Sunday, January 24, 2021

Mixed Green Pesto! Yum! Jum!

Mixed Green Pesto 

I decided to make pesto using some of the greens from my garden.  I also didn't want to use pine nuts because they are so expensive!  So I used Cauliflower, Bok Choy, and Nasturtium leaves and cashew pieces.  I blanched the greens first so they would stay green even if I froze some and it turned out so, so good.  I have always disliked how once you pick the large cauliflower head, it no longer produces (broccoli still produces baby broccoli for some time after large head).  So, I used a huge cauliflower leaf, Bok Choy which are both very mild and some nasturtium leaves for a little zing! 

Sunset over Phoenix

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Woo Hoo It's 2021! We're gladly booting out 2020 and praying for a healthier 2021


Jules and I playing a duet
January 9, how well I remember that day when my baby boy came into the world.  I can't believe he is now 44!  Here he is blowing out the candle on his Birthday cake.  The cake a family favorite: spice with brown sugar frosting.  He has been such a blessing to me during this pandemic, doing most of the grocery shopping. 

Oh, the Covid pandemic is very bad in Phoenix right now.  I think we have the highest number of new cases per day in the world right now, 121 per 100,000.  I know 7 people who are currently in recovery in Phoenix.  None of them had to go into the hospital, thank God, and they are all past the worst and no longer contagious. I am taking Mom age 97 on Tuesday to the Cardinal Stadium to get her 1st covid vaccination.  I will ask if they will give me one also.  I hope they will since they just changed the age requirement.  However, they are not opening appointments to my age group till Tuesday.   

Alex, Helen and I had afternoon tea in the Fall with Mom and Daphine on the front patio.  We kept our distance, but cannot drink tea with masks, too bad.  Daphine lived in a retirement home and gets so lonely.  This was at a point when our AZ numbers weren't so high and they were allowing Daphine to leave as long as we didn't take her to any public place.  Now she lives further away and they don't allow her to leave or anyone to visit unless you have a current negative covid test.  She is really, really lonely. I think we have a light somewhere because of the Christmas miracle of the vaccine. 
Part of my butterfly garden a passion flower vine

This was a amazing cloud formation on the way to Flagstaff.  We haven't gone much recently because Gary is working and I'm trying to protect Mom.  This time Gary and I went up and Mom stayed home with the kids available to help her if needed while I was gone.   She doesn't need much help actually, still cooks her own meals and does daily living things well.  She is still riding her 3 wheel bike around the neighborhood!  She is very steady on her feet.  Amazing for 97! 

These are my new sliding barn type doors in the great room.  This room is the TV room, office and school room all rolled into one.  Behind one door I have a map of the good old USA and a Periodic Table colored poster.  With these doors it can become a guest room if I have company who wants to stay here. 

Here is Jules as an Egyptian Princess during our Ancient Egypt unit.  Note the jeweled collar, so stylish!  We learned about hieroglyphics, made our own Egyptian buildings and pyramids, made and played a popular board game from the time called senet, learned about the river Nile and Jules made her own reed boat.  My boat was a failure!  Jules had to redo it!


The Christmas tree with unopened presents
Christmas certainly was different this year.  There was no church, no choir, no Christmas eve service.  It was the first time in my life that I didn't go to Christmas Eve service.  Some churches are meeting again, but not my Methodist church.  So sad.  However, we made the best of it.  We started having family church here each one of the Sundays leading up to Christmas.  My Mom, Ryan, Faye, Javier, Jules and I meet here sang hymns, prayed, lit the advent candles, read and discussed Bible verses.  On Christmas eve Mom and I watched the live stream service which is just not the same and then on Christmas morning our family church gathered to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.  It was very touching. We like this family church and feel like the early church.  Faye and Javier brought and cooked breakfast.  All I had to contribute was orange juice from my last years crop.  Then in the afternoon Paul, Addie and Alli came over for dinner.  I realized later that I forgot to get out the Christmas crackers, so no silly hats and I forgot to take any pictures.  

On to something totally different. Here you see some of my worms who reside in a plastic box in my bedroom.  I feel them scraps.  Their favorite food is cut up banana peels!  I open the lid, greet the worms and put the fruit scraps around the box. Why do I have worms for pets you ask???  Well, every 6-9 months, I separate the worms from what is now mostly castings (their poop, but looks like rich dirt).  I put new shredded paper and coconut coir and add the worms.  Then the castings I put in a  plastic bucket which I've poked little holes and put it over a bigger bucket and run water through the castings.  I then have liquid gold fertilizer for my garden!
Here is my vegetable garden

It is January so I'm pruning my roses.  Since we got a rain and 2 irrigations a month or so ago, they are blooming their heads off right now.  So, I have a house full of beautiful roses and am also taking some around to neighbors to share the bounty.  If I don't prune them every year they will not be very big and beautiful after a couple of years.  My Mom taught be everything I know about roses, so thank you Mom.  Here is a picture of my roses in full bloom.  I also dry the pedals and use them along with orange peel in my special Carol's tea mix.  

