Monday, August 30, 2010

Tonight Was About the Light

 just bask in this waterfall of light

I was so tired and unmotivated tonight, but I dragged myself outside to take some pictures.  

 It never ceases to amaze me how once I begin to stroll the day just melts away.  My senses relax and are heightened.  Closing my eyes I listen to the sound of the breeze rustling.  I hear the hum of the birds, crickets, squirrels and frogs all having lively conversations.
  And, the light.  It's golden blanket that is setting across the property is breathtaking, centering. 

 One last day before the sun sets on our summer and the school year begins.



Sunday, August 29, 2010

Canning vs. Freezing

 This years unusual rain has been amazing for the garden.  Even more noticeably than the vigorous plants is that the harvest has been staggered.  What a relief!  Last year we had tomatoes & cucumbers simultaneously.  Though we still have cucumbers, the bulk of the cucumber eating and processing is done.  I think one last farm box with cucumbers will be distributed if the recipients aren't burnt out on them :)

Now this weekend, we have consistent tomatoes ripening (those too should be in this weeks box).  Because of last years onslaught, we peeled and froze most of our tomatoes so that we could take our time and make sauces etc. as we needed them.  Yes, we used them up, but it wasn't as convenient as I would have liked.  On busy school nights, I don't want to think about making something from scratch.  I want to reach for something healthy that won't sap what's left of my waning energy.  So we are making a very conscious and calculated effort to can quarts of tomato sauce and pints of salsa.  We started as soon as we had several ripening at once and I'm happy to report, we're staying on top of things nicely so far!

I guess since we started canning so early this summer, it's become a bit of a habit and I don't see it as so much of a chore or inconvenience.  We've also discovered some recipes and techniques that make delicious healthy food and aren't horribly labor intensive.  Don't get me wrong, the deep freezer is virtually full (yet another reason to can, I'm out of space)!  Since we're in a tomato kind of mindset, I thought I'd share our two newest recipes...

Oven Roasted Tomato Sauce
5# ripe heirloom tomatoes
1 sweet yellow onion
8 lg. unpeeled garlic cloves
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
2 teaspoons sugar, to taste
salt and pepper to taste

Pre-heat oven to 475.  Cut tomatoes in quarters and seed (we used our Roma's and only needed to cut them in half).  Put them in a large bowl.  Peel onion, cut into wedges and add to bowl along with the garlic cloves.  Drizzle with olive oil, toss and transfer to a broiler pan.  Place in oven for 10 minutes then reduce the temperature to 425. Cook for 40-50 minutes.  Let cool.  Remove tomato skins and squeeze garlic cloves and discard skins.  Transfer to a pot, add basil, sugar, salt and pepper.  Use an immersion blender and puree to desired consistency. 

Ladle into prepared canning jars and process in a water bath.
**for appropriate storage acidity, you need to be sure you've put 2 Tbsp of lemon juice in the bottom of a quart container or 1 Tbsp for a pint container.  Makes 4 Quarts.


Sweet Pepper and Tomato Salsa
3# cherry tomatoes, quartered and left to drain
2# baby bell peppers
2 onions
1 head garlic
1/4 C. apple cider vinegar
1 C. cilantro, roughly chopped
1 Tbsp. Cumin
1 Tbsp. Coriander

Roast all vegetables in a 425 oven until slightly caramelized and onion soft.  Once cool enough to handle, roughly chop peppers and onions and squeeze  caramelized garlic cloves from head.  Place in a pot, add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.  Place in prepared jars, and process (10 minutes for pints).  Makes 9 pints.
** remember to use the lemon juice in the bottom of jars!

Don't get rid of the 'tomato water' that has drained from your tomatoes!  It can be used to make wonderful cocktails, both of the alcoholic and the non-alcoholic varieties!

Enjoy!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Living Care Free

 I can't seem to keep shoes on Sidney.  She loves the feel of grass on her toes.  She's so used to walking around bare foot, she can walk on almost any surface and not worry about it.  In contrast, Charles has been known to hop into bed with his shoes on.  So once out bare footed he's like the prince and the pea and oh-ah-ech-oh's his way over even the smoothest surface.  Since we've gone to more pasture, areas of grass it has become quite lush.  It struck me the other day as Sid frolicked care free and contented through the world of tall grass and her imagination.    Happy Friday!


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

To Pasture

 As I've mentioned before, I love to mow.  I find it almost a meditation and the smell of fresh cut grass is intoxicating.  Still when the better part of 6 acres is grass, why have all of it manicured?  Mowing for 4+ hours every weekend takes a lot away from both precious family time and the garden.  So, we've mapped out an area all around the house to keep nicely mowed, a large play area on the fire pit side and the laundry line/berry patch area to be kept neat.  For the rest, we hope the native grasses will turn to pasture without too much coaxing.  Someday we may have some animals who will relish the lush grasses to munch on.  Until then, we will enjoy watching the wind make waves of green ripple and the kids frolic in states of pure play.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Ah Tomatoes

 Happiness is snacking my way through picking tomatoes.
*
The time has finally come, better slightly late, than never!
My spare time will soon be filled with simmering sauce, spicy salsa and tomato preserves.
Anyone have any recipes to share?
*
If you'd like to see what we harvested recently check this out.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Weekend Blur

 I took this with my nikon p&s on Friday night, thought it was cool and highlighted this amazing shot that our friend Daniela put together for us as a birthday treat for Karri, so fun!

