Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Putting up in Store

I have been getting my hands dirty lately.

Don't worry.  
I haven't turned into Lady Macbeth or anything.  This is only cherry juice that stained my fingers red for a few days.

I have been processing summer fruit over the last few weeks.  Some of it was purchased from growers or farm stands, and some was picked with my own (and my children's :) ) hands.

 These cherries will be delicious in smoothies and desserts next winter now that I've pitted them and packaged them for the freezer.

So far, I've also made some normal jam with my Mom (strawberry and apricot-pineapple) and freezer jam (strawberry and apricot). 

We plan to go raspberry picking next week and freeze some for smoothies, as well as make more 
(lots more--raspberry is the best!) jam.  

And sometime in August, we will definitely can and freeze as many peaches as I can possibly manage. Yum.

I have done more this year than I ever have in year's past to preserve seasonal fruit.  There is something infinitely satisfying about strapping on my apron and "putting up" what is so bountiful and delicious (and cheap!) today so that it can be enjoyed the middle of the coldest, dreariest winter.  

Corny as it may sound, when I do this--I feel bonded to all the many women who have put their time and love into feeding their families in generations past.  Maybe that's why I stopped and took a picture of this lovely rural cemetery in Carnation, WA when we drove out there to pick our berries.

What about you?  Are you putting up anything this summer?

Monday, July 25, 2011

Good-bye and Hello

The good news is that one of our homes sold.  We still owned two homes when we moved from Utah last year--one is an investment property and one was our family home.  Last Friday, we closed on our old house, and I've felt a little sad about it.

Maybe I'm overly sentimental, but I feel the need to eulogize.  We owned this home for 8 years.  Two of my six children were born when we lived in this house.  There are many memories in these walls, and we did a lot of work to make it better than we found it.  So come on a journey down memory lane, if you will...

I loved this home's curb appeal and traditional lines.
 We did everything we could to class up the golden oak cabinets.  In retrospect, I should have followed my gut and painted them :).  However, I think the kitchen turned out pretty well compared to the sea of oak and almond formica that we inherited when we first moved in.

 I totally redesigned this fireplace--it had been an asymetrical, 80's brick fireplace.   We had our handyman sheath the brick in fire-retardant sheetrock, and I played around with trim molding, wood appliques, stock mantel pieces and various boards until I got a design I was happy with.  I spray-painted the shiny brass surround with black matte barbecue paint and had the hearth tiled over with black slate.
 This is the first faucet and vanity top that I ever installed.  I ended up swapping out two others in this house.
 This is the first room I ever painted any other color besides white.  I loved it, and still do :).  It is a color match of Laura Ashley's "Russet" done by Home Depot.
 We had french doors installed with a railing so that on summer nights we could open up the door wide and let in the cool evening breeze.  Ahhhhh.  So refreshing.
 The second room I ever painted in a color other than white was our living room.  It is Sherwin Williams' Blonde.  It is a great color, and I love it with the needlepoint rug I got from TJ Maxx for $50.  That rug was such a bargain--it was in the Horchow catalogue during the same time period for over $250.  I still love it.  I'm thinking about hanging it over my bed in our new house.

I will miss all my DIY triumphs in this house, but most of all, it is the memories of  my children growing bigger in our home and the sweet neighbors I loved while we lived in this neighborhood that make me feel a little sad to say goodbye.

But luckily, I get to keep my kids.  As for the old neighbors I love--they are just a phone call (or a facebook login) away.

The other big upside is that now that one of our homes is sold, we have a little more scratch to do some fun DIY things around here. That certainly lessens the sting of good-bye.... :).

What about the rest of you?  Do you feel sad to say good-bye to your house when you move on?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

This is how we roll...corn buttering at the Smith's

We had corn on the cob for the first time this season just last night.

I bought it from the Farmer's Market, and it was delicious--and cheap!  Just 3 cobs for $1.  I got 9.

Anyhoo, it brought up something that has been an inner (and sometimes irritatingly outer) struggle for me for some time.  

Namely, how should we butter our corn?

There is the hygienic and pretty method, which entails taking neat little individual pats of butter from the butter plate and using your own pat to butter your own corn.  This method is much better from an aesthetic point of view, but way harder from a practical standpoint.  The pat of butter never stays stuck to your knife, so you have to keep retrieving it, and your whole cob is usually only unevenly buttered at best.

