Friday, August 14, 2009

Washington Renaissance Fair

How fun!!!! 
We found out about the Washington Renaissance Fair last week so on Sunday we decided to check it out. The last time we went to one of these was several years ago when we still lived in GA.

As soon as we parked the car, I felt like we had teleported to another time. It is always amazing to me to see how serious some people take this event. We saw all sorts of costumes. The part my kids enjoyed the most was the entertainers that walked about the place. When we first entered we saw a group of pirates hassling people in the pub. There was another pirate in the street walking around with a plank on a rope. We didn't really understand that. we really enjoyed seeing the Queen walking about from show to show with the Royal Court. Sadly, there was no King with her. And the food! Well, let's just say we all looked forward to walking around eating our huge turkey leg (not pictured). Enjoy the few pictures I was able to get.

Sunday, August 09, 2009


The garden is busy with activity!
The only herb we managed to grow was cilantro and that took us several tries to get going.

Finally here!!!!! 
Cherry tomatoes!
We have had tomatoes forever but they just were not ripening. 
Yesterday I noticed that they are on their way!!!!

Here the Roma Tomatoes are still very green!
But forming well!
Next we move on to the cucumbers. 
This summer we are growing two kinds of cucumbers. 

Regular cukes!!!

And lemon cucumbers!

This is the cucumber plant. Look at all those flowers. 

I have seen several bees busy pollinating so I hope we get many more cucumbers!

Onto the pole beans!

We have already harvested many!
We have 5 bean plants but this is the only one which has vined and also the only one that hasn't produced any beans. the others are small and bushy but have given us lots of beans. 
Weird, huh!
When I got these 2 plants all the natives doubted me. They pooh poohed my peppers. Well, guess who has peppers now! :-)
We just got 2 new strawberry plants. They are the everbearing variety! We can't wait!
These are the June bearing ones. The leaves have been doing well and we got a big crop in June but since then the leaves have been turning red. Anyone know why????? Please tell me it is normal!

Yes you read correctly! Watermelon in Western Washington!
Like the peppers I raised lots of eyebrows with my choice, but I think they are doing rather well. Let's hope the warmth doesn't run out before they actually grow. 
And since the weather did turn colder I got some broccoli plants. We have three and we will see how they do. These are a first for us.
So there you have it. A look around my garden. 
How is your garden doing?

Spring Rolls

I have been asked several times for this recipe. It is very simple once you have all the ingredients and a perfect meal on a summer evening when you don't want to eat anything warm.

First gather rice paper for spring rolls. I have found this in the Asian section of my local supermarket. You will also easily find these at any Asian market.

This is the only MUST have for these. All other ingredients are what I use but you can add practically anything you want in them.

I add: 
Green Leaf Lettuce
rinse and let dry

Turkey Kielbasa
cut into strips
and then cook
Bean thread
Put water to boil
Turn off and add threads
Cover and let sit in hot water until soft
You do not boil water with these in them. The hot water will soften and cook them. After they are soft I rinse them to cool them off but leave some water in the pot or they will be difficult to work with.
omelet style which I cut into strips (not pictured)
Here is where you can add other things. My mom makes them with shrimp instead of kielbasa. You could use strips of pork or chicken or beef or tofu. Imagine strips of albacore/ahi tuna or salmon. You can add cilantro if you like it.  
I usually add bean sprouts, but I had none on hand today.
 A local Pho place makes them with Thai Lemon Basil.
The possibilities are endless. You get to pick the ingredients.
Now I prepare all my filler ingredients beforehand. Everything is ready and in bowls on the island waiting for assembly. I put them in front of me from left to right in the order I need them. This would have made a great picture but I just now realized I didn't take one. Oh well! I am sure you get the "picture".
Now you must have a container big enough to fit the rice paper flat. I use this round and flat container.
I fill it with about 1/2 an inch of water and then heat it in the microwave. 
Once it is hot but not too hot to put my fingers in, I drop a rice paper sheet in the hot water.
In about 20 seconds it becomes very soft.
You will have to heat the water after every 4 or 5 sheets. Remember, the warmer the water the faster the rice paper softens.
Carefully take it out and lay it flat on your working surface.
Here starts the assembly!
Place about half of a green leaf lettuce on top in the middle.
Next place some bean threads.
Add your other ingredients.
Begin Rolling!
Fold the left and right sides over.
Then the side closet to you.
Finally, roll the entire thing over 
until you have a cigar shape roll.
Repeat a billion times because I promise you they will eat them as fast as you can make them.
I had to threaten them just so I could get a picture of a full serving dish. 
OH! And don't forget your favorite dipping sauce.
In your house it could be hot sauce!
Buen provecho!

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

College Fair!

