Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Blue Ridge Kite Festival

One of our favorite festivals each year is the Blue Ridge Kite Festival.  We missed last year, due to a conflicting event, but were happy to return this year.  It's located in Salem, Virginia, and is a free event.
 It was windy and a little chilly this year.  There were so many beautiful kites high up in the blue skies.  Kids receive free kites and t-shirts, so here are the boys coloring their kites to get them ready to fly.

Pierce had a blast running around with his kite.  It was windy enough that he didn't have much trouble at all getting it into the air. 
What a fun way to spend a windy Spring morning! 

Monday, April 29, 2013

Silent Memories

Over the holidays I found a photo album at my grandmother's house that was full of black and white horse and dog pictures from the 1950s. A loose picture fell out and it seemed as if it was speaking to me, although it was silent.

I borrowed the picture to scan it (the above is the unedited, original picture), because I simply had to have a copy, and I will return it next time I visit my grandmother.

When I look at this, I see all the excitement in the faces of the participants. It must have been such a special day - one that had to be preserved for everyone on film. 

I zoomed in a bit to get a closer look at the dogs, the horses, and the joyfulness of the day. 

I don't know the details of the event - whether a fox was hunted or whether they were just out for a ride with their horses and dogs.  I don't know if someone took a tumble over a fence, or if the ladies had a contest to see who made the best pie.  But I do know I seem to have inherited the horse loving gene that goes way back in my family.  A part of me knows that this day is something I'm sorry to have missed - no doubt it was full of wonderful adventure!  And I suspect that whoever took this picture and saved it all those years would be pleased as punch to see it shared with my readers today.  Because it was, indeed, a day to remember.

This post is my entry for the 'One Picture From My Photo Album' contest conducted by My Yatra Diary and CupoNation.  Three bloggers I think should enter because they have a wonderful way with photos and words would be Buttons Thoughts, Chillin With Jill, and Bringing Along OCDEntries have a chance to win an Amazon gift card, so if you're a blogger with a fun picture of a memory sitting in a drawer, you should jump in and participate!

Friday, April 26, 2013

A Silent Gray Tiger in the Woods...

1.  I know I'm not supposed to have favorites.  But out of my 4 cats, this one continues to extensively charm me with his personality.  One of the particularly funny things he does is randomly attack Paul in the evenings.  Maybe he wants me all to himself. 

2.  In June it will be a year since I've bought a loaf of bread.  I have been making our bread in the bread machine.  It's quick - it takes me 3 minutes to load it up and turn it on.  A few hours later we have our preservative-free bread.

3.  I have also done rolls and hamburger buns in the bread machine, but on the dough cycle, so it's slightly more time consuming.

4.  I don't think I could do a low-carb diet.  Oddly, high protein snacks make me very queasy.  I can't tolerate things like nuts for snacks.  But I can eat peanut butter.  Strange.  It's a good thing I exercise a lot, huh?

5.  I usually try to schedule my blog posts a week in advance.  So by the time you read this, at least a week has passed since I wrote it.  If I'm not scheduled out at least a full week, I feel like I'm behind.  How far ahead do you like to write out your posts?

This post linked with Random Friday and Nancy at A Rural Journal.

Thursday, April 25, 2013


Pierce has had a loose tooth for months.  I never knew a loose tooth could drag on so long.  He waited and waited and waited.  He wiggled and ate apples and pulled.  The dentist even said (a couple of weeks ago) "Surely this will fall out tonight!"  But it hung on.

Finally, though, one day last week Pierce jumped off the bus with excitement.  The tooth had fallen out.  I got out the little tooth fairy pillow I made a couple of years ago just for this momentous occasion. 

Luckily, the tooth fairy did remember to come visit Pierce that night.  I was a little worried she might forget.  I heard she's been a little overtaxed lately.  I think the pillow I made was a beacon reminder to her. 

Do you remember losing your first tooth, readers? 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Have you had Mochi?

The summer of 2007 I ran in the San Francisco marathon.  In addition to falling in love with the city, I was introduced that summer to a new delicacy.  My friend Katie gave me a little ball of ice cream from Trader Joe's called mochi.  I've loved them ever since. 

Of course we don't have a Trader Joe's in Roanoke (insert mad face).  But whenever we have a chance out of town we always stop in.  When we went to Trader Joe's in Greenville, Pierce immediately said, "Mom, can we get some mochi?!"  Even though it had been a year since we went to Williamsburg, Pierce still remembered the mochi we got there.  Guess I'm not the only fan in my family.

In fact, Pierce is still complaining that we couldn't bring some home with us, but I didn't feel it would survive the long drive plus a detour through Asheville and the NC Arboretum. 

Readers, have you ever tried mochi?  If so, what's your favorite flavor?  I don't like the green tea, but I do love the others, and mango is probably my favorite. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Garden Season

It's that time of year!  While I'm not excited about all the weeding, I am eager for all the harvesting. 

