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April 2010

Outside with Sid

Our dog, Sid. No, his foot isn't cold...... 

  

sid
 

  

Just as we sat down to eat last night.... at 7 pm {ahem}

We heard a yelp. A big one too.....

I run from the table to find our dog, Sid, licking his foot and obviously in pain....

then I see the blood....

I ask one of the big kids to hold the pooch and run out to the patio and backyard quite certain to find some broken glass.....

more blood! eek! 

No glass.

I run back in....

scoot the little ones back to the table and upon further investigation find that our poor pooch had broken his toenail.

It was nearly sticking out sideways.

I know you're cringing right now. Sorry.

So Miss 11  kept the littles at the table and the eldest and I coaxed the pooch into the tub to clean up his foot and get a look at the damage. After calling Joe to get a second opinion (he's still away from home), I decide to wait until morning to take him to the vet. I bandage him up.... and he sleeps at the foot of Miss Seven's bed. Getting lots of extra attention.

This morning I left the eldest in charge of the troop and run the dog over to vet.

I save a turtle in the road on the way there. I stick him in the car  because I have no time to put him back in the swamp.

The vet takes one look and says they need to clip the tonail off at the bed of the nail, and give him some gas anesthesia so he will be comfortable during the procedure. Ouch. She said it would take 20 minutes or so. 

For anyone who is not familiar with the energy of a Springer Spaniel, even an 8 year old one, and the effects of "laughing gas", I will tell you this. It's like feeding a squirrel a gallon of espresso. Good Times.

30 minutes later I walk out with a very strung out bandaged dog (they had to cut the whole toenail off!), minus $123 dollars and a small turtle in my car. Poor Sid was full of energy and falling over himself as if he had one (or six) too many beers.... all I could do is laugh. 

Get home.

Release turtle.

Give Sid antibiotics and pain meds.

Feed ravenous children a green smoothie.

Change dog's bandage.

Change it again.

Decide to forgo bandage and tie a sock on the dog's foot.

Pour a second cup of coffee and look at the clock - - - 9:57 a.m.

Uff-da

sid

Sid is doing just fine and our vet says the toenail should grow back in the next few weeks. Miss Seven has made him a "get well" card and fed him at least eight dog treats. So, I think his suffering is pretty minimal.

    


Outside

Did you know it's TV Turnoff week?

I found something about it here.

Since we don't have a tv, we're limiting our time on this. {computer}

30 minutes for the kids. An hour for the mama.

Wanted to share an outside picture of the kids hand washing newly thrifted patio ware - aka - vintage melamine out on the patio. We were tickled to find these as they are the perfect nonbreakable snack time plates :) I'll be sharing an outside picture every day this week :)

  

hand washing
 

  

Water+soap = fun

time is a ticking.... gotta run!

Happy Monday :)


Hermit Crab Races

We've been a bit inspired by 5 Orange Potatoes to get outside. Actually Lisa inspires me pretty regularly :) I love visiting her blog. She recently wrote about the need to get our kids outside and her words really resonated with my inner nature fairy. Lots of bloggers are playing along and we're going to be posting "outdoor" photos several times a week over the next month.

Thanks Lisa!

And...... today our outdoor adventure we'd like to share is.....

Hermit crab racing.

It's a sport to build your patience :)

And I assure you, no crabs were hurt in these races.....

  

hermit crab racing
See the hermit crabs lined up right in front of Miss 11's arm?

  

and they're off....
and they're off towards the water......

  

crabby loser
and the loser is this little guy..... back into the water he goes....

what? you wanted to see the winner? well, here you go........

  

underwater winner
the underwater winner......

  

        

 Hope you have some time to race some crabs or something similar in your neck of the woods :)

       


One Small Change - April

Wow. How did it get to be April so soon??

And nearly midway through too??

Our hanging the laundry out change from last month has gone really well. We reduced our utility bill too! And speaking of utilities.... even though it's been a balmy 78 degrees indoors the bast few days were avoiding turing the AC on as long as we can. The fans are on and the windows are open to keep everything cool for now. 

