Saturday, June 30, 2012

June goals progress

It's time for another check in on my goals progress. Here's how I did in June.

  1. While I haven't finished revisions on my novel, I did get back to writing. I revised 2 chapters this month. I consider this a win.
  2. I didn't work on the screenplay, but at least I got back to writing.
  3. I have read 18 of the 40 books I hope to read this year. At my current rate, according to Goodreads, I am 1 book behind. While still behind, this is an improvement over last month.
  4. Chris and I went to see a really good Norwegian film, Turn Me On, Dammit!, at the IU Cinema.I highly recommend seeing this movie if you get a chance. Go save it on Netflix if it isn't coming to a theater near you. (IMDb listing) As a bonus, we also saw a movie at the local multiplex. Yes, we saw Prometheus. In 3D.
  5. The boys and I met a group of moms and kids for a hike at McCormick's Creek State Park. We picked the most rugged trail, of course, since it is the boys' favorite, although we only did a portion of it (and not the hardest part). 
  6. While I've had to take this week off from running since Chris is out of town (can't leave the boys home alone yet), I have been running a mile through the neighborhood 3 times each week. I haven't usually gone further, but my breathing is much easier than when I started. And I haven't been getting shin splints. Considering the heat (it's often already warm when I head out to run at 7:30), I'm pretty happy that I can go a mile. I'll worry about getting more distance in the fall when it cools off. If then. A full circuit of our neighborhood is about 1.5 miles, so that might be a good goal to work for at that point.
Overall, not bad progress. I feel like I'm getting back into the swing of things. I just need to find time to do everything I want to do.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

CSA week 8

After a spring full of leafy greens, our CSA share is quite different this week. We're starting to get summer veggies.

This week's box.
There is still plenty of kale, but no more lettuce, kohlrabi, cabbage, beets, radishes, or carrots.

Garlic, onions, potatoes, beans, broccoli, tomatoes and kale.
In all honesty, I'm much more comfortable and familiar cooking with these veggies. I miss the lettuce a bit (although 2 heads a week was a little much), but I'm excited by the tomatoes.

We'll probably make more soup with the kale, although I may mix it up with some pork, white bean and kale soup. I know at least one tomato sandwich is in my near future. And fresh garlic! I've been using the fresh garlic rather than my jar of minced garlic.

Oh, and last night's accomplishment was cooking Swiss chard that was actually good. My first batch was inedible (note to self: skip recipes with vinegar). Last night I sautéed the chard with some fresh garlic and olive oil, a sprinkle of red pepper flakes, topped with a dash of salt and some butter. The butter was overkill, but that's what the recipe called for. Next time, I think I'll either skip the butter or just sauté in butter and skip the olive oil. Also, the red pepper flakes added a little spice, but it would also have been good without.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Swimming lessons

The boys started swimming lessons last week. They are both in the beginner class, which teaches basics like blowing bubbles.

They are both making progress - slow, but progress. Sam is game to try floating on his back and putting his arms out in front of him holding a floaty. Wil is a little more reluctant, but has been trying. He actually volunteered last week when the floaty was first brought out!

Today Wil had a little set-back. He got water in his eyes. He hates getting water in his eyes. Even in the tub (yep, bath time can be fun). So today we stopped and picked up goggles on the way home. I bought goggles for both boys, since Sam decided he liked them too, but I'm hoping they will help Wil feel more comfortable.

We have 3 more lessons. My goal is really just for them to feel comfortable in the water and gain basic skills. We'll definitely do more lessons next year. We may sign them up for the final session in late July/early August this year.

Things to practice at home: have them put their heads back when they take baths, get Wil used to his eyes getting wet, try to float on backs (with head on my shoulder) if we go to the pool, and try to get them on their tummies kicking if we go to the pool.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Clock making

Recently, the boys discovered Cyberchase. I've tried to watch it with them on PBS, but it was on Netflix that they wanted to watch it.

There are only 3 episodes available on Netflix, but one is fro season 4: "A Crinkle in Time".

In the episode, our intrepid mathematics-using heroes are sent to Ticktockia, a land of clocks. They use gears to solve puzzles. In the Cyberchase For Real segment, Bianca learns how the gears on a multi-speed bike work.

Wil was enthralled. He drew and cut out Ticktockians. And asked if we had any gears. He wanted to see the inside of a clock.

I found a clock-making kit on Think Geek.

Guess what arrived today? Yep, the clock-making kit.

Guess what Chris and the boys did after dinner?
If you said built a clock, you are correct.
They built the clock. I forgot to take pictures while they were putting the gears in, but the boys had a lot of fun - all three of them.

Sam adding the hands.
 They followed the directions, putting each piece in.
Wil finishing the hands.

They wound the clock when it was done. The look at pride and delight on Wil's face was priceless. 

Wil really liked putting the clock together. He followed the flow of movement, from the pendulum, to the first gear, to the second. Some move to slowly, he couldn't see their movement, but we traced how each gear turned the next.
Finished clock!
He enjoyed this so much, I won't be surprised if he starts taking clocks and radios and toasters apart in a few years to see how they work. Will we end up cruising garage sales for tinkering toys?

Oh, and while I was shopping at Think Geek, I found a stuffed Cthulhu for Sam. What could be a better way to end an evening than with a boy and his elder god?

Sam and Cthulhu.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Kale strata

The first month of our CSA has been an interesting experiment. We have discovered we like beets and kohlrabi.

But the kale, which we have received nearly every week, has been a test of my (not very good) culinary skills.

Week 1 I made pork, white bean and kale soup. It was pretty good.

Last week I tried kale chips. I'm not crazy about them. Really, the whole reason to eat them is for the salt.

This week I decided to try a strata. I usually make strata with spinach, but thought kale might be an ok substitute. One of the things I really like about strata is its versatility. I can usually clean stuff out of the fridge, changing up the ingredients each time.

My basic recipe is thus:

Make 1 box of Stove Top stuffing, following the directions on the box.
Mix in filling ingredients.
Beat 6 eggs and stir into stuffing mixture.
Pour into greased 8" square baking pan.
Top with cheese.
Bake at 375º for 35 minutes.

Now, the change-up is always the filling. For tonight's version, I very lightly sautéed the kale in olive oil and minced garlic and fried up some bacon to crumble in. I also had some left-over ricotta cheese that I stirred in because cheese always makes it better. I topped it with shredded Swiss cheese, since that was what I had.
Kale, bacon and ricotta strata, topped with Swiss cheese
The verdict: it was ok. The kale is more bitter than spinach, and spinach is better, but this was edible. My three year old ate it without prompting and said he likes kale. My five year old ate with some prompting, but didn't complain.

I do have to say soups seem to be the best use of kale. I have a Zuppa Tuscana recipe ready to go next week if we get more kale (we probably will).