Monday, June 24, 2013

Reflections from Camp Lakeside. .Take. .FIVE

It's hard to believe that I've been camp nursing for five years now!!
I've really become part of the family!!
Enough so, that my opinion counts. .
and I can pitch in to most situations and help out as needed.
I've also been there long enough to have watched the campers. .
become counselors!!
Which has been amazingly fun!!
Especially since two of them are my own. .
And I can finally see them morphing into something more!
You may remember that I mentioned last week that we had two camps with Safari themes.
This was the second.
And as a fun and different plan. .
We went to the Garden City Zoo on our way to camp Monday.
I LOVE the zoo. .
And Jeremy just smiled at my dorkiness the week before. .
when out of the clear blue I would state something profound like. .
"AHHH (scream) I can't WAIT to go to the zoo!!"
Unfortunately, when we GOT to the zoo. .
It was near 100 degrees. .
and when we LEFT the zoo. .
It was a cool 109!!
Grant helps strap Hannah into her "Barrett costume" needed for their skit later on in the evening!

Seriously. .
That totally zaps the fun out of the zoo going experience!!
HOT. .
Pretty much described the climate of the week!
The agents rallied together after the sauna experience at the zoo. .
and made some major schedule over hauls. .
to avoid activities in the hot sun of the afternoon. .
since Tuesday was also slated to be near 105 in temperature. .
and windy. .
Did I mention the wind??
So the fishing and canoeing took place in the morning.
Because of some regulation changes. .
we didn't have Camp lifeguards to oversee the canoeing.
And since it was windy. .
I got to ride with a group to be there if needed.
Grant still swears that I did nothing to help him out. .
But the trap muscles in my upper back were sore as boils, sniff. .
so I KNOW I did my part!!
It was fun anyway!!
Another of the morning sessions was a "walk about"
It took place up on "the trail"
The kids have loved the trail since I have been there. .
And it has kept my business busy. .
fighting away blistering stinging reactions from plants. .
injured ankles. .
skinned up knees. .
and yucca plant "bites"
Joe, the agent that led the hike was INCREDIBLE!!
He showed the kids lots of plants, grasses, and insects. .
discussing concepts with them like how the Indians and settlers used the plants for medicines and foods. He also discussed erosion, buzzards, and even the aquafir that supplied the area with water.
I was thrilled to get to go on one of the hikes. .
And find the cactus blooming!
Gorgeous scenery!!
The rest of the classes were held inside during the afternoon. .
Crafts were done in the open air, shaded rock building.
They made binoculars!!
And did paper mache. .
which may  have been quite frustrating for a few young men that I know!!
I was pretty impressed with Grant. .
He was very comfortable working with the kids. .
And did a great job being kind and responsible!
Another new activity this year were skits.
Each of the 6 groups of kids brainstormed their own skit to perform for the rest of the camp. .
Some were hysterical. .
and some were really lame!
Some were right in the middle of those two categories!
Tristan's group thoroughly enjoyed beating him with pool noodles though!
And the counselors took an opportunity to make fun of all the adults!!
Hannah looked strikingly like Barrett. .
He is a young, new agent this year. .
who OBVIOUSLY grew up in 4-H camps. .
because he knew EVERY camp chant known to man.
And taught them ALL to the kids!
We were also super tickled to watch Brenna imitate our own agent Mike.
Mike is pretty laid back. .
pretty quiet. .
Not such a fan of camp. .
Loves his coffee!!
And to fully appreciate her dramatic efforts. .
you really had to be there!!
I think the ultimate highlight of the camp. .
was the water games in the heat of the afternoon!!
Tristan. .
being the ultimate child at heart. .
Was ALL over that!!
Dousing poor, little, helpless females. .
That were probably just getting him back for something HE started anyway!!
Air rifles. .
And archery. .
Counselors are really just like. .
big campers ;-)
This one is already talking about being old enough to be a counselor. .
In like. .
5 years!!
They did some really great flag raising and lowering ceremonies this year. .
I'm guessing courtesy of Barrett, the super camper!!
They were awesome. .
And educational. .
And touching!!
We, in America. .
can be SO forgetful of the magnificent PRIVILEGE of living here!
I love to see that respect passed on to our kids!
I've mentioned before in my previous reflections of camp. .
That most boys just throw on a new shirt and the same shorts they have been wearing for the previous two days.
I now stand corrected!!
These boys got all gussied up. .
Literally. .
Apparently. .
There was somewhat of a clothing swap after the counselor skit. .
And the boys wore the girls' tiny shorts to the dance. .
Everly, standing next to Tristan. .
was swallowed by his clothes!
And I have to say. .
The yellow rubber boots are Everly's. .
NOT Tristan's!
Boy, did they look impressive!!
I will give them all credit. .
The counselors were really diligent to get the kids involved in the dancing. .
and they had all kinds of kids out on the floor, shakin' it down!!
Devin danced all night too. .
And I even scored a partner for the cotton-eyed Joe. .
Barrett and I broke into the kid's discombobulated version of a classic. .
And showed 'em how to do it RIGHT!!
I will also say that ALL the campers were impressed that Mike, our agent could dance. .
They all stared as he wove me thru the crowded dance floor on a slow country number!
I LOVE to dance. .
and my kids tolerate it much better than Tristan did the first year I boogied down to the John Travolta music!
By Wednesday. .
we all felt pretty much like this. .
And we were ready to hit the road after lunch. .
For a cooooollll ride home!
I figure that by the time Cami gets done with her share of camps. .
I could have another 14 years of camp nursing!
Bandaid, anyone??
Enjoy your week!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

