right now

right now

Apr 21, 2012

Baking and other stuff

It's been one crazy, hectic week.  Between getting plants in, getting Thing One packed off for his field trip, kids activities, Master Gardener stuff and baking for a church fundraiser, I'm exhausted.  I guess this is just training for harvest & canning season, right?

I wrote before that I was considering letting go of the Master Gardener thing since it was becoming difficult making time for it, but it's spring and my favorite program of all is the 'Ready, Set, Grow!' program a group of us does for the local elementary schools.  I had 7 classes this week and the kids are so awesome, and really seem to like our program.  Basically, we have each class for an hour and get to teach them basic horticulture principles, along with stressing the importance of beneficial insects and not using chemical pesticide sprays.  It coincides with the end of their science unit on plants, so the kids were amazing, and knew most of the answers to the questions we asked!  They also get to plant sunflower and marigold seeds in cups to raise in their classroom windows and then plant in their school gardens when ready.  Some of these kids have gardens at home, but there are also classes with kids from less than optimum "growing conditions" at home so it feels really good to show these kids the joy of being outside and getting to know their plants and surroundings.

A peek at one of the classes:

My favorite part is what I have deemed the "touch tank", after those touch tanks in the aquarium & science exhibits.  Each morning before I head to school, I go out and collect whatever I have that is interesting and currently "happening" in my own yard and garden.  Below I have azaleas since our area is pretty famous for them, large Hosta leaves, variegated leaves, Fuchsia and Bleeding Hearts (the girls LOVE them!), cotton I grew last year, and lots of herbs for them to squish and smell like rosemary, mint, lemon balm, thyme, etc.  With the other Master Gardeners bringing their own things from their gardens, we have quite a layout for them to see.  The kids and teachers are really receptive and appreciative of us being there so it makes for a fun morning.  All the girls left class with azaleas in their hair, too cute!

This year is my first year as a "Team Leader" in the schools.  Basically it means I do the talk before the presentation of the film we show, tell the kids what Master Gardeners do, and where else in the city they can go to see other projects we are involved in that might interest kids such as the Farmer's Market Community Garden, or our Rain Garden and Chesapeake Bay "Buffer Zone" Garden at the Virginia Tech Agricultural Research Station.  

The gal that is in charge of the whole program surprised me with a beautiful gift the other day:

My own "Scout Leader Apron"!  She knew I was a Scout Leader and thought I needed one of these, are you kidding?  Of course I need that, it's gorgeous!  She is one awesome lady and the word "busy" doesn't even begin to describe her.  She's been an E.R. nurse by choice for many years, a Scout Leader herself, is a quilter, and she is at every project I can think of in the Master Gardener program, as well as keeping up her own gardens.  I noticed the apron had a tag on it with her name and web address, so no doubt she is selling her creations, too.  She said she is retiring from nursing now and I can't imagine how much more she will be involved in this summer!

Loch has been busy in his school garden this past week.  Here is one of his beds they just planted with lettuces, they also have potatoes and strawberries that are doing really well -

My big project for yesterday was baking a cake that looked presentable.  My church is having a fundraiser tonight and "auctioning" desserts to raise money for the kids' summer camps.

Of course I turned to Mama Pea's recipes!  My favorite by far is the Cranberry Almond Cake she posted, I made it for a Thanksgiving dinner and it was a hit, so that's my go-to dessert when looks count :)

Problem is, I can't seem to turn a nice looking cake out of one of those tube pans she uses to save my life!  So of course, I had to make two cakes, you know, the better looking one to go to church and the other one for us to test and make sure it isn't poison...LOL!

So here are the unglazed cakes, on the right I used the tube pan...what is my problem?  The one on the left I decided to layer upside down in a Bundt cake pan and when I flipped it out I was pretty happy with it. Crazy the different appearances of the same cake, but I assure you they taste the same!

My funky tube pan cake actually looked pretty good once glazed, this one we ate up already (with the help of my neighbors) :)

The other one make the cut to go to church tonight...

I don't even like cranberries and I LOVE this cake, and it's so easy to make - so go make one for yourself!  It's Mama Pea's recipe not mine so you know it will taste good :)

Apr 17, 2012

Mr. Loch Goes to Washington

The morning came very early today!  After the fun times waking the boys up at zero-dark-thirty and getting the zombies ready to roll, it was off to get Loch boarded on a bus headed for Washington D.C.! I am proud of myself, the only place my nervousness showed was his overpacked cooler of food and the ID tags hidden all over his backpack and pockets :)  I had to brief him on proper procedure "just one more time" on what to do if he gets separated from his group - his response was "I'll find some creepy guy in an ice cream truck and ask him for help" - it was his humor that let me know he can handle it, and he is definitely my kid, LOL!

Have I said lately how much I love the Math & Science Academy?  Fantastic program, teachers, and some bi#ch^n field trips!!  Public schools too, I must add!  I feel badly for parents and kids who don't have such great schools, but I feel that so many good schools and teachers bear the brunt of this "public school is awful" mentality.  Nope, I grew up in a great public school, and my kids have one too and I want to recognize those teachers for the devotion they have to the kids.  Don't get me wrong, our school board has some ridiculous stuff going on that I'll rant about another time, but the teachers are what make these kids, along with the parents supporting them and picking up the slack at home.  I'll stop now :)

Loch (in the red shirt):

These kids made me laugh trying to maneuver these coolers!

National Arboretum bound!  These buses hold the 3rd, 4th & 5th graders from the Math & Science Academy, Loch says they separate once there into grades, one going to Smithsonian, one to Arboretum, one to the National Zoo.  They will go each year so by the time 5th grade is here he will have seen all of those.  That's what I hear anyways, but that's coming from a 3rd grader LOL.

On to other happenings from the weekend:

A bolted cilantro plant in April?  Even when there's an early spring apparently the cilantro can't be timed with the tomatoes haha!

More vole-holes, they are everywhere this year, ugh - any bets on whether there will be any turnips attached to the foliage when it's time to pull LOL?

Seedlings are finally IN!!

Finnegan was my helper and planted most of the peppers.  The tomatoes got planted about a foot deep and were still tall!  I'm sooooooo glad that's over, now we wait...

I forgot to actually get a count of everything planted so I'll have to do that another day.

I also had the first day of the Ready, Set, Grow! program this year.  Yes, I'm still a Master Gardener - it was just me throwing an anxiety tantrum when I said I was going to quit because I was too busy, I'm back at it for another year :)  We had 2nd grade classes today at Finn's school, and Thursday will be another full day of classes at another school.  This month is our busy month for the program, as we have it coincide with the end of the kids' school based curriculum on Horticulture in science class.  

I'm exhausted.  I'm also wishing I was about 28 again, I had lots of energy then :)

I still have to manage to pick up Loch this evening when he gets back, I can't imagine how much fun he's having right now!