Friday, August 31, 2012

Who Needs Storebought Dressup Clothes?

....When you could just raid Mom's closet?

I have never figured out before that my yellow ball-y scarf makes a perfect Rapunzel wig. Tessa did.

If you are familiar with our house and wondering where I am taking this picture from, yes I am IN the bathtub with dried off hands, trying desperately not to drop the camera. It's not that I'm so addicted to the camera that I took it into the tub with me, it's just that when Tessa started being cute I had no choice but to send her to fetch it despite my compromising position.

Okay that may show a little sign of addiction.

If you're wondering if I still bathe with my kids, the answer is yes. Yes I do. See, here's my tub companion during the fashion show.....

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Trying to be Pioneer Woman Again

I mean seriously, how cool is Ree Drummond? I love her in so many ways and now that we have cable, I can watch her show.

Seriously, aside from digging her recipes try reading her movie or confessions blogs sometimes. She's hilarious.

I'm pretty sure that SHE was channeling ME because I had already decide to make and freeze some compound herb butter before she featured it on her blog last week. You're welcome.

I've never made it before though, so her tutorial was super helpful.

Every year we have tons of herbs. I think we get overzealous in the spring and also forget how big the plants like rosemary and thyme get to be if you let them weather over season after season. Remember when I made rosemary soap? Yeah, I think I may be doing that again soon just to use some!

First I grabbed some herbs. Rosemary, Thyme and Parsley. There's at least 10x more than this still outside, plus some basil that regrew after the last time I made pesto. Time to make more pesto! 

After picking and destemming for a while I was like  hey....didn't I buy an herb de-stemmer at a Pampered chef party like 5 years ago? Yes, yes I did and it turned out to be super helpful today. Yay for long forgotten kitchen gadgets! 

We also have tons of jalapenos that need attention but that's not really relevent here. 

I threw all three herbs in the food processor to pulverize. Like baby food but more aromatic. 

Then I tried throwing in sticks of butter but they were too cold and the Cuisinart got all jammed up and I had to empty it out and heat up some of the butter. Meanwhile my kitchen looked like the jolly green giant  had sneezed everywhere. I bet PW doesn't have these problems. 

So I didn't cook it, just took half of it and stuck it in the microwave for 30 seconds to make it more malleable. The warm gooeyness of the nuked butter helped the other butter relax and blend in and all was fine. I added some salt as well, but sadly didn't have a lemon to zest like Ree did.

Extra herbs make a nice impromptu kitchen bouquet. Like my towel? I only have two of them but I love them so much I may have to go back to Joann's and buy more. 

So I did the roll up method that PW outlined but I also wanted to give this a try in silicone molds. I figured this would be an easier way to share them with people. If it works, I might even sell some frozen out of a cooler at our church's craft fair this fall. 

For now, I'm just testing the theory. 

Both the molded and rolled butter got stuck in the freezer. Can't wait to try it on a piece of crusty bread.

I know it looks like dog poop but it's really delicious I swear. 

Ta-da, herb BUTTA!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

That's How We Roll

(I still have my camera set to super vivid until I get tired of it. Excuse the brightness of these photos. Sunglasses may be required). 

I've been playing with Tessa's hair since it was long enough to play with. I've been curling and braiding since she was two, and I think FINALLY....I've finally found the best method for a curly head of hair.

A few things are facts here. Tessa's hair is too soft and fine for curling irons and hot rollers. I've tried and tried. If I can get a curl it only lasts for a couple hours, even with massive hair spray. Another things is that her hair is super straight. It has no curl on it's own.

The girl also hates ponytails for some reason. She will not allow them to happen, which is why you may notice she is never wearing one....even when it would really be much more convenient for Mom. After a couple of years of super short bobs, she has asked to grown out her hair a little longer and has been slowly working on that. And yet, still no ponytails or braids. So to keep her from looking like a tangled ragamuffin, daily styling is required.

Lastly, no 5 year old really NEEDS to have perfectly styled hair. It's all for fun really.

So I've learned this method through trial and error and also from a couple of hair-savvy friends.

The first thing I figured out is that the hair strand needs to be heavily doused with hair gel or mousse. Not hair spray, but something stickier than hardens over night. The second tip is that the strand should be twisted and then rolled. If it's just rolled it will still look nice,  but more fluffy than curly.

I also figured to keep the curlers in symmetric rows. I used to do them more haphazardly and she would have big holes and bumps in the back of her head. I picture my hair dresser back in the 80's and 90's, rolling lady's perms in perfectly symmetric even rows. Minus the stinky chemicals.

The MOST important thing is a tight head wrap. One that especially covers all the curlers on the side that will get laid on as she sleeps. This one is actually a Goody brand hair wrap but a scarf would be fine. As long as it's tight tight tight.

