Sunday, August 26, 2012

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Sunflowers

The sunflowers in my garden this year are off the hook.  They're all volunteers, I didn't plant a single one this year - obviously I didn't need to!  The light yellow, multi-branching ones are especially impressive - I counted no less than 36 blooms open on just one plant (and that's without counting the ones that were over or the buds yet to bloom).  It's incredible. 


Grandma Joy's pose says it all!


 
GG and Conan admire some of the more unusual sunflower types.  In addition to the standard yellow and orange, we also have a few ringed with dark red and one that makes a giant orange pom-pom of petals.

 
In the cold frame, the pepper plants are doing amazingly well, producing tons of peppers and generally looking happier and healthier than any other year's plants ever have. 

 
This is one of our new berries, the Aronia.  This is the first year it has fruited for us, and it pulled out all the stops.  The plant isn't very big, but it is absolutely covered with berries.  The berries are black and fairly firm, even when they are ripe (or at least, we think they are ripe).



The berries are tart and astringent eaten straight off the bush, but have a good flavor overall and are certainly abundant. With GG and Conan's help I picked 4 quarts of berries and made a little over 5 pints of delicious jelly.


Sunday, August 19, 2012

Remlinger Farms

On Friday Conan and I met Tombi, Moira and Kiah as well as Grandma Debbie and Poppy and Chloe at a place called Remlinger Farms, near Carnation, WA. We had a blast.

 There are Pony Rides:
 
 
Antique vehicles for playing in:

 
An animal barn where you could buy handfuls of feed to give the animals (I bet they have to empty the quarters out of those machines 3 times a day):

 
Lots of cute cut-outs for taking pictures:


A real miniature steam train that goes on a 10 or 15 minute loop around the farm, past animal enclosures (we saw an emu!) and through a tunnel before returning to the station:

 
 
A hay barn with a hay-bale maze and a large area of loose hay for jumping in with a climbing wall along one side:

 
 
Chloe is hands-down the best 3-year-old climber you'll ever see.  She's got monkey toes.

 
 
The canoe ride was very popular, the kids called it the "duck catching ride" and made a game of trying to capture the duck decoys that floated along in the flume.

 
The carousel was also very popular:


Look! No hands!

There were many other fun rides as well, including a mini Ferris wheel, a kid-powered spinning ride, cars that drove (automatically) along a track, spinning barrels, and more. The roller coaster was down for repairs, but apparently is usually quite a popular ride. We had a great time, and it was well worth the drive - we'll do it again next year, for sure!

Monday, August 06, 2012

Lake Sylvia

Super Ultra Family Campout 2012 was a total success!



Lake Sylvia was a beautiful venue for our campout. I was initially not impressed - the lake is small, tree-lined, and not very far (5 minutes? maybe less.) from the nearest town. But it delivered big fun. We swam in the water right from our campsite as well as visiting the designated swimming area, the kids formed a tricycle gang and rode up and down the campground road, we paddled all around the lake and explored its nooks and crannies in our inflatable kayak, we saw otters, canada geese, and millions of newts, and we ate and drank and generally had a marvelous time together. It was everything a family campout should be.

Update: More pictures, collected from all the cameras on hand, can be viewed at Gabe's site: http://www.gabetaylor.net/General/lakeSylvia2012/
Bonus newt video:

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Olympia

This past weekend we went to Olympia for Eric's "Barty" celebrating his completion of the Bar Exam. He looked far more relaxed than I've seen him in the past several years - it's good to be done with school and tests!
 
Our visit also happened to coincide with the "Paddle To Sqauxin" with canoes from as far north as Alaska arriving in Olympia Sunday morning for a day of ceremony and celebration. We went down to the beach to watch them come in.
 
Some of the canoe crews sang beautiful chants as they came into the inlet. I caught a little bit on video:


We also spent some time at one of Conan's favorite pastimes: looking under rocks for crabs.

 
Morgan is sure growing up. She's 3 now, and so confident and independent!  It's really neat to see her turning into a big girl.
 
Lots of people were out to watch the canoes come in, including large flocks of kayakers. It was very festive.
 
Back at Casa Taylor, the backyard fun complex was very popular. Conan and Morgan played together for hours.
 
It was wonderful to sit in Gabe's lovely gazebo and listen to the kids playing happily.
 
It's a long drive to Oly, but it's always worth the trip. We'll have to visit more often!