Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Curry Experiment

In an effort to raise kids who are "global" eaters, I made an attempt at feeding them curry earlier this week.  I am not a uber-experienced curry chef myself so I went with a good-quality, mild seeming jarred curry sauce.
This one was labeled mild and flavored with "juicy tomatoes and roasted cumin."  I also made a veggie-packed rice pilaf, hedging my bets in case the curry was completely rejected!  So, here goes:

Chicken Curry with Rice Pilaf

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, rinsed and cubed
1 T Vegetable oil
Cracked black pepper and poultry seasoning
I jar Patak's curry cooking sauce, any flavor you like

Heat a large skillet with veg oil and add seasoned chicken.  Cook until browned all over, then reduce heat and add curry sauce.  Cook with sauce over low heat approximately 15 minutes, or while rice is cooking.

2 cups quick-cooking brown rice
1 3/4 cups water or water and chicken stock mix
2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
5 green onions sliced, green tops reserved
2 cloves garlic, minced
Handful of fresh almonds, chopped

Heat olive oil in sauce pot over medium heat.  Add dry rice and stir, coating rice with oil.  Toast rice in oil for 5-6 minutes.  When rice has toasted, add veggies and liquid.  Once liquid is added, cook according to package directions.

When rice is finished, give it an extra stir to combine.  Serve a scoop of rice pilaf and top with chicken curry.  Top with green onion tops and chopped almonds.  Enjoy!

In the essence of honesty, I will say that my "good eater" daughter took one look at this and declared "I don't like it."  Then again, she tends to reject anything with cumin but I keep pushing it on her.  Optimistic of me, right?  We finally cajoled her to take one courtesy bite of chicken and then she was served a bowl of rice pilaf, which she ate well so I'd call that a semi-success.  My "picky eater" son loved it and ate nearly his whole bowl.  Go figure!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Book Review: The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister

This is our book club selection for the month.  It was a tasty little treat of a book, much needed after reading some heavier things lately.  Some books I refer to as "palate cleansers."  Basically, lighthearted, fun books to clear the head (often these are romance novels...shhhh).  This book would fit into that category and I wouldn't even be ashamed to carry it into the doctor's office!

Lillian has a gift and, as often happens, she discovers this gift under tragic circumstances.  When Lillian is seven, her father abandons them and her mother sinks into a deep depression.  Lillian begins experimenting with food and discovers that she has the ability to create powerful emotions and memories with her delicious recipes.  With the help of a local shop owner and food mentor, Abuelita, Lillian finally succeeds in "waking her mother" from her depressive stupor.

Fast forward a few decades and Lillian is a successful restaurateur and chef.  Her true passion though, is teaching her Monday night cooking classes.  As the class assembles, we meet a variety of characters, each dealing with some individual pain or inner conflict.  In each class, a dish is created that speaks to one individual student, creating clearness where there was confusion or closure where there was sadness.  The multiple points of view allow the reader to get to know each character and their story, all woven around the frame of that Monday night's recipe.

In Lillian's world, food is life.   It is luscious, exciting, and magical.  This book is engaging, with likeably flawed characters and delicious imagery.  It will make you happy (and maybe hungry) to read it.  I can't wait to hear what my book club ladies have to say about it on Thursday!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Deadly Date Night

Several months ago, after years of talking about it, I booked Hubby and myself a night at the Stone Lion Inn.  It is a beautiful old mansion in Guthrie that is rumored to be haunted.  On the weekends, they host murder mystery parties.  Last night, we packed our gear and headed North out of Norman at about the time that the rest of the planet was headed right into our town (game day).

Romantic, right???
The mansion really was lovely.  It could use a good paint job and some general freshening up but maybe the owners keep it a little run-down looking as part of the old, haunted house shtick.  Our room was lovely and decorated with lots of antiques.  It even had a separate sitting room complete with a small crib filled with creepy dolls.  Again, it was tough to tell if this was part of the "haunted house" vibe or what.  But if you closed the door to the creepy doll room, it was great!  The owner/hostess does a good job of keeping you on your toes; I found myself throughout the night wondering what was real and what was part of the "game."

