Monday, September 22, 2008

Bon Voyage Summer

Fair well summer. Even though the sun is setting on your warm sunny days you will stay with us. The memories of green grass and gardens of flowers will warm us through the chill of autumn and the cool winds of winter. The plants you warmed to grow will soon be harvested for meals of thanksgiving. As we leave behind the glow of the barbies we look forward to the glow of ambers on the hearth. Fair well. May we see you again soon.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Sit with Me

Come sit close to me my wiggly one

Come sit with me so we can cuddle

Come sit with me so we can read a story

Come sit so we can read how the prince saves the day

Come sit so we can see how the princess saves the castle

Come sit so we can learn how the grass grows and the world turns

Come sit sow we can hear why the birds sing and frogs croak

Come sit so we can share a moment of quite

Come sit with me before you grown and gone

Come sit with me so I can tell you how special you are

Monday, September 15, 2008

Zucchini Freezing Experiment #2

Hmm, if I can grate zucchini and store it in the freezer for later maybe I can do slices. Well that was the next thoughts which lead to another experiment. I found 3 smaller zucchinis to experiment with. I sliced them into disk and lightly sprayed them with some cooking spray before spreading them out over a cookie sheet. I filled 2 sheets then stacked them. I slipped them into the freezer for a few hours. After they were completely frozen, I placed them into 2 freezer bags which I then put into a larger freezer bag. They looked good and are now in the freezer. Once I finish off the bin full in the refrigerator I’ll test to see how well the taste and texture holds up to freezing without any special blanching or other treatment.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Zucchini Freezing Experiment #1

Zucchini is one of those vegetables that you seem overwhelmed with once they come into season and then they are gone. My gardening neighbor told me she grates and freezes zucchini in 2 cup bags so it is ready for her bread recipes. It sounded simple enough and I have the zucchinis to do it. I picked out three that went undetected until they were super sized. They were perfect size for grating. The 3 filled 4 bags of 2 cups each. I sealed them up in freezer bags after squeezing out all of the air. The 4 individual bags were labeled, smooshed flat and then slipped into another freezer bag before tossing them into the freezer.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Reflections of 9/11


The high blanket of clouds let steams of light cascade through like shimmering waterfalls

Canadian geese announce their passing as they fly in a perfect double V

The air is crisp and cool, refreshing after being washed cleaned by the recent storms

The trees are still clinging to their deep green summer foliage

The fall flowers are in full bloom as living memorials to the summer gone by

It is a day to be grateful for what we have and what we have had

It is a day to remember the sights, sounds and smells of the past

A day to remember the flames and smoke that consumed our innocents

A day to realize our actions and reactions echo through those we know and yet to meet

Today is a day to reach for compassion, respect and peace.


Seven years ago today I drove to work like any other day. Then it was like no other day. Co-workers became family. Family was cherished more then ever. The news flashed with the events in New York. We all raced to the TV to see what had happened. We were misfortunate enough to see the second plane hit the towers. The feelings that went through me were overwhelming. I returned to my desk to answers calls. Yes we were all okay. I stared out my window and suddenly felt like I was just punched hard in the stomach. The wind was knocked out of me and I heard screams and cries. Someone raced by my desk to tell us the tower had collapsed. I knew. I had felt it. Hundred of miles away and I felt them leave this world. In the past I had know when a loved one passed before knowing what had happened. This was the first time it was for people, hundreds of people I didn’t know. Or did I? I stared out of my window contemplating the lost of life, their families, the ripple, the tear it would have on the lives of so many. Then I saw a flash, like some one twisted a large mirror in the sun light. Then there was a white cloud rising. My initial thought was a steam pipe at the Pentagon or Fort Myers had broken. With all of that steam, someone else had to have also lost their life that day…. The beautiful white cloud reached miles into the sky and then turned gray and then black with debris and suet. The huge cloud was a cloud of death that lingered over the Pentagon and the horizon for the rest of the day. It took a week for it to slowly dwindle and release its grip on those below. I watched as helicopters took officials out of the city to somewhere safe. Each one flew over as the radio, delayed for their safety, announced they were taking off. The normally busy skies over head were quite. The constant stream of commuters and visitors in the sky stopped. Our office emptied as people raced home or to find loved ones. The bustling business hub of never ending people and traffic grew silent. To look down on to the streets below and see no one, not a single car or person, just solitary traffic lights changing to pass the time. After hours of watching the building burn on the horizon and calling friends and family to let them know I was okay and to make sure they were too I went home. It was ire driving down completely vacant streets. I worked in a place where there were 80,000 people trying to go home all at once. My usual 20 minute drive took 5 and I passed no one else.

