Thursday, August 30, 2012


How is it August 30 and I have had only 3 whole things to say?

This girl has been busy.
But that sweet little curly-headed boy of mine is about to have a birthday.

I'm going to dig up some photos and cry a little.

But not tonight. I have to go to bed.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Canning Your Own Food: Athletic and Dangerous

Canning food is a long-standing family tradition for the Minors.
I can remember Grandmom spending hours prepping peaches, making relish, pickling beets, and freezing lima beans.
I grew up with my mom canning food from the backyard garden - string beans, tomato sauce, and homemade applesauce.

I even have peach-peeling post traumatic stress disorder from the summer of 1997 or so.
Mom decided she wanted A LOT of peaches for the winter.
I think I washed and peeled peaches for at least three days.
Without sleeping. Or eating.

This year, having my own garden has made me think rather fondly of the time I spent helping preserve our own hard-earned food.
Even the traumatic peach event has been glossed over in my mind.
Kind of like childbirth.

Have you ever read an article on canning your own food?
Stories of jars blowing up, pressure canners blowing up, disease, spoiled food, and they always say it is imperative to refer to the USDA guidelines for temperature and boiling times.
Scary. Scary. Scary.

I begin.

Google told me I could put the whole peaches in hot boiling water for 45 seconds, then dunk them in ice cold water and the skins would fall right off.
REALLY wish Google existed in 1997.
I didn't even have a cell phone in 1997.

It still took a solid 2 hours to prep a minimal number of peaches.
My kitchen counters were covered in sticky peach syrup, including a drip trail to the garbage.
In addition, the jars all had to be sterilized in the dishwasher, a sugar syrup had to be concocted and be boiling, but only boil for 5 minutes, then remain hot, and all the jar lids had to be sterilized by boiling for 5 minutes, then remain hot but not boiling because they have to be put on the hot jars while hot.
But not boiling.

My kitchen is not equipped for this level of multitasking.
If you don't follow the directions exactly, you could give your family and everyone you know some sort of strange mold disease or botulism, because your jars won't seal.
And you will die.

Now would be the time to mention that while Grandmom canned lots of things, peaches were always frozen in her house. And our house.
But no, I decided I needed the experience of full fledged canning my first time out.
I am an idiot.

By now, I have dredged my entire boob - a boob that is still wearing pajamas at 2pm - through a puddle of peach juice in an attempt to get good photos of this fiasco.
I banished the children from the kitchen.
I could not answer the phone because my fingers were covered in glop BUT REALLY because I couldn't even handle talking on the phone for a minute while trying to figure out if the hot packed peaches were overcooked in the syrup, if the jars were hot enough, did I pack the peaches tight enough, and oh crap, did I let the lids cool down too much?

Because we will all die from disease if I mess this up.
I was sweating and panic stricken.
By the way, don't schedule anything or anywhere to be on "canning day".
You can't leave your house and will barely be able to leave the kitchen.
Because you will miss something and you will kill your family.

This is a hot water bath canning pot.
You need to know your altitude above sea level to know how long you have to boil the filled jars.
And if you don't boil long enough? Disease. If you boil too long? Ruined, wasted effort.

I pressed on.
Called mom only once. Texted a thousand times.

This is the final result.
All but two jars were sealed perfectly.
I certainly could have packed WAY more peaches in each jar.
The lesson here? Freeze them next year.

Of course I am prepping Aunt Mare's Famous Tomato Soup made from my very own homegrown Roma tomatoes.
I have already read all the stories of exploding jars of tomatoes, and I am going to do it anyway.
Because I am an idiot.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Littlest

One day post birthday party. 

The newly crowned 9-year-old tucked herself away in my room to sing as loud as humanly possible on her new Soulo karaoke microphone. 

She loves loves loves to sing. 
And short of buying a drum set, I'm not sure I did myself any favors with this gift choice. 

I attempt to record the happenings of a 9-year-old before eye rolls and audible sighs roll in.

But the littlest little brother decides to roll in first. 

I am distracted from the vocal artist singing a very stylized version of Take Me Out to The Ballgame.
That is his way. And it works. Almost every time.  

She doesn't really even notice him.
He tries to join her in a song or two and she is is generous enough to make him happy. 
But not too generous.

At this point we have attempted everything from Amazing Grace to Super Freak, Britney to Dixie Chicks, and an exhausting run of Jingle Bells. 