After settling into our room for a bit, we got dressed for the main event.  So we stepped out of our suburban parent clothes and into the attire of SteveElizabeth and  Watson, society couple ready to schmooze at a dinner party in 1948 with some famous and infamous guests.  The dressing up was fun and really helped us feel more in character, even if we did occasionally have to glance at our name tags before introducing ourselves.

Now Elizabeth is the daughter of a Texas oil baron, a relentless social climber and a bit of a bigot; it's really no wonder Steve is likely cheating on her.  Lovely!  Fortunately for me, the rest of the "dinner guests" had even more glaring personality issues.  Everyone had fun introducing themselves and working on their characters at the pre-dinner cocktail party.  Then it was on to dinner, which was very good, and the unfortunate "demise" of one of our dining companions.  Poor guy didn't even get to finish his entree!

The innkeeper did a great job of keeping everyone in character and moving the evening along.  At the end of the evening all of the guests gather to sort out the complicated web of intrigue and "solve" the murder.  This part honestly dragged a bit, as there were so many people and clues to keep up with.  However, we managed to solve the puzzle and were released for the night with promises of ghost stories over breakfast.  Apparently when she tells them before bed guests tend to choose other lodgings!

Breakfast was also very good and the ghost stories and history of the house was interesting.  Our drinks were served on an actual antique embalming table left over from the home's brief stint as a funeral parlor!  Frankly, the hostess could have shortened several of the stories (nearly two hours for breakfast) but overall it was a fun experience.

For a fun and different evening out I would definitely recommend the Murder Mystery event at the Stone Lion.  If you are looking for a more romantic and relaxing getaway, this might not exactly fit the bill.  Hubby and I both enjoyed the evening, and now we can say that we have slept in a hunted house and lived to tell the tale!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Boys Will Be....

Randomly it seems, I have had several conversations recently with parents both young and old on boys and their inherent "boyishness."  That uncanny, seemingly-uncontrollable need to play video games, shoot things, push, yell, destroy, etc.  I have seen it already in my own sweet boy.  One minute every thing's hunky-dory, the next minute he is running wildly down the hall with a chunk of his sister's hair.  He is not allowed within ten feet of a library book lest we find bits of paper scattered throughout the house.  He luckily has not discovered guns yet in any form, but I know he will and I am already dreading it.

Here's a story from my retired neighbor:  his sister is a Quaker and worked very hard to keep guns and violent images/play away from  her son.  The son made guns from sticks and his own hand, loving to play "shoot the bad guy."  This son is now a Navy Seal, a "professional warrior" the neighbor called him.  Now, that is a pretty admirable job, protecting our freedom and all, but how did he get from Quaker to Navy Seal, one wonders?

Yesterday at the library two pre-school aged boys were playing guns with a couple of the arch blocks the library had.  They were running, screaming, rolling over tables and ducking for cover behind the "nursing mamas" rocking chairs.  Finally one ran up to my sensitive girl (who had been carefully constructing her princess castle), took his "gun" and smashed princess-land to smithereens.  I sat bolt upright in my chair, unsure as to what my role should be.  My daughter hung her head for a few seconds, then silently ran into my lap to "cry it out."  Luckily for me, one of the lovely children's librarians had seen enough and rushed over to scold both boys and mamas.  One mom made her son apologize and they left soon after.  My daughter got over her trauma and rebuilt her castle.  Still, the whole incident left me wondering:  were these "bad" boys, or were these just boys?

This is an issue that I truly struggle with.  I don't want to raise a violent boy.  On the other hand, I want to raise a strong boy, an assertive boy.  I want both of my children to know how to change the oil in their car,  cook a souffle, and defend themselves if needed.  More than anything, I want them to be their own selves, but of course, the best version of themselves.  I guess, like most moms, I just want it all.  That's not too much to ask, right?  I'm just not quite sure yet how to walk that line.  How to encourage their natural likes and strengths without raising a child who will one day make another child cry.

