Saturday, August 29, 2009

grape season!!

Our huge beautiful grape vine arbor is in full swing right now!! I love sweet tart juicy grapes!!

We have scuppernongs and muscadines. The children are literally *in* the arbor every single morning. They all have sticky little grape fingers and grape smiles by the time breakfast is ready. Clover is dismayed that we are not going to be able to take full advantage of grape season. I'm hoping that we can pack a bunch this week and take some on the road.

The birds have lost their advantage over Indigo, Willow, and Clover this year! They have figured out how to climb up on top of the arbor!!

last playgroup before CA

It was very important to my kids to say goodbye to our playgroup friends before the big trip. They are all so sweet. We spotted a few water snakes. One of them was really willing to sunbathe, and let us get a good long look.

We are going to miss our playgroup friends, but we're looking forward to adventure!

last harvest & canning

We leave for California in less than one week, and even though I am so excited about it (ofcourse), I feel a little bit at loose ends about leaving my garden. We still have lots of tomatoes, tons of hot peppers, and some butternuts still coming in for harvest. I have been racing back and forth between the garden and my packing lists and helping Tim with bus cleaning. Last Wednesday, I made the commitment to slow down and work in the garden and the kitchen for most of the day. Here is a beautiful box of some of our last big harvest of the season:

We got lots of Amish Paste tomatoes this year. They come in cute little bundles almost like grapes. We picked them, washed them, and Clover cut the tops off and the bad spots away. The boys were very amused by the process of "shocking" the tomatoes. They loved how the tomatoes' "jackets" came off so easily.

I cooked them down in the crock pot all day with salt, pepper, garlic, and bay leaves. The smell was so delicious, and now I have tomato sauce for the Winter!

Monday, August 24, 2009

sewing with Gma

We spent the weekend working on the bus. Tim's parents came over on Saturday to give us some much-needed help. The kids were excited that Gma brought her sewing machine over. They watched as she sewed curtains for the bus. This was literally an all day project. By the end of the day, the kids were in their pajamas watching her sew!!

Thanks for the entertainment, Gma! (and for the curtains!!)

Ocean trip

Last week, Tim was working like a maniac to get the bus ready for our BIG trip. He gets a little wild when he has a big project on his hands, and converting an airport bus into an RV for six people ranks up there with some of his biggest projects ever. So.... the kids and I decided to get out of town for a little while. We visited our very good friends the Fun family. It was so nice to be near the Ocean.

Nova is such a peaceful little person when his feet are in the waves. He loves the Ocean so much, and actually cried on the last day of our visit. We spent lots of time wading and looking for treasures and feeling the salty breeze.

We spent one morning swimming at a beautiful mineral spring-fed pond on a friend's property. The water was so clear and cool. Fish were swimming around nipping at the kid's toes, and there were the most amazing dragonflies everywhere. They kept landing all over our heads and hands.

Because of Hurricane Bill brewing way out in the Ocean, there was a strong riptide advisory on our last couple of vacation days. One night after dinner, we took the kids out to the beach and let them see the huge waves. They played and ran and kicked up sand. The sound of the waves breaking on shore was so loud and beautiful - the amazing music of the sea.

Sunday, August 16, 2009


We have been doing *lots* of bird watching lately. Most of our feeders hang right outside of the kitchen window, and since we are in the kitchen most of the time (it seems) we get to enjoy the birds constantly. All of our old friends - the shy cardinal couples & their cute babies, the packs of chatty social chickadees, the finches and wrens and the sparrows are all back at the feeders.

We have been enjoying our hummingbirds this year! There are so many in our garden, and they visit both feeders all day long. They are so accustomed to us that we are allowed to stand right by the feeders and watch them buzz around! Indigo had one graze the top of his head last week in an attempt to get to the feeder first. He loves the birds, and in this picture he is holding the pencil as a "perch" so that one might land right on it.

You have to look closely in this one to see the little finch watching the hummingbird buzz around near the feeder.

