Today Otto, Mette, Megan and her two boys, Rachel and her two little people and myself made sugar cookies at our house. It started off innocently enough. This morning while eating breakfast Otto asked if we could have a playdate with some friends and went on to list all of the above mentioned friends along with some other friends who are now in Australia for six months. (Sorry, Belinda I would have emailed you too but i didn’t think you would make it in time.) It seemed like a great idea so I sent out the invite email. Wednesday is usually playgroup but since our car is at the Harrisburg airport awaiting eric’s arrival tomorrow we were staying home today. In the email I mentioned that it would be fun to make cookies with the kids. Turns out when you offer to make cookies, kids are pretty excited to come. Funny, I know. In your head when you think about making cookies with kids it is all rosy and fun. And then you see 5 little facea around a table all eyeing the sprinkles and dough you start to think “was this the best idea I ever had?”. It was however a lot of fun. Even with one child falling down some stairs, another falling off a chair and Mette pretty much falling asleep at the table during lunch after yelling at everyone not to say her name, but to instead call her Tarzan, I would call it a success.
Before everyone arrived Mette, Otto and I made the dough so it could rest in the fridge. If you have ever wondered why so many of our pictures are taken in our kitchen, here is the reason why. Our kitchen gets the most beautiful southern exposure and the light is heavenly. Literally, if there is heaven, I am sure it is lit like this.
Before starting the whole cookie making process otto and I talked about how he couldn’t just eat all the sprinkles.
It really sunk in.
Keeping ten little fingers out of trouble is tough, even with three moms on the job. One look to see what otto was doing and Mette decorated her cookie by herself.
After everyone had left and while Mette was still sleeping Otto and I made the second ball of dough into cookies. He did an amazing job of not eating all of the sprinkles and cut out the shapes all by himself. My intention was to take some to his preschool tomorrow to share with the other kids since it is their last day before the holiday break, but Otto really wants to show them to eric and I think that is fair so we are keeping them all. Selfish in a season of giving I suppose but given how much Eric likes cookies, it makes perfect sense.
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Saturday morning found us trekking down for our weekly trip to the orchard. Last weekend we got some grapes and I made my first ever batch of grape jelly. It turned out amazingly well and I was hoping to get more grapes this weekend to add to the stash and have enough to share with others. Last week we came home with two pounds of grapes and I made 6 half pints of jelly, this week we picked 8 pounds and I made 6 half pints of jelly and canned 3 quarts of juice to either drink or make more jelly out of. Plus, we have a pitcher of juice in the fridge for the drinking pleasure. It is so delicious. Normally I am not a huge grape juice fan but this is not like anything you would ever get at the store. Isn’t that that case with so many things? If you can make it at home, it will taste so much better. In addition to the jelly, I canned 6 jars of peach jam and 6 jars of peach butter (like apple butter, but with peaches). I also have a batch of mushed peaches pre-measured for a batch of jam in the freezer. It is a little kit, just heat, add pectin and process. It was a busy place our kitchen this weekend. Eric was a huge help with boiling and skinning the peaches, a thankless job. He also washed many of the endless sink-fulls of dirty dishes. This weekend was good practice because I have four cases of tomatoes coming on Friday. Next weekend will be more of the same. And then there are nectarines, and apples….. I am bound and determined to preserve it all this year. The kids eat so much fruit which is wonderful but in the winter the pickings are slim. You can get crappy looking organic fruit at the supermarket that was shipped in from god knows where making you question how “green” it is. Or there are canned fruits packed with sugars and colorings. My goal is to make it through much of the winter eating what I put up. We can still get apples and pears during the winter, but now hopefully we have a bit of variety to add to that. I also made 2 quarts of bread and butter pickles this week. I think I will make a few more jars of pickles this week but I am not sure what kind to make.
We took some beauty shots of the grapes because it is just too pretty not too.
The grapes are crushed and cooked on the stove then strained while hot. The steam coming off the pink juice was beautiful. I should mention that the jelly I made is all natural and hot pink. It honestly doesn’t look natural the color is so amazing. Eric is going to bring home a spot so we can backlight some and show you.
My homemade juice strainer, cheese cloth, clothespins, a colander and a stock pot. Works great!
Dinner was simple and straight from the garden, tomatoes, basil and balsamic vinegar, (as of yet I don’t make my own vinegar, but I can see myself starting some time). Speaking of basil, I also froze two large containers of homemade pesto today, our basil plants are going bonkers!
