tonight I am feeling 'artsy'

The Des Moines Art Festival is in full swing this weekend.  We decided to try out the Friday night scene in order to avoid the heat of last year's humid and hot adventure.  While the weather cooperated, the crowds were so thick I found myself needing to breathe deeply and slowly until we could find a break in the traffic flow and jump ship.  Maybe I just don't get out enough ....... or maybe I am just getting intolerant of unapologetic pushy and rude behavior.  Either way, Dave encouraged me to 'let it go' and enjoy being out with the kids in a pretty cool environment. 

such an awesome building sign.  The color saturation was fantastic!

The festival is a family friendly event, with many local businesses setting up booths with art projects for the kids.  At one point Ben was molding some clay and trying to make it resemble on of the on-site sculptures (see photos below), when one of the volunteers came over and asked him if he was having fun.  Ben looked up, cocked his head to the side, and announced "Yeah ..... tonight I am feeling a little artsy!". 

Maddi was feeling a little 'artsy' herself

I will make a note to remind myself next year to make it back down the festival with just Dave or Maddi so I can meander along and actually LOOK at the art, instead of looking for ways out of the crowd.  While avoiding the masses, we found ourselves spending a good portion of the time roaming through the Pappajohn Sculpture Park.  Another place I need to put on my list of locations to revisit.

air gets into everything and nothing 
Ugo Rondinone 
enamel on aluminum

Deborah Butterfield

MOONRISE. east. August
Uno Rondinone
painted aluminum, steel
(BEN.  Amy & Dave Berger  skin and bones)

The most fun moment was when Maddi, Ellie and I joined up with about 20 other festival visitors to participate in shooting an interactive animation for Tiny Circus.  The director was on the field with the group while a photographer was in a crane basket, approximately 50 feet in the air, shooting photos of the top of our heads.  The people formed a 'hillside' while a big cardboard ball 'rolled' along.  The completed film will be available on YouTube in a couple of weeks, and you can bet I will share it here when it does.  Check out some of their current films on their website.  BTW, this is the same thing Maddi does with her short-stop films ...... only on a much smaller (and cheaper!) scale.

The director would yell "Circus" and we would all moved a step to the vertical right.  Then they would take a photo from above.  Repeat about 100 times!


sometimes you have to look closely

My family, and our 'peeps' in the know, always enter our home by walking up on the back deck and sliding open the back door.  We do this mainly because of the set-back and detached garage.  It just makes sense to hop out of the car and take the path of least resistance ....... especially when weighted down with groceries and screaming smiling kids.   

As you step up on the deck, you can catch a glance of the backyard and one of the vegetable gardens.  Usually I enjoy the view and take an extra moment to scan the progress of the plants and make mental note of any hearty weed patches to attack at a later time.  Lately, however, I have found myself dropping my chin to my chest while making a bee-line for the door.  The above average rain totals coupled with abundant storm activity have left my yard and garden patches a swampy mess.  Nothing I, or anyone else, would want to stop and admire.

When I woke up this morning, squinting at the rays of sunlight bursting through the window, I decided I would grab my camera and head out to the gardens and purposely look for the pretty ......... sometimes you have to look closely.

The colors and textures never cease to amaze me. 

We have never planted corn, so I was quite surprised to see a root system (brace roots - I Googled it) above ground.  So interesting!

The wind blows ever so gently and the anthers (Google again)
shimmy and shake.

Roma tomatoes this year ...... hoping to make some salsa!


These cherry tomatoes will barely ripen before the nimble fingers of my children will pluck them from the vine and pop them into their mouth


Look!  It's a teeny tiny pepper!

A cucumber blossom ...... the ONLY pretty part of the plant (I really dislike the fuzzy, prickly stems)

This delicate white blossom will make way for a lovely long green bean. 


Another cherry tomato plant, but this one is in a container on the back deck.  I think this photo is funny because you don't expect to see a minivan as the backdrop.

Today I looked at my gardens, closely, and started to smile about it again.


i miss

I miss this quiet space.  I used to come here and share a thought or two, uninterrupted.  Now I am surrounded by the constant noise of my three children and three cats.  I think I just wanted to sneak in here for a moment to breathe and to serve as a written reminder for next year when I start looking forward to summer break.

Yes, we are staying up late and enjoying the lack of structured bed time routines.

Yes, we are sleeping in later and staying in pajamas until we have to be dressed.

Yes, we are having adventures and enjoying new discoveries.

However .......

No, I am not able to complete a thought or a sentence without (wait ..... Ben just came to ask a question ....) interruption.

