By Plane, Train and Automobile

My house is quiet.

Really, really quiet.

Quite a change from a week ago when this place was buzzing with activity.

Pic

I had kids in and out of the house at all hours – we ate everything on a bun – and there was laughter well into the night.

Then it was over. In the blink of an eye – by plane, train and automobile – they were gone.

My nephew Sammy left first – by automobile, followed by Kimmer and her gang.

A few days later we said goodbye to Lainers at her grandma’s house. And cried.

Pic 2Then it was time for my crew to depart.

Yesterday morning Matt flew to Summit Ministries headquarters in Colorado to start work and Dagmar took the train to Aunt Julie’s for a visit.

And the house was quiet.

Now, when Pedro leaves in the morning with Jan for his summer job, I have 2 children.

Two.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t enjoying it. 🙂

But I’d also be lying if I didn’t admit that I’m glad this is temporary – because deep down there’s a sadness knowing that someday the house will always be this quiet.

And that someday is getting closer.

Cherish every moment.

Happy Fourth of July!

Happy 4th of July!

It’s 101 degrees here today. That’s actual air temperature. I don’t want to know what the heat index is.

We brought our picnic inside and pitied the poor soul who had to stand by the grill and cook it for us.
Juicy Burger, Chips, and Greens
We opted out of the parade later this afternoon – although there’s some talk amongst the kiddos about fireworks just over the border tonight.

But not me.

After celebrating all weekend with my family at the hottest family camp-out in recent history – I plan on enjoying this mid-week holiday in the comfort of my AC.

I’m going to lay on my couch sipping my ice tea fondly remembering the sweat dripping down my back.

Yes – I do mean fondly.
Water
It was a wonderful weekend – despite the heat.

We just had to be more creative to stay cool.

Like spending the afternoon sitting in the creek with my sisters, enjoying all 3 inches of water and talking.

Or sitting around with our feet in the wading pools watching the kids have water balloon fights.

Or – for the more desperate ones – sitting in the walk-in cooler drinking raspberry lemonade.
Hike
Nope. A little heat didn’t stop us from making memories. We just drank more water, threw more water and played with more water.

But now I’m played out.

My couch is waiting, my tea is icing, and I am smiling.

Have a wonderful holiday!

Corn-a-Thon

It all started with an innocent question.

My husband called at lunch – as he always does – and as we were chatting about the mornings events  he mentioned that one of his buddies from work had some extra sweet corn.  Did I want some?

Of course I wanted some! Our first picking had been good – we enjoyed all the corn we could eat and had about 30 “fat” quarts in the freezer – but our second planting was stunted from the drought and our third planting was weeks away.

So we gathered some buckets and boxes and set the boys in to  meet their dad after work and pick us some corn.

I wasn’t expecting a lot – the guy told Jan they had been picking all week – but I was hoping for an all-you-can corn fest for supper and a few more bags in the freezer.

They brought home a Suburban full!

sweet corn

Boxes and boxes and boxes of sweet corn. Jan said they barely made a dent in the field.

They guys started husking right away and I got some water boiling.

We took a break for some supper – but by 6:30 we were back at it!

The next few hours are a blur.

Put corn in. Set the timer. Move the cooled corn to the table. Get fresh water. Cut some corn. Bag some corn. Clean some corn.Run out to grab more corn. Husk a few ears. Run in and take the corn out. Put corn in. Set the timer…

By 8:30 it was getting dark but the guys were still husking. They moved operations to the work shop. The table was covered with cooked ears but I sent Angel Girl out to help them finish.

Corn

By 9:30 the husking was finally done and all hands moved inside to help cut. My table was full of cooked ears, one counter was full of raw ears, and the other counter was covered with full freezer bags.

By 10:30 all four kids were cutting corn as fast as they could and listening to the 2nd Adventures in Odyssey CD. My feet stuck the floor in the kitchen from all the corn juice splattered.

By 11:30 the last of the corn went in to cook and the freezer was so full that I couldn’t find room for more.

By 12:30 the last ear was cut and the last of the freezer bags filled. The kids started cleaning themselves up and heading to bed while I looked at the disaster that once was my kitchen.

By 1:30 AM I had washed the dishes, scrubbed the counters and table, and was scrubbing my floor.

Finally tally – 58 fat quarts (a quart bag stuffed as full as it can be – usually between 5-6 cups), 4 exhausted kiddos, one trashed kitchen, and one wiped-out mom who kept shaking her head and saying, “What was I thinking?”

I know what I was thinking :

“Boy am I glad the kids are home to help!”

“Corn in the freezer is like gold in the bank!”

“This is sure gonna taste good come winter!”

