Thursday, September 29, 2011

Great Story in NYT

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Micah's not the only one . . .

So I have been remiss. Jesse also started school for the first time this year, nursery school, and he's pretty proud. He's doing really well at school, and actually barely notices when I leave in the morning.

Abigail is gearing up for when it's her turn. She loaded up her toys into a backpack the other day and said, "Bye, bye." Pretty adorable, I thought.

Packed Lunches: The New Frontier

As the start of Micah's school year drew close this summer, one of the less important things I was concerned about is how I'd do packed lunches. Lunches at our house, even mid-meal, are a work in progress. We may start with frozen peas and carrots with peanut butter, work our way to some raisins and sunflower seeds, and finally get the sandwich about halfway through the meal. I say "we," but really this is my kids I'm describing, I don't usually get to eat until lunch is over (I know I'm not alone here, moms). So I had three concerns:

1) I'd actually have to plan the meal beforehand,
2) I'd have to package all of these little portions of things somehow, and
3) Micah's friends would think his lunches were weird.

So a few things really helped, and, so far, I'm still pretty excited about how it's going. (It is still September, so check back with me in a few months.)

The first thing that really helped was a ridiculously expensive lunch bag/bento box system from They have a bag that holds a plastic box (BPA free) with nested containers (some with, some without, lids). Here's Micah's lunch for tomorrow, with the lovely little containers to fill that I just knew would inspire me to pack healthy sides (for the simple fact that I can't send three things, it looks like I forgot something).

As I hoped, Micah thinks his lunch bag is super-cool, which I hope balances out the fact that his lunches are healthy-dorky. Twinkies may have more street cred than broccoli (they used that term on a sitcom tonight, not an original idea).

Also, I didn't have to search wildly for lids (what on earth happens to all of them??????) like I do when I use our regular plastic containers. I mean, you can't miss the neon green.

The other thing that is helping is that the kids and I brainstormed a list of foods for lunch, and that has helped keep me from doing the same thing every day. Here's some of our list ideas:
broccoli salad
carrots with peanut butter
crackers with hummus
leftover pizza
chips with salsa
soy beans in shells
peas in shell
chick peas or black beans
sunflower seeds with raisins
pumpkin seeds
avocado slices
tomato, basil, mozzarella
fruit roll-up
I don't know why, but I really think the actual lunch box frees me up from wanting to just do sandwich, apple, carrots every day . . .

. . . "not that there's anything wrong with that." --Seinfeld

What are your favorite foods to put in a kid's lunchbox--or your own? :)

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Harvest!

I picked it. I have no idea what it is. I mean, I think it's a winter squash. But what if it's a gourd that I just let get way too big? I'm thinking I'll cook it up and see. But I'll wait a few days. I'll see if any of you have any strong feelings as to whether it's a squash or a gourd.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Seeing Red: a Canning Saga

So the main reason I haven't been blogging (or cleaning, or anything else deemed non-essential) is that I've been canning pretty much all the livelong day. It stated with tomatoes (diced and cooked) this year. Then I moved on to hot peppers, then peaches, then back to tomatoes (sauce), then applesauce, and then back to tomatoes again. I canned four bushels of tomatoes (which is about eight full computer boxes worth), which is about twice as much as last year and perhaps a little more than I can even use. That took a long time. There were four different days of heavy tomato preservation. At least for my last batch the tomatoes were tiny and my mom told me of a friend who blends her tomatoes whole and then cooks them and then cans them. A very speedy method. The only thing that took any time at all with that batch was cutting them in half and sniffing them (some looked fine but were rotten inside). I added lemon juice this year to my jars when I remembered (which was, sadly, only a little better than half the time). Lemon is supposed to ensure that the tomatoes are acidic enough to can since farmers have started to grow some lower acid tomatoes in recent decades (though, as my mom pointed out, she canned without it for her whole life).

Peaches became a bit of an obsession. I froze some, then set about to make jam. I gotta say, making jam is no joke. My first attempt based on an internet site was to slice the peaches and that batch resulted in a peach syrup with slices of peach floating in it. That we'll use as a yogurt topping. The next batch I cooked in the crock pot, and that batch turned dark brown: viola! Peach butter!

The next batch also turned too dark, so I made those into peach leather. I found a good recipe for that on A Sonoma Garden. That would have been awesome if I hadn't started talking and accidentally left the oven turned on (you're supposed to heat the oven and then turn it off right away) and burnt them a little. Eventually I managed two good batches of peach jam. Which translates to about 30 jars of jam. We should be pretty set in the peach jam department.

Next came applesauce. I made pretty much of that, too. Thankfully, my parents came one day last week and peeled like the wind (I'm a pretty inept peeler compared to my farmer's daughter mother), which is the only way I made it through my four boxes of apples.

Finally, I did a small batch of red raspberry jam.

And now I'm done until next week when the farmer gives me some pears. I'm out of jars, so that should slow me down a little. I'll need to get my red peppers and roast and freeze those. And I did get my zucchini grated and frozen (for baking). I'm feeling pretty good, and ready to rejoin the world. :)

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Kids

Since I temporarily gave up on blogging, the kids turned 1, 6, and then 4. Just thought I should capture the big kids. Oh, and Micah STARTED KINDERGARTEN!

Name that Squash!

If anyone could identify this volunteer squash growing in my garden right near the sidewalk (where, I must say, it is attracting a good deal of attention), I would love to hear it:

So Amazed

What fun is it having my own blog if I can't write about how amazing my kids are from time to time, am I right?

So my son was working on a notebook put out by Creativity for Kids called "How do you Doodle?" The first page has a black and white simple sketch of a bathroom mirror and tile wall with toothbrushes and soap on the sink. The child is instructed, "Draw the one who is looking back at you." So I read that to Micah and told him he was supposed pretend he was looking in the mirror and draw himself. Later I saw that this is what her drew in his book . . . and it blew me away.