Our other favorite Summer time birds are the gold finches. They are so beautiful, and so fun to watch. They eat hanging upside down! Mimi and Grandad gave us a gold finch feeder, but so far the finches have just ignored it. They eat from our many sunflowers, and (to my surprise) they also love the zinnias. Every morning when we go out to feed the hens, we stop by our main flower garden to watch a cloud of gold finches fly up into the trees. Look closely. They blend in with the flowers...

Thursday, August 13, 2009


During these incredibly hot days of August, we have to think of creative projects for the afternoon. It has gotten so hot that outside play is unbearable. Clover wanted to marble some paper which is really not a suitable craft for the boys, but (luckily) they were content to watch.

Marbling is a pretty simple craft, and the paper turns out so beautifully. We have a marbling kit with little bottles of marbling ink and round floater papers. Clover just puts the floater paper in, waits for it to sink & bob back to the top, and then puts a tiny drop of ink on the paper. The ink spreads over the surface of the water and she stirs it with a toothpick or blows it around. Here it is on top of the water:

When the pattern on the water looks interesting, Clover puts a piece of paper on top and quickly picks it back up. She lets it dry for a few hours. Aren't these beautiful?

We made about a dozen, but those were two of the favorites. Every time one came out of the water, the boys crowded around to look for shapes. They saw volcanoes, rainbow faeries, storms, and the full Moon.

Monday, August 10, 2009

and a wee garden update...

Every time we think that the zucchini plants are done giving zucchinis, another two or three show up! Once in awhile, we have one that grows to mammoth proportions. We have grilled a couple of the huge ones, but mostly they become food for the chickens. Clover found the largest one ever a couple of days ago. Coincidentally, she found one of the tiniest butternut squash on the same day...

In other news, we have some pie pumpkins that are almost ready (hurray!!), and Clover's hot wax pepper string seems to be drying a bit (and turning beautiful colors in the process)...

bus update

We are on the less-than-a-month til departure time on our California trip, and we are all so excited! Tim spends every spare moment of his time working on the bus. Ofcourse, he has four very eager little helpers. They have almost completed the "kitchen" area, and Clover has gained lots of practical carpentry skills from this. She definitely knows how to use a sander!

Clover, Willow, and Nova enjoyed a hummus and chips break while Indigo continued to vacuum with much dedication and loyalty.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Mimi and Grandad

We had a nice visit with Mimi and Grandad this morning. Their yard is beautiful right now, and there are lots of birds to watch and a fig tree almost as full of figs as the one in our yard!

Nova always wants to hang out with Grandad. He got a broom from Mimi and helped with sweeping grass out of the garage.

Mimi didn't think that there were ripe figs on her tree yet because all of the outer ones were little and green. Clover, Indigo, and Willow climbed up into the middle of the tree, and brought down lots of figs for everyone. Mimi was really happy to eat a fig, but Nova was happiest of all. He loves figs!

We had a fruit salad and popcorn snack on the front porch with Mimi while Grandad rested in the house. There is always such a nice breeze on the front porch at their house.

My grandparents have lived in their house since I was five years old, and visiting them brings back such happy memories. I love to watch the kids play with them!

Monday, August 3, 2009


We celebrated Lammas on Saturday, and I'm just getting around to posting about it! We had a wonderful, slow, Lammas in the garden & kitchen at home. We weeded and harvested and baked.

The kids all helped with bread baking.

We also made zucchini cranberry muffins, cucumber and cherry tomato salad, and Tim made grilled chicken (not from our garden but still local & organic)!

Clover wanted to do something crafty, so I let her use some strong thread to make a Hungarian hot wax pepper string. We are going to experiment with drying some out, but I also plan on freezing a bunch.

After gardening and cooking and playing (ofcourse) all day, we had a wonderful feast with figs for dessert that the kids picked while I set the table.

So, happy (late) Lammas everyone!!