Today has been a different kind of day.  It started last night when my friend went into labor and 3 additional kids came to stay with us.  Since my two kids were already in bed when the others arrived, we had a calm night.  Nick and Sally woke up to find their friends at our house.

We had a busy day at home with stickers, coloring, games, blocks, and trains.  We also read books and watched shows such as Bob the Builder, The Cat in the Hat and Curious George.

Before the day really got going (and while Stephen was still here), I made play dough.  I had never made it before.  My sister and mom always tell me how easy and inexpensive it is.  Today, was the day!

I never got a chance to ask my mom for her recipe of choice, so I searched around on line and made a combo of standard recipes.


  • 1 cup water
  • 1T vegetable oil
  • food coloring
  • 1T cream of tartar
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1 cup flour

I took a regular sized sauce pan and added all of the ingredients except the flour.  I heated and stirred  it on medium until it was hot and well mixed.  Then, I added the flour.  I stirred until it was thick and well combined.

I took it off the heat, plopped it in a bowl and let it cool.

I made yellow, blue and green.  Each batch was quick and easy.  I think each batch took about 5 minutes.  I was surprised how easy the pan cleaned up in between batches.


The result was lots of fun in the kitchen.  I also read to store it in the fridge in a Zip Loc bag or other airtight container.  It should keep for a few weeks.

The kids are staying again tonight.  We are in the process of calming them down and getting them ready to sleep.  It’s been a fun albeit nontraditional day and we’ll do it again tomorrow!


Last Monday evening, I had the privilege of listening to Michael Pollan live at the Ohio Theatre.  The evening was part of the Cuyahoga County Public Library’s Writers Series.  My husband Stephen, Lisa and I attended.


Mr. Pollan is the author of several books and has appeared on the NY Times best sellers list. My favorite book so far is Food Rules. I have the non-illustrated version, but a new version with pictures is coming out this week. In a nutshell, Mr. Pollan describes 64 rules for eating. Don’t eat anything your great grandparents wouldn’t recognize as food. This is just one of many of the rules. The new addition has additional rules. If you aren’t hungry enough to eat an apple, you probably aren’t really hungry.

The talk was done in an interview format and was quite thought provoking.


The evening ended with a book signing and a photo. I was so glad to be inspired by the evening.  I was also happy to celebrate Food Day in this way.


Our church hosted a Trunk or Treat Halloween Party tonight.  We had never been to it before and our kids were the perfect age this year.  They had a great time.  There were plenty of volunteers from the church and the key club and the kids loved all of the attention.

Sally was a baker and Nick was a firefighter.  The first order of business was making and eating a witch hat out of a cookie, lots of icing and a sugar cone.


Sally got a kick out of using the knife to ice the cookie.  She played this game where you have to throw the ball into the hole.  After 4 tries from 2 inches away, she made it!


The hall was filled with games and kids in costume.  Sally enjoyed making a finger puppet.

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A pumpkin photo shoot was available.  Then, you could make a frame and leave with your framed photo.  The evening ended with indoor trunk or treat down the hallway.  (Apparently, the trick or treating happens outside when the weather is nice.)


We were able to limit the sugar rush and both kids are now in bed.  Everyone had a great time!


Yesterday, we picked up week 22 of the summer Fresh Fork CSA.  It was the last pick up.  I’m glad that the winter CSA starts next week.  We received a few higher dollar items, so we didn’t have as many different things.  That was fine with me.

Here’s what we were expecting to receive this week:

Small CSA:

  • 1 pack of Berkshire pork chops, center cut and boneless. Approx. 1 to 1.25 lbs.
  • 1 quart farmstead yogurt
  • 8 oz. aged cheddar cheese, pepper Havarti ,or Havarti cheese
  • 1 head Napa cabbage
  • 1 quarter peck Jonagold apples
  • 1 bag of mixed salad/braising greens
  • 2 count butternut squash

Here’s a group shot:


The Berkshire pork chops are one of our favorite items from Fresh Fork.  We’ll bake them in the oven with spices and apples for a yummy dinner.


I’ve only had Napa cabbage one other time.  I’m not sure what fate it will have.  Spaghetti squash was substituted for the butternut squash.  I was hoping for butternut.  We like spaghetti squash ok, but it’s not our favorite and it’s less versatile.


