SugarHouse Mama

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Adjoa's Hair

So I received a comment on my blog about Adjoa's hair.  It made me laugh, it was so stupid.

In case anyone else wants a justification from me, here I go.

I have spent HOURS researching the best hair care methods for black hair.  I KNOW the hair care is different.  Give me a break!  I was researching about hair before Adjoa was even home with us.

I opted to do natural hair care for her.  Most of the way black salons and many black women care for their hair is extremely damaging.

I use all natural products on her hair and we have a system that works wonderfully for her hair and our family.  Part of that system involves an afro style every once in a while.

Anyone who has actually SEEN my child and her hair knows what good condition it's in.  I have black people stop me in stores and make comments about how soft her hair is, and what great condition it's in.  I have black mothers go out of their way to tell me what a good job I'm doing.

I'm proud of the care we take with her hair.  We've experimented and some things work great, others don't. 

I only ask 2 things before you pass judgment on my child's hair:
  • Look at more than a couple pictures of her.  It's obvious we take care of her hair.
  • Look at her hair in person.
I guess I shouldn't be offended by it - it's been one uneducated comment in the 2 years I've been caring for her hair.  I just feel if you are really trying to be helpful, you leave a name or contact info, or you suggest valuable help.  Not just "AA hair is different than your hair and you need to care for it differently.  You are damaging her hair." 


Oh.  And for the record, I have taken her to salons and had black women do her hair a couple times.  When braiding, they pulled so hard I was worried about damage to the roots, and they put a bunch of chemicals on her hair that dry out and damage black hair.  When I asked about natural products, they just gave me a blank stare.  I figured I was better off with my Hair Care Yahoo Group, Youtube vids from women and mothers who care for their hair naturally, and reading books.

Besides that - she's FOUR YEARS OLD, PEOPLE.  So what if her hair looks a little tired at the end of a day of playing.

Thanks for the rant.  I just had to vent.  Stupid things sometimes make me mad.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Where the World Wide Web Led Me Today

I'm hosting our upcoming book club next week.  We are reading People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks, and it's been a while since I read it, so I thought I'd get started on some research.  I spent an obscene amount of time on the World Wide Web, but found some fascinating things.

Here's the path my internet-based quest for information took me on today, as told in pictures - mostly.

Passover Chocolate Torte

1/2 cup pareve margarine
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
5 eggs, separated
3/4 cup white sugar
1 cup ground almonds


1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line bottom and sides of a 9 inch springform pan with foil. Grease foil.

2.Melt margarine and chocolate over low heat. Stir until smooth and let cool.

3.In a medium-size mixing bowl, beat whites until stiff; about 2 minutes. In a separate bowl, beat together yolks and sugar until thick and pale; about 1 minute. Blend in chocolate mixture and stir in almonds. Fold in beaten whites, 1/3 at a time, into chocolate until no streaks of white remain. Scrape into prepared pan.

4.Place an 8 inch baking pan with 1 inch of water in it on the bottom rack of the oven (to make the torte more moist).

5.Bake torte on center rack at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 45 to 50 minutes, or until sides begin to pull away from pan and top is set in center. Cover the torte loosely with foil for the last 20 minutes of baking. Note: Don't worry if the cake cracks because the top will be on the bottom later.

6.Cool on wire rack for 10 minutes and then carefully remove sides of pan. Invert onto a serving plate and cool completely.

Apple-Cinnamon Farfel Kugel

1 cup hot water
1 cup matzo farfel
1/2 cup white sugar
2 large apples - peeled, cored and shredded
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 egg whites, stiffly beaten


1.Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Spray an 8x8 inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.

2.In a large bowl, combine the water and farfel. Add the sugar, apple, and cinnamon. Fold in the egg whites. Pour mixture into the prepared baking dish and dust the top with more cinnamon.

