Thursday, August 27, 2009

Hi Ho-ly Crap This Game is Boring

Carter is really getting into board games. But, and I apologize in advance, not into the ones I look forward to playing with the kids. I love games. Clue? Oh yeah! Monopoly? You betcha! Trivial Pursuit? Oh, Mama!

We’re not quite up to that level yet. Crawl before you walk. Crawl before you walk. Little Man has to learn the concept of taking turns, of give and take, of not always winning… and a smidge of strategy, but that will come later. Now we’re in games that are really only of chance.

Enter Hi Ho Cherry-O. Get a card, put 10 cute little plastic cherries on it, spin the dial, and follow the instructions until someone finally picks all their cherries. Seems like it would take a couple of minutes, right? Oh, no. There are the ‘lose 2 or all of your cherry’ spaces of woe. Finally I made up the rule that if you’re under 5 you don’t have to put all the cherries back if you ‘spill the bucket’. I was DYING, sorry.

But, Carter loves it, and so we play a few times a week, when Cole is napping. Clue will be a reality in a few years. This is now, and now is pretty good.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

DIY Dirt

Oh, pardon me…. soil. Carter has an affinity for that word over dirt. I suppose it sounds more grownup? Anyway, yesterday we embarked on our latest project: vermiculture.

On and off for years I have pondered worm composting. My first thought was along the lines of, “Oh, hell no.” But slowly it changed from revulsion to interest, but with a bit of apprehension over how complicated all the directions I ever found seemed. I may be handy with tools, but I am no carpenter. Then, last summer I found and scanned directions that made a home worm farm seem downright foolproof. However, I knew I just was not quite there, and wanted to not have a small baby around while starting a new project like that.

With the bulk of summer behind us, and Carter’s growing interest in worms, buoyed by the worm bin at the Discovery Museum, I decided it was time to go ahead and make it so. Bunny also was excited about the idea, as she likes creepy things, too.

Yesterday one pound of red wigglers, the so-called “Cadillac of Worms” arrived on my doorstep. I spent a little quality time with my drill, riddling a 8 gallon rubbermaid bin with drainage and ventilation holes, then I enlisted help from the boys in shredding newspaper into strips, which we wet and wrung out until they were only damp.

I took the impending arrival of our worms as a super excuse to further put off sweeping out back, so the boys had a lot of dry leaves to add to the mix, plus while they were occupied, I dug up a bit of garden soil, which has grit to aid digestion.

Finally it was time to have a looksee at the wiggly buggers.

The worm wranglers packed their small livestock in a bag that allowed airflow (seems obvious, but I was worried how they’d be shipped in a way that made them comfortable!). After hauling my not so tiny toddler around all day, one pound of worms felt weightless.

At first glimpse, it looked like I had a bag of sawdust or peat, and not much more… except when prodded a bit, it writhed. Pretty ghoulish! The worms, being subterranean beings, did their best to squirm into what was a big ball of 1000 or so tangled all together so that I worried I would have to be too rough to break up their little worm party. The first time pulling them apart was the hardest—on me, at least. Then as I further coaxed them away from each other and scattered them, it was much easier.

They were fed a small meal yesterday, and today we fed them another small meal (mmm, coffee grounds and banana peel! Bon apetit!). I’ve read so many different things about how often and how much to feed, so I suppose that will be on the job training. I do know one peed on Bun today, so they’re eating something at least.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Need a quick, easy, wonderful dessert?

Sunday I really wanted to make my Burning Down the House Blueberry Tart. It’s my favorite thing I make, and I only make it in the late summer when blueberries are plentiful, as the recipe calls for a HUGE amount and they must be perfectly sweet. I planned it as the perfect end to a yummy meal of Carolina style pulled pork and broccoli slaw.

However, time simply got away from me, and I did not have time to make the tart *and* have it spend the necessary time setting up. So, what to do with all those berries? I needed to do something much simpler, and quicker. Clafoutis, it is!

Clafoutis sounds really fancy, or perhaps like some French ailment, but it’s divine beyond its simplicity. If cake married custard they might have clafoutis as a baby.

Just about any fruit seems to work for this dessert so far, as I’ve made it a bunch of ways over the past few years. I like to base it on THIS recipe, but use Kirsch as that’s the only fruit brandy I have and the tiny bottle seems to never run out in spite of having it for 5+ years (or sub fruit juice), use half and half, and use whatever fruit I have.

The batter is a lot like crepes, poured over fruit. We were too eager to dig into it once it cooled, that I forgot to take a photo of the finished product, but a sprinkle of confectioners sugar makes this perfection. Cole enjoyed it so much, and became so thoroughly covered in blueberry that it was only with yesterday’s bath (the 2nd after eating clafoutis) that his fingers came fully clean. Sometime I want to try these with ollalieberries…

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Dog Days, Part 2

Yesterday, seeing as it’d been a whole 4 days since we drove ‘over the hill’ to Santa Cruz, we decided to drive there and then some, over to the Monterey Bay Aquarium.  I am so not good at this ‘we’re not doing anything this week’ stuff.  :)

For Bunny and me, this was part of the highlight of the trip: the new seahorse exhibit, The Secret Lives of Seahorses

Oddly enough, this tank, which had super rad shrimpies flitting around along with the seahorses, inspired my dinner choice last night.  Yeah, you guessed it: I pulled a bag of shrimp out of he freezer.  Call me perverse, but I really had a hankering for them!  Mmmm, sea bugs.  ;)

These guys fascinated me, and Bun picked out a leafy sea dragon stuffed animal at the gift shop to add to her menagerie.

