Our Family

Our Family

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Quilting Wednesdays

Yesterday was my quilting day, and boy did I have fun!  My friend, Crafty Momma, is just awesome...so much fun to be with, and my children love playing with her girls.  Yesterday was especially fun b/c there was another friend at her house who was crafting too.  Crafty Momma taught me how to do a more complicated quilting technique, and while it was more time consuming than the first two, it was more rewarding.  It didn't even seem to take long b/c I had so much fun making it!

So, here is the pic of my 3rd square prior to piecing it together:
Crafty Momma had me sew the strips of material onto newspaper, and once this stage was complete, we got to peel the newspaper off the back.  Each of these smaller squares are roughly 6 inches by 6 inches as each of my squares are 12 inches by 12 inches.

And here is a picture of the final square:

And here are the three squares I've completed so far:

I can already see how this could be addicting.  I'm having such a great time learning, and I've got the best teacher.  I hope that I'm encouraging others that quilting isn't so difficult, and it is a lot of fun!  It's like scrapbooking or card making on steroids!  So fun!  Next week, Crafty Momma is going to help me complete the last square (which is already almost done, but I didn't get a chance to post pics), and she is going to help me start to piece the pillow together.  I may make one more square and put the block on the far bottom right on the back of the pillow.  In case you missed it, the goal is to make a reading pillow or a movie watching pillow for my Missy and one for my little Man.

One of my favorite memories from the day was when Crafty Momma's daughter came down to see what we were doing.  She asked, "Can I see."  Then she held it very close to her eyes and said, "oh, it's so beautiful."  Crafty Momma has her little girl trained right.  She is such a doll!

And b/c no post is fun without a crazy pic of one of my kids.  I was cleaning house (vacuuming to be exact), when I noticed it was quiet after I shut of the vacuum.  The kids had a friend over playing, and I knew they must be up to something when I found them all 3 in a locked bathroom.  I got them to open the door, and I found this looking back at me:

All three children looked just like this, and my Little Man had a Brillo pad in his hands trying to scrub the marker off his face - and off his friend's face - OUCH!  I sent them upstairs to use a washcloth and my good facial soap.  Fortunately, the marker was washable.  There's nothing like sending a friend home looking like he was wearing makeup - which is what they resembled after trying to scrub off all the marker.  Never a dull moment!

The Garlic Farm


Last Saturday, our family went to The Garlic Farm.  Mat's friend at work told us about this farm which is only about 30 minutes from our house, and after hearing that they would be having a pesto making demonstration, we thought it would be fun for the family.

There are two weekends a year where you can cut garlic scapes off of a garlic plant.  Last weekend and this coming weekend happen to be those two weekends - yay for us!

What are garlic scapes?  (fyi I'm copying this directly from the Garlic Farm's website which I linked above)
Garlic scapes, or flower stalks, emerge from hard-necked varieties of garlic--normally in June in Connecticut. The stalks wind up as they grow and form eccentric curlicues. Snipping off the scapes before the flowerheads mature allows the plant to direct more energy into the developing garlic bulb, and so we snip them off for a garlic scape harvest in mid-June.

When the garlic scapes are still in full curl, they are tender and succulent. They have a garlicky taste that is milder than the eventual garlic cloves, with the tender snap of just-picked asparagus. In fact, we often say that you can prepare garlic scapes pretty much any way you'd use asparagus--and more.

close-up photo of curling scape taken June 5, 2013

The lady made the most divine pesto from these little weedy looking things, and IT WAS DIVINE!  We knew we had to get some when even the kids ate it up (although it is a little spicy like garlic when you eat it fresh).  It loses it's spice each day after it's made.  Heck, you can even eat the thing raw (which we did, and the kids promptly drank gulps of water 'cause that stuff is HOT)!

