Thursday, December 13, 2007
Thursday, December 6, 2007
Amy’s Garden Vegetable Lasagna (gluten-free). This single-serve microwave lunch was wonderful. This maybe the first time in seven years I have had lasagna. The noodles had a very nice taste and texture. The cheese was delightfully seasoned. The vegetables were distinguishable and quite tasty. The sauce was light and delightful. I would defiantly recommend this to any vegetarian or anyone with a wheat-allergy. This is made in a factory which also makes products which contain wheat. So those with sever allergies or Celiac disease may not want to test this one.
Lean On Me Baking Company makes a Broccoli & Cheddar Quiche which is a frozen single serve wheat and gluten free meal. This was a surprisingly tasty lunch. It tasty and rich but only has 130 calories it was. I had a small salad on the side for a perfect little lunch.
I discovered a new wheat-free snack at a friend’s party which to my pleasant surprise was filled with wheat-free snacks and knitters, too. Frito-Lay Inc tried something new. They tried to make a healthy snack and succeeded. Under the brand name of Flat Earth they are making Baked Veggie Crisps which has “½ serving of real vegetables in very ounce”. I tired the Garlic & herb Field and Berry flavored chips. Both were very good. The garlic had a nice garlic flavor without being over powering. The chip was crisp and could hold up to the same dips and a ruffle potato chip. The berry flavor was also good but a little on the sweet side. The berry would satisfy anyone looking for something sweet, crisp and a touch of salt. It’s very nice blend.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
The Black Seed Simons and Oak Leaf lettuces were successful. Both grew beautifully and tasted wonderfully. The first night we were expecting temperatures to dip below 32 degrees I harvested all of the tasty plants. I used kitchen shears and cut just about an inch above the soil. I’m happy to say the bags in the refrigerator held well and made for some tasty lunches. I’m even happier to say the little nubs left behind are sprouting more leaves to be harvested this weekend before the temperatures dip again.
So far the kohlrabi has been a good source of food for the pesky green cabbage caterpillars which have plagued in since shortly after it was planted. Each time the leaves start to look beautiful another batch of the bugs reduces them down to sticks. I think this year they are just going to be mulch. I need to talk to the people at the garden center and try again in the spring.
The Garlic is going strong but I won’t know how it is really doing until next June when it is harvest time.
The lavender is due for a ‘hair cut’ to prepare it for the winter. So far it is looking healthy and happy where it is.
The Cabbage Bed
The Great Lakes lettuce, bok choy, and wok bok didn’t do very well. The Great Lakes didn’t take well. Very few plants germinated and the ones that did were a bit on the bitter side. Either of these could have been caused by the drought or heavy clay soil. I think the lettuce would have done better if the bed was better prepared. I’m hoping to dump ½ of the soil in this bed into a new one and then add more organic material and some sand to both beds. Since I have some seeds left I may try a small spot of them again in the spring to see what happens.
The bok choy and wok bok are suffering almost the same fate as the kohlrabi. They are fairing a little better but the leaves are so lacey I’m not sure if it is worth try to harvest and cook them up.
The pansies tucked into the corners of the bed are still flowering and beautiful.
The Carrot Bed
The carrot tops look beautiful. They are such a beautiful green ‘fuzzy’ leave in contrast to the falling maple leaves that decorate the bed. I last ‘tested’ the carrots two weeks ago and I couldn’t even call them baby carrots because they were so small. I need to pull a few to see how they are doing. The
Only a few of the pansies plated along two sides of the bed germinated. The pink flowers tucked into the corners didn’t survive the first light frost and are looking really bad. I need to cut them off and add them to the compost bin.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
The ‘hoodies’ I grew up wearing were to stay warm not to mark who I was affiliated with. That is until I went to college. I remember buying a sweat suit at the college I chose to attend. I walked into the house proudly displaying the York College of Pennsylvania logo. Wearing it home was how my dad and I told the rest of the family a decision was made. It marked my affiliation. I still proudly wear that sweat jacket even though it has seen some better days. It says I’m part of the college. I lived and cried at that school. The life I had there helped shape who I am and who I will become. Today hoodies still show affiliations with schools but now they have become more of a way to show affiliation to gangs . They too will influence lives and guide their members but often not in positive ways.
