Having an Adventure…

…at COSI. Finally, after years of the Adventure space being closed, it is slowly being reopened. Last Tues was a preview day of the space and it has been marked on our calendar since we heard the news. My kids LOVE adventure, for Bethany it is the only reason she will go to COSI unless I’m forcing her to join us.

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Adventure is like an Indiana Jones set recreated in a science museum, with puzzles that you have to solve to awaken all the stone creatures.

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But that is just the beginning. The next level of Adventure is deciphering the mysterious alphabet so you can read all the coded messages that are on the walls. Once you have deciphered the story of the village, there is even more information you can plug into the statues. At that point they will give you clues to help you decipher the secret language. Most people that go through Adventure don’t know about all the different levels. They think once you get the clues and go to the room of knowledge you’re done. But there are many Adventure groupies that were working very hard to decipher all the mysteries back when COSI had to close adventure due to budget cuts.

Here’s Beth in Room of Knowledge waiting for the mystery word to appear that will help her start to unlock the secret alphabet.

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We ran into one of those people while we were in adventure today, and while he was very kind in giving advice to Beth and the several other people that had circled around him. It was all a bit more than Beth could comprehend. But both Beth and Thomas (with the help of several friends) did solve the first puzzle then went on to decipher the whole alphabet. Beth claims she is now fluent in reading the secret language. The passages that at one time just looked like gibberish can now clumsily be read by the kids. This is more than they have ever done before. They are very excited to get to spend more time in this area trying to figure out all the mysteries.

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Another level to the puzzle; trying to decipher what the numbers mean.

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And for those that don’t figure out the secrets you may never get to leave. 🙂

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Adventure is open again today and the kids have asked to return so they can work on reading the walls. They’ll pack up their notebooks, flashlights and notes from last time to continue with the Adventure.

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Ballroom Dancing

It all started back on Feb 4, 2010 at the Youth Ballroom Dance Sport Academy. This whole new world of ballroom dancing. A world that 1 month before I didn’t even know existed. Bethany’s agents suggested she take a dance class to help with her poise and movement so, of course, I was thinking ballet. But as it turns out it is very hard to find a beginning ballet class for a 17 year old that doesn’t want to be in a class with a bunch of 5 year olds. A friend suggested I look into ballroom and the rest is history.

We started with Beth taking one class, Thomas and I waiting in the lobby. That expanded the following week to adding a private lesson also. Then after Thomas & I were sitting there for about 5 minutes Bill (owner, dancer, instructor and salesman extraordinaire) came, grabbed Thomas and said he had to do the classes also (as the dollar signs kept rolling in my head.) Then we added a homeschool social dance class on Mondays. So I now have 2 kids in 3 classes a week.

This summer Thomas has added in a hip-hop class and a tumbling class so he can finally get those back flips down. Thomas and I love to watch, So You Think You Can Dance, who knows maybe someday Thomas will be trying out for the show.

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Thomas has been partnered up with another homeschool girl so they do most their practicing together. Learning how to move as a couple is even more complicated than learning how to do the steps for yourself. Beth still doesn’t have a partner but really likes dancing with Bill. It’s much easier to dance when your partner knows what he’s doing!

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Durian the stinky fruit!

Daniel has always been my kid that likes to cook. Before he went away to college we used to watch several different cooking shows regularly. After he went away I had to stop watching those shows because it made me too sad to watch them without him. He didn’t do much cooking when he was at school unless you count microwaving ramen noodles. So the other day, after working all day, he decided to needed to stop by an Asian grocery store on the way home and buy a durian (I do not know what goes through that boys head.) Not an inexpensive fruit he shelled out $10 for the massive thing.

Anyone who watches Andrew Zimmern’s show Bizarre Foods, knows that this is 1 of only 3 foods from around the worlds that made him throw up and he eats some really nasty stuff. He compares the taste to “completely rotten, mushy onions.” Anthony Bourdain, a lover of durian, relates his encounter with the fruit as thus: “Its taste can only be described as…indescribable, something you will either love or despise. …Your breath will smell as if you’d been French-kissing your dead grandmother.”

