Category: Leslie Milby

Say ‘Can-do’ to homemade ice cream

My children scream a lot. Luckily, most of the time it’s for ice cream! While we love visiting all the local creameries, there’s also something a little fun about making our own. With all the kitchen gadgets these days, sure, we could add an ice cream machine to the arsenal but when you’re doing it the old fashioned way, it might as well be truly old fashioned. You’ll need to gather a few basic supplies. The coffee cans might be the trickiest — you’ll want a larger size — usually in the 30-ounce range, and then a smaller size around 9-11 ounce size. If you can’t find the larger size in your regular grocery store, try a bulk or office store as they sell larger sizes (and plus, who doesn’t need more coffee?) Now, some companies will trick you into thinking it’s the tin kind but you might find they are instead a thick silver cardboard. Feel for the ribbing and make sure you have the right material for your ice cream “maker.” You’ll also want some thick, waterproof tape like duct or electrical tape. The ingredients are relatively simple — so simple in fact, I loaded the supplies into our “glamper” for a project to keep the kids busy when our toes weren’t getting wrinkled in the campground pool. You’ll need ice, a pint of half and half,...

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The tadpole project

The mudroom at the Milby household houses more than just a substantial amount of mud. Our delivery men have seen it all. This month, it’s a tadpole sanctuary. This particular project started out how many do: Very innocently visiting family at their new home. The pool had been vacant for a while and had turned into something of a wildlife refuge, complete with a snapping turtle and tadpoles galore. Who am I to resist such a fun project? My husband of course, was saying, “we have hundreds in the back field,” which sounded like an exaggeration, if not an outright lie. However, a field study done the next afternoon would show that sure enough, the massive amounts of rain lately left a puddle absolutely teeming with tadpoles in our back field. For your own, you could also look along the edges of ponds and in temporary pools or puddles that will likely dry up deeper in the summer. My small but mighty crew and I chose a small number from each spot, because like kids, it’s easier to keep track of just a few. If you get too many you start calling the wrong name a few times until you land on the right one. Also, the Department of Natural Resources requires you to have a permit if you possess more than 25 tadpoles of any species at one...

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Thinking outside the (planter) box

I don’t like to use the word “nag,” so I’ll say this- I asked my husband on a frequent and consistent basis to get our old barns cleaned up because they were full of junk. Absolute junk! One morning, pigs started to fly and he started this project while I was out in the yard, trying desperately to find a spot to plant some flowers that I had impulsively bought without a sure place to put them. And as my husband schlepped out some old tires, well, the tires started turning in my mind. So many odd things can...

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Would your boy be up for a Jurassic Garden?

Gardening is the perfect boy activity: Dirt, tools and their mommy. While fairy gardens have garnered a lot of attention, when it comes down to it, it seems their ideas are more of adding in action figures rather than setting up a teeny-weeny tea party. And so, for the little green thumb in your life, why not try a Dinosaur garden? To get started, read some favorite dinosaur books for some inspiration on how you want to do your project and to get excited for a roarin’ good time. You likely won’t need much you can’t find at home. First, find your vessel, and make sure it’s big enough to “play” and get creative in. It doesn’t need to be a traditional flowerpot. A cake tin with drainage poked or an old lidless Tupperware works well, even a plastic planter liner if you aren’t planning on moving it often. (In our version, Landon and I settled on a cheese box we had lying around. We have lots of strange things lying around at the Milby household). Have an old sandbox or other outside kid play area? You could make a large-scale area for continuous play and use some larger dinos in it! If you haven’t gotten into dinosaurs yet, grab a cheap pack at a dollar store. While the grown-up in you may be looking for the perfect ones...

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There’s always a few shady plants

In a perfect world, we’d all have sunny, weed-free gardens but the truth is, it’s just not possible! Perhaps your only possible garden site is along a woodsline, or your yard is surrounded by woods, or, your garden might consist of planting boxes on your patio. While shade isn’t a deal breaker, you will have to take it into consideration. How Shady is it? If you know you have to deal with shade in your garden, the next step is to figure out how much shade you have by doing some “shade mapping.” Before you get to planting, take a day to watch the sun patterns. How many hours is your garden completely sunny, partially shaded, or fully shaded? Peek out your window between chores and jot down some notes. Be sure to note where the shadiest parts are if, like my garden, the sun is passing around something such as a tree or structure. No time to sit and watch the sun rise and set? There also are products that you can stick in your garden to give you a shade report after a 12-hour period. Generally, though, you can follow the rule of thumb that a north-facing garden will likely be shady while south-facing will get the full brunt of the sun, barring any special land characteristics. Shady Plants Turning to the back of your seed packet,...

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