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Happy Solstice!

21 Jun

I am a casual observer of most holidays.  Many are celebrated out of convenience, or as an  excuse for my family to get together and eat a lot of food.  Many have been adapted to suit our needs; Valentine’s Day has been demoted to Unvalentine’s day observed on the 15th of February, Christmas has become Festivus and is observed as close to the December holiday as is convenient for my immediate family to gather, and this year on Halloween I sat in my living room wearing an orange top underneath a grey sweatshirt probably watching South Park while waiting for the 10 Trick-or-Treaters who were brave enough to come down our dim street.

That being said, I’ve always felt an affinity for the Solstice.  It seems like the most organic of celebrations, and if you know anything about the hippie I am slowly but surely becoming, I like things to be organic.  A little bit about the Summer Solstice, in case you aren’t in the know, or are curious.  The first official day of Summer, the Solstice is the longest day of the year (and of course that means the shortest night).  Depending on how the Earth is spinning, the Solstice takes place in the Northern Hemisphere between June 20th and 21st.  If you’re reading from the Southern Hemisphere, I’m sorry, I don’t mean to leave you out of the loop.  Come December you’ll have your turn, all of you laughing as we huddle here in the cold.  The Winter Solstice will bring the shortest day of the year just in time for me to celebrate my birthday in the dark. Woohoo.

Lots of different groups have celebrated the time of the Solstice over the years (Hey folks, it’s not just for Pagans anymore!) and what it comes down to is a celebration of the earth, fertility and the power of the sun.

So, I took some time today to enjoy the earth’s bounty in honor of this day.

Here is a shot of the pretty purple flowers I’m getting on my green bean plants.  I had no idea they would be purple.  Cool!  And here are the first green beans in my garden…

In another few days, they should be the perfect size to pick, steam lightly and serve sprinkled with salt and pepper.

I also have big plans for my shelling peas, which have not only been growing vigorously, and sending out tons of delicate white flowers, but pods are also starting to emerge.

And last but not least, I wanted to pay tribute to our dear friend, Dionysus.  Being the god of wine, pleasure and festivity, I’m sure he fits into this Solstice celebration somehow.

We inherited a whole slew of grape vines.  Dionysus help me if I know what in the world to do with them, but it’s been at least fun to watch them grow so far.

Oh, and I also staked my 33 tomato plants this afternoon, but that setup doesn’t photograph very well.  I will post a tomato update soon.  Anyhow, that’s my sendoff to the Summer Solstice.  We are off to have dinner with a friend, so look for my regularly scheduled CSA related recipe tomorrow.  In the meantime, get outside, enjoy this extra long and lovely day.  Soak up some of that wonderful vitamin D rich sunlight.  It only happens once a year unless you’re lucky enough to travel to the Southern Hemisphere every winter.  Make up your own Solstice ritual, the only rule is to enjoy the day!


Made from scratch every day

13 Jun

My poor kitchen floor.  It’s under constant attack thanks to the crunchy granola, do-it-yourself lifestyle we seem to have embraced with both arms and legs recently.  After a winter’s worth of dirt, snow, and food refuse, my floor underwent a long overdue transformation last week after I got down on my hands and knees and scrubbed.  It was back to it’s shiny, cheery, yellow linoleum state for about a day before I decided to bake 10 loaves of bread in one day and the fine dusting of flour started to accumulate again.

Today, our eagerness to make everything ourselves resulted in a double-whammy for the kitchen.  Earlier in the afternoon I had my first foray into the world of pastry making when I made a double batch of my own puff pastry dough.  Unfortunately, it turned out more like regular pie dough than anything close to puffing, but fortune favors the brave, and it made one hell of a savory pie.

But my floury kitchen capers are slowly but surely becoming the norm; the main event was yet to come.

For the holidays last year, my mom’s big gift to the son-in-laws was beer brewing equipment, and two weeks ago, Eric finally started his first batch.  It took up valuable real-estate in my front closet, bubbling away in a five gallon bucket while the coats and lawn games snuggled unused in the free corner.  Tonight was bottling day.

With our bellies full of my new favorite substitution for casserole, we all took our posts.









