Summertime…….and the Livin’s Easy

Okay, well maybe not easy per se, what with all the kid whining and animal caretaking and rainy weather and what not, but still.  I have no shortage of pickles so it can’t be all bad, right?

Emily and Neve spent last week with my in – laws who showed them a marvelous time (and to whom I am eternally grateful for providing me with the break).  I was quite productive, despite Oona’s attempts to keep me down.  I got the girls’ room clean (and it took ALL WEEK).  I got some sewing done – pj pants and shorts for each girl, sleep masks for each girl, a skirt for Neve, 2 dresses for me, and a purse.  I know, right?  Here’s kind of  (some crappy pictures, sorry) what they all look like:


Oona’s pj pants, complete with grumpy morning face.


Sleep maskes, skirt, pj’s.  Taken while half asleep at about 2 am.


Purse – I am really happy with how this came out.  It’s an Amy Butler pattern and fabric.  I love that it’s not a mass marketed, logo over – loaded, every-clone has one kind of bag.  Sorry.  I used to be addicted to Kate Spade handbags until I got back into sewing.  Now I am addicted to one of a kind, handcrafted products.

We got the kids’ teacher assignments a few days ago and our supply lists and have everything just about lined up and ready to go for the big day when they go back to school.  School clothes neatly folded, shoes carefully cleaned and checked for fit.  I still don’t think it’s right that they are going back in the hottest month of the year, but who am I to argue?

Cucumber production seems to be winding down now, and the yellow squash and pumpkin production is just about to explode.  If you’ll recall, the last time I showed you my garden it looked like this:


That was exactly one motnh ago, on June 30.  Today my garden looks like this (same view):


It’s crazy.  I can barely walk in there.  But I am happy to see lots of pumpkins well on their way to greatness.  It almost makes up for the fact that my green bean plants never produced, and half of my pea plants died off once the heat hit (note to self: plant peas and beans earlier next year). I also never got anything out of my butternut squash seeds.  That’s a huge disappointment, considering my addiction to butternut squash.    I also haven’t been taking the chickens out to the garden because I’ll lose them in the leaves!  And then I’ll have to trample over everything to retrieve them.  And I don’t want to get bitten chasing chickens.  Darn rooster nipped me good on both hands the other day when I grabbed him.  Drew blood on both hands – in the same spot, in that fleshy area between your thumb and first finger.  Then Penelope the hen got feisty and bitey as well.  But today we discovered what her issue is.  She’s actually a damn rooster.  Yup.  I have two roosters.  And they are both crowing now.  I emailed the lady we got them from to see if I can trade one of the roos back to her for a hen.  Hopefully that works out because we can’t be having cockfights around here.  I mean really now!


Um, so anybody know any good cucumber recipes?  I have 10 quarts of pickles in my fridge and about 50 lbs of cukes on the counter, PLUS probably another 3 dozen ripening on the vine.  I’ve made (obviously) pickles, cucumber raita (which I love with samosas, tamarind chutney and naan, btw!) and I am thinking maybe some cucumber mojitos would be nice and refreshing……..but I am seriously buried in cukes here.  Please send cuke ideas!!!!!

The tomatoes, while so promising at the beginning, are doing less well.  In fact, I am having moderate luck with the cherry tomatoes, but the Mr. Beefy are going bad before they turn red.  They just get huge and green and then……die.  Between the weather and the slugs and goodness knows what else.  I picked a few good green ones and have them sitting in the window in the kitchen.  We’ll see how that goes.

I do have 2 big pumpkins out back getting bigger by the day and the zuke and yellow squash will no doubt be over producing before too long.  And the bail has provided me with much opportunities for pesto, thanks to Ruby the hen eating all of the beetles for me.  The bees seem to love the basil as well, but we leave them alone.  They’re the good guys.