This past Sunday the whole family (YES ALL 5 OF US) went to a college fair. First off we did not know how long it would take and the idea of leaving Middle Peep home with Baby Peep did not appeal to Papa and I. They have stayed home before but this was a bit far away (usually I am no more than 5-10 minutes away) and we did not know how long we would be away so into the minivan we all went. Fortunately, there was a place they could hang out at while we went from booth to booth.
I discovered a book that talks about small liberal arts colleges and while I was still reading it (and loving it), someone on my homeschool email list shared about a college fair the organization was hosting. Since I didn't know if they would be coming back to this area and I was really enjoying learning about the schools in the book, I marked the calendar and shared with Papa Peep and Oldest Peep the date.
When we arrived, we filled out a registration card. On one side it asked our name and address and what year she would be graduating. On the other side were all the colleges in attendance and we were free to check off the ones we wanted to contact us further. They had a small 30 minute information session where they introduced their organization....Colleges That Change Lives....and made us feel comfortable and relaxed about the whole process. There were over 200 people in attendance and you could tell all were anxious to get to the booths. When they opened the hall, just about everyone ran over to talk to recruiters. Oldest Peep and I hung back and tried to figure out who would be our first stop. Papa stayed back with the boys to settle them into a game on his iphone. We stopped at Agnes Scott College as we remembered them from our time in Atlanta. As soon as the recruiter said, "All girls....." she lost Oldest Peep. From there we went to The Evergreen State swim team....keep moving. We wondered some more and then settled on Kalamazoo College. Swim Team? Check! Study abroad program? Check! Languages Department? Check! So far so good! We talked to the recruiter (who did not believe I was her mom) and he really sold the school to us. We were both very impressed with what he had to share with us. From there we went to a few others she enjoyed hearing about. What we.....really she.....most learned from this is that she can stand in front of a complete stranger and share with them what she thinks she might want to study, the importance of an active and competitive swim team, and her desire to see the world and interact with it in its languages. We also learned that she needs to work on eye contact and speaking up, but I say not bad for a first time!
To be honest, I did not really prepare her beforehand. We took her without really telling her what a college fair was all about. She was nervous once she realized what it entailed since she is always pretty shy around strangers.
Job well done sweetie! And don't worry, we will have plenty of chances for you to practice over the next few years!!!

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Thanks to Sara at Source: Sara for this find. To be honest I have never heard of Lupe Fiasco but I live in my own bubble. Apparently Papa Peep thinks I am not hip. I disagree!

So where have I been????

I wish it was for pleasure to so some exotic location. No! It has been for sport's practice. The boy peeps were both involved in basketball in the winter, while the girl peep continues swimming. This "spring" season the boy peeps were both involved with baseball and basketball. This, but baseball especially has taken over our lives. There were practices just about every day for someone and/or a game. Madness!!! But I think it all paid off.

Swimming went well this year. Oldest Peep has really enjoyed her new coach after much trial and error with other teams. This coach really understands what motivates her and exactly when to push and when to back off. He has been a positive experience in her life. To top the year off, she earned a spot in her team's relay team for 13-14 girls at the Championship meet and although her shoulder is giving her troubles (rotator cuff issues) she swam well. Her teammates were very happy to have her since we discovered the injury just days before the big event. Her PT dr gave her the go ahead for the two swims and we were all relieved when they were over. For the next month she will focus on strengthening it so she can have another great swim year. The new season starts in September and after only having the last 2 weeks off she is already anxious to get back in the pool.

Sports for Middle Peep went well for him this year. He has really made huge strides in basketball. He has been fortunate enough to have the same wonderful coach for the past 2 years. Sadly this coming year will be the last year he can be on his team. Coach is moving away and Middle Peep is aging up. (Where does the time go??? A question for another post.) Middle Peep has finally become comfortable in the role of point guard and earning double digit numbers for rebounds and assists in most games. He is also shooting the ball more and trusting his instincts. Baseball was a BIG WIN this year. We lucked out again here as he was drafted by the BEST coach in our league (in my opinion). We hope to be as lucky next season. His baseball team only had 2 loses in the regular season to win the division championship and then went on to be completely undefeated in the Tournament of Champions earning their team two trophies and an ice cream party from coach. The coach promised the kids ice cream if anyone hit a home run. Well, middle peep, at bat in the first inning of the last game, hit a 3-run home run. The final score was 10-8 for the win!!!! Go ANGELS!!!

Baby peep had a great sport season as well. His basketball skills improved greatly. He has managed to not push it so hard against the ground causing it to bounce everywhere. He now is smooth and in control. He is also working on a great jump shot. The hoop in the back yard is in constant use between the two boys! Baseball season was a bit tough for baby peep as he was on a team with complete newbies. It took the team several games to figure out how to win together but they did in the end. Baby peep in the meantime learned how to motivate his team and be patient in the outfield. He still much prefers the infield....1st base or short stop but has learned the value of a good outfielder. He is currently working on his pitching as he would like to be a pitcher as well.

As for school wise...well....things are moving....slowly....but moving. I think it has taken us all a long time to adjust to our new seasons here. Also with all our sports activities, getting everything done has been a challenge. I hope to start our days earlier (UGH!) so that we can accommodate everything. With Oldest Peep approaching high school, middle peep put pacing me, and baby peep starting 3rd grade, I need to stay on target! I will save the 2009-2010 school update for tomorrow. For now, thanks to all who have emailed asking me to update. You have been my motivation. I will try to put the blog back on the schedule!

For now enjoy these pictures of our year since the elections!

Always something (or someone) to laugh at!!!
Love Love Love!

Can you feel the love?
Mt. Rainer from our way to L.A.

MamaLee's Birthday Bash in L.A.!!!

There is a teenager in the house!!!!

Are there really all those kids in my house?

Easter Egg Hunt in our neighborhood!

Baby Peep is always in front of the camera!

Go Baby Girl!

Ichiro is the man!!!!!!

Go Griffey Jr.!

Advice from the coach!

STAR FISH at the Tide Pools!

Ready in the outfield!

HOME RUN!!!!!!