Here’s some more info from Wikipedia: The edible flesh emits a distinctive odour, strong and penetrating even when the husk is intact. Some people regard the durian as fragrant; others find the aroma overpowering and offensive. The smell evokes reactions from deep appreciation to intense disgust. The odour has led to the fruit’s banishment from certain hotels and public transportation in southeast Asia.

Which is why Daniel is cutting up the fruit outside, on the back porch.

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I am one of those people that find the smell to cause “intense disgust” so much so that my gag reflex was acting up, my stomach was turning and it was making me salivate (and not in a good way.) Daniel seemed to be able to move past the smell to the point that it didn’t bother him (at least that’s what he said, I don’t believe him.)

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When you cut into it, it has these strange pods that you can scrape the custard-like fruit off of.

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It was quite the messy procedure:

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Lucky us we ended up with quite a large bowl of this disgusting fruit. Which he then wanted to put inside in my refrigerator. Daniel tried to appease me by telling me that fruit was naturally organic since it grows 80-165 ft in the sky and nothing can penetrate its prickly shell. He then found a recipe online (coincidentally, from a RAW food blog that I follow) for Durian Ice Cream, ooh yum, NOT!

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So while I was gone to my art class he proceeded to make the durian ice cream, in the kitchen. Which led to several arguments between Dan and Daniel about the smelly fruit. Daniel has become quite defensive of the odiferous substance.

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While the ice cream looks pretty good and tastes ok it still smells rank, which completely ruins the taste for me.

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Daniel is trying to convince us that he actually likes it. But I’ve noticed that the massive bowl of ice cream is still sitting in my freezer untouched! So if anyone wants to come over and try Durian Ice Cream, we have plenty to share. (*Mom & Dad guess what you’re getting for dessert Sat. night!)

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CSA June 17

This is the point in the CSA where the spring and early summer greens are ending but the mid-summer crop has not yet come in full force. So the pick up was not as much this week and we did get an apology from the farmers. I still thought it was a good amount of veggies, though.

And here is what we got:

Cherry tomatoes

Tomatillos

2 mini zucchinis & 2 mini yellow squash

2 onions

2 green peppers

1 cucumber

1 head of lettuce

The cherry tomatoes were eaten right out of the bowl and were gone by the end of the day.

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What are tomatillos you may be wondering; The tomatillo, or husk tomato, is a relative of the common tomato native to Latin America, where it is popular in cuisine. Tomatillos are sometimes difficult to find in conventional markets, but they are usually available in Hispanic grocery stores.

Tomatillos have a refreshing, crisp flavor that is an excellent complement to salsas and other Mexican dishes. They can either be eaten raw or briefly blanched in a pan until their skins burst, creating a smooth sauce to work with. The tomatillo is also rich in vitamin C. Chilies complement the cool flavor of tomatillo very well and can be mixed with a tomatillo sauce and fresh coriander for a simple salsa.

I don’t know what I’m going to do with the tomatillos. I had this same problem last year, the only thing I came up with was making up a bunch of hot sauces to freeze (still have lots in the freezer) so I need to find something different to do with them this year. I might try this White Bean Chicken Chili or Potato and Bean Enchiladas.

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I tried grilling some of these mini-squashes in my new grill basket, last night for dinner. But the slats are too big on the basket so the veggies kept falling out and my grill wasn’t working so we ended up with warm, raw veggies. I still thought they were OK, but they would have been much better if they would have been grilled for real and not just pretend. I also sliced one of the squash real thin and put it in the salad but turns out my family doesn’t like raw squash in their salads.

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The peppers were used in a salad along with some of the onions and the lettuce.

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This cucumber is still in my fridge along with several from my garden and some of the ones that I got from the produce co-op. I’ve made Cucumbers with sour cream and dill salad this week along with sour pickles that are fermenting on my counter top right now. I also want to try making Tzatziki Sauce but since we’re now gluten free, I’m waiting until I can pick up some GF pitas.