And speaking of chickens, our rooster has begun crowing.  At first he sounded like a cat being strangled, but he’s been finding his voice more and more and getting more of the “cock-a-doodle-doo” sound.  It cracks Oona up, and it cracks me up when she imitates him.   So far he only does it during the day, which makes me quite happy, thank you very much.  I don’t want to bug the neighbors.  I do find it amusing to listen to and am surprised to find I rather enjoy the sound.  He is kind of a territorial little brat, though.  Today I went to get Ruby for her daily bug eating and when I grabbed at her Mr. Roo pecked my hand pretty hard.  It didn’t hurt too much (it’s kind of like being pinched) but it left a mark.  Then he proceeded to crow the entire time I had Ruby away and didn’t stop until I brought her back.  They still all run from me when I go to transfer them between tractor and coop.  Dummies.  Their herding instinct is pretty good, though so they don’t wander too far and always head for the safety and familiarity of the coop.

Right now the older girls are with me in laws so Oona and I are on our own this week.  It’s been lovely and quiet.  I’ve completed a few sewing projects (will show in a future post) and begun cleaning the bedroom of horrors since Emily and Neve aren’t here to stop me.  I also went and bought their school supplies today.  And no, I don’t mean their clothes and backpacks.  I mean the $200 list of supplies the school demands we send in with each child every year (crayons, tissues, paper, glue, hand soap, scissors, dry erase markers,  ziploc bags, you name it).  This of course does not include the many times during the year they’l be hitting me up for more money and other items.  What actually makes me mad about this is that on top of this the school board still doesn’t pay the teachers enough and all of the special programs and extras (like music!!) keep getting cut out and everyone keeps voting “no” to raising school taxes even though the school gets very little aid from the state. Ah, don’t get me started.   Let’s just focus on the fun part of today – I brought home a new dvd – “Coraline” in 3-d.  Hooray!!!

Now With Knitting Content!!!!

Yes!  I have been knitting!  I haven’t mentioned it really because it really gets done in bits and spurts at a snail’s pace these days.  However, I have gotten a sock and a quarter (almost).  It’s not a huge accomplishment, and boy oh boy I cannot wait for it to be over because I am SO OVER this yarn now (though it is quite lovely and soft, just, you know.  Months of the same barely progressing project doesn’t engender much charity towards it for me right now).


I’m slogging away on the second sock.  I’ll let you know if it gets better.

In other news…..

We had a nest in one of the trees lining our driveway – I had suspected it was a Killdeer and turned out to be correct.  They’re pretty plentiful out in that portion of our property.  I dared a peek a few days ago and saw a little open beak craning up for mama.  I hadn’t even realized there were eggs in it yet.  I dared to venture back with the camera but had the weather working against me (it was way steamy out and the lens kept fogging over) and the mama bird kept screeching and diving me so I got in a few blurry shots with the camera held way away from me.  Only one is worth showing, and it still sucks.


Can you make them out?  Anyway they are gone now – mama taught ’em to fly and they’re off.  It was cute while it lasted.

Also in avian news, we now have a chicken tractor.  This is not an actual tractor in the heavy machinery sense, but a bit of moveable daytime housing for the chickens.  You move it to a different spot each day so the birds get to eat all of the bugs in your lawn without pecking the spot muddy, as they have next to their permanent coop.  They really seem to enjoy being in it, but they really do NOT like it when we gather them in the morning to be put in it.  The girls are having a grand old time of it, watching the poor dumb things run around like, well, you know.  They don’t enjoy being held.  Except Ruby – she’s my buddy.  She’s our golden colored Brahma/Cochin mix.  She also loves to eat the Japanese beetles off of my basil plants, which pleases me to no end.  I may have plenty of pesto this year after all!


Paul put handles and wheels on it so I can easily move it to whatever spot I fancy.


See?  Chicken tractor.  Grand idea!


Hopefully they’ll be happy enough to give me a decent amount of eggs once they start laying.

Paul also completed the bead – board facing for the window bed he made in the playroom.


I recovered the back pillows with some upholstery – weight black and white toile I had and covered the mattress top with some black and white stripe cotton knit I had.  I’ll make two roll pillows to go on the sides.  I’m thinking this may be my favorite spot in the whole house.   Jasper loves it, too.   If only the girls didn’t consistently destroy the room in which it is located. They are wild ones, those girls.  But that’s ok.  My in laws are coming this weekend to take them away for a week.  A week!!!!!  Hooray!!!  I’ll still have Oona to contend with, but with the older girls away I may actually get some cleaning and organizing done in time for the new school year.

