmers market' since everything's imported. My town's actual farmer's market doesn't start until May for heaven's sake. And then they don't have much in the way of fresh and local...for example, one guy sells frozen salmon. I'll pass, thanks.) Anyway, I bought a bunch so I could freeze it. I'm hoping my squash will produce enough this summer that I'll laugh at having bought some to store now, but I'm not gonna count on it.

So, freezing squashes is great because you don't have to blanch them. Blanching kills the enzymes that lead to spoilage. There's a lot of science involved that I'll skip. The point here is, you don' t need to for summer squashes unless you want.

For now, just wash...

slice or grate...

and lay-out flat on a baking sheet.

Laying them out flat is optional, but it's nice since it helps avoid having one giant frozen mound of squash. You can just pour out what you need like from a store-bough bag.

Notice, I also pre-bag mine. I do this mostly because I'm lazy and I will forget to come back after 30 minutes or so to bag up the slices. If I don't, I'll open up the freezer hours later and curse beause I have trays of loose veggies that I forgot about and now I have to stop what I was really doing and fumble around with a bunch of hard, roly discs that skitter across my kitchen floor. Pre-bagging is just easier.

But be sure label the bags BEFORE putting the veggies in.

Now press out the air...

and place flat in the freezer...

(Have I mentioned how much I love my bottom-freezer with the pull-out drawer?)

Once they're frozen more or less, just slide the trays out and you're good to go. Cook these as you would any frozen veggie. They won't be super crisp like fresh, but they're still great in soups or sauted if you don't mind them a bit soft.

(In case you're interested, you probably can get fairly crisp veggies if you freeze these fast enough. It's the ice crystals that break down the cell walls and make plants mushy. The slower something freezes, the bigger the crystals. If you used, say, dry ice for super-fast freezing and then put them in the bottom of a deep-freeze, you might have a chance. Good luck with that.)

A few tips for the shredded stuff:

  1. if you have one, use a measuring spoon with rounded edges on the bottom, it makes nice mounds that don't cling to any crevices inside the cup. If yours leads a double life living on the floor as a baby toy, be sure to wash it well first.

  2. pre-bag on a cookie sheet (see above). Be sure to leave some space between the mounds but gently press out as much air as you can around them.

  3. check your recipe to see how much you need. For zucchini bread, I know that I'll need 2 1/2 cups of zucchini, so I made 5 half-cup mounds.

  4. these will take longer to freeze than the slices, so leave them undisturbed a few hours before taking them off the cookie sheet.

  5. when you're ready to use, just pull them out to thaw. You could probably thaw them in the microwave but I've never tried it.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Peas in a pod

Even with the disappointment stemming (no pun intended) from the last cold front and the failure of most of my summer veggies (for now), there are some successes so far.

Sweet peas!

They're pretty little plants, aren't they? Can't wait to taste them in a couple of days.

Also, the blackberry bush is busy budding. (Very alliterative of me, no?) I hope they actually produce in a couple of months. It's an Arapaho variety. It's mostly upright and thornless. It seems like cheating to be able to pick blackberries without the risk and effort, but it's a small yard and poky things probably aren't a good idea.


Big I was impressed by the peas too.

Speaking of peas in a pod, he and the dogs are such good buddies these days.

Cracks me up how both he and Brisco have a funny expression at the same time. What a trio of funny guys I have to keep me company during the day.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

It's here!

After obsessively looking out the window all morning and checking the front stoop to see if the mailman had come yet - despite the fact that I know he comes around 3 or 3:30 - it finally arrived: my Pikkolo Baby Carrier.

Here's a review of sorts. More info than you really need, but maybe someone in cyberspace will find it helpful in the future.

When Big I was born, I used the Maya Wrap and Moby Wraps for him. I love both, they have their (mostly) pros and (lesser) cons. (I'll skip the details of just what each of those pros and cons are right now.) But as he's getting bigger, I wanted something I could move him in and out of easier and that would help support his weight a bit more.

At first, I wanted an Ergo Baby Carrier. I love, love, love that it has a front pocket and an optional backpack - a very appealing feature for taking the little guy on trips. But when I went to try it on at the store, it was just a bit too bulky for me...just seemed to wear me instead of me wearing it. Despite the bulk, the first thing I said when I tried it on was "Oh, this is comfy." Hmm.

When I saw the Pikkolo, I as immediately intrigued by the fact that it had a front, facing out option. It's the only soft-structured carrier that has that feature that I've seen. Big I loves to face out, so I was very excited. But it lacks a front pocket or even a pocket to stash the sleeping hood. Plus it didn't have a padded waist belt to transfer weight to my hips. You can, however, buy a separate waist belt to do just that. Also, it is much trimmer. I decided to give it a shot.

(Please forgive the horrid pictures. No one was around to help me take shots today; there is not a poltergeist in my house. I do what I can.)

When it arrived, I resisted the urge to wake Big I from his nap, but as soon as he was up and all set, I popped him right in.

Since I didn't get to try the front, facing out carry in the store, I did that first. Hmm, not too sure about it. The front felt a little 'gappy', like he was hanging forward to much instead of being snug up against me. And his little bottom was resting on my abdomen instead of the bottom of the carrier. I may need to work on placement a bit more.

I flipped him around and got him all settled facing in to me. That felt nice and comfy.

We went for a walk and he had just enough room to turn his shoulders a few degrees to look around but still felt nice and secure. Though he seemed content, I would think it would get uncomfortable looking to the side all the time. Pretty soon he'll be too heavy to face outward anyway, so he may as well get used to it.

Once back home, I put the padded belt on. I was able to get him onto my back surprisingly easily.

Unfortunately, I had to keep tightening the hip belt tighter and tighter until I felt like he was seated securely and not going to slide out the bottom. As you can see from the picture, though, all that tightening made the padding sit above my hips and the belt dug into my tummy a bit. It wasn't too bad now, I wore it around for a while that way. But what about when he's 30 pounds?

The shoulder straps felt fine, though I need to add the sternum strap to keep them in place with no worries.

Big I, it should be noted, thought this is a grand place to be and happily jabbered and kicked while I worked on dinner. (That's an over-the-shoulder shot.)

So I'm not sure. I like the over all feel, and it's not very bulky. I'm tempted to scrape together some funds to buy an Ergo from a place with a good return policy so I can really do a true test around the house.

As a bonus with my purchase, I got some free dog ear warmers...

oh wait, those are Baby Legs.

They're pretty fun and I'm sure they'll come in handy.


Big I has got the camera figured out. I think he may have a future in photography. Just check out some of his self-portraits.

Uh huh. (That last one is the inside of his mouth...everything tastes interesting these days.)


Oh, the camera? Yeah, it was about 8 inches from the keyboard the whole time.

In my defense, it was behind the open laptop screen. This is why there's a place for everything and everything in its place.