So much for not buying a drum set. 

Monday, August 6, 2012

Making Tracks

A very good friend of mine asked if I could take some pictures of her daughter, just before she enters her senior year of high school.

Needless to say, I totally freaked out, threw up a little, and broke out into a sweat.
I really don't take pictures on purpose of other people's children.
Because they might be horrible. And I don't want to be responsible.

But, I did it anyway. Because I like the kid. And I really like her mom.

She brought no less than eight wardrobe changes.
And lots of "mad ideas".

I'm not really sure if this is what 'senior portraits' should look like, but she really liked them. 
And we had a blast running all over town looking for anything broken to stand next to. 

Here's to wishing her luck and love as she moves into the next chapter.   

Sunday, July 29, 2012

It's Fair Time!

Of course we went to the State Fair.

It is one of those events I'm not sure if I love or dread.
But we always end up going anyway.

I went through a phase where I loathed the fair.
The heat.
The crowds.
The all fried all the time food trucks.

But then I had kids.
And discovered that not only is it really not that bad, it's actually fun.

Here is our 30 second tour of the 2012 Delaware State Fair.

I have made it no secret that I would like to have my own little flock of egg bearing hens.
They don't all look this creepy, I swear.

We also love sheep.
Love them.

Go ahead, do it.

Her favorite part of the fair.
Except for the rides.
But they don't count because the rides are always the kid favorite.

Oh the sweet teeny tiny baby chicks.
Pretty sure that was the only animal we DIDN'T get as an Easter present growing up.
And I'm sure that's the reason I am so obsessed with chickens.
Thanks Mom.

Everybody's favorite!

FYI, Lil' Partner.

Games anyone?
Everyone's a Winner.
So I was told, only about a thousand times.

This was the throw that sealed our fate.
You should know I can't hit a baseball with tennis racket.
But I won my son his first fair goldfish.

Meet Goldy and Gill, everybody.
Inspired by his athletically-challenged mother, HE won his second.
Why I didn't exercise parental guidance in the game choice, I will never know.

Yep, that's her.

Too scary for us, but makes a pretty picture.

We had a great day - a great day!
We spent nine hours of purely unadulterated, fried, thrilled, screaming, sweaty fun.
Looking forward to next year!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Procrastination is Not Just for College Kids

So far tonight I have caught up on every blog possible, plenty of Facebook gossip, Pinterest, and spent an hour researching retired New York City Ballet dancers to find out where they are now teaching/directing.

All this because I have a presentation to put together.


Sunday, July 22, 2012

So I've Been Told

After spending all day at the Delaware State Fair one day and a birthday party on the beach the next, I've been told that the best thing you can do is sit on the couch and eat a Haagen Dazs.

So I am.

Friday, July 20, 2012

So You Think You Want Boys

Some recent family news has me thinking about boys.

Growing up with a sister and two cousins, also girls, and all ballerinas (even though the little sisters canned that idea by 5th grade)...I just didn't know anything, and I mean anything, about boys.

Now, I am the mother to two little alien child boys.
And they get away with way more than they should.
They are just so damn cute.

Here are the rules for a regular, ordinary, run-of-the-mill-no-they-don't-sit-and-color day.

Football should always be played in the living room.
Golf should also be played here.
And soccer.
And yes, even baseball.

It is perfectly acceptable to perfect to your football catching moves on the couch.
Obviously, no one wants to get hurt by falling on grass.

Transforming yourself into a video game character is an everyday adventure.
The character will always be one who runs fast.
And fast running is always more fun when you do it in the house.

And doesn't stop just because I ask.
A request for "one more cool move" means no less than 35 more cool moves.
And the couch is always the crash pad.

Having fun has nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with sitting still. Ever.
Something always gets broken.
Or hurt.
Or mom loses her mind.

But I really don't know a mom who would have it any other way.
Including me.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

I'll Take That

While I was doing my daily Pinterest scan yesterday, Roxy (you know, the surf brand) posted some photos with the caption "European Road Trip".

Yeah, I'll take some of that.

I would take a road trip of any sort right now if it meant I could pack only the happy good things in my suitcase and leave the worries behind.

Thank goodness for imagination.

