Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Somebody Turned 6 Today!

Blowing Out The Candles
Originally uploaded by wenjomatic.

It's hard to even say it out loud. Andrew is 6.

Andrew had a lovely Ocean Animals party over the weekend with our closest friends and family. The weather, after sweating the predicted cold temps for a week or more, turned out just lovely... super sunny and 62. I couldn't have asked for a better fall day.

The kids all played so well and got along great, even though many of them had never met. Birthday parties are interesting as your child gets older. We have kindergarten friends now, plus the preschool friends from the last few years... all mixed in with playgroup friends we've known for as long as 6 years. But kids are still just kids... willing to play with anyone who will grab a hand. I was lovely.

Today we're sending in special snacks to school, spider cookies, as they are studying spiders this week. And a goodie of chocolate popcorn with spider rings inside. Andrew loved helping make them!

Ahhh, my boy is 6 now. That seems SO old to me. He's the same age Mary Grace was, when he was born. Time truly flies.

Andrew's Special Snack Chocolate Spider Popcorn

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Blue Ribbon Nutkins

Blue Ribbon Nutkins
Originally uploaded by wenjomatic.

The Manheim Community Farm Show was this week so I entered some of my knitting into the "Fancy Work" section. That name always cracks me up. My Nutkin socks won a 1st place Blue Ribbon in the socks/booties exhibition. Abi's Little Sister Dress won a 2nd place Red Ribbon in the children's clothing exhibition.

Andrew entered his coloring page in the farm coloring display and won a participant ribbon. He's so proud!!

Farm Show Ribbon Winner

2nd Place Dress

Monday, October 06, 2008

Garden Picked Clean

Garden Picked Clean
Originally uploaded by wenjomatic.

By me!!

Warm weather is coming to an end and our first Freeze Warning has just been issued for tonight. I went out this morning and picked the last of the things that might be bothered by the cold. There are still tons of green tomatoes on the vines, but we are about tomatoed-out at this point. I'll either fry up these green ones or see if they will turn, on the counter top, on their own.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

New LYS = Lancaster Yarn Shop = *LOVE*

ShiBui Detail
Originally uploaded by wenjomatic.

The newest and most exciting yarn shop in our area opened last night, for First Friday, in downtown Lancaster, PA. Lancaster Yarn Shop

To celebrate, and to feed my addiction, I broke the sock yarn diet rule for one day. And oh, how happy I am.

It was very hard to choose... she's already stocking several lines of yarn and some local goodies. But I've been eyeing this chocolate/aqua combination, dubbed "chocqua" by cauchy09 for a long time.

This is going to make my Socktober Fest goals VERY difficult to meet. I think I'd better tuck it away for a while.

ShiBui Love

Thursday, October 02, 2008

SocktoberFest Challenge

SocktoberFest Challenge
Originally uploaded by wenjomatic.
I currently have 3 unfinished pairs of socks on the needles, in various stages. My personal goal for Socktober Fest: Finish these socks!

Don's Socks
Firey SuperMerino Socks


Saturday, September 27, 2008

Dried Tomatoes

Dried Tomatoes
Originally uploaded by wenjomatic.

More deliciousness for winter...

My girlfriend, Ann, lent me her food dehydrator after telling me about drying her own tomatoes. I was so excited to give it a go.

It was such a simple and easy process.. only taking about 20 minutes to wash and slice all of the tomatoes, the just plug in the dehydrator! Large ones cut in quarter inch slices, cherry tomatoes cut in halves. It took about 10 hours to dry the tomatoes and now I have a stuffed quart of dried tomatoes to add to salads, stews and breads this winter. Yum!

Dried Tomatoes All Done

Preparing Tomatoes For The Dehydrator Sliced Tomatoes Ready To Dry

Friday, September 26, 2008

Cloudy Day Harvest

Cloudy Day Harvest
Originally uploaded by wenjomatic.

It's quite gloomy today, but they garden is cheerful. With plans for a nice big veggie dinner, I went out to harvest the broccoli and discovered that other things were ready for me as well.

- red bell pepper
- royalty purple bush beans (first handful)
- red radishes
- broccoli

I love the seasons of the garden. The tomatoes are finally slowing a bit but they are still keeping us in sandwiches and salads. I'm just trying my hand at drying them for the first time (more on that later) as the fall greens begin to steal my attention. I love how things change as the days click by. It won't be long until it's time to pull things out and fill the compost bin.

Meanwhile, my mind is already busy with details of how I'll do some things differently next year. Folia is good for making those notes. There is little free time for me lately with all of the school activities I've volunteered for, but it seems that the garden is patient with me... waiting until I can get in the back yard. Thankfully we're having mild weather right now... not too hot, not too cold. So everything is happy. And so am I.

