Children’s Garden Club } Week 1

As previously promised….
This week…so blindly fast and long all at the same time.  How does that even happen?
But it does and my “to do list” is insanely long so I am going to make these next two posts short and sweet 🙂

If  you are wanting to follow along with what we have been up to in our little club each week this is the post section to peek at.
Each week I will make a post that shares the links to what we did that week…what worked and what didn’t.

To make all of this even easier I have started a Pinterest board filled with ideas and things we have tried or want to try!  Be sure to check it out!
The first week we made worm compost bins.

Super duper easy!  Not to mention fun!
Here are the how to links:
Worm Compost Bin

Some great Worksheets if you would like to do a binder

A great “What the heck is wrong with my compost”?

and then we harvested fresh basil.
We made a wonderful nut free basil pesto recipe and made little mini basil pesto “pizza’s” with baguette bread…they were a huge hit!

 

Sums up week #1.  I shall work hard to get week #2 up by the weekend 🙂

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Stuffed Fresh Figs

 

Each week in our Children’s Garden Club we have the kids create something in the kitchen with the goodies they have picked/learned about from the garden that morning…food that we hope they will actually try and like.

We often get funny faces and “I don’t like that” but what I have found is that if a child helps harvest/make something or witnessed it actually in the garden they are more likely to at least give it a nibble.

This week we made stuffed dried dates and dried figs.  I let them decide which one they liked or wanted to try.  The figs on my fig tree are “this close” but not quite yet.
Let’s face it…fresh figs win over dried in the taste department but dried figs taste great as well if you can’t find fresh!

This one is insanely easy…
Slice those lovelies

Stuff them with some goat cheese

Pop them in the oven for 5-10 minutes (depends on the ripeness..super ripe go for the 5 minutes)
When they come out…throw some yummy pomegranates on top..

Then the honey…drizzle it on there…YUMMY!

That’s it…easy peasy.
You can alway add herbs and extras to the goat cheese but we were going for simplicity.
Sometimes simplicity is a beautiful thing <3

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TEACH ’EM YOUNG } CHILDREN’S GARDEN CLUB 2017

I am a lover of gardens.
I am a lover of food.  Real food.
I am a lover of children and all things just a bit wild and most definitely chaotic.
I think sometimes chaos is my happy place.
Nature and children are just this natural kindof awesome chaos!

When we decided to bring Lucas back home this year and homeschool 1st grade I knew I was going to have a lot to live up too.  He had loved his sweet little kindergarten class with all of the lovely fuzzy fun stuff that comes with that age.
But at the same time this kid was born into homeschooling.  It was actually all he knew up until going off to a classroom.  So he remembered he liked it but he had one request.
He wanted his very own “garden club” like they had at his school last year.
I knew that request was one I could full heartedly make happen for him.  Hello, I am a huge gardener and a farm photographer.
This kid loves gardens as much as I do.
You can find him grazing on the herbs any time he walks out our back door.
Children thrive in dirt y’all.
My boy has grown up dirty.
Actually all of mine have.
I feel like the disconnect with kids and where their food comes from grows as computers continue to take over our world.
If you ask a typical child “Where does your food come from?” the answer in most cases would be “the grocery store…duh.”
But the truth is our kids are so far removed from the good earth that if it doesn’t come directly from a box, bag or can they are just kindof lost…is a vegetable even a food if it isn’t in a box?
No really, you can ask kids this and they really are stumped.
I actually have known people who say their kids have never set foot in the woods or a park.
That going outside is just not on their kids list of things they want to do so they don’t make them.
I have actually had conversations with mothers who are afraid to let their children actually get a speck of dirt on them.  There is a real fear there of the unknown…because nature hasn’t been on their list of things to do either.
I am not judging here.  I am simply a girl with a goal.
My goal… (always lofty with my goals)
I want to change that.  I want to get kids back outside.  I want them to try a veggie and even if they don’t like it I want them to know what the heck it is.  I want them to have ownership in the growing, the making…make the connection.  Know what it is like to have food adventures and be daring!
We can do better by them….for them.

I am a big believer that anybody can garden…
Grow things…
Cook things…
Make things…
All the things…

So as promised I created our very first little Homeschool Garden Club.
I put the call out into one of my smaller homeschool groups.
I have been homeschooling for close to a decade now.  I knew that THIS club would grow large…fast.
With it being at my home I needed to keep the numbers limited to 15-20 kids.  My house is only so big.

I am kindof this professional “organize gaggles of kids on the spur of the moment” type of mom now. Homeschooling makes a mother have skills she never even knew existed…or could even be useful.
How does that saying go?
“I never dreamed I would be a super cool homeschool mom but here I am killing it!” (or something like that.  And yes I am totally going to be making that teeshirt for myself..bahahaha!)

