Again with the lost thoughts...

We moved to our little acerage just over six years ago...time has flown actually, especially when I look back at pictures of how little Jakob was then!!  We have had a garden every year since our arrival, and this spring I declared this one would be the last--if it didn't turn out.  You see, we're always in the midst of modifying our routines here, and I've never really figured out how to find the time to dedicate to everything I want to perfectly accomplish.  Tim and my dad think it would be a great idea for us to raise our own beef...and have a milk cow too.  WRONG!  Not because I wouldn't love the result of having raised them, but because I don't know how to find the extra time to take care of them.  One of the only things I've discovered that takes absolutely no effort to do is grow weeds and accumulate dust.  Everything else takes time and effort, therefore, I've prioritized to the point of vetoing the addition of anymore livestock.  The garden came in a very close second, but as I said, I was willing to give it one more shot.

I'm glad I did.  This year's garden is pretty to look at.  I don't necessarily think it has been any less work, we were just a little more organized and our routine was shifted just enough to allow a little more success.  While it only seems natural that many things could be accomplished with the number of kids that reside here, it very much depends on what it is and the desired quality of the result.  Gardening is a great thing to include kids in...if it is a small simple garden, but when have we ever tried small and simple here???? 

The kids have been able to be much more helpful this year due to their ages and our planting strategy.  Tim and the boys made me some boxes to plant in and I really think they've made a very positive difference.  The rain here has helped instead of hindered as it has in many places in the states where there is flooding.  Our corn is well past the "knee-high-by-the-fourth-of-July"!

 We've enjoyed the last several days of a holiday weekend. Tim has been home since Thursday night, and it feels like we've been productive! Painting in preparation for a new roof, gardening, painting furniture and shutters and doors. My burgandy shutters and front door got a makeover and are now black. We've so far, successfully rescued a tree that snapped in half in a storm a week or so ago. The foilage is still green, so we're keeping our fingers crossed. It's never fun to lose a tree...especially when there really aren't many to start with!

The trampoline is up, closets are organized, sewing is--well, never done, but I've gotten to start again.  My little model is the cutest too.  She's really starting to get the hang of all of it, putting a new outfit on and saying, "Front, back, front, back" while spinning to show the camera.  LOL!!!

It's fun to sit back and look at the results of hard work and think with a smile, "I/We did that."  Very gratifying.  We're gradually enjoying some patriotic festivities leading up to our nation's independence day.
We've been helping to sell fireworks as part of our baseball fundraiser.  The kids are able to help a little more than in years past...or maybe it's just easier this year for me to let them?  It's a lot of fun either way, and they get to totally scope out what they are going to want later. 

A few fireworks.  I'm pretty sure we have more than a few little pyros here.  All but one of them is eager to light something, pull a string, pop something or at very least sit and watch.  Millie on the other hand declared that she does NOT like fireworks of any kind...not even the little party poppers.  She was good enough to come sit with us though, but brought a blanket to cover her head.  She peeked out long enough to say, "Don't yike them...hoots my eeaws...go inside to bed, now!"  Once inside, she was fine, but the thought of even watching out the window was not something she wanted to do.

A little red-white-and-blue food.  (YUM!  The first time I made a pavlova--meringue--it was gorgeous, but the next three times, not so much, so I will just have to continue to try and try again until I figure out the secret!)

 We had egg whites to make meringue because of making ice cream, and while I don't have pictures of the ice cream, I must note that it was FANTASTIC!  Tim made chocolate and we weren't sure that the melted chocolate mixed in very well, but it made  pleasantly surprising little chips, and I made a modified version of a recipe I came across in a magazine.  We had already made the ice cream base, so that is why the recipe was modified, and even though we didn't try the original version, I don't think we'll change anything about our own:
1 cup cream
2 cups half and half or whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
6 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
This is the base recipe...we don't cook it to a custard because we're too impatient to let it cool, so the sugar and yolks get mixed and added to the milks and then the flavor happens.  We simply added cinnamon.  This is where my ice cream started in the freezer and when it became thick enough to add the rest, I added carmelized pecans and chopped up bananas.  MMMMMM! 
Caramalized pecans:  (quantities are ballpark because I have no idea how much I really used)
1 cup pecans, toaste
2 T. butter, melted
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup brown sugar
3 T cream
These are all put in a saute pan and cooked until carmelized, then dumped out on parchment to cool and broken into candy pieces. 

The only change I may make next time is adding some carmel sauce to the base recipe.  Pretty tasty, and a nice combination with Tim's chocolate. 

I'm pretty sure we'll be staying home for the 4th instead of celebrating with friends as initially planned, because somehow, in the middle of SUMMER, some nasty, unwelcome virus has found us.  High fever, headache, upset stomach, body aches, stuffy nose.  Poor little people!  It's a long-lasting virus too...Joe was first and finally after five days he's feeling better without Tylenol and Motrin.  I'm sure it's not enough to keep us from celebrating at all though.  We're still eager to break out some more red-white-and-blue and light some more fireworks, and thank God for the freedom we have.  Patriotism is a virture--I just learned that.  :)  Maybe I'll get some berry blue, cherry and white (whatever flavor that is) liquid ibuprofen for the occasion!