Thursday, June 30, 2011

Nothing But The Kitchen Sink

There is a new and exciting development at the homestead. As of yet, we have had nothing in the way of certain modern comforts - no bathroom, no running water, no electricity. Those are the things that we are working on as our first projects - the septic system will go in, the electricity will be run, the basement plumbing and electricity will be run, the chimney and basement stove will go in - so that we can move in as soon as possible this autumn. But now that "nothing" has turned into "nothing BUT the kitchen sink." Yes, as of this weekend, Adam and our friend Jay whom has been helping out on our homestead project have installed a kitchen sink.

(It's not your average kitchen sink, but I think I prefer it. Who can beat a kitchen sink in the wide open this summer, with a view of clear blue sky over my head and wide open air around me? Suits me just fine)

When we pulled up to the homestead with dinner Monday evening, there was a very freshly plumbed well pump, and I couldn't be more thrilled. We now have a safe well site, with access to water for washing dishes and poison ivy covered legs without walking down to the creek with a bucket and dishwashing liquid.

Max learned quickly how to make that gorgeous red pump work to bring us cool, crisp water for washing.

Such a brilliant red, isn't it?

These hard-working men chiselled a whole into a large patio rock, placed it over the well, arranged the plumbing to pull that water up to the pump, and to top it all off, they built a stand to hold the old cast iron sink from the farmhouse.

They even rigged the old rusty gutter up under the sink as the drain, so the water doesn't drop back down into the well immediately.

Max was even excited to find that the skid steer had uncovered a batch of daffodil bulbs. "Look, Mama, they found me something to chop up!"

Mona helped as she could, but had to watch out for a nose-choppin' hammer.
I let him chop away.

I think I can spare a few. Plus, a happy Mama with a new outdoor kitchen sink is pretty relaxed about daffodil bulb chopping.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Caterpillar Rescue

I did not make it to the farm last weekend before the brushhog hit all of the fields. Bummer. My plan was to go through all of the milkweed plants and search for Monarch caterpillars so I could save any I found. Instead, my sweet husband gave his tour of the farm to his younger brother, Uncle Mikey, and his girlfriend Giovanna, with four kids tagging along, while I spent 45 minutes pulling every milkweed plant out of the chopped grass to search each leaf for caterpillar or egg.

Talk about tedious work. The picture above was one of the few plants that was still growing and just bend over. Most were chopped off and lying under piles of grass. Individual leaves, sections of plants, creamy white milk from the plants sticking grass leaves everywhere. I wasn't expecting large caterpillars, as the brushhog made a pass a couple of months ago, so the milkweed was just growing back. And I certainly did not find a large caterpillar. I found a very teeny caterpillar, perhaps hatched only that day or the day before, on the broken-off top of a very small milkweed plant.

Max has named her Greeny-Head. Lovely, I think. She was so small that she was barely visable, and there was only a tiny hole, which you can see in uppermost leaf in the above picture, that was testiment she had been arond for not so long. Saturday was the day of caterpillar rescue, and today, three days later, I finally got to take Greeny-Head's picture.

I am functioning on a mostly caput battery, which will only let me take a few photos after hours of charging, so my photography has been limited (which is driving me bonkers, as I'm sure you can imagine). Greeny-Head has at least tripled in size since we found her three days ago. For reference for the above photo, her milkweed plant is in an old baby food jar of which there are many at the farm, and the leaf that she is chewing on is 3 inches across where she is resting.

Here is a closer crop for you. She is absolutely precious in our minds. On a sad note, I actually found two caterpillars Saturday. The second was on a larger plant, but even smaller in size. While transporting them both, the ride was bumpy, so I had Kane and Max holding the jars. When Max fell asleep and Bella took over his jar, that caterpillar was missing. By the time we made it home, all four children were sound asleep. Within minutes of looking I found the caterpillar clinging desperately to Max's seat belt. I managed to get her off and back onto the plant, which is not an easy job with a caterpillar that is barely visable, let me tell you. But in the morning she was nowhere to be seen. I have not been able to find her on the plants, although there is some chance that she is down in some of the smaller plants, as there are many in that jar. I wanted to make sure they had plenty of plants to munch on while they grew. I'm hoping that we find signs of her survival soon.

