Wednesday, April 29, 2009

I gardened with a National Merit Scholar…and lived to tell about it!

Marriage is an interesting thing. The melding of two families, two sets of ideals, two ways of doing things. And it can heat up in the most interesting of places.

Like the garden.

Our yard has been a source of contention before we even move into our home. I insisted on dividing our lilies from our previous home before we moved. He was appalled. He wanted evergreens to line the sides of our yard. I was indifferent (hey, small yard.)

We have argued over the meaning of the word bush (Bill Clinton isn’t the only one who hedges over words). We’ve snipped about what to put in the mushy, shady areas where the grass just doesn’t grow. (Who doesn’t love a hosta?)

And then we finally put in our raised beds. Or not.

Five days into our project, we’re about two-thirds of the way through our raised bed construction for our veggie planting. Who knew the discussion would turn heated over that?

You see, while I hadn’t picked up a hammer to build a thing - he says that's his terrain - I have a sense on how to build a raised bed. It goes like this: Construct the bed. Then fill it.

My sweet husband – and incredibly intelligent man, I must say – apparently disagrees. He spent a chunk of the weekend ripping out sod, then turning in the pea, which apparently has resettled into a dusty mess that makes my sinuses go wild.

Finally, he built raised bed #1. And, as the sun was going down the other evening, I helped my husband lift all four walls up of what would be a raised bed in his view and put the frame on top of this mess.

Needless to say, it ain’t working.

As a mom, I’m shuddering. The bed walls are tottering a bit on the corners, as the dirt pile does what dirt piles do: spread out. I can see one of my kids falling as a result of it one of these days.

And as a gardener, I’m just waiting for my garden to wash out from under my bed, down the hill into the gutter.

So when this rain clears, we’ll be working to rearrange said bed. And maybe he’ll listen to me when we build the next one about how these things are done.

And, maybe, my very smart husband will stick to what he does best: Grilling what we girls grow.

Electronic waste recycling this weekend in Indy, Bloomington

It's time to finally do your spring cleaning!

IUPUI and IU Bloomington are hosting "e-Waste Recycle Days" this week, and are opening drop-off sites to the public this Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Drop-off locations are IU Bloomington at N. Dunn and E. 17th St. and the Indiana State Fairgrounds.

There is no fee to drop off materials (see list of what's accepted below), and you are not limited on quantity. (Read FAQs here.)

According to the site:

130 million mobile phones alone were discarded in 2005. The National Safety
Council projects that nearly 250 million computers will become obsolete in the
next 5 years, amounting to an estimated 3.2 million tons of eWaste. Researchers
have estimated that nearly 75 percent of eWaste is in storage.


Computer Systems and Accessories

  • CRT Monitors
  • LCD Displays
  • CPUs
  • All-in-Ones
  • Laptops
  • Servers
  • Switches
  • Hubs
  • UPS Systems
  • Keyboards & Mice
  • Speakers
  • Hard Drives
  • Optical Drives
  • Wires and Cables

Handheld Devices

  • Cell Phones
  • Pagers
  • PDAs
  • Two-Way Radios

Home Electronics:

  • Microwaves
  • Audio & Video Equipment
  • Televisions
  • DVDs
  • VCRs
  • Stereos
  • Camcorders
  • Cameras
  • Radios
  • Games Systems

Office Equipment

  • Fax Machines
  • Photo Copiers
  • Printers
  • Scanners
  • Surge Protectors
  • Telephones
  • Typewriters
  • Adding Machines


  • Hazardous Materials of any type
  • Batteries not Integral to Computer Systems
  • Contaminated Equipment of any type
  • Cracked or Broken CRT Screens
  • Smoke Detectors
  • Household Appliances
  • Hairdryers
  • Styrofoam
  • Cardboard
  • Paper
  • Light Bulbs

Learn more by visiting

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Second life for stuff in the garden

Thinking about starting a garden this season? You’re not alone. Seed sales are up about 30 percent this year over last. Even if you planned ahead, or thought you did, like I did, you’re likely still waiting in the queue for your seeds or sets to arrive in the mail.

Frugality is the name of the game these days, and gardening for seed can seem like an attractive option. Unless you have to buy tools. Or soil amendments. Or are more aggressive and want things such as raised beds or vast container gardens.

