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Monday, September 29, 2008



Sunday, September 28, 2008

Fall in love with the season

Tonight, I read _Leaf Man_, by Lois Ehlert. It was appropriate since I had just collected leaves with a nephew for school, and saved some leaves for myself. My sister asked what I was going to do with the leaves. Like Lois Ehlert states in her book, my kids and I tend to grab leaves and keep them with no end use in mind. We're just compelled to collect them. I'll find cookbooks at home with leaves pressed in between the recipes from years ago.

In my early days of motherhood, I always envisioned taking the pressed leaves and flowers and having a border like a natural history museum wall in the basement. I glued specimens to cardstock, then looked for those trim pieces that schools have -- the trim is two soft tubes. Put a piece of paper between the tubes and you can hang it without putting holes in the wall. The kids' art teacher didn't know what the trim was called, so we couldn't find it in the index of her catalog.

My current use for pressed leaves and flowers is now modeled after my friend's -- modge podge and sugar cookie scented candles, cards, bookmarks, and placemats. I have seen education programs using laminated leaves. They last indefinitely and are good for making crayon rubbings.

I include a picture of our nature table here, with bumpy buckeye shells and osage apples that we've found as well as gourds (now rattles) and marigolds (from "I's" garden) that we've dried. The neighbor's lovely red maple leaves that "I" likes to place there usually blow away, but stand up nicely in the flower pots between the locust seed pods. I love fall.

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Saturday, September 27, 2008

Savoring One Dollar

Darn these rotated pictures! I doubt that I will take time to work through blogspot's help section. I liked the old way of posting pictures -- they rotate only if I say so.

Now that is off my chest, I have to say that my garlic just makes me happy. For the two years that we belonged to a CSA, we had garlic at the end of the season, and it was enough to last until May. I don't have a garlic cache this year, so I went up to the farm's last market of the season and got the last of the uncommitted (non-member) garlic. Three largish heads and three jumbo heads. The large heads cover the palm of your hand and are a fantastic value at $1 per head. Three cloves from this would equal one entire head of store garlic.

I've planted Angela's garlic a few times and it never looks as nice. My eggplants, tomatoes, and basil (also from Turtle Farm/Angela Tedesco) all look as nice hers, but I must be something yet to learn about garlic. Research for the winter.


Saturday, September 20, 2008

Mmmm, peaches

The second to last batch of peaches became peach sorbet. I found the recipe near the back of the Ball Blue Book. Very easy, and really yummy.


Friday, September 19, 2008

Feeling like a pioneer

We visited Living History Farms today. My life appears to be one of a pioneer.

Today and yesterday's posts have drying fruit pictures, and blogspot keeps turning them. If anyone knows how to rotate in blogspot, let me know.


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Everything's coming up pears

I wrote earlier about having apples, pears, and peaches in abundance. I am slowly getting everything off the dining room table and the refrigerator. I am happy to report that there is no more fruit on the floor around the table.

The apples are good keepers and good eaters. The apples that are not being stored are dried and kept in preserving jars. I enjoy drying them because it's easy to slip them into the oven after dinner is done baking. I feel a little medieval when I "stretch" the heat like this. I can get roughly 6 apples dried at a time. (For more on drying produce, see the August/September issue of Mother Earth News.)

I was making fruit leather with the apples and pears (really do not like "leather" and food in the same category), but the time for labor compared to the time to total consumption caused me to give up the cause. It will be moved to special treat status.

We gave away some of the apples today -- the kind that "I" of GAIN found by the railroad tracks. They were yellow and ripe when we picked them. There is nothing like the instant gratification of eating freshly picked produce. The fire station apples had to ripen for a couple weeks before they were tasty, so I really appreciated this batch of apples. Of course, we had to pick at the fire station when we did, or else they would have been picked by all the other taxpayers (and they didn't ask permission like we did!).

Some peaches were converted to peach butter. I'll probably make more since the peaches do not keep well. And I've got more than a few being kept. With only two ingredients (sugar and peaches) the butter is very easy to make (and yummy, too). I always remember _The Grapes of Wrath_ when I pick peaches. My peach jam that I made earlier has less chunks than the Target brand peach jam, so my kids are pretty happy with it.

Our pears are being stored. Probably half of them went into Ginger Pear Jam this morning. It's a lovely taste. I made my own recipe based on ingredients I had and research that I performed a while ago -- 4 c. cut up pears + 1/3 c. ginger root + 5 c. sugar + pectin = Three pints jam.

Last night, I bought a Blue Book for $1.48. I've read through most of it, but I'm not being inspired to make anything in it at the moment. Maybe I'll get crazy at the next farmer's market, or make it up to Turtle Farm's farm stand and buy things to can, but most likely I'll just hang out at home.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Catching the Harvest Moon

When the Cub Scout meeting was over tonight, the Harvest Moon was low, large, and yellow. By the time we found a good spot to "catch the moon," it was high, small, and white. This is the best shot we got. Kind of fun.

Our freecycled deep freezer is kaput. Unsure what to do at this point. I liked having it last year, our first year with a deep freeze, for stocking up those good deals on groceries.

After a couple of weeks wrestling with a routine -- one kid in school full time, one in school half time, two at home pretty much all the time -- the younger two figured out that they have at least two hours of free time in the afternoons before the other kids come home. They have spent this time either playing, or working at their grandparents' house. Today, they played at home. The large crafting play was turning our back yard into a bicycle race course.
Then we had some small crafting, done after someone needed quiet time in order to quit fighting with everyone else in the house. Perler beads, a birthday gift.