Bandanas seem to have had a long history of showing affiliation. The striking coal miners of West Virginia showed solidarity against the owners and the government for better pay and benefits by wearing red bandanas. The news papers who supported the coal mining company dubbed them the ‘red necks’ even after they were mowed down by gun fire. And now when most of you think of redneck you think of jokes about broken down cars and beer bottles stacked in someone’s front yard. Rosie the Riveter is a famous poster of a woman in a bandana encouraging the women of the United States to pull together to support the troops and country during WWII. And now after years of being a useful handkerchiefs, head bands, hair nets, life saving tourniquets, and so much more this simple piece of cloth has been adopted by street gangs to show their solidarity and affiliation. The symbolism of solidarity is wonderful but the violence that often comes with it needs to be replaces with hope, home, better education, and good jobs.
Gangs never appealed to me when I was young and they still don’t. I guess I found other ways to ‘belong’ and to standout with Girl Scouts, school clubs, and my own causes like March of Dimes. So as I sat there in my company’s hoodie with my bandana to keep my hair out of my eyes I wonder why there is such a love affair with gangs. Is it the ‘family”? The glitz and glamour of instant gratification? Rebelling against the system? Or allowing a hopelessness to over come and control?
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
I think I’m going to put off my quest for finding bento egg molds, noki (seaweed) face cutters, and little sauce bottles off until the new year. I would like to try making fruit leather faces and fun shaped foods to encourage the kids to at least try dinner before they announce they don’t like it. Right now we are using dollar store glow stick bracelets to bribe the kids to try dinner. I’ve been told this is a phase. I’m hoping it is a short one.
Every year around Halloween this little museum gets a lot of attention for all of its weird medical exhibits but it really is a wonderful place to visit year round. Several years ago we took a friend to a lecture they were holding on Vampires. It was a fascinating lecture on the lore around vampires and what the body does after death. They even discussed modern research which helps in forensic science and all of those CSI shows we love to watch. In addition to special exhibits and lectures they have scavenger hunts where you have to diagnose a disease or find out what killed the character in question. It is a wonderful way to explore medical science.
National Museum of Health and Medicine
6900 Georgia Avenue, NWWashington, DC 20306
The Sierra Club's Metropolitan Washington Regional Outings Program: http://www.mwrop.org/
Washington DC City Pages: Recreation : Hiking: http://dcpages.com/Recreation/Hiking/
These are wonderful 6k walks you can find in your community or around the globe. This site helps you locate your local walking club or one almost anywhere you go.
American Volkssport Association: http://www.ava.org/
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Cotton Chenille Boob
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
I am still looking around for small bento bottles for my salad dressing along with some things to make the kids meals a bit more appealing to them. I’m hoping to find some of the bento egg molds, rice molds, and seaweed face cutters to make meals a bit more appealing to the kids who will alternate between loving something one week and refusing to touch it the next. I’m hoping the seaweed face cutters will also work on fruit leather.
Today’s breakfast is leftover homemade mac & cheese made with Ancient Harvest gluten-free elbow pasta, canned corn, and carrots with wax and green beans. (I really need to unpack my small cookie cutters to cut cheese and other things to make this look even more appealing.) Lunch is a salad of home grown lettuce, sharp cheddar cheese, dried cranberries, and slightly candied walnuts with a raspberry dressing.
Monday, November 12, 2007
If you are tested positive for wheat ask to test your doctor to test you for spelt too. Spelt is an ancient relative to wheat but for some reason about 50% of the people allergic to wheat, like me, can eat it. Spelt does contain gluten. Here is more info on spelt can be found at Wikipedia. Spelt can be substituted for wheat in most recipes. It cost more then wheat but less then the gluten-free mixes.
My Favorite Local Stores:
My Organic Market (MOM)
Favorite Gluten-Free Foods:
Pasta: Ancient Harvest – quinoa/corn spaghetti & elbows
Cookies: Pamela’s chunky chocolate chip
Spice cake & quick mix: Gluten-Free pantry - (I have more mixes to try. I just haven’t had a chance to make them, yet.)
Chocolate dipped doughnuts & plan bagels: Kinnikinnick
Gluten-free Girl: has a bunch of links which are helpful and her outlook on Celiac Disease is so positive that reading her blog is just uplifting.
