Friday, October 28, 2011

Frogs and the pond

A story by the Green Eyed Monster, age 6

I went to the Children's Museum to see the frogs. Once I dressed up as the blue dotted poison frog and it was fun.

Little poison frogs are my favorite frog in the whole world.

This frog is the funniest frog I've ever seen.

This frog looks like a leaf. Can you find it?

I like the tomato frog best because it's awesome to me.

{Mom's note: The frog exhibit at the Children's Museum of Indianapolis is well worth the trip!}

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Heirloom Guilt(y)

Heirloom guilt. I'm guilty 100 percent.

Somehow an item passed along carries an emotional weight. The table you spent Christmas dinners around. The painting your grandmother lovingly painted (even though you have eight others.) For those items, I struggle with their future.

I love the term heirloom guilt. It's just so right.

The box of paintings that I've yet to find a home for after five years in this house mocks me every time I enter my son's room. The stupid wooden ducks that do little but collect dust on top of our bookcase stay, year after year, because they're among the few things my husband has from his family. I have no idea from whom it came. But they stay.

Worse yet, I caught myself imparting this on my 3 year old the other day. The well-worn blanket that somehow made the return trip home from Kansas City? It's my husband's 37-year-old cuddle blanket. And it came home. And has joined my son in his bed.

It's easier to cope with items when they have a purpose. Like several of my grandmother's paintings. Or a quilt my husband's grandmother made. Or my grandma's dining room set, destined to pinch tiny figures, which later found a new home at my brother's house after a furniture swap.

For others, I struggle with the clutter they impart and the memories they represent. The box of photos and smaller paintings my grandmother made - which have taunted me to do something with them for five years now - doesn't diminish the love she had for me or the work she created. Quantity of things doesn't replace the quality of love.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Herb harvest

Threats of frost kicked my preservation into high gear. Today at the Green Phone Booth, I'm sharing a few ideas for quickly using up the last of the season's herbs.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Kelsay Farms open for the fall

Kelsay Farms, a dairy farm located just south of Greenwood, opens its doors each fall for a festival. My kids have been begging to visit again after a summer-time field trip with their day care, so this was a great opportunity to get out and enjoy some fall weather.

The place was packed with activities, including the mandatory hay to climb on and corn maze to weave through, dairy tours (which we missed), more dairy products than you could ever eat (how we managed not to get milkshakes or ice cream was a miracle!), and a traveling magician -- who did an impromptu performance in a corn pit!
While the kids enjoyed the magician, the stars of the day were the cows, of course, particularly these 21-day-old calves.

My little guy loved showing off the "grown-up" cows too!

It was a cute afternoon, and our kids, who are in preschool and early elementary school, were just the right age for a visit. They're still celebrating on weekends through the end of October.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Homemade chive butter

I'm trying to beat the clock before our first frost or freeze, so this morning the chives are coming down! Chive butter looks to be a great option for baked potatoes, French bread or at Thanksgiving dinner.

Chive butter
1 stick butter, softened
2 tablespoons fresh chopped chives
2 small cloves garlic

Mix well. Refrigerate or freeze.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Happy birthday to me

The last time I really celebrated my birthday? I was 21 years old.

Birthdays, instead, have evolved to a day I spend with my loved ones, keeping it simple in a hectic life. So I was surprised the other day, when, while having cake with my department, someone asked me what I was doing for my birthday.

My husband was scheduled for work that night so I have kid duty, I explained.

Silence. As if there was something wrong with me for that remark.

Finally someone ventured, "Take the kids someplace where they eat free."

But I realize I would be outnumbered during the witching hour, and setting the expectation of perfect behavior in a booth just wasn't my idea of fun. Strangely enough, I'm more than content to make the salmon I've been meaning to cook from my freezer and let the kids enjoy their life.

So, yes, I have no major plans to celebrate #37. But I'm OK with that too. Because my favorite people will make it a party, in their own quirky kid ways.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Being Buggy

Four weeks, two rounds of antibiotics and more sinus and cough medicine than I care to count. I'm ready to be healthy again.

Early bedtimes and less than normal energy has taught me a few things this last month.

1) That sometimes life is out of your control. (Apparently I needed that refresher.)

2) That its OK to ask for help at times, or to say "enough."

3) That you don't have to be Supermom to be a super mom. Sometimes slowing down your schedules is what your family needs most.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Are Girl Scouts Greener – Or just in the Pocketbook?

Being a Daisy Girl Scout troop co-leader this year has been an eye-opener in many ways. Fundraising is the biggest one of all.

I’m not naive enough to think that dollars magically float from the air, but the way the Scouts are approaching the fall fundraiser is a big disconnect from their messaging that they are “always greener” and from their emphasis on recycling, etc.

Girls earn not one but four stackable participation patches: One for selling magazines (Interestingly, only print editions are for sale. My retired mom wants digital subscriptions.). A second for selling a certain quantity of chocolates and nuts.

A third is for loading up a website with a dozen email addresses of their closest friends and family members to receive requests from. And the fourth for completing a mailing booklet (assuming to the same people) with addresses to send two print mailings to.

I am a mass marketer. My six year old is not. But I’m further bothered by the fact that families and friends receive multiple print mailings for this fundraiser. And parents will be encouraged to turn those in as well, as I’m told each troop makes $2 per completed booklet, on top of a percentage of sales. Shouldn't we be about reducing waste instead?

For an organization that is purporting to be “always greener,” this practice flies in the face of what we’re encouraging girls to be.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Second-chance gardening

While my neighbors have sadly ripped up their gardens and mourned a bad growing season, I'm back for more. Today at the Green Phone Booth, I'm sharing what's starting to grow in our fall-season garden.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Homemade basil oil

Basil and other herb-flavored oils have always been on my wish list, always tried in specialty shops but never purchased or attempted. The reason? Storage. While I hate to "waste" flavored oils on "ordinary" meals, the last thing I want to do is to hold on to them until well past their prime. So rather than enjoy them, I've held off.

Until I ran across a comment in an eating-fresh cookbook that said the flavored oils freeze well. My problem solved: My muffin tins easily hold 1/4-cup servings, easy enough to make flavored oils and store in small quantities until I'm ready to use.

So this weekend, I attemped my first flavored oil to good success. My basil oil is currently in my freezer and ready to pull out for the "right" pasta dish.

Basil oil
based off of a recipe from Farm Food

1/2 cup fresh parsley
1 3/4 cups fresh basil
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 cup canola oil
1/2 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Blanch herbs then shock in cold water. Squeeze most of the water out of the herbs and put in a blender. Blend with oils and pepper, about 2-3 minutes, until well-blended. Season to taste. Freeze in 1/4-cup servings or use immediately.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Harvest Prayer

Anonymous 17th Century Sermon

Please be gentle with yourself and others.
We are all children of chance,

And none can say why some fields blossom
While others lay brown beneath the harvest sun.

Take hope that your season will come.

Share the joy of those whose season is at hand.
Care for those around you.
Look past your differences.

Their dreams are no less than yours,
Their choices in life no more easily made.

And give.
Give in any way you can.
Give in every way you can.
Give whatever you possess.
Give from your heart.
To give is to love.

To withhold is to wither.

Care less for the size of your harvest
than for how it is shared,

And your life will have meaning
And your heart will have peace.

DIY Halloween Costumes

Halloween costumes don't have to be costly, nor do they have to take much time. Today on the Green Phone Booth, we're sharing quick ideas for do-it-yourself Halloween costumes.