April's One Small Change is a two part one. First, we're going to grow as much food as we can in our own back yard. Second we are going to visit the Farmer's Market every other week (it's 45 minutes away) to get as much local produce as we can. (prior months changes : January, February & March)

We've got quite the selection of food going on around here.... by far the most we've ever grown. We haven't had much of a garden since we lived in Cape Cod years ago.... a few tomatoes and peas here and there..... but nothing like we've been trying to get started here. Other then tomatoes and peas, I have no idea what I'm doing in the garden! I love it, but am clueless. So along with two friends and Miss 11, we took two classes offered by an organic farm about an hour and a half from our town. It was totally worth the drive and I learned so much. I am hoping to share some little bits and pieces of what works as the garden grows.

As for now, we're finishing up the stages of seedlings and planting. Each Gypsy kid helped to build their own raised garden bed and plant it. They each got a 2x3 box and picked herbs and veggies to plant in it. We've replanted our 5x5 family garden in the backyard. We've planted 3 trees, 10 berry bushes and a strawberry patch. A fig, satsuma, lemon tree, blackberry & raspberry bushes. We've got several pots full off veggies too. And we're trying to grow a sunflower house too!

And then around the yard in the garden there is a lot going on ........

scarlet runner beans, cucumbers, squash, melon, peas, gourds, kale, radish, beets, lettuce, carrots, rosemary, mint, grapes, sage, parsley, basil, dill, calendula, lavender, dragon beans, rhubarb, eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, poppies, lemon balm, cabbage, lovage and probably some other things that I can't remember right now. Phew! 

We decided to use our yard as gardening space the next 2 summers and then we'll put flowers in the seasonal beds before we sell the house. Just some annuals in case the next person wants to garden too!

My biggest hope out of all of this is planting a seed of sustainability in the hearts of my children. I want them to have that connection to their food. The desire to take care of a garden or at least a few plants that will feed them. Seeing my little ones chanting "grow seeds, grow" to their gardens after the seeds were planted, and then celebrating when they sprouted was beautiful!

And now I'll stop talking (typing) and show you some pictures of the Gypsy homestead beginnings....

  

herbs
herbs from last summer coming back and looking lush....

  

sage
new sage 

  

grapes
grapes that need some twine in their life.....

    

kids gardens
kid's garden beds

  

 strawberry patch
strawberry patch and 3 dahlias

  

greenhouse
old sliding glass doors make a great greenhouse!

  

fig
fig

  

satsuma blossom
satsuma blossom - they smell heavenly!!!

  

fruit trees
our three fruit trees

  

radish seedlings
radish

  

mama's garden
mama's garden

  

   Here's to growing your own folks!

      


Monday Bites ~ Strawberry Jam

It is getting to the end of strawberry season here in Louisiana.

What? The end, you say?

Yes, I thought the same thing. It isn't even the beginning of strawberry season anywhere else I've ever lived.... thank goodness for my southern pal or I'd never get anything right down here! So, in my usual nature of taking on just a wee bit too much, who me? I picked up 3 flats of strawberries on the way home from dropping the daddy off at the airport for training yesterday. A mere $10 a piece from a little local road side stand. Did you know 3 flats weigh about 36 pounds. I swear it didn't look like that many strawberries when I bought them...... but then I got them home.... and began the washing and the Eldest said "I don't think you have enough strawberries mom." That's teenage humor for those of you who don't know!

 

washing berries

Well, I put that funny teenager to work! And there was a lot of slicing......

 

slicing     

 

and stirring.....

 

stirring

Both big kids helped enormously with the entire project. And by 6:30 there were 28 jars of Strawberry Jam, 28!! 4 double batches of that recipe below.....

 

28 jars of jam.... yum!

This jam is so good that we all voted to make another couple of batches so we could gift it this winter. Don't you think in season satsumas and local strawberry jam would make a lovely gift? A loaf of bread and it would be a perfect breakfast. Speaking of bread I made Soulemama's WHO bread and it is delicious with the jam..... yum, yum, yum! 

 

toast

Gypsy Family's Strawberry Jam::  

(adapted from Gourmet Preserves, a favorite of mine)

8 cups (about 2 pounds) capped and quartered

1/2 cup of water

2 TBSP cup lemon or lime juice

1.5 - 2 cups sugar

1 box low/no sugar needed pectin (optional, I usually do not use it) 

 

Wash & sterilize 6 jam jars. 2 cup size. Place them in the oven to keep them warm, as hot as you can still comfortably touch. Place your lids/tops in a shallow pan. (dishwasher or oven)

Mix pectin with 1/2 cup of the sugar and set aside. If you don't care about having a loose jam, you can skip the pectin all together. (The result will be a softer set jam that jells a bit when refrigerated.)

