Sunday, June 29, 2008

Weekend Update

It's been a wet and relatively dull weekend. We had hoped to go to ComFest for more Fair Fare, cheap trinkets and free concerts, however, it was raining on and off all weekend. I rather stay home and vegetate than to brave the elements with my three wild boys.

ComFest, also known as "Commie-Fest" is a community festival that was started in the '70s and has stayed the same for over 30 years. Think lots of tie-dye, incense, beaded necklaces and cheap crafts. Also beer, wine and bands in a park setting. It is Columbus's version of Woodstock. It is also the same weekend as Gay Pride; I think we have the 3rd or 4th largest Pride gathering with over 90,000 expected to attend. While I love a good Gay Pride Parade combined with a lovely Hippie Festival, I am not a big fan of crowds and fighting for parking. Throw in rain and I'm staying home. Maybe next year....

Anyway, today we finally saw our first Hummingbird after having the feeders out for a couple of weeks. My favorite Lily's have started to open up. I believe they are a variety of Stargazer Lilies. The 4th of July is our next chance for some local color. Perhaps we'll go to the Doo-Dah parade!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Wordless Wednesday - Garden Update

Fence is Up


Lily - White

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Vacation on a Budget - Festive Backyard Vacation

June 20 - 22 Gahanna - Creekside Blues and Jazz Festival

Columbus Jazz Orchestra - photo by Devon age 11

Day 1: Friday evening, Dad who is not a festival guy stayed behind for "me time" and I took all three boys. We arrived at the festival shortly after it started and could not find nearby parking. Parked at the local High School and took a shuttle bus. Turns out it was the same bus and driver that my boys had during the school year. Not sure how thrilled Mr. M was to see my 3 bad boys but it was neat for me to get to experience their daily "ride".

The bus was packed to capacity, 3 to a seat. I chose to sit behind my boys so I could keep a close watch. They started with their Three Stooges Routine: my eldest is always Moe! As I sat at the edge of my seat, ready to intervene, they moved on to the singing portion of their act.

Not sure what triggered this jingle, but they started to sing " Viva Viagra!" from the television commercial. I quickly popped up, leaned over the seat and issued some death stares and motioned the cut sign. Not sure if anyone noticed. I was a bit flushed. In my defense, it is summer vacation and those commercials appear a bit earlier than they ought to. I mean, 10:00 p.m. is still early, right? Any way, after a short ride, we were dropped off near the sectioned-off party area.

I stopped to visit a friend at a nearby business and then we were off to check out the festival. We did not have dinner so we canvassed the food vendors for some nourishment. After a lovely meal of Funnel Cakes, Curly Fries, and Slushees, we went down to the creek to rent a paddle boat. At this point there was a 2 hour wait and reservations were shut down for the night.

My oldest was disappointed about "missing the boat" on the paddle boats and decided we needed to go home. Not wanting to push my luck, I called it an evening. We boarded the next bus back to our car.

Day 2: Saturday Afternoon, I first made sure the boys had lunch. As I would not guarantee we would try to get a Paddle Boat, my eldest stayed home with Dad. We parked and took the shuttle and proceeded to the festivities. Managing two boys was much easier and we were able to visit several businesses and booths before heading down to the Creekside banks to check on our chances of getting a boat. We were in luck and after a short wait and for the low price of $2 for 30 minutes we were happily peddling away. Unfortunately five minutes into our journey, the skies clouded up and winds picked up. We peddled as fast as we could back to the base, just as all the boats were being herded back. Just as we were removing our Life Vests, it started to pour down rain. Did a little bit of shopping; the boys brought their own money and were allowed to buy what they wanted. They each bought a trinket which they didn't need but hopefully will be a treasured remembrance of the day. We stopped to listen to some music and went home.

Day 3: Sunday Early Afternoon, and all three boys decided to go. We suited up with backpacks filled with the essentials: Bottled water, tissues, umbrellas, suntan lotion, a digital camera and money. We arrived at the parking lot just as the bus pulled in. We ran and made it to be the last people to get a seat. The skies began to cloud up as the bus pulled out and by the time we were dropped off, it was pouring. The boys were game to go. We were the only passengers to get off the bus. Every else went back to their cars.

