Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Time for a little summer refreshment!

It's supposed to be on the warm side this weekend and I plan on working out in the garden quite a bit.  I'm already woefully behind and it's only mid-May!  After a hard day working in the garden on a hot day, I love nothing more than kicking back with a great drink.  What I often crave is a chilled glass of Sangria.

Most sangria recipes I've come across are for white wine, but many years ago, my in-laws introduced me to their favorite camping drink: a red wine sangria.  This has become our standard camping trip drink also.  Then, a few years ago, it dawned on me that I didn't have to be camping to truly enjoy this drink.  Especially when it's so easy to make and so refreshing on a warm summer night.  So, I started making the drink to enjoy at home too.  It's great for those summer cookouts when you want to serve your guests something other than a cold beer.  (Not that I've turned down a cold beer either!)

Refreshing Red Summer Sangria

2 oranges, cut into 4-6 wedges, seeds removed
2 lemons, cut into 4-6 wedges, seeds removed
3 limes, cut into 4-6 wedges
1/3 to 1/2 cup sugar (Depends on how sweet you want it. I use a 1/2 measuring cup, not quite filled up.)
1 4 Liter bottle of burgundy wine (We use a jug of Carlo Rossi Burgundy, but any kind will do)

 Place the fruit in the bottom of a large pitcher (we actually use a Coleman 2 gallon jug like this one) and sprinkle sugar over the top.  Let sit for a few minutes to allow the sugar to wick some of the juices from the fruit.  Pour the wine over the top and chill for 8-12 hours.  Stir prior to serving.  Enjoy!

Let me warn you:  this makes a pretty large batch.  Truly makes enough for a crowd to enjoy!  Now, for a couple of suggestions:
  •  If you choose to make the whole batch for a small group to enjoy night after night, I'd simply suggest removing the fruit after 3-4 days.  If you leave the fruit in longer than that, you start to introduce the bitter flavor of the pith into the drink.
  •  Don't have 8-12 hours before you want to enjoy it?  Squeeze the citrus as you add it to the pitcher.  This will add more of the citrus flavor to your drink.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

What a difference a few days can make!

Five days ago, A. and I sat huddled up on the couch (still getting over the flu-like symptoms that had plagued our house all week) wondering how much higher I could put the thermostat.  Today, it's 10 AM and I'm already in shorts and a tee, worrying how much more I'll manage to get done around the house before I wilt.

The frost we've had over the last 2 weeks has done some damage, but happily, most everything seems to have made it through okay.  My azalea bush had the potential of beyond spectacular this year, but the long cold spell with lots of cold rain did some damage.  Two years ago, I read online how coffee grounds are great for azalea bushes. So, whenever I managed to think of it, I'd take hubby's weekend coffee grounds out and just dump them out over the plant.  What a great piece of advice!  Two years ago, I had 3 blooms.  That's it.  So, even though some of the buds will probably never open due to frost damage, this is quite the exciting sight for me!
Not bad, eh?  I'm not really into pink, but I'm loving seeing all those pink blooms this year!

We've also gained a new butterfly this year... or at least this is the first year I can remember seeing this kind around our house:
After taking this picture, I immediately came in, loaded up the picture and started searching for a web page to identify our new neighborhood friend.  I came across this great site, Gardens with Wings.  What a great site!  I think the above butterfly is a Red Admiral.  It seems to be especially fond of this white screen door.  Hopefully it will continue to come by and say hello in the days to come.

Not the week I had planned...

The kids have been sick all. week. long.   To the point that both kids actually missed school.  This is not normal for my kids.  They both started with a fever and body aches over the weekend, with more cold-like symptoms joining the party as the week progressed and the fever finally dissipated.

On the bright side, I've been recording all the episodes of "Once Upon a Time" on the DVR for the three of us to watch since last fall.  I think before this week we had managed to watch 3 episodes from the entire season.  We now only have one episode left before we're all caught up!

My oldest, A., HATES to miss school for any reason whatsoever.  He actually got very angry with me the one time I had to schedule a last minute dentist appointment during school hours.  Unforgivable in his eyes.  So this week was especially hard on him.  He missed school only on Monday but then forced himself through the rest of the week.  I'm actually glad they had a half day Thursday and no school Friday.  I'm not sure he would have made it the rest of the way through the week.  Yesterday, both boys were home by 12:30.  A. immediately wrapped himself in a blanket and refused to move from the couch.  By 3 PM, he had given up on the couch and had decided to go to bed.  He didn't get out of bed until 10 AM this morning.  With my kids, that's pretty darn sick.

My youngest, T., has been an absolute grump all week long.  He's usually all smiles and laughs.  But not this week.  And especially not today. Finally, I convinced the two of them to check out our vast array of art supplies and choose something... ANYTHING... that would entertain them without requiring too much energy on their part.  They chose the shaving cream, something we had never tried before, but I was interested in trying with the kids, especially after reading The Artful Parent's post about making Marbled Paper with Shaving Cream.  Not only was it a hit, but T. was smiling and giggling.  And I managed to vacuum the living room.  Something I've been trying to accomplish all week.

We started by squirting out some shaving cream onto an acrylic box frame and spreading it out with a wide craft stick.  For T., the craft stick was quickly replaced by his hands... and a big smile!

Once the shaving cream was spread out, we added some drops of food coloring and swirled it together with a small craft stick:
Place paper on top and smooth it out and then pull off the paper:
 Let the paper dry for about 10 minutes and then scrape off the shaving cream:
Once A. had made several sheets, he decided it was more fun to play with the leftover shaving cream:

All in all, a nice easy project and a great way to keep two sick boys entertained!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Why “cognitive float”?

I would never go so far as to say that I originated the phrase "cognitive float."  For one, that's just not who I am.  And for two, a quick Google search yields an interesting array of locations where this phrase is used by others.

For me, it's been a phrase I have used for at least the last 20 years.  It all started one day when I tried to explain to someone how I had managed to get from one sentence to the next completely unrelated sentence during a conversation.  I'm sure you've experienced similar situations!  You know, you start off by saying "We need to buy dog food when we go shopping this weekend."  quickly followed by the sentence "Do you think we should plant garlic in the garden this year?"  Well, around here we call that a cognitive float.

I have considered starting my own blog for a long time now, but never quite sure what category I'd want to continually blog on week after week.  Especially since I don't really feel like I have enough expertise on any subject to create a quality blog.  And then it dawned on me!  What I do best is cognitive float from knitting to cooking to art projects with my kids and on and on.

So, here we are.  Day one.  Hopefully this will prove to be of interest to someone out there and not just useless ramblings on a boring blog.