3.Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 45 minutes.
Marginalia - Billy Collins

Sometimes the notes are ferocious,
skirmishes against the author
raging along the borders of every page
in tiny black script.
If I could just get my hands on you,
Kierkegaard, or Conor Cruise O'Brien,
they seem to say,
I would bolt the door and beat some logic into your head.

Other comments are more offhand, dismissive -
"Nonsense." "Please!" "HA!!" -
that kind of thing.
I remember once looking up from my reading,
my thumb as a bookmark,
trying to imagine what the person must look like
why wrote "Don't be a ninny"
alongside a paragraph in The Life of Emily Dickinson.

Students are more modest
needing to leave only their splayed footprints
along the shore of the page.
One scrawls "Metaphor" next to a stanza of Eliot's.
Another notes the presence of "Irony"
fifty times outside the paragraphs of A Modest Proposal.

Or they are fans who cheer from the empty bleachers,
Hands cupped around their mouths.
"Absolutely," they shout
to Duns Scotus and James Baldwin.
"Yes." "Bull's-eye." "My man!"
Check marks, asterisks, and exclamation points
rain down along the sidelines.

And if you have managed to graduate from college
without ever having written "Man vs. Nature"
in a margin, perhaps now
is the time to take one step forward.

We have all seized the white perimeter as our own
and reached for a pen if only to show
we did not just laze in an armchair turning pages;
we pressed a thought into the wayside,
planted an impression along the verge.

Even Irish monks in their cold scriptoria
jotted along the borders of the Gospels
brief asides about the pains of copying,
a bird signing near their window,
or the sunlight that illuminated their page-
anonymous men catching a ride into the future
on a vessel more lasting than themselves.

And you have not read Joshua Reynolds,
they say, until you have read him
enwreathed with Blake's furious scribbling.
Yet the one I think of most often,
the one that dangles from me like a locket,
was written in the copy of Catcher in the Rye
I borrowed from the local library
one slow, hot summer.
I was just beginning high school then,
reading books on a davenport in my parents' living room,
and I cannot tell you
how vastly my loneliness was deepened,
how poignant and amplified the world before me seemed,
when I found on one page

A few greasy looking smears
and next to them, written in soft pencil-
by a beautiful girl, I could tell,
whom I would never meet-
"Pardon the egg salad stains, but I'm in love."

- Billy Collins

And by this time my real life started catching up with me and it became necessary to abandon my beloved World Wide Web for the day and take my daughter to her first soccer practice.

Book club, I'm ready.  And I will have either Passover Chocolate Torte or Apple-Cinnamon Farfel Kugel.  As long as I can scavenenge all local ingredients.

Perhaps both.  With a side of egg salad.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

I Was Famous Yesterday

It's true.  I was famous yesterday.  Oh, and Adjoa too.  I suppose I should share my glory with her.  I got an email from a friend informing me that there was a huge picture of me on page 2 of the Utah section of the Salt Lake Tribune.  I checked it out online, and sure enough, there I was.  Though not quiet as huge.  Oh, and Adjoa too.

The story was about the Wasatch Community Gardens Fall Planting workshop that I attended and blogged about here.  The photographer took about 5 pictures of Adjoa and asked for her name, etc. so I figured if there were any pictures to be seen, they would be of her.  I didn't even realize I snuck into a couple pictures, too.  Too bad the others of Adjoa didn't make the cut - there was a particularly funny one of her licking the garlic like it was a popsicle.

Anyway, here's the article and some of the pictures:

Fall gardening: Keep your green thumb year round

By alicia greenleigh
The Salt Lake Tribune
August 24, 2010 07:45PM

Summer may be coming to an end, but that doesn’t mean you have to put away the gardening gloves.
There are many hearty vegetables that thrive during autumn when cooler temperatures and less sunlight prevail. Local farmer Pete Rasmussen of Sandhill Farms in Eden says fall is the perfect time to plant leafy greens, root crops and garlic — his speciality.

“Many people think they can’t maintain a garden in the fall, but it’s a great opportunity to get some tasty crops,” he said. “Plus so many of these vegetables are high in antioxidants that they help build the immune system in preparation for winter.”

