August 29, 2009

How the Garden Grows: Come on Tomatoes

The garden has been giving us plenty green foods......jalapeños, green beans, broccoli, kohlrabi, and cucumbers. We have lots of tomatoes but they are all still green too. I need some red veggies!

I keep sticking cucumber in everything and I still have a ton. Everyone keeps asking me: "Is there cucumber in this?". Seriously, we're going to have to start giving them away. Last week I made Cucumber Tuna Boats and they were very good. The actual tuna salad part was delicious and best of all it used several cucumbers! Unfortunately, the type of cucumber we planted isn't really good for making pickles. But I might just give it a try anyway.

With our abundance of jalapeños I made easy jalapeño "poppers". They were delicious! I sliced and froze several batches for future batches of salsa. I also made one jar of pickled jalapeños (with carrots and onions). I wasn't sure how they were going to turn out so I decided to just toss them in the fridge instead of actually canning them. Jerry said they were really good so next year I'll have to make several batches and actually process them. I'm sure my dad would appreciate a jar! Just call me Peter Piper!

August 19, 2009

Happy New (School) Year!

School can officially start for us now! All the books I ordered arrived today. Exciting!!

I have one second grader this year and my twins are officially in kindergarten! I also have a two year old and an almost four year old. We enjoy learning a "letter of the week" together plus they sit with us when they can and learn plenty.

We use mostly the The Well-Trained Mind. So if you are curious about our "system" I highly recommend you check out TWTM from your library. It's an excellent book. Broken down by subject here is what we will be using:
In addition to the more academic subjects we are also going to do a year long character study. We'll focus on one Christian character trait and corresponding Bible verse each week. For music we learn one hymn a month plus learn about composers/classical music by using a great site (& podcasts) called Classics for Kids. We also have P.E. with our local homeschool group.

If you are interested in seeing our whole year planned out click here. We have a daily schedule as well. Disclaimer: This schedule is just the ideal we are aiming for. Will we follow it exactly? NO! But it is nice to have something to work toward. If you are interested in learning more about scheduling I highly recommend the Maxwell's Managers of Their Homes (and Managers of Their Chores. I'll save the explanation of our chore system for another post.)

We won't actually be starting until the 1st of September. Even though we can start whenever we want we usually end up starting when the public schools here start (which is almost always after Labor Day). Since Labor Day is late this year school is going to start before Labor Day.

Here's to a great year of learning for everyone!!

August 15, 2009

Buster Bar Dessert (Ice Cream Cake)

We had a party for the August birthdays here at our house yesterday. Instead of cake for dessert I decided to make this ice cream "cake". It's a great, cool summer dessert and always a big hit!Buster Bar Dessert

1 lb. chocolate sandwich cookies, crushed
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1/2 gallon of ice cream, softened slightly
1 cup peanuts, chopped
1/2 cup butter or margarine
2/3 cup chocolate chips
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1 can (12 oz.) evaporated milk
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix crushed cookies and 1/2 cup butter or margarine. Pat into 9 x 13 " pan. Freeze for a few minutes to harden. Spread softened ice cream over top of cookies. Sprinkle peanuts over ice cream. Place in freezer. Mix 1/2 cup butter or margarine, sugar, chips and evaporated milk in a saucepan. Boil, stirring constantly, 5 to 8 minutes until thick. Cool and add vanilla. Once cool, pour over ice cream mixture. If it's not cool, it will melt the ice cream. Freeze. Remove from freezer a few minutes before serving (makes it easier to cut it).

August 10, 2009

Crochet Edge Fleece Blanket

UPDATE: I finally posted a short tutorial on how I did made this blanket. It can be found here.

I just keep finding all these cute baby gift ideas that I have to try! This one is quite easy and turned out really cute. I had been searching for some way to crochet an edge on a baby blanket when I came across some instructions for a lighter blanket.

I modified it somewhat to work for a fleece blanket.
The Blanket Corner

I got it done in just a few days working on it here and there when I had a few minutes. Poking the holes took almost as long as the crocheting. I hadn't crocheted in awhile so it took me a few stitches to remember, but once I got going it went fast. You know what? I remembered I really enjoy crocheting! Once I was done I wished I had another little project to work on.
The Finished Blanket

Ready to give to my new nephew!