But you can still be frugal when working on your garden. Recently, In My Kitchen Garden posted ideas on how you can keep your garden “greener” by reusing things you may have already had at home:

  • Seedlings can be started in toilet paper and paper towel tubes, then planted in the ground once they're well-started.
  • Old metal strainers can serve as compost sifters.
  • Old bedsheets and blankets can protect plants in cold weather.
  • Cracked plastic buckets that no longer hold water can still carry weeds, rocks and compost.
  • Rusted baking sheets make handy trays for seedlings and other things.
  • Old metal pots not nice enough to be donated to the thrift store can be used as planters or for carrying soil amendments, compost, etc.
  • Yogurt, sour cream and other No. 5 plastic containers can become weatherproof seedling markers when cut into strips – an idea I’m trying soon!
  • Containers for fresh mushrooms at the supermarket can be used for seed starting. (You can also use egg containers, and just plant the entire thing in the ground if using paperboard containers.)

Since I have gardening on my mind this week, check out these stories:

And, in case people give into panic over this swine flu (yes, I'm on information overload already) and our systems shut down, keep in mind you can always make a pizza with your tomatoes and veggies from your garden. The Green Parent shows you how to build a solar pizza oven.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The markets are coming! Dates for 2009 seasons

The other day I saw a welcome sign of spring, quite literally: It was our local farmer's markets hours for 2009.

While I've never quite gotten used to the fact that Indiana markets don't start until May or June, those dates are fast approaching. And if you're in Indy and avoiding the Mini traffic next weekend, savor a slower start to your Saturday by checking out many of the farmers markets opening up.

Here's a partial list of markets opening soon. I'm sure there are others as more and more people express interest in supporting local farmers. If I've missed one, drop them in the comments below.

Happy shopping!

Already Open:
  • Bloomington: Open 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays through October. (Read review.)

Opening this weekend:

  • Broad Ripple Farmers Market: Broad Ripple High School. Hours not posted on the site but come early on Saturday mornings - It's always been busy when I've attended! (More info; last season's review)
  • Greenwood Farmers Market: Saturdays 8 a.m. to noon through October. (Last season's review)
  • Traders Point Creamery Green Market: Fridays from 4 to 8 p.m. through the last Friday in October.

Other May starts:

  • Binford Farmers Market, corner of 62nd and Binford in Indy: - Saturdays 8 a.m. to 12 noon May 9 through Oct. 25 (More info)
  • Carmel Farmers Market: Saturdays 8 to 11:30 May 30 through Sept. 26
  • Chateau Thomas Winery Farmers Market: Thursdays, 4 to 8 p.m. beginning May 7 (More info)
  • Fishers Farmers Market: Saturdays 8 a.m. to noon, May 16 to Sept. 26 (More info)
  • Indianapolis City Market: Wednesdays 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. May through October, downtown. (Last season's review)
  • Martinsville Farmers Market: Saturdays from 8:00 a.m. until noon beginning May 30. (More info)
  • Noblesville Farmers Market: Saturdays 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. May 23 to Oct. 31 (More info)
June starts:
  • Columbus Farmers Market: Saturdays, 9 a.m. to noon, June through September (More info)
    Franklin Farmers Market: Saturdays, 8 to 11 a.m., June 6 to Oct. 3
  • Irvington Farmers Market, Ellenberger Park on Indy's east side: Runs 11:45 a.m. to 3 p.m. on second Sunday of June, July, August, September and October. (More info)
  • Kokomo Farmers Market: Saturdays 8 a.m. to noon, June 13 to Oct. 10
  • Mooresville Farmers Market: Wednesdays, 3 to 7 p.m. beginning June 3 (More info)
  • Terre Haute Farmers Market: Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon, from June 6 through end of October (More info)
  • Zionsville Farmers Market - Saturdays from 8 to 11 a.m., June 6-Sept. 26 (More info)

Friday, April 24, 2009

Loving Tyler this week: A new recipe to share

Like most families, we took a trip to the library recently. Our resident 3 year old foodie picked out a cookbook by Tyler Florence (yes, most preschoolers pick out picture books; mine just chooses the ones with food). Inside we found a fabulous - and easy - recipe to make with zucchini. In fact, it's better the second day.

It's for Zucchini Carpaccio - essentially thinly sliced raw zucchini, dressed with lemon juice, olive oil, the white part of a leek, sliced, and herbs. We sprung for fresh mint leaves, which the recipe called for, and made use of the garlic chives we found at the Bloomington market. The trick, the book said, was to thinly slice the zucchini. While it suggests a mandoline, don't fret if you don't have one; just do the best with whatever knife you have on hand.

