Pie Cherries

After discovering last year how good pie cherries could be, I’ve been looking forward to going back to Sherwood Orchards for more. And yet, I almost missed out. A phenomenal cold knocked me out for more than a week, and by the time I dragged myself and the kids to the orchard, it was their absolute last day of pie cherry picking. Whew! When I think of how close I came to missing out for another year, I get chills.

The cherries were sparse, high in the trees, and many were starting to go bad. Also Nathan was dying to leave almost as soon as we got there. That might have had something to do with the fact that his father had promised to play two-person Portal 2 with him when we returned. So like last year, I only got three quarts, enough for three mouth-watering, dish-me-up-some-heaven cherry crisps. I’d been toying with the idea of trying some cherry preserves this year, but I think that will have to wait. Next year…

That Face

There is only half a day’s dirt on this little face. As the weather has heated up, dirt piles have become Ryan’s best friends.

Compulsory Salad

Through much trial and error, I have been forced to conclude that it makes my life better to eat a salad every day. A really substantial salad. As in, this salad should be the majority of my lunch.

I’ve never disliked salad, but I must admit that if I had a choice, I’d rather need a compulsory donut than a salad. “Have to run out for my daily donut!” I’d tell my husband, heading out the door. Of course, I’m pretty picky about donuts; I’ve been spoiled for really fresh, hot-out-of-the-oil donuts, eaten bare-naked or adorned with only the most cursory cinnamon-sugar attempt at modesty. Maybe I’d just have to buy a deep-fryer.

Enough about donuts. The point is, eating donuts has consistently failed to make me feel better. Eating salads, on the other hand, makes my life better. I have reached my peace with that.

But I also know from experience that if I dislike something, even a little, there’s no way it’s going to happen every day. Thus I’ve become compulsively interested in making really good salads. This is a little tricky, since in general I’m not fond of dressings, but making good salads is one of the most critical aspects of getting those salads down day after day. And liking it. (The other key is to pre-wash the greens so I don’t have to fiddle with that when I’m already hungry.)

Most days I’ll do something simple. Sliced pickled snap peas and cheese, with a little of the pickle juice drizzled on for dressing, is a favorite. A squeeze of lemon, some grated cheese and chopped apple is always good. Seasonal tidbits, like fresh peas or blueberries or leftover turkey with dried cranberries… good stuff.

If I’m feeling bolder or more energetic or in need of a change, there can be leftover quinoa or beans, some sauteed mushrooms, or (this is for the days when I need some convincing to make the salad happen) freshly fried and crumbled bacon. Sometimes I candy some chopped hazelnuts and keep them in the fridge for a while, doling out a sprinkle each day.

Because the better I get at making really awesome salads, the more I enjoy my lunch each day. Despite the fact that I’m not having donuts.

Snack Bags

Finally, after literally years of thinking that I ought to make myself some reusable snack bags — voila.

It helped that I found what has to be the simplest pattern for reusable snack bags ever. There are much fancier ones out there, and I considered many — but when I don’t even think about my sewing room most days, much less set foot inside it, simple is better. Much, much better. And these are designed to be tossed in the washer after use, which I like a lot.

What really put me over the edge, though, is that my friend Tiana has been hosting quarterly Craft Days at her house. No kids (except nursing babies) allowed — just ladies with projects. It’s an awesome opportunity to get off my rear and do a simple project. Something that can be prepped ahead of time, so that I don’t have to do any complicated thinking while I’m there. That might get in the way of chatting, after all.

Napless

This picture is funnier if you were there for the preceding “No! I don’t need to yeep!” episode.

Four Days

Dad recently hosted our family for a decadent four days.

For Nathan and Ryan, hanging out with their older cousins was one of the major highlights.

The hose was also highly attractive.

Making homemade ice cream was bested only by…

…eating it, naturally.

Nathan and I hit the woods, although he got bored and headed back on his own. How awesome is that for a four-year-old?

Ryan went native within hours. To be fair, he’s happy to do that at home, too.

Simple games are the best.

The Laptop

Concerned by the prospect of two long-ish vacations this summer, and thus being away from his code for days at a time, Dave invested in a laptop.

Since he is Dave, the laptop is more powerful than any other computer in the house.

The kids discovered this quickly. “It’s not laggy!” Nathan exclaimed while playing Minecraft on it.

Needless to say, it took a few days for Dave to actually take possession of his laptop.