First Royalty Purple Bean Harvest Fall Radishes Broccoli Bowl

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Caramel Apple Bites

Caramel Apple Bites
Originally uploaded by wenjomatic.

Andrew's class was doing a unit on apples all week. Today we sent in the snack. The idea is originally from Family Fun (I think) and passed on to us from a friend. Andrew said the class LOVED them!

Caramel Apple Bites:
melon baller
lollipop sticks (cut in half)
candy cups
soft caramel candy melted

Cut out bites of apples using the melon baller. Dab the moisture from the apple then insert a lolli stick. Dip into the melted caramel and place in candy cup to harden.

Best if made about an hour before serving or they will get juicy. Also fun to dip them in melted white chocolate morsels or butterscotch morsels.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Andrew In The FunRun

Fun Run Ribbon Winner
Originally uploaded by wenjomatic.

The high school cross-country team sponsored a FunRun this week and Andrew joined in the fun. He had a total blast! He was by no means the fastest (there are some flipping BIG kindergarteners around here, our town grows em' big) but he came in about 12th in a pack of 40 or so kgarten boys. I was so proud!

All 3 elementary schools participated and Andrew's school had the most participation so they won a trophy, almost as tall as Andrew, to display in the entry of the school. Andrew dragged me inside to see it, he loves being a part of the whole school experience.

Stretching before the race and crossing the finish line...
Stretching Before The Fun Run Crossing The Finish Line

Friday, September 12, 2008

Andrew Is Just SO Happy!

great day
Originally uploaded by wenjomatic.
I am amazed at how MUCH Andrew loves school. I knew he'd enjoy the friends and activities but he is really digging into the learning too. His teacher just has that special something that gets him fired up about the work.

They always journal first thing in the morning and she was telling me last night (back to school night) that he almost trips over furniture and other children trying to get in the door and hang up his backpack so he can grab his journal and get started. I am amazed at how much his writing is coming along in just a couple weeks of school.

He sprints down the sidewalk every day to get into the house and do a project that has been on his mind all day, based on something from school. I thought he'd just be ready to play, but he wants to paint something they did at school, or try writing a word from a book. It's crazy. I hope this enthusiasm can last. This morning he was watcing Peep on TLC while eating breakfast and he sound out TLC... tilc... "mom, that's not a word!" I explained about abbreviations and The Learning Channel. It's 6:30 son, let me drink my coffee! LOL

He goes to sleep singing about things from his school day. Last night he was singing in the dark about little yellow and little blue hugging so tight they both turned green. I turned off the TV so I could just sit and listen to him. It's infectious! I want to go to kindergarten!

He is so happy... it does my heart good.

One Great Day

Abi's Preschool
Originally uploaded by wenjomatic.

Monday morning... I sent Andrew out the door with Don to walk to school. Abi woke up a little later, had breakfast and got ready then I walked her down to her first day at preschool. We had a brief parent meeting and I headed back home 30 minutes later. As I did I looked over and there was Andrew on the playground at the school across the street. His teacher saw me and waved me over. We stood there for about 10 minutes chatting, laughing and watching the kids. (I love my town and that the schools are on my street... it's all very Norman Rockwell.)

Basking in the afterglow of a beautiful start to the day with beautiful children who are doing beautiful things... I walked him enjoying the alone-ness that comes with having school-aged children. I came in the house, folded a quick load of clothes and put them away, dusted the down stairs then sat down at the computer with a cup of coffee to catch up on things. I made couple phone calls. Then I sat out on the front porch for a bit, thumbed through a magazine. I decided the kitchen sink needed scrubbing so I got out the Comet and a toothbrush. Did that. Walked around in the garden for a bit. Still more than 30 minutes left before pick-up time for Abi. Put out some ground beef to thaw for dinner. Ran upstairs and made the kids beds.

What in the heck? I know every day won't be like that.. I will be volunteering in the classroom, I'll be constantly chasing things down as room-mom, the house keeping will fall behind at some point. But for that day, just that moment in time... I felt in control of my little carved out world. I felt like I had a handle on things. Duties were done. Everyone made it where they were supposed to be with matching socks, clean faces and full bellies.

It all sounds so good right? But why did it have to go so well? Now I'll be so disappointed when it goes bad next time.

Abi Ready For Preschool

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

One Happy Salad: Fall Plantings Coming In

One Happy Salad
Originally uploaded by wenjomatic.
I'm beginning to get some things from my fall plantings that are big enough to enjoy. I pulled the first 2 radished today and some of the mesclun, both planted just about 3 weeks ago. I put them with some yellow tomatoes and onions from the garden as well, topped with some ginger sesame dressing.

