Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Like father, like son . . .

Owen had a picture taken with his mom exactly like this at around age two or so. Jesse takes after his dad a little with the crying. He's a bit of a whiner. We thought it was a great idea to capture the identical "Mom trying to cook while child clings to her legs" photo to pair with his father's. Sadly, after taking this picture last night, we realized that Jesse had a fever. Made it less funny. He's had a rough 24 hours. Lots of "Blue's Clues" today (great show). Get well, Jesse!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Here comes the sun!

UEE (http://www.go-uee.com/) is a Philadelphia group starting a solar panel rental system as an alternative to PECO. We'll be renting panels at the current rate we have been paying for electricity with PECO for the next 20 years. That way our bills will stay the same in the coming years even as energy bills increase (as PECO warns is coming as soon as price caps are lifted). Hopefully we'll have them on our roof by September. (We just have to wait until 100 people are signed up so it will be viable). We definitely want to lock in prices before an increase comes. It's a really great system, well thought out. Food for thought in case anyone lives in the area and wants to keep electric prices down.
Our contact is Chris Metcalf at 610-639-0528 (Chris@Go-UEE.com)

Monday, June 15, 2009

Simple Healthy(ish) Crumble

Squish 5 ripe bananas in a pie dish. Sprinkle with a little bit of sugar. Put in some frozen or fresh berries and mix. Sprinkle instant oats and small walnut pieces on top. Squish some soft butter chunks in with the oats/nuts and push them down a little bit into the berries/bananas. I didn't measure anything and I doubt it matters too much how much of anything you choose to put in. Bake at 350 until top is golden (it takes a long time because of how moist the bananas are), about 45 min. or an hour. Viola, easy crumble. Pretty healthy, as desserts go.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Garden Groweth

Well, the garden is progressing nicely, if slower than I feel prepared to handle. The lettuce will be ready soon. I actually already harvested about half of a rather spindly broccoli rabe crop. We ate it. It had some tiny holes bored through, but Owen doesn't feel that the $50 I want to spend on nematodes (bug parasites that help control pests) is justified at this point (since we haven't budgeted for all of the gardening expenditures we've been incurring). I told Owen gardening makes me feel powerful, but he told me empowered is a better word to use with milder connotations because it makes me seem like less of a megalomaniac. Anyway, I have some little tomatoes now, still green, and we've gotten a few strawberries. I was researching my zucchini problem: we have beautiful flowers with no mini-zucchinis connected. It would seem that we either have all male or all female flowers, or that we don't have enough bees to pollinate. This is a serious problem, one that perhaps goes a little beyond my skill. Online I found all sorts of
suggestions involving q tips and spreading of pollen in female flowers. Oh dear, I should have paid more attention to Mr. Underkoffler in 10th grade biology. If anyone is able to identify whether this is a female or male flower from the picture, please let me know. Uncle Darry gave me some raspberry bushes, one of which even has raspberries on it. Needless to say, this is wildly exciting for the family. Well, I'm not sure if "wildly excited" exactly describes Owen's relationship with the garden. Mildly interested, maybe. Micah's excitement helps to make up for some of his lacking in this area. Greenbeans are my big obsession lately. The top left picture shows them growing along a fence. I now actually have them growing along five different fence areas. Spreading out the risk, so to speak. My neighbor plans to spray her back yard for weeds, so I anticipate a certain amount of loss of greenbeans against her fence. I say "anticipate" but I certainly will be devastated if and when such loss occurs. Several of the bean
plants have gotten pretty pink flowers, which I guess means beaners are on the way (unless we have some weird male/female flower issue of course). I can't wait to feed my family off the fat of the land.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The only good redbeets I've had . . .

They may not be pretty (and this was the best photo of four, I think), but roasted red beets are one of my new favorite spring meals. I cut them in 1/2 or 1/4 depending on size, left 3" of tops on them, and then put them in a baking pan with slight sides. I put a little bit of olive oil, a little bit of balsamic, a little bit of water, a little bit of salt, and a little bit of rosemary and then roasted them on the middle rack for a little over an hour (there are a lot of "a little"s in my recipe b/c I don't measure anything). Anyway, I flipped them about halfway through. I sprinkled them with garlic powder when they were done. They taste amazing! Just like anything does prepared in that way I guess. You could probably roast old tennis shoes in olive oil, salt, and everything and they'd be great. Bon apetit!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Seriously, I'm not making this up!

Spotted: One opossum (not the one in this photo taken by the Opossum Society of the United States)

Who: Val, and neighbors (who saw it first and pointed it out to her)

Reaction: Oh my goodness, this must be blogged . . . NATURE IN NORTH PHILLY!!!

Friday, June 5, 2009

And then there were two . . . and then one . . . and then just a dirty nest and some bird poop

The baby birds are fat and literally started falling out of their nest because there just wasn't room for them all. Here's a picture from the beginning of the week, right after big brother hopped out. Big brother did have to hop/fly back up to the nest temporarily after a cat discovered them. I have no idea how he pulled that off. (I observed them for quite some time, off and on, and they just seem like sitting ducks, or well, sitting robins, believe me. Chirping and not really moving even when toy trucks come to within a few inches--accidentally, of course.) I chased the cat off, like a true Darwinist would not do (the nature filmers don't try to scare the lion as it closes in on the antelope, though maybe self-preservation is a factor there). I kept waiting to find his little mangled body somewhere. I even had a dream of finding him dead. That's when I think the stay-at-home mom realizes her world has shrunken in a truly alarming way, when she is worried enough about a baby robin that she has nightmares about its death. Then the next day his sister (let's just keep all the genders involved) flew the nest. We were down to Junior. Junior didn't seem really motivated to go anywhere. He stayed up there by himself quite a while. At least another day. Then he made the big leap but hung out right below the nest on the porch for a good 12 hours. He left a lot of nasty poop all over the porch. He had a bike parked right near him by an unobservant visitor. He almost got hit by a toy truck (that in fairness was poorly aimed by the mother cleaning up and not by the toddlers playing with it). The funniest part was his really loud mother squawking at him from a nearby tree, all day, trying to motivate him to leave. I guess there are similarities between all species.

A Message from Val's Mom, Mary Frey

Restaurant and grocery store chains across our country need to band together and commit to 72 degree minimums for air conditioning levels. I mean, talk about a ridiculous cause of greenhouse gases--over-air conditioning. Then we won't all need sweaters in the summer! And maybe we could agree to heat somewhere in the 68 degree range in the winter. Just a suggestion from Mary . . . put on this hopping blog per her suggestion.