Yeah, you heard me.  They go back August 10.  A crime, right?  Makes us feel like summer is over when it really is nowhere near being over.  We’re trying to live it up as best we can.  Emily got an early birthday gift of Rock Band 2 for the Wii and they are loving it.  We also roasted marshmallows again last night.  Over the weekend we had my parents, my uncle and my grandmother for the day (Neve plum wore out my grandma, I can tell ya that) and ate lots of summer food (burgers, potato salad, peach cobbler, fresh homemade pickles).  Oona made grandpa very happy by hangning with him on the swingset and giving him lots of baby love.


I took her out on the swings again today, and let her run around in just her onesie while I was moving the chickens.  Since being a mom is my job I often forget to allow “vacationey” things.  I get too caught up in trying to get things done! that I forget it’s a good time for Oona to play outside and for my older girls to enjoy chasing chickens.  It’s summer, and for a few more precous weeks we’re not on anyone’s schedule but ours.  If we want to take time just to look at the stars or watch the bats we can.  We may still be home, I may still be on the job, but you know what?  It’s still vacation.

Summer Turns to High

Good song, good song.  Double points if you can name that artist.

It’s not really been too hot around here.  Not the kind of sweltering, energy sapping, kill-me-now heat that I am used to us having at the height of summer, but then summer really did just start, didn’t it?  Which is why it feels so not right that in 4 more weeks the older girls are headed back to school.  August 10 is the first day – just when summer is at it’s dog days best.  The pressure is on to soak up every bit of summer relaxation and enjoyment that we can before homework and early morning alarms rear their ugly heads again.  In that vein, this week we spent a few days camping at the almost local KOA.  My in laws pop-up camper has been conveniently parked in our driveway for a few months so we thought maybe the kids could use some fun time away from home, and the KOA has clean bathrooms and a nice pool.  Ordinarily I am not much for camping – at least not with little kids, since they tend to get every bit as dirty and sticky as possible and stay that way. We had pretty decent accommodations, however, so it was rather fun, even with Neve’s embarrassing outburst upon stepping into the pool the firs time.  Jesus that’s cold!!! she yelled for all to hear.  Ah, Neve.  My inappropriate child. Sigh.

I brought my knitting and a David Sedaris book, but neither got touched.  It’s rough wrangling an almost 2 year old when camping.  Every 11 seconds she was yelling BUG!!!! and had to be convinced that it was OK.


Our temporary home.  Next time I am purchasing an outdoor rug for Oona to walk around on.  She kept skinning her knees on the gravel.  And yes!  We brought Pippa!  She of the very loud mouth and too much barking!


Our not-so-roughing-it quarters.


Poor cute little skinned knees.  She kept making Paul walk her all around the campground, which was funny because her shoes squeak, so all you heard while we were there was that squeak squeak squeak squeak……


When we were not in the pool we were playing cards.  Uno was the favorite of everyone but Neve, who cried when we didn’t let her look at all of our cards and then demanded we play Old Maid instead.  Despite the outbursts she won several rounds.


Paul and Oona napped.  Notice his not-really-camping clothes?  This is how he is dressed at all times.  No matter how hot it gets.  Button – up shirt, pants, shoes.  Even at the beach.  It’s one if his quirks.


Maddie got plenty of boy attention.  She even got “asked out” by one fellow.  She politely declined.  The only love she was after on this trip was some Oona love.


I think we’re all after a bit of Oona love.


They had maps there listing all of the KOA’s across North America.  It was a lot of fun to look at.  Maddie was especially excited by the one in Port Angeles, Washington, not very far from the town of Forks (that would be where Twilight is set, for those who dont’ know).


And then there’s Pippa.  Pippa who got to ride in the truck with her man (and tried to jump out the window at the first stop light), got to go camping with her family, got to sniff at all kinds of new smells and meet all kinds of new people.  Pippa who got to sleep in style in a very comfortable, clean, dry dog house (the ginormous back of the box truck – all for her, complete with her food bowls, a cot and a carpet for her).  Pippa who got treated with bacon the last morning we were there.  Pippa the dog.  Who peed a stinky 2 gallon pee all over my living room carpet our first day home, 10 minutes before our neighbors stopped by, so that I couldn’t invite them in for a nice visit.  Pippa who just woke up the baby with her loud mouth barking.

Ah well.  Can’t win ’em all.  At least the kids had fun!