OOOOH. .Recipe!!

I like rhubarb. .
My mom fixed it a few times that I can remember. .
Probably into a pie. .
or a pie mixed with strawberries. .
After we got married, we lived near the ranch that Jeremy's grandparents owned. .
She grew rhubarb. .
And shared her bountiful harvest with us.
I tried a few things like rhubarb pie. .
and rhubarb crumble. .
and even Grandma's rhubarb cake recipe. .
 (that Grant took to the state fair one of his first years in 4-H)
Grandma would always send over enough for me to scald and freeze.
Enter. .
Church soup supper.
We made pies. .
Everyone was supposed to bring 2.
I had taught myself to make pie in college. .
So I was up for the challenge.
Trying to decide what kind to make. .
I remembered that I had rhubarb in the freezer, ready to go.
I didn't realize what a hit that would be!
There were several people that hadn't had rhubarb pie for years (it is kind of an unusual flavor!)
And so, that became kind of my "thing."
And there were a few people who COUNTED on that rhubarb pie every winter at the soup supper.
One in particular. .
hunted me down the first year that I DIDN'T make a pie because I had no rhubarb in my freezer!
SO. .
After him complaining a few years in a row about it. .
He BOUGHT me THREE crimson red rhubarb plants. .
And the local nursery man grew them in his greenhouse for a whole year to make sure they would root and be ready to go!
Long story shorter. .
This is the FIRST year (I think they have been in the garden now for about 4 years). .
That I have been able to have a decent little crop of them.
Of course, the first thing I did??
Was to make TWO rhubarb pies. .
One for each of us to celebrate.
NOT my rhubarb pie. .
photo courtesy of Wikipedia. .as is the photo above of the rhubarb stalks
Enter. .
The whole reason I have told you this whole, long, drawn out story!
A local meat producing, veggie harvesting, farmer's market attending friend of mine. .
They are hoping for a good, productive season to get their local farmer's market back on track.
A brilliant idea they had, was to solicit people to show the public how to USE the products being sold. She wondered if I knew of any 4-H kids that might be able to help out. Much to the glee of my spawn. .
I volunteered them each to do a presentation.
The only thing doing anything in my garden yet is the rhubarb.
And since rhubarb is one of those little known foods. .
I thought it would be a great opportunity to try something new.
I thought a sauce or a drink using rhubarb would be the quickest type of demonstration that a high school aged male would consent to. .
And I recalled seeing a recipe long ago for a punch that I never had tried out. .
so I went searching.
I found several. .
not the one I thought I had saved all those years ago. .
but one that was easy to make and enjoyable to sip.

