Friday, May 29, 2009

Strange Revelation: I'm turning into... MOM! Oh my! I've noticed other little pieces of my mom surface in my behavior over the years but just this morning after looking through my pictures it dawned on me that these two food photos say it all. My mom was the queen of dessert concoctions. When I was young, I cannot remember a meal without dessert. It was the moment we all waited for and as children, our motivation for eating the main meal. Mom baked quite a bit and we often had her goodies for dessert but when that ran out she would just gather a few ingredients, throw them in a pretty parfait glass and say, "here's dessert!" Usually it consisted of some sort of fruit and whipped cream, or a few leftover chocolate chips, pudding, and who knows what else. All I can remember was that we always ate and enjoyed our dessert. Sometimes we even made a game out of guessing what she had thrown together.
So, as I'm looking through pictures this morning I see these two food combinations. Both were things I had simply thrown together as a means of pleasing my three children...hmmm am I really destined to be my mom?!!??

Ritz crackers with peanut butter topped with good old cracker jacks!

Marshmallows melted in the microwave for 10 seconds then topped with pretzels.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Weekend Photos- This is why I don't get much done in the yard!

The kids and I found this frog while getting water for the rubber tree plant that is still sitting outside. S just giggled while trying to catch this little guy. He's a lot faster and can jump farther than the toads we usually find. I'm happy to say that finally at my age I know the difference between a frog and a toad. I always thought they were the same...uh no!
Baby bird update: The last egg still has not hatched...and probably won't?
I made too much noise and all 5 mouths were squawking up at me at the same time. Sounded a bit like my kids when they are hungry.
I am not afraid of bees. I love bees!

This bug was just motoring through the dirt. I spent way too much time photographing him. The kids said, "Mom? What are you DOING?" Silly mom laying on the ground watching a lady bug.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Garden challenges (before-after)

A few weeks ago I posted a picture of some work I had done for my vegetable garden. After spending some time watching the sun I realized that the spot remained in the shade for most of the morning and than again in the late afternoon. So I gave up for a week and helped D haul stones from up the hill in the back of the house down to the street for his landscaping project. This week we decided to clean up the area near the driveway and use that as my garden.
We used leftover paving stones from the project two summers ago.
Most of the hill is mulched trees from when we built the house 3 years ago. I threw in some sand from the sandbox and half a bag of dirt that I had.
The area is so rocky in part because of the gravel that got pushed halfway down the hill from the blacktop job and the rest is just nature. After searching the property for better dirt and even taking the wheelbarrow into the woods in search of dirt I surrendered and bought 8 bags of topsoil and two bags of fertilized dirt in which I surrounded my first 5 plants.
Here's my favorite tomato plant. Grow baby grow!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Let's fry some plantains!

Two weeks ago I bought some plantains for a class demonstration. They sat on the counter in my classroom for several weeks to ripen. It was the perfect opportunity to talk about this fruit and the different ways to prepare them. If you prepare them "green" it is a bland/starchy food much like a potato. And as you probably already know starch turns to sugar (yum) as they ripen. The ones above are about a day or two blacker than I usually prepare them but we were unable to use the kitchen before yesterday.
We talked about the difference between a banana and a plantain. Do you know the difference?
Peeling them can be somewhat of a problem. The peel does not always come away cleanly. I was so busy helping my students that I didn't get a picture. Growing up with a Jamaican background, my mother always cut them in small pieces. During my two visits to Costa Rica I noticed that some people cut them lengthwise.
We fried them in olive oil.
These are ready to eat. All but one of my 8 students liked them. They were thrilled to share the experience with others and asked if they could deliver them to other classrooms. I was shocked as to how many adults (other teachers) refused to taste them or turned their nose up. If you have never had one they have a slight banana/ sweet potato taste. I don't would have to try them and find out what you are missing! Would you? Could them?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Baby Birds on the Horizon

