Monday, May 27, 2013

Lilac-Rose Marmalade

Ok, so I'm a total beginner when it comes to making jellies/jams/marmalades, but I thought I would give this a try because it looked like fun.  Our lilac trees are in full bloom, they are so beautiful and smell like heaven.  Because I was curious, I was trying to figure out what I could do with those gorgeous buds.  I won't even bother going through my process, with this kind of thing, you'd get better instruction from wikipedia (!).  I will say, though, that I threw in some rose petals which added a nice twist.  

As the infused water was brewing I couldn't keep my eyes (and nose) off of it!  Also, I might add, she says this is a jelly, but mine came out to be more of a marmalade--kind of thick with a bitter/sweet quality.  If you have extra flowers, you can float them in some water or keep a bunch near your bed.  Lilacs encourage feelings of love and warmth, I most certainly will say that pulling of the buds was such a sweet and enjoyable thing to do.  Happy picking!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Food Coloring Pellets (or whatever)

What kid doesn't love to play with their food?

Ms. Serafin came up with this one herself.  In order to get breakfast going I wanted to have the kiddos distracted with something.  While Silas got a cupcake tin full of cheerios to sort (and munch on), the little Ms.  got something a little more complicated.  Since I know she loves experimenting with color I decided to let her play with her own cupcake tin full of water and food coloring.  

Hard at work

I gave her a dropper and an egg carton filled with baking soda (why the heck not?).  I didn't really have anything in mind, but I figure she could get busy doing whatever she wanted with said tools and I could get the morning going.  20 minutes later she comes up to me and hands me the egg carton full of mixed colors and says, "I want to see what happens when I freeze it."  Ok.  

Let's put it in the freezer!

So, after sitting in sub-zero for about 3 hours, we pull it out and notice each color has become a sort of hard and colorful (all be it a bit crumbly) pellet.  Of course with my Pinterest addicted brain, a bazillion different activities shot through my head; there are soooooo many possibilities and creations we could make with these small and colorful icy rocks (fairy dust for the fairy portal, mash em up and spread them all over paper, add vinegar, smear them into a rock).  But I had to stand aside and let the kiddo create.  And what did my sweet little nature girl want to do?  She wanted to set them on a rock "for the birds to look at".  I love that girl so much!  Her cuteness makes me want to squeeze her till she pops sometimes!

For the birds to look at.

Have leftover food coloring?  Throw those in the freezer too!  They will make another creative project for another day!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Orcas Dreams 11: Random Acts of Paint

Today I decided to do some random painting, the kids joined in too.  I don't know what possessed me, I suppose I just needed to do something creative. It is also very satisfying to add color to something.  The days have been beautiful here, but very long.  The littlest one has me up at about 6 and the eldest doesn't go to bed till the earliest 9:00.  With Gary being sick still, I have been full time "Mommying" it.  Total respect for single parents out there, it is hard work!  

I know some of you have been asking about the hubby.  We don't know what's up with him, just that he has been dealing with bouts of vomiting for several days at a time.  He's had three episodes of this in the last month and a half.  We are investigating and hopefully will find some answers.  I will keep you posted

So in the midst of all this, I've been trying to be creative and have fun.  Remember that burned Christmas tree?  Well today I had my way with it.  Not sure what I'm going to do with it next, I still have a little more painting to do, but the kids started getting paint everywhere and I had to call it quits before they tracked pink foot prints on the white carpet (pretty much the only thing I dislike about this house!).  Anyway, it makes me smile and also reminds me of something out of a Dr. Seuss book.  

So that's all for now folks.  Like I promised, I will get my garden pictures to you soon, I'm waiting for a nice sunny day to really show it in its glory (I'm also waiting for the peonies to bloom so I can show off a little).  It sure is beautiful here!

Regardless, just wondering, what random things have you painted lately??

Monday, May 13, 2013

The REAL Greek Salad

You don't know a real Greek salad, "horiataki" as it's called in Greek, until you've been to Greece, or had a Greek make one for you.  You know how sometimes you can find a, so called, Greek Salad in most all American type  restaurants, well, I say "Bleh"!  I'm going to teach you the proper way to have a Greek salad.  The way I had it when I would spend summer's in Greece.  After a long swim in the Mediterannean we would go to a Taverna and chow down, right before we went home for a nap!  Usually we would get a bunch of small dishes and all share, a Greek salad was one of these dishes and ALWAYs included in our lunch times.

This dish is easy to make and a crowd pleaser because it looks so pretty.  You can cut everything up the "morning of" and they will be fine sitting in the fridge till you are ready to go.  Here are the ingredients for a large salad (and remember, a Greek salad should NEVER have lettuce in it--yes, I feel very strongly about that!)