So far we have a few things up in the garden.  My asparagus is back and this year we get to eat it!  Since last year was the first year, I had to leave it alone.  I posted a picture of Pierce on Instagram recently with asparagus that is waist high! 

The garlic I planted last summer is up and doing well.  Also up are carrots, peas, lettuce, and some onions Reid helped me plant.  This is Cort with the garlic:

Last year I had 3 rhubarb plants but for some reason only one of them came back this year.  I'm hoping it will do well - since I only have the one it needs to be a good producer so we can have crisps and jams.  I will have to put more rhubarb in next fall.

Pierce helped me put in lima beans and brussel sprouts last weekend.  And I also put in a green pepper (it is still a little early, so I only planted one) and some broccoli.

I am waiting on all the squashes until June, in hopes I'll miss the squash bug population this year.  It is hard to wait though.  Summer squash is one of my favorites!  In the next couple of weeks I'll get tomatoes, potatoes, and beets in.

Readers, what is your favorite garden vegetable? 

Monday, April 22, 2013

It's a Zoo in There!

It's been a while since I've posted any playful lunches for the boys.  I think I'm overdue.  Pierce loves when I send notes to school in his lunchbox, so I started off his bento with a little note.

This may seem like a large lunch, but it's actually lunch and a snack for him, as they have snack time each day.  I liked the theme of the zoo, since we just visited the Greenville Zoo over Spring Break. So in the bento I packed an open faced cheese sandwich bear in a pretzel rod cage with a yellow tomato ball for playing.  There is also a lion tortilla sandwich filled with refried beans and accented with a carrot mane.  The lion is standing in the tall grass of roasted seaweed and carrots.    On the side, there is a surprised monkey egg and a bento elephant filled with dark chocolate raisins for dessert.  You may notice another nosy animal in the bottom right corner checking out the lunch.  I didn't pack him, but I do think the lunch met with his approval. 

Also included was a banana and a Kidz Zone bar.  You know ZonePerfect bars?  Well they've started making kid bars now!  Pierce was so eager to try the yellow cupcake flavor.  He reported it was delicious!  Even better - the bars feature 23 vitamins and minerals, 5 grams of protein, and 3 grams of fiber.  Perfect for my active little boy.  They also offer flavors in caramel crunch and peanut butter chocolate chip.
 I didn't tell Pierce what was in his lunch ahead of time, so that he could be surprised.  He can't wait for me to pack him another in the near future.  Nutrition can be so fun!
Disclaimer:  I received some products from Zone Perfect, along with an invitation to blog about them to be entered to win Kidz ZonePerfect bars and goodies for Pierce's classroom at school (wish us luck!).  The opinions above are my own. 

Friday, April 19, 2013

Pass the tiny yellow tomatoes, please!

1.  A few years ago my neighbor JP introduced me to these little yellow tomatoes.  I fell in love.  Smitten with the tiny things.
     Unfortunately, they cost $3.50 in the store for a tiny container.  I think I need to try to grow them in my garden this year.  My boys love them too.  They are wonderful raw, or roasted on top of pizza!

2.  I told my uncle when we met him for lunch in Asheville that Cort was a ham.  Cort nodded solemly and said, "Yes, I'm a pig".  I forget that kids take things so literally sometimes.

3.  Reid helped me plant some onions last month, and he was so delighted when I showed him they are up in the garden.  I loved seeing him so excited to be growing food.

4.  Thanks to those of you who have asked about the job.  It's been going well.  I've only been able to work about 6-7 hours a week, due to a conflict in schedule with the time my client wants to meet, and the time I actually have childcare.  But aside from that it has been going well and is definitely challenging me, which is good.

5.  I broke down and bought myself one of those foam gardening kneeling pads at the dollar store.  Somehow I think this makes me less of a gardener.  Like I'm less tough now that I have my cushy foam mat?  Or maybe I'm just getting old since I need to pad my knees?  Then I think, Oh don't be ridiculous, save your knees silly! 

This post linked with Random Friday at A Rural Journal. 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Making a Fairy and Gnome House from a Tissue Box - Craft Tutorial

It's that time of year again!  Time for the Tissue Box Challenge with JDaniel4sMom, just in time for Earth Day.  She was sweet enough to ask me to be one of the judges this year, so I won't be participating in the contest, but I still wanted to make something because the boys love our tissue box creations (like last year's rocket ship). 

I made some gnomes and fairies back when I had vertigo, and I thought it would be fun to create an earthy house for them.  I hope that gnomes and fairies can coexist and don't get into fights.

I started by cutting up a small tissue box to add to a large tissue box, using duct tape.