I have to say, it was wonderful! It was even better the second - and third day, so if you have time to let the zucchini absorb the flavors, go for it.

The book recipe suggested ricotta cheese on top, which we tried but decided it wasn't for us. You can find a "tamer" version with Parmesan cheese at the Food Network site. Worth trying once zucchinis are in season!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

From black bands to reusable bags: A look back at Earth Day

I'll be the first to admit I'm a bit jaded about the idea of Earth Day. For one day, we'll plant a tree, grab a reusable bag, read everything we can about the environment and swear we'll get those CFL bulbs. And then April 23 comes--and it's like we've forgotten it again.

So in talking with a friend of mine from a lifetime ago as a reporter, she shared that things weren't always this, well, commercialized. Lisa, from the Visual Traveler, shares how once Earth Day meant banding together - quite literally - in a way to bring attention to how we treat our world. Enjoy!

Happy Earth Day! It's been around for a long time.

My ninth grade biology was little more than a required course for me until springtime. That's when my teacher, Ron Charlton, showed his passion for ecology and we caught his enthusiasm. When he started talking about protecting the planet through our individual actions I immediately bought The Environmental Handbook: Prepared for the First National Environmental Teach-In, which was held on April 22, 1970.

The more Charlton talked about the impact we had on the planet, the more we wanted to do something to recognize and inform people about the issue. Sandy and I spearheaded creation of an informational environmental assembly that the entire school attended. My classmates and I wore black armbands to express our concern about the environment, and mounted a massive trash cleanup around our junior high school.

Fast forward. In the '90s, I taught my daughter's first grade class how to collapse boxes to reduce the space taken by trash. I told neighbors about the consequences of Americans' wastefulness - in a single year the U.S. used 12 billion batteries, 60 million tons of paper, 70 milIion tons of packaging and 800,000 tons of aluminum. We used 2-4 times more water than Europeans did, and a cow had to drink 625 gallons of water and eat four pounds of grain to produce the meat for one hamburger. I also latched on to a quote from the Great Law of the Iroquois that states, "In our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decision on the next seven generations."

My daughters grew up with non-toxic cleaning supplies, recycling and donating used items to charity rather than throwing them out. Today, my younger daughter recycles items from a house full of 10 apartments in her college town, each month, and my older daughter continues to donate unused items to charity.

Despite all of the media hype, the basic premise remains the same. Because we're on this planet we have an impact on its health. What can you do for the planet today?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Pesticides and birth defects

Can when you conceive make a difference on your baby's health? Researchers seem to think so.

Recent research from an Indianapolis NICU director suggests that children conceived between April and July -- when pesticide use is higher -- are at a higher risk of birth defects such as spina bifida, cleft pallet and lip, and down syndrome. It's a scary thought that our children are impacted at such a young age!

Dr. Paul Winchester told NPR:
And so, in a sense, we like to ask this large question, because we now know some
things in rats and amphibians and alligators that these pesticides are in fact
changing them because of fetal exposure. And we don't have enough time to sort
this out before perhaps we could have harmed generations of children.

Want to learn more? Read or listen to the interview on NPR's Living on Earth.

First Farmers Market of the Season opens (Bloomington)

Spring is here, which means six or so weeks of waiting for farmer's markets to open in the Indianapolis area.

If you're up for a quiet drive down SR 37, though, I thoroughly recommend a Saturday-morning drive to the Bloomington Farmers Market.

I've learned to settle for staring at starts and a few lone packages of lettuce in the May months, so I was surprised to find in Bloomington three rows of stands - in April, no less! - and little room to roam despite the wide berths between the vendors's rows. It was a visual feast of colors - rows of plants in bloom, a huge variety of produce, and locally produced foods from eggs to granola.

My 3 year old was thrilled to buy blueberry bushes to add to her strawberries at home. We were able to score semi-dwarf blueberry plants (which have just beautiful leaves and flowers!) from Backyard Berry Plants, a local producer of organically grown blueberry, raspberry and blackberry plants. The couple was extremely friendly and extremely knowlegable, and we were thrilled that they held back the last two of the particular variety for us, since we'd called ahead to let them know we'd be at the market. It's great to be able to have a resource that really understands what it's like to cope with this crazy Indiana weather!