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Sunday, September 14, 2008

Just peachy

I have a bushel of peaches in my dining room. They are leftover from a canning marathon yesterday. Over 50 quarts and a dozen pint jars of peaches, plus half a dozen pints of peach jam. I have decided to bake peach goods, for freezing. I think the garage is cold enough to turn the deep freeze on.

I came home from the marathon to find my name cut out of paper. You can see it to the right of my pint jar. Must have been "I" of GAIN.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Stay away from the basil

The day is cool.
I embrace it!

Slugs, be gone.

(Hearty thank you to Laura for gifting me with even more magnetic poetry sequel words! They are awesome!)

I've scattered coffee grounds and pulverized egg shells around the green beans to keep the slugs from entering the bean area. I can't bring myself to killing them. I noticed a recently-slimed plant and see that more leaves and flowers are coming, so I feel hopeful that some of last year's fall bean success will come through to me this year.

My eyes wandered to the plant next door, a basil. See picture to the right that I snapped today. (I am humored by that fake snapping sound of digital cameras.) I had to take this shot, just in case it gets attacked. Slugs, I think you ate the baby lettuces I planted in this bed. Stay away from my basil (I'm trying not to grovel to an invertebrate).


Tuesday, September 9, 2008

slugs bother me

My fall garden success may just be dream this year. Unlike other years, slugs are into my beans and lettuce. So I'm possibly out of business. It's getting a little cold out to start planting all over again. Drat.


Monday, September 8, 2008


Can you smell the fruit from our house?

We're full of fruit. We spotted a pear tree in a public place yesterday and plan to visit it. This picture shows a small bit of what we have at our house. This particular picture contains fruit from the fire station. When I called to ask permission, the man on the phone was speechless. Evidently people stop all the time to pick apples, but no one has ever asked. Until now. I guess I'm really polite.

We started picking apples and pears and just went crazy because it was fun. Mr. GAIN asked, "What are we going to do with all of those?" We gave a lot away to some homeschool friends over the next week -- and we still have a roasting pan heaping full of apples and pears here at the house. They have ripened nicely and are great tasting! I wish the apples were eating AND baking fruit. The pears seem to be good for both eating and baking. I am trying to figure out how to can them. I don't know if I have the right gear to do it, and that is what I'll research tonight. I need to move them to the fridge. In the meantime, I can make the following killer recipes: ginger-pear sauce (yummy on waffles) and apple-pear-cranberry pie (mmm).

"I" of GAIN recently spied an apple tree near the train tracks. "A" of GAIN and I stopped and picked some -- nice yellow apples, spicy flavor. I should have taken our apple picker since the tree was on a steep slope. We could barely reach the fruit. I still have to cook one on the stovetop to test for cooking flavor. They are in the refrigerator.

We were able to pick apples from my great-uncle's orchard over Labor Day weekend. His house, next to my family's home place, now belongs to non-family. It was nice to visit the place and see that the trees weren't taken down.

My sister also let me pick a couple peaches from her tree -- they rock! Her tree branches are ridiculously low to the ground, heavy with fruit. We ought to take before and after pictures, and weigh the produce. She predicted this would happen in June. She's so smart.

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Friday, September 5, 2008

Our crafty week

The results of our crafty week:

Home school gathering. Decorating pencil bags. "G" turns his green bag into camo -- the miracle of fabric markers. "I" turns her pink bag into girliness thanks to sticky felt flowers and puff paint.

"I" had her birthday. Two crafts of note. Since the kids all get their (homemade) food of choice on their special day, we had to make "enchanted unicorn horns" for breakfast. An enchanted unicorn horn is a sugar cone (for ice cream) dipped in almond bark, dipped in sugar. Obnoxious (and probably noxious to some). So this is breakfast. The recipe came from The Princess Cookbook that she received for Christmas.
For his gift to his sister, "N" of GAIN took a stick (she LOVES sticks and has special relationships/memories with them), took the bark off of it (quite difficult and time consuming), then used the scroll saw to remove the twig stubs, and sanded it. She loved it. Maybe we should give up shopping for her in the future.

Next crafty thing was finishing the chenille scarf. I had the yarn left from a failed project and decided that it should be a scarf. It is not smooth, so it doesn't show cables even though I put a few in; it worked up stiffer than I imagined, but acted as I thought it should with the purl ridges I designed. It is soft and warm. "N" took this photo of me this morning (no makeup, Vickie!). You can't really tell that my hair is shorter, but I had it cut last week -- chin length with layers.

The last crafty item is a gift for my godson. I failed in my first attempt for his sister -- I just need to spend some mental time to create a better fitting pattern. It works out to be very cute in my head. LOL But the godson gift is a fairly mindless pattern in a divine combo of yarn. It is SO SOFT -- cashmere, baby llama, merino, microfiber. I followed the pattern, but hope that I have enough yarn. You never can tell with handknits. I usually knit larger than the recommended gauge. So if needed, I'll rip it out and work it up with smaller needles in order to budget the yarn. I cannot get more of it -- the one store closed and the other is in WI. And there are dye lots to consider. It is very fast (the "mindless" factor), so I'm not worried. I have the first half very close to done after half a day of off and on working. It will be completely done tomorrow. (I know when to say when!) Here it is earlier today:

You might notice the playing card to the side. It came from LEGO Creator, a board game that involves building things with bricks.

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