Cynda Donaldson, manager at Millcreek Gardens, agrees. “Some of the best spring gardens start in the fall.”

Before you put seeds in the ground, follow these tips for a successful fall garden:

Size and location • For first-time gardeners, Rasmussen recommends keeping it small. A 4-foot-by-8-foot area is ideal. Even though fall plants can make do with less light, it’s always best to give them maximum sun exposure. A south-facing plot is always best, Rasmussen said. But any sunny spot where plants can receive 6 to 8 hours of sunlight will work.

Soil • Remove all plants and debris from summer crops. If you’re starting fresh, make sure to aerate the ground and amend the dirt by adding a rich compost or manure available at local nurseries. Mulch is another good additive to keep the soil moist during the last days of summer.

Vegetables • Several vegetables thrive in fall weather, including kale, Swiss chard, spinach, arugula, cabbage, collard greens, leeks, Brussels sprouts, romaine lettuce, beets, radishes, carrots, turnips and garlic. Purchase seed packets or seedlings. Garlic plants sprout from individual cloves, and Rasmussen suggests buying garlic from nearby farms to ensure that you’re getting a mountain-hearty variety. Cloves from grocery stores may come from plants that thrive in non-mountainous conditions.

Planting • Sept. 1 through 15 is the best time to do your fall planting, while garlic can be planted between Sept. 20 and Oct. 20. Most vegetables take 30 to 60 days to mature. Follow spacing and depth instructions on seed packets. Individual garlic cloves should be planted six inches deep, and spaced six inches apart.

Watering • Follow the watering guide on back of seed packets. Keep soil evenly moist.

Harvest • For leafy greens, Rasmussen recommends cutting lower, mature leaves to allow the smaller inside leaves to keep growing. This ensures that the plant will keep producing throughout the season. Garlic grows for nine months and is harvested in the spring. Cure the herb by braiding the green stock and hanging to dry for two weeks.

Pest control • Plant a border of garlic around the garden. Its potent smell will help keep bugs and furry animals away.

Weeding • Familiarize yourself with weeds that grow along the Wasatch Front, so you don’t accidentally cultivate the wrong plant. Books to help you identify weeds and plants are available at nurseries and local libraries.

Copyright 2010 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

For the record.  I followed Pete's advise to the 'T and already have my seedlings planted.  Pete gave Adjoa a garlic clove, and although I tried to cook it up a couple times, she INSISTED we save it to plant.  She planted her garlic alongside the kale, swiss chard, carrots, and other veggies.  She's so proud of "her garden."  She keeps telling me that it is for her.  No one else can eat from her garden.  "Just Adjoa.  And Mommy.  And Daddy.  But not Eden!"  She'll be so excited when everything starts sprouting.
Here's a few pictures from the article of Pete's farm and produce.  Isn't it beautiful?  I love the garlic!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Peeping Mom

Yes.  I consider myself the mother of my Six Chicks.  Dirty Gerty: she's like my foster child.

I've been lurking around the coop a lot lately.  The egg laying business is so interesting to me.  That and my girls are so funny.  Better than TV.  Almost.  It really depends on how hot it is outside.

We have 4 girls now laying.  A new egg showed up yesterday, and I'm pretty sure it was Cinderella's first.

I snapped some pictures of the girls taking care of business and got a quick video, too.

Here's Dirty Gerty lounging in the basil.  She lounges a lot.  Hence the dirt.

Johnny Cash, strutting through the rose bed.  The girls LOVE the roses.  The light catches her feathers just right, and you can see the green and blue cast to the black feathers.  I think she's gorgeous.  Her eggs are a light buff, very pretty.

The girls are waiting in line.  We have 3 nesting boxes, but they love the center one.  It's prime real estate for young eggs.  They are so curious, and really quite supportive.  They all gather around when it's egg laying time.  I went out to check on them, and they were all lined up.  Bunny, the lighter Easter Egger in the center is not laying yet.  I think she's just taking notes so she can do it right.