Why is it that the weekends always seem to go by in a blur?  
We seem to have the it's the end of summer, must complete harvest and better than last year, and get all of your last minute, warm summer social stuff done before school starts blur.

Farm box assembly, antiquing, birthday parties, girls nights, rib eating, chocolate souffle making,
school clothes shopping, beta fish getting, quilt top cutting, falafel eating, domino playing
 waffle making,  Lego's with the boy, canning, quilting, pesto making, blogging
collapsing into sun dried sheets.

How was your weekend?




Saturday, August 21, 2010

Sweet Surprises

 I love that our gourmet club can have an impromptu gathering on an off week, and it seems to come together every bit as gourmet as the planned events.  The chocolate shavings above went into the individual souffle's that I made last night.  So good and I placed just a little bit of candied ginger in the bottom of the ramekins as a surprise.  I only have this picture to post, because we snarfed them up so fast I didn't get a picture in!

Here's to a weekend full of sweet surprises!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Quilt Top!--QAL

 Well, this is it!  Amy gave us the sashing instructions this week and lookie what we have here!  I would say it was a cinch, but I had a little trouble with the top row.  Once all laid out, I had to put on the final strips.  Somehow I reversed the direction and put the final corner piece on the wrong side.  My visualization failed me this time, I guess I was just a little too tired when I was doing that part last night.  It finally came to me in the light of day this morning and I fixed it.  Not to shabby hugh??  ;)
A funny aside,  I had to re-sash the top four blocks to fix my mistake.  Now, I began sewing about 7 months ago.  I made it through the 1st grade musical costumes, had to do a few re-do's involving lots of thread pulling and I began to pull threads on the sashes.  Then while painstakingly pulling individual stitches, I figured out I could run the seam ripper along the whole thing and it comes right apart!  Sheesh!  I guess that's why they call it a seam ripper and not a seam puller!  Yes,  you may laugh now.  I'll tell you though, this self-taught sewer was pretty thrilled at this time saving tip!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Fall Peaking


I'm so excited to be appearing over at moments of perfect clarity today!  julochka was the first blog I found when I began this journey and I'm thrilled to be part of her interview series.
*
As I get up, sip my coffee and do a little early morning blog reading,
it's not so much what I can see out the window, but how it feels.
*
I can sense a twinge of change in the air.  It is a bit like the best of both worlds.  Warm days rippled with gentle breezes. Contrasting sharply with the morning, that has the familiar crispness that is Fall hiding around the corner and teasing us, just a little.
*



Monday, August 16, 2010

Free Spirit


Tonight's conversation:

Dad:  Charlie, did you take your shower?

Charlie:  No, a bath!

Dad:  Did you scrub?

Charlie:  Yes.

Dad:  Did you wash your hair?

Charlie:  Yup, I poured the shampoo in the tub and dunked my head!

My little free spirit.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Who Me?

Who me?  Aw Shucks (bashfully).  On Friday I received the beautiful blogger award!  Thanks jillsygirl, so sweet of you to think of me.  I've never received a blog award before, so here's how this one works.  I'll share 7 beautiful things around me and then pass the award on to 7 other beautiful bloggers.
*

*
The beauty around me that inspires me:
My beautiful kids
My dearest B, love at first sight 17 years ago.
 Gently coaxing our lovely garden and watching it flourish. 
Strolling our dear homestead and reflecting on its history while planning it's future.
The lens that encourages me to really take in the little missed details of everyday life.
Our families that are the fabric of my life, both where we grew up and our dear friends where we live now.  
Studying beautiful fabrics and envisioning their future.
A community full of beautiful blog friends
*
Seven beautiful blogs, feel free to participate or not, just know that I find yours beautiful blogs that make my bloggy life brighter :)

Friday, August 13, 2010

Bounty Beginnings


We were up bright and early this humid morning.  All of the windows in the house were fogged and had streams of water droplets cascading down.

Out we went and within 45 minutes and were soaked, but had this humble bounty to show for it.
Now we're enjoying zucchini butter & Italian squash marmalade
such simple delights!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

It's What's For Dinner

 Today was the day, school supply shopping!  I picked up the kids after work and we headed to complete the task at hand.  Two stores later, mission accomplished.  Both stores were crazy busy and I was so looking forward to getting home and unwinding.  
 *
Then I realized....I'd left 15 pounds of cucumbers brining and they had to be canned.  Ugh!   We painstakingly grow, preserve and cook our food to provide better taste, better nutrition and a strong sense of where our food comes from.  
*
I'm tired and begin to laugh, thinking about the absurdity of what I'm going to do.  The act of creating this environment has made me so tired this evening that I prepared the kids Mac-n-Cheese for dinner.  No, not the homemade kind I normally make (because I know what's in it and it tastes so darned good).  No, I cracked open a good old fashioned box of processed goodness and let the kids go to town.  Does anyone else see the irony in this??