I am a pretty happy gardener.

Radishes First Fall Harvest

New Sock Yarn!

Sanguine Griffon Yarn
Originally uploaded by wenjomatic.

NO, I DID NOT BUY SOCK YARN! The sock yarn diet is still in effect! (That's for my knit circle girls)

I received a lovely message from Hello-Knitty via Ravelry last week. She was drooling over my lightweight Socks That Rock in Jonagold that I bought at Stitches last fall. We worked out a trade for this delicious Sanguine Gryphon sock yarn. Yarny details: Eidos in Parmenides... mossy greens and a touch of midnight blue.

It's nice we can both be happy. I loved the Jonagold, but I love this EVEN MORE!

Monday, September 01, 2008

Hot Salsa - Homemade Variety

Salsa In The Making
Originally uploaded by wenjomatic.

Today I skinned and stemmed my available tomatoes then gathered all the other ingredients for home canned salsa. The chopping, as always, is the most time consuming part. I boiled hot water first and poured it over the tomatoes, making the skins slide right off. The onions and bell peppers are from my garden too, hot peppers a mix of jalapeno from a neighbor and serrano from the market.

My house smells so good... and pretty spicy. I went out back for a bit, then walked back into the kitchen. Whamo! I was hit with the aroma of hot peppers. This stuff might be very HOT in a few weeks. We shall see.

Recipe shared by gubeedal from Folia....

4 cups tomatoes peeled and chopped, 2 cups seeded chopped long green peppers (I used a mix of regular bell peppers and banana peppers), 1 cup seeded chopped hot peppers, 3/4 cup chopped onion, 1 1/2 tsp salt, 2 cloves garlic, minced, 1 1/2 cups cider vinegar, 6 oz tomatoe paste, cayenne pepper to taste,

Combine all ingredients in a large sauce pan, bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes. pour into sterilized jars. Process 30 in boiling water bath for minutes. Makes 3 pints.

**note: to adjust the heat of each recipe, remove the seeds and veins of the hot peppers.

Hot Salsa Macro Bell Pepper Harvest 8 pints Hot Salsa

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Abi's Little Sister Dress

Abi's Little Sister Dress
Originally uploaded by wenjomatic.

Pattern: Little Sister Dress by Tora Froseth, 12m size (altered yarn and needle)

Yarn: Beyond Bold by South West Trading Company in rose, white and chocolate
needle size: US4 circular 24"

Cast-on 8-8-08 during the Opening Ceremonies for my Ravelympics Challenge this is Abi's completed dress. It took exactly 16 days and I crossed the finish line off during Closing Ceremonies. And what a joy to knit! The pattern is a super easy top-down, no seam pattern. Written for an infant size, I sized it up with a worsted weight yarn on size 4 needles. It made for a modest fabric with good body and not too much stretch, which is often problematic with 100% cotton. I am super happy with the final fabric.

Abi adores it and was the fit is just right! It's great for late summer on it's own and will move into fall and winter with a shirt and tights underneath. And if we don't hit a growth spurt, perhaps spring as well!

I highly recommend this project for those of you with girls OR for a quick baby gift, as the pattern is written!

Abi's Little Sister Dress Abi's Little Sister Dress Yoke Detail Little Sister Dress Button Detail

Monday, August 25, 2008

Ready for Kindergarten

Ready for Kindergarten
Originally uploaded by wenjomatic.
Today, Andrew became a kindergartener! He was ready... he's positively thrilled. I'm not so sure I was ready.

How did this day get here so fast?

It was a very fun morning, just as we getting dressed we were hit with a heavy rain. The first real rain we've had here in more than a month. Timing is everything right? Thankfully it subsided just as it was time for us to take our walk down the street. Moms and Dads stayed with the children today, just for a short morning of school. Tomorrow will be a regular day.

Mrs. DePatto had them do a scavenger hunt of sorts, finding the areas of the room. They found the reading center, activity center, math center, the art center and so on. We also went for a walk to find the cafeteria, the office, the playground, the library and the bathrooms. Andrew feels more comfortable there now, knowing his surroundings.

I think I am comfortable too. I'm sad that he's on the school track now. Our lives will be very different... schedules, activities, meetings. Abi's playtime will be very different now too, I hope she's not lonely. We surely know how to keep busy... so that's just what we'll do.

Andrew's Desk At School Andrew and Mrs DePatto Andrew Alphabet

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Harvesting: An Onion Dig

Onions, Can You Smell Them?
Originally uploaded by wenjomatic.

