July 22, 2014
by jenny
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EB’s Blueberry Coffee Cake

A couple of weeks ago I had some blueberries that were so beautiful that I didn’t want to see them even begin to shrivel in my refrigerator so I made this blueberry coffee cake. I shared some the next day with friends and a couple days later I guess it was still in one’s mind, and a request for the recipe was made. So here it is.

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July 18, 2014
by sarah
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Chowdah

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One of the favorite things that my husband and son and now older daughter like to do while we are on Cape Cod is to go clamming. They head out in the canoe (with permits at hand) at almost low tide and come back a couple hours later with buckets full of steamers, mussels, quahogs, and razor clams.  Of course the kids don’t like eating them, but love presenting the final product to the adults. We eat the smaller shell fish steamed, I usually chop up an onion and a couple garlic gloves, add a can of beer and equal water to the bottom of the pot. Then the bigger (too chewy to eat steamed) shell fish I steam, chop up, and make into this New England Clam Chowder (or Chowdah) recipe.

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July 16, 2014
by sarah
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Sprinklers

The other day I posted about something I saw and tried. Here are a couple things that I am hoping to make soon.

Both are sprinklers. The first looks very easy and the other more complicated, but once the right parts are found a cool project. Check them out.

Pool noodle sprinkler

PVC pipe sprinkler 

I also found this one when looking for images on Google:

If you make them let me know how they work. I’ll keep you posted too!

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July 8, 2014
by jenny
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Muddy Parenting

So remember the other day, I was saying that the kids and I made a to do list for the next day?

Well, that list contained a summer bucket list item for each of us – I wanted to make strawberry jam (I used the standard Ball Strawberry Jam recipe), the boy wanted to visit his class garden plot at school, my younger daughter wanted to visit the tiny wetland area that her school uses as an outdoor class room (both to climb on some rocks in the middle, which they are not allowed to do in school, and to “make observations to fill in her last few wetlands journal pages”), and all of the kids wanted to go to Toys’R’Us with some money they had been saving (plus we had a few gifts to buy). We also had a few other errands to do and we had to get my oldest to a play date after lunch.

The plan was exquisite and involved quick errands to the post office, bank, library and UPS store, sneaking in an early morning visit to the school (knocking off classroom garden, wetlands and a bonus playground visit), followed by strawberry picking, Toys’R’Us,  home for lunch, play date drop off, then jam making. We were all on board.

There was a conflict leaving the house – a strong battle over the shoes my middle daughter wanted to wear. I insisted on sneakers (like the rest of us) but would concede to sport sandals that would be good for jumping across rocks in the wetlands, climbing at the playground and strawberry picking. She strongly preferred flip flops but would concede to Crocs. The debated included some tears and screaming on her part. We both held strong while we got ready, and through the other two kids buckling in the car. Eventually, I preferred to get things moving and stay on schedule, so I reluctantly conceded to the Crocs. The errands went smoothly. There were no lines anywhere. We arrived at the school grounds feeling productive and in good spirits.

When we got to the wetlands and the water level was very low, it almost looked dry. The two younger kids headed straight for the rocks in the wetlands and were hopping across laughing at the feeling of forbidden-ness. The rocks go in a line through the middle of the wetlands and stop about 3/4 of the way across. The Croc’d child called out that she bet that she could walk all of the way across since it was so dry. I said she could not and was not allowed to try. On a frog hunt, my older child and I happened upon a rather large snake skin (at least a couple of feet in length) near the edge of where the rocks/water/mud starts. We were looking at it talking about moving it out of some reeds and laying it straight see how long it was or leaving it for someone else to find or the possibility that someone else planted it there since we’ve only ever seen smaller garder snakes around and this seemed huge.

And then Crocs screams.

She fell in trying to walk across.

I’m not sure if you know much about wetlands to guess what happened next, but the girl immediately sank mid thigh into thick reedy mud and scrambled back up onto the rocks – without her shoes. That thick amalgam of mud, reeds, grass and compost sucked that molded foam right off of her feet and did not want to give it up.

