Monday, June 28, 2010

Summer Plans - Here We Go!

I have been a stay-at-home-mom once again for the last two weeks. The pace of life is slower, but not as slow as I imagined it when I was working full time. I have managed to fill the days very easily, with catching up on house-work, adding another bed to the garden, weeding and mowing, paperwork, getting my doula business registered, attending a birth (joyous, beautiful, and a privilege to support this family), running three times a week, and hanging out with friends and family. In addition, we bought a new front door, Average built two ramps for riding BMX, and we are also taking a dog training class with Glen. We have dog class once a week, and daily homework assignments. Glen is making progress on heeling, sitting, and staying, although he did chew up a new rhododendron in the back yard one day when we forgot to feed him -- that never happens, I swear! -- but I couldn't really blame him. To sum up, the last two weeks have absolutely flown by, with very little blogging going on, although I had good intentions!

During these two weeks I have lost two phone numbers that I needed, misplaced my phone twice, left my purse at a restaurant once, and currently can't find my keys. It is time for some major organization around here. I would like to get the house cleaned up and organized this week, because next weekend we are heading out on an eight-day trip to the Eastern half of the state, for family July 4th events and Average's high school reunion. We don't get out to the area he grew up very often, so are going to try to hit all the major stops on our trip: grandparents, dad, old friends, hot springs, and mountain biking trails! It should be interesting doing this trip with a toddler child and a dog, three bikes and a bike trailer, dressy, casual, and exercise clothes, and all our cloth diapers, all in our Camry. Wish us luck!

When we return from the trip, I start a one-week course for teachers, in order to attain the credits required to maintain my teaching license. I have a feeling this summer is going to fly by, but I have a long list of things I want to do with Sweet Pea this summer. We are going to:
go swimming (already done once)
go berry picking (blueberry, strawberry, and cherry, please!)
float down the river (any river, I don't care, I just want to be on the water)
install our new front door
replace the beams for the patio cover
harvest tons of vegetables from our garden
teach Glen to stay, and to come when called
prepare to run a half marathon in September
go to both Average and my ten-year reunions

What are your summer plans? Am I forgetting anything important?

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Gardening Don't: Soil Airflow and Drainage

I made a silly gardening mistake with the soil that was leftover from filling our raised beds. I knew we would need it for additional plantings in our yard throughout the spring and summer and I didn't want it to grow a layer of weeds, so I put a tarp over the pile. Unfortunately, the tarp was also under the pile. After several weeks of heavy rains with occasional hot days, the soil that started out with a fresh manure and bark chip scent has gained a distinctly rotten odor. The lesson here is, make sure your soil has a way to drain water out, and get air in! I can't believe that I really didn't think anything of piling my soil on a tarp, and forgetting about it for a while. I don't think I'll make this mistake again.

I think the soil WILL recover, with time, but I don't know for sure if I ought to do something to it to make it a better planting medium. I did a Google search for "rotten soil" and apparently that is a song title. I am going to just add some compost, let it dry a little, and hope for the best! Any tips are welcome.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Sautéed Veggies

I've made a discovery: I can add sautéed vegetables to almost any meal I make, and love them. I have long struggled with finding easy ways to incorporate more veggies into my meals, overcooking them in the oven or undercooking them in the steamer (or vice versa). We eat a lot of salad, and there are endless variations of that (my current favorite is low on the lettuce, high on the cabbage and broccoli, with nuts and cheese), but I do get a little tired of salad every day after a while. So lately, I've been trying out just cutting up a couple of veggies and adding them to whatever I'm cooking on the stove top. I generally prefer cooking in a cast iron skillet on the range because I have the best luck with avoiding both burning and undercooking when I can closely monitor my food. Many of our dinners include either potatoes or meat that is cooked in olive oil in a pan. Others will often include rice or pasta, which, when we eat them as leftovers, are refried in oil or butter. It's easy to add vegetables to all of those things, and make a well-rounded meal without dirtying extra dishes. Most commonly I've been adding peppers, onions, zucchini, broccoli, carrots, or green beans to the pan in the last 5 minutes or so of cooking, although you could use pretty much any vegetable, and cook it to your own taste. Tonight we had chicken thighs, cooked in olive oil, tamari, and with a few garlic cloves, and I added carrots and zucchini. Sweet Pea enjoys cooked vegetables on occasion, but can't quite handle gnawing most of them in their raw form. This way I don't have to make something separate for her, that she might not end up eating (yes, her fickle eating habits have continued although the amount she is eating has definitely increased). Now that it is barbecue season, and our garden is in the early stages of production, I will be experimenting with grilled veggies too.

What's your favorite way to incorporate vegetables into your meals?

Friday, June 11, 2010

School's Out For Summer

Today was my last day of work as a long-term substitute teacher. It's summertime, y'all! I am looking forward to more working in my yard, harvesting the fruits of my labor, swimming with Sweet Pee, bike rides with Average, dog training class, barbeques, afternoon naps, and catching up on my blogging. I have hundreds of ideas swimming around my head and haven't had any time for writing. But I am back!