I forgot how busy it is to have the kids home on summer vacation. Busy if I don't want to stick them in front of the television. Busy if I want to stay somewhat sane and minimize the whining and the fighting.
Ollie finished his first week of camp so both are home this week. What I should be doing is packing and preparing for our week long vacation we head out for on Saturday. The one that takes us car camping, backpacking, and to the beach. With about 20 hours spent in the car along the way.
We haven't done much hiking this Spring, so I thought we should get a little more practice in before slapping packs on their backs and heading into the White Mountains National Forest. So we headed over to our local trail system yesterday. We went a different direction this time, weaving around some trail construction and making our way in whatever the direction the kids were feeling.
Have I mentioned that I am a rule follower? I am also a map follower. I had no idea where we were going or if the trail we were following was a loop. I knew we could turn around if we wanted to and that we couldn't go too far without hitting a major road. So it was kind of fun feeling a little lost.
"I promise you we are not lost," I told the kids. "We can always turn around and go back the way we came. But right now I have absolutely no idea where we are." I think this thrilled them a little bit. And then, around a turn, we came upon this:
A statue, perched on a precipice, out in the middle of nowhere. It was a bit spooky, but amazing at the same time. Evidently, the piece is Toleration, purchased at the Centennial Exhibition and placed up here, in what was to become part of Fairmount Park, in 1883.
There is so much to be explored, though from now on both kids will wear pants when out in the woods - we did find a tick on Ollie last night. Ugh. They enjoy it, though, after the first 20 minutes of complaining and the bribe of a popsicle when we get home. They enjoy it more when they can take the lead, so we will do a little more 'not quite getting lost' this summer and see what else we can find out in those woods...
While it was fun to pick the cherries, I had no idea what I was going to do with them. The extent of my sour cherry knowledge in baking is the amazing Sour Cherry Danish at The Baker's Wife in Minneapolis that I was not even going to attempt to replicate.
My friend Anna gave me a sour cherry almond muffin recipe with the cherries. I loved the flavor combo idea but was looking for something a little healthier (they had lots of sour cream and butter which I'm sure made them taste all the better!)... Instead I adapted the Strawberry Cupcakes recipe from Lindsay Nixon's Happy Herbivore cookbook and am so happy with how they came out.
Here you go:
2 cups of white wheat flour (or whole wheat pastry flour)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup applesauce
1 cup raw sugar
1 cup vanilla almond milk
1 overflowing tsp almond extract
1 1/2 cups pitted sour cherries
1 handful sliced almonds
1 handful chocolate chips (optional)
Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in one bowl.
In a separate bowl, whisk applesauce, sugar, milk, and extract until well blended.
Gradually pour the dry mixture into the wet, stirring until just combined.
Scoop into muffin tins, top with sliced almonds, and bake for 15-25 minutes, until toothpick inserted into the center come out clean.
These are especially good right out of the oven when the cherries are still warm.
Summer vacation has officially begun around here. Ollie jumped right into a week of camp yesterday, so Ella and I are having a little bit of Mama Camp this week. I forget how rarely now we just have regular one-on-one time and how important it is. He's only in camp from 9-1, but that gives the girl and I a solid couple hours.
Today we attempted to pick one more batch of organic strawberries this morning at Maple Acres but they were pretty much gone. We did pick some yummy fresh snap peas, though.
And while paying at the farmstand, Ella saw buckets of Zinnias and begged oohed and ahhed for flowers. You can pick your own there or buy 5 for $1.50. The buckets Ella eyed were 'Yesterday's Zinnia's' and were $10 per bucket. Hmmm... Yes, we came home with a bucket's worth. Inspiring me to think about finding another vase or two this summer to keep on hand.
I told her they were older flowers and wouldn't last very long. She said "They don't have to last long. I just want to look at them for a little while." There's a lesson there, I think.
We've been on a bit of a smoothie kick around here.
Our 'green' smoothies usually look more brown than green. Poop colored sometimes, actually. I tend to go heavier on the berries and a bit lighter on the greens since that seems to get the kids more interested. We have, though, experimented with chard, kale, and spinach so far. And amazingly, the kids have loved (most of) them. Usually with a banana, a bunch of frozen strawberries, and some almonds or ground flax seed.
Today I was feeling a little anemic and remembered that to best absorb iron from these leafy greens you are supposed to add a little citrus. This beautiful green came from a mix of a banana, an orange (peeled and dumped right in whole), about a third of a bag of spinach, and enough almond milk and water to blend it up nice and smooth.
I have to say I was incredibly surprised at how great it tasted! The Dad declared it one of the best so far. The kids drank it even though it obviously had 'leaves' in it. I was scared to go so green - I don't like my smoothie tasting like salad - but am now looking forward to another one tomorrow for breakfast.
Just a little something going on around here right now...
Ollie has his last full day of Pre-School today. Ella will be finished with first grade on Friday. I stop, turn around, and ask myself where the time has gone. Not just the last three months, but the year. The days (most of them) have gone slowly but the school year has flown.
Last night, at our nursery school's last board meeting of the year, I passed on the duty of Board Chair to another parent. After two years. Two years full of a responsibility that at once fulfilled me and drove me mad. Now I have summer vacation approaching - with no responsibilities except for my family and my house home. That sounds a bit archaic, but I am really looking forward to it.
Eieio has been a bit on hold. I did so well at the Germantown Friends School Craft Show that I ended up pulling out of the Art Star Craft Bazaar. I saw how much inventory would need to be created in a short 8 weeks (otherwise occupied with two kid birthdays and two Spring Breaks) and chose sanity and family over the show. While I missed it, I know I made the right decision.
I have also learned over the last couple years that not much sewing happens over the summer. I am able to steal a bit of studio time here and there, but nothing I can count on. Right now, I'd like to use that little bit of time for us. There are so many things I want to make for the kids that keep being put off.
Both kids will be in school full time in September. The same school, one school, one schedule that I am so excited about. Then, I will open back up for business, committed to regular studio hours and finally moving forward... I may also take a class or two. The Dad wonders how long it will take before I am looking for something to do.
Right now, there is lots to do. We have half prepped our bedroom for painting. As we've been talking for three years now about going through the house room by room. Our room will be first. Soon. I promise.
It's exciting, I think, our life right now. It is not nearly as perfect as I would like it to be but we are so, so lucky and I am incredibly grateful. And there is so much potential. Right in this moment...