Cut the strawberry tops off and cut them into quarters. Add strawberries and water to a LARGE stockpot. Bring to a rolling boil and boil for 10 minutes, stirring often. Be careful it does not boil over or the mess will surely cause you to hate me forever and give up jam making entirely. Okay, maybe not, because I have done this and I still love to make jam. As the berries are boiling bring a teakettle of water to boil. Pour it over the lids/tops in a pan and let them sit. 

After the ten minutes of boiling the berries, stir in the lemon/lime juice. Then add the remaining sugar 1/2 cup at a time returning the berries to a rolling boil after each addition. Stir and boil for 5 more minutes. Stir in the pectin sugar mixture and boil another minute. Test the jell of the jam by dropping a spoonful onto a cold plate, put the plate in the freezer for 2 minutes and the jam should be slightly set and wrinkle on the top when you push it with your finger, if it is still runny, simmer 5 more minutes & test again... repeat until desired thickness is achieved. Remove from the heat and skim off any foam. The kids love to eat this.

Fill your jars with hot jam leaving 1/4 inch headspace at the top. Wipe the rim with a clean cloth. Top with a lid from the pan of water. Screw a ring on finger tight & process in a 10 minute hot water bath. Good Instructions and Info Here

This recipe makes about five or six jars, 2 cup capacity, of not too sweet soft set jam.... just the way we like it around here :)

I often skip the pectin and double or triple this recipe in a HUGE pot with fine results. (You will have to boil it longer to achieve a thick jam consistency of you double or triple it)

Enjoy!!

 


Speechless

I can't begin to think of the right words 

to thank all of you for your comments yesterday....

to friends and family that work so hard to keep in touch with us...

and to all of you I've yet to really meet that stop by this space.....

we are kindred spirits for sure.

Your camaraderie and wisdom was so heartfelt

and much of it had me crying! (in a good way)

I am truly speechless.

And feeling such gratitude. 

Wow. Just, wow.

     

In the words of my Aunt Lori....

"You make my heart sing."

     

A very humble thank you to each of you.

~hugs~

Stephinie

The Gypsy Mama

     


rambling

So things have been a little.... well.... flat here lately on the blog.

Have you noticed?

Sure there are still recipes and pictures of my kids.... but the depth has been a little lacking...

it feels .... stagnant??

Truth is... there's been an abundance of unbloggable things going on in our lives....

nothing major, but the type of things you just don't rant about on a public place.

I'm all for honesty, but when I feel like airing dirty laundry I know I need to shut the laptop :)

So, sorry for the rose colored blog posts. 

And now, I will share something that has been rolling around in my brain.

Remember my "Funk" rant a few months back?? Well it seems as if each person in my house is having this need to go through their own funk and, well, that's a lot of funk to deal with!

We move a lot. And sometimes I feel like we are always getting ready for a move... or unpacking from a move... or anticipating the next move. Treading water, if you will. Eeek. And my husband and I have come to a mutual agreement over the past few months. We're kinda done. Our wanderlust has waned and we're looking to put down roots. Are we getting old? But, we've got 4.5 years left for him to get retirement... so we've gotta stick it out.. and we will. But we have to find a balance to enjoy life in the mean time and not just wish these years away. 

Now, I hope this does not come across as whining, because truthfully I am incredibly grateful for my hard working husband and his job. Really, I am. But we're both feeling this huge shift in our priorities... it's both alarming and enlightening....

So enough rambling.

Here is my question to you.

Have you ever really felt like an outcast? Like what you wanted was so un-mainstream that most people you talk to just stare blankly back at you? Or perhaps they will flat out ask "Why would you want to do that?"

It's humorous at best and stifling at worst.

How do you deal with that?

How do you keep from questioning yourself?

How do you remain authentic to yourself?

Just wondering. 

And another thing..... do any of you suffer from "be responsible" syndrome.

We do. We work too hard and don't play enough. If I just clean the house, or paint this room, then we could go to the park... or for a walk.... or play in the sprinkler with the kids... I want to play more. ( I think this will help) I want to look at things that need to be done and choose this instead.......

monkey

I think every kid should have a hammock.

Thanks for listening (reading).