Friday, July 31, 2009

Furlough day

Today was D's first furlough day for the school year.  They are currently planning on 3, but ominously they (and we're not quite sure who got permission from whom) got a waiver for up to 10 furlough days.  Of course, since the teachers work an extra 10 or 11 days over the 180 days the kids are in school, and they have already worked 4 of those days, if they were to furlough for a full 10 days it would knock the kids out of school some.

We are certainly hoping that there are no more furlough days, although I'm sure that many of the kids wouldn't mind.   The state budget is not looking very good though - and it doesn't help that they are still doing things like the current tax-free holiday for school supplies.  Some of the counties have managed to find money in their budget to not furlough the teachers.  Our county has not.  I imagine that if more furloughs come along, some more counties may find money to offset them, but that the initial counties won't be able to continue to eat the furlough cuts.

Since school starts on Monday, D still had things to do at school, so he went in - furlough day or not.  But since it was a furlough day, he was able to sleep in and not work a full day.  In that sense he said it felt a bit like a Saturday, so today was dubbed the first Saturday, with tomorrow being the second Saturday.


Monday, July 27, 2009

Garden pics

Here's our first cantaloupe.  rather ridgy, but decidedly a cantaloupe.
And here it is after we cut into it.  It was still just a little bit green.  I think it would have been better if we had let it sit for a day, but it was just too exciting to try. 
We actually have another cantaloupe in the fridge, probably to be eaten tomorrow.  It had been hiding back in the back corner of the garden bed, underneath cantaloupe and squash leaves.  I think it was the fact that it had started turning yellow was what finally let us see it.  
And then there is our squash/pumpkin.  We think this was supposed to get a good bit bigger, but it had stopped growing, so we finally picked it (a few days after this photo was taken - it was even darker orange and the bottom wasn't yellow anymore).  
Unfortunately, it also was a bit under-ripe.  The flavor was good, but it was very dry.  D had wrapped it in foil with butter, cardamon, allspice and thyme.  A thought that it tasted like sweet potatoes and was tasty, but dry.  D thought it reminded him of the white sweet potatoes (boniatos) that we had in Puerto Rico.  And M thought it was like a potato - yucky.  I wasn't quite sure what it reminded me of.  I wish I knew how to tell when it is ripe.

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Saturday, July 25, 2009

Our very own cantaloupe!

My mom called this morning and said that the first cantaloupe was ready.  She had gone out to check on things and the cantaloupe came off the vine.  Wow.  We split the cantaloupe and we had some of ours with lunch today.  It was quite good.  And there's another, larger cantaloupe still on the vine, nearing ripeness.

I'll try to post some garden pics tomorrow...

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Friday, July 24, 2009

brownies from chocolate butter

I went to and found a brownie recipe that looked like it would work.  I put in a bunch of normal baking type ingredients and then highlighted the chocolate and butter.  

I baked them tonight and they are good, but they don't really look like the picture - mine seem to be more cakelike than the photo.  Of course its hard to know if I really got the cream all the way to butter - and how to know when measuring out chocolate butter if you are getting the right amount of butter or not.  But it worked and we have something tasty out of it.  I still have some more of it left - I guess I need to measure how much chocolate butter I have and then do something with it.


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Side benefits of cooler weather

Yes, we're still having unseasonably cool weather - NOT that I'm complaining.  Nosiree, not complaining here.  I'm enjoying it.  No AC again for a few days now and M keeps trying to steal my slippers.  He's grown out of his and his feet are now as big as mine - and soon to be bigger I'm sure.

The slippers and cats sitting in laps and such are expected benefits of the cool weather.  The unexpected was making granola tonight.  When I can open the windows by 8 pm, I don't mind running the oven for 45 minutes.  So we have fresh homemade granola with our sun-dried blueberries in it.  They are mostly blueberries we U-picked, not our own, but they are still home dried.  I can't wait to have some for breakfast tomorrow morning!  Probably with fresh blueberries on top too, just to be decadent.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009


A went to Webelos encampment recently and D 'got' to spend one day out there, so I have a few pictures.  (He 'got' to spend the day and night with them because we didn't have another person who was willing to spend all 3 days, so 1 leader was with them the whole time and D and 2 other parents each took one day).  