Our soap making experiment is progressing. We are in the re-batching stage. It isn’t a difficult step except I don’t have a double boiler and one the right size may not fit on my stove since it has an upper oven. I’ll figure something out.
The next stage of this slippery experiment is to knit or crochet wash cloths and soap savers. I have found a few free patterns on line and some discounted cotton yarn at Aylin's Woolgatherer, a local yarn shop. So far I have made three with the Lion Brand® Lion Cotton® Dish Cloth pattern. The pattern is making a pretty and simple wash cloth which I should be able to teach the non-knitters in the groups since it only uses knit and purl stitches.
I picked all of the beautiful lettuce last week when the weather was predicted to drop below freezing. It was a light frost so I was only concerned with the delicate leaf lettuces. I found my kitchen shears made fast work of the task and enabled me to quickly cut all of the lettuce. My largest mixing bowl was over filled. I could have easily filled it twice with the bumper crop. The little stumps may grow more leaves if it survived the frost and we don’t get another one for a while. The Black Seeded Simpson and Oak Leaf Lettuces were easy fuss free crops that looked beautiful and taste wonderful. I have two small plastic trash bags in the refrigerator to use.
I made a Gluten-Free Pantry Quick Mix Impossible Pie recipe on the box with some alterations for when my parents visited. I used Monterey Jack cheese, low fat cheddar cheese, salt-free 1% cottage cheese, and 2% milk. I also switched the vegetables to sautéed onion and cooked spinach. It was quite tasty. This time around I only used the spinach and added a little garlic powder. Most of this one has been sliced and put into the freezer for easy dinners or lunches.
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
I have to say after doing some online research for "bento lunches" I took it as a challenge to make a better looking lunch. The lunches on this site just raised the bar: Lunch in a Box: Building a Better Bento
Monday, November 5, 2007
I started by putting the feet and hat then the kids helped by pointing out where each of the other pieces should go. The pieces didn’t just press into the pumpkin. I had to push the piece to leave an indentation where the kids wanted it to go then use a kabob skewer to make a hole for the piece to slide into. The kids were thrilled with the results and are fully aware that this pirate pumpkin will become a very yummy pumpkin pie in the next week or so.
And if the pirate pumpkin is too cute for your taste, check out ExtremePumpkins.com for their wild and terrifying pumpkins.
Friday, November 2, 2007
For better or worst my fur balls start with a gentle purr, then a purr with a nudge before licking my face. If that doesn't work they lick my eyelids. It works better then any alarm clock you can every buy.
You know the “sixth degree” theory well I actually have met the creator of this short.
Thursday, November 1, 2007
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
I had a cake marathon. I had a goal of making 4 cakes for the daycare and the office but first we searched just about every grocery store for a cake mix not marked “moist”. I don’t think they exist. The most cake mixes just don’t release from the castle cake pan and I had this great vision of a chocolate castle overlooking a cookie graveyard for the Halloween parties.
Several friends suggested I try the Hershey®’s “Perfectly Chocolate”™ Chocolate Cake from the back of the cocoa tin. The good news is the cake is very easy to make. It smelled heavenly and the cake testers at my house loved it. The bad new is it is a very moist cake that came out of the mold in 14 pieces. I managed to reassemble the cake for today’s Halloween party at the daycare. A crumbling castle with a peep ghost on top will work for Halloween but not the rest of the year.
After baking two base yellow cakes from mixes and one chocolate castle cake which wasn’t even out of the mold by 8:30p I had to change my cake decorating plans. The daycare was going to get a version of my original vision and work was going to get a graveyard cake. In the end they both looked great and fit the day’s theme but I’m still on a quest for a great tasting cake that is solid enough to slide out of the castle cake mold.
Friends at Mannaheim decided to take on cold press soap. On the 14th we tore apart a broken shipping pallet and made soap molds. After a few smashed fingers we had assembled 10 molds. This past weekend we met again to slide on the rubber gloves and goggles to make soap. It was the blind leading the blind. We read directions, listened to our fearless leader and referred to the web for help. After hours of looking like mad scientist and stirring our brews we had soap, beautiful orange palm-olive soap. We wrapped up 6 filled molds and tucked them away to cure.
Yesterday, our fearless leader unwrapped our soap experiments to slice them before they cured to rock hard and announced that we had did indeed made soap.
