Thursday, August 16, 2012

My Girls and Fresh Veggies

Since my last post had very little to do with my ladies, I thought I'd make up for it now.  
To start, a conversation I overheard this week:
Ava:  (talking to Layla)  I wish you weren't such a little booger
Layla:  I'm NOT a little booger
Ava:  Yes you are...just go ask mom and she'll tell you that you're a little booger
I frantically tried to come up with a good response to this if Layla did come ask me this question.  Luckily, they got distracted and I never had to tell her that I had to side with Ava on that one.  

Anywho....summer is quickly coming to an end and I have been getting the panicked feeling of trying to squeeze every last ounce of it before school begins.  Even the air has changed the last couple of days, with a crispness to it in the evenings.  Some of this was welcome to me because it helped clear out the horrible smoke that has been invading our mountains.  However, it also fills me with a sad feeling of our carefree summer wrapping up.  I decided the best thing to do would be try and soak up our last couple weeks as best we can.  I think we did a pretty good job of it this week.  A lot of our summer has been filled with friends and family.  Anytime we decide to go to a park or on a hike I make a phone call and we instantly have someone joining us.  This week, I thought I'd be a little selfish and do these things just us.  Me and my girls.  It was pretty great.  And...we still had plenty of time to play with cousins and friends.  
The first day we hit the park was hot and smoky and we didn't last long...

The next day the temperatures shifted.  We were going to go to Lunch on the Lawn because there are only a few left.  Apparently, the cool weather scared everyone else away because it appeared to be cancelled.  Well...we are Montana girls and we were not going to let that slow us down, so we just went to a different park and had our own lunch on the lawn.  Or lunch in a fort....

Notice the change in outfits from one day to the next...from tee's and shorts to sweatshirts and pants.  And, I pulled out a scarf for the first time in a v e r y long time...
The type of clothes may have changed, however the fun that these two can have at any old park did not.

I totally dig these old playgrounds with old school toys.  Metal equipment that gets way too hot and looks worn down.  For some reason it makes me smile more than the new plastic playgrounds where you never know quite what you're supposed to do on the things.  The girls went down this old red slide no less than a dozen times.

It was all fun and games until Ava came down a little too fast, flipped and hit her head on the hard metal slide.  Hmmm...maybe there is something to the plastic playgrounds.

Today, the smoke had cleared from the cool weather and the sun was back out.  The day promised to be back to our usual beautiful summer.  Because we could finally see the mountains, I was itching to get back into them.  After breakfast we decided to pack up and head for the "M" trail.  The girls have been up it before, but it's been awhile and Layla has never hiked it without being carried part of the way.  After hiking like a champ this summer, she was ready to run up to the top.  Again, going with just my girls and no one else was the best decision.   I love getting to go hike with others...the kids run ahead with cousins and have so much fun while I get to visit with whatever mommy friend/sister is with me.  However, I miss out on experiencing it with my girls when we do this.  We all have a great time with each other, but not truly together.  Today, we were together.  One girl in each hand, we chatted the whole way up the mountain and back down and it was the best conversation I've had all week.  They talked about the berries we passed on the way, whether the airplane we saw was a jet or just an airplane (is their a difference?) and what our favorite parts of summer have been.  The only time we dropped hands was when we were passing by others on the trail and when we hit the top.  There were times I wanted to drop a sweaty little hand and wipe mine off, but I resisted and held on tight.  You've got to do that for as long as you can.  

Earlier this week the girls were in full on performing mode.  I think it began when we spent Monday at my sisters house and my actress of a niece had all the littles doing some musical theatre.  They created quite a show for us and I was so impressed with what a 13 year old could get two 7 year olds, one 6 year old and one 5 year old to do.  The fun didn't end soon as we got home Ava and Layla switched it from musical theatre to Olympic gymnastics...complete with us giving critiques and deductions at the end.  How perceptive our little Ava was when watching the Olympics and now copying what she saw...rubbing her hands in "chalk" before her routine and packing up backpacks and wearing warm up clothes over their leotards.  I wish I could bottle their imaginations and creativity.

Shifting gears from my girls to food.  Food has been so fun lately with all the vegetables in full bloom.  Our refrigerator is bursting and I have been getting creative finding ways to incorporate it into our meals. 

Garden salad and Zucchini Pancakes...

Zucchini Pancakes
Shred one or two zucchinis.  Mix with finely diced onions (about 1/4 cup), 2 eggs, around 6 tbls flour, 1 tsp baking powder, salt and pepper, a little Parmesan cheese and some fresh chives.  Heat a greased griddle over medium heat.  Pour a spoonful of the batter on the griddle, cook for a few minutes, flip and cook the other side until both are golden brown.  (just like pancakes)  I like to top them with a little sour cream

Pickled beet salad, fresh tomatoes with olive oil, s&p and Matt's ciabatta bread...

I am not a beet fan but we have a ton of them so I have been trying them all sorts of ways.  I do think they look pretty though.  The tomatoes were the first ones we've gotten this season so I couldn't resist slicing them up and drizzling them with some olive oil to go with our dinner.  There is nothing better to me than a fresh from the garden tomato.  Also with this was some roasted zucchini and of my favorites dishes.

Roasted Zucchini with Ravioli
Slice zucchini and layer on a greased cookie sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil and spread some minced garlic, red pepper flakes, s&p and some fresh Parmesan cheese over top.  Roast at 400-degrees for around 15 minutes.  Meanwhile cook some ravioli and drain.  Toss the ravioli with the zucchini mixture and top with some more Parmesan and some fresh torn basil.  So simple and so yummy.

Besides zucchini, one thing we have a ton of this year is cucumbers.  We ended up with some fresh dill from our CSA share so I finally decided to give it a go at making pickles.  I've looked into it in the past, but the whole canning thing has always seemed like a little more work than I'm interested in doing.  After some research I found a way to do it without the whole canning process and let me tell you...they turned out great.

It was so easy.  Cut the ends of the cucumbers and slice in quarters.  In a saucepan mix 1 to 2 cups of vinegar, 1/2 cup sugar, fresh dill, s&p, 1 cup of sliced onions, 1 tsp dry mustard, 1 tsp turmeric and 1 tsp celery salt.  Simmer over medium low heat for around a half hour.  Put the cucumbers in a jar, pour the broth over top and let cool.  Seal and refrigerate for around three days before you start eating them.  

I'll end with two things that made me smile this week that were just for me.  (you have to have some things just for yourself, right?)

1.  Fall Issues of Fashion Magazines.  

One of the things I love about Fall is getting the September issues...they are always the biggest issue of the year and it will take me weeks to slowly read guilty pleasure.

2.  Champagne.

I don't drink champagne often...I'm more of a vino girl.  I love it at weddings, special occasions and when my little sister is over...however, sometimes it's fun to have just because.  We popped a bottle open on Wednesday this week just because. It was lovely.  This isn't my quote, I heard it somewhere, but I find it so true..."champagne is like happiness in every bubble"

Have a happy weekend.

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