No, I am not enjoying making so many meals during the day, despite placing hours of 'open' and 'closed' for the kitchen.

No, I am not above paying my oldest to watch the younger two while I go out and grocery shop by myself

And to prove I have not off'd my kids, here they are enjoying a local treat = tropical sno! (Maddi will no longer tolerate my photo taking in public)

Jasper ..... all 1.2lbs of him


new bling

I am not one to adorn myself with much jewelry, preferring to stick with basics.  Lucky husband!  Don't get me wrong ..... I love diamonds and gems and all things pretty; but mainly I like to see them on other people.  Me, not so much.  'Plain Jane' in the jewelry department describes me best.

I am one, however, to support local artisans in their talents and I did just that on Saturday at the Ankeny Farmer's Market.  I have been admiring the bibbles and baubles of Wendy Rains all year long, as she was Ben's kindergarten teacher (and a totally fabulous one at that!) and was always decorated in her latest designs.  As I worked in the classroom more and got to know Wendy, I discovered she is a very talented glass artist and sells her wares in various local markets.

You can find Wendy and photos of some of her work on her facebook page, as well as a summer schedule of events where she will be showing and selling her artwork. Once you see and touch and feel her jewelry you will want to snatch one up for yourself, then maybe grab a few for friends and family. 

What can be better than looking good and supporting a local teacher and artist?!

Wendy will be mad at me for posting this photo, but I just love how happy she is and how her hair is flying up and making a heart shape.  Do you see it?! 
Forgive me please, pretty please Wendy!


close to home

This week's farmer's market trip was spent close to home.  Since I visited 2 other local markets during the week, I thought I should save on gas and stay local.

Veggies:  green onions, garlic braid and kohlrabi

Herbs:  cilantro

Fruits:  tomatoes

Meats:  fryer chicken

Treats:  honey glazed snack mix & honey candy (3 Bee Farms)

Handmade Goods: 2 crochet top kitchen towels

I also purchased some jewelry, but I will save photos and description of those pieces until another day.  For now, I am going to go outside and enjoy this rare rain free day!!!!


call me the crazy cat lady

Remember back when I introduced this little fuzzy face to the family? Alice / Lalice / Spalice / Meepers / He / She ......... all these names and more. How can you turn away a stray?

Who today is a healthy 7month old feisty kitten who loves water and ankles.

And let us not forget George / Deorge / Francis Allen Aboo / Old Man ...... who not only forgets Alice exists, but often mistakes the napkin holder for emanate danger.

So, when Saturday comes along and I decide to take the girls on a road trip to visit a local creamery, why wouldn't I fall prey to this?:

Free Kittens! Because the mama cat disappeared and the owner of the farm where the 4 kittens were born (under a deck) already has 14 cats and she will now have to take these adorable kittens to a rescue center and they already know how to use the litter box and they are eating soft food and ............... Yeah.  But, just one!

Besides; look how happy they both are with each other.

Alice thinks he is pretty okay, but not big enough to play with yet.  George is too old to care.

So, we will hold him and love him and call him Jasper / Tank / Mister Moo /

And you can call me the cat lady.


free shower

This week I turned the volume of my alarm on LOUD so I could get up and out the door for my weekly fix visit to the Farmer's Market.  This week Rebecca braved the torrential downpour with me as we floated from booth to booth.  I felt sooooooo bad for the vendors who lost their produce and products to the nasty weather.  Everyone get out there next week and buy fresh, buy local to make up for the losses!!!!!!

The rain didn't stop me from stocking up on:

  • Eggs (BGF)
  • Feta (RDA)
  • Green Onions
  • Rainbow Swiss Chard (BGF)
  • Asparagus (Ankeny Market)
  • Garlic Scapes (BGF)
  • Peas
  • Confetti Quinoa (Paul's)
  • Blue Cheese Crumbles for Sara (Maytag)
  • Sunshine Granola (Paul's)
  • Honey (Rinehart Family Farms)
  • Kohlrabi (Ankeny Market)

What will I DO with everything?  Glad you asked.

- The eggs will appear in baked goods as well as either a frittata or breakfast burritos.

- The feta, swiss chard and green onions will glorify my daily lunch salads.  I may also use the greens to make green smoothies.

- The bowl of peas will serve as a side dish to dinner tonight, as long as I can keep everyone from grabbing them as they walk through the kitchen.

- Garlic Scapes.  We will try this fun green in a pesto and serve it over noodles.  Maybe even as a veggie dip. Right now they are in water and adorning my kitchen table as a centerpiece

- The confetti Quinoa will be cooked in chicken broth and served with grilled pork or grilled chicken.