This is not intended to be a commentary on the "gun" issue.  Maybe I will curse you with my ambivalence on that particular subject another day.  I am just wondering how it is that one raises a "good" boy, a good man?  A man's man and yet a modern man.  A man who can protect himself and his family from an assailant or a dishwasher disaster.  A man who can cook an omelet and sing a soothing lullaby.  It occurs to me that my own husband has many of these qualities.  Hopefully that will at least give us some advantage.  Of course, as I am writing this, my son is pushing his sister and making her cry, so that's all for now!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Today just seemed like a soup day.  Perhaps because I found myself screaming at my children before 8 am.  Perhaps because my 2 year old ate the camera's memory card but not one of his Cheerios (so don't expect any pictures here - my phone is not smart).  Perhaps just because it's Monday.  So, here is a "use your imagination on how yummy this looks" recipe for Chicken Tortilla Soup:

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, rinsed, trimmed, patted dry, and cut into 1 inch cubes.
A good mix of your seasonings of choice - I used cumin, paprika, coriander, black pepper, oregano, and chili    powder.  I tend to heavily season the chicken here and then just let it seep into the broth.  Saves a step!
2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 carrot, peeled and cubed
1/2 a large or a whole medium red onion, chopped
1 large red bell pepper, chopped.  Yep, still using these beauties!
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1 can fire-roasted diced tomatoes with green chilies.  You can mix this up with whatever tomatoes you like.
1 can beans, drained and rinsed.  I used kidney but I really prefer black.
4-6 cups chicken stock or broth, boxed or homemade
6-8 green onions, sliced
1 tomato, chopped
1 lime
Cheese of choice (pepper jack for me...mmmmm)
Tortilla chips

Heat large dutch oven or soup pot to medium high heat with olive oil.  Season chicken liberally and brown in pot.  Remove chicken and add veggies, except garlic.  Stir and cook veggies until semi-browned (about 6-8 minutes), then add garlic.  Stir and cook a minute or two more.  Then add canned tomatoes, beans, liquid, bay leaf, and half of the green onions.  Bring to a boil, check seasonings, then turn to low and let simmer for 1 hour.

When soup is ready, ladle into a bowl.  Mix the remaining onions and fresh tomato with the juice of half a lime and sprinkle over the top of soup.  Add cheese, maybe a "dollop of Daisy" and crumbled tortilla chips.  Avocado would be super yummy too.  Or cilantro, if your husband doesn't have cilantro hang-ups, which mine does.  Or jalapeno if you really want to get wild.  Really, the possibilities are endless!  Yummy for the tummy and the heart.  Again, a picture would be fabulous but not today.  Sigh....

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Chalkin' It Up!

There are many, many reasons why I love Norman (even if I do still feel some allegiance to that other Oklahoma university).  One of them is the sheer variety of fun and beneficial activities you can find to keep yourself and your kids entertained.  Today was one of those random and great activities, and it was my favorite price, free!

Every year there is an event called the Cleveland County Crop Walk.  It is a walk to raise food and awareness about the problem of world hunger.  The entry fee is a jar of peanut butter or a can of tuna.  It is an activity that my family tries to participate in, schedule permitting.  This  year, through our church newsletter, I discovered the Sidewalk Chalk Art Contest, an additional event that is part of the Crop Walk.  Held at the old Santa Fe depot, the event included a sidewalk art contest, drinks and cookies, prizes, and fabulous African drumming and storytelling with Jahruba.  If you haven't had the pleasure of seeing this man perform, it is something to see!

