Thursday, June 25, 2009

Garden Update: Late June Edition

Things are growing in the Evans garden...

This year, we decided to increase our broccoli. We had great luck with it last year, so this year, we planted 12 broccoli plants and even added broccoli rabe.
This was a mistake. The broccoli rabe went straight to flower, and most of the broccoli has also gone straight to flower. There are a couple of plants that look like they may give us something good, but all in all, I'd say this was a waste.

The herbs are doing much better. After a slow start, the basil is recovering nicely. The rosemary is also doing well.

And then there is the parsley:

It is thriving. I had never planted parsley before, and I bought two plants--not sure why. Anyway, it's going gangbusters. Anyone have any parsley recipes? 'Cause I'm about to have to start garnishing all of our plates with a sprig...

This is a picture of two plants. Underneath that tomato is a bell pepper.
I call this my "free tomato." I'm pretty tickled with it, but it is crowding out the only pepper plant that looks like it's actually going to produce anything this year. I do not have good luck with peppers, and yet I persist...
Over in another part of the yard, we planted five tomato plants. Here are some baby beefsteaks, just getting ready.

And in the "What the...?" department, we returned home from our trip to find these growing in the garden:

They're called Dog Stinkhorn (had to look it up), and they grow in rich soil. I'm glad about the rich soil and all, but they are multiplying like crazy out there. The book doesn't say that they're poisonous (just not edible). Is this going to be bad for the veggies and herbs, or will they peacefully coexist? And will they go away when the soil dries out?
Will the broccoli redeem itself? Will the lone pepper plant give us anything? Will Mama Evans use her brand-new Foley mill on those beefsteak tomatoes? Will the Dog Stinkhorn retreat as warmer, drier weather finally appears? Stay tuned for the next edition of As the Garden Grows!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Our Summer Reading

One of my favorite things about summers with the kids is the extended reading time we enjoy. Since moving to Pennsylvania four years ago, we have become regular patrons of the public library. We are there at least every two weeks, often weekly.

Last summer, I came up with a new routine for bedtime. It took me an hour (gulp!), but the kids and I really enjoyed it. I would read to all three of them for fifteen minutes, and then take fifteen minutes to read with each child alone.

This year, I am cutting out the group read. I'll still read picture books and short chapter books to them during the day, but I hope to read longer, more challenging books with each of them during our time each night. So what to read? Of course, the school district publishes summer reading lists, and those books disappear from the library shelves first. A couple of weeks ago, I found a book at (surprise!) the library called What to Read When by Pam Allen. It's full of lists of great books to read aloud to your kids. She also gives interesting information on how children learn to read and why it's so important to read with them.

With Caroline, I am reading Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine. Caroline has already seen the movie (which disappoints me a little--I always like to read the book first), but she sure does love snuggling up to me while I read to her.
Caitlin and I are reading The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes. In fact, she read a chapter to me last night. That was fun.
And Bobby wasn't feeling well last night, so we read No, David! together. He and I are going to finish one that we had started about a month ago and set aside: Tucker's Countryside by George Selden. It's the second in a series (the first is The Cricket in Times Square), and he seems to enjoy it. What's not to love about a cricket, a mouse and a cat who are friends?

And Mama's working on a couple of books (since I can't seem to find any time to sew or knit). On our trip, I started The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. It's pretty good, but I had put it down to start Persuasion by Jane Austen. I decided that I'm reading too many books about characters who read Jane Austen. I should just go to the source myself. As luck would have it, the copy of Pride and Prejudice that I had sworn I had in the basement is gone, and the library was all out of copies, so I grabbed Persuasion.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Home Again

We are home again, and just in time for Father's Day. And my dad is here, so that's nice. The kids are all in one piece, and it was only about a minute after we got in the door before they started asking where our suitcases were (which is code for "what did you bring us?")

I only took about 500 pictures, so there won't be much to share!I loved Lake Placid. I have always wanted to go the Adirondacks, and it was just wonderful.

Apparently, in the winter, you can ride on the Olympic Bobsled course (with someone who knows how to do it, of course). I think that alone would be reason enough to go back.

I'm so glad to be home, though. As we were driving home, Rob remarked how where we live is just as pretty as all the places we just visited.
It really was like the Wizard of Oz...there's no place like home!

Friday, June 12, 2009

So much to do

It has been another crazy whirlwind week here. We survived the recital/campout/birthday party madness that was last weekend. This past week, we've had the First Grade Rumpus in the Rainforest (that's my jaguar singing her heart out), Third Grade Camp Learned-a-lot, and some teeball games.

