The Perfect Day

Greetings from the end of a wonderful day. The weather was perfect today, and we made the most of it.

We started our day at Center Grove Orchard, about 40 minutes from our house. Calling it an orchard doesn’t do this place justice. It’s full of entertaining options for little kids. We got season passes this year, so we will be there often.

We visited last year, but the kids were a little too young. This year Audrey is loving every part of the orchard. The jumping pillows were a hit with her.20180911_104239(0)1244462636535434436.jpgShe even braved the huge slide – all by herself!

We took a hayride to the train. Elliot was terrified of both rides. He has no issue with the train at the zoo, but this one was too much for him. Audrey liked it. She got to blow the whistle at the end, which she thought was very cool.

After the ride out with a terrified Elliot, I decided we would take the trail back to the farm-yard. It had a couple of hills that were steep for little legs, but it was worth it because we saw a turtle on our walk. After our walk we headed home for lunch and naps. We will be back again soon – we didn’t even play in the corn pit or feed the goats or ride the pedal tractors or visit the three little pigs houses. I think we’re really going to enjoy having season passes.

This afternoon we headed to our neighborhood farmers market for the last market of the season. I really wish the market would go later in the year, it’s still nice in September, and there is still plenty of produce to harvest. I picked up a tote bag (I have a tote bag addiction – they work so well as project bags) from the neighborhood association. I love being able to get a new tote bag and justify its purchase because I’m helping the neighborhood association.20180911_1924323089708464773164937.jpgWe had a picnic feast of all sorts of foods – a falafel wrap, a bean and cheese papusa, egg rolls and pad thai. We brought baklava home for John. The pad thai was awful, Elliot ate the eggs out and we threw the rest away.

I love it when we are able to spend most of the day outside. Warm, sunny weather and fresh air are good for my soul. So is not having to cook dinner. I hope your Tuesday was as joyful as mine.

Souper Sunday

It was a beautiful weekend in Des Moines. It was sunny and in the low 70s. Perfect for playing outside. 20180908_1200113724318053747865800.jpgWe visited a park every day. This afternoon we went on a family bike ride to a park for a picnic and play time. Audrey was so excited she didn’t want to take off her helmet to eat. Elliot, meanwhile, refused to eat any food. He was not happy that we made him eat a few bites of chicken before he could run off to the playground.

Tonight, once the kids were tucked in, I got started on dinner for John and me – Pasta e Fagioli. I found the recipe in the latest issue of Cooks Country. Until I read the recipe the only think I knew about pasta fazool is that it was mentioned in the song That’s Amore. This soup is hearty and complex. John even liked it.

The soup is not pretty. I skipped the pancetta and chicken broth and used vegetable broth instead. I found that looking at knitting patterns while eating this soup was a perfect accompaniment. John preferred to pair the soup with buttered toast. To each their own.20180909_203136963013175523699679.jpg

I intended to have an ice cream sundae for dessert, as earlier in the day I made some of my Grandma Runchey’s hot fudge sauce. Sadly, I am too full from soup, so the ice cream will have to wait until tomorrow. 20180909_1443307785815614861291406.jpg

If you are craving a deep chocolate sauce on your ice cream I recommend this recipe. If you are looking for something chocolatey you can have a spoonful of when you have an intense craving for chocolate, I can also recommend this recipe. I use butter instead of oleo, because margarine isn’t my jam. 20180909_1443408989533592918399867.jpg

Well over 20 years ago my sister Mary-Claire gave me a cookbook with family recipes in it. She must have been in Jr. High at the time. I love that I get to see her writing when I make a recipe from the cookbook.

I hope you had a wonderful weekend. I hope your week is filled with delicious food and beautiful weather. Let’s make this week a good one.

WIP Wednesday: 35/52

Happy Wednesday! It has been raining for almost a week here in Des Moines. So far we have a dry basement. I love knitting in the rain. It feels so cozy to be working with yarn on a dreary day. It really should have been a productive week for me, but it really wasn’t.

I’m still working on the body of my sweater. I have about six rows of ribbing to go, then it is on to the sleeves. I hope I get there soon, as it is getting harder and harder to convince myself to pick it up and work on rows of ribbing that take 15 minutes to complete.20180905_1754052655345397164946333.jpg

I would be on the sleeves by now, but I decided to start a pair of socks for travel knitting. I shouldn’t be working on the socks at home, but I’m picking them up and working on them. The yarn is Knit Picks Hawthorn in the Eliot colorway. The pattern is Up All Night Socks by Meanest Mommy Knits. It is an appropriate combination, as our Elliot was a horrible sleeper as a newborn and was up all night often. I love the pattern because it looks complicated but it is not. It’s easy to memorize, and I can take it with me to knit anywhere and not have a problem. It even went with me to knit night at the bar on Monday and I could still knit it after a pineapple moscow mule. 20180905_1755164322834742152348703.jpg

Please wish me luck finishing the body of my sweater. I’m ready to move on to the sleeves.

The End of The Summer Passport

Labor Day weekend is over. Kids are back to school. Starbucks has pumpkin spice lattes.  That seems like a good time to end the Summer Passport.

I loved having a summer passport this summer. There were weeks where I wanted to just stay home, but the passport got me out. We tried different things, instead of going to the same three parks over and over. I liked it so much I’m thinking about doing a fall passport too.

The passport included the following items. The items we completed are crossed out.