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And here’s the group photo:

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For more information about this CSA you can contact:

Ben and Lisa Sippel

Sippel Family Farm

www.sippelfamilyfarm.com

419-946-1394

All produce on the Sippel Family Farm is grown using
sustainable principles and without synthetic chemicals.
Everything that we sell at market and offer in our CSA
program is grown by US on OUR farm. We NEVER buy
wholesale products from auctions or other farms. We
encourage you to ask other producers at the market if they
do the same.

Treasure Hunting

The Greater Columbus Antique Mall is an awesome store just south of the brewery district in Columbus. It’s room after room after room of individually owned antique booths. It’s so big you could get lost in it. Daniel heard me talking about it and wanted to go check it out. I didn’t think it was what he was expecting but I figured what the heck, pretty much anytime my teenagers want to do something with me I think that’s a great thing. So both the boys and I headed out to look for treasures.

The antique store ended up being a huge hit with the boys. When we pulled up the building Daniel said it doesn’t look that big (I had described it as being massive.) I told him to just wait it was like in Harry Potter the tent they took to the Quidditch match, it doesn’t look big from the outside but the inside is magically immense. When we got inside he immediately agreed.

The boys especially liked all the (real) swords they were finding, locked away in cabinets. There are intercoms throughout the bldg so you can call someone to come unlock all the cabinets. Thomas kept one of the workers busy, calling to look at all the different treasures. She was always nice to the boys, she even said she had never had anyone ask to see the swords so she was happy to get them all out for them.

In the end Thomas bought a pocket knife $4 (but he has plans to save up his money and go back for a sword.)

Daniel bought a record player $6 and 2 Zippo lighters (why Zippos lighters, I don’t know? total $19

And I bought an antique kitchen scale and a very old toy truck and camper for my Dad’s train collection, total $45

When looking for a their web site online (they don’t seem to have one) I read this review:

3 full floors from furniture to toys! BUT be aware, I have seen haunts in this place. Part of this used to be a funeral parlor. Feels like someone is shopping with you, even when you are alone!

Which I think makes it even more fun! And caused me to do some more searching on line:

Here’s a story from The Other Paper about the store and the ghosts:

October 9-15, 2003
By Chad Painter

Patt Altevogt believes in ghosts. She has owned the Greater Columbus Antique Mall with her husband, Fred, since 1979, and she’s convinced the building shelters a number of antique souls as well.

One occurrence happened two weeks ago, when she heard children playing with old toy cars in an upstairs room. There wasn’t anybody in the building except her and an employee–an employee with no toy cars, we might add.

“I was sitting on the bench, the lights were off and it was quiet,” Altevogt said. “I heard the children playing, and I said, ‘I hear something up the front stairs.'”

That’s when the employee said that he’d been hearing the same thing too, but didn’t want to say anything.

Then there’s the security system. When it’s tripped, microphones start recording. Altevogt said she hears thumping on the tapes, but when she and Fred arrive at the store, nothing has been disturbed.

“We finally quit coming to check things out,” she said.

The building, at 1045 S. High St., was built as a private residence in the late 1800s, she said. It housed two different funeral homes in the 1920s and ’30s, and an Elks Lodge from the ’40s to the ’70s.

Some customers won’t go into one room upstairs because they feel like they’re being choked there. Before escorting The Other Paper into the room, Altevogt reassuringly said, “I’ve never felt anything in here.”

Altevogt said that employees have seen a tall man with a handlebar mustache wearing a brown suit (matching the description of a photograph of the original embalmer), a woman walking down a back hallway wearing a Gone With the Wind-era yellow desk, and a man wearing a black cape. Upon seeing the black-caped man a second time, one employee promptly quit.

Another employee swears a ghost brushed past her twice, Altevogt said. Yet another saw an orb come out of a wall, pass over him and head down a hallway.

“Everybody that works here has stories,” Fred Altevogt said.

He has one himself. On Thursdays, he said, there’s a distinct aroma of Italian food near an old pop machine (which happens to sit a few feet from a bench where people sometimes hear a couple of old ladies talking).