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Summer Circle of Life

 These buggers are sure hard to capture, there's thousands of them but of course they don't stay in a frame for very long :)

This summer has been unusually warm and wet.  With that comes humidity and clouds of mosquitoes.
 They are miserable little creatures aren't they?
  I guess to add balance, mother nature has sent us beautiful iridescent dragon flies by the thousands. 
 We can cheer them on as they feast and observe the summer circle of life.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Quilt Along---Week 8

Wow!  We did it, the blocks are now finished!  I'd like to say this weeks blocks were a ton of fun, but it was really just a comedy of errors for me.  I'm not sure if it was excitement about the looming completion of blocks, or sheer tiredness from late summer activities, but I made silly errors cutting and wasted some of the little scraps I had left.  Ah well.  They turned out reasonably well and I can't wait to begin to join them all together!

Aunt Eliza's Star
I like how this turned out.  This is where I had the cutting errors,  I was a full 1/2' off when I cut my cream fabric, making it unusable.  But I like this just as well!

Mosaic Number 22
I found this block very frustrating.  Not for any other reason than I had begun to run very low on thread and wanted to finish!  Of course as I came down to joining the last two sections my bobbin jammed and I had to re-thread, then dropped it unwinding half of the precious amount left.  (Truly an I Love Lucy moment)!  But guess what?  A deep breath later and I finished the last stitches.  Officially one full spool of thread will complete all of the blocks necessary for this quilt (at least for me ;)

So next week we start making this look like a quilt top!  I can't wait for the next portion of this journey!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Amusement

 The school district has a reading contest every year.  If the kids reach a certain goal, then they get a free ticket to Six Flags Great America.  So, being the completely prepared parents we are, we went yesterday (the last day the tickets were good)!  The kids have gone on some rides at the fair each year and been to Disneyland, but when they were 5 & 3.  This was really their first big amusement park experience.  At the entrance they both became reflective in their own ways at the sight of the double decker carousel.  Sid a bit overwhelmed and Charlie plotting his agenda. 

They loved it!  Sidney is a roller coaster fiend & Charlie is up for anything that he's big enough for.  If you could capture his face on some rides, you'd thing that he was going to cry.  You couldn't tell when we get off, he's all talk on how cool it is!  I guess once he figures out he's going to make it, it's all good!

A nice thing about Great America is that they had a water park open last summer too.  So in this picture, the kids are under the huge amount of falling water and having a great time!  We're fortunate enough, now that the kids have had a taste, we're meeting B's cousin Amy and her family there this weekend for more water park madness.  Maybe next year...season passes!?  So fun!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Those Summer Ni-ights


Summer is about fun and friends.  We had a dinner party last night with our 'gourmet club' and it was the perfect night to dine on the porch.  I thought my friend's daughter perfectly captured the sense of fun we all felt in our hearts!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Stash


 Today I found a new quilting store.  Well not new, just new to me.  I was like a child in a candy store, and can see it will become a regular haunt.  The air has temporarily become a little drier and a cool breeze is welcome on this warm day.  So, now I'm basking in the end of the day,  gazing upon the fall colors that I'm adding to my stash and thinking about what I will turn them into.  Happy Friday!


Thursday, August 5, 2010

Reflections


The air is thick with late summer.
*
Since I began taking photos in earnest, my mind has 
been more open to all of the little things we tend to miss
in our daily lives.
This August, take a moment and really
notice what's around you.  What simple beauties reflect back
to you from a slightly different perspective.  Then linger upon the picture, 
take a deep breath 
and exhale.
*

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Simplicity

 One of our spring chicks laid her first eggs yesterday!

August is a time for enjoying the last days of summer and maybe slowing those busy days down a little (as much as you can with two young kids :).  I'm joining the August Break.  Funny,  the expectations I put on myself.  I love all that I'm doing, but have this crazy rule to try to keep my Blog Camp 365 pictures as separate as possible and not to duplicate those photos for blog posts.  For some reason I thought I was cheating to do so.  Well,  this month I'm going to combine the two with this break and maybe take a bit of simplicity under my wing.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Quilt Along---Week 7

I think the thing most exciting about this weeks blocks were the instructions...or should I say how sparse they were.  Things like, make your HST's then assemble.  I like this.  It means that we've gotten to the point where we don't need so many baby steps for each part of the block.  We're just building on what we've been taught, and best of all...I got it!

Dutch Windmill Block
This block was comprised completely of HST's!  I love this windmill, so I started looking for windmill patterns.  I think I may make a quilt solely of different windmills (appropriate for my blog theme don't you think)?
Practical Orchard Block
In this block we used and alternative method for the hourglass block.  Likey!  This block was fun, and much simpler after all of the HST's.  Yea!  We're getting there!




Sunday, August 1, 2010

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