Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Wild Grapes

The part of gardening I like best is taking care of the produce. I haven't done much of it this year, as the heat really bothered me, and when we do go outside, we spend most of our time outside finding Zane after he runs off to some place that is taller than he is, instead of getting quality picking time.   He also would much rather play in the water while we are in the kitchen, or as soon as I'm distracted doing something that takes a little bit of brain power he has gone into the bathroom and squeezed all the clearisil on the bathroom rug, which will never be the same again, thank you very much.

So, because of not paying attention to the garden, I am able to produce large cucumbers which make very nice cinnamon pickles.   I don't like them very much, but some people I like very much, like these pickles very much.

So, to make them, I peel the cukes, cut them in half, and take the seeds out.

Then they are soaked in a lime and water mixture for a couple of hours, then washed and drained.

And after boiling sugar and vinegar and red hots, and cinnamon sticks, draining and boiling again for four days, you get....


And these are a bonus, because we didn't plant them.  In fact, the grape vine these came from is growing all over through and around a very nice pine tree that has died from the current pine tree disease, (a fungus, I think).  We didn't know there was so much grape vine in there until it died.  Now we have to decide if we want a 25 ft. tall grape vine trellis or cut them both down.

The green part is the grape vine.  I wish we could get more of the grapes, but I'm not climbing that tree.

I picked all the grapes I could reach,

washed and cooked them,

added half as much sugar as juice, and it was good.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Picture Perfect

Grandchildren are special creatures.  They come along when (hopefully?) age and wisdom have been achieved. 

Well, at least I know a little bit more than I did 18 years ago, anyway.

And my stock of patience is well..... stocked.  I don't think I used very much on my own kids.

I mean, who else but a gramma, will get up from the computer every five minutes to be led to go downstairs, or get a drink, or find a toy, or play a game.  I wouldn't want to get up to actually WORK, would I?  I do have to go downstairs and get him off the air hockey table, too, I see.  He can get up, but he can't get down. 

Luckily, going downstairs can involve getting something for supper which he is very willing to help carry upstairs or putting laundry in and out of the washer and dryer.

Too bad he doesn't know the difference between clean and dirty clothes, or even wet or dry ones, or perhaps he doesn't care.  He loses interest about half way through and wants to spend his time hooting in whatever machine needs taken care of first.

He loves to get things out of the fridge, but orange juice and syrup are not options anymore.

He loves to carry things around, like Jim's lunch box, and my clothespin basket.  When we go outside to hang clothes on the line, HE has to carry that basket, not me. Today it was so nice out, it was good to be out in the breezy cooler weather. Zane handed me the clothespins and joyfully ran under the sheets. 

It just makes my heart hurt to watch the next generation enjoying the outside, doing the same things mine have done.  It does my heart good to watch him being so willingly helpful.  Kids this age want to help SO much, and I'm learning to work when I can so I can be patient when he wants to 'help'.
After the sheets were dry and smelling nice, he decided to help me put them on.  However, his help consists of grabbing the only corner of the bottom sheet not tucked in and crawling under and "ny-ny" on the pillow.  I finally gave up and went back to finish later. 

During that episode I changed his diaper and left it on the floor, so when he WAS done messing up my bed, he saw it, made some unintelligible comment and took it to the trash. 
This is the age they want to be like the adults in their lives, to do what we do, and may I be willing to let him explore and learn in a nurturing environment...

except the fridge...and the toilet.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Zane--Right Now

I'm not seeing Zane as often now that school is starting and Lorene isn't.  She finished her CNA class and passed and is now looking for a job while still working a little at Applebee's so I'm getting a much needed respite from that last very hectic month of her trying to fit it all in.

So, it is nice to see him when he does come.  I've had a chance to get caught up around the house, to get the dishes and laundry and daily cleaning caught up, to get some ORDER back in my life.  I'm discovering I like order.  Actually I think I liked it all the time, because when it gets so far OUT OF ORDER with that really bad three years when we had grandpa and three little kids, I never felt able or willing to get things done. 

Lucky for me, we had Bible Study every three weeks, so I always had to be picking things up and cleaning so it never got TOO bad around here. Eventually, I got in the habit of tidying up enough to vacuum on Wednesdays every week.  I planned better for meals, but I still am terrible about leaving dishes around over night and not getting them cleaned up. 

I am a lark rather than a night owl, and after 9 pm my brain shuts down.  I tell my kids if they want to tell me anything important it has to be done before then, because I'm off the clock. However, if I have tea in the afternoon and don't eat too much for supper, I can stay up, and on those days the kitchen is cleaner.