It was a very productive weekend which is nice, but I think tomorrow I am going to sit and knit during nap time.
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If you ask me what my favorite fruit is, I would have a real hard time coming up with an answer. I LOVE fruit. Even a top five would be hard but I can say for sure that plums would make the cut. There is something about the tart skin and sweet flesh that I love. Needless to say we came home this weekend with quite a haul of plums.
Eric’s mom, Grandma Bah to the kids, was visiting this weekend and came along on our food adventures.
Mette with her first plum that she picked herself.
Otto also managed to find grapes ready for the eating.
I have never canned plums before, but I have to find a way to keep them around longer than just a week or so. I canned four quarts as an experiment. They all worked (the buttons don’t pop). I will do a taste test tomorrow and let you know how they are.
Here is my sterile set-up.
Ready for the hot syrup.
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One of Otto’s friends, we will call her “F” turned three this week. In addition to having a birthday she is also going to be a big sister any day now, though if this baby follows in the footsteps of her big brother and sister it could be a while before we get to meet her. F loves to play with baby dolls. Rarely is she ever seen without one. Knowing that her mom is a baby wearing, sling toting kind of girl I thought a good birthday present would be a sling F could have to carry her baby dolls in. Luckily I happened to have my own F sized person here in the house to help make sure it was the right size.
Otto actually really liked having the baby in the sling and happily sat on the couch and watched a whole Word World with the baby in the sling, making sure to support her head. It was a bit cuter than I could handle.
There are more tales to share but I have to get back to cleaning because I am hosting the “baby is almost here” mom’s brunch tomorrow and I have miles to go before I am ready for it!
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One could say that our town is SUPER patriotic and can’t wait for the actual 4th of July, or that June is just a cheaper month to book fireworks, bands and fire engines. Whatever the reason, this past weekend was the big 4th here in the burg. Once you get used to celebrating early it isn’t a big deal. Plus, if you plan well like we did this year, you can do it twice! Friday night was the fireworks here in town. We are lucky enough to have a house where you can see them from the second story windows. You miss a little of the low action, but there are no bugs, no crowds and it is nice and cool. This was the first year Otto has been old enough to stay up. He was very excited. We started out in the library but soon moved to our bed for a better view. Eric has some audio of the whole experience I will get him to share. Otto didn’t stop talking the whole time, he was so excited. He stayed up until 10 which is really late for him since he is normally asleep no later than 8:30. He did well staying up late, we could have done without him waking up at 5:55 the next morning. That wouldn’t have been as bad if Mette hadn’t been up from 2:30 until almost 5 talking in complete sentences, telling us the names of all the animals she knows, the sounds they make and demanding food. She drank and entire container of yogurt before we finally got her back to sleep. But on to more fun stuff… like the boy watching his first fireworks.
Saturday morning is the parade. It is a HUGE parade with every band anywhere close to here marching in it along with many, many local floats and cars. There is much candy thrown for the kids and limited shady spots so we, along with many others, go out on Friday night and put out chairs. For the past three years we have scored a nice spot in the shade very close to the house. I think one of the reasons Otto woke up so early was he was really excited to go to the parade. I can’t blame him, it is a lot of fun.
Waiting for it all to begin….
Just the people watching before anything really started was fun for them.
With the closed off streets they get to run around which helps pass the time.
There are big old planes that fly over head and Mette was sure to point them out to everyone. Not that you could miss them, they are VERY loud.
Otto was concerned that if you didn’t eat all the candy as it was thrown to you, it would go away. We managed to convince him he could take it home, but some had to be taste tested. Of course.
It took Mette a while to figure out that what people were throwing was candy, but once she did, she was ON it!
Sitting back relaxing waiting for more candy.
The girl and her daddy.
Daddy with the fancy shots.