I went home to my then husband who was so upset he was read from head to toe smoking on the porch. He kept repeating he wanted to ‘kill them all’. I asked who. He didn’t know. He just wanted to go kill others in retaliation. Once credit was claimed he knew who his target would be but had no idea how. His rage was now focused and he could do nothing but scream and cry. After a few days I convinced him to go out to eat. I took them to a local Afghani restaurant that we had frequented before. It took a meal talking with the staff that we had talked to before for him to calm down and realize that we, we as a country and to find a more specific target for our retaliation.

There are good hardworking people everywhere and, unfortunately, there are those that would rather destroy what others have worked hard for rather then take responsibility for themselves and work hard to achieve. There are great examples of leaders and humanitarians of nearly very culture and place on this planet we call home. Some came from easy lives and made the decision to be and do better. Some came from very difficult lives with great obstacles to over come whom have achieved greatness striving to make this a better place. No one quite knows why some men become Winston Churchill or Gandhi and others like Hitler. There are ways of raising yourself up that do not put down or destroy others. We were all created to live and share this planet we call home. We need to take care of it and each other. We are all unique and the same. We all have something to contribute, no matter how small or how great. What we do affects those around us. The pebble you drop into the pond of life reflects on you and ripples out to all.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Hawaii: Loco Moco

The influence of my trip to Hawaii this past spring are still surfacing. I called my friend, Mo’i Mo to chat while he was making lunch. He was searching his cupboards for gravy for Loco Mocos. I remember watching him eat one of these unique dishes while I was there. This local combination of white rice, hamburger, egg and brown gravy looked as good as he was describing it to be. As much as my mouth was watering watching him eat it I didn’t dare try it. Traditionally wheat flour is used to thicken commercial and most homemade gravies. Listening to him search for gravy and describe what he was going to make must have gotten to me. As he was making lunch I was trying to decide what to make for dinner (time zones). The kids wouldn’t eat hamburger but they would eat eggs. That’s it! Scrambled eggs and rice for the kids and loco mocos for the adults. Unfortunately I had the same gravy problem as he did, so ours went without. It wasn’t a bad attempt but I think the gravy really adds the mouth watering effect. Next attempt will have to have wheat-free gravy.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Fun Bentos

I think one of my kids favorite lunches is the once a week, or less often, snack bento. The suggested lunch list had cheese and crackers listed. At first I snickered at the idea of packing cheese and cracker for a kids’ lunch but then I thought about it. If the crackers are baked what is the difference between that and a cheese sandwich? I do try to get multi grained crackers and pretzels but they do occasionally get fluffy white Ritz crackers.

Snack bentos usually happen on Friday morning. I just can’t come up with something creative and decide they deserve a treat. My little mice love stick cheese. Throw in some crackers or pretzels, dried or fresh fruit, a veggie and a desert. Yes there is actually a vegetable in that photo and it isn’t a fried tater tot or French fry. There are these wonderful baked pea pods that still have some nutritional value of a ‘real vegetable’, Snapeas. The kids and I love them. I try to make sure they are only an occasional treat since a fresh or canned veggie has so much more to offer.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Prehistoric Bentos

I was getting a bit bored with packing their lunches. It was time to find something new to add to the mix. While shopping at the local grocery store I found this really cute sandwich cutter which makes two dinosaurs and cuts off the crust of the sandwich. I’m not sure why you would want to cut off the yummy crust. My kids will gobble it up with the rest of their sandwich. The price was right and the kids each wanted one. After convincing them we only needed one we brought it home. It cut the bread and cheese quite nicely. The bread was large enough the crust was long skinny mini sandwiches for them to gobble up. The dinosaur cheese sandwiches were a hit. I’m hoping the sandwich cutter will double and a fun cookie cutter shape.