Until very recently, I have advocated the individual pat method, despite its drawbacks.  I airily dismissed naysayers, pretending that it was just as easy and efficient to use your own pat.  Yes, I was lying.  The reason for my lies was that I truly hated the corn buttering alternative.

 You know the alternative I'm talking about...  You take a cube of butter and put it on a dish.  Then everyone takes their cob and rolls it around on the butter.  What starts out as a normal cube of butter, ends an un-usable (for anything else, anyway), misshapen lump of sad-looking butter.  With corn husks and the odd half-kernel stuck to it, it isn't good for anything, ever again.  It is ugly, and it is wasteful (unless you are planning to eat corn-on-the-cob every night).  And I don't like ugly and wasteful.

But on the upside, the corn is buttered perfectly.  Every kernel has just the right amount.

Yes, I've given in to the dark side and mangle my butter in the the name of tasty corn-on-the-cob.

And it is....bliss.

So, how do you butter your corn 'round your house?

Friday, July 15, 2011

Seattle Aquarium

I think that some of you out there may be worried that our house has turned into some sort of Dickensonian sweatshop due to my desire to make the summer a productive one.  Never fear, gentle readers.  We are having fun, too.

To prove it, we went to the Seattle Aquarium several weeks ago to have a last fling with our Aquarium membership (thank you friends, for buying it for us!) before it expires.  The Aquarium is located right at the pier on Elliot Bay in Seattle, and it was a beautiful, sunny day.  Perfect field trip weather!

 There was a real diver in the main tank as we came in.  She gave Sawyer a high-5 through the glass.  He was thrilled :).
 One of the poor manhandled starfish in the touch pool.  I really think those starfish and other creatures have a rotten life.  I saw more than one kid (okay, okay--mine included) who weren't using the much-recommended "two finger touch" approach.  Ouch.
 Sharks are way too big, aren't they?  I saw Jaws at an impressionable age, and I can freak myself out about sharks when I'm just swimming in a pool.  {{S h i v e r }} 
 It looks like they are headed into the darkness 20,000 leagues under the sea thanks to my killer camera skills, but all the kids had fun hamming it up with the head-pokey-through-the-scenery-thingies (yes, it's the technical term).
 Sophie looking like a glamorous scuba diver.

 Lukas going all Mr. Roboto with his scuba gear on.
 They had really cool glass art in one section of the aquarium that was supposedly done by 3rd graders.  I'm not sure how that is possible, but it was really fun to look at.
 A seriously huge starfish with legs to spare.

 Why can't everyone look normal at the same time when I try to take a picture?  Honestly :)...
Soaking up the sun and watching the ferries go by.  What a life.

P.S.  I almost forgot: After we went to the aquarium, we got ice cream cones at the pier. Can I just say that coconut ice cream is my new favorite?  Mmmmmmm....so good.  That is all, peeps.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Nearly Wordless Summertime

I promise no children were harmed in the making of this post.

Father's Day Crepes.   Yum.  I want one.  

Best husband and father in the world.

The big 0-7 with his cherry chocolate cake he's been oogling at the bakery all year.

Even food picks are taking it easy this summer (and my 16-year-old clearly has too much time on his hands :) ).

Summertime celebration slurpees.

New bangs for summer.

And I'm free.....

Lulu turned the big 0-1 on the 4th of July.  She didn't like her cupcake at all, but graciously clapped for all of us after we sang to her.  We love our little fairy girl.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Dream Rest Stop: Airstream Heaven

We were driving back home after travelling last weekend and stopped in Baker City, Oregon, to have dinner and release our wiggles.

This is our favorite place to release our wiggles when we are in Baker City, Oregon:

My husband's family calls it Old Geezer park, the reason for which is a long story that is probably heavily influenced by the loopiness that results from marathon road trips in un-air-conditioned cars with six kids.

So we stopped, and while the kids were releasing their wiggles, what do you suppose I saw glimmering through the trees?

These sweet babies:

Apparently July 4th is Wally Byam's birthday (inventor of my beloved Airstreams) AND he was born in Baker City, Oregon.  The Oregon chapter of the Wally Byam Caravan Club International was hosting a rally that weekend, with Airstream owners from all over the US coming to take part in the festivities.

Airstream heaven.

I talked to a couple of the owners of these lovely trailers, and they very graciously let me peek in their homes.  So cool!  I don't know what it is about an Airstream for me, but I think they are the coolest RV's ever--(which may not be saying much, I realize).  I just love the vintage-cool look of them and the idea of having a little fort on wheels.  Someday!