And, if you live around here. .
come down to the park around 10 and watch Grant demonstrate how to make it. .
and score yourself a sip!!
I made the first batch to try at home. .
and also stewed the rhubarb that Grant would need to use for his demonstration. .
since I had picked enough rhubarb for 2 batches.
Grant was at football camp. .
and didn't get to help with that process.

I cooked 6 cups of cut rhubarb with 6 cups of water, sweetened with 1 cup of sugar.
I was amazed at how it cooked down into a stringy, mushy mess. .
not at all resembling the pretty little red 1/2 chunks of celery-looking fruit that I had put into the pot.
Before it had cooled enough. .
I pushed one pot of the rhubarb mixture through a double thickness of cheesecloth.
After years of using old tea towels for purposes like this. .
I splurged on a length of cheesecloth. .
and haven't been sorry since!
Grant's mush mixture is now residing in the freezer until his demonstration. .
And he can demonstrate this step.
What is leftover. .
 is this little green pile of rhubarb in the cheesecloth. .
(which will make great compost)
And a super luscious looking bowl of sweetened rhubarb juice.
It was really that beautiful!!
I chilled the juice in the refrigerator overnight. .
mostly because I didn't have any clear soda in the house to mix with it. .
And the next day. .
I stirred in a 12 oz can of lemonade concentrate. .
And a 1 liter bottle of Sprite.
And look at the happy campers that showed up. .
and drank it all down!!
It's a little tart. .
And a little syrupy. .
One could certainly add a little more water. .
But we liked it just like that. .
And Jeremy claimed that it had no "nasty rhubarb aftertaste". .
and he proceeded to tank down about a quart of it!
A quart, however. .
Is too much!!
In researching it out later. .
Apparently the roots and stalks of rhubarb plants. .
Have been used for over 5000 years. .
as a. .
Stop at 2 glasses people!!

I was thrilled for the opportunity/challenge to come up with a good way to use rhubarb. .
2 of my 3 plants have survived. .
And I transplanted some old fashioned green rhubarb from my mom in May. .
and it seems to not mind the move a bit!
So, I will totally be using this recipe again next year when rhubarb season rolls around!

Between my brother in law and I. .
We will have a few bundles of rhubarb available!!

 So remember. .
Try something new. .
you MIGHT like it!!
Enjoy your Saturday!

Rhubarb Punch

6 cups rhubarb
6 cups water
1 cup sugar
cook together until mushy about 20 minutes.
Strain thru double cheesecloth
Mix with 1 12 oz can of lemonade and stir in 1 liter of sprite

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Some Things that Make me Smile!