If you need me, I will be driving the Italian coast with a scarf tied around my hair.
I've always wanted to wear a scarf like that.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Snips, Snails, & Puppy Dog Tails

While the oldest is spending three weeks at her first for-real summer ballet program, the boys and I are spending our days doing, you know, boy stuff. 

Like executing a full snail massacre inside a gatorade bottle. 
He is convinced they are soundly sleeping. 
Pictures would be wrong. 

Today I am just plain worn out. 
But that doesn't mean they are. 

I guess my never-ending-smile-please-no-not-like-that!-just-one-more-I-swear is rubbing off.

We should probably leave for the pool before something gets broken.
Have a great weekend!

Thursday, July 12, 2012


If the toilet bowl was as gaping as the Grand Canyon, I am convinced the little gentlemen I live with would still miss.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


I simply cannot accept that July is nearly half gone.
The days just keep rolling.
The years that used to drag along now seem to pass when I blink.

This sweet little girl is turning nine next month.

She made me a mother. 
And we are growing up together. 

Time feels like a faucet that won't turn off. 
I can't hold on.

She wants it to move faster. 
I want it to freeze. 

I know we are on the edge. 
Toes hanging off. 
Change is coming. 

She is bursting with personality. 
And attitude. 
Total confidence and total apprehension. 

I like her. 

Happy (almost) Birthday to the true love of my life.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Girl vs. Garden

This is my lawnmower. 
It was given to me, by my father, as a gift on Father's Day. 

If you teach a man to fish...

Starting this $20 yard sale gem might be one of the hardest things I have ever done over, and over, and over.
And still failed.
Yes, I cried.
And I might have called it a foul name or two.

Add this to the fact that I only just learned how to mow a lawn in the past year.
I was given the lawn as a chore once when I was 15 and was never allowed to do it again.
My lines weren't straight enough.

Don't worry, I did plenty of other chores well enough to have them permanently assigned.

Anyhow, after several replacement parts, lawnmower and I are becoming friendly.
I even mow lines in my yard.
They're still not perfect.
But that's why I don't live with my parents.

You should know that in addition to my wild 'someday' fantasy of having a second home in the South of France, I also have a fascination with self sufficiency.
Like, gardens and chickens.

I have french linens that I hang on the clothesline because it makes me feel like I am at my 'someday' second home.
You know, in France.
Because that's not pathetic. At all.

And no chickens yet, but I do have my first "real" garden this year.
And by real, I mean more than herbs and tomatoes growing in pots.
Two raised beds full of all my favorites!

I am not delusional.
Obviously I can't possibly live off the grid, or the land, or whatever,
AND have a second home in the South of France.

There is a point to all this.
I swear.

So, in my garden, live some tomatoes.
The tomatoes look a little sad.
I investigate and find said sad tomatoes have BUGS.

I hate bugs.

Especially bugs that are referred to as LICE - plant or otherwise.
300 Google searches later, I determine the tomatoes have aphids, or plant lice.
And apparently, like the hair kind, these lice are hard to get rid of.

I say bring it.
And because Dad says I can't have a garden without using chemicals, and organic is stupid...
I won't be using chemicals.
Because even an adult girl can't listen to her father.

I learn that aphids also attack roses, and bolt out to the rose bushes to see if they are killing my beloved roses!
I find this:

OH MY GOD, I have an invasion of spiny hairy BUGS!

This is where it gets good.
Why are they spotted?
Thanks to Google and toys for a 4-year-old, I learn that I have Ladybugs!

Okay, ready for the good part?
Ladybugs' favorite food is aphids!
I know, you can't contain your excitement. 

According to the toy, we have some stage 2 larvae and stage 3 pupa.
You learn something every day.

My genius plan was to move some of these ladies over to the tomatoes.
I moved one and watched her devour an aphid, which was strangely exciting.

So far, the kids have had a great time being ladybug runners (we found them in the apple tree too) but sadly, every ladybug has mysteriously disappeared.

I know how nail biting the garden adventure has been thus far, so I will be sure to update you on the success or failure of the great ladybug migration.

Even though I have a bajillion other things that have to get done today and every day, somehow this little garden makes me very very happy.

I highly recommend getting one.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Joys of Motherhood

Doesn't she look peaceful?
My sweet, beautiful girl.

This is the same child who, lately, has made me question my unending adoration of little girls.
I want to know why no one warned me that "teenager" started WAY before 13.
Like, years before.