The mixed green will probably go into salad.  If not, we can sauté them.  We were out of yogurt and there wasn’t any on the truck last week, so we were happy to see it expected this week.


Cheese is always a bit hit in our house.  This is aged cheddar and we can’t wait to try it.


We picked up an extra yogurt ($5) and a bag of honey puffed spelt ($3) while we were there.


I’m excited to have a slower week in terms of items that have to be used right away.  I’m recovering from a badly bruised knee and a little less kitchen time will be a good thing for a few days.


I was planning to post my weekly Fresh Fork CSA pick up today.  My computer network is not cooperating.  Hopefully, I can remedy the problem in the morning.

Instead, I’ll tell you about another injury.

Yesterday, while going into the JCC, Sally and I started to jog.  She likes to run to the door once we hit the sidewalk.  I’m not sure if Nick wondered in front of us or if Sally and I tripped over each other.  I can tell you that my left knee to the brunt of the fall as I tried not to fall on top of Sally.  She was crying and covered in mud, but she looked ok.  My knee was killing me.

We made out way into the J and sat on a bench to regroup.  I took the kids to the playroom and cleaned up Sally.  This involved putting Nick’s spare shorts on her since he pants were muddy and soaked.  It looks ridiculous, but works in a pinch.

I went to the desk and got an ice pack for my knee that was starting to swell.  By the time I did a very short workout and shower, I knew that I needed to get it checked out.

I called Stephen and he met us at the library so he could take the kids while I figured out my doctor strategy.  Do I try for a same day ortho appointment, do I go to the ER, urgent care or regular doctor?  I ended up with a same day appointment with internal medicine.

She ordered an x-ray.  It was negative.  I was glad nothing was broken or fractured.  She prescribed crutches, NSAIDS, ice, compression and elevation.

I headed to an ortho appointment today.  He checked to make sure my MCL and ACL were intact and told me that I have a “big boo boo”.  Basically, my knee is swelled up so much that I can barely bend it and nature needs to take its course.

I can do anything that is tolerable.  I’m glad that it wasn’t more serious, but it is still very painful.

Hopefully, I can have a weekend ahead with lots of rest and recuperation and be back in the swing of things next week.


Yesterday, we headed back to Eddy Fruit Farm to meet up with friends for the last of the season’s apple picking.  It was a perfect fall day, complete with beautiful foliage.



The folks in the market let us know what was available and we once again found signs indicated we were in the right place.


We picked Mutsu and Melrose apples.


We were only there about a half hour.  We picked 17 pounds of apples and paid $15.30.  I didn’t get a photo of our apples, but it was two reasonable bags worth.


We’ve had a great time picking and exploring the farms this year.  I can’t wait for June strawberries!


Today was our last visit to Whole Foods to pick up our 2011 summer CSA.  Just about every week, we were greeted by Andrew.  He usually works in the kitchen in the morning, but somehow ended up with the Tuesday afternoon CSA gig most of the summer.  He was super nice to everyone, especially Nick and Sally.


The photos are dark again this week.  Maybe I can figure out some evening lighting for next year.  Here’s the group shot for this week.


Let’s take a closer look:

Green onions, green beans


Red Russian Kale, bell peppers


Butternut squash, lettuce


Radishes, apples


Sweet potatoes, tomatoes




We’ve been going through a ton of apples this year.  Between morning oats, snacks and applesauce, I can’t keep them in the house.  We went picking for the last time this year, but I was still glad to see apples in our pick up today.

I still have some cabbage in our fridge.  I’ll be making another batch of unstuffed cabbage in the crockpot Thursday.  It will use the garlic, tomatoes, bell peppers, and green onion.  I love having a recipe that uses many CSA ingredients and is also flexible.

My kids have been asking for sweet potatoes the last couple of days.  I usually slice them, season them and bake them.  They disappear quickly with a bit of ketchup for dipping.

Lettuce and some radishes will go in lunch salads.  The rest of the radishes will go into turnip soup.  The green beans make an easy side dish.

I’m not quite sure about the squash yet.  I’m thinking about making some butternut squash soup, but I’m not sure of the timing since I need to make turnip soup first.

