Recently tried recipes


I've fallen behind on sharing recipes we've tried. Time to catch up!
  • Cucumber tomato salad. Really good, but we all agreed that it would be just as good without the dressing.
  • The best fruit salad. It was really good!
  • Homemade crunchwrap supreme. I made this recipe vegan by subbing avocado for sour cream, taco quinoa for meat, refried beans for cheese. My family loves them and we've already made them twice! They are a lot of work though.
  • Potato leek vegan quiche. This turned out pretty well. I used canned artichoke hearts instead of leeks (I would try it with onions or leeks next time). I also made it crustless, since it saved time, and since pie crust isn't that great for you anyway.
  • Cajun tofu with creamy grits and greens. We liked this but the kids complained so much about it that I don't know if I'll bother making it again. But I like that it was something different.
  • Spicy sweet potato wedges. We all liked these; I left out the oil. My kids think they hate sweet potatoes but when I cut them up like fries and roast them, they think they're great.
  • Ukrainian borscht. Not a huge hit, but we enjoyed it well enough. I would like to make it again. I left out the sausage and sour cream, and used a can of beets instead of cooking my own.
  • Roasted garden veggies. Yummy!
  • Curly pasta salad. We like this, but I change it up with different veggies (cherry tomatoes, peppers, and spinach), and leave out the soy sauce.
  • Grilled zucchini hummus wrap. Yummy, but too much work. Maybe I'd make it again if we happened to have leftover roasted veggies and hummus. 
  • Baked barbecue tofu. One of our family favorites.
  • Grilled ratatouille pasta salad. I thought this would be amazing, but it turned out pretty meh.
  • Vegan broccoli salad with raisins. I loved this! 


Just enough

The season's second picking of the strawberries I use for ground cover in my front flowerbed yielded just enough to liven up my morning oatmeal. I had them all to myself because Red Chief is reluctant to eat them ever since he found out that bugs and slugs like them too.


Pip takes breakfast into his own hands

Taking advantage of everyone else's distraction, Pip proved to us that he could indeed get seconds all by himself.



A bouquet of garden flowers, a bunch of friends for a party, a few gifts, and an Oreo cake.

And suddenly she's eight.


The garden

My daily half-hour in the garden is paying off. And I have never regretted planting the whole middle bed in flowers and herbs a few years ago. I like growing food, but the flowers make me happier.



I usually read children's or teen fiction, classics, and non-fiction. But this week I craved books about grown-ups. So I breezed through the adult section and picked out a few promising-looking books. I usually read from my list and vet each book carefully, so this is definitely a departure for me. I'll let you know if I find any gems.

Each of my big kids is helping me pick and cook a dinner each week throughout the summer. We did this last summer too. I try not to interfere in their selections, but I won't let them make the same thing every week.

In the garden
I've been getting up early every morning and spending half an hour in the garden. This is allowing me to reduce guilt, enjoy the garden, and catch up all at once! Oh, and spend quality time with Red Chief: ever since he found out what I was doing, my early riser has been getting up to help me.

In the home
I have a new summer schedule that's been going very well. For months I have been focusing on daily routines, but I am shifting to a new focus on weekly routines. I really have to get down to business and get my work done quickly because my children demand (and deserve!) a lot of attention in the summer.

Talks a lot. And sings. And yells. Family meetings are a bit hard because no one can hear anything. But he is just about the cutest thing ever created, so it's hard to get mad at him. His latest pleasure is foot baths in the bathroom sink: we soak his dry and cracked feet, then rub in cream and put on socks. The socks never stay on for long, though!

Tiger Lily
Started ballet this summer. Loves it. She'll also be starting twice-monthly activities with girls her age at church soon. I will be trying to schedule lots of time with friends for her this summer, as she is a social creature and pines when she doesn't see enough people.

Red Chief
French horn. Legos. Peanut butter on a spoon. Green olives. Comic books. Microscope. Stargazing.

Orchestra is out for the summer and I definitely miss it. I am still teaching over the summer, though, and I have some viola practicing to do: my viola student is moving along quite fast, and I need to learn the songs in the next book (viola is not my main instrument, so I'm not as familiar with the repertoire).

We've been having beautifully cool weather with plenty of rain and thunderstorms. I could live with this indefinitely!

Struggling to get the motivation to sew. I promised Tiger Lily a white dress for her baptism, which is coming up next month.

Taking a weeknight class at church on personal finance. I am learning a lot, and surprisingly, it's mostly spiritual. I'm glad I signed up!

"I wish I'd a knowed more people. I would of loved 'em all. If I'd a knowed more, I would a loved more."
Song of Solomon, Toni Morrison

How to keep my balance this summer, so I keep up the routine that I started, but not try to do too much and get burned out by the end.


An understanding

The neighbor's cat (front) and our cat Mia have finally come to an understanding, after much spying and hissing and growling. They are now content to sit in the same area, pretending to ignore each other, without fighting. Most of the time.


Pip takes dinner into his own hands

That's my biggest bowl full of watermelon.

Something new

Red Chief has chosen to play French horn in middle school band next year. When I talk to brass players about it, they first thing they ask is, "Does he have a good ear?" The second thing they say is, "You know French horns are expensive, right?" Luckily for Red Chief, he does have a good ear (and about three years of piano lessons)—and as for the expense, well, see below. We were blessed.

I started looking for a private teacher early, hoping we'd find one by the end of the summer—and found one surprisingly fast. The good news is that he helped us find a high-quality used horn, and that saved us about $1700. And he's an excellent teacher and professional player. The bad news is that the lessons are downtown (not very close to our house) during rush hour on Friday.

Red Chief will have a whole summer of lessons under his belt before he starts band next year. So far he likes it enough to practice twice a day, and he's making good progress. (He can find four or five notes consistently! Hooray!)


The end

It's been a good year at school. The big kids have both had excellent teachers. We cobbled together this last-day-of-school thank-you gift from our garden at the last minute. I am looking forward to having all my kids home all summer.