Friday, April 11, 2014

Right Now

This photo is currently the story of my life.  Kids running in and out and playing with cardboard and chair cushions in an empty pool, a blank slate of a backyard because of the trees lost, chickens running wild and screaming at me when I won't let them outside all-day-every-day, John working on building me a work space, jackets and shoes cast aside to feel the grass on their toes.  

We're kind of a hot mess, but in a good way. Strep swept through us all this week, but it somehow would up being a mild strep - is that even possible? I somehow managed to be functional the whole time, which isn't normal - usually strep knocks me out and I feel like I got hit by a truck.  Somehow we all missed that phase - thankfully! 

This weekend looks to be more of the same: sunshine, backyard work, kids and chickens running amok. I like it.  

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Weekend Links

Violet's Words at Rare and Beautiful Treasures
"Well I had a washing machine in the basement. I didn’t have a dryer. We had a clothes line in the basement to use during inclement weather. Sometimes I would hang the babies’ diapers on the line outside and they would freeze before I could get them down! It was a lot of work, yes, I don’t know, we just did it."

Yeah, I Was You, and Now I'm Her...While Working on Me at Tales from the Motherland
"I've said it before: it’s so easy to notice the years rushing by on the faces and in the movement of our children, in the lives of my friend’s children, in the aging and loss of our parents. But somehow the years sneak up on our adult brains. It’s as if everyone else is getting older, and we’re not. Until one day, you throw on a cardigan, glance in the mirror and you've gone from there to here– poof!"

DIY Concrete Plants at Little Green Notebook:
"If you're lucky enough to live in a place that actually gets moisture (slow single tear for myself), you can grow moss on your concrete planters with a little bit of moss from your yard thrown in a blender with buttermilk for a sec. You paint the mixture on the planters and the moss should grow pretty fast. "

Little Girls, Get Up! Get Up and Eat. at Momastery
"Then she added: “Everyone at my table wrote ‘I want my mommy to be happy!’”Oh, I said again.You guys. They want us to be happy.They’re not saying:My dream is for my mom to be perfect.Or my dream is for my mom to be thinner or better looking."

Heirloom Kitchen 01 > Make Soup at dig this chick
"This is how intuition is developed. It is not biological; it is inherited. Cooking confidence is gently handed from one person to another, a kitchen heirloom."

Thursday, April 3, 2014

They Call Them Southern Peas, Cowpeas and Black-Eyed Peas

He walked into the kitchen and looked at me out of the side of his eye. "Ew!"

He glanced down into the bag and looked back at me again through the kitchen doorway to me sitting at the table with the kids and lowered his voice to barely audible. "Ummm...GROSS. What is this?? Do you need me to throw it away?"

(Note: I most definitely did not marry Mr. Optimism.)

"Um, no. They're dried beans, I just need to hull them!"

To be fair, they are dried out old beans. And we're not used to seeing them, we buy beans in cans or in bags, already hulled and picked through to look perfect. But when we went to market that morning, I just couldn't resist. The weather was unseasonably chilly and it felt like fall and the girl was talking about these "Southern Peas" and the amazing soup that was made with them the night before that involved smoky bacon and veggies and deliciousness.

Except one thing: I didn't actually know what they were yet. She said the were Southern Peas, which meant nothing to me beyond the fact that they were clearly some sort of bean. A quick Google search showed me that they have a bunch of names and different varieties, but they're a kind of bean grown most historically in the south, and sometimes also called Cowpeas or Black-Eyed Peas. This helped because it meant that I could search for Black-Eyed Pea recipes.

So I bought them and hulled them and they've been sitting in a jar since September.

But earlier this week I looked around the kitchen to make sure I was making good use of what we have on hand and remembered the beans sitting in the jar and decided to cook them in the slow cooker.   If you think of it ahead of time, you can soak them overnight to shorten their cooking time on the stove top, but it was just as easy for me to throw all of this in the crock pot and have them cook there. When we were ready for dinner, I made a pot of farro and called it good. It was plain, but everyone was happy. It would be delicious with some cheese in there and some cooked greens, too, but I needed to go grocery shopping. In the summer it would be great cold with the beans and farro (or rice or any other grain) tossed with a vinaigrette and some tomato and onion and cucumber and peppers and feta. There's lots of room to play and they also freeze well once cooked, so they're a great thing to have around for last-minute dinners.

