Monday, March 21, 2011

a toast to friends...

I have been busy in our blank-canvas-of-a-yard.  We (and when I say we here, I mean Mars Irrigation and Landscape and I) put in a patio last November... just before the real cold came.  It is lovely.  The kids like to pretend it is a castle.  Anyhow, I am now preparing flower beds around the patio, in the corner of our yard, and along the back of the house.  A few days ago I was ripping up sod and the girls were playing in our yard with neighbor kids.  They seemed happy, so I didn't pay much attention.  Next thing I know, there is a crowd of kids on our patio... and more flocking to the patio.  Alli was serving toasted bread with a thick topping of Nutella to all of the neighborhood kids!  And this was the second tray she had made!
I try to teach our girls to be independent.  Each can get her own glass of water.  They can all reach the sink in the bathroom.  They can all put their own shoes on.  Alli can make toast by herself.  And so she did.  For everyone.

And she served it piled high on a petite silver tray.  Classy.
By the time I grabbed the camera, the kids had run off with their toast.
All the neighborhood kids had dirty little faces for the rest of the afternoon... mine included.

PS- If you have never tried Nutella on toast, you really should try some.  Or better yet, try it on freshly baked bread. 

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Party Animals!

Saturday was cousin Eliza's birthday party... and it was a pet party.
Unfortunately, I had to miss the party, but Alli and Ruby were there basking in all the pet party glory.  And my sister got these great pictures of the girls.

Have I told you that Ruby can whistle?  It's true.
Check out Alli's new specs.  Her old glasses had a rough couple of days.  They were taped in two places when I took her in for her eye exam.  She was excited to get a new pair.

Whoa!  Ruby told me that she "actually" touched the snake!

Ruby brought home a business card from Petland.  She has informed me that she wants a pet party for her birthday.  And a pet too.
She told me all about the animals at the party... a snake, a chinchilla, a kitten, a friendly bird... she knew all sorts of interesting facts about each of the animals.
I was hoping the FurReal Friends (animated stuffed animals) would be enough pet for us. 

Monday, March 7, 2011

From sap to syrup...

This month started out busy... like a lion maybe?  (I am hoping for the rest of the month to be lamb-like.)
The blog has been neglected, and so I am playing a bit of catch-up this morning while June and Ruby watch some PBS kids' shows.  (Nice, huh?)

At the end of February, we went up to visit my parents for the weekend.  Alli, Ruby, and June were so excited to see Grandma and Grandpa Ohio!  They were thoroughly spoiled.  Grandma made homemade marshmallows with them. They had croissants for breakfast!  They sat at the kids' table by the big window and watched all the birds come and go.

Grandma went with us to the winter market in Kent, where we visited with my step-grandpa Edwin George.  I have always known him as "Grandpa Indian."  He married my grandmother weeks before I was born, and he has always been grandpa to me.  Anyhow, he had a little table set up with his artwork at the market.  He loves to chat with people and tell them the stories behind the art.

He sells prints of his original paintings at the farmer's market.  He is an example of his work...

I love his paintings!  They are so bright and filled with images and symbols.
I needed to get a headshot of Grandpa...

 so after that (and getting some bread and cheese and fudge) we went to my brother Dan's house to make maple syrup.

First, the sap from the maple tree is collected in buckets attached to the tree.  Taps are hammered into the trees, and sap flows out in the spring... into the buckets.

Making syrup takes a while, and if it is not fast enough, you can do this...

Ruby liked licking sap straight from the tap.  The sap tastes like lightly sweetened water.
Dan has a sugarhouse set up in his back yard with a boiler for the sap.  It takes about ten gallons of sap to make one gallon of maple syrup.  It takes about 5 hours to boil the sap down to syrup.

The sap has to be strained to get the bits of junk and ice out.

And while the sap is boiling away...



There is much fun to be had at Dan's house.
I took off with the girls to go to my cousin Jessica's bridal shower!  It is always fun to see cousins and aunts and Grandma at a shower!
The kids stayed with Andy at Dan's house.  Andy took all the kids out for pizza.
After boiling and boiling for five hours, our syrup was not quite ready, so Dan gave us a quart from a batch made the week before.  It was delicious!  He gave us some eggs from his hens. 
We had dinner with my Grandma Tompkins!  Regretfully, I did not take any pictures... something got into my eye and I had to take out my contacts and wear my glasses which happen to be taped up right now.  But we had a lovely time with Grandma... even though I was wearing broken glasses.  No pictures though.
Sunday morning we had a delicious breakfast of pancakes with Dan's maple syrup and fresh eggs from the hens we fed the day before.  Wholesome and yummy.  I think I might want to have chickens some day.  Maybe some big ol' maple trees too.
All in all, a very fun weekend... sweet in all sorts of ways.

Anyhow, after getting