At the end of the performance, there were prizes and giveaways and our little munchkins won!  Okay, so every kid there won!  Seriously, there were a lot of prizes and they were great.  There were even prizes for mommies (smart people). We brought friends who were on their way to back to California, so we ended up with their prizes too.  By the end, we had gift certificates to two different restaurants, a family pass to Hey Day Family Fun Center, and a gift box of Biolage hair products.  Not bad for a few cans of tuna!  I think for all that fun and free stuff I need to pick up an extra case of tuna for the Crop Walk the next time I go to the store.  This was such a fun event and supports a very worthy cause.  I will definitely put this on my radar for next year!

Even if you missed the chalk contest, you can still make the Crop Walk, its on Sunday, October 2nd at 1:30.  Like the chalk contest, your entry fee is a can of tuna or a jar of peanut butter.  Our fantastic church donates $25 for every member who walks so that means our foursome will pull in $100 to help feed the hungry.  I can't think of a better family activity!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

My Alternate Reality

Most of the time I am your typical suburban housewife, and proud of it.  But, in the essence of keeping my options open (and making a little cash) I spend a couple of nights or weekend days a week working the reference desk at a public library.  It's an interesting roller-coaster of a job that I mostly love but there are certain special circumstances and encounters that I believe can only come from working at a public service desk.  Particularly if you are a young woman who doesn't exactly fit the "librarian" bun-wearing stereotype.  Most of us don't anymore by the way.  So, for your reading pleasure I thought I would share some of the stranger things that have been said to me over the years.

"How much do the books cost here?"

"Do you have How to Kill a Mockingbird?  The movie."

"You're a right handy ol' gal.  You'll make someone a fine lil' wife someday."

"So, do you like, read and stuff?"

"Do you have any good Christian horror fiction?"

"Can you believe my son/daughter has this project during football/basketball/soccer season?!?"

"Can you tell me what to fill out on my tax forms?"  Me: "No, I'm sorry we cannot give tax advice."  Patron: "I'm not asking for advice, I just want you to tell me what to put on my forms!"

From a 13-year old  "Maybe you and I could go get coffee sometime."

"I need to visit my brother in jail, but first I want to check and see if I have any outstanding warrants.  Can you show me how to do that?"

"It's been a cold weekend, but I feel warm now that I've seen you again."

"I would like to know why the library has an anti-Jesus policy."

From the security office after closing time "Did you happen to see a Gatorade bottle with some leaves in it while you were cleaning up?  Guy here says he left his frog."

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

"A fair is a veritable smorgasbord orgasbord..."

One of my favorite children's books and movies is Charlotte's Web.  So, every year when the Cleveland County Free Fair opens, I am sooo there!  I traipse around checking out the tractors, the 4H displays, the goat roping, and all that country classic fabulous-ness.  Maybe I am a wanna-be farm girl!  Except for the work.  And the dirt.

This year, for extra fun, we had very good friends from Northern California visiting us and we had to take them.  Yes, that's right, they have Napa Valley, but we have tractor pulls and turkey legs!  The first thing we hit was the kiddie tractor track.  My daughter thought that she would rather cling to my leg and whine, but after seeing all of the fun the other kids were having, she decided to give it a try.  Pretty soon she was zooming around and testing every tractor option!

Next up was a good ole' hayride and a tour of the antique tractors.  My son loved these tractors.  He kept getting that slow, shy little smile at each one.  Talk about a boys' boy; he loves anything with wheels!

Once inside the barn, we of course had to ride the ponies.  Then we watched some goat roping and headed over to the petting zoo.  This was clearly the place to be as it was packed!  But those baby animals are just irresistible: little piglets, goslings, bunny rabbits, and more.  When I gave my son his very own baby bunny basket, the look on his face was priceless!  He has been such a wild monkey lately that it's easy so forget his sweet and cuddly side.  I could have taken that bunny home right there just to see that little grin every day.  Of course, then I remembered our childhood bunny and how stinky his cage was!  So, Mr, Bunny stayed a the fair.

