To Amuse and Delight

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Garden Game

I found this game "The Garden Game" at a thrift store, brand new and factory sealed. I grabbed it because the artwork is very nice. I had no idea how many hours we would spend playing it. You have to take care of your garden despite many obstacles. You must feed your soil, plant seeds, nurture plants, and deal with natural disasters. You get to reap rewards for your choices too, like harvesting and sharing with your community, even having harvest festivals if all goes well.

Over the winter we cozied up at the table with pots of tea and played hours of The Garden Game while dreaming of spring and getting ideas for our real life garden game.

If you play the game well you will reap a harvest. Every spring we each plant something that we like to eat and we are each responsible for taking care of it. My 9YO is pretty good about tending her little space, she was happy to dig  up and eat these sweet mini carrots. 

My 13YO doesn't enjoy gardening or gardens for that matter. She prefers foraging, climbing, catching animals, bird watching, identifying rocks, but not gardening. When we were picking out seeds last spring I urged her to at least pick out one things to grow. She likes salad so she picked mutli colored salad greens. She also read that they would be ready to harvest fairly soon. She planted them and that was pretty much the extent of her "gardening".
I wanted to just let them be, they were her responsibility. 
But every time they were dried out and mostly dead I caved in and watered them. I shaded them. I couldn't help it! I can't just leave things to die needlessly. This is what lettuces look like if you ignore them. Cute little flowers on top and seeds, which I collected. I will plant them this year. My salad loving girl will enjoy eating them and it's fine by me that she dislikes gardening. Everyone has their own thing to do.

Now for this year's cast of far. Yesterday I planted two of my all time favorite things- nasturtiums and beets (you know I love my beets!). I think they are both beautiful and tasty so every year they are top priority to plant. This time the beets are 'candy striped'. I can't wait to see them!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Beet Hand

I love beets, I eat quite a lot of them. So I often have "beet hand". Yes, I know there are ways to avoid this, but I usually don't. One day I was out and about running errands and I found myself hiding my beet hands. Why? Back in the 80's I had beet colored hair. It took quite a bit of work on my part to keep up that intense beet color. Believe me, I maintained it for years. People paint their nails shocking colors. Maybe one day beet hand will be all the rage.
We eat beets plain and simple, as here for part of our tea time snack. Of course we eat them in salads and sauteed with their greens in garlic. But last week I tried something new.
I was making a cake roll which I usually make with pumpkin puree. Not having any pumpkin,  I pureed a couple of small pre-cooked beets and threw them in the batter. Can you believe this amazing color?! So, beautiful and all natural. I thought it may not be too good, the batter tasted a little bit too "beety". I was wrong.
This cake was so good! It was delicious and in no way did it taste like veggies. The deep red color is intense. There is no butter or oil in this cake, but the beets make it very moist. I have never liked red velvet cake because I taste the bitter red food coloring. If you like the look of red cake, but hate the unhealthy dye this is certainly the way to go.
 My desire for more and more color went too far with this one. I was pickling beets and had some room in the jar. Not wanting to waste that lovely color (and flavor), I put in a few hard boiled eggs. Apparently I left them in to long, because...eek! Looks like some day-glo radioactive thing that should never be eaten. Not very appetizing.  Oh well, you can't experiment without having a few blunders. The pickled beets turned out pretty good anyway despite sharing their jar with the crazy eggs.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Yes- another sweater

Another sweater from that dreaded pile is complete! I really like this one. Very cozy and perfect for layering, which I am doing a lot of these days, it tends to go from chilly to sunny hot. This pattern 'Rosa' it is from Louisa Harding, The Design Collection. I stitched it together on the machine again. So far I like better than by hand, for the ease as well as the look of nice tight straight seams. I'll let you know if it causes problems as it wears.
What I love most about this sweater is the belled sleeves. I will definitely make it again, maybe in fluffy moss green.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Making Mushrooms

This has been a week for mushrooms. I was feeling a bit lousy with a cold on Easter morning. Puffy head, runny nose, I sat in church trying to ignore it. My daughter knew just the perfect moment to pull this out of her bag. "Your Easter present", she said and she handed me this adorable crocheted mushroom. Yay! That cheered me on to listen to the Easter message and feed a bunch of people afterwards. It continues to work it's magic whenever I see it. When my daughter was little she was always giving me cute things that she made. Something made out of clay with too many eyes, a scribble drawing that said "I mad thi3 for you" (translation: I made this for you.). But, lately when she writes me a note or makes me something it is worth more to me than all those sweet little scraps from when she was younger. She is 13 now and she knows me more as an equal human being than the "mom" person I was to her when she was small. When the girls were very little sometimes the days were hectic and I longed for them to end so we could all just get some sleep. Now, the days are never long enough to do all the things we want to do. If you have little ones and feel sad thinking about them growing up remember they are still the same people, only much much more interesting. 
A friend forwarded me an email about a homeschool class about growing mushrooms, "Thought this was right up your alley", she said. She was so right. Even though I was on the tail end of my stinky cold we went. We "planted" shitake mushrooms. The first step was to go into the woods where we each got to pick our own host logs. They had a lot of downed trees due to hurricane Sandy, the Red Oak logs were pre-cut for us in manageable sizes. We carried them back and drilled holes into them where the shitake spawn was to be put. Here's my gal doing the drilling.
Next was the inoculation process. Shooting the spawn (which is mixed with sawdust) into the holes.
Next , melted wax is brushed over each hole to seal in the spawn to keep it from drying out.
There they are, logs filled with shitake spawn waiting to grow yummy mushrooms. I can't help but think of the perfect timing of this experience for us, it being Easter week. With thoughts fresh in my mind about Jesus and his resurrection, about how he always makes a way for seemingly dead things to become new. You know these mushrooms cannot even grow on a living log? It has to be decaying. Without the death of theses trees the new amazingly useful "fruit" could never be born.