First, I have to tell you that my inspiration to write this blog stems from three sources:
222 Million Tons – This is the amount of food we waste each year. This food blog wants to put a change to that by offering delicious recipes and ways to take action on how to waste less food;
Your Kind of Salad: Another food blog where I found this beautiful recipe for watermelon pops;
and, my daughter.
If you were confused at the headline of this blog posting, you are not alone.
When my daughter was about 16 months old and was being watched by her aunt on a hot July afternoon, it was this occassion that my daughter put together one of her first sentences beyond “I love you.”
It was: “I popeese”
Translation: Ice Pop Please.
It was on this hot day that my daughter wanted what most of us want on a hot day, something very cold.
An ice pop.
So, she repeated this sentence over and over to her aunt and her aunt’s boyfriend who could not figure out what she was trying to say.
Now, any other infant would have had a meltdown tantrum at this point. Not my daughter. She simply walked over to the refrigerator, and, with her tiny hand raised above as if she was holding the torch like Lady Liberty, she patiently, and a bit more slowly, repeated
I -Pop – Peeze!
She finally got what she wanted:
Flash forward 15 years:
The other day I came home with one of those cute, personal sized seedless watermelons
I will not make that mistake again.
While it was cute as a button on the outside, inside, it was a mealy, mushy disappointment.
But it was $3. I couldn’t just toss it away. What a waste of food and money.
So, following the recipe I found on Your Kind of Salad:
I scooped out the watermelon flesh:
Pureed it in a blender
Passed the pulp through a strainer.
Then to this I added one cup of corn syrup (I know this sounds like a lot of a bad thing but the corn syrup adds a nice smooth finish to the pops) and the juice of one lime:
And poured it into the molds:
Then the hard part. You have to wait about six anguishing hours for the pops to freeze.
At last, they are frozen.
So, when the world hands you mushy watermelon, don’t throw it out, make ice pops!
A few months ago, were we ever really complaining about the snow and cold?
A few months from now, will we long to feel as hot as it will be today?
When I visit friends and family “downstate” New York, I get a lot of jabs about living in Rochester.
“So, it’s June… has the snow melted yet?”
“You know what the two seasons are in Rochester? Winter and July 14.”
“Do you get snowed in all the time and how do you go grocery shopping to get food in the snow?”
But guess what, folks? We really do get summer in Rochester, and it’s just as hot as anywhere else, especially this year.
Today, if temperatures reach 100 or above, as forecasters are predicting, it will be the hottest recorded day on this day in Rochester since ….. 1894
One of the many advantages of living in Rochester – less traffic, one of the nation’s most affordable housing prices, and great cultural resources – is our pleasant summer. Usually, after a brutally cold winter, our summers are pleasant and comfortable.
Since I moved to Rochester in 2000, we have had summers where the rain fell more than the sun shone. Some summers, the temperatures barely climbed out of the 70’s. Some summers, we feared we would never get a summer.
Right now, I am glad that I did not sign up for a spot in my community garden, as this has been the driest summers in some time. There, gardeners must haul water in cans to quench their crops. I’m content with my little garden that is watered with several yards of irrigation tubing.
Instead of hauling buckets in the heat like a peasant woman, all that is required is connecting a hose and turning a spigot.
So far, I’m getting plenty of tomatoes – though still green,
a few pumpkins
and some peppers.
Most summers, I complain about the limited hours of sun my garden receives. This year, it is getting just the right amount of heat to grow and the limited sun is preventing it from completely shriveling up and dying.
The only thing, or person, I’m worried about shriveling up or wilting in the heat is my son, who is on his first overnight at day camp. I slathered him up with sunscreen, slapped on his white, sun reflecting hat, packed his frozen metal water bottle, and will hope for the best.
“Mom, is this the hottest summer of my life?” The seven-year-old inquired at the breakfast table.
“Yes” I said, popping his Eggo waffles in the toaster.
“Will summers get hotter than this even?”
For that, I don’t have an answer.
So, besides sweltering day campers, what will most Rochesterians do? They will survive just as they do in the winter:
They’ll duck inside a mall, movie theatre, or museum, if not a chilly office
At camps, they will stay inside and play board games, do lots of arts & crafts. And only brave the heat for a dip in the pool.
But in Rochester, we’ll take the heat. After all, the burn of summer’s swelter is better any day than the bite of winter’s wind chills.
As for me, I finished writing and filing my two newspaper articles for the week. I’ll catch up on some summer reading and spend time with my oldest son, already packed up for summer camp. Then, I’ll settle down for a long summer’s nap.
“I want to grow pumpkins this summer!” said my youngest son.
And so we did. Inside, in the spring, we started a pumpkin seed, which would in the summer turn into Toby’s pumpkin patch.
Knowing that from this seed would grow an incredibly long, invasive vine, I gave this vine carte blanche and let it take over one quarter of my tiny garden plot. And the vine grew, and wandered. Huge pumpkin blossoms bloomed, bees visited them and rested inside. But none of these blossoms turned into pumpkins.
