Friday, August 29, 2008

Fig-honey muffin recipe

Whew. August sure flew by, didn't it?

We had two weekends out of town, five days home with a cold, four days with my sister visiting, two family birthdays, three dentist appointments, two pool parties, and three weeks of 100-degree weather! I guess it's no wonder I didn't make much progress getting the garden ready for fall planting. I barely managed to keep things watered and harvested.

We lost quite a few of figs to the beetles, birds and ground. But I also made some really yummy fig muffins. Here's the recipe in case you have a fig tree or know someone with a fig tree. I'm sure they won't mind if you offer to pick a few! Be sure to pick the ones that are soft and squishy. I adapted this recipe from a cookie recipe I found online. The first batch baked up like muffin tops, so I decided to make muffins instead, and they're perfect that way.

* 1 + 3/4 cup whole pastry or all-purpose flour
* 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
* A pinch of salt
* 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* A pinch of ground nutmeg
* A pinch of ground cloves
* 1/2 cup honey
* 1/4 cup butter
* 1/4 cup applesauce
* 2 eggs
* 1 cup fresh ripe figs, washed and stems removed, and chopped in food processor
* 1 + 1/3 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
* 1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional -- they're good without, but the boys insisted!)

- Preheat oven to 350F. Line two cookie sheets with baking paper
- In a saucepan, heat the honey and butter until the butter melts. Set aside.
- Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices. Set aside.
- In a bowl whisk the eggs. Add applesauce. Pour in the honey mixture (once it’s cooled) and continue to whisk until blended. Stir in the dry ingredients. Lastly, add the figs and the walnuts and stir until just incorporated.
- Use ice cream scoop to drop into muffin tins. Bake in the oven for 10-14 minutes, or until the tops are slightly browned and spring back when gently pressed. Cool completely and try not to eat them all at once! (You'll be nice and cleaned out if you do, they're full of fiber.)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

S'more camping, please?

We had a quick, but lovely, visit to the coast this weekend. Arrived in the dark Friday night, set up the tent and beds, and climbed in. We were too tired even to wait for a fire and marshmallow roasting. We did plenty of that Saturday night instead.

Saturday morning we hung out around camp, drinking coffee and relaxing. Scott and my dad took the boys for a walk, and I snapped some pictures. Then we packed up some lunch to take to Montana de Oro beach. But first we stopped at the state park museum for a Junior Ranger workshop. We went on a nature scavenger hunt, made plaster animal paw prints, and the boys earned badges, which they were very excited about.

Down on the beach, I took more photos of the boys, and then lay on the blanket playing in the rocky sand with them. We were amazed by how many different colors and patterns we could find in the teeny tiny rocks.

Back at camp, we warmed up by the fire, and I read to the boys. Scott threw his back out the night before while unloading the car, so he wasn't feeling too well. (He went to the chiropracter today, and found out he tore a ligament. OUCH.)

For dinner we feasted on my dad's barbecued tri-tip and the leftover ratatouille I'd brought. And then ate WAY TOO MANY s'mores!

Sunday was more yummy food, relaxing by the fire, another Junior Ranger workshop in our campground -- and a few more S'mores after lunch. :) Then it was time to head home already.

It's still 100 degrees around here. I'm ready for fall! Scott's just ready for his back to stop hurting. Tomorrow's his birthday. He took the morning off work -- mostly so he could go to the doctor. I'll be taking the boys to the dentist while he tries to find a comfortable position on the couch.

Please pray for him!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Oops, I forgot to take pictures.

Public schools in our area started up again this week, and it was difficult not to feel the push toward organized activity and study. Nonetheless, this is what the first week of school looked like in our house...

My oldest was up before 7, as usual, and got to say goodbye to his Daddy. The rest of us dragged ourselves out of bed around 8. Ate breakfast out on the patio, which we haven't done in a few weeks because it's been too hot, and I've been waking up too late. Let the chickens out for a while and watered the garden.

Took a quick shower, then left to go to coffee with my mom and my sister, who's been visiting from Tuscon this week. It's a little weird being in a public place with kids on "the first day of school." We met friends at the library next, and that wasn't so awkward. One mom of littles asked if our kids were homeschooled and actually smiled when I said yes.

Read "Harry Potter & the Sorcerer's Stone" in the afternoon. Had neighbor kids over to play. Went out to dinner for my mom's birthday.

My parents and sister Brook headed up to San Francisco to meet my sister Lindsay for the premiere of their film at the WestWave Dance Festival. I wish I could have been there to celebrate the moment with them and see Lindsay's company perform, but, it wasn't to be.

Instead, we ran errands, planned fall field trips, and read more Harry Potter.


More laundry. Played Candyland with the boys. Baked cookies for our camping trip. Set out a craft. Neighbor kids came over to play while I made Ratatouille for the first time.

Met up with fellow homeschoolers for a "Not Back to School" pool party. Swimming and ice cream sundaes on a Thursday morning -- how could you not want to homeschool?