Slow Cooker Souther Peas / Cowpeas / Black-Eyed Peas

2 cups dried black-eyed peas

1 ham hock

3 smashed cloves of garlic

1 onion quartered

1 large carrot quartered

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

6 cups of water

Throw everything in and cook on low 6-8 hours. 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Celebrating Five

His birthday was Saturday. He wanted a party and he's never had one that wasn't just family.  No activities, just playing with his friends.  And a construction cake.  (He's not hard to please.)

We got chocolate cupcakes because they were "dirt" for his construction site (and because I bought a 50% off coupon almost a year ago that was almost expired,) John brought home a bunch of boxes from work for the kids to play with and we got out the blocks, Legos and any construction-related vehicles we could find. Hung a few balloons and called it good. Easiest party ever!

We followed it up with birthday dinners with both sides of the family over the weekend.

The past two weeks have challenged me in so many ways, we've had more going on than usual, but watching his excitement about having everyone celebrate him was just so fun.  He is such a sweet guy and so funny.  He'll tell you that he's "not into sports" but he'll chat with you for the next hour about any kind of truck or construction vehicle on the planet.  I've never known anyone with better skills at making messes and getting dirty and digging into things.  He's so relaxed and content in the world, but so bright and curious at the same time.  He loves to be at home almost as much as I do, but he makes exceptions if there's good food involved.  He loves eggs and spaghetti and meatballs (especially if Gran and Pops make it,)  animals, the color blue, Mighty Machines and building or taking apart anything and everything he can get his hands on.

Happy Birthday Nick, we LOVE YOU!

Friday, March 28, 2014

On the Last Day He's Four

I have headphones in sitting in my favorite spot to work and I turned on Pandora.  I can never remember what station I was last listening to, so it's always a surprise what will come on right away, and One Sweet World just made my whole entire morning.

I'm having flashbacks to sitting in the back of a big van at 15 (maybe even 14?) on my way to Canada to canoe and camp for 2 weeks and follow it up with white-water rafting that was way beyond our capabilities and amazing.  The headphones are in and I'm listening to my cd player and watching insane scenery pass me by, getting pringles at gas stations and feeling the most freedom I've ever felt in my life.  I'm living in Teva sandals and bathing suits and shorts and the most tan I'll probably ever be in my entire life and feeling more peace than I've ever felt and it's the place I go back to years later when I need to think of somewhere that makes me happy.  Sitting on pine needles in the middle of the woods on the edge of a lake, eating cheese and crackers for lunch, jumping off of cliffs into lakes, dirty as hell and loving it.

I snap myself back to right now and look at my list of things I need to do today.  Pay bills. Clean and prep for Nick's 5th birthday party tomorrow.  Fold laundry.  Pause.

It was more than half of my lifetime ago that we went on those trips, two (three?) summers in a row, all to the soundtrack of Dave Matthews Band and Live and Sublime and I have no idea how on earth I came out of those trips not drinking or smoking, but I did.

I remind myself not to forget that today is an early dismissal and that I need to make pizza dough for us to make pizza tonight.

Tomorrow I'll wake up and be the mother of a 5 year old and 6-almost-7 year old.  I'll be a wife of almost 8 years. Tomorrow morning it will be rainy and I'll entertain 4 and 5 year olds with cupcakes and hard hats and cardboard box construction projects and I'll follow it up with dinner with family for his birthday and dinner again with family the next day for his birthday and in between I'll meet with friends to talk about the state of education and where it puts us and our kids and what we want to see change and I'll try to sneak in a few minutes here and there to choose flower seeds for my backyard flower farm this summer.  I'll wrestle with what to do about next year and job hunting and childcare and wish to just spend my summer with my hands in the dirt, watching plants and kids grow.

I'll remind myself that we need to plan a family camping trip this summer.  I've said it every year for years and we don't do it and I need to go and be outside with my family.  I need my kids to feel that freedom and the disconnect from the world for a while and be dirty and carefree and I need to sit around a campfire late at night with my husband and re-align my outdoor memories so that they catch up with my life now.  I'll play some Dave Matthews Band on my phone and it can still be the soundtrack, but it can be the one my kids remember from childhood instead.  My husband will choose for them to hear something else and it'll all melt into new memories of them being little and dirty and happy and all of us together.