Except this one:
This pumpkin will never become a jack-o-lantern. I would hack through the plastic fencing to free the pumpkin as it grew, but I think the pumpkin took care of that. It may become a pumpkin pie, but it might be too tough and stringy. So, I guess, the only thing our only pumpkin of the year will give us is a good laugh.
In our debt-inflicted society, there are some who cringe at the thought that their credit card will be denied when it is swiped at the department store, or the supermarket, or the gas station. For me, it is my library card.
I am under the impression that I will personally offend the librarian if an outrageously overdue book shows up on my account, accompanied by a hefty fine. What book has slipped under a bed or retreated to the deepest recess of my son’s closet? How much do I owe in overdue fines and will I need to take out a second mortgage to pay for it?
In any case, a few dollars in overdue library books are worth it if the book is enjoyed by a child – or adult – through the summer.
There is something magical when a child puts vowels and consonants together and realizes they can read. It just clicks. Words on street signs and cereal boxes come to life. Best of all, they can pick up a book and read to themselves. Libraries in Brighton, Pittsford, and Mendon are offering plenty of incentives this summer for children to curl up with a good book, whether it is under a tree or on a beach blanket.
On June 25, the Brighton Memorial Library kicked off its summer “Make a Splash into Reading” program that runs through August 13 and is sponsored by the Friends of the Brighton Memorial Library. Beach balls hung from the ceiling as youngsters were greeted with leis and ice pops by children’s librarian Tonia Burton. Girls dressed for the occasion in Hawaiian printed dresses. They decorated paper-framed sunglasses and said they couldn’t wait to read titles such as Math Curse by Jon Scieszka and Rapunzel’s Revenge by Shannon Hale.
Registered children received game boards with pictures of beaches separated by five blank spaces. For every day they read 20 minutes or more, they move one space on the board. When they reach a beach, they return to the library to pick a prize out of a beach pail – and borrow more books. After a child reaches the fourth beach, they receive an invitation to the summer reading party in August. For every person that finishes the reading game, the Friends of the BML will donate three books to the library.
If you missed the kickoff party at your local library there is no need to worry. It is summer, after all. Register your youngster in person or online at www.brightonlibrary.org, www.townofpittsford.org-library, or www.mendonlibrary.org.
It is relatively easy to steer eager new readers to books that contain vibrant illustrations and lively prose. But what about those independent-minded tweens and teens? Deena Lipomi, circulation and young adult services manager at the Brighton Memorial Library said she rarely offers verbal recommendations because “that might seem too pushy.” Instead, she lets the books speak for themselves.
“I look for books with colorful, modern covers and turn them face side out on the shelves. For teenagers, you can’t strongly suggest a book, or they may not read it, and the book can’t look dated.” To entice this age group, Lipomi also creates book displays by theme, such as the popular vampire series. But thankfully, the classics still endure. Lipomi said that the multiple copies of Catcher in the Rye and Jane Austen are “(checked) out all the time.”
The joy of reading can also blossom in adulthood. Jodi Warner-Farnsworth, a retired French teacher who lives in Canandaigua enjoys the personal impact she makes on the adults she helps to read through Literacy Volunteers of Ontario County.
“The biggest gain I have seen in the people I tutor is the self-confidence that spills over into all aspects of their life. Sometimes, all they needed was just someone to believe in them,” said Jodi.
Jodi started tutoring because she was interested in giving back to the community. She also will be training volunteers this fall. Jodi teaches multi-sensory strategies that help adults with learning disabilities learn to read with visual, auditory, and kinesthetic teaching methods. If you are interested in becoming a literacy volunteer, contact the organization at 585-396-1686 or go to www.literacyvoc.org.
One year on the last day of school, my oldest children got off the bus, greeted their visiting grandparents with a big hug, and went directly to the backyard to be bored. Eventually, with nothing else to do and no one else to play with, they started to play their favorite game: kick the ball on the swing.
Kick the ball on the swing always requires two people. One person swings, the other, in perfect synchronized timing, throws the ball at the exact moment the swinger swings forward. This way, the swinger extends their feet and catapults the ball into the air. The goal is for the ball thrower to catch the ball. But sometimes, the ball goes as high as the branches of a nearby pine tree. Or, even goes over the roof of the house.
Of course, it is much more fun to be the swinger than the thrower. And there must be a fair and even amount of chances for the thrower to be the swinger and the swinger to be the thrower.
This was not the case on that last day of school, where my son had enough of throwing and just gave up, with a pout.
This is where my daughter, who I believed had just finished up the 4th grade, yelled: “That’s not fair, I threw more to you than to me. And there is no one else to play with and I am bored! And I hate you! Now get back here and play with me now!”
This fighting and loving seems to be, according to my neighbor, a favorite form of entertainment for brothers and sisters. I can go through all the parenting magazines like Family Fun or read books like Kids Unplugged. I have art materials and cooking projects ready to go.
And what was the chosen activity of my three children on their first afternoon of summer freedom this year? Hit your sibling with a giant foam pool noodle. THWACKTHWACKTHWACK! Let the summer games begin!