Dig is not really an accurate word for what I just did with my onions. I learned that when onions are ready the greens lay down and begin drying. Mine started this process 7-10 days ago. Also, what I read said that once ready, they practically spring out when you tug on the foliage.

Sure enough. They do. It took me all of 3 minutes to snatch them all out. There were a few that could have remained another week or so, but overall they were ready. They were co-planted around my broccoli and peppers (big plant in the center of the square, 8 onions in a halo around the edges of the square) so I had to get down on my hands and knees to reach around the center plants, which are still producing. This is my first one-time/full sort of harvest and I was smiling ear to ear. I kept giggling to myself that if one of my neighbors happened to come out at that time they’d have thought I’d lost it (again) seeing me all crouched down like that grinning.

Oh well. My onions are happy so I’m happy. There’s quite a variation in size here, which will be VERY convenient for cooking, depending on what I’m making and how much I need. I do wonder how they can vary this much all in the same garden box, all planted at the same time, all getting watered together. Surely sunlight must be the answer. The ones on the outer edges of the box, less blocked by bigger plants, are the jumbo ones. But not without exception, some of the innermost were bigger too.

So now to dry… they are laying out back now, on the newspaper. I left them in full sun for this afternoon. The dirt was pretty damp and needs to dry so I can brush it off before they lay out and cure for a couple weeks. Then to storage for winter. These will get us a far way into winter, but not all the way through. I’ll definitely plant more next year.

Onion Harvest 2008

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Seed Swap

Seed Swap
Originally uploaded by wenjomatic.

I'm packaging up some burpless cucumber seeds to go off into the world. My Folia has a very nifty feature that lets a gardener post their seeds stashed for swap. I had plenty cuke seeds so I marked them as available. And right away I heard from a gardener in NC who was interested. She's trading me some sunflower seeds for my cuke seeds.

It's all very exciting. In a dorky-gardener sort of way. I can't wait to find out they are received and I look forward to seeing how they do down the road.

Monday, August 18, 2008

What does a gardener look like?

If you grow anything at all and haven't stumbled upon Folia.com yet, you have to check it out. It's an incredible way to journal your own gardens, plus meet others and discuss what's growing... around the world.

Last week a journal entry sparked the most endearing and fun conversation about What Gardeners Look Like. I hung on every word and found so much comfort in what Kat Powers shared. I grew up much like she did and am trying to impart the dirt-in-your-toes philosophy to own my children. It's tempting, in the electronic age, to just plug them into something and do what I want. But it's so terribly unhealthy for their little minds. I'd rather them be out chasing bugs and digging in the dirt. More work for me of course, more water for baths, more band-aids required. But the pay-off is exponential.

So grab a cup of coffee and read this wonderful journal entry about her garden life... and all of the great replies that came after. And by all means, register for Folia if you're got anything in dirt around you! Just add me as your gardening buddy!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Inflammatory Breast Cancer... Have You Heard?

Originally uploaded by wenjomatic.

WATCH THIS VIDEO NOW! komonews.s3.amazonaws.com/ibc/komo_ibc.wmv

If you think you know breast cancer, you'll be surprised to hear about this OTHER kind of breast cancer that mammograms and monthly breast exams don't find. This is important for you to know, and for those you love! GET THE WORD OUT!

Research can be found here at The IBC Research Foundation

Friday, August 15, 2008

Making Pesto

Making Pesto
Originally uploaded by wenjomatic.
Today I harvested all of larger basil plants from the square foot garden (the ones blooming). I was SHOCKED when I realized that there were 8 cups of leaves to process... and I mean 8 firmly packed leaves. It took two batches, but I was able to put up, in ice cube trays, 48 little blocks of pesto for the freezer! Plus there was just enough for tonight's dinner that didn't fit into the tray.

All of it from only 2 square feet in the garden!!

Into the blender... 2 batches of:

4 cups packed pesto leaves
1 cup Parmesan cheese
1 cup olive oil
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 1/2c walnuts
salt and pepper to taste

Basil Harvest

Drying the Basil

Pesto Crazy

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Cicada Fully Emerged

Cicada Fully Emerged
Originally uploaded by wenjomatic.

This morning we walked over to a neighbor's yard to watch some construction across the street. While waiting for the big dump truck to drop the gravel, we noticed some cicada shells on a pine tree. Looking closer, we saw that some of them were actually molting at just that time. It was so incredible!

This one was already molted as we walked up and was drying his new wings on the back of his old shell. As we stood and watched, he began moving around on the bark. The children were able to touch his soft wings without disturbing it.

This was one of those moments that makes me so happy about our parenting decisions. If I were a working mom, these kids of moments would be so much fewer and farther between.

Of course... we had to bring some shells home:
Cicada Shells