Thursday, September 30, 2010

Pumpkin Stems

I love pumpkin stems!  They can be so cool looking.  You can play the 'cloud game' with some of the stems.  What does this one look like to you?

Looks like a dragon to me.  Or a long-necked dinosaur head.

Or a praying mantis that stuck it's finger in a light socket.

We had a great time picking pumpkins from our local organic farm yesterday.  We picked them right out of the field and hauled them back to our car.  Well, me and Boy did the heavy work.  Munch took care of a very lonesome Sweetpea - helping her walk through all the pumpkin vines and choose the perfect little pumpkins for such a perfect little pumpkin.

My husband and his sisters put on a huge Halloween party each year at the beginning of October, when the weather here in Northeastern Ohio is still nice and fairly predictable (is it really ever?).  We have been tending more toward the jack-o-lantern for decorations these last few years.  Last night we gutted lots and lots of pumpkins.  Tonight we will carve them.

Since I am way behind on my list of things to do before the party, the pics of the pumpkin gutting will have to wait to be included with the pics of the pumpkin carving - tomorrow, hopefully.  Today I have to finish sewing a hat, sew a skirt, make some pumpkin cookies, and do all the other everyday stuff that comes with being a stay at home homeschooling mom of 3 lovely, but highly energetic, children.

Till tomorrow...

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Getting Ready to Haul Wood


Wishing everyone a wonderful day today!  It's going to be sunny and 72 degrees here!  And we are going to pick some pumpkins.  What are you doing today?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

In My Garden

I spent much of Sunday in my severely neglected garden.  Thankfully, it's that time of year where things are more or less taking care of themselves.  (At least that's what I tell myself when I can't make it out there...)

We are still getting lots of lovely veggies.

Some things, I was expecting - tomatoes, peppers...  Other things were complete surprises - beans, gourds (that I did NOT plant)...

I have been slowly learning how to use our camera.  The garden provides lots and lots of opportunities to practice.  Flowers in the garden are always a wonderful sight, but especially at this time of year when everything is settling back to the earth.

Calming Chamomile...

One of my new favorite flowers - four o'clocks.  I love them.

Looks like a hummingbirds dream flower to me, although I have not seen any on them.

My pepper beds - loaded with peppers and zinnias.  This has to be one of my favorite veggie/flower combinations to plant in my garden.

Amongst all the colorful flowers, you can see the beginnings of the gardens winter hibernation.

A lonesome butternut squash peeking out from behind the dying tomato plants.

Happy snapdragons.  How could they not be happy?

And last on the tour of the garden today is the lovely volunteer black-eyed susan that wanders from place to place each year.  She always brings a smile to my face when I notice she has come back to visit.

What's still growing in your garden?  What makes you smile to see this time of year?


Monday, September 27, 2010

Nature Hike

I'm back!  I've been feeling overwhelmed with everything, so I thought we would take an afternoon and head over to our local organic farm for a nature hike.  They have a few trails going through the woods there.  It's so lovely and peaceful.

We set off down the trail.

One by one.

With our nature bags, set for some exploring.

Following up the rear?  Our very own woodland flower fairy.  I picked up this cute little costume at our local thrift store.  Sweetpea has been wearing it ever since.  Woodland flower fairies always always need their butterfly rain boots.  Even if there is not one single chance of rain.

We wound through the woods, sometimes happy, sometimes not quite so.  Hooking up with the dirt road, we headed back to the pumpkin and corn fields.  It was a scorcher that day - up at 90 - and everyone was hot and tired.  But they were troupers. 

On our way back, we turned aside to do a little more exploring

with munch and our flower fairy leading the way.

Lots of time was spent studying this small grove of trees...

looking for magical creatures, interesting bugs, and noteworthy plants.

While I sat back here and took it all in.

You can probably just barely make them out in the picture.  I was set to guard the food and bags from any ferocious being that came along wanting a granola bar.

We left the farm that day with a bag of butternuts, a green cabbage, several armfuls of field corn for decorating and projects, and another adventure under our belts.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Not Forgotten

I have not forgotten about you, dear readers.  I've just been battling a cold and buried under mounds and mounds of apples, tomatoes, and peppers.  Trying to work my way to the top, while at the same time maintaining what little sanity I still have left!!!

So, just a short break until I can see daylight again!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Summer's Simple Things (a couple days late) - Kissing Summer Goodbye

Summer is drawing to a close.  The fall weather has arrived.  Sweaters are coming out of the drawers.  Sneakers are being chosen over sandals.  The first cold of the season is circulating our home.

We've had great fun with the monarchs again this year (read more about them here), although this was a slower year for them, or maybe just us.  Tuesday, after dance classes, we kissed the last of our lovely butterflies goodbye.

They will soon begin their long journey to a warmer climate for the winter.  Summer will go along with them. 

Fall is a time to prepare for winter.  We have begun this process already, but there is much, much left to do.  I'd like to log our winter preparations here on Tuesdays, as a sort of fall-ish continuation of Summer's Simple Things.  Not sure what to call it yet...

We will continue to enjoy the simple things of each season.  Taking it one day at a time.  And trying our best to enjoy each day as much as possible.

Let's give a big, huge thank you to Kim, over at The Inadvertent Farmer for her Summer's Simple Things series!!  We had a blast with it!!!  Thanks, Kim!!!!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Two Little Monkeys

We always read bedtime stories to our children.