I had to take a quick video of this.  Ariel hopped up into the box with Johnny Cash.  Technically, Ariel was in the box first, cozying up, getting ready to lay, and Johnny Cash, who's been laying a couple days longer than Ariel, kicked her out.  Ariel waited patiently for a bit, then jumped up into the box too.  You can hear her cooing softly to Johnny Cash.  It was so funny to me - it reminded me of the encouragement you give to a mother in labor.  Funny girls.  It's a little hard to hear sometimes, it was pretty windy, and a couple cars drove by.

Anyway.  I love my girls and I love their eggs.  The eggs are getting a bit bigger every day - soon we'll have full sized eggs from our cluck-clucks!

Adjoa loves the chickens, too.  Every evening we go outside to let them roam a bit and play with them. Adjoa carries them around.  This particular night, she was dancing with the chickens and singing an "egg song."  I had complained to Robert that I hadn't yet heard an egg song from the girls.  Adjoa beamed and started making up some song about eggs and chickens and spontaneously choreographed a dance involving several of the chickens.  I guess I've heard an egg song now!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Why I Love it When Adjoa's in School

I get to be surprised with awesome works of art, generally accompanied with funny stories.

Here are two she did over a brief summer-school stint.

This is her Space Alien Friend.  She had this really elaborate story about how she was going to be an "astrononaut" and how she was going to go up to space, and how mommy and daddy would come with her because then she wouldn't be all alone, and we better take Eden too, because who would feed Eden if we were all in space?  And on and on. She never really got to the part of the story where we meet her Space Alien Friend.

Here's her Hula Dancer. She informed me that the Hula Dancer lives in Hawaii, just like Nana and Pa.  And in Hawaii, there is the ocean, and they have a party and they eat a big piggie.  Pretty accurate summation of the Hawaiian culture.  I couldn't have said it better myself!

I can't wait to see the things she brings home this year!  She's developing so fast and loves to learn.  We are so proud of her!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Wow, that's FRESH!

So we were finally able to enjoy our first tomato of the season.  The was only one ready, so I sliced it up, drizzled some EVOO and sprinkled some salt.  Was yummy.

Adjoa picked up a slice, took a delicate bite, then exclaimed, "wow! That's FRESH!"

Robert and I snickered for a second and then I said, "You're right, Adjoa.  It IS fresh."

The next night I sliced up a GIANT cucumber that had been hiding in the depths of the garden.  I bathed the sliced in lemon juice, and again, sprinkled on some kosher salt.  Adjoa picked up a slice, sniffed it, then stuck the whole thing in her mouth {much less delicately than when she ate the tomato}.  After she managed to chew and swallow the cucumber, she picked up another slice, held it above her mouth, declared "DelicEEEous Muchias!" and then gobbled up another slice.

I love this kid!  And I love that she appreciates and recognizes food that is delicEEEous Muchias!

Monday, August 16, 2010

It's OK that I Don't Have Tomatoes... I Have EGGS!

Our girls are about 4.5 months old, so even though I've been shamelessly checking the nesting boxes, I haven't really been expecting any eggs for another couple weeks.  At least.

Robert was adding some more fanciness to the coop and dropped a screw.  He bent down to find it and instead he found... you guessed it.  An EGG!  He was pretty excited and came in to share the moment with me.  {How sweet!}

One of our girls left it sitting comfortably under the raised part of the coop.  As I walked around the coop to figure out how I was going to get that thing out, I spotted a little nest of 3 more eggs!

My cluck-clucks have been BUSY!

All four eggs are green, so I'm guessing they are gifts from one of the Easter Eggers.  It's also possible that both girls have been blessing us with eggs since there appeared to be two different nests on opposite sides of the coop.

They seem small.  Tiny, actually.  So at first I thought our Seabright Bantum was leaving us treasures, but I doubt they lay green eggs.  Is a mystery.