The sandwiches were decorated with fruit leather flower cut outs. I used mini cookie cutters and strips of fruit leather. My daughter though that was the best part of her lunch. My son is still not to sure about any dried fruit. I think he would be happier if I use the cookie cutters for making cookies.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Bento Wipe Boards

I have discovered the super cleanable surface of the kids’ lunch cubes is a great wipe board. I have been writing their names and notes on their boxes with a black sharpie marker. I do have to soak the surface for a short time but it comes right off with a little dish soap and water. It is a really easy way to mark their lunches if they contain any nuts or other allergen another child might need to stay away from. They aren’t supposed to share lunches but if they are seated at different tables it does make lunch less risky. After loosing a bug spork to the trash I have been labeling the boxes with if a spoon, fork, or spork was packed in hopes it helps it come back home. And of course, it is great for writing love notes to my little people.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Zucchini Explosion

It’s happened. The zucchini are trying to make that final stand. Some of the leaves are already turning and withering away and the last of the fruit is all bursting out and racing to get as big as it can as fast as it can. I’ve given a few away and need to start putting some in the freezer. My wonderful gardening neighbor has suggested grating and packing it way in the freezer in 2 cup portions so it is ready to be added to breads and other treats.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Hanna Blew Through

The kids and I played in Hanna's rain for a few hours before having a warm lunch. They splashed in puddles, jumped in the pool, played in the wheel barrow (which filled twice from the rain) and raced around the house. I circled the house to check for possible problems. I cleaned out 2 down spout toughs and dug out the sod past one to guide the water away from the house. I stacked up a few salvaged cement blocks and capped them with a square one for a plant stand I have been meaning to put together on the drive way. I got some work done and the kids had fun. After a warm lunch, we got the kids to their beds for a long nap. We lost power so we ALL took naps. My son came and curled up with me. That is such a good feeling.

Our power just came back on... just over 3 hours of outage. We napped for most of it. Everything else at home seems to be checking out okay.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Bathroom: In Child’s View

I’m trying to raise healthy independent children. At times this is easier said then done. Other times it can be as easy as a trip to the store.

In the bathroom to encourage hand washing I bought a step stool so they could reach the faucet easier. Ours is a The First Years Sit & Store Parent Bathing Seat and Stepstool. This sturdy stool with no slip feet also functions as additional storage in our small bathroom. I have it full of wash cloths for the kids. As the shorter step stool it can hold up to 300 pounds which is more then enough to hold both kids or give me a lift to change the shower curtain. If you turn the lid it is a few inches higher and a nice seat for supervising and helping baths.

Once the kids are high enough to reach the sink the mirror is still out of their reach. I picked up a mirror and foam sticky backs at the local dollar store. I installed it right behind the sink below the existing mirror. It is a the perfect height for the kids to see if they got all of the ice cream or cheese off of their faces or watch themselves brush their teeth.

Friday, September 5, 2008

How I spent my summer vacation: Day 9

We started the day with a walk to the grocery store to get doughnuts. Yup mom was letting the kids have doughnuts but I was going to make them walk the whole 4 blocks to get them. After breakfast of doughnuts and strawberry milk I loaded the kids up in the van to visit their cousins in the country.

I “tortured” the kids and refused to put in a video. They seemed to have a good time checking out what was out side of the van. We spent the 1.5 hour drive there looking for stuff along the road. On highway and in through town we were picking out different color cars, signs, etc. Once we were past town we saw cows, horses, lots of corn and other cool country stuff.

Shortly after we arrived the kids were introduced to the cousin’s dog, cat, gerbil, chinchilla, sheep and guinea hens. They were so busy playing on the swing set and in the pool we never got to see the rest of the critters down in the rabbit hutches and chicken coops. The kids watched as we shucked corn in amazement. For some reason it was more fun to watch there then when I do it at home. After a wonderful lunch and visit we headed back home. Both kids were sound asleep before we made it back to the highway.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

How I spent my summer vacation: Day 8

The kids thought a trip to the local Merrifield Garden Center was as good as going to the park. We went to see what new flowers or vegetable seeds we could bring home. We walked up and down rows of beautiful flowers and plants. The kids thought the cluster of statuary was amazing. They wanted to touch or bring home nearly all the water fountains and bird baths. The variety of stone and cement benches was astonishing. The raised ponds of plants, coy and water features were great. The kids were able to reach and touch the lily pads they have been begging to touch at the parks for the past month. Walking though a place you have been to many times before with small children who have never been there before can open your eyes to how many wondrous things there really are before you.

I came home with 3 pots of flowers and 7 small packets of seeds. We brought home two new flowers to go into the tree stump garden. I thought crocosmia (Emily McKenzie - red and George Davidson - yellow) would complement the tickseed well. Since the petunias were past I picked up a Vanilla Butterfly (pictured on the left) to go into the empty hanging pot.