FYI: Recycled plastic car floor covers from the garden center made perfect mold liners. They were durable enough to hand taken the 'half baked' soap in and out of the mold for slicing.
Friday, October 19, 2007
I’m a little behind in my blogging. October has already been a busy month.
Earlier this month we went to southern Maryland to visit Grandma Ruth. Grandma Ruth is a 98 year-young retired kindergarten teacher. She is a wonderful example of how a good spirit can live a long wonderful life. She is moving a bit slower and she can no longer get down on the floor to play with the little ones but just having them walk in the room makes her face light up. She is such a joy to talk with and be around.
We just wish she wasn’t so far because we would love to visit her much more often
The blue pirate bay was made with 2 boxes of Jell-O® berry blue gelatin using the Jigglers® recipe . I sprayed the foil with some Pam® no-stick spray and then wiped it with a paper towel so oil would not affect the flavor or texture but still allow the gelatin to lift right out. It turned out great.
The birthday boy’s friends dove into their pieces. There was enough to share with his sister’s friends too so they all got some pink castle cake. There was only part of a tower left and part of the pirate bay blue gelatin left for the teachers.
After naps they made Easy Spyglass Telescope from paper towel tubes and colored pirate maps. Since the birthday boy was blessed with a beautiful day they didn’t color their Peter Pan & Pirate coloring pages. The teachers are saving them for another day.
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
DIY Chocolate Pudding
DIY Vanilla Pudding
Sweet & Salty Cinnamon Almonds
Wednesday, October 3, 2007
I picked up a package of Gluten-Free Pantry® Spice Cake & Gingerbread Mix for the occasion. It made a beautiful cake in my Nordic Ware® castle Bundt® cake pan. It was a bit shorter then the other cakes I have made but since it was more of a beach theme it worked well with the wash away look. The flavor was as good as it looked. My son who can eat any kind of cake he wants requested I make it again for the family. This is very high praise for a gluten-free product. In stead of a moat I made an beach front scene. I made a Jell-O® Jigglers® ocean with 4 boxes of Berry Blue. I lined a cardboard soda can case with heavy duty aluminum foil which I propped up on one end to hold the box at an angle on the counter as I worked with it and in the refrigerator. I made up 2 boxes according to the directions and let it set. I then made small slits to insert Swedish Fish® candies. I then added 2 more boxes of prepared gelatin and let it harden until it was time to go to the party.
The result looked great. The fish looked like shadows in the water as if you were flying over. The water was ‘lapping’ at the edge of the castle. The cake tasted great and the gelatin was good but the fish were a bit ‘gooey’. They tasted okay but the moisture from the gelatin effected their texture and appearance. Next time I won’t be adding fish.
Friday, September 28, 2007
Thursday, September 27, 2007
I try to donate or pass on anything we possibly can. Toilet tissue rolls and egg cartons go to the daycare for crafts. Cardboard boxes from home and my office get passed onto Carmae Office Products, Inc , a business who reuses them for their deliveries. Clothes and toys we are no longer using go to friends and family or The Closet, Inc., a local thrift store which supports local projects for battered women, homeless shelter and parks. What they can't sell will go to another charity in the Appalachia which doesn't get as many donations. Our old books get passed on to American Indian education charities (like the Red Cloud Indian School) or to the American troupes over seas. We are even passing on our old trees that had to come down. They will be recycling as firewood, gardening containers, etc by friends, family and neighbors. Our garbage gets divide between the wildlife (birds, squirrels, etc), the garden (compost), and the trash. If something can’t be reused only then does it go into the recycle bin or the trash.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Recently my sister gave me another wonderful gift which complements my little tea pot. It’s a tea bag pincher. My first thoughts were I have spoons and this going to take more space in my little kitchen. Those thoughts didn’t come back after the first time I used it. No more burnt fingers. It gets used so much that it hasn’t had to go into a draw yet it.
Since my current favorite tea Trader Joe’s Spiced Tea comes in tea bags complete with staples I have to do a little work to make this a “green” drink. Yes, tea bags cost much less in fuel etc to ship to my local store then bottled drinks but I still have a used bag when I’m done. Since I don’t want staples in my compost I separate the labels which go into the paper recycling bin (w/ staples), the used leaves get dropped into the compost bin and finally the bag gets tossed into the trash. At least it is 1/3 the trash. If I was sure what the bag was made of something biodegradable I would just remove the last staple and toss the whole bag leaves and all into the compost.