Overall, it was a great day.  A little dirty, a little stinky, but an amazing array of fun and cool and strange things for the kids to do, see, and explore.  For a suburban kid, this is like a step back in time or a peek at a completely different lifestyle.  And it's FREE (mostly).  Find your local county fair, you will find yourself with one happy kid!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Stuffed Peppers with Lentil Salad

Late summer/early fall in Oklahoma means a few things:  relief from relentless heat, kids are back in school, and the peppers and tomatoes are amazing!  Around this time of year red bell peppers can be found in the grocery stores for about $.50 each.  Considering there are times of the year when they are about $3 each, this is an amazing deal.  Not to mention they taste soooo much better in season.  I literally buy about 20 of them when they are cheap, then wash, slice or dice, and store in freezer bags.  It makes me happy knowing that little burst of summer is in my freezer, ready to perk up dreary winter days.  It's the little things!  Anyway, I had to eat at least some of these little beauties right away, so here is what I came up with:

Stuffed Bell Peppers

2-3 large to medium red bell peppers, washed, ribs and seeds removed and cut in half.
1 lb. extra lean ground beef, like longhorn or sirloin
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 green onions or 1/4 red onion, sliced or finely chopped
5-6 whole wheat saltine crackers, finely crushed.  Or 1/3 C whole wheat bread crumbs
Handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 egg
Black pepper, cumin, and and paprika to taste
1/2 C grated parmiggiano reggiano

Cut a slit in the pepper halves (to drain) and lay them in a glass baking/casserole dish.  Mix the remaining ingredients except cheese (basically you are making meatloaf).  Divide meat mixture into four or six even balls and form into the pepper cavities.  Sprinkle grated cheese on top.  Bake in 375 oven for 35-45 minutes or until browned and cooked through.

Lentil Salad

1/2 bag of dried lentils, rinsed and picked through
1 C Beef stock (optional)
2 C Water
1/4-1/2 cup light Italian dressing (or make your own vinegrette if you are less lazy than me)
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
2-4 T fresh flat leaf parsely (you can just reserve a bit of the onion/parsley from the meat mixture)
8-12 cherry or grape tomatoes, halved or quartered
4 oz feta cheese (1/4 domestic feta block, 1/2 French feta package)
Pepper to taste

Bring stock/water mixture to boil in medium saucepan.  You can use water only but those poor lentils really do benefit from a little extra flavor!  Drop in lentils and reduce heat to medium.  Cook until lentils are tender, about 30 minutes (or you can use pre-cooked lentils).  Drain lentils and let cool to room temperature.  In a large bowl, assemble dressing, parsley, and onion.  Let "steep" while lentils are cooling.  Toss cooled lentils in bowl with dressing mixture.  Add tomatoes, cheese and pepper and gently toss.  Serve with stuffed peppers for a protein-packed and tasty dinner. peppers!!!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Art Walk

We just finished up a long holiday weekend and actually managed to do some fun family things.  Weekends are typically so busy for us with my work schedule and the constant demands of house and family.  I think my children think that Home Depot is mandatory for a Saturday at this point!  So, it was great to have a couple of extra days off to have some actual fun along with the lawn mowing, fence fixing, deck staining etc.

One of the Oklahoma City's more unique little neighborhoods is The Paseo Arts District.  It's a collection of galleries, shops, and restaurants with some really unique architecture and gardens.  Hubby and I had gone a few times pre-parenthood and we thought it would be fun to see what's changed in the past few years.  This place is as quirky and eclectic as ever, with lots of great galleries showcasing local artists.  Plus, it's just a fun atmosphere for strolling.  There are sculptures, beautiful landscaping, and of course, unique people!  Most of the galleries are very child-friendly and don't get too uptight about noisy voices and sticky fingers, within reason of course.  I would recommend letting your children put their hands all over the "public" art outside so that once you go inside, they are not dying to touch things.  It worked for us, but then again we didn't spend a huge amount of time in each gallery!  The kids had a great time roaming around and looking at everything and Hubby and I actually got to do something that we enjoy: check out some great art!  Of course, my daughter did announce in one gallery that the art there was "boring" (possibly right in front of the artist), but hey, I believe in focusing on the positive!  Maybe she will be an art critic when she grows up.