Just because the day wasn’t exciting enough, after naptime we went downtown for the opening of the new bookstore. It is in the building where my old restaurant was which is a bit sentimental for me I will admit. My restaurant was one of three businesses that made up what is now the first floor of the bookstore. It was originally one big hardware store and later made into three smaller units so this is actually taking the building back towards it’s original purpose. Originally it did not have the large atrium, but it looks amazing. Complete with a skylight and natural light flooding the main level. You can also see the first escalator in our county in the back. Trust me, that has been the talk of the town for months! While anything that isn’t the ever charming Bleu Plate Cafe will always be a bit sad, I have to admit that I couldn’t have asked for it to turn into a cleaner brighter space. And one where people will be in and out of all day long. Much better this than a lawyer’s office which can happen here on Market Street sadly. I have a lot more pictures of the bookstore but I am saving them for a separate post. They really did a great job of maintaining the integrity of what I consider to be one of the best buildings downtown. I realize I might be biased but it really is an anchor to the town. There were many mixed emotions about bringing a big (the bookstore is now run by Barnes and Noble) store to our independent downtown, but as a former small business owner, I think this will only do good things for the town. In fact just last night we went for a walk with the kids after dinner and it was so much fun to have a place that was open where we could browse around and kill some time. There were lots more people out walking than we normally see, lets hope this helps bring more traffic downtown.
Here is a photo of Mette and I standing where booth #6 was. For those who remember the Bleu Plate, you will know how important the booths were.
Added bonus, I am sporting a new dress made by me. Pretty cute huh!
I live my life thinking of things to make. Not surprising if you know anyone (or are anyone) in my family. In fact compared to most of them I hardly make anything it all. The only reason for that being that I spend my days wrangling two small dictators who don’t leave much time for my own projects. In the winter I love to knit when I have the time and in the summer stitching of many forms is very exciting to me. The idea of spinning and dying all my own yarn totally appeals to me. Lately I haven’t been able to stop thinking about projects. There are so many things I want to do. I have been developing these adorable little birds that I am working into designs for clothing. Both the paint on fabric and stitch. I am also thinking about making patches of them. I am obsessed with Japanese fabric. A vise not helped by the fact that we have the coolest Japanese fabric store in town. To make matters worse two weeks ago my mom, Rachel and another friend and I took a Sashiko
(if you are at all like me, you will love that website) class from the store owner and now I want to Sashiko everything I see. So while I am making sketches when the kids are peaceful and planning all the things I will make when I get time (HA!) I needed to do something to work on my craving.
So I did this…
I arranged all of Otto’s books by color. I know it is not going to last because everyday he takes most of them off the shelf at least once to read them. But just look how fab. it looks! It makes me smile and happy. I am happy to put them back like this but I think eric will roll his eyes and laugh if I ask him to indulge me as well. I am working on some very hip patches on my favorite pair of jeans, embroidering a hoodie that was Otto’s for Mette and I just pulled out a tried and true knitting pattern for a sweater for Mette. I think a pink cable knit pullover is in her future. I am getting some things done, but there is always more to do.
I have also gotten into the habit of baking our own bread. Otto calls it Mommy Bread and loves it which honestly is part of why I love making it. I have a great recipe (thanks Rachel) for a simple dough and now I am starting to expand on it. That is a lot of fun as well and we get to eat the results which is always nice. Eating embroidery just isn’t the same.
Speaking of eating, Mette, Mette, Mette. This little girl is desperate to eat all of her brother’s toys. It’s not like we don’t have toys for her, we do. Great ones in fact. And every once in a while she indulges us and chews on them but really what she wants is Otto’s toys. Otto’s everything is cool to her. She lights up at the sound of his name. She def. knows her own name, if you call Mette she looks at you. Then this morning while she, eric and I were all in bed snuggling we started talking about Otto. As soon as she heard his name she had a huge smile on her face. When eric said “Otto” again she started laughing. He is the best thing she has ever seen. That being said, this afternoon she was doing her best to start crawling and made her way over to one of Otto’s backhoes. She was in pure heaven and obviously proud of herself. And I let her chew on it. It is pretty clean, just as clean as any of the other toys she finds and eats. And really who doesn’t want a good backhoe snack after nap?
Also, I am not making a bigger deal out of it because I don’t want to draw attention to it, but Mette is 6 months old!! How did that happen? How is my baby half a year old? I don’t approve at all. She is 6 months old and Otto is potty training!! I didn’t think either of these days would come. Just to make sure we don’t get too high on the hog, Mette has stopped sleeping. She is waking up a lot and needs nothing but Mama by her side. Hence all of us snuggling in the morning, she has been coming to bed with us as it is the only way we all get sleep. She is though taking a good nap in the afternoon if I lay with her. It adds to my not getting anything done, but allows me a good excuse to just chill for a little which I need too. Especially if we aren’t sleeping at night!