It wasn't until recently that I've decided to start collecting these pictures.
Notice the cowboy boots (bottom left) and also the fact that she's reading underneath a mini-trampoline for some reason (top left). And even though you can't see the book in the top right picture, trust me, it's there.
In honor of my new Farming in the Suburbs mission, I decided to harvest sour cherries from a tree in our backyard to make cobbler for both our family and the new neighbors next door.
We've lived in this house for over 4 years. And every single year, the birds get all the sour cherries off of our tree before we do. Partly, this is because I'm not all that protective of the cherries. They're sour after all, and I had no idea what to do with them. And partly, it's because the birds are so quick. Really, within 24 hours of the cherries turning red those suckers can clean the entire tree. This year, the planets aligned and they were ripe (or close enough to ripe for me to pick) on a Saturday when I didn't have much else planned.
So, I picked a bucketful of them and sat down with Jeff and Joey to pit them using straws and/or pastry tips to push out the seeds (they preferred the straws, I liked the pastry tip).
While we sat there for the eons it took to pit all these, we discussed the story of the Little Red Hen. Jeff did change the ending of the story so that she shared the bread anyway because that's a better Buddhist ending. My ending involved a rude hand gesture and scarfing the bread all by herself. I think we know who the better parent is.
We also talked about how we would have felt about all these sour cherries if we lived in Little-House-on-the-Prairie times. We would have been thrilled to have the opportunity to pick the tree clean (instead of leaving most for the birds as I did) and work together to make into pies and cobblers and cakes and probably jams. And another difference that Jeff pointed out was that they probably didn't have Oingo Boingo playing in the background.
Eventually, we found ourselves with over 4 pounds of pitted cherries, which I used a Cooks Illustrated recipe to turn into this…
I had found several recipes on the web using sour cherries, but, frankly, if we were going to go to all the work of picking and pitting the cherries, I wanted something with the best chance of turning out. And I trust Cooks Illustrated. I tell people all the time that I can't think of one of their recipes that I haven't loved. It does take a certain kind of person to enjoy making some of their more difficult recipes (precise might be one phrasing, anal-retentive might be another), but they are always worth it.
This recipe called for a cup of red wine, which made a super tasty cobbler. I really love the sweet of the sauce and the tart of the cherries. Plus it doesn't hurt that it's topped with buttermilk biscuits, which I adore.
Now that I know that sour cherries can be turned into this, I'll be investing in a cherry pitter and a taller ladder for next year.
Once I explained it to the girls, and they understood that they could pick anything they wanted in the produce section, they hit the ground running. (Well, there was a brief discussion on the scientific classification of fruits versus vegetables, but it didn't last long). It was so great to see them whispering over the yams and then sorting through them to find just the right, wiener dog shaped one.They had so much fun shopping for this that Raven actually told a complete stranger how excited she was. (Frenchy McFrencherson out in the garden with the corn plants)
And, of course, a Frenchman (?) and his pet was their first choice of subject. That's an asparagus Eiffel Tower in the background, BTW. It is two dimensional, and I totally had to restrain myself from stepping in and attempting to build a huge 3-D one out of an entire bundle of asparagus. Theirs turned out very cute and simple, though.
The only adult help they had was shoving the wooden skewer into the carrot pipe to attach it to the cabbage head. Which is good because I almost shoved that thing straight through my hand while doing it.
I would like to draw your attention to some of the cooler elements of this creation... -the little two-part mustache made from the ends of scallions -dog tongue made of bell pepper -dog ears made of artichoke leaves -fairly realistic eyes made from cross sections of a parsnip -the lines of dog fur carved into the yam (or sweet potato- I can never tell one from the other) -portobello mushroom as a beret (you gotta love that) -asparagus tail -hair made of sprouts My favorite bit, however, is... -the shape of his mouth and the pipe coming out of it. I mean, Raven actually hollowed out the bowl, added a glowing cherry made of bell pepper and smoke made of corn silk. That is absolute genius!
Good job, girls! Though, if you were willing to actually eat all of this, I'd be even more impressed.
And if you didn't already get it, click here for an explanation of the title.
Update- Feel free to head over to The Crafty Crow to see the rest of the contestants in the contest. You can vote in several different categories. They're all amazing and adorable. After a bit of explaining, Joey now understands why it would be unfair if we were to vote in the vegetable competition. Although, it hasn't stopped her from checking the voting results every couple hours or so.