One of the gallery managers told me about the Fairy Ball that they host in the district every year and it sounded like so much fun.  I think my daughter is still a bit too young, being that it starts at about the time she usually goes to bed, but in a couple of years she is going to love it.  I am so glad we rediscovered this local gem; it is always a "win win" when we discover something that is fun for kiddos and Mommy and Daddy!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A Walk In the Woods

Yesterday was gorgeous here in OK.  And considering the "heat dome" that we have been living under lately, it basically feels like we have been released from prison!  Needless to say, we were ready to get out and enjoy the lovely weather.  Hubby is more outdoorsy than me and he suggested going on a hike around the lake.  So, I packed us a picnic lunch and off we went.

We were on the road about 15 minutes before my daughter started whining for lunch and wondering aloud why we had been driving for "hours and hours"  but we were not about to let that deter us.  Hubby even stopped at the ranger station and got us a map so that we did not get lost in the woods.  We had been cruising around the lake area for a while at that point trying to figure out where the dang hiking trails were but still, props to the man for stopping for directions!  We actually ended up finding a pretty great trail.  Great at least for people dragging a wagon full of kids.  And off we went into the woods!

Bugs aside, it was a fun little adventure.  We saw two deer, several prickly bear cacti, and lots and lots of spider webs.  At one point, we came upon a dead tree that had fallen completely over the trail.  The kids had fun watching Daddy heave and haul the thing out of the way enough for us to pass.  I could have offered to help, but then who would  have kept an eye on the children?

After about an hour, the kids were officially done and we headed off to find a good picnic spot.  The lake is super low right now so we were able to find a nice flat section of beach (typically under water) to spread out our blanket and have lunch.   I don't know about your kids, but mine love to eat outside!  My daughter even insisted that we eat on a blanket on the ground rather than at a picnic table like civilized people. 

After lunch we walked along the beach looking at sailboats and shells and enjoying the breeze while I tried to not think about the many germs they were probably touching and tracking onto their shoes.  Germs or not, it was fun to get out and enjoy some fresh air on a beautiful day, and not worry about heat stroke!  I'm learning that if the weather is moderate, I'd better be enjoying every second!

Speaking of fun kids' outings at the lake, Hubby took the kids to the Lake Thunderbird Nature Center last weekend while I was at work.  Apparently they have lots of cool displays of local flora and fauna along with occasional children's activities, classes and crafts.  Worth checking out if you are in the area and looking for something different to do!  

Monday, September 5, 2011

Book Review: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

So, the last "dystopia" I read was probably Brave New World.  In high school.  Because I had to.  I don't know why this particular sub-genre weirds me out, but it does.  Really, it's anything futuristic or science fiction-ish.  I've never even seen an episode of Star Trek!  Okay, so now that you know more than you really wanted to know about my sci-fi hang-ups, I'll try to move on!

I read this for my "friend" book club.  Basically just another excuse to get together and chat but we can pretend that it's "intellectual."  I would never have read it on my own (see above) so I was glad for the push to read it.  That's one of the best parts about book clubs, you end up reading something totally different from what you think you like, and generally discover something great in the process.  Oh yeah, the review!

In a strange sort of post-apocyloptic world, a young girl (Katniss) is struggling to help support her family by hunting, foraging, bartering, and generally getting by on her wits.  She lives in one of 12 seperate "districts" all controlled by a distant and aloof "Capital."  Once a year the Capital randomly selects one boy and one girl from each district to come and compete in what they call a game but is really a bloody, bizarre and voyeuristic sacrifice.  When Katniss's little sister is chosen, she instantly volunteers to go in her sister's place.  From 24 children, only one will leave the arena alive after the games are over, while the entire country is forced to watch on television.  It is the Capital's twisted way of keeping the "natives" subdued.  For Katniss, the dilemma becomes how to survive and return to a family who needs her while still maintaining her humanity in the face of deranged brutality.  