So here are a couple glamour shots for you to enjoy.

All four beauties.  The one on the top right is lighter and was the single egg.  So maybe Bunny {the lighter EE} left that one for us?!?!?

Here's one egg next to a regular store-bought egg.  It looks so much smaller!

Maybe "Extra Large" on the egg carton, really does mean XL.  If this egg is from my EE, I can't imagine the size of bird that laid the store-bought egg!  Ouch!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Fall Planting - My First REAL post for WCG!

Here's the link to my first REAL post for Wasatch Community Gardens.  It's on fall planting.  Never mind that I have NEVER planted a thing in the fall {or rather a thing that is edible - I've planted loads of plants in the fall what with our constant landscaping updates and revisions.  This year I will even be trans-planting some plants in the fall}.

So anyway, check it out.  Share any fall planting tips you may or may not have, and at the very least leave a comment and say hello!  We're really working hard to promote the community gardens and the vast array of resources available to the community.  Oh, and of course, yummy food.  We like to promote yummy food too!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Guest Blogger for Wasatch Community Gardens

I was asked to be a guest blogger for Wasatch Community Gardens.  And by guest, they mean contribute on a regular basis {yikes!}.

Check out my intro post and leave me a comment.  Unless you are going to contest the fact that I am "experienced."  For bloggin' purposes, WCG will take my one full season of gardening as experience.  Lucky me.

Anyhoo, I'll be posting regularly over there, so check it out and subscribe to the feeds.  {It's also worth subscribing to because the other guests actually DO know a lot about gardening!} 

Oh, and if anyone has tips on working with wordpress, I'm open to suggestions!

Here a Chick, There a Chick, My Six Chicks are now Seven

Technically, hens shouldn't be able to reproduce, but the six chicks have expanded.  {I guess life does mimic art - or entertaining movies at the very least.}

After a traumatic wiener-dog attack, my cousin's chicks perished in battle.  There was one lone survivor, and Jeremy just didn't feel like building a coop for a single chicken.

So we brought her home.  Our Six Chicks picked on her a little at first, but we gave her space to escape and she grew quickly.  Now that she's the same size, the pecking and chasing have stopped.

Robert has been feeling neglected on the blog. He works so hard to build everything on my list - the list keep growing - and I haven't displayed his handiwork for a while.

So here's a tribute to the work he did on the coop.

He's so handy {and that makes me so lucky}.  I drew a cartoonish sketch of what I wanted the coop to look like, and he worked his magic.  We had neighbors asking if he was building a play house for Adjoa - that's how awesome it looks. 

Robert added some nice features - a window that slides open so the coop gets additional ventilation, poop drawers that pull out for easy cleaning, a faux mailbox where I can dump feed directly into the coop {this is especially nice for winter, or rainy days, or when we go out of town}, and an automatic waterer that is hooked up to the sprinkler system.  He's still working out some kinks on the indoor waterer.  We're hoping the insulation in the coop walls will keep the water from freezing in the winter with that indoor waterer.

Here's the base. I wanted it open under the coop so the girls can get out of the sun and rain.  Robert cut grooves in the redwood so the chicken wire could be inserted.  It made the wire a lot more stable, and there aren't any sharp edges that could hurt the girls.  It's super strong and looks fabulous!

Robert made the base, house, and roof in 3 different sections.  They can be taken apart so the whole coop can be moved.  It also makes it possible to do any adjustments, repairs, or deep cleaning without too much trouble.  The roof is SUPER heavy, though, so it still takes a few good men to take it off.
Good thing he enjoys all the projects I give him!

Adjoa was super eager to help with the coop.  She loved painting - and climbing in and out of the coop, declaring "Look!  I'm a chicken!" and flapping her "wings" while strutting around the coop.

Here's the coop in it's spot near the garden.  I had just started painting it.  You can see the base, door, and egg boxes.  I painted the inside of the coop white so it would be nice and bright in the winter, but the nesting boxes are gray because the girls like cozy, dark places for laying eggs.  Or so I heard.  Robert made the ground slope slightly and added a drain pipe that runs along the fence.  That should keep the run nice and dry for our girls.