Garlic Scape Pesto
1 cup (or less) freshly grated Parmesan cheese or other sharp Italian cheese (WE USED ASIAGO CHEESE)
1–2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime or lemon juice, adjusted to taste (WE USED LIME JUICE)
1/4 pound roughly chopped scapes
1/2 cup olive oil
salt to taste (don't salt it until after you try eating it with a saltine cracker, of course, salt side down)
You can add nuts (preferably walnuts, but we did not add nuts b/c it was perfect without them)

Puree scapes, olive oil, and juice in a blender or food processor until nearly smooth. (You can make a smooth paste if you prefer, but most people like a little texture in the pesto.) Gently stir in the cheese or gingerly pulse the cheese into the mixture; take it easy as you mix in the cheese to avoid making the pesto gummy by overblending. Taste and then adjust juice and salt to taste.

Store in the refrigerator to use within two or three days; freeze for longer storage. Scape pesto freezes well, and it holds its appealing green color when frozen even better than the traditional basil pesto.

We also tried them just by grilling the entire scape like you would grill asparagus, and that was very yummy.  Even my children wolfed down the grilled scapes.  They were like long green beans, but better!

Here is a picture of my pesto (actually Mat made it) before I froze it:
And here is a picture of the scape pesto chicken that I made:
It's not the best picture, but I'll just share the simple recipe (b/c I only do simple around here).  You can either bake the chicken of put it in the crock pot just like this:
two chicken breasts
covered in dry ranch seasoning
and smothered in garlic scape pesto (or any kind of pesto)

And it wouldn't be a good southern recipe without the collards - made with bacon, of course!

I hope you all get the opportunity to taste or better yet make garlic scape pesto sometime.  It has certainly become my favorite food.  I like it best as a dip with crackers, but it's good every way I've tried it so far.

Friday, June 14, 2013


 I have been on a crafty kick this week.  I needed a few things so I set out on a trip to find Joann's.  I am learning how to quilt thanks to the encouragement of a sweet lady.  I have a good friend who is about to teach a quilting class, and she was excited to teach me (I'm so excited!).  Not knowing Connecticut very well, I thought to go to the closest craft store (besides Michael's - cause I know they don't sell material) which happens to be A.C. Moore.  I struck out - they don't have material either.  So I asked my GPS to help me find Joann's, and off we went on our adventure.  We stopped for a bit to eat, and I'm so thankful that we did.  My GPS must have taken me to Joann's house cause "you have arrived at your destination" landed us deep in a neighborhood.  We finally found Joann's, and it looked like this:

It was set way far back in a shopping center, and it was RED instead of GREEN.  Not only that, it was the smallest Joann's I'd ever seen.  After driving for an hour in search of the place, we all had to go potty, and they didn't even have a bathroom?!  We had to leave to go find a bathroom.  We did go back to the dumpy Joann's, and I was in search of fabric to make reading pillows (quilted, of course) for both kids.  Missy wanted a ballet pillow, and little man wanted a beach themed pillow.  I thought that I'd make little man a quilted comforter as well.  However, they store was so small that they didn't have material to make either one.  Missy ended up choosing a cupcake pattern, while little man kept his heart set on his beach pillow.

 I started on Missy's quilted pillow.  Here are my first two squares ever.  I had so much fun making them...way easier than I expected, but it's probably cause I had a fantastic teacher!

I searched high and low, but apparently, there is only one person who sells a beach theme for a boys room.  It is Jamie Wood, and her stuff is amazing - but a bit too pricey for me.  Check it out.  It's called Little Surfer Boy: http://www.clothworks.com/collection.asp?ID=393

Today, we went out in search of another Joann's.  This time it was the real deal.  Little man was so excited.  He said, "it's the real one, Mom.  Look, it's the ETC store."  We walked in, and the store had to be 5 times bigger than the store we went to the other day.  Little man went on and on about the store being awesome b/c it was the ETC store.  I couldn't handle it.  I was dying.  I tried to explain what etc. means, and poor Missy got it while Little Man was too excited about the store to listen.  Poor guy...just doesn't get it.  I think Missy was just hanging on my every word as she is just as crafty as her momma.  At the prospect of understanding anything craft related, her little ears perked up.

 I did finally find some not so beach related material.  Little man chose an ocean themed pattern for his pillow.  I'll post pics when I start working on his quilt.  It won't be long.  I bought the materials needed to piece the squared together at home rather than just at my friend's house.  I'm still in search of beach related material b/c I really want to make a beach quilt.


