Saturday, October 29, 2011

I'm Here!

::  just busy enjoying time with visiting family

::  prepping for Halloween

::  taking the first steps in a new business venture ~ I must be insane! ;)

::  readying for the last two away games of this half of the soccer season, then a break

::  soaking up the extraordinary late fall light

Happy weekend my friends!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Light Is Magic

Late Fall Light
We noticed at soccer this weekend that the sun at mid-day is significantly lower on the horizon. When it is not blotted out by clouds, it shines on our faces not on the tops of our heads. It now illuminates those trees that have yet to give up the fight, and bleaches out camera shots of end of season soccer games. Posession
Last night I was at a friends house and her husband called us outside. The sky was streaked with a deep burgundy, though suspicious, we weren't completely sure of what we were seeing. This morning it was confirmed. We glimpsed the Northern Lights. This photo of what we witnessed was in an ABC news article this morning and is not my own....must figure out how to take nighttime shots....but this is what we saw none the less.
The light is magic this time of year.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Barn Life

 Yesterday evening as we were walking the property a mew came form the barn.  We saw a kitten, probably 5 months old bouncing back and forth between wanting attention and wanting to stay away.  We talked to her as she darted under the floorboards of the barn, but couldn't quite coax her out.  The kids went  to play with the two new hens we received Thursday night (yet another story), and also heard the kitten yowl, but couldn't get her out.

A few hours passed and late in the evening we heard a persistent mewing on our front porch (quite a distance from the barn and immediately after watching American Horror Story).  Guess who had followed?  Sid went out with food and hung out with a very friendly and obviously in heat kitten.  We told her that if she stuck around this feline would be a barn kitten wholly. Our house cat doesn't tolerate new housemates well.  In fact, once years ago, he "marked" my brother in laws suitcase as an intruder.  This concept accepted, Sidney headed to bed and I relived a moment of years ago... like letting a young baby cry themselves to sleep, I heard this little one outside the door, until she thought better of it and headed back for the comfort of the barn in the cold night.

Interesting, as news comes to us of the not so distant ending of a life, our beloved dog Puck, a new little one is seemingly thrust upon us.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Drop Everything And Make These... Now!

caramel and bacon popcorn balls Gotta love facebook.  I had at some point or another "liked" the Cooking Channel.  Today, they posted about Popcorn Balls, Reinvented.  Maybe because it was just before lunch, or maybe it was because I have a perpetual sweet tooth and an undying love for bacon, but I just made these Salted Caramel Bacon Popcorn Balls...and they. are. the. bomb!
making caramel sauce
First I took 1 1/2 C of sugar, 1/2 C dark brown sugar, 1/3 cup water and 1/2 C light Karo syrup and put them in a sauce pan, stirring occasionally until it boiled and the sugars were melted together and all gooey.  Then I removed it from the heat and whisked in 2 tablespoons of butter and returned it to the heat until just boiling again.
While the sugars were melding I popped 2 bags of popcorn.  The recipe called for 9 Cups, which worked out to be about 1 1/2 bags.  I also bought some microwavable bacon and popped it in until crispy. Then crumbled the bacon in with the popcorn.

gooey Ok, back to the caramel sauce, it's just started boiling again and I removed it from the heat, added 2 teaspoons of dark rum, 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt and 2 teaspoons of baking soda.  It fizzled and bubbled and turned this amazing light caramel color.
I dumped that beautiful caramel over the bacon/popcorn mixture and then stirred until well coated.  I then put on some latex gloves and coated them with a little vegetable oil and formed a dozen lovely popcorn balls.
left overs
All that's left is for mom to snack on some gooey left overs in the bottom of the bowl, and presto, happy kids!

The Last Hurrah

trampoline Time seems to stand still, yet it moves so incredibly fast. Our days have turned blustery. I can feel us entering late fall where the warmer days with just crisp mornings turn colder, wetter, windier and darker as we inch toward winter.   The lovely days of long walks in the balmy air and the kids running and jumping with bare feet have turned more urgent to tuck things away for their hibernation, all while zipping jackets up as high as they go and walking with a quicker step.

My mind wanders to warm sweet spicy smelling pots on the stove, sewing projects, and fluffy quilts.  Just as I am ready to nestle myself up and settle into these thoughts, I realize that we need to head out into the wind to protect our more tender garden crops from tonight's expected frost.  There is still work to be done, and it is the most fulfilling, not just because we must complete our final harvests in the coming couple of weeks, but we need to knock down and prepare for next year.  A kind of wiping the slate clean so that new and beautiful drawings can begin.  Some great satisfaction comes from completing all of these tasks, like the squirrel who finally gets his next full and can settle in.

Have I mentioned that I love fall?  Now it is the leaves turn to dance on the trampoline, enjoying their last hurrah.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Monotonous Rewards

Bi- Color Canning
I have a love hate relationship with canning.  I love to find recipes, create, process jars and fill the root cellar with the fruits of our labor.  With canning tends to come an afternoon of repetition, and by the end, exhaustion.  Oh, don't get me wrong, it is well worth it, but with a never ending processing to do list right now, it can be tiring.  Then after peeling and roasting a few of our tomatoes, that thankfully ripened, there was just a little of each kind left over.  Not enough to fill a jar, but they melded together beautifully, visually preserving a fresh reward to be opened in winter's darkest days.  Note to self: growing multicolored tomatoes is not only fun, it has the simple benefit of taking the monotony out of canning!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Replacements

2011 seems to have been our family's year to re-do.  No one can say we don't get use out of our bigger ticket items, but when it comes time to having to buy them, it never really feels very good, especially when we are trying so hard to save and pay off debt.