Yesterday evening all three kids came running into the house proclaiming that baby chicks had been born. So I go out onto the deck and peep through the cracks of the deck to discover 4 baby birds and one white egg in a nest. I think my camera did pretty well focusing through such a small space.
The front deck is a great place to sit. You can see the horizon for 180. This is looking to the right. Northeast maybe? I don't know...I guess I'm not "straight" as D's grandma would call it.
This is straight ahead...and unfortunately you cannot see the beautiful quilted pattern of the landscape. Oftentimes hot air balloons can be seen from this view.
This is looking to the left...I know this is west because the sunsets from this view are stunning.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Weekend Photos

When I first spot a morel my heart does a little dance and then I stand very still and look away from it. I look away in search of others in the area before I rush to the scene. Here is a picture of where I was standing when I spotted a morel a few yards away.
Enchiladas with morels. (Well, only the four in the back have morels because 2.5/5 of the family won't eat them.) P will eat them in very small quantity.
I took bunches of pictures while I was in the woods. I liked this one the best.While at M and P's soccer game yesterday, S and his "girlfriend" M o were just hanging out on the bleachers having one of those 3 year old conversations.
This was even cuter in person because the dog was resting her chin on S's sock. Do dogs have chins?

Friday, May 15, 2009

Dumpster Dive! (edited)

The other day on the way home from work I spotted this plant sitting in the street in front of someone's house. "Stop the car! Get that plant!" I yelled to D. The three kids in the backseat asked, "what? what mom?" D was like..."are you serious?" I was most definitely serious. Heck, many many years ago we outfitted most of my apartment by diving into people's garbage after hours.
So, we have matured over the years because D actually went and knocked on the door to ask permission. Nobody was home. We took the plant. These aren't the best pictures but you can probably tell that it is a rubber tree. It was in desperate need of water so I watered it. It also needed to be put back into its pot. Whoever threw it to the curb did so in a way that the pot was laying next to the tree. I also plan to replace the metal pipe to a wooden stake. I have plenty of brush on the back hill I can use. So, what would you have done? Would you have stopped to save a plant?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Garden Beginnings

This is where I have decided to put my garden. It's right on the edge of the hill in the front of the house. Saturday I dug out most of the weeds and pulled the biggest rocks out of the area. I worked over an hour with what looks like little progress.

The neighbors had some extra ties which I set down in the general area that I want them. This is still a work in progress. I think I the bed will need to be higher towards in the back because of the slope of the hill. I also want to remove more dirt because it is so terribly rocky. I need to buy some dirt and I also plan to find some rock free dirt in the nearby woods. My goal for this year is to buy some tomato plants to put here. I really enjoy this kind of work...

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Long Lost Photos

A few weeks ago I was moving my photo folders from my laptop to the server here at work. To make a long story short...I lost all my folders containing hundreds of photos. I was not happy about the loss but I quickly shook it off...what could I do? This blog is a constant reminder for me to move from here...forward...not dwell on the past...and be thankful daily for everything around me. It is not always easy for me to do. Anyway, this is a photo a took recently that reminds me of a favorite photo that I took in Costa Rica last summer.

Monday, May 11, 2009


I grew up in the suburbs of Cleveland. I wouldn't eat mushrooms for a long time after my brother told me, (while eating mushroom soup), that mushrooms were a fungus...just like that white stuff you find on sticks outside. Ewwww.

I had never heard of morels until moving to Illinois when in the spring everyone has a story of how many hours they spent hunting for mushrooms and how many pounds they found.

Two years ago I ate my first morel. It was sauteed in butter and I immediately fell in love. I love mushrooms!

So, this year I made it my goal to hunt for my own. I went out on Saturday with a seasoned hunter and after two hours and 4 stops we didn't find any.

Sunday morning (happy mother's day) I slipped out of the house at 7:30 in the morning and walked down into the woods beside my house. I was determined. When my eye spotted this group it sunk in excitement. There were 2 more just beside them.

I was taught to look under or around dying elm trees. But this huge morel was just laying in some thick weeds and ground cover. I found several more in the same area.

I soaked them for a few hours in salt water and then set them out to dry for a while. Here is the lot of them!

I made spaghetti for dinner and sauteed half of them. M, P, and I loved them. S is much like his father in that he will NOT eat a mushroom. Oh well, more for the girls!

Friday, May 8, 2009

What's wrong with these pants?