This is a roller coaster of a book that will draw you in from the first page.  I really don't even feel as though it can be described well.  What I want to say is just "Go read the book!"  It is disturbing, but also fascinating and thought-provoking.  Particularly as we become more obsessed with reality-television, or as we see deranged dictators being deposed on the nightly news, it does bring up the question of what is actually considered entertainment.  This is certainly a work of fiction, but it does bring to light some less than flattering aspects about our current culture.  

It is worth mentioning that this book is part of a trilogy and while I have only read the first so far, I do hear that they are all excellent.  Stay tuned!   

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Hold your horses, tiny diva!

My daughter is sweet.  She is smart.  She is strong and funny and about a hundred other great things.  She is also currently obsessed with princesses and "girl" things.  This wouldn't bother me quite as much if it was not so exclusive of the other many, many wonderful things that she used to enjoy.  Her lovely little rocking horse?  Nope, it's a "boy" thing and therefore, unfit to occupy space in her room.  I keep finding him shoved into the hallway with her door shut in his face.  Poor, poor Applesauce.  Her lifelong obsession with dinosaurs?  She is sooo over that.  It doesn't really matter that we have a sizable stash of dinosaur bone replicas for her upcoming dinosaur dig birthday party.  Nope, she does not love dinosaurs anymore.  They are not princesses.

About a hundred times a day I hear "I love princesses and princess castles, and ponies, and unicorns, and fairies, and rainbows, and jewelry, and tea parties, and all of the girl things."  Are you kidding me???  Truly, it's fine with me that she likes these things but how on earth did she one day determine that there are "boy" things and "girl" things and never should the two mix?

So yesterday I worked up the courage to ask her:  "What do you want to be for Halloween?"  Holding my breath, I steeled myself for the inevitable response of Ariel, Rapunzel, or some other Disney concoction.  "I want to be a monkey!"  She announced.  Whaaaat????  I could not contain my delight!  "A monkey?  That's wonderful, I think that's a great idea!  You will be a lovely monkey."  She looked at me for a moment before dropping the ax.  "A princess monkey Mommy.  I want to be a princess monkey."

Lord, help me get through the next couple of years with this one!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Garden Tour

Last week on our visit to the farmer's market, my daughter insisted that we visit the Cleveland County Demonstration Garden.  It is on the West side of the parking lot from the farmer's market.  The last time we visited they were sadly recovering from the crazy hail storm that damaged so much of Norman in the Spring.  I couldn't believe how lush and beautiful it is now!  Clearly, they are better gardeners than me, but then again, most people are.  My daughter ran straight for the "tepee," a cone of string beans with a tiny bench inside.  She even allowed her brother to sit with her this time.

This garden is a great place to take children and teach them about agriculture, giving back, and sustainable living.  There is always a gardener there who is happy to show you around, provide information, and even a fresh snack or two.  All of the food grown here is donated to Food and Shelter for Friends and the gardeners are all volunteers.  They have a "worm hotel" which my kids find fascinating.  Apparently worm poop is some prized stuff for gardeners!  On this tour, we sampled purple okra, lemon basil, fresh peanuts (who knew they grew in the ground?) and of course, water straight from a garden hose.  Ah, the childhood bliss of it all!
For now, the demonstration garden is only open on Saturdays (8-12) but after the County Fair it will start being open on Wednesdays again.  Check it out, it truly is a "hidden gem."

PS-It goes without saying that you should check out the farmer's market while you are there.  Check out this carrot that my daughter picked out:

This bad boy weighed in at approximately 1.5 lbs!  And Mr. Farmer threw in a couple of little guys too just in case "that big one ain't sweet enough for you."  There is something about my rosy-cheeked girl, she loves those farmers and they love her!