WASHINGTON—Nearly 20 years after launching its first nationwide recycling program, the Department of Sanitation unveiled a new environmental initiative Monday that urges citizens to separate perfectly good stuff, such as old toasters and empty picture frames, from the rest of their weekly trash.
"For far too long, Americans have been throwing out working lamps, expensive coasters, and those nice wooden shelves along with their regular trash," Sanitation Secretary Frank DiPietro told reporters at a press conference. "This wasteful practice not only threatens our environment, but it also forces certain individuals who, say, need a new ottoman to rummage through piles and piles of dirty garbage."
"Just look at this coffee table, for instance," added DiPietro. "It's not even all that cracked."
"Each and every person can make a difference when it comes to helping the environment," said Shelley Manning, a sanitation operations coordinator. "Especially if that person has one of those Dustbuster machines they're going to throw away—you know, the kind that picks up bread crumbs and then you can empty the canister when it gets full? Oh, and some sturdy sconces. If somebody has those, they would also be helping out the environment a ton."
An internal study conducted by the department suggests that the new program may reduce landfills by 25 percent, decrease greenhouse gas emissions by 43 percent, and lessen the chances of having to go out and buy an overpriced mattress by nearly 60 percent. In addition, the report—which was published on the back of some perfectly fine dot-matrix printer paper found next to a Dumpster—reveals that for every dented filing cabinet claimed by the new program, an estimated $45 in nonrenewable cash is saved.
Just so you know I'm not kidding about how much I'd love this program, here's a picture of some 'not even all that cracked' stuff that I've found. The sheets were from the thrift store (and later turned into fabric grocery bags), but the cubbies were pure curbside, baby.
I just realized that this is the perfect post to mention Trash Pickins, a fantastic group on Flickr (which I found via Soule Mama, I think). They've got some great stuff over there. This one, in particular, is unbelievable.
At any one time, we usually have at least 8 or 9 cups in various locations around the house. As you could guess, we don't have that many people actually living here. Inexplicably, our dirty cups multiply like bunnies.
So this weekend, I instituted a new rule in our house. If you're drinking something, you need to have your own personal rubber band on the cup in your hands. If you can't find your rubber band, it's time to search the house for it and wash the cup it's attached to (or better yet, re-use it) before getting anything clean out of the cupboard.
So far, it has worked like a charm.
I, honestly, can't believe that I'm the first person to think of this. And I doubt I even need to describe it. See the stuff in the picture. Get it and make them. Though, I guess I should mention that rubber bands are hard on the permanent markers. Keep a scratch piece of paper nearby to occasionally doodle on, which wipes off the rubber band build up.
And this method will help cut back on the transfer of cooties, too. If that's an issue at your house.
So, here’s a funny and potentially helpful story. I'm sharing it in an effort to do my part to make the world a better place. You're welcome.
[To warn the squeamish, it involves bodily functions. To protect the innocent, all names have been changed.]
Don't say I didn't warn you.
One day, Freddie, who was a small child, was sitting on the toilet, trying to go. He was really uncomfortable. His mother, noticing his anguish, checked one of her many natural remedy books (Natural Healing For Children: An Essential Handbook for Parents), thinking maybe she should give him some Vitamin C to get things moving. The book, however, suggested using acupressure to ease his constipation. As soon as she pushed the spot described in the book (which will forever be known as the Poop Button in their household- yes it deserves the capitalization), he immediately shouted, “I’m pooping.” As, indeed, he was. Later, Freddie’s mother was recounting the harrowing tale to a friend and proceeded to demonstrate the acupressure spot on herself. Within 5 minutes, she, too, was running toward the bathroom.
Though the names have been changed, this story is 100% true.
So, you wanna know the spot that helps with constipation?
It's called the Sea of Energy (aka Conception Vessel 6) and is located three fingerwidths directly below the bellybutton.
A couple of tips to remember for acupressure… -Always measure any ‘fingerwidths’ with the fingers of the person being acupressured. That keeps the ratios the same. -Don’t push on the spot if you have long fingernails. You can use the eraser on the end of a pencil. -Use firm pressure, but not super hard. -Back off if this causes pain. If this happens, retry it very gently, slowly and steadily increasing the pressure. Also, focus on the breath if this happens, as it can help to release stress and pain. -Sometimes this works in as little as 5 or 10 seconds. If it doesn't, feel free to continue applying pressure for 1 to 3 minutes. Don't hold it for more than 5 minutes, though. -I would also like to add that, in our house, we don't have problems with chronic constipation and this method has consistently worked within a minute or two. For cases of chronic constipation, it might require more frequent (and maybe shorter) sessions of acupressure. (Thanks, Britt, for asking for the clarification on this.)