Friday, September 21, 2007
Thursday, September 20, 2007
The 1954 penny in the photograph is one of the treasures found from digging out the new walkway. So far our treasures total 2 pennies, a nickel, a yellow pencil sharpener with a rusty blade, several springs, and an assortment of plastic parts.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Monday, September 17, 2007
If you observe a really happy man you will find him building a boat, writing a symphony, educating his son, growing double dahlias in his garden. He will not be searching for happiness as if it were a collar button that has rolled under the radiator. -W. Beran Wolfe
Friday, September 14, 2007
Several years ago I was introduced to Volksmarching and I love the one I went on. It was held at a local winery on a beautiful day. We strolled through the vineyard and adjacent woods and then enjoyed a barbeque afterwards. The winery was also offering wine tours and samplings.
According to Wickipedia, Volksmarching is from the German word Volksmarsch which means “people’s march”. The Volksports events are people taking walks together. Most of the walks are about 6 miles long and can be on going self guided walks or special events.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
The story of Manny Howard in Brooklyn is about a man who had the aspiration to turn his yard into a farm. I have no plans of going this far but it is interesting.
My Empire of Dirt by Manny Howard
Yes, they have seen Star Wars, the first one. I was concerned about the trash monster and a few other scenes but none of them seemed to bug them. They love it and keep asking to see it. I believe it was the “movie of the month” for August. William calls it either “big little” for the big space station and the little spaceships or “good guy bad guy”.
Tim even found Spud Wars on You Tube which the kids love. A search for “spud wars” will get you over 50 videos of their saga. Some of them are quite smashing.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
I stitched into the night to make sure all three jesters had costumes for this past weekend. Only to awake to find two willing jesters and one bug. My husband and daughter quite happily donned their jester costumes. My husband’s is an assortment of things he has gathered over the years. Hers is her brother’s hand-me-down from the 2005 Balticon Masquerade. He turned down his new one and wanted to wear his bug towel costume. Well it’s not period but why not. Several faire goers congratulated my husband for taming the beast. Others said he had slain a dragon. Whenever the little guy got one of those what is he looks I responded with a warning: "Watch out for the evil wizard. He turned the boy into a bug. Who knows what he’ll turn you into." This usually got a smile, giggle or a “Oh, my”.
The kids seemed to enjoy walking around checking out all of the people and sites. I believe their favorite two were the Aerial Angeles and the pirate ship at the kids’ playground. We did have to drag them way from the pub when the Pyrates Royale were performing. If we weren’t off to meet folks the kids could have easily stayed in one spot to listen to them sing and ‘rrr’ like pyrates often do.
Monday, September 10, 2007
Last Friday the Garden Guy, Mike McGrath, from WTOP mentioned you can plant garlic from organic garlic in your grocery store. It has to be organic since some of the others have been treated not to grow. Just separate the cloves and poke them into the ground. The garlic should be ready to harvest next June. We decided give it a try and I planted a row from two heads of garlic. One was clearly labeled organic from Trader Joes and one we aren’t sure of from Safeway. Now we just need to wait and see what happens.
The rest of the bed was planted with the seeds I picked up from the garden center: Black Seeded Simpson Lettuce, Oak Leaf Lettuce, Detroit Red Beets, and Purple & White Vienna Kohlrabi.
Friday, September 7, 2007
The reports are out and once again the Metropolitan Washington DC area has rated as on of the worst areas for traffic. Considering just Fairfax County has over 1 million people there is no surprise the roads get a bit congested as we all try to get to and from work, school, shopping and visiting. Rush hour is not known for going very fast. BUT if you are prepared you can get around relatively easily. Most employers who can have flexible schedules so you can avoid the ‘rush’ and even have a life outside of working and commuting. Whether you have this option or not there are ways of getting around some congested areas or avoiding backups from accidents and who knows what else.
- WTOP News radio has traffic reports on the ‘8’ as well as information on their website
Cell phone options – (best to have your navigator handle some of this for you)
- 511 SEND free traffic updates
- Tellme - call 1-800-555-TELL (8355), and say, "Driving directions."
- Google Mobile - text GOOGLE (466453), enter your starting address, then to, then your destination, and get free directions via text messaging.