Greeny-head will grow for another 6-10 days, in which time she will go from her 1/8 inch size to her full 2 inch size, before she is ready to build her beautiful minty green chrysalis with its golden decorations. We are excited to have the ability to watch her grow and see her emerge as a graceful Monarch, and we look forward to sharing that experience with you here. We are heading out in the morning to stay with my parents, as Bella and Kane are in Theater Camp there. We then have to prepare for Kane's 6th birthday party the day after we get back, so I wish you all a happy weekend, and we will send an update on Greeny-Head as soon as we can! Stay tuned!

Friday, June 24, 2011

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual inspired by SouleMama. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Here's wishing you a blessed weekend!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Avocado Ice Cream

My wonderful Mum recently gifted me a subscription to Mary Jane's Farm Magazine. (Thanks again, Mom!!) I am thrilled with the magazine. With the temperature of this near-summer weather really heating up, we tried our first recipe from the magazine - Mary Jane's Avocado Ice Cream. We love avocados around here, so the thought of Avocado Ice Cream thrilled us all. And we're talking about an ice cream recipe that doesn't take an ice cream machine. We were not let down. Here is the recipe, as it appeared in the June/July 2011 issue, with our dairy-free substitutions in parentheses. Trust me. Try it. You will not be disappointed. MaryJane's Avocado Ice Cream
Prep Time: 15 minutes / Makes 3 cups

1 large avocado, peeled and diced
1 cup half-and-half (we used coconut milk, full fat)
2/3 cup powdered sugar (we use Private Selection Organic - they use tapioca starch, which works for those of us with corn allergies, or who are just trying to avoid all that GMO corn out there)
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice

1. Combine avocado, half-and-half, sugar, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a blender. Puree until completely smooth.
2. Poor mixture into a 2-quart baking dish.
3. Cover and freeze until firm, about 4 hours. (Can be transferred to an air-tight container and kept in a freezer for up to one month.)
4. Before serving, let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes. Use and ice-cream or watermelon scoop to serve. Top with fresh fruit or mango salsa.
Those are the official guidelines. I would add something. Like, test often so that you can eat it the second that it is firm enough.

And serve in adorable little ice cream sundae cups, with each child having their favorite color. Very important detail. And, if you so desire, top with some gluten/dairy-free cookies for a perfectly wonderful Sunday sundae. Yum.

The results with the coconut milk were delectable, as you can see. Laini was pleased with her first try of ice cream. And Mama was pleased that all her little ones were getting good, homemade, organic ice cream with a lot less sugar than anything that can be bought locally. Perfect summer goodness.

Friday, June 17, 2011

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual inspired by SouleMama. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Have a blessed weekend!

Monday, June 13, 2011

So Many Toughts

There are so many posts floating around in my head and in files of photos on this computer, but seemingly no time to put them on here. But I've made a decision. I have been beating myself up lately because I'm not posting enough, and it's been worse since we found Kane's 1st year calendar. There are so many little tidbits of info on there about his daily life that we are loving reading back about, and I have nothing like that in writing for Maxwell or Helena, but I have this blog. I'm having to remind myself that although I love to have readers stop by and enjoy my blog, it's just as much about logging our daily lives for the future for us. So I'll be trying to make more, simple, short posts, just so I have a record of some of our daily happenings to look back on with the kids one day.

To start, how about some pictures of Helena's new talent? 

The best part is when she makes it and does her "I DID IT!" stomp dance on the table top. Clearly, we now have to make sure that the chairs are always pushed in to the table.

Friday, June 10, 2011

{this moment}

Once again, two weeks of...

{this moment} - A Friday ritual inspired by SouleMama.. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Here's wishing you a blessed and peacefilled weekend.