Armed with umbrellas, we survived the short storm. We made our way directly to the boat dock and were the first in line. After a ten minute wait, donning our life vests, set out on our adventure.
Bad Boatin' Momma & her Badd Boyz - photo by next person in line for our boat.
Not sure why we needed life vests when the water is knee-deep in most spots;
deepest point could not have been more than three feet! Oh, well: Safety First!

After a couple of laps around the creek, we worked up an appetite. My oldest is now hooked on Funnel Cakes, thanks to me, and we split one. He came prepared with plastic baggies, in case we couldn't finish ( we devoured it - sadly no left-overs ). The other boys had ice cream AND Italian Ices and my oldest bought a Coldstone Creamery confection ( $4.75! Thank goodness it was his money!).

Spotted a woman with a Parrot on a leash & had to take a photo.
We visited a bunch of booths, played games and filled out forms for raffles.
Won't my husband be surprised with the sudden increase in telemarketers calling our house!

Mad Money! I now almost have enough for an ice cream cone! photo by Devon

I did win a turn in a money machine. It was a sparsely filled wind tunnel with a combination of fake and real dollar bills. Couldn't have been more than $20 of which I was able to grab 3 real dollar bills and a couple of fake ones ( which entitled me to a gift bag of promotional items - whoopee!) and $3 dollars cash!!!

We stopped to listen to the Columbus Jazz Orchestra for a bit ( see top photo ), walked along the creek and went home; tired but we all felt like winners!

This concludes our "Vacation on a Budget"!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Garden Report - 6/17/08

Last week Joeprah asked: Is this a gardening blog? To answer his question: Why, Yes! For the Summer, it looks like this is what my blog is turning out to be. Lots of similarities between mothering & gardening. You plant the seeds, nurture, water, feed and they grow. The miracle of life!

This weekend I cleaned out a bunch of weeds and transplanted pepper and tomato plants that popped up around the garden. This is our 5th year of the vegetable garden. Each year I gain new insights and we change the layout and crop selection ever so slightly. I have also gotten better at recognizing weeds and tree seedlings from vegetable starts.

I only bought 3 tomato plants this year and everything else is from seed or reseeded itself. New to our garden is the yellow squash which is planted next to the cucumbers. Last year was a fantastic year for peppers and fair for tomatoes; cucumbers did not fare so well. Some sort of blight. This year I positioned the cukes in the same area as the first year, The Year of The Cucumber, where we had a bumper crop and shared with many of our neighbors. I hope we will have the same good fortune this year.

So far we have had an over-abundance of Dill. I learned a few things about Dill this weekend. Contrary to popular belief, Dill is not a garden bug repellent. It can attract a few pests such as the dreaded Tomato Horned Worm ( looks like Heimlich the fat Caterpillar from Bug's Life ). I did some research on the internet and this is what I learned:
1. Horn Worms are attracted to Dill but the good news is that it makes them easier to spot. I found about a dozen small worms and threw them in the yard waste trash can.
2. Fully grown the Horn Worms turn into Hummingbird Moths. They are freaky looking, similar to hummingbirds but not as cute. We had a few last year and now I know where they came from.
3. Dill can be frozen. Simply wash, dry, cut up and put in freezer bags.

I have cleared out some of my dill by giving to neighbors, freezing some and transferring some to pots to be given away (perhaps left on doorsteps like orphan babies). I hate to let my plants go to waste but will need to clear away more. They are taking up too much space and crowding out other plants such as onions, tomatoes and peppers.

If anyone out there has any great recipes that use Dill, let me know! Right now I use it with Tuna fish and in salads.

Monday, June 16, 2008

What we are reading today..

I've been a bit short on time for posts but want to get 2 quick reading suggestions in:

I just finished reading Julie & Julia My Year of Cooking Dangerously by Julie Powell. Great read! It is a chronicle of a woman who tries to fill a void in her life by taking on the ultimate cooking challenge. She decides to make all of 524 recipes in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking. In one year! I don't cook and can't begin to imagine the dedication this took.
The closest I came to a project like that was the summer I worked in a dress shop near a Baskin Robbins. I decided to have all 31 flavors in a month. I ended up having double-scoops of ice cream for lunches every weekday, gaining a few pounds and finding out there was way more than 31 flavors. Even if you don't count the sherbets.