I'm sure we'll make the occasional commute to Bloomington this summer, and I can't wait to see what's in store. The Bloomington market's hours are 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays through October. You can get directions here.

As one market opens, another sets to close. The Indy Winter's Market's last weekend is this Saturday. Hours are 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Stop by and show your support!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Theology and the slug

Our very rainy weather yesterday brought out the creatures gardeners love to hate: the slug.

That is, unless that gardener is 3 years old.

We spent the majority of our day keeping the slugs outside of our home. Our house is just fine with the four of us, however our daughter disagreed.

"Sluggie is cold," she said, cradling the slug in her cupped hands. "He wants to stay inside."

"Out!" we demanded. And poor Sluggie was left to the porch, where he was unceremonious rolled around between the pavement and my child's fingers. "It's OK, Sluggie, I will find your sisters," she reassured it.

At one point, we had thought she was through with the obsession, and my husband quickly went to pour salt on a slug and it's "siblings." "Look! Daddy is making the slugs a bed!" she declared happily.


We cleaned up the aftermath quickly.

Still, she remained undeterred throughout the afternoon. Slugs came in the house. Slugs went out. Slugs stayed in her hands non-stop. Slugs were talked to and carried and, in a 3 year old's mind, clearly adored.

And finally, she declared, happily, while rolling more slugs between her fingers and the concrete, "Jesus gave me a slug present today."

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Easter aftermath

The Easter Bunny has come and gone, as well as the whirlwind of family members this weekend. Right now, we're trying to settle our family and home back down in the aftermath.

This year, we took a lighter approach to the Easter holidays. Partly driven by budget and busyness and partly due to the fact we just have a lot of "stuff," we lightened our children's loads and the gift baskets. Not that we overbought in previous years, but we emphasized to our family that our kids just don't need a bunch of trinkets. And the grandparents listened.

My mother handmade paper bunny baskets for each of the kids and included one small chocolate bunny - perfect for little bodies who don't need pounds of sugar.

My grandmother bought a Caterpillar toy for the toddler, who loves to push cars around, and a shovel, garden gloves and wheelbarrow for my preschooler. She keeps begging to use them in the garden and dig. I don't have the heart to tell her that her seeds just haven't arrived yet!

The Easter baskets included an Easter book for each kid, Legos for the toddler (who prefers them to buzzing and blinking toys) and a headband for his sister, who's been begging us for weeks. And they were thrilled!

No one cared that I trotted out my old baskets and decade-old plastic grass. No one cared that the Easter Bunny hid the same plastic eggs (with the same candy) that came home from the babysitters on Thursday. And I do care that the sitter wants those plastic eggs returned - less stuff in my home, and less trash generated!

I'll admit it was a simple Easter. But no children were harmed in the process!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Done with the Diet Coke experiment

I bet you think I couldn't do it.

When I publicly announced I was giving up my 4 to 5-can a day habit of Diet Coke for Lent, if you knew me at all, you probably laughed. Sure, this is the girl who tried to give it up for goofy challenges last summer, or worse, you remember that time in college when my friends kept me away from it for a whole night just to see what would happen. (That was ugly. I fully admit I am a caffeine junkie.)

Well, it's Easter weekend. And I made it.

Granted, I kept Fr. Mark's comment in mind that Sundays are like "mini Easters," and I did drink a Diet Coke on a couple of Sundays. But here's the thing. It didn't taste as good as I remembered.

Even the cans of Diet Dr. Pepper, which I drank on a few mornings to get me moving, didn't taste as good. In fact, on more than one occasion, they were left unfinished on the counter.

So yes, habits can be broken, for a time. It takes a lot of persistence and a little whining on some days, but for 40 days I kept my broken body Diet Coke-free.

I figure even with the occasional soda splurge, I still saved abour $40 in the process. So I'm asking you: Where would you put it to best use? I'll throw out a few ideas to vote on.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Parting with plastic painlessly

I've always been impressed with people like Beth Terry or the BBC's Chris Jeavans, who were so moved by the damage done to this world by our actions that they virtually gave up plastic.

As for me, change is a difficult thing. Whie I strive to make a dent in my consumption, the recycling bin and trash can tell a different story.

But you can reduce your plastic impact, one step at a time. In fact, you can start off relatively painlessly. Those baby steps to environmental friendliness often mean less waste from packaging.

