Blueberry Crumble Pie

30 06 2009

Sultry and wet as the days have been here, the blueberries are practically bursting off the bushes.  The shady, sweet scented acres of pine woods behind our home are host to about twenty blueberry bushes, most of which tower over my head.  Donal and I were pulling off fruit the size of marbles.  It was easy to fill my largest bowl.

All four children wanted to help wash the berries, to help make the pie crust and to help mix up the pies.  Unfortunately, in my small kitchen, too much help leads to short tempers and floury disasters!  So this time, I divided them up.  Michael assisted with crusts.  He mixed and rolled dough.  He cradled the “dough baby.”  He slurped up the scraps.  Donal made the sugar-free filling, while Brenna stirred the sugared.  They each rolled handfuls of blue-black berries frosted with bloom around on their palms, picking out the shriveled, the small, the sour, and choosing only the sweetest, fattest, softest ones for the pies.  Finally Patrick took his turn, climbing up on a wooden stool to cut butter, flour, and sugar into crumbles to top the pies.  He strewed crumbs across the pies, the counter, and the floor.  Most of the topping ended up on the pie, though a certain amount strayed into his bird-like mouth.

It feels like summer.  Blueberry pies in the oven.  Golden heat outside.  No school.  Yesterday, Donal found two pale-blue robin’s eggshells on the lawn.   Tonight Neal is taking us to see the Kinston Indians play baseball, taking us to eat hot boiled peanuts, taking us to introduce the kids to the rituals of pop flies in the stands, the seventh inning stretch, and marking stats on the program.   Meanwhile, another summer treat began arriving today: next fall’s curriculum delivered by the UPS fairy to my front door.  Yum!  Almost as good as bubbly, crunchy blueberry crumble pie.

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How to recycle an old trampoline as a play tent

12 06 2009

Our trampoline started losing it’s D-rings a few months ago.  We took it down and stored it in the garage, thinking I would be able to fix it.  We bought webbing from R.E.I., but when I tried to sew the webbing on to re-connect the rings, I couldn’t force a needle through all the layers.  I tried several different ways, even with some very sharp upholstry needles, but decided it wasn’t worth it.

So… what to do with the now useless trampoline?  The kids have been bugging me to build a play tent.  Family Fun magazine gave instructions for how to build one out of PVC tubing and a tarp or sheet.  That was cute, but I think this is even better.  So here is my recycled trampoline project: a kid-sized shade tent that looks sort of like a yurt.

Recycled Trampoline play tent

Recycled Trampoline play tent

The base is made of two of the trampoline sections turned upside down with the U-shaped legs still attached.  I joined the two rounded parts with two more of the U-shaped leg sections to make a oval shape.  This formed the base of the tent.  Neal really wanted to be able to move the tent to mow, and this solution looks good.  It should slide just like a sled.

center roof rib

center roof rib

Next, I put together two of the legless sections of pipe that (in trampoline formation) join two of the leg sections.  This made an arched rib to hold the roof up and keep it from sagging.  I bound the join with duct tape (you can do anything with duct tape except, possibly, make a diaper), and used more duct tape to tape the ends to the frame.  The center is supported by part of another U-shaped leg, as you can see in the next picture.

100_3500To make the center support, I removed one of the vertical pieces from a U-shaped leg.  I left the other piece on, and it lays along the ground, providing more support.  The top is bound to the roof rib.  I hope this makes sense.  Maybe you can at least see what I mean from the pictures.  The little boys put an old wooden end table we rescued from the dump over the bottom part of the center support so they wouldn’t trip over it.

bottom of center support

bottom of center support

At this point we were ready to add the fabric to the frame work.  For this, of course, we used the trampoline itself, leaving the D-rings attached.  (Can you call them D-rings if they’re triangular?  I don’t know what else to call them.)  We spread the fabric over the frame, and the first thing I did was lace the edge on to the top of what we designated as the “door.”  I used some nylon string from my junk drawer which should be weather-proof.

100_3493Once it was attached to the top of the door, the little boys helped me pull it down all around the rest of the tent.  We tried to make it snug and even.  Then, at the places where the fabric came closest to the frame work, I laced it to the bottom on both sides.

Lacing the sides of the tent to the bottom of the frame

Lacing the sides of the tent to the bottom of the frame

There was a good deal of fullness left where the circular tent folded down over the smaller oval frame, so I pulled the fabric closed in four gussets, two in the back and two in the front.  I used more string to tie the D-rings together, and then tied them to the leg pole.

A close up of lacing the gusset to the post

A close up of lacing the gusset to the post

The gusset iteself, taking up slack

The gusset iteself, taking up slack

As a last step, we moved in some old beach chairs to sit on and let the little boys take possession!  They look pretty comfortable in the shade, don’t they?

The only thing missing is some lemonade, mom!

The only thing missing is some lemonade, mom!