My boys are reading religiously everyday as part of the summer reading program the local library sponsors. Tonight my 7 year old son started reading The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo. (She also wrote Because of Winn-Dixie).

My son's first grade teacher had read this to the class during the school year and he loved it. He came home and told me about this book one day when we went for a walk. A very sweet and melancholy story about a china rabbit named Edward and the tumultuous turns his life takes. Think Velveteen Rabbit with more violence, tragedy and bigger words.

Now I am having him read it to me. Lots of new words. For both of us. (Tonight's new words were jaunty and ennui and this is just the beginning) Highly recommend this book!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Wordless Wednesday Garden Report

Vegetable Garden is looking greener

Dill anyone?

How I go green!

Peonies - Show is over......

Lilies are starting to open

Foxy Foxglove

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Defensive Gardening

I love strawberries. I love them in salads. I love them in cake. On cereal. Or just plain. In my garden, not so much.

Every year, the round green leaves of my strawberry plants are the first to pop-up and vine out in my garden bed. I have tried to relocate these invaders to pots, yet they still make their way back into the raised vegetable garden. Commanding a bit more real estate than they should, they flower and bud with the promise of a juicy red harvest. Only to disappear right before I come to pick them. I feel like Charlie Brown and the ever illusive football he attempts to kick.

This year is going to be different. I have developed a new strawberry defense system.
Step 1: Create a "forest" around the plants to foil attacks from above.
I left some dead, woody plants ( dill & pepper ) so that if a bird swooped in they would get poked by a stick. I also have a forest of fresh dill that helps hide the ripening berries.

Step 2: Create a border of Garden Animals. I gathered up all my bunnies and turtles to make a menacing gauntlet to scare off chipmunks, squirrels, rabbits and any other critter that normally approaches from the ground.

Step 3: Gather up any empty spare clay pots for the ripening fruit to overhang, creating another layer of protection. Fortunately I have tons of these, primarily from 8 years of Mother's Day gifts that the kids created at school.

So far it seems to be working pretty well. I have had about a dozen, delicious strawberries so far with more on the way!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

The Ride

They ought to make a Dangerous Book for Moms.

It was a beautiful day Sunday and I wanted to get the boys out for a bike ride early in the day. They have been spending too much time indoors. In order to get their cooperation, I need to make it an adventure. My oldest remembered that we needed to measure last week's ride, where we were caught in a torrential downpour on the way home. The ride we were re-enacting was during the Memorial Day Weekend lazy-fest.
Scene 2: Sunday of Memorial Weekend
It was on-off again clouds and showers. During a break in the weather, I saw an opportunity to get a quick ride in. My oldest son had told us about a route he discovered with his friend the day before. The path went through the woods to a water-tower. I suggested that he might want to show us the route and he took the bait.

The Path

I remembered the gravel path which I estimated to be about 1.5 miles from our house. I sometimes would take my two older boys, when they were small, for long walks in the stroller. I once attempted to navigate the long, rocky path but got spooked and turned around. Not only was it difficult to push the buggy, I was worried about taking two babies into a deserted wooded area by myself. It reminded me of a horror flick right before the monster attacks.

Traveling with three boys by bicycle didn't seem as scary. Chances are we would outnumber any demons.

As we entered the gravel path we followed a winding trail with several walking trails that branched out into the wooded areas. The sweet smells of clover and wildflowers filled my nostrils. The narrow road surrounded by a thick canopy of trees and brush would make the perfect setting for filming a thriller, where the victims are being chased through desolate forests.
But I was not afraid. I had my posse. And I was grateful. This route was much longer than I anticipated. Finally as we reached a clearing we saw the road which led to the gated water-tower.

There was a park in the distance and this was the point we needed to turn around. It also was the time it started to rain.

to be continued.......