“What a gift – all this corn for free! And I didn’t have to plant it, weed it, water it or try to keep the coons out!” 🙂

Fresh Picked

I love this season of the year – when my meals are planned around what I pick fresh from the garden.

Corn on the cob – all you can eat. Green beans – lightly steamed and dripping with butter. Summer squash in every form imaginable. And what about the tomatoes!

TomatosIs there anything as wonderful as a fresh, vine-ripened tomato?

Unless it’s something made from that fresh, vine-ripened tomato! Something like BLT’s, fresh salsa, bruschetta, or our favorite – pasta with fresh tomatoes.


Just peel 8 medium tomatoes. Chop, seed and drain.

Combine 1/4 cup of olive oil, 1 clove of garlic (crushed), 1 tablespoon of fresh parsley chopped, 1 teaspoon basil, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 of a green pepper (chopped) and 16 black olives, sliced.

Add tomatoes and set aside at room temperature.

Cook 8 ounces of pasta according to directions. Drain and place in serving bowl. Add tomato mixture and toss. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Yum!

We’re still in the honeymoon stage with tomatoes- enjoying all we can eat fresh – but don’t have quite enough yet to can.

WatermelonThen there’s my pride and joy – my watermelons – both of them.

The melons didn’t like the heat and drought of July. But thanks to the boys faithful watering, we saved one watermelon plant with 2 watermelons on it.

I was a little scared to pick the big one – but my friend Martha just gave it a thunk and proclaimed it done.

She was right – it was perfect!

I may just have to call her to come and thunk the next one in a few weeks. 🙂

So what’s on tonight’s menu?

All you can eat fresh corn on the cob (Pedro holds the record with 6 ears at one meal) and chicken wraps (with roasted yellow squash, green peppers, onions and garlic for the more adventurous eaters!)

Lip-smacking goodness!

Blackberries

Ahh..the wonder of the late summer blackberry.

Almost as big as my thumb, these beauties topped our ice cream, landed in our oatmeal, and were luscious in our scones.

BerriesBut ohh…the pain of picking the late summer blackberry!

It’s bad enough that it grows smack dab in the middle of the poison ivy at the edge of the ravine. But then you have the thorns – or should I say spikes?

Those bad boys are so nasty you almost need almost full-body gear for protection!

And of course – there’s the heat and humidity – making that full body gear almost unbearable.

So why do we bother?

Because the warm, sweet deliciousness of a freshly picked blackberry – that stains your hands, your tongue, even the kitchen counter – is just that good.

It makes that kerplink – kerplank – kerplunk in the bottom of the bucket music to our ears.

Some things in life are just worth the extra effort.

Frozen Strawberry Lemonade

smoothieIt’s hot.

Really, really hot.

I mean beastly hot.

And of course it’s time to bale hay.  So when the guys have been out in the brutal heat all afternoon – I like to have something really cold and refreshing waiting for them.

Something like this frozen strawberry lemonade.

It took seconds to whiz up in the blender and was a big hit with my hot crew.

Frozen Strawberry Lemonade

2 cups of lemonade
1-2 cups of frozen strawberries
2 cups of ice cubes
1-2 tablespoons sugar (as needed)

Dump all the ingredients in the blender and give it a whirl for a minute or two. Pour into glasses and enjoy!

Serves 4 normal people but only 1 hot and thirsty kid whose been haying.

I’ve linked this post with Tasty Tuesday at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam and Tempt My Tummy Tuesday at Blessed with Grace.

Summer Flowers and Fairy Houses

The Flowers

By Robert Louis Stevenson

1All the names I know from nurse:
Gardener’s garters, Shepherd’s purse,
Bachelor’s buttons, Lady’s smock,
And the Lady Hollyhock.

Tiger FlowerFairy places, fairy things,
Fairy woods where the wild bee wings,
Tiny trees for tiny dames –
These must all be fairy names!

Fairy FlowersTiny woods below whose boughs
Shady fairies weave a house;
Tiny treetops, rose or thyme,
Where the braver fairies climb!

Queen Annie LaceFair are grownup people’s trees,
But the fairest woods are these;
Where, if I were not so tall,
I should live for good and all.

Fruit Basket Upset

What a crazy weekend!

You could describe it a bit like fruit basket upset.

Let’s start with Friday,  Pedro’s 15th birthday.

Matt is gone to Summit for 2 weeks, Dagmar is on the couch with a 24 hour bug, and Jan & Pedro are frantically trying to get some hay baled before the rain comes.

Oh – and the heat index is about 101.

We pause in the craziness to sit around the dining room table in the air conditioned house with Nana and Poppa, eat grilled chicken and birthday cake, and watch Pedro open his presents, before heading back out to the hay field.