Then I went for a walk in the woods and gathered moss, acorns, sticks, ferns, and forest flowers.  With a little craft glue, it was easy to create an earth dwelling for my magical creatures:

I made little chairs and a table from sticks and bark.  Acorn shells make perfect little bowls.  And Paul helped me drill a hole in a thick stick to make a vase for the forest wildflowers.  See the flower fairy on top?  I thought she turned out cute. 

Reid is always my most enthusiastic child when it comes to tissue box crafts.  He can never wait for the glue to dry before he starts playing. 
Want to take on this creative challenge?  Just click on the button on my sidebar - it lasts until April 22nd.  All you have to do is make a fun kid craft from a tissue box, blog about it, and link up.  There are fun prizes as well. 

Readers, do you think that gnomes and fairies can get along, or do they need separate habitats?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

King Tut the Guinea

Remember a couple of weeks ago when I was blogging about wanting to get some guineas?  Well, a local blog reader friend emailed to say he had one that I could have, to see if I liked having a guinea and wanted to get some more.  Huge thanks to Sunnybrook Farm!
 The first day he seemed kind of upset.  He continually squawked (or whatever you want to call it - they sound like a rusty gate hinge).  Then he got quiet and I looked out and saw him on the front porch, looking in. 

I've been giving him lots of treats - he especially seems to like bits of tomato.  I think his head looks like a mummy, so we named him Tut. 

Sunnybrook Farm was also kind enough to send us home with a bunch of kale.  I already had a pork tenderloin in the crockpot, so we had that with some roasted kale (tossed with olive oil, parmesan, sea salt and pepper) and some shells and cheese.  It was delicious - and the twins LOVE kale.  Cort had three helpings and Reid had two.  I will have to be sure to plant kale next August for one of my winter crops! 
What do you think about guineas, readers?  They are an odd looking bird for certain!  They are supposedly great for keeping tick populations down (remember last summer we had to treat Pierce for lyme disease).  They also act as guard birds, making a big ruckus over anyone new showing up.  And you can eat their eggs, if we were to get a female at some point.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

North Carolina Arboretum

On the way home from our Spring Break trip we took a slight detour through Asheville to meet my uncle for lunch.  We got there a bit early so we could take a tour of the NC Arboretum, which is right by my uncle's workplace.
 It was neat going through the greenhouses and seeing all of the different plants and flowers. 
 I'm not so good with plants or flowers, so other than saying that we saw tons and tons of bonsai, I can't give you specific names of things.

But I suspect I have quite a few plant-savvy readers who would know the names of every plant on here, including this cool swirly leafed thing:

I thought this bonsai looked like people wrapped up in an embrace.  What do you see?

You wouldn't think this would be very interesting for kids, but actually the boys really seemed to enjoy it.

They liked this wooly looking plant especially.

And the boys always enjoy seeing flowers.

We also toured an art exhibit in one of the buildings.  

And saw many more bonsai.

I never knew there were so many different types.

When we first entered the park, we were told we should make a trip to the ecolab. So we finally tracked it down and went down to see a few snakes and turtles.  And then Cort and Reid said, "But Mom, where are the EAGLES?"  Apparently they misheard and thought it was an eagle lab.  Must've been a bit of a disappointment for them....

I loved this little "green" shed - see the lady on top - there were so many herbs growing on the roof!

This is about how I felt visiting this beautiful place:

The boys had fun jumping in a drained fountain.

Lastly, we walked through a very zen bonsai garden area.

What a wonderful place.  We definitely need to return when we have longer than 90 minutes to spend!  

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Children's Museum in Greenville, SC

On day 2 of our Spring Break, my sister-in-law and I took all 5 boys to the Children's Museum.  Pierce was particularly excited about this.  Shortly after we got there he headed into the wind tunnel.

One of the most popular parts of the museum for my three was the grocery store section. 

Note that Reid stocked his cart with several boxes of honey buns and chocolate peanut butter bars.

Reid seems to be gathering supplies a little more quickly than his twin brother....

Pierce, meanwhile, has waited patiently for his turn to be a checker.  He loved checking out groceries for other kids.

Pierce climbed a rock wall on a large window overlooking the street. 

One of the really interesting parts to the museum are these glass climbing slide things.  They are kind of creepy since they are clear, but the kids were all over them.  They went really high!

Of course there was an excellent pirate ship.  Here, Pierce is mounting the black flag. 

Looking for other ships. 

Captain Cort.  I think he needs a step stool so he can see where he's sailing.

On the lower level of the museum is a huge water table set up.  The boys loved all the water features, although they did get slightly wet, even with aprons on.

There were plenty of boats for everyone.

And if you knew just where to crawl, you could duck under the water and wind up in a bubble in the middle. 

Can you guess what the first thing Cort said to me when we got in the car to go get some lunch? 
"But Mom, where's all my groceries?!"  Poor thing - he thought we were really taking home the groceries he "bought" at the museum.