- The Maytag blue cheese crumbles will be inhaled by Sara; my guess by Thursday ;)

- Sunshine Granola will be my little treat to munch on throughout the week.  Hear that, family?????

- Honey is my new sweetener.  I am trying to move away from refined white sugar and artificial sweeteners.  Loving the taste it is adding to my breads!

- The kohlrabi is for my hubby, who loves to slice it and eat it raw or dipped in a little blue cheese salad dressing.

Are you hungry yet?


strawberry fields

I have been anxiously waiting for strawberry season to arrive because ..... get this ...... I have never picked the berry delight straight from a field.  ::Gasp::  I know!  The shame is almost to much to admit.  So, when I got a notice (PING on iTouch ...... awshumness) from Ceesa that we were to pick berries this morning, I was thrilled ecstatic ho-hum about it because that meant I needed to get up and ready with 3 kids and out the door by 7:30am.  You know, like I did all school year.  But, this is summer people!  Time for lounging!  No alarms clocks!  Oh, well. 

Actually it was pretty nice getting up and out early.  The kids were excited and I was all pumped up about the yumminess that I was going to create with those succulent berries.

I put those kids of mine to W-O-R-K

I see you sneaking that berry, Ben. 

Yes, I see your perfect strawberry.  Now .... get back to W-O-R-K

Berry picking is soooooo much better with friends

Awwwwww.  We match

9.19 pounds

These babies are already rinsed, hulled and moved along the line to their destination.  Some were frozen for smoothies, others were mashed and made into a simple syrup to be used in a pie this weekend, several handfuls were baked into a quick bread and the rest are for snacking.

Thank you Berry Patch Farm!  We will see you in the coming weeks for raspberries, blueberries, sour cherries, blackberries ........ whatever you are willing to let us pick.


loose lips

Day 2 of summer vacation and these are just a few of the phrases that I heard myself utter .......... all before 11:30am

"Stop yelling my name and come and find me!"

"If you want clean clothes I have to do laundry.  To do laundry I must be free from doing something else for you.  Do you want clean clothes?"

"I will come and wipe your butt in a minute."

"George threw up where?"

"Close. The. Front. Door."

"You are old enough to ....... (insert action)"

"Who used the last of the toilet paper?"

"Why are you dressed in layers and long pants?  Dude.  It's summer."

"No, you may not eat Milk Duds at 9:43am."

"If you are going to come in here and tattle on someone, there had better be blood involved."

"Everything in the living room is going in the trash if it is not picked up in 5 minutes.  GO!!!!!!!"

"George pooped where?"

"No, you may not have Milk Duds at 10:17am"

Ahhhhhhhhhhh.  I love summer break.


plan B

Do you ever have one of those days where plan B happens more than plan A? And plan B really isn't a plan at all ...... just a fly by the seat of your pants reactionary kind of thing.

Plan A:  

1.  Wake up super early and take Maddi down to the farmer's market.  I was not able to go last week since we were out of town, so I was VERY motivated to go.  

2.  Cheer and jump and 'whoot-whoot' for Ben during his 9am t-ball game.

3.  Look around at the Ankeny farmer's market before they close at 12Noon.

4.  Go to Wheatsfield to stock up on some bulk grains.

5.  Cook and clean and maybe sneak in a nap since I woke up so early.

6.  Make birthday dinner for Dave and watch 'Alice in Wonderland' DVD that I reserved earlier at the RedBox.

Plan B:

1.  Apparently you have to turn the volume up on your iTouch alarm if you want it to actually wake you.  Too late to get down to the market and back before the game.

2.  Fall back asleep and wake up right before the game is due to start; run into the living room to see if anyone is around, only to hear the game has been canceled due to rain.  Decide to get ready and hit the Ankeny market.

3.  Remember you haven't made contact with your mom and proceed to make half a dozen phone calls trying to track her down.  Get hung up on.  Get placed on hold ...... indefinitely. Try to call siblings only to get voice mail.  Start to cry and maybe cuss a little.  Husband takes pity on you and locates Mom on the first try.  Too late now for the market.

4.  Go to Wheatsfield to stock up on some bulk grains.

5.  Cook and clean and go pick weeds since I slept in and don't deserve a nap.

6.  Dave decides to make dinner.  Explain to the family we won't be watching 'Alice in Wonderland' because, you guessed it, I forgot to reserve the movie and now the RedBox is all out.

But, hey! LOOK up at both number 4's!  Plan A all the way, baby!


for your viewing pleasure

Day 1 of summer break and Maddi has already produced a stop motion video.  Have I mentioned how much I love this child?