Friday, July 22, 2011

Hot Enough?

The current outdoor air temperature is 105, with a heat index of 116. "This would be an excellent educational opportunity," I thought, "to see if it is hot enough to cook an egg in the car, and to talk about science experiments." Here is Betsy's account of our attempt.

"We tried to cook a egg in the car but it just didn't work. Our theory was that it would cook. We put it in a pan and we put it in the car, and then after that, we checked on it but it wasn't ready. We left it for hours and hours and hours*. And then it was ready.** We took it out of the car and then we ate it.***"

*Actually 20 minutes.
**The white solidified in a few small places, but the egg didn't cook.
***No we didn't.

Now she's coming up with other things to try to cook in the car. Uh-oh.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Bargain Tomatoes

This morning I went to the farmers' market in search of small cucumbers to pickle, and found this instead:

My much-beloved bargain tomatoes. $15 for a 25 lb box of "seconds", although some of them are actually perfect. Last summer we bought several such boxes, to freeze and make into sauce. It's a great deal, as long as I can process them quickly. Wait a few days, and most of the box will be rotten. Not that I've procrastinated and had that happen before. Ahem.
I had stopped at the market on the way to a playdate, but turned the car around and dashed home to get the tomatoes inside. With a heat index of 100 today, these quickly would have become mush in the car.

While the baby was sleeping, I washed and chopped tomatoes and Betsy filled the jars. My big girl can be such a good helper these days. We got 20 cups of tomatoes packed and into the freezer this afternoon!

This wasn't even half the box, so I have a little more work to do after the kids go to bed. I don't mind, because I know how good those tomatoes will taste this winter.

P.S. The National Center for Home Food Preservation website is my go-to resource for how to process and store all kinds of summer goodness.
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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Oh Thank You!

I'm glad that I have such excellent helpers at home. Today's project: reorganizing the cabinet under the mixer to make room for all these mason jars. Because I have big plans involving pickles and jellies, but am running out of room for all the jars I've collected.

First, my helper got into the cabinet, clearly the best vantage point for reorganization.

Having assessed the situation, she called for backup.

And then she took everything (that I had just put into the cabinet) out of the cabinet. She was quite proud of herself. Thank you, baby! Who needs organization when you have all this cuteness?
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Saturday, July 16, 2011

Top Ten Reasons I Love My Husband Today

Because it's too much pressure to try to decide the top ten reasons I love my husband ever, here are the top ten reasons I'm loving my husband this morning, in no particular order.

1. He packs a mean diaper bag. And by mean, I describe a bag that is "comprehensive" as well as "likely pirate-themed, possibly containing a large knife." Arrr.

2. He looks great in a kilt.

3. His children adore him, and rightfully so. Lots of dads come home from work and play with their kids for a bit. He doesn't just entertain them, he instigates things from babywearing to rocket-launching, and still helps with the crummy stuff like washing out the poopy diapers.

4. He continues to discuss paint colors with me, although he is color blind and hates painting and would be perfectly happy to keep the dining room the same color for the rest of his life. He frowns thoughtfully at my paint chips and offers opinions because he knows that I care.

5. Ditto to discussions about what I should do with my hair.

6. He continues to patiently explain radio things to me, although I continue to make astute observations, such as, "that box is more blinky than this one," and "you have a lot of wires."

7. He is willing to do crazy things that others would shudder to contemplate, from a certain rappelling incident at a certain concert venue, to backpacking through bear country with a five-month-old.

8. He is a great dancer.

9. He will never run out of things that he is interested in, or things that he would like to do. One can talk with him about virtually any topic and he will find something interesting about it.

10. He still seems to like me. A lot.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Most Fun Dad Ever

Last night, before starting bedtime routines with the kids, I took a few calm, relaxing minutes to read and be by myself. And I returned to find the rest of my family engaged in this soothing pre-bedtime activity:

Yes, there was a kite involved, and a giant fan, and a preschooler on the dining room table. I think Matthew is officially The Fun Parent (as if we had any doubt before).
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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Watching the Thunderstorm

They're both wishing I'd let them go out to play in the rain despite the lightning, I believe.
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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Super Easy Super Stripey Baby Blanket

As I was making these balls and baby blanket for a friend's little boy, I thought, "hey, I should write down the patterns." Because I'm bad about doing that.

I'll post the ball patterns later, but for now, here's the free baby blanket pattern. If you try it, please leave me a comment and let me know how it works up for you. I'm not new to crochet, but I am new to writing out patterns!

Super Easy Super Stripey Baby Blanket Pattern

You'll Need:

100% cotton 4-ply worsted weight yarn in a variety of colors
Size K or 10.5 (or 6.5 MM) crochet hook

My stitch gauge was 3 stitches (plus a smidge) per inch.


In first color, chain (ch) 119 loosely. If your initial chain is too tight, you'll end up with more of a trapezoid blanket than a rectangle. Which actually sounds kind of fun.

Starting in second chain from hook, work one single crochet (sc) in each ch. Ch one, turn.
Sc in ea sc across. Ch one, turn.

Repeat until you have 90 rows total.

Now here's the fun part. You can do anything you want, color-wise. You could make the entire blanket a solid color, you could do alternating stripes, or you could use a variety of colors and stripe widths, like I did. I'd used three different variegated yarns for the balls, so I used everything in that color palate for the blanket (including leftover bits of the variegated yarns). I'd crochet until I felt like I had too much of something, then add something else to balance it out, then throw it off kilter again, and balance it out again. It was actually a lot of fun to work this way, because I avoided the monotony of crocheting with any one color or pattern for too long, and I had to keep thinking about what I wanted to do next.

End with a slip stitch (sl st).

With border color, work around outer edge of blanket twice using one sc in ea sc of blanket edge, using two sc in one sc at corners to turn. Sl st and weave in ends.

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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

These Days

Excitement in the Pepper house this July:

Abigail is walking! She picks up her baby dolls and carries them around, patting their backs. She loves playing "Ah-doo" (Peek-a-boo) and helping me to cook and paddling/kicking around the pool in her sea star. And she loves being upside down.

Betsy is swimming! She said she wanted to learn to swim all the way across the pool this summer, and she did it. Now she wants to spend all her pool time doing cannonballs and jackknifes into the deep end. A huge improvement over the beginning of the summer, when both kids spent their entire pool time clinging to me like kicking barnacles.

Other assorted fun this summer:

Playing games. Uno, Sorry, Candyland, Tell-A-Story.

Getting outside with friends. Playdates at Lake Montclair, camping trips to Camp Hebron and Prince William Forest Park, exploring Brookside Gardens.

Spontaneous summer fun. Movies in the middle of the day with my dad. Living room dance parties. Picnics in the park.

Planning upcoming summer fun. Crafting up a storm for a baby shower we're throwing. Dreaming of our upcoming trip to Maine. Plotting birthday party fun for all of our August babies.

And since the end of this month will mark our 7th wedding anniversary, Matthew and I are hoping to go out on an actual date soon. Without the children.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Father's Day Crafting

Now that we won't give away any surprises, I present to you our first attempt at freezer paper stenciling. We're really late to that party, I know, but I can see why it's so popular now. We followed the directions in The Creative Family, and it was easy and super fun.

Betsy with stencils. She came up with the ideas of the images, I did the cutting and ironing, and she did the stenciling. The whole project, start to finish (except for drying time) was completed during one of Abigail's naps.

I mean, it took months. Months and months of meticulous and tedious painting, Matthew and Dad!

Daddy and daughter model their matching elephant shirts.

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