Here's the inside.  You can see the black indoor waterer.  There is a large tube between the walls, and a door on the outside so people can access it, fill it, and maintain it without having to climb in the coop.  The walls are insulated, so we are hoping it will keep the water from freezing in the winter.  On the right is the interior food tray.  There is a faux mailbox on the exterior where I can dump in food and a shoot that holds food between the walls.  the flooring is chicken wire, so poop will fall into the drawers below.  Makes for super easy cleaning.
This is where the drawers slide in and out.  There is a cover that flips down to allow access.  The cover will prevent drafts in the winter and keep mischief out.

The girls are learning how to use the ramp.  This was the first day they could leave the coop voluntarily.  It took a few minutes and some logistically scattered scratch, but they got it.  I painted the ramp white, which looks nice, but I think was a mistake.  It's covered in poop now and doesn't look so nice.  I think I'll repaint it gray next year when it's time to freshen up the coop.

This is Ariel, one of Adjoa's chickens.  As you can see, we have been enjoying gardening so much, we decided to expand our garden space.  It's going to be about 3 times bigger!

Funny faces.  It's darn near impossible to take a picture of a dog, a child, and a chicken and have them all cooperate!  Eden is doing one of my favorite faces - some strange lip thing that makes her look like she's more human than dog, Adjoa's eyes are closed, and Ariel looks like she's about to bail.  Oh, and yes, those are 3 foot tall weeds in the background!

This is "the white chicken."  That's what Adjoa calls her.  I call her Dirty Gerty {Britt gave me the idea for the name} because she always looks filthy. Adjoa loves holding the girls - especially "the white one" and Ariel.

So that's the chicken update.  We're loving our girls, and can't wait for some eggs!  We should be getting some at the end of the month, or beginning of September.  Fingers crossed, of course! 

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Sleeping Angel... I Mean, Puppy

When I have days with Adjoa like today.... well, let's just say it's hard to be a mom.

Love her to death, that child can be stubborn.  And I should know - I can recognize stubborn.

Anyway, I peeked in on her before I went to bed and I couldn't help but laugh.  Sleeping children make days like today ok after all.

This is a soft, cuddly blanket that has a little hoodie with a dog face, and the corners have little paws.  Nana gave it to her, and she loves to cuddle with it, or wear it around the house and pretend she's a puppy.  Apparently, she was tired of being a child today and wanted to be a puppy instead.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Smart Things

We were driving in the car last night and Adjoa pipes up all of a sudden:

"I knows lots of smart things!"

Robert and I chuckle.  Grammar aside, she's right.

Me: Yes you do, Adjoa.  You are very smart.
Adjoa: I know singing.
           I know playing.
           I know riding my bike.
           I know playing with dogs.
           I know climbing trees.  But sometimes trees are high and big and you have to be careful
           and then I have to be bigger to climb them.
           I know lots of smart things, huh mommy?
Me: Yup.  Those are all really smart things, Adjoa!

Adjoa has this knack for being thankful and grateful.  She has such a positive self-esteem too.  Age jades us, I think.  I don't consider myself smart because I can type and "work on the computer" {that's how Adjoa describes it}.  I don't naturally think I'm the bees knees for knowing how to drive a car or make dinner.  But Adjoa does.

For Father's Day, Adjoa said her daddy is so smart because he even knows how to.... make her lunch for school.  Maybe I'd have more innocent, childlike, happiness on a daily basis if I thought all my daily tasks were "smart things" and was grateful that I knew how to do them.  Maybe it would pump me up to do the not-so-fun chores around the house that I love trying to avoid.

So here goes.

I knows lots of smart things!  I know cleaning the toilet!  I know mopping the floor! {I know that one really well, what with the dog, the child, and all the yard work we've been doing for the last 3 years!}  I know folding laundry!