Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Summer 2010

Tomorrow is the first day of school and so summer will be over. Oh - it will feel like summer for a few more days (at least) but there will be school work and schedules and it won't feel like summer anymore.

Personally, I'm psyched! I have a whole list of projects I want to work on and haven't had the time to do.

But it was a very good summer and I thought I'd take a moment to compile some of the biggest moments of the season; friends, fruits of the garden, Celebrate West Hartford, Six Flags, trip to Michigan, summer squash ravioli, LEGO camp, beaches, swimming at the pool, giant bubbles, picking veg at the farm, and that pesky squirrel that stole my bright red tomato.

It's what's summer's all about.

(Click on the image to enlarge.)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Writer's Workshop: The Cat's Escape

This is our final full week of the summer and Magoo's final story for Writer's Workshop. Hope you like it!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Haircut

The summer buzz was getting kind of shaggy and I wanted Magoo to look good for his first day of school, so we went to Anna's Hair Perfection to get the mop cleaned up.

There's the BEFORE shot.
I have to give credit where credit is due - he's pretty good about sitting still and letting people cut his hair. I've heard of quite a few children who HATE it and cry and scream. I don't want you to think he LOVES it - he doesn't, but he's pretty darn good about it. (I also think he enjoys the large mirror.)

See, he doesn't love it all the time.
A little blow dry...

And viola' - super handsome!

In other news: I made a peach pie last weekend. I was so proud of myself as it turned out lovely AND delicious! Mike and Magoo don't really go for fruity desserts so I've been sharing it with other lady friends - but now the time has come to freeze it into individual slices so Mama can have a little sweetness when she needs it. :)

Friday, August 20, 2010

Summer Sewing

I love me a sun dress. It's my favorite thing to wear in the summer because A.) They're cool and B.) they're cute.

This is the first one I made.

It's a simple halter done with New Look pattern 6980. (The photos blow - sorry. Normally I try to get Magoo to take a picture or two but he was watching TV and couldn't be bothered.) The green fabric is Amy Butler's Floating Buds in sage and the top fabric is cut off of a shirt I liked but didn't wear much. They looked great together! All in all it's not the prettiest dress that I've ever made - but it's more casual than some so I can wear it and not feel dressy.

My old college buddy Jessica sent me a link to a blog called New Dress A Day. This woman is doing a Julie/Julia thing and devoting a year to revamping clothes that she's bought at tag sales and thrift stores (most for $1) and making them hip and current. It's a great blog and it reminded me that I had done this recently as well.

A couple years ago I bought a wrap skirt at a tag sale. It went hip to ankle and I loved the fabric - but I'm not really a full length skirt kind of gal, so I never wore it. (Unfortunately I never snapped a "Before" shot.)

Recently (actually after watching season 4 of Project Runway on Netflix) I decided to pull out my dress form and drape the sucker and see if I could turn it into a twirly, A-line sundress. Here it is.

I did a twirly shot but it looked rather dorky. It's hard for me to look at photos like this without going all Tyra on myself. I decided to opt for a relaxed pose. The dress is pretty simple from the front.

The back turned into a kind of racer back - which I didn't intend but am totally digging - and I added some ties to the side to make it smootherion the front and gather it in the back.

It's a little like an apron.

And here's my favorite part - I braided three strips of fabric for the straps. I saw this in the June issue of Martha Stewart Living (It think it was June.) They were braiding all sorts of things and I thought - it's easy, I don't have to sew, and it looks totally cute. (PS - Note the unicorn in the back garden.)

Boom - done.

This dress is very comfortable and because I was a good little seamstress and tailored it to my body, it fits me really well.

If you like to sew, definitely check out New Dress a Day. It's awesome! (Now I'm dying to go to the Salvation Army!)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Old Couch - New Couch

This is our old couch. We've had it for eight years and my grandmother had it for I-don't-know-how-long so it's truly an old couch. I made the slipcover when I was pregnant so the fabric isn't as old as the woodwork - but still - old couch.

As you can see, it's pretty grimey. Living with the spills and leaks of a growing child will do that. But the cat also had her way with one of the legs and just the general body oils of being the main couch will catch up with a piece of furniture.

So we finally bought a new one.

We can't move the old one out until next week - so the boys are having a final few days of jumping, playing, and squishing each other on the old one.

You know, our old couch was a good couch though. It was comfy. It was sturdy. (For awhile we thought about just getting new cushions and slipcovers. But in the end a spring started busting through and the whole piece was getting kinda wobbly.) So in honor of our old couch, a little walk down memory lane.

Please sing The Way We Were now.
Memories, light the corners of my mind .....

Misty, watercolor memories.....

Of the way we were ....


But now it's time to introduce the new couch. Da da DUM........

It may look smaller but it's really not. It's just that the cushions are fuller, so it looks taller - but it's pretty much the same length. It's the Apartment Sofa from Pottery Barn. I LOVE it!

And now it's time to start making new memories.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Writer's Workshop: No Gas

The latest from Magoo. It's titled No Gas.

Ah, giraffes. They're always there when you need them! :)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Gramma Mary's Butterfly Bush

We were down at Gramma's yesterday and the butterfly bush was the place to be. I must have taken over 100 pictures of the different critters that were flying around. Here are my best shots.

