Thursday, July 29, 2010

Now we have TWO teenagers in the house!

Happy 13th birthday to our sweet Kyle!







(He made that cake from start to finish all by himself!)



Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Going Green (again!)

When we lived in Houston recycling was easy. You were furnished a great big 'ol bin for free and once a week the waste management company would come to your curbside to pick everything up. It was really nice and convenient!
When we moved to Wharton, however, I couldn't find a recycling bin much less anyone to take anything recyclable. I worked in Bay City at the time and there was a small center there. So weekly I'd load up the van and drop off our trash before or after work...it was a small pain in the backside!


When I stopped working in Bay City our newspapers and plastic bottles piled up. We'd take them when we could, but that was not often. I felt so guilty for taking them to the curbside for regular trash pickup.


I was really disheartened that our small town didn't have a recycling center! I'm not an environmental hippie, a tree hugger, or the trash police, but in this day in age it is the responsible thing to do! I was beginning to wonder if anyone around these parts even knew what recycling was! I was on the verge of writing the city manager a letter when I happened to drive by the Public Works Dept. of our town one day.


Sitting there behind a chain linked fence were rows and rows of bins for every recyclable known to man (even hazardous chemicals!) Apparently they'd been there since the dawn of time and I had driven by them almost every. single. day. since we moved here four years ago!

I think my brain might need recycling.


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Danny makes a galette

Danny and Kyle have always loved to help out in the kitchen, I call them my little sous-chefs! Our fig tree is busting at the branches with ripe fruit, so one day I showed Danny how to make a galette. It's super easy but looks so rustic and elegant...like you've been slaving away on it all day!

You'll need roughly four cups of ripe fruit. Any fruit will do, just make sure it is chopped fairly small. Danny likes to cut the "hats" off of the figs, then he quarters them.

And yes, I DO let my five year old wield a sharp knife!

Mix your cut fruit with 2T. sugar and 1T. flour. We also add some lemon zest and juice ~ lemons and figs taste wonderfully together! Roll out a prepared pie crust (or make your own) on a piece of floured parchment paper.
Pour fruit into the center of the dough leaving about a two inch path around the fruit.

Fold the edges of the dough up and over the fruit.

And glaze the crust with a little egg wash and sprinkled sugar.

Bake crust at 375 degrees for about 35 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and fruit is bubbly. Sorry I don't have any pictures of the finished galette...we had a pint of vanilla Blue Bell waiting for this to come out of the oven and it was demolished in about 7.3 seconds flat!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Geocaching

Geocaching is basically a high tech 'Hide and Seek' game using your GPS system and accessing a geocaching website like www.geocaching.com. There you will find coordinates (in latitude and longitude form) for sites all over the world where someone has left a little treasure for you to find! You can narrow the hunt down to your zip code or plot a trip far beyond those limits if you like.

And let me tell you, it is soooo fun!

There were LOTS of places in and around Wharton to explore, so I copied some coordinates and told the boys we were going on a treasure hunt!

The first place we were lead to was our town's cemetery. We hunted and hunted but couldn't find the cache. It was a little weird looking around in a cemetery and we soon abandoned the hunt. It felt like we were somehow being disrespectful to the dead, so we prayed a 'Hail Mary' for the souls there and left for our next destination.

Our second destination was also in town. We scoured and hunted and eventually John Paul came running from a clump of bushes yelling, "I found it! I found it!"

We huddled around as Kyle unlocked the box, it was really exciting! The boys DOVE into the box and found small treasures, Doug got the log book and thumbed through it - there must have been at least fifty people before us that had signed it. It was really cool to read all the notes left by others as well as the letter left by the person that had originally hid the cache.


The box was full of goodies and the boys took: a gold Matchbox car, a Kidz Bop CD, and a hackie sack. The rules of the game are that if you take something from the cache you must leave something in it's place. The boys came prepared and left a marble, a Lego man, and some sea shells.


We locked the box up tight and JP took it back to where he found it.

Our last destination was a small town about ten minutes down the road. Ryan's eagle eye spotted this small cache in the crack of some rocks.


No treats were inside this cache, but there was a LONG list of folks that had been there! We wrote in our name and the date and placed it back among the rocks.



Besides getting coordinates from Geocaching.com you can also track the trinkets you leave behind, make your own geocaches for others to find, and read great stories about geocaching from around the world! It's free to sign up and the app is free for your iPhone.
So get outside and start exploring!
You might even find treasure in your own back yard!


Saturday, July 24, 2010

There isn't enough Febreeze on the planet....

Just doing a little early Saturday morning cleaning and found Kyle's gym bag from sports camp this week...

(conveniently hidden under the desk)


Be thankful that computers don't have 'Smell-O-Vision'!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Meatless Fridays

Quinoa is the perfect grain. It contains all eight amino acids and is a complete protein. This meal is light and healthy and perfect for summer time. It's a delicious meal for a picnic because it can be served at room temperature (and doesn't contain mayo or dairy).
This week's Meatless Friday meal is:


Quinoa Salad




1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced
2 medium-large tomatoes, finely chopped
1 can of corn
1 jalapeƱo pepper, seeded and diced
1 can of chickpeas
1/2 cup scallions, thinly sliced
2/3 cup parsley — minced
1/3 cup fresh mint — minced
1 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted, and diced

Cook and drain quinoa as directed on package and allow to cool. Add vegetables. Top with your favorite vinaigrette.



Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Grow your own celery from a cutting!

I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it!
Want to grow your own celery but don't want to wait weeks for seeds to grow? Next time you go to the store to buy celery, use the cut end to grow your own!


Once you cut the root end of the celery, soak it in warm water for 1-2 days:

Next, plant the root about half way in some rich composted soil
(celery is a big feeder!) and keep soil moist.

Here is my celery root after one week,
see the spouts coming up from the middle?



And here it is after two weeks~
Bright green and healthy stalks shooting up from the cut root!


I really had no idea this was possible,
but now it's got me wondering what else will grow!


Hmmmm...


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

DIY Potter's Bench~FREE!

Our local hardware store throws their used wooden pallets in a pile for the public to take for free. We scavenge this pile often for free wood for projects like my compost bin, or in this case, a potter's bench for my garden!

All you need is two pallets, some nails, and a saw for this project:

I enlisted my free slave laborer (i.e. teenaged son) to cut one of the pallets in half:


You'll need to rip off the supporting wood from the second pallet for the legs of your bench. Cut your four supports to equal lengths and secure to the cut pieces of your pallet to make a table:

And voila! A pretty AND pretty practical piece of furniture for your garden!


Don't throw away the top part of the pallet you used for the legs of your bench. You can screw in some hooks and use it to hang baskets, sprinklers, or tools:


Thanks, Kyle!
I love it!
(I always knew teenage boys were good for something!)


For more tips from the garden, hop on over to
An Oregon Cottage ~ Tuesday Garden Party

Monday, July 19, 2010

Should I be concerned...

...that when my boys play
they only want to be the bad guys?

Friday, July 16, 2010

Meatless Fridays

We seriously love this week's meatless meal! We eat it quite often. It is light, refreshing, and healthy, the perfect summertime meal. Make a batch of homemade whole wheat tortillas and enjoy!

This week's Meatless Friday meal is:

Fish Tacos



We use tilapia fillets because they are light and flaky (and not real fishy tasting). You can grill or cook under the broiler using any variety of seasonings and herbs. Fill your tortillas with shredded fish, lettuce, avocado, and pico de gallo. If fresh fish is unavailable in your area, frozen fish fillets work well, too! The batter crunch of the fish is a nice texture contrast with the fresh veggies and warm tortilla.