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I spent several hours over the past few days getting the garden ready for fall. I pulled up the tomatoes, culling a few gallons of green tomatoes before tossing the rest into the compost. I cut back our ferociously aggressive fennel. Our compost pile now smells of licorice. I pulled up a small mountain’s worth of purple morning glory… when John realized I’d planted it last spring, he was baffled: why would I do that on purpose? Yeah, I know, it covers everything. But it’s so pretty, and I’ll be the one to weed it out… for the next three years or so. We’ve still got some basil to salvage for one last batch of pesto, but I better hurry up: this morning I dashed to dump the compost out in bare feet, and discovered we’d had our first frost. The sweet potatoes are done for as well– the leaves started to blacken today, so it’s time to dig them all up.
It’s not all pulling up and weeding out: I put in some mixed greens from the farmer’s market on Sunday, and planted a few more spinach, lettuce, carrot and beet seeds as well. I doubt we’ll get much of a root crop planting this late, but the seeds I planted in late summer have finally germinated, so we might get a few more small ones before a hard freeze hits.
Then we’ll be living off frozen tomatoes and pesto. Up soon: a marinara party to turn all the frozen tomatoes into sauce.
Can I post daily for a month? Or more accurately, daily for public consumption, rather than my standard work notes or morning pages? We’ll see. Today I’m posting from the iPhone, so rather than profound, I’ll leave you with a quote from H, when helping read a naptime library book: thinking is QUIET. playing is LOUD. slippers are QUIET. Mama’s shoes are… WHOA-y.
Get out the food processor and toss in all the veggies leftover from the week, until it is full. Last night we used 1 zucchini, 1 cored red bell pepper, several carrots, beet greens, spinach, and basil. Process until it’s not lumpy. Add in 1/2 C marinara sauce, 1/2 C ketchup, 1/2 t salt and process again. Pour the mix into my Kitchenaid mixer bowl with two eggs, 3/4 c oatmeal, and 2 pounds ground beef to combine. Mix on low. Transfer to a baking dish and cook about 45 minutes in an oven preheated to 375. (I use a meat thermometer, and 45 minutes was perfect last night, but test for yourself, as it will depend on the temperature of your ingredients when you start.)
Looking for a more standard meatloaf recipe? Here’s one from Alton Brown.
I peeled a whole bag of potatoes (5 pounds? Ill have to check.) and put them into boiling water, and boiled until fork tender. Drained, and handed off to the kids with a potato masher. We added about 1/4 C cream, a couple of tablespoons of butter, and a splash of milk, then put it into the (well-washed) mixer to smooth out the lumps.
Looking for more exact measurements? Here’s a recipe from allrecipes.com.
Easy as Pie Peach Raspberry Crumble
This is what the kids cooked while I prepped the veggies.
3 C of peach preserves (I used the preserves we made last weekend, which were low sugar)
1.5 C of frozen raspberries (more would be fine, but check for tartness– it’ll depend on how sweet your preserves are, as you don’t add any sugar)
1.5 C of crumb topping left over from our last crumble
Combine fruit in pie pan, and sprinkle crumb topping over it. Bake in 375 oven until it starts to brown. (about 40 minutes)
Looking for a “real” recipe for peach raspberry crumble? Here’s one, but I bet it’s not as yummy as ours was (or as easy).
At five, power is illusory. Someone tells you when to go to bed, what to eat (and please leave your toys in the playroom when you come to the table), and sometimes even what to wear. When I look at it in that light, it’s not surprising that my daughter’s favorite toy is her sword.
For the last two weeks, she’s been travelling around the house and yard entirely via acrobatics. She can turn a cartwheel and stick the landing while picking up her sword mid-turn. Warriors need to train rigorously, so we’ve rigged a complicated fighting machine in the front yard. It involves rope, milk bottles, and water-filled buckets. She can make that water bucket bleed out in 2 minutes flat.
Our biggest argument recently? I’m refusing to promise her a real sword and a ticket to Paris on her seventeenth birthday, so that she can be a musketeer.
This is the part where I cringe, and admit she’s been watching Barbie and the Three Musketeers almost daily. And when she was sick? Twice in one day.
Move over, She Ra, Barbie has come to town.
If you’d asked me five years ago, I might have told you that Barbie would never darken our doors. (OK, maybe not. I’m pretty sure my mom has my old Malibu Barbie packed under a guest bed somewhere.) But my shaky feminist cred makes me think that I should have banned Barbie. After all, her measurements are all wrong. And she’ll make my daughters afraid of math. And creative play? Right out the window. Right?
Let me tell you about the engineering involved in the three draft attempts at that fighting machine, ‘mkay? Not to mention the duct tape.
And even though I cringe about the movie, I’m making a mental note to call around and find out how old you have to be to start fencing lessons. Or maybe Aikido. Because my daughter? She is powerful. Even if she can’t bring her sword to the dinner table.
I feel like I should be in the bar of an overly trendy high-priced low-brow restaurant. What am I drinking? Vodka over grape popsicle. The grape popsicle was small-batch, hand-pressed juice from home grown grapes, and the the vodka is Spirits of the Blue Ridge vodka.
Given that the popsicle was slightly used, this is a perfect microcosm of my life.
