Outside

I adore that the weather is warming up so much. I love that the kids have so much more room to play, and even to “help” me with such vital and necessary tasks as moving strawberry plants.

(No, I did not buy more strawberry plants. I am aware that we have an insane number already on the property, and they propagate at an alarming rate. But my neighbor offered me some freebies of a variety I didn’t have, and what could I do?)

And I love lunch outside. I suspect that the ants love that too. Someday we might even have a table to sit at, but for the moment, the front step is plenty good enough.

Another New Toy

If I’m being completely honest, I’ll have to admit that Dad’s new small tractor was not really exciting to me. I was happy for him, don’t get me wrong — the same way he would be happy for me if I got a snazzy new sewing machine. “Look, it has a built-in walking foot!” I’d say, and he would agreeably tell me that yes, that was very snazzy.

No, the acquisition that I was excited about was something else — something that didn’t appear until Bob and Amy delivered it Saturday evening.

This is a kayak, but one that you can propel using foot pedals. (It also has paddles, if you get in the mood.) It has been a long, long time since I was out on the water, but I like boats and so was very excited that the weather was good and we had a chance to try this one out.

Dad and I rather monopolized its maiden voyage, although we did manage to get both of the kids out for a short ride. We had no kid-sized life jackets, so we had to stay close to shore, but really a taste was all we were aiming for.

This was fun. I am determined to come back for another visit this summer, maybe staying an extra day or two, so that we can play on the boat all we want. Ok, maybe all that I want.

A New Toy

We were at my dad’s for this incredibly beautiful weekend, and we got to see his new toy.

It’s a riding lawn mower (or, as we prefer to call it, a small tractor) which lets Dad pull around an enormous, 500-lb lawn roller. As you will undoubtedly see from the picture, this is amazing fun for boys of all sizes.

Worth Waiting For

Three years ago I planted asparagus seeds.

Two years ago I transplanted my tender young plants to a nice big bed, with lots of compost.

Last year I nibbled one or two of the young shoots and hoped that wouldn’t stunt their growth too much.

But this year… This is when it starts to pay off.

Most of my asparagus plants are Purple Passion. I expected that fresh asparagus would be tastier than store-bought, simply because I could pick it just minutes before consumption. But I have been absolutely blown away by how amazing this asparagus is. For our first taste, I threw a few spears into the remains of a store-bought bunch (admittedly nearly a week old). The difference was astounding — our homegrown spears were so sweet, it was like they were a different vegetable. Since then I’ve been eating them raw, like carrots, and chopped up on salads.

There have been times in the past few years that I’ve wondered whether all this waiting was really worth it. And oh, yes it was.

Third Time Lucky

Twice before I’ve tried to make chocolate-covered marshmallow eggs. The first time I didn’t really know how to make homemade marshmallows, and I wasn’t sure that they set up properly. Plus I took some advice about using the back of a spoon to make the egg molds. (The marshmallow is molded by forming egg-shaped depressions in a pan of flour.) Maybe some people have much deeper spoons than I do, but even those that seemed to set up a little were awfully thin and wimpy looking.

The second time I was more experienced at making marshmallows, and was halfway through the recipe before I pulled flour out of the back of the pantry to make the molds. I only then discovered that the flour was so old that it had been infested with little bugs. (It was the last of my old white flour, and I’d switched to whole grains quite a while ago.) There was no way I was molding marshmallow eggs in that.

But this time everything worked: I had fresh flour, made the molds up ahead of time, and used a tried-and-tested recipe for fresh strawberry marshmallows. Voila! Beautiful egg-shaped marshmallows (well, half-egg-shaped, to be fair) ready for chocolate dipping. I even remembered how to temper chocolate.

Now for the bad news: I’m not sure they’re worth it. Oh, they’re good — they’ve been devoured at an appropriate rate by all members of the family. But for that much effort, I have to admit that I’d rather have truffles.

Mmmm… truffles…

Minecraft Block Candies

Now that I’m thinking about making Minecraft-related things, I can’t seem to stop. When I decided this year to get out the candy-making equipment for some Easter candies, I was hit with an irresistible idea: square candies mimicking Minecraft blocks.

Technically these should be cubical, but I didn’t have a cube mold, only some square ones. I whipped up some marshmallow fondant for the fillings, and pretty soon was busy coloring compound coating and painting the insides of my molds. I made grass blocks (mint), snow (vanilla), diamond (raspberry) and sand (orange).

I had plans for more, including a gold ore block filled with bits of lemon crunch candy embedded in chocolate. It turns out, though, that making molded candies with small children as “helpers” falls into the “extremely frustrating” category of projects. I thought it would be a project that they could get into, and maybe help with pressing the little bits of fondant into the shells. It turns out to be a project that they can’t help but get into — as in, little fingers into things all the time. The temptation of sweet candy and chocolate goodness was almost too much for Nathan, and way, way too much for Ryan to handle. Maybe we’ll share more of this fun as they get older.

Applesauce Have Apple In It

Ryan recently internalized a new and great — even world-altering — truth. Stuff is made of other stuff. As far as I can tell, this realization occurred sometime around when he first told me, over a bowl of applesauce, that “applesauce have apple in it.”

Perhaps it was my pleasure with his deduction (since I don’t for a moment believe that he actually remembers how I made the applesauce), but for whatever reason he’s been very pleased himself with that statement. He’s extended his realization every chance he’s gotten. Unfortunately, like so many people, he’s gotten caught up in the semantics and has generalized from there. Thus:

  • Apple have apple in it. (The trivially true base case, but I assume he’s just being thorough.)
  • Marshmallow have marsh in it. (Ok, if he was familiar with the actual marshmallow plant, I could stretch to meet this one. As it is…)
  • Canned peaches have can in it. (Sorry babe, you lost me.)

Perhaps he senses that we are less impressed (although more amused) by his later attempts. He frequently drops back to his original statement — approximately every time he tastes, sees or (we guess) thinks about applesauce. It’s as though he grasps that there’s a grain of an idea, here… if he could just put his finger on it…