This bee was moving very slowly. I don't know if he was sleepy, drunk, or dying - but he let me get close enough to use my macro lense.


Sunday, August 15, 2010

Pickin' Patch

Friday we went out to the Pickin' Patch to pick some yummy veg of our own. We lucked out by having a beautiful day - low 80's, a little bit cloudy to cut up the sun - perfecto!

Magoo started by pulling the wagon out to the fields. Somehow things changed.

We went out with my friend Jess and her son, Crackers (not his real name - she's not crazy.) Jess is the one who brought me the HUGE summer squash that I made into ravioli. She will come here and clean the place out. Since this was my first time, I wanted to make sure I only took what I could readily use - so Magoo picked out one zucchini for me.

He was happy to help, but what he was really after was bugs. Here he is showing a grasshopper to Crackers.

(Pssst. Don't tell. Jess really caught the grasshopper. One landed right next to her.)

I, wisely, brought my camera along. There were so many cool things to take pictures of. Look at the pale purples that seep into the shadows of the cabbage. Gorgeous!

Gourds. I love them!

I just finished this book called Flash Burnout. It's a Young Adult fiction and it's hook is photography, so the main character is always taking lots of pictures and his teacher gives him pictoral homework. In one of the assignments was to take a photograph where most of the photo had one tone and then a pop of color. That's what drew me to the gourds. They're predominantly neutral and then in the corner - just a pop of teal. I love the texture as well. (I want to take a photography course.)

And tomatoes. I love as they start to change colors and ripen.

More tomatoes!

Finally it was time to head home.

I bought a bunch of roma tomatoes (for sauce and pizza,) a zucchini (muffins,) kale (because it's good for you,) green beans (because Magoo will eat them,) and some illegally picked broccoli (plucked too soon!) Oops.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Summer Squash Ravioli

It all started with a big a** squash.

See. That's no normal sized squash there. Big. A**.

My friend Jessica dropped it by one day with a a few eggplants and another squash that was orange in color. She had just been to the Pickin' Patch in Avon and had loaded up. Because she is a generous person, she made a donation to my veggie fund.

Okay. Now I needed some recipes because I really had no idea what I was going to do with all this veg. But there was something I wanted to try. Ravioli.

I'm not a complete idiot because I kinda knew what I was getting myself into. I knew it would take time. I knew it would be messy. And I knew making gluten free ravioli dough would add to the challenge of it all. But we can't really buy gluten free, dairy free ravioli and I thought Magoo might enjoy it. And I had a big a** squash. The time was now.

So I went online and searched for a gluten free ravioli dough recipe. Found one.
Then I went online and looked for a recipe for the filling - because you know there has to be seasoning and some other little things to do but I have literally never cooked a squash before so I needed some basic guidance. Found one.

The first part of making the dough was easy - all food processor stuff - then chill. Boom.

Later in the afternoon the challenge presented itself. Oh the cussing as I rolled out the dough and it would stick! Add more flour - still it would stick! Add MORE flour...etc. (I should probably note at this point that my kitchen was clean when I started.) Eventually I got the dough rolled, cut, and moved to baking sheets.

In the meantime I had cooked the squash, scooped it, put it in the food processor with nutmeg and some leeks and stuff and made my mush.

I scooped the mush into each one by hand. I wet each ravioli, pressed it, and made my little fork marks. Some turned out better than others. Some tore (more cussing.) Some had too much mush. Some not enough. At some point in the middle of the process the level of the work got to me and I thought, These better taste fantastic or never again!

Here's what they looked like.

With the exception of a few that stuck to the parchment paper when I was trying to transfer them to the pot, they mostly went in fine and cooked up just fine. I cooked a few sausages, poured on the sauce, and cooked some green beans on the side.

They were OK. They were a little doughy - to be honest. I should have rolled the dough out thinner but honestly it was SO HARD to work with as it was that I can't imagine the filth that would have flown out of my mouth if I had tried to go thinner. So, as I ate my dinner, I felt good that I had accomplished something that I hadn't done before - but I felt pretty sure that I wouldn't do it again. But then ...

Magoo loved it.

Oh my goodness - he was so excited! Fortunately I had enough left over to freeze and have another night because he asked and asked for them.

So now I'm left knowing that I will make them again - but I have to learn a few more tricks.

(Two notes: The kitchen was completely trashed when I was done. And, as you'll notice I did not include the recipes because I think anyone might be better off finding a recipe that is perfect for your needs. That said - if you know me and want the recipe, send me an email.)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

This And That

Mike brought me some flowers about a week ago. Aren't they gorgeous! Sometimes it's good to start a blog post with some bright summer colors - don't you agree?

I particularly liked this one. Methinks I might paint it. I have to rev up the watercolor engines!

We recently went hiking up to Heublein tower - not an easy hike, but not a bad one either.

After living in the area for eight years, this is the first time we've hiked up to the tower. Here's a little tip from me to you - if you go up, pack a lunch or a hearty snack. You'll want to take a break and nourish yourself while up there.

And enjoy the spectacular views of Avon and Simsbury!

Sometimes Magoo gets a little sick of me shoving a camera into his face - but not when he's climbed a big rock. Then it's, "Take a picture of me, Mom!"

And finally, you know it's hot when the activity of choice is sticking your head in a water-filled bucket and fashioning mohawks.

Very hip. Very happening, boys.