Sunday, July 31, 2011

Summer Days

I need someone to poke me more often about posting here!  Apparently I'm a little busy this summer, so that when I sit down at the computer, this isn't the first place I head.  Boo!

Summer is in full swing.  It's SO awesome to have my husband and kids home all the time.  During the school year, as a stay at home mom, getting away from the kids is something I have to actively seek, or else  I start talking in my mommy voice 24/7 and forgetting what its like to have an adult conversation.  Or what silence sounds like.  But John, being the awesome person he is, has totally stepped up this vacation.  He lets me sleep in.  He takes the kids out without me.  It's like...omg, is this a vacation??  I have to thank him publicly for being such an understanding and supportive husband.

From one of my first harvests!
This has been a great summer.  I have a lovely garden, full of tomatoes, zucchini, corn, peppers, and squash.  It's been quite the bounty, and I never knew that zucchini could get so big!  We just yesterday enjoyed our first corn.  It's very cool to just go out, pick off a few ears right off the stalk, shuck it, and cook it.  And I still have some beautiful cabbages growing, onions, shallots, potatoes and pumpkins.  My everbearing strawberries have also grown quite a few runners, so I will hopefully have a nice sized Fall harvest.  Enough to make up for the lack of blueberry and apple harvests.

The best thing about my garden so far has been its self care.  Is it bad to admit I've barely worked in it?  I've spent more time in our little pool than I have in the garden. Of course, my weeds almost took over at one point...

August is now here, and that of course means only a few more weeks of "vacation".  I totally plan to continue to enjoy the next few weeks.  There's a trip to Boston/Connecticut in there, more swimming, and lots of summer sun.  Hope everyone else is enjoying their summer!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Silly little dining room dream

Now, we all know I'm a huge geek, with a bit of a Japanese decor fetish.  Ok, maybe you didn't know that, but now you do.  I'm planning my dining room, and I really would love to do a Japanese inspired dining room.
I really hate wearing shoes indoors.  I find it a bit gross, even shoes that aren't "worn" outdoors.  Of course, I don't really find walking bare foot outdoors to be gross...but you'd know if you walked on poop or had dirty feet.  It's a total shoe bias.  If you come into my house, please...take your shoes off.  Which is why I'd LOVE a tatami floor.  Without sounding like a complete jerk, I can be like NO SHOES ON THE TATAMI FLOOR.

Then there is the low table.  If I got one of these, I'd never have guests.  Who wants to sit on the floor to eat a meal?  No one who comes over to dinner.  I think my mom would disown me.  Or at least never come over for dinner.  But it seems so relaxing and comfortable.  Sit on a big pillow, drink tea, slurp noodles!  I wonder if they sell a low table that can be raised...

It won't happen, but man, I'd do it if I could.  It would be so unique (at least around here, right?)

I give you permission to poke fun at me!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Strawberry Summer

Summer definitely feels like it is in full swing.  The temperatures are in the 80's with the weather being either being sunny or thunderstorms.  The kids seem to live in their bathing suits, and I seem to move between the pool and the central air.  Life is almost peaceful, or at least as peaceful as it gets with a 2 year old and a 4 year old.

I forgot to take pictures!
We went strawberry picking last week, since my strawberries aren't going to make it this year.  It's always a delicious experience, even though the kids ate more berries then they picked.  I tried my hand at making preserves, and it was only a partial success.  The end results were a bit more liquidy than I wanted, though it solidified in the fridge.  It also meant I had to try my hand at canning...which absolutely terrifies me to be honest.  I'd love to give some of these preserves away but I'm scared that people will open them and find mold growing on the top because I did something wrong.

We also made plenty of strawberry shortcake.  I like mine with angel food cake and whipped cream!  And my dirty secret is that I hardly ever use sugar when I use freshly picked berries.  They are so ripe that upon slicing and sitting overnight, there is plenty of strawberry goodness liquid that sugar isn't needed.  I love it so much!

For the Fourth, I made a Strawberry-Rhubarb pie, and it was absolutely delicious!  It was a normal pie, except I cut out stars for the top of the crust instead of lattice.  It was quite cute.  I wish I had gotten a picture.  :(

9” pie crust plus extra crust for making lattice or cutting out stars
2 cups strawberries, hulled and sliced
4 cups rhubarb, sliced
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
2 TB cornstarch

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Clean and slice fruit and combine in large bowl.
Add sugar, cornstarch and flour to fruit and stir to mix. Let the fruit mixture sit for about 10 minutes so the juices release. Pour the filling evenly into the crust.  You can put on a top, lattice it or cut out stars and place them around the pie.  I usually cover a good chunk of the filling, though I never overlap the stars.

Bake for 10 minutes at 425, then lower heat to 325 and bake for an additional 30-40 minutes.

Very easy, and very delicious!  I still have a few more berries left.  I might make a strawberry bread if I get a chance (no flour in the hose right now).  If I were really brave, I'd make Strawberry Wine!