So, what does that have to do with Zane? I'm not really sure, except I'm under the impression that we are made with an "order" gene that self destructs at about age 2 depending on the development and activity of said child, and sometimes regenerates at a later period of life depending on the number and activity of the children, lifestyle and how soon grandchildren come along.  It also depends on the husband, but we won't go there.

This post will be too long.  It probably is already.

So, back to Zane.  One of the very loveliest things about this toddler, who is 19 months old right now, is that if he generates trash like by eating a piece of candy (shhh, he only gets one a day from me after he has his fluoride drops), he puts it right away in the trash can.  And then today, he wanted "num num" from the fridge and got out the syrup.  I didn't have any pancakes left over so I was going to make him french toast, as soon as he saw the bread, he got out the miracle whip instead, so he had a sandwich.  But, before I gave it to him, he grabbed the syrup to put it away in the fridge!! This isn't the first time he's done things like this.  I just wish it would last.

Just think, if everyone put things away as soon as they were done with them, how much easier life would be. 

Hey, you!!! Quit sucking on the mustard bottle!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Did you know?

That some 18 month olds can screw off the tops of honey bears AND remove the protective plastic cover on the inside?

And make a really huge enormous mess with it?

I really didn't think he could get it open so I wasn't paying any attention to him. 

So, I didn't make any granola that day.

I need to remember that there is a very good chance that he can get anything open, climb anything, move anything, eat anything, and I'm just waiting until he starts sticking smaller things in his ears, than the fork at last night's supper.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Back to School

School is starting again.  I like having my kids home in the summer; I like having them in school.  I like the "days off" of summer; I like the routine of school.  I don't like that we still are busy whatever the season and they are crabby at times, too.

So... here is my baby off to high school.  She looks pretty excited.  I should take a picture when she gets home today. 

I should be sorrier than I am that the youngest of my kids is getting so close to growing up, but I'm too busy enjoying this free time to blog since I've been too busy for a couple weeks.

Plus, I've been too busy to even pay attention to my emotions.  And it isn't hard to watch Lynette grow up since she's growing up into a very sweet, very nice, very enjoyable young (cough...choke... sniff... oh sorry) woman.

Here they go....

And this is the MOST exciting part, I don't have to DRIVE them anymore, yay, hooray...I'm jumping up and down here!!!

So, I'm celebrating by not even going into the office to work.

And this is the closest I get to a picture of my son on the first day of school.

Gooseberries--For the Very First Time

Oops, I guess it isn't the first time I've ever played with gooseberries.  I've forgotten the first time I made a gooseberry pie. 

If you had eaten it, you wouldn't have wanted to remember it either.  It was one of the worst things I've ever tasted.  Someone, since I can't remember who right now, who will forever live in unnamed infamy gave me a bag of frozen very green gooseberries.  I made a pie.  It was horrible.  It wasn't edible.  Well, I mean it COULD be eaten, but nobody wanted to.

So, when a very dear friend gave me a gallon zip-loc bag of mixed colors of gooseberries, I decided to try again.  Especially after I ate one and it tasted good. I figured if they were good enough to eat out of hand, they ought to make a good pie. 

So, first I went googling for information to clean, prepare and cook them.  I found several very nice websites and learned the easiest way to top and tail gooseberries is with my fingernails. I messaged my friend for her pie recipe,

Blue Goose Pie

2 cups gooseberries
2 cups fresh or frozen blue berries
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/8tsp salt

Using my favorite pie crust, I made a 4" pie with gooseberries alone, and this Blue Goose pie.  I liked the one with just gooseberries, I made sure to use the darkest berries.  The Blue Goose pie was better the second day and I used the darkest berries there, too.

I froze two cups of the darker berries to use later and used the rest to make gooseberry jam.  I didn't use pectin since some of the information I found said that green gooseberries have lots of pectin in them.  So, I took all the greener ones, There were some pink ones in the batch, added a very little water, (I only had about two cups of berries) and cooked them until soft.  After running them through the sieve, I added as much sugar as juice, and boiled them until it "sheets off the spoon" as my mom says.  It didn't go quite like a remembered, but when two big drops ran together and dropped slowly off the spoon, I put a little on a plate I had in the freezer, and it set up, so I called it good and put it in two little jars. 

I rather like it.  It has a little tartness reminiscent of chokecherries, but since I like choke cherries. I like this too.