Wednesday, August 26, 2009

New to linking to other blogs

Okay, I am new to the whole blog scene in general, and especially to linking to other blogs. But I saw this idea today and wanted to share it (and have a record of it instead of relegating it to yet another bookmark folder).

Story Dice

This looks like a great idea. I'm not artistic, but my sister is, and I could ask her to make them. Or I could buy stickers and then seal the dice so they don't peel off.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The end is near (I hope)

If you read this blog long enough, you'll come to see that I am no fan of summer. I endure it for the sake of fresh produce and herbs. And that endurance makes autumn, which is my favourite season, all the sweeter. But this summer has been different. It's only in the past few weeks that we've had any real heat and humidity. The air conditioning has not gotten much of a workout this summer at all. And I love it that way. Even now, the windows are open as we await yet more rain.

That said, I do not want summer to overstay it's welcome, just to make up for lost time. I don't care that it arrived a few months late. It is not allowed to nose it's way into my autumn. Bring on long pants, light jackets and hoodies!

But if I may backtrack into the bounty of summer for a moment, I would like to share one of the fruits of that strange Bear Claw tomato plant that I've mentioned previously (and if you're wondering, yes, my tomatoes have successfully taken over most of the neighbourhood, and I suspect that once we dig them up, we'll find at least 2 small children and a Mini Cooper under them). This tomato plant produces Brandywine type tomatoes, with a strange teardrop-ish shape.

Here's the first one that I pulled off. The first thing that I thought when I saw it on the plant was that it was rather heart-shaped. Then I saw the markings on it and that settled it. It's a Cardiac Tomato. Perhaps the first of it's kind. Definitely a contender for the strangest looking thing I've ever grown, and I'm including that carrot with 6 legs. It was quite large. There's nothing to reference the size in the picture, but it was bigger than my whole fist, consistent with the Brandywine variety. It was also a little mealy in the middle, but I suspect that is due to the large quantity of rain we've gotten this season. The flavour was good. I added it to a bowl with some cucumber, balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Yum.

There are a few more on the plant yet, which has taken quite a beating as summer has worn on. I haven't seen any more with such a pronounced heart shape to them, but they are all tapered at the end.

Now, on to autumn. September is nearly here, and with it our daughter's second birthday. I really hope and pray that it does not rain again this year. Our house simply is not large enough for everyone, and this year we've invited the family of one of our son's soccer teammates. He and this girl became friends, as did Little Miss and the girl's brother, who is six months younger. So we'll have a very, very full house if the weather is not good. 23C and no rain would be lovely.

And then we dive into homeschooling again. Not that we've really stopped, but we haven't had a routine. I still don't know what our routine will look like, but I'm sure it will emerge as we go along. A little book work, a little art time, some outside fun, some tidying around the house. And the rest of the day spent learning through living. I love homeschooling!

I am already looking forward to the local food festival which is in early October. We went last year and found some new apples. Niagara Gold they're called. They are THE BEST apples I've ever tasted. And living here, I've had many. Tart, sweet, crisp, juicy. They have it all, with a really pronounced apple flavour. They're wonderful, and I hope to get more this year. I can already see them stuffed into a pork loin, glazed with hard cider (a recent discovery I've made and a new favourite beverage and autumn cooking flavour, I'm sure).

Saturday, August 8, 2009


We're having friends over tonight. We were going to have a bonfire, but the weather has conspired against us. Again. As it has all summer thus far. So instead of fun outdoors and a quick tidy of the house, we decided to have our friends come by anyway and cleaned the whole place (minus the bedroom). It looks great. Better than it's looked in quite a while.

You see, we're not terribly good at housekeeping. Never have been. We can live with clutter. We had a very small house before this one (which is not huge either). Somewhere, somehow, we became comfortable with a level of clutter that goes beyond odds and ends here and there. It extends to unwashed dishes sitting on the counter for a very long time, clumps of cat fur blowing down the hallway like tumbleweeds, and unfolded laundry occupying otherwise useful seating. All the time. The kids fight over who gets to sit in that chair because it's so seldom uncovered.