Sunday, August 23, 2020

What 118 degrees? Jules the science kid!

My butterfly garden has been growing quite well

Yes, it has been hot.  Most days ever above 110 degrees.  All my summer squash fried and I had a invasion of squash bugs (start as little red eggs on back of leaves - turn into white to cream colored bugs with black legs).  Needless to say I lost all of my squash and my honeydew.  I only got a few yellow neck squash before the unending heat struck. So sad!  However, my butterfly garden has been doing quite well! So far only 2 monsoon rains this year.

No Social Distancing Allowed during afternoon social hour


 Mars Rover

We are currently learning about the Solar System.  We started paper on fire using a magnifying glass to show the power of the sun.  Even though I had done it before, when Jules was here, we couldn't get it to work.  It was about 115 degrees outside and we couldn't create even smoke!  Jules began to get worried, thinking that I would get heat stroke, so she kept bring out ice, cold towels and putting it on my back and head to keep me cool.  I think that I had the magnifying glass too close to the paper, so we tried it again the 2nd week and it worked great.  Later I found a wet frozen hand towel in the freezer, just waiting for the next hot day.  Well, we also did one quick experiment for each planet after she had drawn it.  For example, Mercury has lots of craters, so we threw rocks into flour covered with cocoa powder. We made volcanos for Venus as it has most inactive volcanos.  We made a baking and vinegar powered rocket for earth, she made a Mars rover out of legos.  We made a tornado in a jar for Jupiter, ice on strings to twirl around like Saturns rings, a stink bomb for Uranus and a cloud in a jar for Nepture. 

One of Venus's volcanos made with baking soda, vinegar, dish soap & food coloring

Ok, when I went to the post office to renew my passport just in case I ever get to travel again, I stopped at Carolina's to get Mexican food.  Tacos for Mom and I for lunch, a dozen tamales (8 red beef, 4 green) and a dozen flour tortillas.  I know that all the out of towners are very jealous.  Whenever my sisters or extended family come into town they always insist upon stopping at Carolina's on the way home or going to the airport to stock up.  It is at 12th street and Mohave.
Those in my family will recognize this as Carolina's our favorite Mexican food hole in the wall!

The week after we get irrigation, the local ditch is still flowing with water to deliver to other houses in the neighborhood.  Jules and I often go and play in the ditch.  Reminds me of the open ditches we played in and walked along on the way to school in South Phoenix as I was growing up.  It is so wonderful to have a little bit of rural Phoenix still left and so close to my house.  Most irrigation now go entirely through concrete pipes (invented by my great uncle in Australia!) so are no longer open.  I love this little section of old Phoenix in my neighborhood.  Jules does also as you can see!  She built a raft type boat out of sticks tied together with packing string with 2 apricot leafs for a sail.  We race them in the ditch.  She ended up sitting in the ditch to get totally cool!

I made this sweet blanket and 2 hats for a baby girl at church

Peach faced love bird enjoying the sunflowers
Soaked patio, Praise the Lord!

This was a double rainbow after our first monsoon rain

As part of our unit, "In Case of Fire" we studied how to use a fire extinguisher, how to put out small kitchen fires without a fire extinguisher, how to safely use fires in wilderness.  We also did chemistry experiments to see how baking soda and tartaric acid produces CO2 which can put out a flame. We also did fun, slightly scary experiments to make green fire from boric acid and methyl alcohol (in form of Heet) and a black snake from powdered sugar, baking soda and isopropyl alcohol seen above!

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Mom's 97th Birthday and her advice from WW2; Keep smiling and pray for a better world

Happy 97th Birthday Mom!

"Social Distancing" at Mom's Birthday dinner.  We have decided that I will be Mom's main contact with the world too keep her safe from the virus

My Mom wrote letter's to my Dad every day during WW2 and much of her advice and thoughts are perfect to help us get through this difficult time with the corona virus and so many of our U.S cities burning and property being destroyed by antifa or others taking advantage of unrest.  Here are some of her direct quotes from her World War Two letters:

Her advice on praying and keeping our spirits up:

"When the lights come on again all over the world everything will be all right once more and all this will be only a memory, so all we can do now is to keep smiling and pray for a better world" 

Here's her advice about shortages:
– Today I had two eggs for my lunch.  It’s such a long time since I have had two at a meal.  I really appreciated them.  A very kind old friend of ours who has a farm brought us in a dozen.  One thing about this was, it makes you appreciate things.  When you are so accustomed to having everything, it all becomes very ordinary & commonplace & when you have to do without them for a while they suddenly become quite valuable.  On Saturday too, Mrs. McSweeney brought us some cream.  It tasted wonderful.  I think it must be our lucky week. 