It began with the television early this summer.  Our 13-year old television's picture tube finally gave up the fight.  You can only imagine how amazed we were at what color images really should be on a television!  Then our 7-year old iMac crashed and went to the point of no return.  Once again, begrudgingly we shelled out the cash, but once done, I was ecstatic about all the cool stuff that our new mac could do.  Finally, our stove top failed and we had to replace it.  There it is, the three things, we should be home free....right??

On Tuesday we took our 13-year old car into the shop for a once over.  We knew it needed new tires, new brakes, and the exhaust had started to rattle.  This happened once before a few years back and it was a doable repair.  Well,  I began to worry when I didn't get the estimate after 7 hours of diagnostics.  When I finally did hear, the repairs were going to be upwards of $8000.  Holy smokes, we had officially driven this car passed it's useful life!  So we began to let the reality of a car payment (of which we have had none for a few of years) sink in.  Long story short, we have wanted a pick up for about 15 years.  We have always done all of our own landscape improvements, but in the different places that we have lived, we couldn't justify the truck for our weekend hobbies.  A couple of years ago after we had bought and lived in the homestead for a while we thought about it again.  Then, it was hard to rationalize the purchase when we had a working and paid for vehicle.  Now being forced into making the decision, we got it.  No more hauling wood, fence posts and bales of straw in our mini-van or being forced to rent vehicles for transport!!!  AND we will have a snow plow placed on the front to clear our very long driveway in 20 minutes versus 2 hours!  So, once again bitter sweet.  Bitter at having to spend money when we didn't want to, but sweet that we now have something that we have so long wanted and truly need.

Funny, it took my kids for me to look at the year of purchases we had.  They were in the truck on the way to school today pondering what were going to have to replace next.  I said a resounding Nothing!!  We have already had a year of the replacements!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Legacy~ In Life & In Art

A year ago, my gram joined grandpa.  She left a wonderful legacy.  Two children, two grandchildren, four great-grandchildren.  I flash moment to moment on scenes from childhood and weekly evenings spending the night, to adulthood chatting on the phone, to parenthood watching her crawl on the floor with the new babies (no matter her age, or how frail, she would get down on the floor, play, and take such joy in being with the babies.).

A local photographer by the name of Tom Johnson happened upon the above scene one day.  He was out photographing his hometown, Lakewood, California.  Putting together a photographic display depicting life in this place he loves.  One day he saw this elderly woman, dressed for a day out, watering the grass.  Unable to find a garden glove, in advancing stages of dementia, gram didn't let that stop her as she protected her hand with an oven mitt.

Legacy.  Gram and grandpa moved to California from South Dakota during the Dust bowl.  They would travel home to visit relatives with their young family and to visit friends and family in and around California.  But their time was not spent traveling afar.  It was spent creating and nurturing a family.  Now, gram has been on exhibit all over the world.  Most recently in a show in San Diego where the photo of her was picked by an associate curator of the Getty.  This week she is in part of the display opening in Paris.

In life and in art, gram's impact is immeasurable. 

Please do read the link about Tom's encounter with my grandmother.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Little Gifts

 Nothing puts a smile on your face like the first tiny eggs from the chicks that you watched grow through the summer.  No matter how many years we raise babies, each time they start laying, it is like receiving little gifts.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Indian Summer

We have had lovely crisp mornings and our first light frosts. Now this week we are in the mid 70's with crystal blue skies, and gentle breezes.  This is the time every year when all living things are busy readying for shorter, colder days. Unexpectedly, in the midst of preparations, we are reminded to soak in the beauty of balmy days.
husk  Windows wide open, Halloween decor emerging, trees showering leaves, and a beautiful Indian Summer, reminding us to slow down and enjoy.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Evolution Of The Gourd Lantern

One of the plans that B brainstormed while the gourds were drying was to making lanterns from them.  When I came home from a field trip with Charles' class last Friday, he had managed to fulfill phase one of his lantern vision.  Using a dremel tool, he cut two holes in the gourds and pulled out what remained of the dry innerds (very loofah looking hugh?).

Then using a string of Christmas lights, he created a cozy fall setting over our porch table.  The look of it was fantastic, bet he wasn't done yet.

He decided that he wanted a warmer more transluscent feel to the gourds to highlight the natural variations in their shells.  Using a combination of boiled linseed oil and and mineral spirits, he began to soak the gourds for several hours each and then laid them out to dry.
With this little bit of added creativity, this is what we were left with.   I so love this! 

Since this is our first time experimenting with gourds, we didn't plant any this year, we wanted to see what we would end up doing with all of the ones we had finishing from last season.   We are pretty excited with all of the ideas that are flowing on what to do with them.  We may just need to find a bunch of gourds from a local farm to dry out for next year until we plant another batch to dry for 2013.   Who wants one??

September in Review

September seemed to go by in a blur, and since I am just now posting this, October seems to have begun that way too.  It is such a beautiful time of year that we do not want to waste a minute of it, and we aren't.   This is a glimpse of last month through my lens. September in Review

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Raspberry Tip

Our berry patch has really started to do well.  We planted two kinds of raspberries, one of which is called everberring.  This variety produces fruit in the fall and on this seasons new growth.  We have spent much of the late summer noshing on fresh berries from the vine and are now bringing them in to preserve for winter treats, and with our new found fever for wine making, we are planning on a raspberry mead as well.

A great trick for preserving your raspberries beautifully is; after picking, lay them out on a cookie sheet and set them in the freezer.  I normally leave them overnight.  They freeze beautifully into little individual nuggets.  Then I  simply put them in a freezer bag, label them and they are ready when I am.  I have found that the thaw nicely as well, and though they need to be handled gently, they won't turn straight to mush when you thaw them.

Silent Sunday

Silent Sunday


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