When it comes to my children and clothing I choose not to fight. I don't really care what they wear as long as they are dressed when they leave the house. They do have a few church outfits which I have asked them not to wear when they play. I will make suggestions when it comes to clothing but I decided a long time ago not to argue. P who is 5 has always had a style of her own. Last summer she wore the same jeans and shirt all summer long. We bought her new jeans which she wore every day for 3 months until she burned a hole in the knee. I turned them into cut offs and bought her a new pair which she continues to wear. Now that the weather is warmer, her clothes stink after one day. I have refused to let her wear stinky clothes and have asked her to find something else until I do the laundry. Everyday I have laid out these cute pink jeans and every morning she tells me, "throw them away I don't like pink jeans."

After tears of "I don't know what to wear" she finally came downstairs with this. I don't know why this was so funny to me this morning because she always layers her clothes. This really isn't a new look for her. I think what struck me was the combination of colors which don't show up very well in this photo. Her black "funeral pants", brown shoes, and a wool skirt...For me personally, I would have worn the pink jeans with the pink top.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Parenting Joys

1:30 am

Daughter #1

"Mom, I think I'm going to throw up."

"Ok, well go into the bathroom."

"Over the potty, bend down over the potty...keep your face over the potty, it's are going to be you have a fever? Do you think you ate too much last night? Here rinse your mouth. All done? Do you feel better? Are you going to throw up again?"

"Do I have to stay home from school tomorrow?"

"Well, we will see how you feel tomorrow."

"I think I ate too much last night. Yeah, I'm done. I feel better. No."

"Ok, here's a bucket. I'll leave it here on the floor. Call me if you feel sick again and I'll come upstairs. Don't try to come downstairs, ok? Ok, goodnight."

1:50 am

Daughter #2

"I'm scared."

"Of what?"

"My closet."

2:15 am

Daughter #2

"I have to go potty."

"Ok, I'll walk you back upstairs and you can use your own potty."

"Why are there freckles in the water mom?"

"Well, uh, I haven't cleaned it in awhile...come on, back to bed."

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

If I were a flower...

I would be a tulip...Just look at this one and you will know why! Wow!! Sexy huh? And I would have a long distance relationship with a big ole honkin' magnolia! Comments anyone?

Monday, May 4, 2009

Landscape projects...

I've mentioned our unlandscaped yard on a hill in previous posts. It really is just an open palette right now. D has been combing the property for rocks to hold back the hill. Here is just a portion of the progress. The plan is to seed on the street side of the wall and enjoy the weeds on the upper half again this year. Some day we will plant something above. Too bad we don't live a few miles closer to the city. We were rejected from the landscaping shows on HGTV for being too far away.
I just keep reminding myself of the natural beauty that resides on the property.
These are apple blossoms. The tree is a scrawny little thing that sits on the edge of the fence line. It was hurt when the bulldozers cleared the land. Last year it bore 6 apples.
I love all of these. And thankfully we have an excuse to keep our "socially unacceptable" weeds for yet another year!
I love the shadow on this one. Lovely little weed!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Calling All Fairies!!! What do you do with the tooth?

I once read a children's book explaining the customs that differing cultures have for dealing with a lost tooth. Many cultures have a rat that visits, takes the tooth, and leaves something behind in return. But, the one that I liked the best, maybe because I have a simple and scrooge-like personality, was simply throwing the tooth on the roof of the house as "good luck."

So, M lost another tooth last night. She was extremely proud of herself and excited to let me photograph her moment. We had a nostalgic minute, (I did at least), as I reminded her of how proud I was when that tooth began to bud 7 years ago...and now it was being replaced...

I helped her arrange the tooth (for easy removal) under her pillow and put her to bed. I won't go into details but it wasn't my best work. After several botched attempts, the exchange was complete and I was left with the tooth, and the question of what to do with it. The last tooth I threw off the deck and it landed in the sand. I thought of the book and the many cultures that shared the idea of throwing it on the roof. D told me to "put it in the cupboard above your toilet." Uh, that would be the one with the feminine products. I guess it's as good as any other until later today when I throw it back to the earth. I guess that's just another reason to be thankful that we live on a huge wide open unlandscaped hill.

So, what do YOU do with the tooth?