Personally, I think there should be public service announcements about it.
It could be sponsored by "The Committee that Doesn’t Want to Sell You Anything or Make Money Off of You in Any Way, but Just Hopes that You Have a Pleasant Afternoon. Because the World is a Much Nicer Place when It’s Inhabitants Aren’t Constipated."
I've always wanted a chicken tractor, and now can add a chicken moat to my chicken wish list (along with the chickens, sadly). Apparently, the double fencing also keeps quite a few critters (like deer) out of the garden because they don't like to pass through such a confined area. And the chickens eat any and all bugs that have to cross the run to get at your vegetables.
I adore the idea. Though I wonder if this will have to wait until we trade in our suburban farm for a real farm.
As I followed links around the internet for this, I came full circle and ended up in the archives of one of the blogs on my blogroll, One Straw. I guess I shouldn't be surprised since all of us great minds must think alike.
Since Mother's Day (the average last frost day in Colorado) I've put almost 600 plants in the ground in our front yard.
My goal was to get rid of the lawn and give this area a somewhat woodland feel. But since the area is only partially shaded, gets pretty hot and doesn't get a ton of rain, realistically, I couldn't fill it with all the ferns that I wanted to.
The dirt is good, though. Actually, the dirt is great. After sheet composting it a year ago and growing cover crops and wildflowers last summer, it has really black, rich earth.
The bulk of my plantings have been transplants...
about 300 Buttercup plants from a friend (that's 2 of the 3 hundred plants)
Added Note- this first bit... it's a joke. Apparently, not a very good one. But, I do appreciate you all giving me the benefit of the doubt that I could do this. I guess I've got something to aspire to now.
Last night, as the final celebration for my birthday month we went swing dancing. And as luck would have it, they happened to be filming a dance video. I found it on You Tube this morning.
Click here to see it on You Tube if it won't play here.
That's me (with a wig) dancing at the beginning with the guy in the green shirt. Later on (at about the one minute mark), I flip the guy over my shoulder, which I think is a pretty cool move.
I invented that, by the way.
I think that my partner was gay because later in the clip- I mean night- he was dancing with some other guy. I was only a little jealous because I got to dance with both of them. And they were adorable.
Seriously though, we did actually go swing dancing last night in an effort to fulfill Amiee's You Can Do It dance challenge (which I'm a little behind on because I've been busy planting- almost 600 plants in my front yard since Mother's Day- more on that later). When Amiee issued the dance challenge, I immediately decided on swing. Last night, I realized that I may have to change it to something that doesn't require a partner. Not that I'm not as inspired as ever to try it, but it looks like counting on Jeff for this may not be the best bet.
He's zero for two so far in the showing-up-to-be-Wendy's-swing-dance-partner department.
Since I wasn't really up for dancing with strangers, two of my siblings (Jenny and Matt) were very nice and took turns dancing with me, so it worked out OK. We learned a couple of moves that we weren't actually able to remember later in the night when the live band started up. It was fun while we were learning it, though.
One of the couples at the beginning of the clip (the girl in the red skirt) gave the classes last night. That's actually true. And I'm pretty sure this video was filmed at the place where we went dancing. They've got several instructional DVDs for sale if any of you have willing partners.
I know it's super lame to be posting a video that is so obviously not me dancing for a You Can Do It challenge, but it was just so impressive. And I don't have any pictures from last night yet. I'm sure Aurora has some, but she tends to end up with (and post on Flickr) some really horrible ones of me (which obviously is my fault, not hers), so I don't really have my hopes up that there's anything I'd want to show you all.
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I'm a mom with 4 kids, only one of which I've grown from scratch. And as for my 3 stepkids, I'm incredibly lucky to have such wonderful people in my life. I've almost always got way too many projects going. But, if you want to know more than that, click here to see 8,452 completely random things about me... give or take.
This site is for entertainment purposes only. Though she has many impressive talents, Wendy is not a professional and nothing on this site should be construed as professional advice. She is simply describing how she takes care of herself and her family. Please do not do anything on this site without first checking in with your physician, trainer, life coach, nutritionist, financial adviser or clergy (and most importantly, with your own sense of what is right for you).