Crash's birthday cake

Saturday morning – Dagmar’s 17th birthday.

She’s feeling better so we prepare for her noon birthday party.

Jan is back in the hayfield. Buddy is on the couch with a migraine. Matt is still at Summit.

The heat index is 103.

We pause in the craziness to sit around the dining room table in the air conditioned house with Nana and Poppa, eat sweet and sour chicken and birthday cake, and watch Dagmar open her presents, before getting back to work.

Meg

Nana and Poppa head home.

The girls and I clean up the kitchen as fast as we can.

My friend Cinnamon drives in with some of her crew and a couple of extras. The teens disappear, the little’s disappear, and I get to relax a few minutes, play with baby Rosie and chat with Cinnamon.

Cinnamon packs up the crew –  leaving Gunnar and Daniel to spend the night with Pedro – and offers at the last minute to take Angel Girl to their house.

Okay – so I now have 3 teen boys in the basement, one 10 year old with a migraine on the couch, an exhausted husband on the tractor in the excessive heat baling hay, one daughter at a friend’s house and another daughter who is supposed to be celebrating her 17th birthday.

And Matt is still at Summit.

Sunday morning. The hay is baled. Nathan is better. The teen boys finally wake up.

The heat index is 105. We drive to church with no air conditioning (you may remember last weeks adventure!).

Daniel and Gunnar go home. We collect Angel Girl and head home in the excessive heat in a van with no air conditioning.

My sister Tee and niece Mil are waiting when we get home. We pause in the craziness to sit down at the dining room table in the air conditioned house and enjoy ham and potatoes and ice cream cake.

The kids disappear and I get to relax a few minutes and visit with my sister.

Jan and Pedro head out in the van with no air conditioning in the excessive heat to the fairgrounds to pick up all of the 4H and open class exhibits.

Tee and Mil take Dagmar home with them head for a few days in the big city.

Jan and Pedro return, hot and tired, just in time for our traditional Sunday night meal of popcorn and sandwiches.

I now have one tired but happy  husband who spent a long weekend baling and missed his Sunday nap, one happy daughter in the big city celebrating her birthday with cousins, one tired but happy daughter who had a great overnight with friends, one tired but happy son who had a lot of fun with his buddies, one tired little guy who was just glad his migraine was gone, and one tired mom who would be quite happy to singlehandedly finish off the left-over ice cream cake.

And Matt is still at Summit.

I told you it was a fruit basket upset!

 

Hugs and Giggles

It has been such a busy week!

So much laughter and silliness – so many special moments.

AnnieSnack

Several days we “went to town” to run errands and pick up Pedro from Driver’s Ed. Each girl had their purse, their baby, and their snack bag. They even got lollipops at the grocery store.

Play GroundWe stopped to play at the park – because Aunt ‘linna and Aunt “Juwe” think that time spent in a park is priceless.
SweetsWe think the girls agreed.
Beach
One afternoon we even took the whole crew (all 13 kids) to the beach – because we’re either crazy or up for Aunts of the Year. 🙂

We all loved it and have the sunburns to prove it!
EmieWe played dress-up clothes, read stories, played with water balloons and spent hours in the swings.
KateWe feed the moo cows, chased the chickens, threw rocks in the ponds, and ate mulberries right off the trees.

We discovered fresh garden peas, read a ka-gillian stories, painted our finger nails and toe nails, and dipped all our food in ranch dressing.

We hugged and kissed and giggled and laughed.

We tickled and prayed and sang and splashed.

It was a good week.

Somewhere Between…

We’re in a between place –  it’s not quite summer and it’s not quite fall.

The days are warm and sunny, but the nights are cool and crisp.

School has started, but we’re still wearing shorts and t-shirts.

Melon

My garden is still producing summer crops – like these cantaloupes – all eight of them harvested on one day!

But my fall crop of  apples in the orchard are already starting to ripen.

We picked 5 tubs of apples from a neighbor’s tree this week and canned almost 50 quarts of applesauce – and still have 3 tubs to work up.

Apples

The pears aren’t far behind them.

The cicadas are singing and the world is starting – very slowly – to turn brown.

One season is closing and another is just beginning.

A part of me is ready for the schedule and structure of the fall – yet another part of me already misses the freedom of the summer.

While my mouth still waters for another taste of meat on the grill, I find myself lingering over recipes for warm comforting casseroles and rich thick stews.

We’re hanging in the “between” right now, enjoying the sunshine and beautiful breezes.

For just a little while we can forget the heat and humidity of the past months and the cold and snow that are surely in our future.

Yes, we are most definitely somewhere between and I think it’s a pretty sweet place to be!