- Google traffic maps - Google maps can be downloaded to your phone or PDA. Having it on my PDA makes it very easy to check where there is congestion on the way to my car.
- Map My Run - Hey if you can map out a good run you can possibly map out a back road route to the office.
Of course if you can there is always public transportation. It may not be the best in the world but the Metro trains and buses can get you most places you want to go.
This week I’ve experience this same type of customer service at Merrifield Garden Center. I’ve always had pleasant experiences at their stores. Every person has been wonderful and very helpful but this week they went over the top. I check the store closest to me for some seeds to plant this fall and only found a few options. Considering I live in Metropolitan Washington DC this doesn’t surprise me. Most of the yards are solid grass or ornamental plants. The farms land has been all turned into a development of one kind or another. What was surprising was when I checked their website and called them the type of service I received for just 4 packs of seeds. Heather took my call with a smile and was so great. I was treated like I was spending hundreds or thousands in stead of $5. She checked the other store to see if the seeds were in stock and then she checked with their garden specialist to see if it was too late to plant them. She called me back with answers the same business day apologizing that she didn’t call back sooner. She set the seeds aside for me and they were waiting for me this morning as promised. The cashier and staff I spoke to this morning were all equally helpful in answering other questions and helping me check out with my handful of seeds. I have to say if I’m every having a bad morning I’m considering stopping by just to say hello and if I ever need anything else for the garden I’m definitely starting there.
In this world where stores have determined that you can find what you need on your own and check yourself out it seems places like the Ritz and Merrifield Garden Center are numbered or at least found a very pleasant niche in their markets.
Thursday, September 6, 2007
Rachel Ray has posted a recipe for Candied Sushi that is wheat-free and could be fun to take to a party. Her recipe is a variation of a crisp rice treat with licorice and dried fruit leather. The photos on her site make it look easy to make and very tasty.
Candied Sushi is actually how I was introduced to NotMartha.com. She has a section of faux foods which includes candied sushi and links to many variations. The one I tried was from USA Rice and called for sushi rice, coconut milk, water, sugar and crystallized ginger. I left off the toasted coconut because of personal preferences. It takes a little practice to make beautiful rolls but no one had any problems helping to eat the messy pieces. This tasty treat can be made a head of time but needs to be eaten within 2 days. If you have sushi lovers with a sweet tooth around this will not be a problem.
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
The Green Life by the Sierra Club posted yesterday some information about the cross-country road trip heading to Farm Aid 2007 which is promoting eating local eco-friendly foods. They had a pie contest in
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
I filled the first box with layers of dirt and fermenting grass trimmings (PEW!). Once it was with in about 2 inches of the top we planted the pansies in the corners and I planted 3 kinds of seeds: Bok Choy, Chinese cabbage and
I lined the second box with a thick layer of news paper to smother the existing weeds and grass. This layer should turn in to wonderful compost after it has done its initial job. I then layered the top soil and clay I’m need moved to install a walkway with more fermented grass trimmings (if you live near a farm that still spreads the fields in the spring you know the smell). While at Home Depot for the additional mulch I picked up bags of play sand which we mixed into the top two layers of soil. The kids thought mixing in the sand was the best part of the project. This bed was completed by pretty pink flowers the kids picked for the corners and 3 packets of carrot seeds. The seeds were sent as fundraisers and are from 2004, 2005, and 2006. I’ve kept them in the refrigerator. I’m not sure how successful they will be. We may have a few carrots for ourselves or we may be taking them to every potluck we go to this fall and winter.
The third box is in position and will probably be next weekend’s project. I may see about getting new seeds for something different or planting more lettuce and cabbage.
I did a little research on fall crops this weekend trying to plan what to put into the new raised beds I’m building. I came across some good news. Pumpkins are a fall crop. (Yes, I’m not a farmer and I’m learning as I go.) I was concerned that I had gotten my little pumpkin sprouts into their garden bed too late and it appears I got them in at the perfect time. So we have a chance of one of these beautiful blossoms turning into a delicious pumpkin.
Last week after testing the watermelons almost daily to see if one would let go of the vine, the kids were thrilled when one came right off in their hands. The look of surprise was followed by wanting to know if that is what it was suppose to do or if they were in trouble. It is just what the little refrigerator size melon was supposed to do. I am glad to report that it was worth waiting for and worth picking the seeds out. It was a wonderfully tasty and juicy melon.