Consider these ideas as you're getting started:
  • Choose environmentally friendly cleaners from your kitchen. Use baking soda and white vinegar for much of your cleaning. You'll have less hazardous chemicals in your cabinet - always a worry with little ones - and require less plastic waste. Can't live without lemon or orange scents? Just slice open a citrus fruit.
  • Choose cloth. Disposable paper towels, diapers and napkins may be convenient, but they're also swaddled in a layer of plastic.
  • Choose your pharmacy wisely. If you have a choice on where to fill your prescription, consider using one that packages your pills in recyclable containers. Locally, I choose Target, which uses #1 plastic containers, over Marsh or Walgreens, which use #5 plastic that I can't easily recycle. If you don't have options in pharmacies that have more easily recycled plastic containers, consider switching to a 90-day prescription instead of filling your bottles monthly.
  • Bring your bags. I've found too often that what would fit in five plastic bags can fit in one disposable.
  • Rework your snack habits. Drop the prepackaged snack packs and 20-ounce sodas. Instead, make your own "100-calorie" containers for lunches. Even better, turn to fresh fruits and vegetables, which we ought to be eating anyway! Swap your soda bottles for tea, coffee or lemonade. If you must drink soda, do so from alumninum cans or glass bottles.
  • Reuse what can't be recycled. It's not fun, but I wash and reuse plastic bags from breads, my husband's trips to the store or even the freezer bags that have been used. By extending the life of one plastic bag, you've created less waste overall.

Written for the Green Moms Carnival for April. Visit Fake Plastic Fish on April 14 to see others' inspirations on reducing our plastic consumption.

Edited April 14 to include Walgreen's use of #5 plastics. Guess I'm switching my script back next month!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

New farmers markets coming on board

Even though we're still about a month out from the farmers markets opening up in Indianapolis, I'm excited to learn there will be some new options in 2009.

The Star recently reported that the Indianapolis City Market is looking to open a year-round farmers market. The downtown market will open May 6 and will move indoors in October, when it usually closes. That would make the third winter's market in Indianapolis; the other two being the Indianapolis Winter Market and the Traders Point Winter Market, which is organic.

Other recent headlines state that markets are opening:
  • In Morgan County: on the north side of the Morgan County Courthouse. The market is expected to open at 8 a.m. Saturdays beginning May 30 and will run through the first Saturday in October, according to the Reporter-Times.
  • In Hendricks County: The Star also reports that Chateau Thomas Winery, just off of I-70, will open a market on May 7. It will run 4 to 8 p.m. Thursdays.

I'll have a rundown of area farmers market start dates soon.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Crock-potting your yogurt: An interesting idea

I live in a home of yogurt junkies. We can easily go through a package of kiddie yogurt in two days flat.

And that certainly adds up. At $3 or so for each 6-pack container, my wallet may be the only thing getting thinner in my home. Not to mention the amount of trash that's generated, as the closest place to recycle #5 plastic that I know of is about 30 minutes away.

This week at the store, I substituted a large container of plain vanilla yogurt, which unfortunately only comes in low-fat -- an issue when the doctor tells you your skinny baby needs to put on the pounds. So I've been at a crossroads. I can buy the baby variety, which costs closer to $4 or $5, depending on the store; or I can buy the sugar-laden kiddie yogurt, which is lower in the fat my little guy needs.

Today, while reading the many, many e-newsletters I subscribe to at work, I stumbled across a story on making your own yogurt - in a crock-pot no less. (Here's the direct link to the recipe.)

Writes Wall Street Journal blogger Jennifer Huget:
It couldn't have been easier, and the yogurt is fresh-tasting and plentiful (of
course, you can make as much as you like). The recipe made about 8 cups for less
than $5 (the cost of a half-gallon of milk and a cup of plain yogurt).

Even if I stretched my budget for the organic milk, I still think I'll be out ahead. It is certainly worth a try!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Creative way to color Easter eggs

Coloring Easter eggs isn't something I have done since childhood, but I vividly remember dropping in the little color pellets into the very strong-smelling bowls of white vinegar each spring.

But I also know this isn't the only way to decorate your eggs. In my high school geometry class, we actually were treated to creating our own hand-blown Ukranian egg.

