Friday, July 22, 2016

Mimi's Summer Day Camp, Day THIRTEEN --- Free Play & Games Week

We only had one day of camp this week because the girls were at the coast with their Dad's entire family last weekend and early this week.  I know they had a blast! I heard that Joss really loved the sand, surf and beach! Mimi got to follow along with their adventures via their Mom's Instagram account.
Thursday we just had a free play day at camp -- it started with bubbles!
 Then we did some chalking on the pavilion floor....
 Joss is still into free form.....
then she rode the tricycle for a long time -- since she's learned to use the peddles herself we can't get her off the thing!
KT checked the flowers she planted last week -- one of the seeds is up and growing!
 They both painted the outside of their bean pots that we didn't get to plant last week. KT spent a really long time on hers - she loves to paint.  Joss is more the slap-dash type of painter right now! Ha!

 We hit the library today, too! Joss loves to play with their huge stuffed animals.  She's sitting with the big black horse here.
KT wanted a cookbook. (??) I think this must be here latest passion - cooking.  She does her own research at the library, and knows how to use their computer to search the database.  I only help her with spelling some.  She found a cookbook she wanted to check out - Disney Princess's Cookbook! When we got home, we found one she could make while her sister napped!
 Of course, she made these Magic Wands her own style by adding extra "eyes" to some of them.  She's a hoot!
After nap time was over, Grumpy got home from his doctor's appointment, so we all got in a swim in the pool.  I forgot to bring my phone out with me, so no photos of pool time today.  Bummer!

I had planned a few old style games for us to play today that we never got to.  I did find out that these girls will just amuse themselves if I sit back and just let them go.  So today I did just that and let them set the pace.  It was a fun day!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Wine Season -- Garden Huckleberry Wine

We decided to use the garden huckleberries to make wine! 

About a week ago, I pulled all the stems off of the stash I had been accumulating in the fridge (5 pounds, 9 ounces), cooked them with about 1/4 cup of baking soda and water, then rinsed them and cooked again with lemon and sugar. 

The water turned a psychedelic green when cooking with the baking soda. Quite pretty!
Then I added the ingredients for the wine (boiling water, sugar, lemon juice, one large container of frozen concentrated grape juice, yeast) and stirred the whole thing up in my big red wine bucket. I had this covered with a cheesecloth and stirred daily for the past 4 days.  There was some foaming, and this was skimmed off once a day.
Then on Wednesday (or was it Tuesday?) I strained it and moved to the carboy. 
It's a beautiful color, smells like wine now, and has a sweet, fizzy taste. It's going to be sitting in a dark, cool corner, wrapped in a dark cloth for the next 3 weeks.
I've checked it and it's still bubbling....and I've had to clean out the airlock once because of bubbles. 
We'll see how this one goes!  Now, on to the elderberries! I have almost 14 pounds of elderberries in the fridge right now and a few more to pick in the next few days. That's gonna make a lot of wine!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Summer Garden Notes - July 19, 2016

We're bringing in okra almost every day now -- this plant really flourishes when it gets extremely hot! This year I'm growing Silver Queen from seeds that I saved last year, and a new variety called Gold Coast.  They are both doing great - so far I've harvested almost 3 pounds, and they are really just getting started.  
 Silver Queen Okra

 Okra flowers are so pretty!

This red okra is called Jing Orange.  I only have one plant that matured of this variety because John pulled the rest thinking it was some kind of weed....sigh.....  It's pretty though!

I froze all of the okra we've picked so far using a new recipe for fried okra - "Smashed Okra." Sounds good, right? I added a little Tony Chacheries seasoning to the cornmeal, we like the zing it gives our fried okra.

This next picture is that Long Ex Melon - they are all looking like this. I'm confused - thought they were supposed to be long and thin, but I'll keep watching them.  ????

I'm still bringing in tomatoes several days a week - I don't think I can characterize this as a "great" tomato year - it's been steady, but not as stupendous as last year.  We've harvested about 33 pounds of tomatoes so far.  
First, the 10 Fingers of Naples has not performed very well for me.  The Rapunzel has done great for a cherry variety, but the plants are really stressed right now with this heat.  In any case, these plants will stay put until the first frost, so hopefully they'll pick up some when it cools off some.
Peeling tomatoes for salsa

I've been spending the last couple of days processing some of the herbs that I've had drying for the last week or so.  
 This curly leafed parsley is beautiful!
 Sage - these velvety leaves smelled just like Thanksgiving when I ran it through the coffee grinder.
 Today I hung the oregano to start drying and tomorrow I'm cutting rosemary.
 I brought in a few freebies from the garden -- these plants volunteered from seeds that dropped during last years garden. I got about a dozen green tomatillo and a handful of dried cowpeas!
 Meanwhile the peppers LOVE this weather and I try to go through and pick these at least once a week.  Love those jalapenos!
 And last but not least, the new squash plants have started to produce -- thank goodness I decided to go over and check them, these mature squash were a big surprise! Need to check these more often now!
Going to make some zucchini tots with this big zucchini tomorrow!

Friday, July 15, 2016

Mimi's Summer Day Camp, Day TWELVE --- Plants & Gardens

Thursday's field trip was to the San Antonio Botanical Gardens! Such a beautiful place. I will say, perhaps the fall would be a better time to go -- it was HOT! 
KT helped push Joss around -- such a great help!

 The gardens are spotlighting plants that attract and feed butterflies right now, and they are everywhere! Just beautiful.  They had a photo op butterfly wings set up, so we got shots of both KT and Joss.  Aren't they the most beautiful butterflies ever!!?

We took a little different route this time so that the girls could see the fountain plaza (and throw in a couple of pennies to make wishes.)

Next we toured the Japanese Garden which was so peaceful and beautiful. We sat up in the pergola and just soaked in the peace.

 After that we walked through the Sensory Garden.  Joss got up close and personal with a big snail!
Now on to see some of the story book displays -- this one is their depiction of Jack and the Beanstalk.  The white fabric represents clouds. 

Then the "Oh The Places You'll Go" display.... 

We sat on some huge furniture in the ampitheater area.... 
 Posing for pictures!
 Then we had to go back to the Carriage House because KT was "starving." We got popcorn, which helped with that.  We sat under the wisteria arbor to eat our snack - it was so restful and beautiful. There were butterflies everywhere.
After walking all the way back to the conservatory, we decided it was enough for one day in this heat and it was time to leave for lunch.  On the way, we stopped in for a few minutes to see the new baby and Aunt Ashley.  Everyone there is doing great! Joss tells us she is not the "baby" anymore, that now she is the "middle" and Max is the "baby." So there you have it.
 I asked if the girls wanted pizza for lunch, which was immediately accepted, especially if we could go to Peter Piper Pizza. We had lots of fun eating, then playing some games and riding some rides. 
 This is KT giving me the "side eye."
 Rocky is also eating some pizza.

 It's hard to see here, but this ride was bouncing her around, vibrating, and 
gyrating all over the place. What a wild ride!
 Then we high-tailed it home so we could have some time to swim.  Everyone was pretty tired after our long day, so the pool was a nice end to today's camp.

Next week we're only having one day of camp because the girls are off to the coast for the Koenig Family annual beach trip.  I know they will have a great time, and Mimi and Grumpy are going to rest up!  On Thursday, the camp theme will be Game Day!