Then we rushed through Trader Joe's before heading home, so I could make a gluten-free chocolate cake to celebrate my mother's birthday again tonight. My parents, Brook, and her new boyfriend, the Rock Star, got back from San Fran just in time for dinner.

The Rock Star was cute, and sweet with the boys, who made him climb trees, play ping pong, hunt for walruses and jump on the trampoline -- on two hours of sleep and nine hours of jet lag, poor thing. He must really like my sister.

Tomorrow I pack, clean, water the garden, and try to get the car loaded before Scott gets home so we can leave for the beach asap.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Figs, wands and parchment, oh my!

And now back to our regularly scheduled gardening posts. Yesterday the boys and I ventured into the Forbidden Forest to collect magical figs for our Morning Health Potion. I knew it would be risky, and sure enough, we barely escaped an attack from the Giant Spiders deep in the forest.

No, seriously, I am so glad I didn't scare everyone away with my HP enthusiasm! I realize not all Christians are comfortable with some of the fantasy aspects of the stories. But I am convinced that the books' themes reflect Christian values and Truth. And I have been having SO much fun with planning our Hogwarts Home Study program this week!

Last night I picked up parchment for our Hogwarts correspondence -- and then the boys received their invitations to the homeschool program via owl post today! (Isn't that a funny coincidence?)

I also found the coolest wands for only $2/set at World Market. (They're sold to Muggles as chopsticks.) The kids will need to activate them with crushed fire opal dust (sold at Michael's as burnt orange glitter) at our first lessons in a couple weeks. I've been bugging our best friends with my ideas via e-owls (in order to keep it a surprise for the kids), and they're going to join us for lessons once a week or so, but we're not quite ready to start.

It is SO hard not to jump right in with a bunch of Lessons! But I know myself and the kids, and I don't want to get burned out by trying to do too much at once. I want to keep the enthusiasm going. After their owls arrived today, we decided to start reading Book One again. That should keep us busy until we can get together with the other Gryffindor home study students.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Hogwarts Homeschool

So, now that you've had a good laugh, I want to share with you what I've been obsessing about all weekend (besides sitting on the couch to watch the Olympics)!

You may or may not know that I'm a big Harry Potter fan. One of the sessions I attended at the homeschooling conference was about how to homeschool Harry Potter-style.

The three moms who led the session formed a co-op to share the work (and fun!) of creating Hogwarts "lessons" and activities for their HP-crazed kids. These women were SO creative -- though they had lots of help from online resources, and are putting it all on their blog to share with anyone who wants to do the same!

I've been busy making lists of things we need and activities and outings to Potterfy. Wands and robes are first, of course. Plenty of parchment for owl posts. I'm trying not to spend too much money on books from Flourish & Botts. I did, however, invest in a set of kits for Spells and Potions.

As I'm fairly strong in Herbology, Care of Magical Creatures and Transfiguration, a little more help from Professors Sprout, Hagrid, and McGonagall, and we'll have plenty to keep us busy over the next few months!

I'm also excited to spend more time studying Defense Against the Dark Arts with my boys. We haven't done regular devotionals before, and this is inspiring in an odd kind of way.

And, yes, we're still unschoolers. ;)

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Oops! I stole my own car!

Yeah, so, um, I'm a big dork. But let's start at the beginning...

The police department called this morning to let us know they found our Ford Focus wagon, which we reported stolen last week, in the Barnes and Noble parking lot a mile away from our house. Praise God!

My mom took Scott to go pick it up, and it appeared to be in the same condition we left it in. Weird, huh?! Yeah, I thought so, too!

How odd for someone to steal a car and take it to the bookstore, of all places -- and then just leave it there! (Apparently, it had the same amount of gas in it Scott remembered from the day before it went missing, so they couldn't have gone very far.) Maybe they just needed a ride to work?

And how weird that they took it to one of our FAVORITE PLACES! In fact, my mother and I had just been there a few days before... when was that exactly... oh, yeah, I met her at B&N for coffee, and then we took... her car... to go to TJ Maxx. Wait a minute, did we... go back and get my car?

Ohmigosh. Oh. My. Gosh. OH MY GOSH!

Yes, I actually completely forgot having left my car in the parking lot of Barnes and Noble last Monday.

Now, obviously, I was not the only one with a failed memory. Rewind to the morning we woke up to no car in the driveway. All we could remember of the previous day was Scott taking the boys to the library in the morning. Then our neighbors came out to see what the police car was doing in front of our house, and reported that they remembered seeing our car in the driveway late the night before. We concluded that it must have been taken between midnight and six. Not just one neighbor, mind you. A neighbor to the north said he had company over late and checked the street at midnight. Our friend across the street remembered looking out at 10.

What does this say for "witness" accuracy?

Alright, I'm really not trying to point the finger away from myself. I'm perfectly aware that I'm the idiot in this story.