So I wondered, what options do I really have if my daughter and I want to decorate eggs this year? I could buy a package of egg dye, complete with stickers and plastic labels for just about every big fad out there, or we could keep it simple.

And you can keep it simple - or at least natural. There are a number of recipes on the Internet for creating natural Easter egg dye. I will warn you that many state those eggs might take on the flavor of the dye materials, so if you choose to eat your hard-boiled eggs later, this might be an issue!

You can either color your eggs as you boil them (a convenience, except that all your burners might be spoken for!) or dye the eggs cold, as you would with a traditional kit.

In general the hot method involves:
  1. Fill the pan with water so that it's about 1/2 inch over the eggs.
  2. Add one to two teaspoons of vinegar.
  3. Add the natural dye. (See below for color combinations.) Use more dye material for more eggs or for a more intense color.
  4. Bring water to a boil.
  5. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.
  6. Remove the eggs from the liquid.
  7. If you want more intensely colored eggs, temporarily remove the eggs from the liquid.
  8. Cool the dye, then cover the eggs with the dye and let them remain in the refrigerator overnight.
  9. Rub eggs with paper towel or vegetable oil for a shiny look.

The cold method involves:

  1. Boil your eggs separately.
  2. Cover your ingredients with an inch of water.
  3. Add one to two teaspoons of vinegar.
  4. Add the natural dye. Use more dye material for more eggs or for a more intense color.
  5. Bring to a boil.
  6. Simmer 20 to 30 minutes.
  7. Strain the ingredients out of the water and allow the water to cool to room temperature.
  8. Submerge the eggs until the desired color is achieved.
  9. You may keep the eggs in the solution overnight as long as it is refrigerated.

Colors to consider trying:

  • Blue: canned blueberries, red cabbage leaves (boiled) or purple grape juice
  • Brown: strong coffee, black walnut shells (boiled), or black tea
  • Golden Brown: Dill Seeds
  • Green: spinach leaves (boiled)
  • Greenish Yellow: yellow delicious apple peels (boiled)
  • Lavender: purple grape juice, violet blossoms plus 2 tsp. lemon juice, or red zinger tea Orange: yellow onion skins (boiled), cooked carrots, chili powder or paprika
  • Pink: beetsor juice from pickled beets, cranberries or juice, raspberries, or red grape juice
  • Red: lots of red onions skins (boiled), canned cherries with juice, pomegranate juice, raspberries, fresh beets, or crushed cranberries
  • Violet Blue: violet blossoms, small quantity of red onions skins (boiled), hibiscus tea, red wine, or purple grape juice
  • Yellow: orange or lemon peels (boiled), carrot tops (boiled), celery seed (boiled), ground cumin (boiled), ground turmeric (boiled), chamomile tea, green tea, ground cumin or marigolds

Most of what I've read suggested using those old canned goods or beyond-old spices you really hadn't touched anyway or leftovers. No one cares if your produce is wilted for this! And use a lot for an intense color.

We may end up trying this project this weekend. The results, I'm sure, will be interesting!

Sources to learn more:

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Homemade ice cream - No ice cream maker required

There are few things more decadent than homemade ice cream. In our family, it's the coveted treat for my mother-in-law to make.

But if you've ever made ice cream yourself, you're in for some work before the reward. There's worrying about the ice, and lots of hand-cranking if you're not fortunate enough to have an electric ice cream maker. (Yes, I know I'm writing a green blog, but let me tell you: Hand cranking until the ice cream is ready is not fun.)

Even if you do have an electric maker, there's lots of babysitting in store. Add in clean up and storage of the maker the rest of the year (not to mention the cost of the contraption itself), and it's quite a lot for that quart of goodness.

Which is why Merle makes it for us.

That's why I was surprised when I stumbled across a homemade ice cream recipe in an ABC book written by my kindergarten teacher the other night. Even better, it was three ingredients -- and it required no ice cream machine. You can hardly go wrong as far as ease of preparation.

So last night, my daughter and I opted to make up our first batch of homemade ice cream. Of course, we're already tweaking the recipe due to ingredient availability in our house! (I think the original called for chocolate instead.)

Strawberry Ice Cream
1 can condensed skim milk
1 cup milk
1 lb. strawberries, diced

Mix the condensed milk and regular milk together until well blended. Add in strawberries. Freeze.

I've yet to try this frozen, but gauging from the fact my little one couldn't stop licking the spoon, I'm guessing it won't last long.