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Disney’s Little Mermaid coloring pages. We also had an underwater scene printed on to cardstock for sand painting and gluing shell pasta.
“Come In” Door hangers: The pattern is from DLT-kids.com printable doorknob hanger. I used a free coloring castle from Lucy Travels. I precut the hangers for the teachers but I left the doorknob opening in place so it would be easier for little hands to color without ripping off the hanger.
Cake: I used a Castle Bundt Pan from Nordic Ware to make the castle. The Betty Crocker yellow cake mix turned a beautiful sandy brown color. You can order bags of single colored M&Ms to fit almost any theme directly from M&M Mars. I ordered three shades of blue for our aquatic theme. A healthy ocean should have a few fish so I stocked ours with a few Swedish Fish. Strangely enough these are easily found at our local Home Depot and they taste so much better then the other gummy type fish. The cake and ocean were arranged on a cardboard soda case covered with heavy duty aluminum foil.
Party favors: The kids’ beach buckets were filled with a princes rubber duck and aquarium sticker sheets from the Oriental Trading Company and a ball from the local dollar store. The Oriental Trading Company site is a favorite for teachers, party throwers and neighborhood carnivals for their assortment of cheap stuff.
Monday, August 27, 2007
Friday, August 24, 2007
I not sure having this shipped from Peru is very green but I do think it is another reason for me to learn how to crochet. I might need to sketch out a pattern for a knitted or quilted variation for the little guy who is sleeping with the lights on because of monsters.
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
This week’s WTOP website of the week is really cool. It is the Foreign Service Institute language courses . This could come in handy for the people know trying to learn Chinese. I could also use it to brush up on my Spanish.
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Monday, August 20, 2007
I love fresh picked tomatoes with just a dash of salt or a dollop of mayo. This past weekend Trader Joe’s was featuring samples of Heritage Tomatoes, Feta Goat Cheese and their balsamic vinaigrette. They have also introduced me to marinated fresh mozzarella cheese with tomatoes and fresh basil which has a bit more spice and heat then using a plain fresh mozzarella.
Friday, August 17, 2007
Back in the 70’s I remember hearing about balloons being removed from the blow holes, lungs, and stomachs of dead whales and other marine mammals. In the past decade there has been a campaign to raise awareness of the choking dangers of latex balloons are to young children. In the hands of a young child they can pop and if swallowed can suffocate the child. A piece lodges in the throat and is nearly impossible to remove weather it be a human child or a whale at sea. The fallen balloons litter our forest, towns, and waters. There are many groups organizing clean ups across the country and trying to put out the word not to litter. Yet the news carries stories of releasing hundreds of pieces of litter… a beautiful memorial but it is all litter once released.
Released balloons threaten air traffic. I’ve been told that the latex balloons and probably the Mylar ones too are a real problem for jet engines and have caused engine failure in mid flight. The good news is most jet planes have multiple jet engines and can usually land with one less. I’ve heard people tell me that balloons don’t go that far. Balloons can travel high and far. During WWII Japan released balloons hoping they would reach the shores of the United States. Several did with one killing a civilian with its cargo.
With all the damage released balloons can do, can we come up with a better substitution to remember our loved ones and be more environmentally and safety conscious?
And to be fair here is a supporter of balloon releases with a set of rules trying make them more environmentally friendly, Outdoor Balloon Releases. To be honest as soon as they mention sending pet ashes up in a balloon, I cringed. The idea of having ashes from a cremated pet falling on me is just totally gross. Then she goes on to recommend “telling” the local airport not asking them so you don’t get tangled up in the red tap. This acknowledges the problem but sort of makes it the ‘pilot’s problem’ not theirs
BalloonRelease.com has information about balloon releases and an alternative of butterflies as well as more scientific information about balloons themselves. The argument that most fully inflated balloons will reach an altitude where they will freeze and burst before falling back down as small ribbons of latex seems to forget that all of those pieces will land somewhere, usually within 5 miles of the release. Considering people don’t want landfills in their back yards, would you really want it to be raining balloon droppings in your yard? Yes, latex balloons are biodegradable. This is a great argument to compost your old balloons. I don’t see it as a reason to release them.
