We’re in the midst of summer vacation.  All the kids are home.  The toddler is trying to give up naps and the baby is trying to give up sleeping.  And we have a vacation coming up so I have to get 6 people packed up for 2 weeks.  My husband packs his own things, thankfully.

I will be back when things settle down.


Pesto and Dinner


Yesterday, I decided it was time to harvest my basil.  There were little flower spikes starting to appear, so I cut it way back.  I got a good armload of basil, so I decided to make pesto.

Pesto is easy.  You gather fresh basil, Parmesan cheese, olive oil, and toasted pine nuts.  There are many other things you can add (garlic, almonds, pistachios, other hard Italian cheeses, etc) but those are the basics.  I think I usually add garlic, but I forgot it this time.  Then you throw everything in the food processor with enough olive oil to blend well.  I never measure anything.  And I always put in a lot of pine nuts.  I love pine nuts.


The armload of basil yielded almost five cups of pesto.  I decided to use two cups for dinner and froze the other three, separately, for later.

Here are the dinner ingredients.  Sadly, only the basil was from my garden.  Our garden space at home is limited by the big trees blocking sunlight to most of the yard.  I plan to come up with a solution when the kids are all a bit older.


I like to have the kids help with dinner when possible (translation: Sometimes, when I’m well rested and feeling very ambitious.)  Son #1 cut up the veggies to sauté.  Son #2 helped pick all the basil leaves off the stems and wash them for the pesto.  Son #3 mostly stayed out of trouble.  Son #4 ran around half-naked and half-potty-trained.  Baby girl intermittently interrupted everything because she wanted to snack and play and have everyone’s attention.

But, somehow, dinner got made.

High protein pasta with homemade pesto, topped with Parmesan, extra toasted pine nuts, and a sprig of basil; zucchini, asparagus, and green beans sautéed  in olive oil; store bought bread with butter the kids made over the weekend.

I used to make things like this every night when we had three kids.  With five kids this is a seriously fancy meal.  We’re not vegetarian, but we generally avoid red meat and meatless days are pretty common.


And here is a dose of reality.  I hate that most people heavily edit their lives on social media so that everything appears perfect.  My life isn’t like that, and I have no problem admitting it.  Here is how my looked kitchen when dinner was half-way made (that means without the dinner dishes!)  Some of the dishes were from the previous day.  It happens.  The rest were from breakfast and lunch.  The dishwasher was clean, but hadn’t gotten emptied yet.  And yes, there was junk on that corner of the floor (it probably fell off of the counter.)  It all got cleaned up eventually.  And I got to bed around midnight.

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I absolutely love all five of our kids.  I do not love the volume of mess, especially dishes and laundry, which they generate.



Straw Bale Garden Part 3: Growing

Since I planted in mid-May, it has been unusually hot and dry.  Unfortunately, straw bales do not hold water very well.  Last summer, with our usual afternoon thunderstorms, the bales were great.  This year the plants are a bit smaller.  I do water them regularly, but the would love a few days of dreary drizzling rain.

We do have tomatoes and peppers starting to grow.  We even have one almost ripe tomato.

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I also have some plants in pots on the deck.  Normally, I would have a hard time keeping those moist as well.  However, we often have a wading pool on the deck.  When we are playing out there son #4 (2 1/2) has permission to water the plants as much as he wants.  It’s a compromise, and it has worked out very well.  My indoor plants were suffering terribly because he decided they needed water every day.  To say the outdoor plants are thriving under the same care is an understatement.

We have lots of green tomatoes and lots of green and white peppers.  I’m waiting for the first blush of color.

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And we have a row of basil in pots.  It’s outside the garden because the deer won’t bother it.  And it’s in pots because it was just easier.  It looks like it is already time to make a first batch of pesto!  I wonder which kid wrote “15” on that pot, and why.



The one big challenge I have had is cucumbers.  Last year they did really well.  This year a critter kept eating my seedlings.  By the time I figured out what the problem was and replanted (the third time) and covered them, the weather had turned bone dry and I wasn’t able to keep them moist enough to sprout.  I planted a fourth time in pots.  I’m going to finally transplant those in the next couple of days.  I also bought some pickling cukes in case the seeds wouldn’t start.  I managed to squeeze the extras in along the fence.

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Blue and Gold

I just got back from 9 days visiting with my parents.  It was so nice to have some extra help with the kids.  There is another vacation coming up later this summer.  Yay!

While visiting, I finished a neutral blanket.  The yarn is Red Heart Boutique Treasure in “Horizon” with the edge in Lion Brand Landscapes in “Ochre.”  While working on the blanket I wasn’t sure whether I liked the color.  Now that it’s edged I really like the patchwork appearance.


I also finally got my sewing machine out.  Seven months ago I moved it out of what was going to be Miss C’s room, and I hadn’t used it since.  I made a few tagosauruses with rattles inside (the one consistently nice sewing pattern I have designed) and put together a couple of baby gifts.

We lost touch with a lot of friends when we married young and started our family almost right away.  We’re coming up on 10 years married and a lot of our friends have only recently started their families or only recently gotten married.  I really enjoy putting together gifts as a way to get back in touch.

I like to include a treat for Mom and Dad (usually chocolate, but can’t do that in this weather!) and some grow-with-me treats for baby: a blanket, a tagosaurus (embroidered if I know baby’s name,) and a book.  And, of course, a little something for any older siblings!

Here is blue, with the “Tidal” blanket, for a brand new baby boy.

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And here is gold, with the “Horizon” blanket for a soon-to-be-born surprise baby.  The little doggie is for the big sister-to-be.  I think this yellow dino turned out super cute!

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Now I just have to get to the post office with all 5 kids in tow.  In really unpleasant heat.  Summer.