When we lived in Florida, we saw rainbows ALL the time!  I love rainbows!  When we found out we were moving north, we talked about missing rainbows.  On our pre-move trip, we saw a great big beautiful rainbow right here in Connecticut.  We don't see them nearly as often as we did in Florida, but we saw one today.  It was a big beautiful full arch...and in of all places, I saw it right over the top of the grocery store (cause I hate grocery shopping here).  It's been raining for days up here.  There are giant puddles everywhere.  It was a beautiful day today, and the rainbow was a great reminder that it won't rain forever.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Snowstorm of 2013 - Nemo I think

I never did get around to sharing about the giant snowstorm that we had this past winter.  First of all, we got lots of snow throughout the winter.  I don't know how the amount of snow we got this winter stacked up against any other winter since this was our first full winter season living in Connecticut.  We found the amount of snow to be lots of fun, lots of work and just plain ole fun.  We bought all new snow attire - down coats for everyone, gloves, snow boots, snow pants (I didn't find any for me yet, but I'll survive), and long johns (which I wore often).

We lived here for a winter 7 years ago, and we got a giant-shut-down-the-city kind of snowstorm back then.  However, this winter, we got more snow than the city had seen since the 1800's.  It snowed all night one Friday night, and by morning, we opened the back door to 29 inches of snow.  We immediately had to plow a path for the doggie to go potty (which took a couple of hours).  By Saturday afternoon, the plows had already cleared a path down our street (that's our West Hartford taxes hard at work).

We took off Saturday to play with friends in the snow, but Sunday, it took nearly 5 hours to clear our driveway (and that was with a snowplow).  I could see how that much work would get old, but I could handle that once a season.  That snow stuck around until Spring in giant mounds on the sides of the road and in parking lots.  The snow was taller than the dog so we couldn't see her running around in our snow paths.  The piles formed on the side of the roads were taller than my hubby.  The kids had lots of fun making a snow fort in some of that tall clearing (although I was a bit concerned that the snow would fall on them causing them to suffocate).  The roads were cleared in West Hartford immediately, but other towns had to wait days to get cleared out.  I hope you enjoy the photos of our snow.  I'm enjoying these fond memories knowing that it is now warm outside :)

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Busiest Days of my Life

I have a dear friend, a friend that I admire and often seek advice from.  I'm sure she doesn't know how much I admire her, although I tell her as often I can.  Unfortunately, this friend lives in Florida, and right now I miss her so much.  I've been thinking of her a lot during this season of life.  She told me when my kids were little that life would get busier each year.  I couldn't imagine what she told me would be true b/c she said this 3 years ago.

Three years ago, I had a 1.5 year old and a 5.5 year old.  After being apart from my husband for months and getting our home on the market alone, I had just moved to a new city.  My husband had a new job, I was looking for a new set of friends and a community to call home, and I was struggling to manage my very active highly verbal son while making new friends, and I was changing diapers and taking care of a tiny toddler.  I was also just starting out on my homeschooling journey (one that I fled from for fear of damaging my son educationally while knowing fully that it was best for him).  I was on the brink of an emotional and physical meltdown, and here she was saying this was nothing.  I should really relay that she said it in love and kindness...and probably much out of fatigue herself knowing that she had wished someone would have warned her about the future with two children herself.  I sat there wondering what she meant..."how on earth could life get more busy."  She wasn't saying that life would always be so hard, but she did know that life with children would just keep getting busier.

I've been thinking about her comment for weeks now as somehow each day gets more filled than the day before.  I don't think I'm over-committing myself.  I don't think the kids are involved in too many activities (I try to limit them to one activity a piece besides music lessons - and the music teacher comes to us).  I don't know how these days get so full.  I realize that I homeschool two children, and I think the stress of making sure that I keep school as well as household things afloat adds a lot to how busy I feel.  Truly, my kids are wonderful and these are the best days I've ever had.  Now, if I could just freeze time.

And if any of you are experienced mommas - especially homeschool momma's and have some advice to share about time management, please send me a note.  I always love to hear how others are managing through these busy years, and it is nice to have some other ideas that I may not have considered.

