Saturday, September 27, 2014

Toothless (And So Very Loved)

Avery lost her two front teeth during the first two weeks of school. She's suddenly a walking first grade stereotype with her toothless smile and the most adorable little lisp. She has beautiful, mischievous hazel eyes, and these incredibly expressive eyebrows, and even when you think you know what's going on in that six-year-old brain of hers, you don't. She's a beautiful mystery packed into four feet of pure energy and creativity...and maybe a tiny dash of drama. Even on the most trying days we are beyond blessed that this amazing little creature is ours.

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Friday, September 19, 2014

This and That (More From Our Summer)

I was hoping that by now I'd be posting pictures of bright colored leaves and newly crocheted scarves, however September has decided to be a real jerk with it's non-stop 90 degree days. Yesterday it rained the tiniest little bit and for a millisecond I thought I might actually need a jacket. But I didn't. It's September in the Pacific Northwest and we're in the middle of a heat wave. The leaves haven't changed, our grass is dead, I haven't even thought about crocheting a scarf, and it's too hot for caramel apple cider. I did eat a whole bag of fall colored M&M's in protest of our unending summer heat (like a whole big bag...by myself) but it didn't make me feel any better. UGH. Go home summer. No one likes you.

Well, that's not exactly true. I liked summer a lot. It was a whirlwind...we were going nonstop for two months, or at least that's how it seemed. I posted about Montana, Yellowstone, The Grand Tetons, trips to Seattle, and our garden. But here are some of the in between moments that made our summer so special...

We went camping at the beach with my parents, and there was a super moon and an amazing sunset over the ocean at the same time.

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Avery went to Vacation Bible Camp with her cousin, and another cousin turned one.

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This is more sad than special, but a third of our plum tree fell down. I love our plum tree, and I'm not sure if we can save it now (but we'll sure try). We lost a lot of plums, but there were so many left that we had plenty for family, friends, and jam.

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Our espaliered pear tree grew it's first pear. Only one, but it was beautiful. And we got a handful of decent apples from our espaliered apple tree.

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We tested things from Pinterest. Like these Rocky Road pudding pops...

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...and this weaving craft using yarn and a paper plate.

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And I made these American Girl doll dresses for Avery's doll with scraps of fabric from other projects. The pattern can be found here.

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There were other special moments, not documented by a camera...like the 4th of July, neighbor kids riding their bikes at dusk, my Mom's "surprise" 60th birthday party, evenings in the garden, dinners on the patio, and Erik finding his old hammock and hanging it under the playhouse. Life has been full of blessings around here.

Now school has started and a new season has begun (figuratively, not literally, because September is having an identity crisis). We're still adjusting to our new schedule, but we're all well and Avery would like you to know that she lost another tooth.

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And in case you were wondering, she's still super cute when she's exhausted.

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I'll be back when the leaves are red and the air is crisp. Hopefully sooner than later.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Squirreling Away

For the last couple of weeks I've been trying to preserve as much of our garden as I can for the colder months. Every year I feel like I have packed our freezer full of fruits, veggies and actual meals, and every year it's all gone by December. If I had more time (or a bigger freezer) maybe I'd be able to squirrel away enough food to last us through the spring, but that's not my current reality. So here's what I did manage put away:

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Blueberries. (This is only about a quarter of the blueberries that I put in the freezer.)

And tomato sauce. Here is my first batch...you can see more detailed posts about how I make tomato sauce here and here.

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We had a fairly small broccoli crop this year, but it was the absolute best broccoli we've ever had. I froze half of it for broccoli cheese soup and stir fry. This was my first time freezing broccoli, and it was just like freezing any other vegetable. I blanched it for 3 minutes, put it in an ice bath, let it dry and then popped it in the freezer.

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I also froze three bags of corn. We weren't very impressed with the texture or taste of our corn this year, but it'll be fine for homemade chili. I boil the corn on the cob for 5 minutes, cut the kernels off, and then freeze it in individual zip-loc bags.

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The second time I made tomato sauce I set aside some of the stewed tomatoes to freeze on their own. Then I made tomato sauce and used it to make lasagnas. I was able to freeze three lasagnas, one bag of extra tomato sauce, two containers of stewed tomatoes, and a pizza with the leftover ingredients from our dinner that night.

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And then there was the plum jam. I used this recipe again, and although I haven't tested it yet I'm sure it'll be just as good as the last time I made it. At least all the lids have stayed sealed...that's half the battle!

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As much as I would've liked more from our garden in our freezer and on our pantry shelves, what I did manage to get done feels like quite an accomplishment. For now I think I'll bust out a jar of plum jam and celebrate the end of another beautiful season.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

First Day of First Grade

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Today was Avery's first day of first grade. She had mixed emotions about going back to school today...Avery is my sunshine and summer girl. She likes being outdoors, playing in the playhouse, riding her bike and going on adventures. She's knows that a new school year means summer is over and cold weather is on its way. Avery also gets really anxious about new situations...she needs to know exactly what is going to happen and when it's going to happen. The first thing she said when she got home was "My teacher showed us the whole classroom and there was no schedule anywhere!"

But despite the end of summer and unknown schedules, Avery really likes school. She loves science and math, she's a good reader, and she finally gets to go to the art room this year (I can't tell you how important the art room is to Avery - it was a real source of contention last year because kindergarteners don't go to art). After a couple of weeks she'll settle in, she'll learn the ropes and she'll do just fine. She always does.

I'm just wondering how it's possible that my kid is in first grade already.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

A Moveable Feast

The weekend before Labor Day we went up north to visit my brother and his family in Tacoma. We decided to take the girls to Seattle for the day, intending to go to the Children's Museum. Then we realized that the stadiums, a fountain, giant sonic flowers, Pike Place and the gum wall were just as exciting. Especially the fountain. We even managed to get our tired girls home in time for pizza and the Seahawks game.

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The next day we got up slowly, took the girls to a Sprayground (that's totally a thing in Tacoma...water playgrounds...they're everywhere!), and then we made dinner while the girls (minus baby Rylee) played with dirt in the backyard. We had grilled salmon and sausage, parmesan potatoes and baked zucchini, garlic bread and fresh veggies. We even made an apple crisp. The girls were happy, we drank good wine, and we laughed with each other under twinkling lights.

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It was one of those moments that you wish would go on forever. The evening was warm, the sunset was golden, and all I could think about was a line from Ernest Hemingway's A Moveable Feast...

"We ate well and cheaply and drank well and cheaply and slept well and warm together and loved each other."