Each one of them gets their own story, or portion of a story, each night.  Sweetpea gets hers on this rocker.

This is what I found one day when I walked into her room ready to read to her.

Two little monkeys reading bedtime stories.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Toasty Oven

Welp!  We finally got a new toaster oven.  After a long, hard search, we finally found one that suits our needs.

It's a Sanyo Toasty Oven.  It's compact size (about 10"x10"x12"H) is perfect for not taking up too much counter space.  It has 2 tiers and 3 elements so it actually toasts all sides of all breads.  You can set it to use only the top or bottom racks, or just the middle (for bagels), or all 3.  And it comes with 2 trays for making more messy things.  It came in the mail late yesterday.  Today, we have been making toast all day so far!  I'm so happy to have had my favorite tomato toast breakfast once again.  It makes me really want to try this recipe...

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


I thought I'd share a couple of dippin' recipes with you today.  The first is a basic hummus.  I have made so much hummus in my life, that I don't use a recipe anymore.  These are the basic measurements that I eyeball each time I make it.  Hummus is easy.  Don't be afraid to change up the ratios.  You can almost not go wrong...


1 cup dried garbanzo beans (chick peas), soaked for 1 whole day, cooked, and cooled (save some of the cooking liquid for adding to the mix, but don't worry if you forget this, you can always add water)

1/4 heaping cup tahini (I vastly prefer raw organic, but the 2 seem so difficult for me to find together, I have been opting for toasted organic, which is stronger in flavor)

the juice of 2 lemons (bottled works as well, but fresh is better)

1 T. olive oil (this is optional.  I don't always use oil, but I definitely do if I'm going to eat it a number of days later)

salt to taste (1 tsp or so should do the trick, but you may need to add more or less depending on your needs/desires)

a good and healthy shake of paprika

Put all these ingredients in a food processor and process it until it's smooth.

Hummus is the perfect dip for all your fresh veggies this time of year.  It's also wonderful slathered on fresh homemade bread.  My kids love it as a hummus wrap.  Just take a whole grain tortilla, spread hummus all over it, sprinkle with shredded carrots, top with lettuce, and roll it up.

As we roll into apple season here, this recipe has come back into my mind.  It's a great one for the winter as well if you can applesauce.

Papple Butter

1/2 cup applesauce
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1 T. honey

Mix everything together in a bowl.

We enjoy this primarily for dipping graham crackers, but it's great on toast for a quick breakfast.  It also works as a great dip for sliced fruits, especially pears or apples.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Summer's Simple Things - Biking

I know I have said this before, but I love my bike.  I've had the same bike since i was 12.  I take to the road any time I have the opportunity.  Every Sunday, I ride for an hour or so around my husband's family property.  Just me, my bike, the road, and the countryside.  This weekend, I had the opportunity for 2 bike rides!!!!!!

Yesterday's ride was the most perfect ride.  I was feeling a bit haggard and blue when I went out.  But, as soon as I got going, those feelings lifted away and were carried off by the wind.  The wind.  That's another thing that I absolutely love.  It is strong, yet gentle.  When you ride, it wraps you in the protective strength, comforting you, speaking words of wisdom.  The wind is so worldly.  But primal at the same time.  It has swirled around this globe countless times.  It has seen so many things and people, lands and waters.  It knows.  When I ride, I let it completely surround and penetrate me.  If even a small fraction of it's great wisdom can seep into my being, then I am happy.  It was particularly windy yesterday.  And the wind had much to say.  And I listened.  But like with my 3 year old, I was only sometimes able to get the gist, the feeling, of what it was telling me.  Not the words.  But it doesn't matter.  Words are not always necessary.

I want my kids to have the same feeling when they take to their bikes.

Biking is a part of summer.

It is a part of spring.  And of fall.  And it is a large part of me.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Making Tomato Puree

Each year, we can lots and lots of tomato products - salsa, sauce, veggie sauce (tomato sauce with lots and lots of other veggies), and puree (juice really) being the biggest hitters.  I love to make each one of those...  except the puree.  We have and still use the old Victorio Strainer that my husband and his family used growing up.  Being spatially impaired, I can never quite get it together in the proper fashion.  So, we make this process a family affair.

Everyone gets in on the action.  And everyone has a job to do.  Mine is to gather up the tomatoes, wash them, take of the nasty parts, and cut them into manageable pieces.  Nick's job is to set everything up, manage the kids, oversee the Using Of The Machine, tear down, dump juice from the pan to the large kettle, and anything else that I don't feel like doing!!!  (Thank you so much, Nick.)  He really is the driving force at making puree.  I love love love to use it - in tomato soup, making tomato eggs (eggs poached in the juice - so wonderful!), in soups and stews, etc.  But, I have such an aversion to actually making it.

As I was saying...  Everyone has their jobs.  Munch handles getting the puree off of the strainer and into the pan.

Boy turns the crank.  Afterall, he really is the strongest one of us.  ;o)

Sweetpea adds tomatoes to the top, and generally tries to take over everyone's jobs.

We all really have a great time.  Up to a certain point, that is.  So, we try not to make a bigger batch than we have energy for.  But, The Machine only comes out once per year.  So, finding a balance is important.

After all the juice is collected into our largest, 24 quart kettle that I stole from my mother, I cook it down a bit.

And can it in my pressure canner. 

Ready for lots of tomato soup!!!  Mmmmm....

What are your favorite ways to can tomatoes?