And I will love her through it all.
Even if I don't like her some days.
We will be friends again when she's 24.

Until then, we will muddle our way through as she transforms, slowly, into a beautiful and confident woman.

I love him.
I don't get many good shots of this cute boy.
He wiggles a lot.

And he really likes to chew gum.

That little one on the right?
He was not in a mood for having his picture taken.
So there aren't any.

Except this lovely group shot.
There are only about 10 of these on my computer.
And this was the best one.

Little, drive-you-crazy, and somehow, still-adore-them, loves.

Thursday, May 10, 2012


Photo courtesy of April Allsyon Abel, a woman who inspires daily invention. 

People think up new ideas all the time.
Some people just think about them.
Other people do more than just think.

They take action.

I wonder who has better odds of success - the folks who act on every single idea, or the ones who really focus on just one thing and make it happen?
Is it like sales? The more calls you make, inherently by statistic,  the better your numbers are?

But what if the invention is yourself?

I used the be the kind of person who picked one thing and went after it with all the force and focus I could muster.
Pretty exhausting when the one thing turns out to be the wrong thing.
Or at least wrong for me.

Alas, in my "old" age, I don't know what the one thing is anymore.
I find myself stirring and jumping into 12 different pots at once, having no real clue which one is "right".
But I do know what is wrong, so I guess that's something.

Maybe there isn't a right answer. Maybe our parents idea of picking something, one thing, and doing it forever and forever isn't the right way, just the way they did it. Maybe the world really is different now.

Can we be happy with an undefined career?
No, that's not a cop-out or a carefully worded disguise for no career.
Is a broad brush better than a pigeon hole? I don't know.

But the truth is, no matter what, staying relevant in this world is hard. Really hard.

Everyone wants to be relevant.
Everyone needs to be relevant.
Our disposable mindset moves from objects to people.

Does constant reinvention keep us out of the trash?
It sure can keep you busy. I know that much.
Getting comfortable with the great unknown, closing your eyes and jumping takes some getting used to.
Ah, but the promise of true fulfillment is an addicting chase.

I have never taken bigger leaps than I have over the past few years, and for the first time, I  see a real opportunity to live a complete life. I just have no idea which pot I will end up in.

Scariest. Thing. Ever.
Tossing the comfort and camaraderie of common daily misery is, well, nausea-inducing.

So, I offer applause to all my friends and colleagues who have chosen to stand, undefined, proudly reinventing for a greater purpose, and a chance live truthfully, as they are.

Much love and admiration.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

What to Give

So, every year, like everyone else, I have to figure out what to buy the "difficult" people on my list.
It isn't that they are actually difficult.
(That may be too generous)

Let me explain.

All of my grandparents are still alive (I know!).
So - what in the world do you give to people who have everything?
And by everything, I mean every last thing a person could want.
And they stopped collecting circa 1972.

You should also know that I have been harassed of late.
For not giving any of them updated photos of the kids.
How am I supposed to remember they're not on Facebook?

I took a lot of pictures this year.
Serious hit. All the way around.

There is this company I like - Blurb.
I have used them before, and my sister did her wedding album with them.
Basically, they have awesome software so even if you are horrible at design-y type stuff, your book should still turn out great.

This is my middle guy's first day ever of t-ball.

This is a full two-page spread, with a full bleed.
Just don't choose a photo with a face in the middle.
It ends up in the crack.

And of course, Miss Ballerina.
The page layouts are predesigned but you can edit the pre-designed design to suit you.
And the color around the photos? Yep, you can change that too.

The software also gives crop lines and crack lines.
So you know if you're chopping anyone's head off.
Or if you forgot, and put someone's face in the crack.

I did this book in chronological order, but the choice is yours.
It took me about 3-4 hours total to put together.
And about 5 days to get them here.
Not bad when you get to knock 6 gifts off the list.

I decided to give the book to my parents as well.
Everyone really seemed to love it.
They have been passed around offices, parties, and extended family visits.
I highly recommend making one for your nearest and dearest.

Blurb can also automatically generate a book from your Facebook photos. (comments included...yikes)
AND they do a super cool Instagram book - straight from your Instagram account!
They pretty much rock.

So, for my family and close friends who have requested a's your chance.
If you would like to preview and buy your very own, here you go!

Have fun book-making!!