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Randoms

1. Our neighbors are mostly comprised of older retirees, aka surrogate grandparents. About a week ago, one lovely couple stopped me and asked if they could take Riley, my bird-loving 9 year old, to a talk about local birds given by a scientist from the Lab of Ornithology. It was not, she said, a talk for kids, but given Riley’s incredible passion for and knowledge of birds (and his proclamation that he, indeed, will be an ornithologist when he grows up), she thought he might like it.

Now, I don’t let my child get into just anyone’s car. I’m very particular about who I trust my children with. But this couple, these wonderful neighbors of ours, have my trust. And so they drove off with Riley on Monday night. (They also brought him back.) And he had a great time. Love our neighbors. And I love that they care enough for my kids and their interests to ask to take them places. Really, so cool.

2. I recently bought way too many concord grapes from a local farmer (and by “way too many” I mean like 12 pounds.) (I know. After the fact, I wondered what I was thinking, too. So did Steve.) The kids were thrilled and I was too until I got home with all these grapes and thought, “Oh, crap. What am I going to do with them all?” (Someday I’ll own a juicer, and such questions will be moot.)

So I made pie. Grape pie. I’d never had it before, and was a bit worried that it was going to taste like grape-jelly pie (I mean, really. What else could it taste like?), but I HAD ALL THESE GRAPES, you see. The pie turned out really good. Color me surprised. (And purple, after all those grapes.)

3. I had SO MANY GRAPES (I tell you, it was insane that I bought that many with no plan) that I froze some for a future pie and made grape jam, because that seemed like a good idea at the time. Unfortunately, I ended up not realizing the jam was ready and let it cook too long. So instead of three 16 oz jars of homemade grape jam, I now have three 16 oz jars of grape tar.

Seriously. The stuff doesn’t move inside the jars. Even when I turn them upside down, so I’m pretty sure it’s going to be impossible to spread on bread (it will, rather, rip the bread to shreds when we try, which is not usually the result we’re after). I speak from experience on this. I made blueberry tar a couple of years ago. TRIED to use it, ended up throwing out several jars because it was just impossible.

I may try to use the grape tar as the fruit filling in these jam bars I make that are TO DIE FOR. This is the recipe here, which calls for raspberry jam but you can use any kind, and instead of walnuts I use almonds that I’ve run through the food processor (because I’m too lazy to chop them by hand). I often make it dairy free by using Earth Balance instead of butter, too, which is equally delicious. Also, I suggest doubling it and baking it in a 13 x 9 pan because you will be really sad if you don’t. (I know this for fact.) (And, you’re welcome. In advance.) :-)

4. I took the kids over to a friend’s house this week and we got to see first hand how baskets are made completely by hand—from harvesting the wood to the final product. What an amazing process it is, and these baskets my friend makes are gorgeous. They are strong and incredibly sturdy, and just wow, you know? I mean, you can tell when you see them or hold them in your hands that they were made with care, precision, craft, skill, and love. Look here to see for yourself. (But really, you should see them in person.) Serious craftsmanship going on there, I tell you.

5. It’s been an unusually busy week for us—we’ve been out and about every day. I’d say I was looking forward to relaxing this weekend, but we have the boys’ last two soccer games of the season, one Saturday, one Sunday. What I need right now is a few of days at home, not having to go anywhere. Next week! (I can’t tell you how much I look forward to that.) Hopefully those days will be spent curled up in front of the fire. (This is the beauty of homeschooling. We choose when and where we go. And when we don’t. Love that.)

Have a great weekend everyone!

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