It filled FAST.
The first week came and we all fell in love with our little club.
These kids…these mama’s…ugh.
I must tell you guys the thing I missed the most last year were my mama friends.
There is this sisterhood to homeschooling that is just impossible to explain.  At least if you find the right group…and if you haven’t yet don’t give up!
As I was telling one of the mom’s today…these are the woman who will be there for you in a heartbeat even years after your children are gone.
I still love all those woman who walked through the sisterhood with me that first decade with that first gaggle of kids.
Any one of them could call me night or day and tell me they needed ANYTHING and I would be there.
We simply spent hours laughing, crying, supporting…literally climbing mountains…together.

Homeschooling is this shared experience.
I think it has much to do with being part of a small group of families who know what it is like to make this huge decision to teach their own.  To take on that responsibility, to wake up every single morning and do this thing.  To sacrifice for this VERY hard thing.
Only a handful of folks truly know what it’s like to walk this walk.
The struggles, the victories, the joys…good days…bad days…
Parkdays, clubs, field trips…those are our mom therapy sessions of sorts.
Our support groups.  Our village.
That was the part that I missed badly last year.
In my opinion ALL mothers should have such things…homeschooling or not!
Woman supporting woman.
Human supporting human.
It makes life wonderful.

This garden club…the children learn but the mama’s?  Well those hours after club ends and we mom’s lay on picnic blankets in the middle of the yard, babies crawling around, children making up games and screaming like wild things…sun shining down.
It’s heaven.  Or at least a glimpse.  I know how fast this time is going to go.
I have lived it before.  I am getting a “do-over“.
I will take every last day sprawled out on blankets with good friends any day of the week.

I’m rambling…
Back to the garden club.
As the word grows those who are interested in joining grows.
I am full for the Fall…but I HATE saying “no”.
My thoughts are that any mother/father can do this.
You don’t need to be a homeschooler.
You don’t need to be a professional gardener.
You don’t need to be a professional chef.
You just have to have a desire to share the good earth and good food with your child.
And if you are lucky…throw some blankets out and share the experience with your friends.
Teach them to put don’t devices and BE with others.
Make connections with all three earth, food and friends.
It’s like the perfect trifecta.
You won’t regret it.

Tomorrow or Thursday (depends on how my day goes tomorrow;-) I will write out what we did for our first and second week meetings so far.
I will give you guys the links and format we are following.  Each week I will pop on and share what we did that week and any links to products, books, videos etc… that we used in our curriculum.
You can do this!  You can join along!
And if you are in the Richmond VA area I will be putting together 1-2 farm tours each month come Spring that will be open events for the RVA Homeschoolers group.

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Kitchen Renovation Week #1 } Help me Lordy

What a fricking week.  Kitchen renovation…
No really when I say “what a week” I mean it.
Imagine 6 people, 3 dogs, 1 cat and a bunny all living without a kitchen sink or dishwasher….add in Summertime so kids are ALL home all day.
Sigh.
I am tired.  Like bone tired.
Like “I just shop vaccumed my kitchen for the third time today where the heck is this dust coming from?
Like “I feel odd washing my dishes in a sink beside a toilet….”   but it’s that or the garden hose and at least this way we have hot water.
Like “Where is ….(insert whatever item that you have zero clue where it went too)????”
Like “When is this going to be finished again?” question from every single family member at least multiple times a day.

I could go on BUT I really don’t want to sound like I am complaining.
I have waited close to a decade to get these concrete countertops fixed…hopefully correctly.
The story of the concrete countertops is a very long one but let’s just make it fast and say they were never sealed correctly…actually the only person who managed to seal them even halfway correctly was ME.
And that only lasted a year before it went poo poo too.

The kitchen sink was my biggest complaint.
Dear friends, never….ever….ever…get a kitchen sink made of concrete.  It is a super bad idea.  Like crazy bad idea.  Learn from the error of my ways.
You know how I know?
I can list off every single business in my town that has concrete sinks in their bathroom and I can report their sinks aren’t holding up well either.  Concrete simply doesn’t like water.
Bad idea.  The worst.
It was gorgeous for a year then a dirty yucky mess for the remaining years.
Now perhaps some of you out in blog land did manage to find a concrete expert who did your stuff right…you are lucky!! So so lucky! Count your blessings and kiss your person who created that masterpiece!
It’s a modern marvel.
This will NOT be the outcome for many who aren’t as lucky.
But yes, I have heard rumor that some actually do this concrete thing correctly.  I am just jaded.
So take this warning with a side of “Man she is just jaded.“.

So out it went last Monday.
I all but had Joey throw it straight out the door.  I would have taken a sledge hammer to it if I hadn’t ripped out the 17 year old tile back splash the day before….by beating the heck out of it with a hammer. (No really I did and my arms hurt!)