The Balloon Council seems to think that adding only a small percentage of the litter cleaned up off of the beaches isn’t enough to worry about. Hmm, if everyone didn’t contribute a small amount there would be so much less to clean up.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Checking out Wikipedia they don’t mention using olive oil as a cleaner. Chrisjob at curbly.com has a list of 25 Alternate Uses for Olive Oil and pine pitch isn’t listed anywhere.
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Last month they featured Webopedia’s text messaging chat abbreviations. I NEED this site to translate some of the emails and instant messages I get from my ‘younger’ friends and co-workers.
Any one in the GREATER Washington/Baltimore area should check out WTOP online or on the radio. It is a great source of local information including news, traffic, and events. The station goes almost as far as some of the commuters do and there are commuters driving in from Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania.
Friday, August 10, 2007
I’m trying to find new and interesting routes to walk. Between WalkScore.com and
MapMyRun.com I should be able to find new places to walk to and new routes to get there.
As I posted earlier, Walk Score can help you find out how ‘walk able’ a community is and list lots of different kinds of destinations in walking distance such as libraries, stores, restaurants, parks, and more.
Okay so you won’t see me running unless there is something really big and hungry chasing after me but the Map My Run site can be just as useful for walkers and bikers. On the site you can plot out a course on the interactive map. You can adjust your route to get different distances or vary your scenery during your walk, ride, or run. The results can be printed out or downloaded to your GPS. I’m considering leaving a hardcopy of the map for Tim so he knows where I am if I need to be rescued from pop up thunderstorms or surprise blisters.
Thursday, August 9, 2007
I find it absolutely amazing how few people know what is in their food. Listening to people talk about food you would think food was just made up of calories, fat, salt and maybe some fiber. So many are oblivious to the individual ingredients which make up the foods they enjoy so much.
There almost seem to be three types of people when it comes to eating: those who will eat whatever is handy, others are concerned with calories & fat, and still others that care what goes into there food. With these groups it seems two out of three people seem to have no chance to even know what wheat is. I was brought white bread and was told it was 'white not wheat' and this was while I was in a hospital.
For anyone who has a wheat allergy, Celiac, Lupus, or other reason to avoid wheat or gluten here area few helpful websites:
Gluten-Free Girl Fun to read and she has a lot of useful links
Gluten-Free mall If you can't find it at your local store they probably have it
Trader Joe’s is also increasing their gluten-free and wheat-free lines.
Wednesday, August 8, 2007
The garden watch: several of the tomatoes are starting to get a pink blush, the squash and pepper are starting to form fruit and the watermelon is still growing but not quite ready yet.
Tuesday, August 7, 2007
Monday, August 6, 2007
It’s been just over a month since I planted and posted our little garden. In spite of the very dry weather we have been having it is growing even faster then the kids. The tomato plant has some good size green tomatoes and the yellow pepper and yellow squash are showing some signs of fruit developing. But the watermelon is the king of the garden. Not only is it spreading to cover the whole bed but it is the only one the rest of the family is taking any interest in. This comes as no surprise and is the reason I only planted one of each of the others. When the first small watermelon was about the size of a quarter, I dragged the children over to the dirt pile they had been told not to play in for weeks. I explained that it was a baby watermelon and it was going to get bigger and then we would get to eat it. They looked at it and at me in complete disbelief. A few days latter I dragged them over again. This time it had more then doubled in size and their mouths began to water. We now have to check the watermelon every day before and after school to see how much bigger it has gotten. It probably has a week or two more to go before we can take it in side and see if we have watered it enough to get sweet juicy home grown melon.
This past week I finally got the opportunity to plant the pumpkin and watermelon we started from seed in the house. I had gotten 4 little containers of soil and seed from Kmart which fit nicely into a plastic Chinese take out dish. The clear plastic top made a great little green house and the kids thought it was really cool when the seedlings pushed the top off. It may be too late to get pumpkins and watermelon from them but the kids are really having fun watching them grow. They now have a home in the yard around yet another old tree stump. So far the garden locations have been determined by already hard to mow areas around old rotting tree stumps. The first garden covers the area where the ground was sinking from the rotting process and was hard to not get the mower stuck. The second one has a partial stump sticking up and a little sinking too. It actually looks like a cool natural garden feature now it is surrounded by a circle of salvaged bricks and healthy topsoil. And both spots are much easier to mow around.