Depending on the fabric you choose these wouldn't have to be a new baby gift. Fleece comes in so many patterns these days you could make one for anybody! I'll try and post the "pattern" on of these days! And if you don't know how to crochet and would like to learn. YouTube has a TON of videos showing you how to make each stitch! Wish that would have been around a few years ago when I taught myself from a good old fashioned library book!

August 6, 2009

Summer Dining

Summer dining at it's best!

Chicken salad on homemade rolls with fresh fruit salad!

The rolls were so easy! I made them from a new dough recipe that you store in the fridge. You mix it up (no kneading!) and after it rises you set it in the fridge. When you want bread you just take some out and set it out to rise and then bake. As it sits it develops a sourdough flavor. Not too strong though...the boys ate it without noticing a difference. The first time I made it, I made a round loaf and there were no leftovers. This time I thought I'd see how it did in roll form. The rolls were a big hit!

I got the recipe from the book Artisan bread in five minutes a day : the discovery that revolutionizes home baking or you can find instructions here.

August 5, 2009

Washcloth Lollies

When I was searching for diaper cake instructions I came across this cute baby gift idea. I made up a few to give to a friend who had a baby several months ago. I was remiss in getting her gift to her "on time" so I thought my burp cloths were probably a bit past their useful time. I wasn't sure on size for an outfit. Basically, I wasn't sure what to I thought these with some baby wash and lotion would be a cute gift. All babies take a matter their age!! Right?!

These are so easy to make! Even if you aren't crafty you can make these! Just roll the washcloth and then make into a spiral and pin. Attach a stick. [I just taped it since I wanted the washcloth to be able to be used. I figured gluing it would ruin the washcloth.] Wrap with some plastic wrap and a ribbon. I made up and added a little tag. You can also skip the stick and wrap them more like a mint with ribbon on both sides. That would be really cute with the striped washcloth!

August 3, 2009

How the Garden Grows: Early August

The garden is starting to really produce now! We have harvested all the radishes. The red did okay but the white were really fibrous and some of them bolted before they even made a good size radish.

Not sure what went wrong there. The lettuce is done too. We had to give a bunch away because it was ready all at once and was way more than we could eat. Next year we'll have to stagger the planting a bit to avoid that.

The peas are just about done now too. I don't remember what type of pea we got. I thought we got the kind that you could steam and eat in the pod. But we didn't. That didn't work. So I've been taking the peas out of the pod and cooking them. They are delicious, but a lot of work.
The banana peppers were the first ready of all our pepper plants. They are quite spicy. Too bad the tomatoes are still green or I could be making salsa. I'll freeze the early peppers and save them for later. Looks like the jalapenos will be ready with the tomatoes so that will work out perfect. The onions are doing great too. I have just been leaving them in the ground and grabbing them out when ever I need them.

We had coleslaw this past weekend with one of head of fresh cabbage. I am going to try another recipe tonight with another head. We also ate one of our kohlrabi plants. We need to plant more of those next year. They are so good! Three plants definitely wasn't enough.

The green beans are getting there. But we haven't harvested any yet. The broccoli finally has florets on it. The plant is HUGE and the florets small and they took forever to pop through. The cucumbers are looking good too. I planted them from seed and they seemed slow to grow at first. They are really going to town now though. We should have lots of cucumbers. I'm glad I planted them on the edge of the garden where they can grow over the wall and not take over.

I'm pretty pleased with our progress so far. If nothing else we are learning plenty so next years garden will be even better!

August 1, 2009

Diaper Cake and Diaper Wreath

I saw a diaper cake mentioned on a blog or website somewhere and thought I can make that! There are several tutorials online (just search diaper cakes). Some roll each individual diaper but this one fans the diapers. Not only does it look nicer but it is faster to assemble.

These make a great gift for second or third time mom's who already have plenty of baby stuff. I had also seen a bouquet of sock roses and thought I would combine the two and use the roses on the cake. But then I decided that my sister needed baby washcloths more than socks so I used those to make the roses instead! I made this cake with size 2 diapers on the bottom, size 1 in the middle and newborn size on the top (127 diapers in all!). I used Pampers...they have a sweet baby smell, at least before they are put into use! There is a bottle of baby wash in the center to hold the upper levels in place. It wasn't hard to make and I think it is one of my favorite craft projects ever!
The Diaper Cake with washcloth roses

My sister with her diaper wreath

This is the diaper wreath I made for my sister's baby shower. These are both gifts that could double as decorations!