Tessa's is a light sleeper and if I wrap it well, it doesn't seem to bother her at night.

Then sleep! 

In the morning the curls will be Shirley Temple tight, but a good shake and spray puts everything in place. Because of all the product used the night before, very little is required once the curlers come out. 

This is what she looked like before Kindergarten, and it lasted all day. She looked pretty much the same when I picked her up from school. And it's something fun for her. She asked to do it again tonight. I think she likes our 'girly time' in the evening. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Cousins with Campfires

Saturday afternoon, the kids and I left Jeremy all alone with what was left of crush, so we could travel down to Mark's 9th birthday party on the farm.

I'm certain that one of the reasons my kids love going down to the farm is not only to play with their grandparents and cousins, but to have free range to get dirty and crazy a level we don't normally experience in suburbia. Let's just say that night's bath water was black.

We lit up Mamaw's campfire and roasted hot dogs and marshmallows. I somehow got dubbed the official assembler of food on a stick. First tip, never touch the stick with your hand, you'll regret it. 

The birthday boy, age 9....but he looks more like 12 doesn't he? 

I'm almost certain that someone at this very moment was saying 'Charley! Don't run near the FIRE!'.  I think he finally got it after like 2 hours.

Yup, a typical family photo. Nobody is capable of looking normal all at once. 

18 month old Kevin is starting to get some awesome facial expressions.

They set up the tent that we had gotten Bob for his birthday and the kids spent the rest of the night playing in it. Tessa flipped her lid, because she's been asking to go 'camping' all summer. Maybe we need a tent for our backyard. 

I don't know who's weirder here. David sticking marshmallows in his ear or Tessa rubbing her belly while she drinks a soda.

Eight cousins in a tent. That's the whole gang, all of Mamaw's great grandkids. 

The clarity of this picture makes me think I need to buy some under eye cream.

Pretty Pedi Puppy

If you don't paint your female dog's toenails, you really should. It bring out their feminine side.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Bennington Suburban Vineyard Part 1- Crush

I wrote a couple of weeks ago about how, 4 years after we planted them, our grapevines had finally produced enough Cabernet Franc grapes to make a decent amount of wine...and how Jeremy had made and judged wine long ago in a previous life and how he was geeeking out about it all over again.

So I guess technically that is 'part 1' in our wine making chapter for this year...growth and vine care (I'm thinking there's got to by some theological symbolism in there; John 15). And finally after testing the sugar level for a few weeks, Jeremy declared it time to harvest.

We did that yesterday. And by we, I mean I helped for a few hours and then split town with the kids to go to Mark's birthday party. So it was mostly Jeremy. And today...his back hurts

We started the day by 'racking' his previous batch of wine from the plastic tub to the glass carboid, meaning it was done with primary fermentation, done being stirred and tested, and ready for the long rest in the glass. This was from the juice that Jeremy had purchased from a wine store, in attempt to re-hone his skills.

So if you want to do this without the pain and mess of growing  your own grapes, buy a big jug of grape juice!

I had my camera set to the 'super vivid' setting that I recently discovered, which worked out so perfectly for the outdoor pictures. A little heavy on the saturation color of people's skin....but overall a very nice affect.

Some of these are downright frameable.

We filled this two gallon bucket 11 times.

Tessa helped a little but really wanted to return to her Saturday morning cartoon watching. Kindergarten is tiring, you know. Charley found a neighbor to run around with.

I did this for a long time. The  grape must (or juice with seeds and skins on) can have no stems or leaves or rotten/green/crusty berries in it so we picked them off one by one. This was more than a little tedious (says the lady who skipped town after three hours).

Doesn't everyone have Lego guys mixed in with their wine making supplies?

Pick pick pick. Then sanitize in a sulfur cocktail. Then little by little, we smushed them with a potato masher.

You'd be surpised how much elbow grease it takes to get this much must. This is what red wine looks like in the beginning. The skins will give the juice it's dark color and tannins, then be filtered out later. If it were white wine, it would ferment with no skins.

Yes I took a wine class at Purdue, people.

Oooh...trippy fish eye grapes.

In the end we had 9 gallons of must with Jeremy thinks will make 2-3 cases of wine. Today he played mad scientist and added his yeast mixtures which made the must expand in the container and also begin that interesting fermentation smell.

Every day we have to 'punch the cap' 3 times (meaning push down the floating skins so air can get in). And when primary fermenation is done, this too with be tranferred to a glass carboid with a bubbler on top to release gasses created by the yeasty chemistry inside.

Punching the cap always reminds me of when Jeremy did this in college. I actually stopped by his apartment more than once to punch the cap when he was too busy to do it himself. That's love, people.

Until the next step...we wait!