Saturday, July 25, 2015

Dying Tomato Plants

Every year I plant two tomato plants. My garden is very small, and I get fresh tomatoes in my farm share. So two plants work well for us. This year, I started Amish Paste tomato plants from seed. The seedlings were healthy, and once in the garden, I trained them and pruned them so they wouldn't get out of control. I have to say, all in all, I was feeling pretty proud of myself. Then some leaves died and bumps formed on the vines, and now green tomatoes are starting to drop. I think it is a bacterial infection. Which means I have to pull the plants, and I can't plant tomatoes in that bed for three years.

I love watching tomatoes ripen through the summer. I love eating them fresh off the vine, and I absolutely adore that end of summer ritual - when we pull the plants out of the ground, we strip all the remaining green tomatoes off. Last fall I made a fermented green tomato salsa. It was by far my favorite ferment.

There are a few green tomatoes on the vines right now. I'm pretty sure they are safe to eat depsite the vine's disease. Fermenting works best when the temperature is in the mid-60's, but is still possible in the 70's. We're having a mild summer, and my basement is a little cooler than my kitchen, so I am going to try fermenting them.

I'm also going to plant a little fall crop in the space where the tomatoes are right now. I have some kale seeds and some carrot seeds. I'll try one of those.

The first image is what the plants look like now. They were twice as full a couple of weeks ago. The second shows dying leaves. The third show the bumps on the vine.



Thursday, July 23, 2015

Flyaway Katy and Messy Outdoor Art

Today we did "Messy Outdoor Art." We put out a big piece of paper on the sidewalk, anchored with bricks. I got out our most washable paint (Crayola is my favorite for this) and a selection of brushes, texture tools, and toy cars. Rather than putting the paint into cups, we put blobs of paint directly on the paper. We ran the cars through the paint (my favorite part), and dipped the texture tools, brushes, and our hands into the blobs of paint. Eventually messy outdoor art led to the kids pretending to be Flyaway Katy. When Alessia was quite little we discovered this book at our local library, and we highly recommend it. Katy is stuck inside with no one to play with on a grey, grey day. She decides she needs a little color, and puts on yellow tights, a pink dress, and her blue blue shoes. It isn't enough though. So she paints her face purple, orange stripes on her arms, and her fingertips purple. While waiting for the paint to dry she flies into a painting of colorful birds and spends the rest of the day with them, before flying home for her bath. The first time we read it, I could see Alessia's eye light up. So I set two ground rules, we spend some time painting on paper first, and we don't paint our faces.

Today, after the fun of playing with paint on paper had worn off, the girls set themselves to being Flyaway Katy. They painted stripes and polka dots on their arms and legs, and flew around waving their wings. When it was time to come inside, Alessia reminded me that the story ends with Katy flying home for a bath, and upstairs we went for a quick rinse before dinner.



Thursday, July 9, 2015

Raising Opposites - Part Two

Alessia wakes up talking. It starts with a shouted "mamma/daddy come see if I'm awake!" If the wrong parent opens her door, she says "I was hoping for mamma/daddy." Then she launches immediately into a story or she picks up on a half finished conversation from yesterday.

Olivia murmurs or at most mutters "mamma, mamma" when she wakes up. When I enter the room she gives me the biggest smile and reaches out her arms wordlessly for a hug. It can take her several minutes to wake up enough to start talking, and when she does it's quiet and sleepy.

A few weeks ago we took our easle outside to paint. Alessia stood, both feet planted, and contemplated her paper. She dipped her brush into one color at a time and put a great deal of thought into each mark that she made on the paper.

Olivia started with the fattest brush in the can. She dipped the brush into multiple colors and made broad strokes, taking a fencer's stance and working with her whole body. By the second piece of paper she had tired of the brush altogether and painted with her whole hands.


Thursday, July 2, 2015

Olivia at Three

Olivia is my snuggle bunny. She is cuddly and cute. She stamps pictures on small pieces of paper, and then offers them to me as books and asks me to read them to her. She can make Alessia laugh and is in general a charmer.

She is also the terror of the household. When she's mad she hits and screams at Alessia, and when she decides to have a three-year-old style meltdown, she can spend a half hour looking for reasons to scream no at me. She will march into a room full of toys and other kids and start playing, but if one of those other kids touches her she screams in protest.

She told me yesterday, in a very serious tone of voice, "mamma, I like pretty things. I like fancy things." When we have peanut butter for snack she wants the little silver teaspoon with the flowers on it. She prefers the jeans with the embroidered flowers down the leg, and likes the girly, blousy t-shirts which she calls "dresses."

A few weeks before her third birthday, she had "milk" for the last time. She's a little sad about it, but overall the transition has gone really well. She has transfered all her attention to my belly button, which is very funny.






Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Stuff on Bread for Dinner

We're having one of our favorite dinners. Stuff on bread. I made gf bread and am setting out a wide assortment of stuff that goes well on or with bread. I've found that this is a good way to use up bits of this and that and to provide one dinner for a family with varying tastes. Alessia is a picky vegetarian. Olivia is a picky toddler with allergies. So here it is:

A third of a tub of hummus

A chunk of goat's cheese for Olivia

A chunk of cow's cheese for Adam

A crudite plate made up of half a red pepper leftover from a different meal, the carrots left from Alessia's lunch, and the second tub of buy-one-get-one-free cherry tomatoes

A bowl of hard boiled eggs

Steamed green beans (Alessia's favorite)

Arugula and chive salad from the garden (for Adam and me)


Sometimes I open a can of sardines with this meal. Sometimes I take out some olives. If there's a leftover sausage in the fridge, I slice it up and the meat-eaters among us each get a bit. Whatever goes.



Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Alessia's Story with Parenthetical Notation by Mamma

Bugs Bunny opened a snack shop after closing his barber shop (Bugs Bunny's Barber of Seville). The snack shop is at the Amtrak station (we take Amtrak to see my family in New Jersey each summer). Amtrak is having a free day (the MBTA had a free day a few weeks ago). Dogs are allowed on the Amtrak (unlike in Cynthia Rylant's book Mr. Putter and Tabby Take the Train), but cats aren't, because they don't like to go for walks (which is why the new water fountain on the Greenway is for dogs and not cats). Your allowed to blow bubbles on the train since it's warm outside (summer=bubbles), and the train has a snack car (a highlight of our annual Amtrak trip).
At this point I needed to go make dinner, so I'm not sure where the story went from here.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Raising opposites


Alessia is a vegetarian. Olivia will tell you her favorite food is meat.

Alessia withers in the face of criticism. Olivia laughs at us when we put her in time out.

Alessia is a plain Jane when it comes to food. She likes her beans straight out of the can. Olivia has been dubbed "the spicy girl." She likes salame and prefers her beans cooked with tomatoes, onions, and bacon.

At the Museum of Science a few weeks ago, some little boys took away the play nectar Alessia was feeding her baby bees. She looked at them as if to say "I don't need this" and stomped off to become a bird. At the same time Olivia charged straight up to the boys, tore the nectar out of their hands, and shouted "these are mine!"

Alessia breastfed for a week. Olivia still has milk twice a day.

Alessia eats plain tortillas. Olivia only likes them wrapped around meat, preferably Yucatan pork, thank you Uncle Anthony.

Alessia is a daydreamer. She is always the last one at the table, eating her peas one at a time by hand. Olivia eats with great focus and NEEDS to be let down from the table when she's finished.

Alessia stays up later and sleeps in later. Olivia likes to be asleep before 8:00 and is up at the crack of dawn

And we love them both. And they might not say it much, but they love each other.