Funnies that could have won us money


My little darlin is just the sweetest girl.  She is that kid who waits until last to make sure that everyone else has had a chance to go.  She is the one who watches out for others, and often puts others before herself.  She is often found with a young friend in her lap, and she will spend hours just smelling the flowers.  This sweet personality puts her in a position that is easy to tease, and we did just that over Memorial Day weekend while friends were visiting.

Darlin' was eating an ice cream bar (something that rarely is allowed anymore at our house), and she had to go potty...immediately.  So she handed me her beloved sweet treat, and asked me not to eat it.  My hubby had just finished his ice cream bar (don't fret - it was a sugar free something kind of bar), and he traded his empty stick for Darlin's nearly bite free ice cream bar.  So when Darlin' came out of the bathroom, she saw the empty stick and truly thought that I had eaten her treat.  The poor thing just started crying those giant alligator tears that squirt all over the place like in cartoons.  Hubby ran over and handed her HER ice cream, and even still she could not stop crying AND she started laughing at the same time.  It was just the most pathetic sad little thing you ever could see.  She finally gained control, and finished her treat while the rest of us were left wishing we had thought to video the whole episode.  We felt bad for teasing her, but it was also so stinking funny that we surely would have won America's Funniest Videos - likely even the grand prize.

Darlin' is such a sweet child.  She is so carefree and fun loving.  She could care less about scholarly things while she cares a great deal about nature and feelings.  A harsh word tips her over the edge, and she loves -I mean loves- to be outside.  Our favorite place to visit is Elizabeth Park.  It is fairly close to our house, and the park is filled with flowers - of all kinds.  It is famous for it's giant rose garden complete with dozens of arched rose bushes that you can run through...and it's just beautiful.  We go there almost weekly, and the children have found a special spot where the trees make you feel like you're playing in a little fort.  The kids call it "their fort," and they get quite anxious when others are in this spot.  It's not surprising that we took some very dear friends to this park while they visited on Memorial Day.  The kids were able to run safely around the rose garden under all the arches free.  It was all going so well until I noticed Darlin' running without her shoes (nor did I see them anywhere).  I called to her to see if she could point me to them, and her response was to look around frantically and then run off shouting "flippy floppies."  She is a doll!  She said, I just put them under an arch (mind you there are likely 2 dozen arches), and her little pink flip flops look like little pink flowers.  It took a few minutes with 4 adults and 4 kids searching, but we found them.

Little man also had quite an eventful week.  He got new spectacles -first time ever spectacles- last Saturday.  He was so excited about them until we got to our CC practicum last week and immediately several children made fun of him.  Little punks...I could have busted their chops right then and there, and it was only God's grace that kept me from doing just that.  He gave them to me quietly and told me he never wanted to wear them again.  I've had a struggle getting him to wear them ever since.  They look rather sharp on him, and a sweet young lady friend told him so.  I had hoped her opinion would have been more valuable than this little CC friends, but I'm still not able to get him to wear them in public.  Thankfully, they are just reading glasses.

I'll wrap this very winded post by telling a funny story about Little Man.  I got a night guard today -oh joy- and the kids came along to the dentist to cheer me on.  I really think they just enjoy watching the TV while I see the dentist.  In the middle of the whole thing, they got thirsty so I allowed them to get a cup of water from the dentist.  First, Darlin' went to turn on the faucet, and no water came on.  It turns out it's one of those that you step on a foot thingy to get the water on, but she didn't know that.  I helped her get it figured out.  Then Little Man (who had stepped out of the room for a minute) asked if he could get water too.  Darlin' and I just laughed and watched as he could NOT figure out how to get the water on.  I was telling him he had to jump and hold his breath at the same time, he hand to way abracadabra, make his hands to magic...all kinds of craziness.  Best part was that he really believed me, and he tried each thing to get the water to work.  He even put his cup right under the water so that if it did come on, he'd at least get water in the cup.  Darlin' and I were dying.  It was a great comedy act - especially after the horrible procedure I had to go through today.  He finally figured it out, and he laughed at himself too.  The kid is so gullible, but that's one thing he has going for him...he laughs at himself instead of taking things personally.  I love my Little Man!