So, anyway, praise God that our neighborhood's crime rate hasn't gone up! And our insurance rate won't increase! And we only lost $175 in rental fees! (Ouch.) And lots of people at the rental place and insurance agency (not to mention my parents, friends and hopefully you reading this) got a good laugh today!

Anyone have a recommendation for memory enhancement supplements?

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Suffer my madness, and I'll feed you well.

Sometimes I'm stubborn about sticking to my crazy, hair-brained plans. They aren't really crazy, after all, just a little more ambitious than the rest of my family cares about being. Though I wonder, as I (and everyone around me) suffer through the madness, whether it's worth it. Tonight happened to be one of the rare times it was. I think so, anyway.

Let's just say it's been a busy couple weeks. First, the cat got shut into our bedroom closet for an entire day, leaving the carpet inside smelling, well, not so lovely. So, my mom and I spent a day clearing out this mess...

Then, Scott (aka UberDad aka Love-of-my-life-who-puts-up-with-me-with-only-mild-complaining) ripped up the carpet to find this...

And spent the next five days turning it into this...

Isn't that pretty? Meanwhile, we'd spent three nights at my parents' house to avoid the finish fumes, so I had a little laundry to catch up with...

While I was doing laundry, with just two days left before our trip, someone finally bought our 60 gallon saltwater aquarium. We hadn't had any fish for a few months, and decided it was time to downsize. My oldest found a 10-gallon tank at a yard sale, and wanted guppies -- something he could manage on his own. The boys really needed the space in their bedroom that the 60-gallon tank was using.

But once the tank was gone, a layer of salt along the wall needed to be cleaned up. And I realized I hadn't dusted in there in months. Or changed the sheets. So, I spent most of the day cleaning their room. Unfortunately I forgot to take a picture to preserve the moment. But even with puzzles and Bionicles covering the floor once more, at least I know it's clean underneath!

And, after all that, it was really time to pack for the homeschooling conference. But first! I realized I had a bunch of these...

That needed to be turned into this...

Because otherwise they might have rotted while we were gone. So, I spent five hours peeling, chopping, cooking and canning tomato sauce and salsa while dictating orders to everyone else so that we'd be packed and ready to go the next day.

Yeah, looking back, it wasn't my best choice. Did I mention the boys and I came home with a bad cold? I spent Sunday evening crashed on the couch while Scott unloaded the car and made dinner. Then I crawled into bed at 7:30.

So, I decided to spend yesterday taking it easy, right? No, I did that Monday. By Tuesday we were really low on groceries, and it was time to make my monthly run to WinCo. I don't know about you, but grocery shopping wipes me out every time. 'Course, making a list for UberDad seemed like even more work. So, off to the store I went. In and out in only... two hours.

Usually I plan on something easy for dinner after a major shopping trip. But I didn't add any other errands onto this one, and I had a six or seven little eggplants begging to be eaten. I really wanted to make eggplant parmesan for the first time, despite feeling like what I should really do is crawl back in bed.

Fortunately, Scott took pity on me and helped get the kitchen ready and make spaghetti for the boys, while I worked on the eggplant parmesan -- using the tomato sauce I made last week, of course.

Do you know how good it feels to make something using ingredients you've grown yourself? Especially when it turns out REALLY yummy?

It's worth the effort, it really is.

Monday, August 04, 2008

The conference, etc.

We're back. And we're exhausted. It's always that way when you've had too much fun, isn't it?

We headed to L.A. on Thursday, and spent a few hours at the California Science Center. We enjoyed the World of Life exhibit, and then ran out of time to finish the Creative World exhibit or the rest of the museum. So, we'll be heading down again this fall to visit friends who are moving to the area next week. There are SO many great museums in L.A., we could burn a lot of oil this year, despite the cost.

We met my mom at the hotel around 6, and caught a shuttle ride to the Rainforest Cafe for dinner. We don't have one in our town, so the boys had never been. That was a major hit! We all enjoyed the fish tanks, mock jungle, and the balloon artist who made the boys swords, a bow and arrow set, and a monkey in a palm tree for our littlest monkey. Unfortunately my flash is still out, so my photos are all really blurry. I couldn't get the boys to stop bouncing around!

The restaurant, plus staying three nights in a hotel with a pool would have been enough entertainment for the boys, even without the conference. But Scott and I, (mostly I), got to enjoy several sessions while sharing turns with my mom to watch the kids. Saturday afternoon we all just camped out by and in the pool for a few hours. It was warm enough to swim, but not unbearably hot -- like it was when we got home yesterday. Scott and the big boys also played a lot of chess and attended the Chivalry Today session together. all three boys made clay volcanoes at a kid session, and played with Legos and Hot Wheels in the toy area.

It was a fun, inspiring, short vacation. And now we're spending Scott's last week home just enjoying each other -- and recovering from the nasty cold we brought home.
Related Posts with Thumbnails