“I used to get spooked, but I’ve gotten used to it,” Patt Altevogt said. “Things have been happening for 15 years. New things come. Old things die off.”

Tammy Heimerl, an Antique Mall employee, still gets spooked. She said that she can’t go into a back room because it smells like death: “It makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck.”

She also doesn’t like to go into the attic, although Altevogt said nothing has ever happened there. Maybe not, but Heimerl said she always thinks someone is watching her when she’s up there: “I fly down those steps.”

Despite all this, Altevogt has decided against having the building ghost proofed.

“I thought about having someone come in and bless it,” she said, “but I think it adds to the charm.”

Altevogt expects more charming hauntings, and soon.

“Any time we talk about it, something happens,” she said. “Something will probably happen tonight.”

I had never been in the attic before, it gets confusing with all the different staircases and rooms so I didn’t even realize there was an attic. But this time an employee told us about it when I was asking if there were 2 different upstairs (there are.) She mentioned that it is filled with a lot of inexpensive items, so Daniel and I went and checked it out. It was extremely hot up there so we didn’t stay long. No signs of ghosts and the only choking we felt was from the extreme heat. But if I had read this story before we went I would not have let Thomas go up there alone.

Fruit Utopia

We are in organic fruit utopia around here this week! A great friend just started up an organic produce co-op, where every 2 weeks we’ll get deliveries of all kinds of organic fruits and veggies. It works the same as our other monthly bulk co-op but this one deals only with produce. The delivery was wed and we’ve already made a good size dent in all this fruit!

I spent just under $100 for all this organic yumminess:

8 avocados @.80each $6.40
6# cucumbers @1.42/lb $8.52
2# strawberries @2.50/lb $5
2 pineapples @ $2.86/each $5.72
10# blueberries $38
6# cherries @3.33/lb $19.98
5# grapes @ 1.95/lb $9.75
10 peaches @.56 each $5.60
TOTAL $98.97

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1 package of cherries was eaten that first day, another sits in the upstairs fridge waiting to be munched. The other 2 bags will probably get pitted and frozen.

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1 container of strawberries was used in a frozen strawberry “cream” pie (sweetened with a little maple syrup, using nuts for the creaminess, and a nut & date crust plus a layer of blueberries.)

The pineapples will be sliced up and eaten as snacks. We go through a couple pineapples a week, it’s the favorite fruit of at least a couple people in the house.

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Since we are also getting cukes from the garden these will be used to make fermented pickles. Unlike traditional pickles, fermented pickles are never cooked so they stay crunchy plus they have beneficial bacteria that’s good for your gut.

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We started with 2 big bags of sweet juicy grapes but Beth has already finished off one of them.

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and here’s 10# of organic blueberries, handfuls were eaten on the car ride home, a bowl was left in the refrigerator for snacking , a cup or 2 was used in the strawberry cream pie and the rest were frozen to be used in fruit smoothies. I love blueberries!

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last but definitely not least the peaches and avocados: The peaches still need to ripen so they’re sitting on the counter. Some of them are destined for a frozen yogurt recipe the rest will be munched on or used in smoothies.

The avocados will mostly be eaten by Daniel and me. I like 1/2 an avocado in my salads and Daniel likes to eat it right out of the shell. We’ll also make up some guacamole which everyone LOVES. And if there are any left after all that I can make them into an awesome chocolate mousse recipe (that you would never know the base ingredient is avocados!)

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We love our fruit around here!

Wall of gourds

I mentioned in an earlier post about this gourd plant that had come from nowhere when we were on vacation. It was taking over the yard so Dan built a trellis so we would be able to mow the lawn. This has ended up being the coolest plant and best way to view the growth cycle of the gourds. Not only does the wall of gourds shade the back porch from the early day sun, it also is so fun to watch the progression of the gourds from flower to fruit.

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This is the view from my porch swing. You can just lay on the swing and examine the gourds in all their different stages.

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Starting with the flower

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That overnight seems to develop into this little creature

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And they just keep growing…

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and growing until you have a massive vine covered in many, many gourds.

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