Her advice on love and needing others:
Darling, please let me know if there is anything you want and I’ll send it up to you.  No eggs yet, but as soon as we get some I’ll commandeer them and make you some cookies.  By the was, thank you very much for offering to put the world at my feet, but I really don’t need the world dear, all I need is you. 

When Dad was feeling down with the endless war  (as we might feel down about this seeming endless pandemic) she said:
Please don't think that everything in the world is bad.  Surely very much is bad, but then so much is good and beautiful.  Countless people all over the world are giving up all their spare time to help others less fortunate.  Surely these balance, yes they more than balance the bad elements in society.  Probably where you are now there is more bad than good, but even there you'll find something beautiful if you really look hard enough.  It might be a dirty bedraggled little child, but beauty is not always on the surface. Last, but not least, there is our love.  That, in my opinion, is very beautiful and sacred.  Darling, I want you to remember the beautiful things of life so that you can talk about them to our children, that they may be fine and pure and good, like their father.  "Whatsoever things are beautiful, true and pure think on these things" for thoughts are the unconscious molders of character.

Drive by 95th Birthday for Daphine by DBE

Apple Pie from the last of Mom's apples
Update on my Butterfly Garden
The Tent masterpiece
Jules crocheting in her tent at Birthday overnight

Saturday, July 4, 2020

God Bless America!

 We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness

WW2 Vets on Pearl Harbor day
July 4th parade Flagstaff

Friday, July 3, 2020

Home school, Moths and Butterflies, Hydroelectric power and Carol's crops

 I'm making a butterfly garden.  As you see below it is a work in progress, but there is limits to what I can plant in the middle of the summer in Phoenix.  I'm slowly getting rid of the grass in this area so I can sow butterfly friendly wildflower seeds in the Fall.  This is a extension of Jules and my Butterfly and Moth adventures.
We got a digital microscope which helped our studies considerably.  Below are pictures we took of our RIP Moth collection.  Pretty cool.  We learned the difference between moths and butterflies and could actually see the differences!
Moth Proboscus
Moth wing

Moth eye and hairy blond head

Beginning of the butterfly garden

 We made a water wheel to fit into our hydro power unit.  We visited Arizona Falls on the Grand Canal in Phoenix which was the first Hydroelectric plant in the Phoenix area.  This is where the canal takes a 20 foot drop creating a waterfall.

Now the falls are divided into 3.  This is the main one and behind the waterfall is a building that has the hydro electric generator

One of the side waterfalls
On the way to the falls, Jules was asking me questions from our Trivia game.  The question was, "What does chemistry study?"  I couldn't for the life of me remember the answer even though I wrote the question and answer!  Well, Jules gave me a clue, AMITU are the 1st letters of each word.  So I came up with, "A Might Interesting Toenail Union".  She says no Nana and we just laughed and laughed.  It stands for "All Matter In The Universe"!  She told me I should put this in my blog so we can laugh at it later on. 
This has a picture of the original water fall
This shows the hydroelectric power station which generates electricity to 150 homes still today!

 This was all leading up to making our own generator from a ScienceWiz kit.  Because  generator has a magnet, we reviewed the power of magnets.  We got the magnet box out again and Jules has more fun making a castle out of the iron filings and a magnet.  We started on the generator.  You connect a little light bulb up to a small motor and use a string as a hand crank to turn the shaft of the motor.  Well this was a failure because we couldn't get it to work!  This happens sometimes.  Jules just got the electric box out and tried to light the light with a battery. 

Water play in the back yard

We have 2 different sprinklers going here, fun, fun!
Ryan baked a pie with Grandma Coral's apples!

A baby Watermelon

Squash flowers

Fresh Peach pie
Peach Salsa

I know that I haven't even mentioned the pandemic compliments of the Communist Chinese Government but that's because I'm so ready for it to be over.  I stopped writing stats on my calendar on June 9, my birthday.  On that time we had 28,296 cases and 1,070 deaths in AZ.  Now we have 94,553 cases and 1,805 deaths.  Of these cases 47, 195 are in the 20-44 age group.  We have a population of a little over 7 million in AZ.  The only good thing is that many more 20-44 year olds have got it recently and they generally get mild symptoms unless they have other health problems.  Mom is even more home bound than I am, but seems to be doing just fine, thank you very much.  I was over at her house today.  I gave her peaches and she gave me apples so I can make an apple pie.  I offered to bring her to my house to hang out and she turned me down.  She's used to being alone as Dad died many years ago.  She says, "I'm my own best friend" and seems in good spirits.