You may have read about this girl’s lack of resistance to transitions, and if you have or know a kid like this, you can guess, that this accident did not make her happy. Nor did the layer of muck up to her waist. Or the idea of strawberry picking and Toys’R’Us filthy legged without shoes. Or knowing that maybe sneakers or strapped on sandals were better choices.

Weeping and panicked, she started trying to fish out her shoes with her feet (which were not at all visible, you couldn’t even tell where in the mud she fell in). I told the boy to come back off the rocks, and my older girl immediately ran out with a stick to try to help her sister. I waited listening to frogs. After a few minutes of letting the girls suffer with tears, I reluctantly went to help. I know if we didn’t have such a scheduled plan, I would have tried not to step in until or unless my girl calmed down and asked for help (which with her, and after the fight about shoes, may not have happened), but I still had visions of completing the to do list. So I climbed out on the rocks and I spent the next 40 minutes (FORTY MINUTES!) laying on the rocks on my belly with my arms up to the shoulders pulling up handfuls of mud and reeds digging around. I sent my oldest and youngest to the playground after about 2 minutes of them verbally “helping” from shore.

Don’t think the owner of that giant snake skin wasn’t going through my head as I was past my elbows in mud blindly pulling up reeds and roots and whatever else was flexible and about the thickness of a snake or Croc strap.

I smelled of marsh for the rest of the day (even after a shower). There was a rash on my forearms and frustration on my brain for the next few hours. I had tears of frustration at how hard could it be to find a pair of Crocs in mud somewhere within an small 8 year old’s leg length distance from a rock.

We found one shoe after about 15 minutes. After about 35 minutes I gave up hope and said we were donating the other Croc to the frogs, but my girl’s wails of protest kept me going a little longer, and finally the pair was reunited.

The school was open for summer camps and we went and pumped the girls’ room paper towel dispenser a few hundred times for enough material to try to wipe us down. The shoes and parts of our clothes were rinsed in the sink. We attempted to clean up the mess we made in the bathroom and went back outside to dry off. We visited the boy’s class garden plot and collected some lettuce, stole a little dill from the girl’s class plot, and two strawberries from what the kids called “the mystery plot” (the kids both had been told it didn’t belong to any classroom).

We made it (a little muddy and stinky) to the strawberry farm. We opted to buy strawberries instead of pick our own, so we could still fit in Toys’R’Us before lunch. We didn’t talk about the fall the rest of the day (besides “scrub really well” when ordering her into a shower).

The next day, we went to a birthday party at a nearby indoor trampoline park. I stayed on one of the observation benches to watch the World Cup on a TV as the kids bounced and celebrated. At one point a mom shoved her two year old twins onto the bench next to me, grabbing and shaking their arms and screaming at them, “Didn’t I tell you to pick the Smarties instead of the chewy candy? Why don’t you listen to Mommy? What’s wrong with you? I told you!” I was sad for the kids, but as a mom, I’ve been there too. I was just there reaching into mud feeling somehow angry, betrayed and tricked. She said she gave the girls the choice. If it mattered and they couldn’t eat chewy candy, she shouldn’t have let them pick or should have limited the choices.

I thought about the Crocs in the mud. I’m sure I said a couple things like “ARGH, why couldn’t you have just worn the sneakers?!” and “We might not be able to go to Toys’R’Us now!” But my girl knew that. She didn’t need me to make her feel bad, and I didn’t need to make her feel bad. After our argument over shoes, I did let her make her choice. At 8 years old, she’s still young enough that I could have forced the sneakers. Just like the angry mom could have just bought the Smarties. We can’t be mad at kids for making a choice we’ve laid in front of them and let them make. We all know (especially with some kids’ personalities) that they have to learn lessons themselves sometimes – Crocs are not good choices for climbing on wetland rocks, Smarties are better than Starburst (or whatever) for kids who only have 8 teeth. We don’t need to yell at them, punish them or declare our omnipotence. We can learn and make our own better choice.

After the trampoline party, I made a joke about falling into the mud, and we finally laughed about it. My girl said after all that she didn’t have a chance to make wetlands observations to have anything to write in her journal.    I joked that she now knew what the wetlands felt like, what under the water was made of, felt like and smelled like, and that people probably could never walk across it, and not many people in the school would know about that and write it in their journal. She did like listening to mom that time.