Everywhere we looked, more seahorsey goodness.

Then, after so much looking, it was time to head across the building to do some well-deserved touching.

Bunny and Carter explored and learned about sea stars,  sea cucumbers, chitons, various types of algae, and other sea life that can tolerate a bit of poking and petting.

We took the de rigeur photo under the cascade.


We oohed and aahed at jellyfish.

All in all, another very worthwhile trip.  Everyone slept much of the ride home (except Mama… she just yawned her way down the road).

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Dog Days, Part 1

After 4 weeks of daily all afternoon trips to the beach, I thought I’d want to keep us home as much as I could just to rest. However, since it was also the last week of summer break, it quickly became apparent that was a ridiculous pipe dream. Having 7 weeks of a 10 week break consumed with travel and little guards left us little time to enjoy all the bigger outings we don’t seem to find time for the rest of the year. Plus, let’s face it: days of idyllic nothing sound awesome to me, but only until one factors in a little something: the kids. They’re not nearly as happy to just putter and put the home in order as I may be.

So, Tuesday we went to the aquatic center about 20 miles away to play.

Cole and Carter played amateur canal technician.

Cole was only 5 or 6 months old when we came last summer, so I’d say he got a bit more out of it this time.

Carter, ever the literalist, played a lot in the ‘geysers’. Yes, he called them that. I guess he did pay attention to that special on Yellowstone a couple of weeks ago!

Bunny, finally over 48 this year, partook of this beaut like there was no tomorrow. Look at all those stairs! I am not even kidding when I say she went up over 20 times.

I wish we’d made it over here more this summer, but there is always next year! :)

Monday, August 17, 2009

One for the Grown Ups

Sometimes I can't handle the thought of considering all the dos and don'ts of feeding us parents and kids the same meal (as if that ever happens here anyway), so I plan what *I* want, and figure anyone who is not into it can have mac and cheese or cereal. Generally, the kids see it as a win-win, honestly. Cheerios for dinner, yay!

This was one of those meals. It's so simple, really, but a wee bit sophisticated for a child to appreciate. I took 3 or 4 slices of thinly sliced prosciutto, placed them on a plate, topped with a nice serving of blanched asparagus and a coddled egg (like poached, but in a ramekin instead of getting to go for a swim in the water). The dressing was a garlicky vinaigrette with dijon, lemon juice, and chives.

I served this with a very large steamed artichoke, which we split... sitting at the table alone while the kids ate at the counter, free to squabble and push, needing only a reminder to 'use their words' once in a while. I bet this would have been great with a glass of wine!

Sunday, August 16, 2009


Little Guards 005, originally uploaded by Kristianna.

That's what this boy is, physically. But in his mind, he's a widdle baby. A very snuggly, one, at that!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Make It a Double

Double Shot!, originally uploaded by Kristianna.

We made it through 4 weeks of Little Guards! To celebrate, on the last day everyone went to the beach, then to dinner, and finally for soem fun on the boardwalk.

Bunny and I rode a bunch of rides together. She pointed to the Double Shot and said, "I want to go on that!" Now they she's 50 inches tall, the world is her oyster as far as rides go... Lemme tell you, it's not going up that's scary or weird feeling. It's the return trip. You're pulled down faster than gravity, and Bunny screamed in delight the entire time.

At the end, in a rush of nonstop babble, she said she lost all control of how her body acted, drooled, had tears come to her eyes, and nearly peed. Then she said she loved it. Atta girl. :)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Life with Boys

003, originally uploaded by Kristianna.

I have a sister. I am pretty sure we never sat around spitting at each other. Maybe in a pool? I dunno. But I sure as heck know that we never stood in our living room spitting ice cubes at each other, while hooting and howling from the hilarity of it all.

Boys are so weird.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Anywhich Way You Can Pt. 2

This burger looks pretty darn normal, no?  Well, it has a lot of spinach, and blueberries in it!  It’s another recipe from “The Sneaky Chef”, and another success!  I made a batch of 4 of these Saturday and Bun ate one for lunch that day and one the next.  She said that she liked them ‘even more’ the next day—I agree, too.

She was not as appreciative of the the broccoli.  :)

Ready to Run

Ready to Run, originally uploaded by Kristianna.

A quick one... this is my big girl preparing to race in last week's NorCal competition. It was a fun day, though she could have done without the hurt ankle. One last week of Little Guards, then one week off, then... 2nd grade! Whoa!

Friday, August 07, 2009

Anywhich Way You Can

Behold a boy eating spinach. He doesn't know it, but there is a lot of spinach in this batter. Carter also ate his weight's worth of the brownies after they cooled. So, one recipe tried, and one I'll call a success. An adult friend of mine said she liked them because they were not overly sweet... they do have a bit of a texture from the blueberry seeds, but I will definitely make them again. Yay, hidden spinach!

Monday, August 03, 2009

Fish Out of Water

Photo Sharing - Video Sharing - Photo Printing

This is what happens when a boy who hates getting sand on his hands falls while walking on the beach. He cracks me up.


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