Blueberry Picking

At this point, I'd venture a guess that Matt is at least fifty percent blueberry.  When those tiny fruits are in the house, he maintains a blue-smeared grin, sneaking them a handful at a time and eating frozen ones like ice cream.  If you pay any attention to produce prices, you might be thinking that this is an expensive habit to maintain.  Enter the u-pick!

We've established a trip to Leavelle Farms in Buhl as an annual tradition for our family and look forward to it as the temperatures start to rise.  From the first day of summer vacation this year, Matt asked me each morning to check online to see if the berries were ready (they're usually good to go around the second week of June).

The bushes produce some shade, but it definitely helps to go as early as possible to beat the heat, so we hit the road early on opening day.  I aim for at least two gallons per trip, and I love that the owner provides little ones with tiny buckets so that they can contribute to the haul.  Matt worked on filling up his bucket for maybe ten or fifteen minutes before abandoning it to set up a "kitchen" among the twigs and leaves that had fallen to the ground under the bushes.

So far we've consumed most of this year's berries straight out of the fridge.  I do make a habit of cooking up something on picking day, though.  This year we kept it really simple by way of waffle dinner with blueberry compote - berries cooked down with sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla.

Pie Lab and Moundville Archaeological Park

Pie + Ideas = Conversation

Conversation + Design = Social Change

I believe in the transformative power of food.  It's common ground (everybody eats) that also conveys history, culture, and unique community stories.  It's necessary fuel but also central to so many celebrations and opportunities to serve others.

Breaking bread with others, in any form from crusty baguette to salty-sweet pie crust, matters.

So, with its mission to bring community members together for positive change via pie consumption, Pie Lab in Greensboro, Alabama has been on my radar for a while now.  On one of first free summer days this year, Matt and I hopped into the car and took a little drive down south, picking up Beard along the way.

It's a quirky little spot with salvaged and recycled furnishings, mix & match dinnerware, and a rural south industrial vibe (is that a thing?).  We grabbed a quick bite of smoked chicken salad (and a hot dog for Matt), as well, of course, as a couple of slices of pie: Matt and I shared a light, sugary slice of coconut cream, Beard had key lime, and we boxed up a piece of lemon chess for Erik.  Tasty pie, good company, and a message we can all get behind.  Not too bad for Summer Adventure #1.

On the way back from Greensboro, we passed the turn-off to Moundville Archaeological Park, another item on our list.  

Fun fact: from 1st grade through the first semester of 12th grade, I planned to be an archaeologist.  My version of summer camp was going on digs run by our local museum of natural history, and Moundville was the destination of many an elementary school field trip.

So we decided it made little sense to drive right by the place without stopping in to say hello to the mounds.

Hello, mounds!

The park celebrates and preserves the remains of a Mississippian settlement that served as a bustling town as well as a religious and political center for about 500 years.  The mounds were used as residences for prominent village figures and for support and ceremonial purposes.  Only a few remain safely climbable today, and climb we did.  Though the building atop the mound we climbed is no longer open, it's well worth it to head up the steps and check out the view.

After touring around the site, we made our way to the Jones Archaeological Museum, which reopened in 2010 after a major renovation.  The museum offers exhibits featuring Native American artworks and artifacts and helps to tell the story of life among the mounds.    

Not bad for a day's adventuring.  And a good reminder that spots worth checking out are just a few miles down the road.

Summer Adventures List - Preschool Edition

I love my job.  I love being a teacher and would not trade the daily challenges, joys, and complexities for a thing.  But for two glorious months* each year I step out of the classroom and recharge with my family.  Heaven.

Last summer was the first time that I got the feeling Matt really got our summertime adventures.  At three, he expressed preferences and reminisced about our trips to the u-pick farm and McWane Center, as well as our daily park runs.  So this spring we've been talking up a storm about summer and plotting the adventures we might have.  With his help, I've compiled the Summer 2015 non-negotiables.  Let the adventures begin!

*Hey, Phineas and Ferb, how'd you wrangle those 104 days, huh?