My parents are driving here as I type this--they're going to watch the kids for a WEEK while Rob and I take a little trip. We've got our passports, and we're going to CANADA, baby! Woo! (We had to go somewhere out of the States since we just got these things renewed, and even with all the teaser rates advertised out there, Europe was still too expensive; so Canada it is.)

We will also be stopping at Cooperstown, Lake Placid, Ben & Jerry's, Cabot Creamery, and the rest of Vermont--we'll have to find a maple syrup place to complete the Vermont Trifecta (ice cream, cheese, syrup). With all these crazy travel plans in place, it's a safe bet that this blog will be quiet for the next seven to ten days.

The house is a mess and I haven't done the first bit of packing. All I can think about is sewing and possibly taking a nap. And yet, this weekend includes two more teeball games and two more birthday parties! Clearly, I'm going to be busy up until we leave.

Everyone say a quick prayer for my parents, who will be taking on the Evans kids for seven days. When we return, it will be summer vacation!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Speed posting

The girls will be walking through the door any minute, so I've gotta be quick! (They need their snack, don'tcha know!)

We are making strawberry jam and loving it.

I decided last week that I needed to make a red, white and blue quilt, so I'm doing that--and loving it. And it's all from the stash, so I'm really loving that.

This? Not so much loving it, but this is what I saw on the neighbor's roof one day last week--it's a crow and (I think) a turkey vulture just hanging out. They took off a few minutes later.

You just don't see that every day, now do you?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Cobweb Shawl

My mother-in-law will be walking through the door any minute, and I just finished her Mother's Day gift. Here it is, the cobweb shawl (pattern free on ravelry).

Yes, that's a slightly larger (gaping!) opening you see--didn't catch it until a couple of rows later...if I had paid more attention during blocking, I probably could have stretched the yarn into place to make it almost unnoticeable. Oh well--this way, you know it's handmade! Honestly, I was so sick of working with this yarn that I didn't want to fool with trying to go back and fix it.
Here it is on. On me, that is. After all my complaining about lace weight yarn, all I can think is how much I want one for myself. The picture would have been a little better if I were wearing a different color shirt! This is before I wove in the ends.
I actually cheated and knotted them! I'm just breaking all kinds of rules!
Saturday is the girls' dance recital. Sunday, the rest of the NJ family comes over for our family birthday party for Caroline. In between, the girls have three birthday parties to attend between the two of them.
See you Monday!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Planning for Summer

Well, after rushing around from dance lesson to Brownie meeting to teeball game for what seems like an eternity, summer is almost upon us. And having no paycheck is a quick and effective way to pare down the summer activities!
Really, the kids usually only did one camp each over the summer, so it's not a big hardship they're going to have to endure. We will probably join the town pool but will skip the swim lessons. The library is free, the weekly free movies are free. My stresses about summer have never been about getting the kids into camps or places where we need to spend money. Rather, I stress about how to fill all that time. I usually draw up a whole schedule, with theme weeks and corresponding crafts and activities to do. And then we usually don't do them. It only takes one kid to say, "I don't want to do that," to get them all to boycott.
I just haven't even gotten out my file folders of summer activities yet. I did print out a few Junior Badge pages for ideas, but I'm really going to try to abandon my own planning and just go with the flow more. I think I'm going to try to have certain activities for certain days (i.e. Cookie Monday, Library Tuesday, Movie Wednesday--that's all I've got). And the rest we'll make up as we go.
Mary Beth usually makes a list of things she'd like to try during each season, and she posted her summer list last week. I love that she does this, and I'm finally going to make a list for myself. Some of the items on my list will absolutely get done, some are nothing more than wishes written down, but here's my list of Things I Want to Do This Summer:
Make a Cookie of the Week with the kids,
Go strawberry picking,
Make strawberry jam,
Shop frequently/regularly at the weekly farmers' market,
Start my contribution to the Milkweed Project,
Try knitting something in a feather and fan lace pattern (maybe a blanket?),
Celebrate summer solstice (which will happen during the first week of the kids' summer break),
Celebrate midsummer,
Read aloud more to the kids,
Start a list of handmade Christmas ideas,
Start making one dinner for the whole family--no more "kid meals",
Make homemade ice cream.
So there you have it. It'll be fun to check this list again in September to see how summer turned out!

Monday, June 1, 2009


Today, my very first baby turned nine. And I could go on about her for days...about how the eleven days between my due date and the day she was actually born seemed to have passed more slowly than these nine years;

About how we are so very similar that I find myself chuckling when I see her doing things that I used to do when I was a kid-- like sitting at the dinner table with both knees propped up against the table, fork in one hand, book in another;
About how there are still many differences despite the similarities. She is her own person. It is an amazing and joyful thing to watch your baby grow up. I feel very blessed to have her.
Happy Birthday, Caroline!