I decided we would try some burp-less cucumbers and more black seed Simon and oak leaf lettuces. I’m not sure if it is too late for the cucumbers or if we will have a perfect fall for growing more vegetables. The lettuce plants should like the cooler Virginia fall.

The kids picked out 2 packets of morning glories and 2 packets of Caramel Spice Pansies. We planted the morning glories at the base of an old tree. The hope is they will climb up the trunk. We planted the pansies in the watermelon and lettuce beds to add some cheerful color.

I also wanted to get some grass seed. The neighbor with the best looking lawn swears by the Merrifield sun/shad grass seed mix blended for this area. I took two large bags and over an hour of spreading it over the lawn. Now I just have to hope it works as well in my yard as it has in theirs. (I think they may be having the same hopes too.)

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

How I spent my summer vacation: Day 5-7

Believe it or not I went to work on day 5. The kids got to spend the day with their dad shopping. By the time I got home they were ready for a party. To celebrate our little princess turning 3 we had pizza, cake and presents. We had a short guest list of just one grandpa over.

Thanks to hurricane Faye we had a steady welcomed rain on day 6 and 7. August was a bit dry so as much as other areas were dreading Faye ours really needed the rain it brought. Luckily it was also a warm rain. I let the kids play in their kiddie pool while Faye showered them lightly from above.

We also dug through their bins of toys to play with some that were pushed to the back. We also had a few new presents to enjoy since my little princess had a birthday.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

How I spent my summer vacation: Day 4

After 2 days of chores we were ready for some fun. I packed the picnic basket with some snacks and drinks and we were off to the park. We headed for Clemyjontri Park (July 28 blog ) in McLean. Evidently it was a great idea since the park was packed with kids including mini buses from local daycares. We parked in the overflow parking area and found a big tree to have our picnic snack. The kids were thrilled. They kids think picnics are the greatest. We tucked the basket back into the car but held onto our bottles and headed to the park. The kids spent nearly 2 hours climbing all over all the equipment before they enjoyed two rides on the carrousel. They have now picked out their favorite horses. William loves the one with a Roman soldier and sword. Selena loves the one next to it.

It was getting late so we swung by McDonald's to pick up nuggets for the kids and a bunless Big Mac for me. We nibbled on lunch and had about an hour of quite time before we were off again. I was trying to get to Frying Pan Park before 4pm.

We made it to Frying Pan Park (Aug 4 blog ) just before 4. I had enough time to load to tired kids into the stroller and walk over to the dairy barn so they could see the cows get milked and a chance to try it for themselves. There were a pack of kids there. The gentleman brought in two cows with some helpers. He explained how it was all going to work and that each ‘kid’ (big and little) could try to milk the cow after he was done getting most of it with the machine. William was more interested in petting and watching the dairy goat get milked. Both kids petted the goat while the machines were on the cows. When it was the kids turn, Selena wanted to get in line and have a try. William said no. After all the other kids went it was Selena’s turn. She intently listened to the farmer and then gave the cow a quick pinch before she said she was done. After watching his little sister ‘pinch the cow’ William decided he could give it a try. After a few attempts he was able to get a small stream of milk to go into the bucket. He was quite happy with himself. We were then off to check on the baby piglets and other farm critters. We just missed the last wagon ride. We’ll have to go back another trip for one.

4-H was having a horse competition at the park. We watched two rounds of the horses walking and trotting around the ring before heading over to the small playground on site. After a little more climbing and sliding all over playground equipment we went back over to the horse completion. The horses were now going to jump! The kids kept begging to see one more horse to have its turn. We watched 4 or 5 horses attempt the 8 jumps before we headed home for baths and dinner

Monday, September 1, 2008

How I spent my summer vacation: Days 2-3

Day 2:

Okay, day 2 wasn’t as exciting. We were all recovering from the day before. We did some work around the house and the kids played

Day 3:

Today was an adventure in shopping. The kids and I went to 4 stores. Shopping isn’t usually my idea of an adventure but for a 2 and 4 year-old it is FUN. They helped push the carts and get the stuff from the shelves into the cart. Trader Joe’s mascot was hiding in the store so they were trying hard to find it to get a treat from the manager. No luck on this day but they had fun trying. We managed to get most of the things on the list before everyone just needed a quite lunch and a nap. I spent the rest of the day doing laundry and such while the kids napped.