Friday, August 31, 2012

A Post of Randomness

A few random things not worthy of a post of their own...

We got the fall garden planted last weekend. 
We are hoping our seeds will peak through the soil any day now.

 For the last year, I have had breast pump accessories drying beside our sink. I exclusively pumped at least four to five times a day to stay off of MS medication. Two days before Silas turned a year old, I pumped for the very last time. I was sad and happy all at the same time. I think though that I was most excited about not having pump equipment on my counter.

 I started back to school this week. After a three year break, I'm finally going back to finish my Master's degree. Three years ago I was busy writing a thesis. It was the only thing I had left for a degree in Literacy. Then I had kids. Priorities changed. I decided to retake the last 6 hours and just do the Literacy Project. I don't usually take the easier way out, but in this case I'm hoping for the quicker, easier way. I'm ready to be finished.

  We've been trying new recipes like crazy around here. 
Last week I was averaging two new recipes a day. 
Today I made an apple and cheddar frittata.

I love this photo of Silas hanging out under the dining room table.

 Bryan built the chickens a new ladder. They seem to like it.

 I've started running again. So has Bryan.

 Bryan brought me home a latte from our favorite coffeehouse. He walked in and ordered a latte. 
We go there so often they knew the latte wasn't for him.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Transportation Scavenger Hunt

The other evening as I was out running, I noticed we had several types of transportation in our neighborhood. I saw a boat on a trailer, bikes, two airplanes that flew over (we live very close to the local airport), and the obvious cars and trucks. So before we went on our walk as a family last night, I made Seth a transportation checklist. If he saw a type of transportation, he got to mark it off his list.
Our list included car, airplane, bicycle, truck, helicopter, skateboard, and boat.
Seth got to mark off everything except the plane and helicopter. 
We couldn't believe we didn't see any airplanes, when we usually see so many!
I have a feeling every family walk for the next little while will have to include a scavenger hunt list.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Transportation Sort

We have been having such a good time learning about transportation! At the rate we're going though, we'll have a whole book to share if we try to stuff everything in one post. I thought it might be better to go ahead and share a few fun activities before we're finished with our transportation theme. 
This morning we did a transportation sort (inspired by this one by Teach Love Grow).
I drew a picture and the words of each category with chalk.
Our categories were road, sky/air, tracks, dirt/construction, and water.
We brought our box of vehicles outside and started sorting them into the different categories. 
After we had sorted almost all the vehicles, we had to make some amendments. The skateboards needed to be in a skate park and his monster truck needed its own spot.
This activity worked out so well! I can't wait to modify it for other things we are learning about!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Canning Tomatoes

This past weekend I bought 15 pounds of Roma tomatoes from Need More Acres. After a successful first attempt at canning, I thought I would try canning on a larger scale. I was feeling confident that I could can my own tomatoes.
To be honest though, I'm not sure I would have been as confident if it weren't for all the canning demonstrations that I have seen at the Community Farmers' Market. (If you can't tell by now, I love this Farmers' Market.)
So with the help of lots of demos at the market and 
this online tutorial I got to work. 
If you would like to give canning a try, here's how you can do it, too.
First, I washed all 15 pounds of tomatoes.
 Aren't they just gorgeous?
 This was my set up. The jars came straight out of the dishwasher. I had a big pot of boiling water, a big bowl of ice water, a bowl for the tomato skins, and a large bowl for the peeled tomatoes.
 On the back of the stove I had a pot where I boiled the 
lids and the rings for about 5 minutes to sterilize them.
After everything was set up, I got to work on the tomatoes. I cut an X on the bottom of each one and then dropped it into the big pot of boiling water for about a minute.
 Then I immediately put the tomatoes into the icy water. 
This makes removing the skins very easy.
 I removed the skins.
I cut off the very tip of the tomato to remove the stem.
Then the tomato went into the bowl. This process took a while, 
but at least I was able to keep the kitchen relatively clean this time.
 Here are all the skinned tomatoes and the mess I made.
 I cleaned up the counter and moved the jars closer.
 I was able to fit about 8 roma tomatoes into each jar. 
I also added 1 tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice to each pint jar. 
Three lemons were enough for 16 jars and I squeezed the lemons before I got started on the tomatoes.
Then I used our electric kettle to add boiling water to each jar. 
I added enough water to just cover the tomatoes. 
(If you don't have an electric kettle, you can just boil water on the 
stove and use a funnel to pour it into each jar.)
 I slid a wooden spoon up and down to remove any air bubbles.
 I wiped the rim of the jars clean with a cloth.
 Then I added my lid...
 and the ring.
 I boiled my jars for 40 minutes.
After removing the jars from the hot water to cool, you begin to hear the most glorious sound, a pop. Each pop means that your jar has sealed correctly. I did have one jar that did not seal properly because the lid popped up and down when I pressed on it. I just put it in the fridge and I will try to use it in the next few days.
Now I have 16 jars of tomatoes waiting to be used for soups and stews and all kinds of other recipes. 
I'm just wondering how long they will last and what I will try to can next.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Local Bounty: Sunflowers

A week ago, I spotted huge sunflowers at Festina Lente's booth at the Community Farmers' Market. Tim had seeds that were already salted and roasted, but he explained to me that I could just as easily roast my own without the salt. So I gladly bought one.
 We picked out the seeds,...
 roasted them in the oven,...
 and now they are sitting in our cabinet next to our 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Farm School: Sunflowers

Today at Farm School we...
picked tiny tomatoes
 said "hello" to the chickens
 learned all about sunflowers and even tasted some seeds
 ate watermelon
 and even got to take a sunflower and some veggies home
It was a fun morning!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Tillery Tot School: Dinosaurs

This week we learned all about dinosaurs! 
 Here's a look at our Tot School board:
My mom (who teaches preschool) recently let us borrow a whole bunch of 
plastic dinosaurs, so we have had fun playing with them all week. One day we matched a small sized dinosaur with a large version of the same species.
We have done lots of reading this week...
 and the pop-up dinosaur book was a big hit.
 We made dinosaur prints in playdough.
 We imagined we were paleontologists one day. We had to break dinosaur bones out of an "iceberg."

 Even Silas figured out how to do some hammering.

 We colored different dinosaurs and made our own special dinosaur book.
 We made a dinosaur and used a toilet paper roll for the legs. We decorated it with dots.

 We attempted making a stegosaurus with super tiny clothespins. Our clothespins were too small though and Seth couldn't pinch them open. So I just put them on and we hung it on our board.
We also painted with dinosaurs. 
We dipped the dinosaur feet into paint and stamped away!
 The highlight of the week was probably going to Dinosaur World!
For the next two (maybe three, we'll see) weeks we are going to be focusing on transportation and community workers.