 

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July 3, 2014
by sarah
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Garden July 2

It is so green!! Much of the green is the woods encroaching on the fence of the vegi garden. The organized plants inside the fence are mostly thriving as well! Last year the beets and carrots did not like my garden. This year they are very healthy. Last year I couldn’t get rid of all my hot peppers. This year my pepper plants are tiny and ratty. I am trying to keep track of the differences to make sure I have success in the future. The three big differences from last year are: a wet spring, chicken manure, and purchasing seeds from a local garden center. garden6.30.4JPG garden6.30 garden6.30.2JPGI’ll keep you posted.

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July 2, 2014
by sarah
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Garlic Scapes

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This is our second year growing garlic. I have written about garlic before  here and here. Fresh garlic from the garden (or farm stand/farmers market) is on the list of produce way better than the grocery store version. It is up there with tomatoes in August. We have also discovered the wonders of the garlic scapes. The scapes are these curly stems that grow up the the center of the garlic plant. It looks as if a flower will bloom from the end. It is best to cut the scape off so that the plants energy will be focused on the garlic bulb. It is very edible and defiantly tastes like garlic, but not as strong.   I experimented with pesto.

Garlic Scape Pesto

Ingredients

  • 1 lb garlic scapes, cut in to pieces about 2 inches long
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • salt to taste

Directions

  1. Place all the ingredients into the food processor and blend well.

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I served the pesto over pasta. I also mixed a tablespoon of pesto with 1/4 cup vinegar (apple cider or red wine) and 1/2 cup of olive oil to make a great salad dressing.

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June 24, 2014
by jenny
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The best part of waking up?

I love my Keurig. I typically only drink one cup of coffee a day, though lately I’ve been enjoying making an iced coffee in the afternoon in addition to the regular morning cup. The Keurig is great for me because it is quick, easy, clean, convenient, and because I so very rarely make more than two cups of coffee on any given day (even with guests), it’s efficient. Most importantly the product of the Keurig always has reliable flavor, something I didn’t manage well with other machines and or didn’t happen when I was buying coffee. I’m a morning person and I’m not the sort of coffee drinker that “has” to have coffee or drinks a pot a day, so I know the Keurig is not for everyone but I’m going on 6 years of Keurig loving it every day.
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June 24, 2014
by jenny
3 Comments

Low Tide

Friday was the last day of school for kids in our town. As I’ve mentioned before my middle child isn’t the best transitioner. Last week was a little rough, (among other things) she was obsessively reading aloud every word on every paper/folder/returned project/workbook/note/finished work/unfinished work/scrap of paper found on the bus and insisting that I repeat the reading aloud to her. She only wanted to talk about school – things they’d done, things they had left to do, things there was no time to do, what she’d wear each day and who said what. There was little eating or sleeping. There was no distracting her with shopping for summer books, a dinner picnic visit to our town swimming hole, summer bucket lists, or talk of other plans.

While I had hoped against it, I thought her transition might be rough, so last month we made plans to visit family on Cape Cod for this past weekend as something to look forward to during the last few weeks of school, and something to help ease the transition into summer. We left right after the kids got home from school and the car was packed. The family we stay with and their house that we stay at are very comfortable, friendly and beloved parts of my kids’ lives. The plans didn’t end up helping the last few weeks of school move along easily. But we did have a wonderful vacation.

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June 23, 2014
by sarah
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Painted Napkins

I have been looking for projects to do in the afternoon when everyone needs a quiet project.  I saw this napkin project that I loved for two reasons: we use fabric napkins all the time and the project seemed doable with all my kids.

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I followed her directions mostly. I bought cotton fabric and cut out napkins, then hemmed them. With a coupon it was $5 for a yard and a half which made 10 napkins. I also found these already made 100% cotton napkins that would work great too. As you can see in one of the photos below, the glue beads up. We had to go back after we made the design and retrace the glue lines so the glue was absorbed by the fabric. She also recommends watering the paint down, so do I. The consistency of coffee with milk worked well.

Shhh I think many family members might get gifts of monogrammed napkins.

Here are some pictures of our process.

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