5 large large tomatoes sliced into bite size pieces
1/2 a sliced red onion
1 cucumber also chopped into bite size pieces
A small hand full of fresh dill
Handful of Kalamata Olives
A few sprinkles of Oregano
A pinch of salt
12 oz of feta cheese
Olive Oil
Balsalmic Vinegar
French Baguette or other yummy bread

To Make:

-Chop up tomatoes, onions, cucumbers and dill.
-Throw the above ingredients in a bowl and mix along with olives.
-When ready to serve salad, place large chunk of feta cheese on the salad and sprinkle with oregano.
-Drizzle with Olive Oil and Sprinkle with vinegar (enough of both to make the desired amount of dressing.  Remember, your ratio of olive oil to vinegar should be 3:1, if you are unsure, make the dressing separately).
-Now bring the salad to the table and toss in front of your guests!  
-And don't forget about one of the best parts!  Grab your bread and soak up some of those delicious juices!  Mmmmmm, I'm hungry just thinking about it!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Pill Bug Habitat

Ms. Serafin made a pill bug friend out in the garden last week.  Everyday since, when we went out side, she would dig into the dirt till she found  a rolly-polly and said,  "Look Mom!  I found Lasia (the name of said bug)".  When it was time to put Lasia back  where she found her, she was always sad.  

One afternoon the hubby decided to learn about "keeping" pill bugs so Serafin might not have to part too far from her new friend.  It really isn't all that hard.  Pill bugs actually live for 2-3 years and make pretty awesome bug pets, if you're into that kind of thing.  They eat mould, left overs and even bug poop, all stuff that is in the soil naturally.  You can add food to their habitat by including potatoe peels, ground up egg shell and any other goodies you might think would make good compost.  

To make a pill bug's home, you just be sure to have a container that is big enough for them to wonder, is moist, dark and rich with soil.   For water you can use a spray bottle and moisten the soil every now and then when it begins to look dry.  It's also important to be sure to include an entire pill bug "family" as they are social creatures and don't like to be alone.  We have about 20 pill bugs in our little habitat now and Serafin enjoys watching them wonder.   Sometimes she will pick one up and let it walk all over her hands and arms.  Yup, she definitely loves them and I love that she loves bugs!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Orcas Dreams 10: The Tent Caterpillars Have Arrived

In regards to tent caterpillars, I've been feeling quite sadistic these days.  The little crawlers have arrived and we are trying to get rid of their nests.  I was told about the outbreaks here on Orcas last year, which was apparently the worst year recordable.  When Gary first arrived at our new home, he said they were every where, munching away on trees and eating every leaf in sight.  By the time I arrived, in September, I could see the remanences of hundreds of cocoons all over the side of the house.   Now, when I read The Very Hungry Caterpillar to my kids, I find myself getting annoyed at the main character and want to yell at him to stop eating.  Just stop it damn it!  ;)

Tent caterpillars are known for decimating trees, particularly fruit trees.  They work their way through the foliage one nice leaf at a time.  One "tent", which has hundreds, if not thousands, of caterpillars in it, can defoliate as much as 20% of a young tree, which can make it sick and even kill it.  We have about 20-30 tents hanging in our cherry blossom tree just outside of our house!  Not only that, but you would hope that these little buggers, no pun intended, would provide us with a plethora of beautiful butterflies. Well, it ain't so!  When they are finished with their metamorphosis, they become a brown moth.  Now, I know all creatures of nature are beautiful in their own way, but it's too bad that these little suckers couldn't be a little more, hmmm, well, at least colorful.

Although, I have read, they have been known to help with the eco-systems in the forests in some ways, feeding birds and other small predators, providing nutrients to the soil with their droppings and deaths, I'm not too excited about their presence, they kind of give me the shivers and make me cringe when I look at their nests.  There are just so many of them!  It feels like I'm in Attack Of The Catterpillars or something.  Also, I've even been told that when they do grow, they are out by the thousands, dropping from branches like rain pitter pattering our heads.  One person even said that her deck got so slippery from walking on squished caterpillars that she had to be careful not to slip.  Ew.  I sincerely hope all that is an exaggeration, I'm sure I'll find out soon enough!  Sigh.  I suppose this is just one of the not so romantic parts about living in the country.  

So what is our solution?  Tent Caterpillar control (or perhaps just a futile attempt at control).  If we see a tent, we cut down the branch and throw it in a bin to burn. My karma feels a bit threatened, I never feel good killing anything, but on the other hand, we're also trying to protect our baby trees.  We have cherries, apples, plums, peach, pear and chestnuts; I'd like to at least attempt to keep them safe, and without using pesticides and other nasty chemicals too.  Burning seems to be the Orcas preferred method of irradiation, either that or pesticides which is a big fat NO in our book.  Anyway, if I start to get rained on by caterpillars, there is no doubt you will hear about it from me!