Ah, yes. Start a brand new blog, then leave it shivering and alone for the next few weeks. Who would do such a thing?
The truth is, I’m working hell-for-leather to get ready for BlogHer10. I appreciate the irony of abandoning my blog for BlogHer preparations. I really do. But I’m up to my neck in work (and sinking rapidly) getting altdotlife ready to accept syndicated content before I head to BlogHer10. And so this blog will have to wait.
Just a couple more weeks, sweetie.
I love to cook, and I love to DIY. I’m also terrible at following instructions. I always second-guess recipes: “but what if I did it this way instead?” Sometimes that means disaster. But sometimes I get lucky.
So I feel I should preface this post with the following caveat: For entertainment purposes only. Don’t sue me if you end up getting skin cancer or lung cancer or hangnails. If you want actual instructions, see the real Instructable.
That said, this was a fun and easy project. I read through the Homemade Sunscreen Instructable, and skipped straight to step 2.
If you want your sunscreen NOW, and you don’t want to mess around with making your own lotion, just buy your favorite lotion from the store, and add your zinc oxide or titanium dioxide to that!
- Before I went to bed that night, I actually melted about 1/4 C of coconut oil into the too-thick lotion. It didn’t mix in at all. But the next morning at room temperature, I mixed it in by hand, and it worked really well. I’ve since made more without the coconut oil, and the new batch isn’t as waterproof. This batch? Stays on after washing in the shower and toweling off. So, though it was a happy accident, I’ll probably add it again to the next batch.
- I chose the Everyday Shea lotion because it was rated a reasonable 4 by the EWG, and cost a fraction of other lotions available at my local natural foods store.
- We added more mica at the end.
- It’s not a great idea to use sunscreen from a wide-mouthed jar, and it’s a really stupid idea to let kids dig their own sunscreen out of a glass jar. This jar is storing the extra, and we’ll put a day or two’s worth at a time into the small plastic jar the kids use.
Why did I bother with this project? Well, it was fun. And sparkly. And I was really curious about whether I could make sunscreen that would end up with a fairly good EWG rating that didn’t cost an arm and a leg. Goddess Garden mineral sunblock costs about $3/oz. You’re supposed to use an ounce each time you apply, apply every two hours, and we’re out in the sun a lot.
How would I rate this sunscreen? Well, it seems to stay on in water about as well as either Goddess Garden or Jason Naturals sunscreens, the two big ones we’ve used this summer. It’s about halfway between the two in terms of texture. Jason is stickier and thicker, and Goddess Garden is thinner, less sticky, and stays on less well.
Is it safe? Who knows? This was mostly a fun kitchen experiment. But in any mineral sunblock, it’s the actual mineral doing the blocking, and that’s what you can see when you look at thick white sunscreens. So it probably actually does work. But we’re also pairing it with protective sunblocking clothes and hats, and trying to stay in the shade in the brightest part of the day. And if we start turning pink or brown, we’ll suck it up and get a second mortgage for the real stuff.
I’ve spent a lot of time chasing kids around with the sunscreen bottle this summer. Yelling. Pleading. Bargaining. “You can either wear the sunscreen, or the hat and shirt. Which do you want? No, really, you have to pick one or the other.”
Then I managed to convince Sarah that putting on super-heavy zinc oxide sunscreen made her (wait for it) look like a fairy. Hey, I’m not proud, but it worked. Until I switched brands to one that wasn’t quite as thick and pasty. I liked it a lot better, but it didn’t meet the fairy specs. Back to chasing kids around the yard.
So we decided to beef it up a little.
- Sunscreen. I chose Goddess Garden Kids Natural Sunscreen SPF 30 ,because it has a good EWG sunscreen safety rating.
- Gold mica or other “fairy dust.” We’ve used Wet ‘N Wild MegaShimmer Shimmer Dust, Pink Orchid (a not-stellar 7 in the EWG Cosmetics Database) and mica (a much more respectable 3). I found mica at RiteAid under the brand name Jesse’s Girl, and I’ve also ordered it from Coastal Scents online. *
- A container to store it in. We reused a wide-mouthed plastic jar that had contained lotion.
* For whatever reason, the 24 K Gold mica from Coastal Scents seems to turn the lotion more pinkish than sparkly in the jar, but it’s still sparkly when you put it on your skin.
- Put the lotion in the container.
- Sprinkle gold dust on it. We probably used about 1/4- 1/2 t mica with about 3/4 tube of sunscreen.
- Mix thoroughly.
- Inform all adults who look at you askance that you are not a sparkly vampire, you are a fairy.
- But decide that it’s worth it to avoid chasing your kids around the back yard with a tube of sunscreen.
Now that’s fairy dust!
It’s been really hot here this week. Yesterday, I pushed the kids out the back door before 8AM, so they’d get at least a little bit of outside time before the thermometer hit 102. I was out gardening, and looked up to see what they were doing:
Early Morning Water Play
- Take one unbreakable bowl or pot of water
- Add all the kitchen towels
- A drying rack and clothespins (or convenient deck rails or lawn chairs) to drape the wet towels over
Simple, fun, and easy enough that a nearly-5-year-old can come up with it on her own and a 2-year-old will play along. You can’t ask for better than that!