Someone’s obviously put a lot of thought into this beer bottling process because it was relatively quick and easy.  And now if I can get my mind off of the poor sticky beer soaked floor we can sing “43 Assorted Bottles of Beer on the Wall” until it’s time to bottle the next batch!

Summer Wardrobe Malfunction

12 May

I realize we’re still a weeks away from the official beginning of summer, but here in Iowa, it feels like summer, so I’m saying it is!  When the sun comes out, and the temperatures rise, a dramatic change happens in me.  Sure, my mood improves, my acne goes away (more or less) I have more energy etc, but I’m talking about clothes here, people.  Without fail, during the summer months I suddenly become very aware of what type of clothes I’m swaddling myself in.  During the winter I was content to shlub around in yoga pants and Hawkeye gear, but now when I’m leaving the house the first thing I think about is what I’m going to wear.

It’s one of my few vanities; my tan.  Leaving the house in the middle of a sunny day regardless of what my final destination is means I’m going to work on my tan.

As the old adage goes, you need the right tools for the right job.  If I had it my way I would just run around in my tankini top all summer and call it a day.  But polite society doesn’t necessarily feel that me getting my tan on is more important than, say, dressing appropriately from day to day.  Wearing a skimpy halter top to the animal shelter to hang out with attention starved kitties is just about the equivalent of me offering up my neck to a bunch of thirsty vampires.  The cats I work with are violently affectionate, and they often go for the throat.  Likewise, wearing a hoochie-mama spaghetti strap tank to the 13th president of Grinnell College’s inaugural address is less than appropriate.  Even though I’m not exactly affiliated with the college, I was there to make Eric look good, so I behaved myself and wore a simple black sheath dress instead.  Which leads me to my point about a wardrobe malfunction.

Actually, it’s more like a tanning malfunction, and something that, after years of being finicky about my summer skin, has become my old standby.  Your first burn will stay with you all summer.  At least for me.  If you aren’t into fake-baking or spray-on tanners, you will always have a shadow of your first tan lines.  So, last weekend, when I was busy making Eric look good to alumni and board members, I was wearing a 3/4 sleeve boat neck dress.  It was a hot sunny day.  We were outside all day, albeit under a crab-apple tree, but that still led to a funky burn on my shoulders.  Also, I was wearing my sunglasses because who wants to stare at a stage for two hours in the bright summer sun without some sort of shield?  My forehead, nose and ears were burned, so now I have reverse raccoon eyes.

In an effort to combat this, I’ve been spending a considerable amount of time sitting in what will soon become my tomato patch, basking in the sun wearing as little as possible while still being polite to our elderly neighbors.  I’m taking one for the team, really, I swear!  And that’s where I’m headed again today.  Now the only question is, should I go with the halter top, tube top, or the spaghetti strap tank?

So, what have you been up to lately?

9 May

It’s a question I get asked a lot these days.  I wonder if you hate it as much as I do sometimes?  I often get a puzzled look after I honestly answer the awkward pleasantry.  The truth is, I’m not doing much of consequence, and though those asking the question are usually well-meaning, they don’t actually want to hear that I went to the gym for the billionth time in a row, or about how I walked to the library and talked Stephen King with the check out boy yet again.  (These things are reserved for you, my oh so faithful readers)  But today I can hold my head high as I say without shame what I have been up to.

This is what I did today; I took a long walk, then I sat out on my lawn in the sun reading and writing, and it was fabulous.  So the next time someone asks me what I’m up to and after my honest answer of, “Just hanging out.” gives me that look, I will remember.  And I will spare that person a thought the next time I’m enjoying a beautiful 70 degree day in the sun.

And Now…

3 May

For something completely different!

I’m ashamed.  I haven’t blogged in three days.  I’m sitting here at my computer during what used to be my daily pool time, and I’m totally uninspired.  To do anything!  It’s not that I don’t have anything to write about, in fact I do have a few ideas, but they’re all jumbled together.  After sleeping late, I’m feeling decidedly unorganized (I recognize the irony of being disorganized after my last post was all about organization… ) So I guess I’ll just lay it all out in one of my signature piles.