Anyhow, when D arrived, the boys were headed off to the climbing/rappelling area.  There were a bunch of boys eager to have a chance, so they each only got to rappel once.  Here's A at the top of the tower:
Now part way down:
He said it was lots of fun!

Then on to the climbing wall.  The boys evidently complained that some of the holds were too far apart for them - maybe they were set up with older Scouts in mind.  But fun anyway.

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Sunday, July 19, 2009

Chocolate ... butter?

Yes,  seemingly M made chocolate butter tonight.  He was trying to make chocolate mousse, but evidently he missed stopping at the "soft peak" stage of whipping the cream and headed into the butter stage.  

You might wonder why I wasn't watching more carefully (after all, it's not like M whips cream frequently (or ever before)) - well, perhaps because M chose to start the mousse right before I started dinner.  So I was rather preoccupied with fixing dinner - and then eating dinner.  

So, no mousse for dessert tonight.  Instead I have a bowl of chocolate butter in the fridge, trying to figure out what best to do with it.  It consists of 10 oz whipping cream and 3.5 oz dark chocolate, now as a mass of grainy butter and some liquid.

So far I've thought of trying to turn it into a buttercream frosting  (not sure how the texture would do).  Or trying for some sort of muffin or quickbread that calls for butter and chocolate/cocoa powder.  Any thoughts?


Saturday, July 18, 2009

M's been growing again...

Proof positive that M's been growing - he is now taller than my mom.  Just a few weeks ago when they checked, she was still taller, but not now.  M is very proud of his new height.

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Friday, July 17, 2009

Flag Quilt

I saw this lovely flag quilt on a blog I read and was almost instantly smitten with an I could do something like that.  Of course, then, once I got started, Pounce felt that she needed to help me.  You can see you very helpful she was being!

But, I did finally manage to get it done without too much kitty help and here it is, finished by Friday!

Now, I just need to get it hung on the wall.  I realize it is past 4th of July, but I can always be patriotic, right?
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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Blackberry Cobbler

I LOVE blackberry cobbler.  Especially when its hot and with a generous helping of vanilla ice cream on top.  YUMMM.  I made this cobbler last week with berries we picked behind the elementary school.  It was good.  The only problem is that was - its all gone now.  
I may have to go pick blackberries again soon in the hopes of having another cobbler.  Unfortunately, the berry patch at the school is smaller than it used to be - there used to be some patches back into the woods and they are basically gone now - I think the trees grew up and shaded them out.  I'm lucky if I can pick a quart when I go over there - nothing like the patches of my childhood, where we would each get closer to a half gallon and my dad would usually be threatening to spill berries out of his gallon milkjug.  That would be berries enough for multiple cobblers plus jelly.  
I never minded picking blackberries (the payoff in cobbler was definitely worth it), but my kids don't quite share my enthusiasm.  A helped a bit this last time and he does enjoy the cobbler, but M doesn't care for cobbler and would rather not pick anything.
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Sunday, July 12, 2009

Cool Weather coming to an end?

So far July has been much cooler than June was.  June got awfully hot, awfully early - multiple upper 90s days in a row.  Whereas, the last week or so, possibly as long as almost 2 weeks (I haven't really been keeping track, but its been an unusually long while for July) has been delightfully cool - days in the low to mid 80s, nights in the mid to upper 60s - and NO AC for almost a week.  

Yep, today the AC kicked in for a few hours, starting just before dinner.  I think it has been at least since last Monday since it was last on.  Amazing!  The new attic fan is more powerful and the weather has been so cool at night.  I even had to put a second quilt on the bed (just for my feet) over the weekend to keep warm.  (Also D was gone that night - out at Webelos encampment with A, so not there to help keep my feet warm.)

Well, now looking at, it says that maybe we'll be staying in the 80s for another week or so, whereas when I looked this afternoon it was saying some of the days were headed for the 90s.  The weather outlook is changing - seemingly hourly!  Quite frustrating when we are trying to plan a day to go to Six Flags.  We'd really like a day without rain, or at least with only a short rain.  But when the weather reports change so frequently its hard to know until the morning of what will happen.  And even then, its not so predictable.  One day last week, I happened to be looking at the hourly forecast and saw that it was 5% chance of rain - well, it rained (and HARD) during that hour.  Humph.