It’s supposed to get cold this week.  I’m glad we have some hearty items that go well with ovens and soup.  It’s been a fun season.  I’m already excited about the winter CSA.


The Smart Home was built on the Cleveland Museum of Natural History this summer for use as an exhibit about passive houses.  Since we frequent the museum, we watched the house being built over the course of many Wednesday evenings.  A few weeks ago, we learned that the house was being moved to its permanent location today.  Despite the rainy weather, the kids and I headed to Wade Oval to watch the production.

The first photo is the lot where the house was going.  It’s about a mile from the museum.  The route was clear except for a few utility crews that were working to make sure the house would clear lines.



We arrived to the museum area just before 9AM and set up shop.  The kids loved the big umbrella.  We did make a trip back to the car for mittens a few minutes after this photo.


After while, the rain subsided and the kids ran around.  It was wet and muddy.  I was glad that I brought clean, dry clothes (and shoes).


Seeing the house up on the truck was amazing.


I was in awe watching it move.


The museum photographer took a photo for us.


It was a good thing that tree cutters were on hand.  This tree was trimmed just a few yards from the starting point.


Around 11AM, we headed for home.  This photo was taken from the front of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.  The house had made it just across the oval.


I’m sure it would have been great to see it arrive at its new home, but we didn’t really know how long the move would take.  I suspected it would arrive during nap time.  I had plans to see Michael Pollan tonight, so we spent the morning at Wade Oval and headed home.  We definitely saw the most exciting part for the kids.  It was a great exhibit!


Today, we headed to Firestone Metro Park in Akron to go on a hike with my grandma.  I haven’t done much hiking with her in a while.  The Metro Parks Serving Summit County have a hiking spree and we used to do it as a family when I was growing up.  You travel around to the different parks and need to hike 8 out of 13 trails to complete the spree.  My grandma has completed the spree 29 out of the last 30 years.  Today was her last hike of the season so now she’s done 30 seasons!

Today’s trail was called the Redwing Trail.


It was a perfect fall day.


There were a few muddy patches and a couple of puddles.  It was just how Nick likes it.


We’ve spent time in parks with Nick and Sally, but this was their first real hike.  It had a planned beginning, end and signs to follow to stay on the right trail.


Here’s a photo of my grandma with the kids and me.  She just completed the spree for 2011.


Here’s a close up!


While we were taking photos, she took a group shot of the 4 of us.


We brought a stroller for Sally, but she ended up walking almost all of the hike.  We’ll definitely be going on more family hikes next year.  We are going to try the Cleveland Metro Parks Walking Works Program that starts in June.  After today, I feel like the kids will be ready.


When it rains, it pours.  We were invited to 2 different Halloween parties today.  We were able to go to one party for a bit and leave early and be fashionably late for the second party.  Everyone had a great time and the kids are exhausted.  Maybe we’ll be lucky and they’ll both sleep until 7AM.

The host of the first party is an Art Director for her full time job.  Everything detail is always done extremely well!  We arrived just after 3PM.  There were carnival games such as a spider ring toss, Halloween corn hole, penny toss and pin the tail on the black cat.


All of the kids and some of the parents were in costume.  One family game as pirates.


There was a train table which Nick and Sally loved.  There was also plenty of themed food.  Mummy pizza, sunflower butter and jelly sandwiches shaped like pumpkins and bats, a candy board with miniature bags of candy where just a few of the items on the first table.


This veggie tray was done up like a cemetery.  The sweets table had spider treats, eye ball doughnuts and others.


There was a craft table set up with bead necklaces and put a sticker face on paper pumpkins.  Soon enough, we were all outside for the piñata.  Notice the Man in the Yellow Hat.  He came with his sister Curious George.


Everyone took a turn at the piñata.  It finally broke with some adult intervention.


Everything was nicely decorated.  I also remembered to get a photo with the host.


We arrived at the second party around 5PM.  Everyone brought something and we had fruit, veggies, pizza and a couple of desserts for dinner.  The kids enjoyed seeing each other and being all dressed up.

This photo has all of the older kids.


This photo was our attempt at all of the kids including two babies.


After dinner, there was lots of playing.  Nick was again enamored with the trains.  I see a train table in his future.


We all had a great day!