Unless we have company. Which we are having tonight. Our pastor and his wife, and another couple, who have done ministry worldwide. Both couples are friends of ours, and we're looking forward to their visit very much. We don't have friends over often. Mainly because the living room isn't big enough to have more than 2 people over without dragging a chair or two in from the kitchen. Which hasn't been done yet... Okay, taken care of.

And of course there's the clutter. Last minute entertaining has not really been something we've done, due to our house just never beeing in "company" shape.

So tying this into home schooling, I want the way the house is now to be the new status quo. Things picked up. Clutter not excused for weeks on end. Cat tubleweeds eradicated (at least every few days...these two shed like nobody's business). And I want the kids to help.

I grew up with a perfectionist mother, who I think might be a little OCD. We could never do a good enough job, so she never let us do much cleaning, unless she was using it as punishment of some sort. Even then sometimes she'd yell at us to just leave it and she'd do it herself. Go figure. So the whole concept of keeping a tidy house - personally keeping a tidy house, is a little foreign. Not that that's in any way a valid excuse. It's just out there. Fact. And something I don't want to burden our kids with.

So, check back in a month or so and we'll see how things are going. Our friends will be here in a few minutes, so I should make sure we have all of the last minute bits sorted.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Prepping for the year ahead

So it's that time of year again. Okay, so the expected next sentence is "It's back to school time!" But we home school. So there's no school to go back to. But there is curriculum to look at, and possibly to buy. There are lessons to plan, and a new routine to establish. Not that home schooling is going to take a huge chunk out of our day. Our son is going to be 5 later this year, and our daughter will be 2 in a month. We might do half an hour of actual structured lessons a day. Maybe. I have the language study curriculum, and some science and social skills books. We have some math, too. I want to get some better bible study material, and from there we'll be pretty much all set. Oh, and some spelling, too.

The trick won't be doing it all. It will be not doing it all too quickly. LOL I was looking at the Math U See Primer and we could easily do an entire week's worth of lessons in a day. Our son could tear through that book by Christmas! We'll be learning a new skill. Pacing ourselves.

Another skill we'll be building will be housekeeping. I've read many times that one of the biggest struggles for home schoolers is keeping the house tidy. Now, I'll freely admit, that is a struggle for me anyway. Since before we had kids. But I learned something the other day. The kids and I can completely tidy the livingroom/computer area in 15 minutes, including dusting and Swiffer vacuuming, which our son loves to do. So it's more a matter of getting the house clean and then keeping it that way. Maybe we'll make a chart for each day. so that we can stay on task.

Another challenge for me is outdoor time. I am not a huge fan of going outside, unless the weather is perfect (not hot, not cold, not raining). Kids have no such demands. They want to play outside regardless, especially in the rain, as it turns out! So this will stretch me. But that's no bad thing. I could use more exercise myself.

Another thing I'm doing is reading encouraging blogs and articles, like this one. It keeps me mindful that we've been called to do this, and that we can do it.

And now it's time to get the Little Miss dressed for the day. Jammies at 10am is fine, but at some point getting dressed is a good thing. I'm not a PJs all day kind of person.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Mmm, blueberry jam

I haven't made jam in ages. Not since before Little Mister was born, I think. And I'd forgotten how easy it is to do (so long as I'm organized, which canning forces me to be). So last week we bought blueberries from a local farmer's market. I realized I had enough for jam, and decided to make some. Then the kids and I ate all the berries (Little Miss polished off half a pint the day I bought them).

So Saturday I bought more. 3 pints of cultivated berries and a pint of wild. Made 10 jars of lovely dark blue jam.

Now I want to make more. Freestone peaches will be in season soon (I hate fiddling with peeled clingstones), and hubby says he'd like some peach jam. Strawberries are finished, but I can buy pails of pitted sweet and sour cherries. Eventually I hope to have enough raspberries in the garden to make at least a mixed berry jam (I'm not a huge fan of pure raspberry jam). And blueberries too. We have Alpine strawberries (a wild hybrid), but I don't know that 5 plants will ever yield enough berries for jam. Maybe I should get some more plants.