I guess we just have to wait and see.  Oh, and enjoy what cool weather we do get.  Attic fan is going at the moment and the house is quite pleasant.  Shadow is enjoying it too, sitting in my lap more than usual for the summer.



Saturday, July 11, 2009

Dinner by M

M was assigned to fix dinner a few nights ago.  He was not particularly enthusiastic, but he did decide on a menu - spaghetti.  Now, M likes his spaghetti plain (or with parmesan cheese) while the rest of us like sauce.  We insisted that he had to heat up some sauce, but no doctoring of the sauce was required (I usually saute some green pepper and onions to go in there at least).  

M's menu:
spaghetti noodles
spaghetti sauce
cheese bread

All of these were separate items on M's plate.  I, however, cut up my mushrooms and put them and the meatballs in with the sauce on top of my noodles.  It may not have been the finest gourmet meal, but it did feed us all and M did it basically all by himself.  Up til now I've been providing more help, but he did well.  I wonder what he'll fix for us the next time?  But first, it will be A's turn to fix a dinner - I'll have to get him thinking about a menu before I go to the grocery store next.

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Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Fun time-waster

Lately I've been having fun with a web paint by number site.   Click on random puzzle and give it a try.  A has gotten rather interested in doing them too, mostly with me rather than completely on his own - but, if he sticks with it, he's pretty good at them.


Monday, July 06, 2009

Harvest continues

Our harvest from the garden is continuing nicely, although we have learned some things we want to do differently next year - like plant more beans.  The first planting of beans was 3 rows and that was ok - it meant we could have beans almost twice a week and so could my mom.  But this second planting was only 2 rows - it takes multiple days to get enough beans for a meal.  So far off this planting, we have only had one or two meals with beans (and even then one night the adults had beans and the kids had frozen peas).  The next planting of beans should be better - I think there are 5 rows, so hopefully we'll be eating beans at least twice a week, maybe 3 times one week.

Last night we had quite a bit of our own produce for dinner.  We had chicken fajitas with:
the last of our onions
the first of our green peppers
the first of our full size (not cherry) tomatoes
a bit of our chard

I know at some point we will probably be swimming in tomatoes, but for now the tomatoes are just barely keeping up with our desire to eat them.  And the green peppers aren't keeping up - I'm flat out of any peppers and ours are coming in rather slowly.  The hot peppers are doing better so far.  


Friday, July 03, 2009

quilted bag

I guess I took these pictures sideways, since the handles of my bag are off to the right (not very visible, being navy blue against the dark wood).  But this is my latest project and it is finally done.  

This side was an orphan block.  I made it in a workshop on learning paper piecing.  What I mostly learned was that paper piecing can be a real pain.  I still don't understand why the first 2 went together fine, but on the 3rd quarter, I had to redo I piece at least 4 times!  After that experience, I wasn't about to make any more of this particular design.  So, making it into a bag made sense.
Now for the other side of the bag.  Hmm.  No orphan blocks that really looked right with it, so I had to make a block.  I found a block of this design (but non-compatible colors) and decided I would do another of the same type.  

It took me forever to find a pattern for this - finally on the 3rd time through one of my drawers, I found the template to cut the pieces out.

Overall I'm rather pleased with this, though I wish I'd remembered how much of the side seams gets taken up.  I would have made the side borders wider.

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Thursday, July 02, 2009

Hump Day of the Summer

I looked at the calendar today and realized that yesterday was hump day, in more ways than one.  Yes, it is the traditional hump day of the week, but for us, it was also the hump day of summer vacation.  We are now on the downward slope of summer vacation, hard as it is to believe.  It's been 4 1/2 weeks of summer.

So far this summer we have:
had a complete swim team season
M has been to Scout camp for a week
Both M and A have been to robotics day camp for a week
D went to a week long AP Physics workshop

Still to complete:
A has Webelos encampment next week
A has science day camp
M is still in the middle of 'Java programming for video games' online class
back-to-school shopping for school supplies
probably pants shopping with M*
getting through the rest of the summer without anyone throttling each other (I hope)

*M is in a very difficult size pants-wise at the moment.  I got a bag of pants for him off freecycle and so far a pair of 27/30 jeans fits perfectly and a pair of size 18 khakis are a smidge long, but passable with shoes.  Note that both these sizes are extremely difficult to find in any store!