Things I could write about, but am not going to:

1. Maifest in the Amana Colonies.  We went on Sunday.  It was fun.

2. How excited I am about Harry Potter part 7 v. 2.o.

3. I’m still totally impressed with Sunday night’s meal: Pork and turkey satay burgers with cucumber chili sauce on homemade pretzel rolls.

4. Des Moines Farmer’s Market.  Opening day is May 7th.  It’s going to be sweet.

5. After a week of beautiful weather, we had a week of crummy cold and wet, and now that my plants are in the ground, it’s hovering around 50 and dry.  I even tried a rain dance.  It resulted in snow for Minnesota (sorry guys) but nothing here.  Go figure.

6. In an attempt to shake up my workout routine, I spent a week out of the pool and am now totally off my game.

7. Junior Boys Banana Ripple named “Best New Track” on Pitchfork.  Check it out, it’s most excellent.

And I’ll end with the ever popular, Mr. Whitney.  Have a nice day everyone!

Spring Cleaning

30 Apr

Ask my mother, I’ve never been a particularly organized person.  My idea of cleaning usually involves piles that may or may not be categorized.  Lucky couples balance each other out; one might be a total neat freak, or someone who really enjoys cleaning the bathroom every day, or someone who doesn’t believe in material posessions.  Really lucky people find their match with some type of professional organizer.  I was not so lucky.  I went out and found someone with the same lazy organizational skills and attraction to clutter.

Since we started renting our first actual factual house, we made each other a promise.  We decided it was time to step up and make this home one to be proud of.  And we’ve done a really great job with that so far.  We keep everything clean, tidy, and everything has it’s place, so for the first time in my life I’m organized.  We’ve been here for six months now, so we decided it was time to go through the house and do some reorganizing.  It took us all afternoon on a beautiful day, but I’m happy to be done now, and everything looks great.  But the room I’m happiest about is my art room.

My art room is really a 3 season porch off the back of our carport, so during the winter it was out of commission.  This is also where we enter and exit the house, so it became a sort of catch-all for random stuff that didn’t have a place yet in the house; old knitting supplies, shoes, leaves I had been trying to sketch in the fall, broken pottery waiting to be thrown out, and another partial drum set that was rescued from the side of the road.  With winter officially behind us (I say NO MORE!) I had been meaning to clear the stacks of cast-off drawing attempts from my drafting table for a while so I could have my space back to become the next Picasso, so we tackled the art room first, and I’m so pleased with the results.

Even though my table is currently being occupied by the next generation of melons and squashes, they will soon be out the door and my space will truly be mine again.

All the old mail and half-finished drawings have been thrown out, the drumset is nestled safely in a closet, and the shoes are tucked neatly away.  From here I can look out at my garden and let it inspire me to (I hope) artistic greatness.  My supplies are all where I can find them easily.  Everything has a place, and now so do I.


28 Apr

So, I realized that I’ve been way too serious lately.  I don’t know if it’s the changes in the weather, the countdown to the Des Moines Farmer’s Market on my Facebook news feed, or the gradually unfurling magnolia tree in the park near our house, but I decided to celebrate the silly things in my life that make me happy.

1) I am 26 years old, and I’m still able to walk down the street listening to Everybody (Backstreet’s Back) on my iPod with a big smile on my face, bobbing my head and feeling like a total badass.  Also, when I’m at home and nobody is looking, I still do the dance.

2) When Eric farts next to me in yoga class after we’ve eaten chili for dinner, it’s all I can do to contain my laughter.

3) I think chicken nuggets and mac & cheese is a totally acceptable meal option.

4) Even though I’m quite happily married and way too old anyway, talking to the cute college boy who checks ID’s at the fitness center makes me feel like a giggly 16 year old again.

5) Def Leppard is still the best band ever.  And now I actually understand most of the lyrics.  “Make love like a man, I’m a man, that’s what I am.”  What’s up with that?  And why did my parents let me listen to that when I was a teenager?

6) I can make a Yer Mom joke about my own mom and it’s usually pretty damn hysterical.

7) 12 Inches of Snow