The truth be told I want nothing more in life than lovely Carrara marble counter tops BUT I have two kids with tuitions and am a homeschool mom who runs a photography biz (I see you clients out there wanting your family Fall sessions!  Better get on the books soon the leaf change dates are filling already) and crafts/apparel shop (which by the way is almost back up.  September 1 the shop will go live again).
The $5600k they wanted for that wasn’t gonna happen.
Carrara marble didn’t even make a short list of reasonable idea when it came to fixing our counter top dilemma.
Epoxy redo won out.  Considering I work with Epoxy often with my jewelry you guys know I already have a love affair going with the stuff.
Found a fella who saidYa know I can make you faux marbleish concrete at a fraction of the price” and I was like “Sign me up!  I have nothing to lose but a crappy disgusting sink.

So it started with the counter tops and has merged to backsplash being torn down, painting all the walls downstairs…and ceilings (good Lord I fricking hate painting ceilings).
Oh the things I get myself into!


Then first layer of epoxy…

Then the 60th layer of Epoxy…don’t ask.

Well and that is kindof where we are at now…the sink did get dropped in today but we still need to re-hit the fronts of the counters one more time.
Through this process one thing has become super clear.
I have mad construction worker skills.  No really…
It’s all my mothers doing.  Three girls in a house without a man.  You fix your own everything.
No whining you just do it.  Sometimes it’s just the only way to get what you need done…done.
I think I would need to actually enjoy doing it to actually make it a career choice though…but if you need something done I could probably tell ya how to do it.
My life.  Filled with random and weird knowledge and often interesting skill sets.

This week (assuming I get running water back tomorrow and a completed kitchen) I will be moving on to painting the cabinets and finishing painting the living room walls and ceiling.

Did I mention the massive amounts of homeschool, college, high school events/planning and overload I am buried under right now?
That is a post for another day…it will be long and rambling no doubt (just like the good old blogging days).
I know some of you have missed my Bramble Rambles 😉
Now back to my sander and shop vac.
You haven’t lived until you sand at least 5 times a day for days on end.
Sorry for all the cell pics instead of the real camera…my life right now does not have time padded in for the fancy camera images just yet…lol.

P.S. I think my new kitchen may just need this sign😂

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Creamy Coconut Basil Tomato Soup

Tomato soup…what else is a gal to make with a million tomatoes?
Right about now the tomatoes are coming out of the garden for most of us.
It’s like a tomatoes hurricane around here!  Only difference being of course that I love tomatoes. Hurricanes…not so much.
What’s a gal to do?

Personally I can, freeze and ferment mine.
This weekend you will find me canning and fermenting salsa.  Lots of it.
I literally just realized I haven’t shared a fermenting salsa recipe yet!!?  What the heck!
That is my favorite!  I shall make you guys a blog post on that this weekend.

But today….it’s going to be one of the fastest, yummiest and seriously so easy meals I make.
Admittedly, I just promised alot there but this one truly is all those things.
Once upon a time I went to San Francisco with Daryl.
We rolled up into this little Italian cafe one day.
I was starving.  Just wanted something fast so I could get back to site seeing so I ordered the tomato soup. It was the BEST soup I have ever had.
Granted I had so many “the bests” out there that week that I truly know I need to live there.
But since I don’t live there…I had to try and make my own copycat recipe.
Or as close as I could get.
This was as close as I have gotten thus far (because my recipes are always evolving and changing just like my gardens)


Creamy Coconut Basil Tomato Soup

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 Can/Jar crushed tomatoes (or put 6 to 12 fresh tomatoes in the food processor 😉
  • 1 container broth (I typically use vegetable broth)
  • 1 Can full fat coconut milk
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 2-3 minced garlic cloves
  • 1-2 tbs oregano
  • 4-5 large basil leaves (dried will work as well but won't be quite as vibrant in flavor)
  • Salt/pepper/cayenne pepper (all to preferred taste)
  • 1-2 tsp Potato Starch

Instructions

  1. Are you ready for this?
  2. For me....I throw everything in a big old pot (except the potato starch and half of the basil...those I wait on).
  3. If I want to add the onions without my kiddos whining about the junks I literally will put a bit of the tomato sauce/broth into my vitamixer and add the garlic and onions. This makes them "disappear" and the kids have no clue.
  4. If the soup is too thin I take a bowl and add about a cup of the soup to it then the potato starch. I use a whisk and blend the potato starch in until all the lumps and bumps are gone (you can also throw it back in the food processor / vitamixer too). I then drop it back into the pot and let it all slowly simmer for a bit and thicken up. The potato starch thickens anything you need it too....I love that stuff!
  5. Personally I like to cook the soup with only half of the basil leaves and opt to add the basil leaves to the soup bowls at the end. I feel like this gives my bowl a burst of extra flavor.
  6. ****Additional add in ideas: carrots, ginger, garlic olive oil drizzled on top, sour cream, feta, cheddar, red peppers, noodles even.
  7. The options on what you could add to this soup are endless...but really we typically just add a panini on the plate beside the bowl 😉
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