  • Go to music class
  • Walk to farmers market
  • Play at a new park
  • Make Pudding pops
  • Have a breakfast picnic
  • Go berry picking
  • Paint outside
  • Eat on Patio at Saints (a kid friendly sports bar in our neighborhood)
  • Visit the Clive Library
  • Visit the Science Center
  • Walk around Gray’s Lake
  • Decorate 4th of July cookies
  • Go out for ice cream
  • Go to the beach at Big Creek
  • Play at Riley Park
  • Play at Tower Park wading pool
  • Play at Beaverdale Park
  • Swim at Ashby Park splash pad
  • Have a Dance Party
  • Play at Greenwood Park
  • Hike at Walnut Woods
  • Hike at Browns Woods
  • Go to the zoo
  • Visit the State Historical Building
  • Walk the River Walk with Uncle Todd
  • Visit Ivy’s farm
  • Swim in a hotel pool
  • Bike to Breakfast
  • Go Camping
  • Visit McHenry Park

I didn’t start the Summer Passport until late June. Had I started it on Memorial Day I would have been able to include the State Historical Building, Ashby Park, hiking at Browns Woods, having a breakfast picnic and music class as we did all of those things earlier this summer. It’s fair to say that we’ve had a busy summer.

Last week, leading up to the end of the passport was even busier than normal. We crossed several items off the list: the beach at Big Creek, walking around Gray’s Lake, eating on the patio at Saint’s, and going on the river walk with Uncle Todd. signal-2018-08-31-145347-13734971905584774236.jpg

This week we are going to have to spend a few days getting errands run to make up for last week. It was a wonderful summer, and I hope next summer is even better.

 

Welcome to Souptember

Welcome to September. It doesn’t feel like fall yet, but after all of the running around we did this summer I’m ready to settle back into a routine. Being busy all summer and not wanting to cook in the heat has led to an unused kitchen and a vegetable deficient diet. I want to get back to cooking and eating healthy again. I’ve decided that September will be Souptember in our house. I’m committed to making soup at least once a week. I love soup. No one else in my family does. At the end of this month they will either be converted or I will have had soup for lunch every day. I’m OK with either outcome.

I made one of my favorite soups today: Pumpkin and Black Bean Soup. This spicy soup is filling and reheats well. It does not look pretty, but it tastes pretty great.20180902_1658435685430293364624463.jpg

The recipe is from Rachel Ray’s Veggie Meals. It takes less than a half hour to put together, which means I can throw it together even when I’m in a time crunch.

Pumpkin and Black Bean Soup

1 T vegetable oil

1 T butter

1 chopped onion

1 can vegetable broth

1 can diced tomatoes (undrained)

1 can black beans

1 can pumpkin puree

1/2 c heavy cream (I use half and half)

1 1/2 t curry powder

2 t ground cumin

pinch of cayenne pepper

Melt butter into oil over medium heat. Sautee onion until soft. Add broth, black beans, tomatoes, and pumpkin. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, add cream and spices. Simmer 5 minutes, or until you can convince your kids to come to the table.

I hope you had a Souper Sunday.

July Reads and August Goals

I hope you are enjoying the start to Labor Day weekend. Our weekend is packed with a party, a movie, football, shopping plans, and a cheese & wine get together. When we’re not busy I plan to be reading or knitting.

In August I read 7 books. Here’s what I read:

Me by Katherine Hepburn. This book was a wonderful read. It felt like I was hanging out with her over a cup of tea or glass of wine and she was sharing stories from her life. This is a book I’ll be recommending for years. It has earned a place in my top five books of all time list. I give this book five out of five stars.

How to be Champion by Sarah Millican. This book was a recommendation from someone on Instagram. Admittedly, it was an odd choice, as I had never heard Millican’s comedy before (I have watched it now, and it is very funny). Even having no idea who the heck this woman is I enjoyed the stories of her life, and her progression from office worker to comedy headliner. I give this book three out of five stars..

Ghosted by Rosie Walsh. This book is about a woman who spent the perfect week with a man and then he vanishes. I really enjoyed this book – it was a romance novel without being predictable. I give this book four out of five stars.

The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister. This book is just what I’ve been wanting to read lately – a nice book. A sweet book. It wasn’t deep, but it was good. I do wish there was a companion cookbook, because the food they made sounded delicious. This was our book club selection this month, and when it’s my turn to pick next I will probably suggest we read the sequel. I give this book three out of five stars.

Not So Nice Guy by R.S. Grey. This is a mindless romance novel. I mean that as a compliment. There are days when I want to read but I don’t want to think. This isn’t a literary masterpiece, but it is a fun read. I give it two out of five stars.

Craeft: An Inquiry Into the Origins and True Meaning of Traditional Crafts by Alexander Langlands. I had high expectations going into this book. I love the idea of the connection between mind, heart, head, and hands when creating something. I love that there is meaning behind the creation of something. There were parts of the book that I really enjoyed, but in the end, I don’t care how you make quick lime. I don’t have interest in the creation of ponds. I think I would have liked the book more if it were illustrated, as I often didn’t have the ability to visualize what he was talking about. I give it two out of five stars.

The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle. I have a confession. I cannot relate to characters who live in fiscally irresponsible manners. It’s why I hate the Shopoholic books. Spending recklessly and not living within your means gives me the heebie jeebies. I can’t relate to it. That, which is a very small part of this book, kept me from relating to the main character. I honestly think that is the only thing that kept me from loving this book. The book is about a woman who shows up at her birthday dinner to find the five people on her list of people living or dead she would share a dinner with. It is a very interesting premise, but fell flat with me. I give this book three out of five stars.

My stack of books for September is too ambitious. 20180901_095033419160309995429006.jpgI’m 80 pages into Beartown. I am enjoying it, but it’s pretty depressing. I loved the other Fredrik Backman books I’ve read, and they started out dark too. I have yet to read more than 25 pages in one sitting, which is much less than I normally read.

I’m having a hard time getting into books that require thought at the moment. I even skipped Book of the Month Club this month because nothing spoke to me. I think it’s this time of year. At least I hope it is, because when fall arrives I hope I’m back to reading good books.

What do you do when you’re in a reading slump?