It has been such a refreshing spring. .
in comparison to ANY spring. .
But for sure in comparison to the last TWO springs. .
Where the temperatures were well over 100 degrees in May. .
And consistently over 100 degrees by this time in June.
We've enjoyed nearly SIX inches of moisture over the last few months. .
As well as temperatures in the 80's and 90's. .
Aside from a few days last week that were over 105!
And that has been good for the farmers. .
The gardens. .
AND the gardenERS!!
Come along for a quick flower show!
I have a little jungle area of hollyhocks in the front of my house. .
I think they look a little messy. .
And each year I think I am going to pull most of them out. .
But. .
I just CAN'T bring myself to do that!
The colors are so deep and cheery. .
And so far, even the big leaves still look nice and healthy. .
Not yet riddled with insect damage!
I LOVE tropical plants. .
I just CAN'T ever seem to keep them watered well enough and protected from the blazing heat and wind.
Well. .
The self watering container idea and the addition of that new patio has made the difference!
When I thought there might be a possibility of making a tropical vine work. .
I couldn't leave this hot pink mandevilla at Lowes!
It is starting to vine well. .
And is loaded with these gorgeous pink flowers!!
I'm also super excited about a tropical hibiscus plant that I bought at Walmart a month ago. .
It was unmarked as to color. .
And it was HALF price!!
I don't know why, and I didn't really care. .
In my cart it went. .
And am I ever glad it did!!
It opened up one of the most beautiful pinkish red colored blooms earlier this week!!
With lots more buds. .
promising future color!
I was totally THRILLED!!
Both of these girls are situated on our new patio near the pitcher pump feature.
They are slightly protected from the wind, and get a little bit of afternoon shade.
The self watering planters from Walmart are doing their part to keep them moist. .
Wish I had thought to load a before picture of the honeysuckle vine that we planted near this antique slipper slide several years ago. Jeremy re-staked the slide into the ground. .
 as the weight of the vine was pulling it southward!
I enjoy it's fragrance most. .
early in the morning while I am walking. I think it is always funny to come around the corner from the highway on my walk, and wonder where I will smell it. .
The wind does amazing things with the fragrance. .
And some mornings, I would notice the scent down by my mailbox. .
100 yards from the plant!!
I had to rescue one from the construction zone. .
And recently decided to plant it on the other side of the house, near the bedroom windows!
It didn't mind the move. .
and proceeded to do it's blooming IN the big pot it rested in until I knew where it would go.
This echinacea paradoxica. .
Or plain ole yellow coneflower. .
Came from a packet of seeds that I started a last winter. .
There were a couple blossoms on the plants last summer. .
But it is really doing well this year! I planted them in 3 different locations. .
to maximize the effect of them. .
and to make sure they had at least one location that they would thrive in.
One spot just had too much competition with water and other plants. .
And they stayed tiny all summer.
I was sure they would die out. .
but even THEY are blooming this summer.
This variety is a tolerant winner for sure!
Some day I want to learn how to put my lavender plant to good use. .
I really like it's tiny little blossom stems. .
And always think I will gather some and make a little sachet. .
Hasn't happened yet!
This variety is Hidcote. .
And the plant has gotten huge!!
That whole mass of flowers comes from ONE central root in the ground in the dead center!!
A few years ago, I took a cutting of the plant in fall. .
And it rooted in nicely by the next spring in my greenhouse.
I think I might do that again this fall. .
Let me know if you might want a start of it!
Here's the larkspur patch in the front beds along the driveway.
The purple aster plant in the left front of photo is growing. It won't shine for another month or more, but it appears there will be a lot of shine happenin' when it does it's thing!
My orange butterfly milkweed is blooming now too.
It may be one of my favorite summer blooms!!
My seed list for next winter includes another packet of these for sure!!
They have been easy to start in the past. .
But unfortunately, I only have this clump that has really taken off!
The black eyed susans are looking lovely this year. .
With the nice cool weather and moisture we have been having. .
They remind me of the photos of the luscious susans my gardening friend Sue shows from her cool Michigan patch! They look much better with this weather. .
than with drought and 100 degree temps!
 And it seems lots of flying creatures love them as much as I do!
Here is a tiger eye sumac bush. .
given to me by some friends to plant in memory of my dad!
Now, he was a farmer. .
And since Sumacs can be a little invasive. .
I'm not sure how he felt about them. .
But I have always wanted to have a patch of them for the wildlife that they support. .
Jeremy always nixed that idea. .
Until I was gifted one :-)
It has such beautiful foliage. .
And is starting one characteristic bloom head, that I presume will soon become bird food!!
It's planted on the outside of my memory garden. .
With room to spread out a little!
A non descripted lily variety I planted a couple years ago. .
I'm not even sure it came up last year. .
And I surely thought it was toast!
But, it seems to be happy this spring. .
And the big reddish orange blooms are nice!
The little stella de'oro daylilies are in full swing. .
And right in front of the dwindling blue flax. .
makes a nice color combo!
I am super excited about my patch of purple coneflowers! I started all of these in my greenhouse. .
And, now in their third summer. .
They are tall. .
And spreading a little bit. .
And loaded with potential!!
The birds and winged insects LOVE these!
I'm not good with my butterfly species yet. .
But we have been seeing many different kinds. .
As well as tons of moths, including uncountable sphinx moths.
It just all makes me stop. .
And thank God. .
for the incredible DIVERSITY. .
In His magnificent creations!!
And personally?
I don't think we've seen ANYTHING yet!!
I can't WAIT. .
to see the garden that He is fixing up at my mansion in heaven!!
Take a minute today. .
And appreciate some of God's handiwork. .
And talk to Him about YOUR eternal home!!

Matthew 6:28-29
And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.  Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.