Friday, August 31, 2012

Blue Moon

"The moon is at her full, and riding high, Floods the calm fields with light.  The airs that hover in the summer sky are all asleep tonight."
William C. Bryant

Happy Blue Moon!

Farm Bag Six

 We are getting out our sixth farm bag of the season and are very happy with how our season has gone!  We are hoping to continue for a while yet to come!  This is the information we sent out in this weeks Homestead Happenings Newsletter.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Summer's Swan Song

The first signs of early fall are upon us.

The pines are full of baby cones

A window sill full of ripe tomatoes

The rose hips finishing

The black eyed Susan's are singing summers swan song.

And new starts, new schools, new routines beginning.

What signs of early fall are you beginning to see?

Monday, August 27, 2012

Party Like It's 1599

One of our families favorite summer traditions is to go to the Renaissance Faire.  We started going when Sidney was six and would like to go every year, but it seems that we are on an every other year pattern.  This year's timing worked out for us perfectly.  We had long ago set plans to meet up with some friends for the day, and we all excitedly counted down.  Of course in our record dry summer (though we have had some periodic relief in the last month), the one day we pick to go was forecast to have scattered showers most of the day.  It did not disappoint!  The rain was more on again than off again, with perfect timing beginning as we strolled through the gate.  But it was warm, a steady light rain, and a lot of good natured people who were all are there for love of the event, so spirit's were high!  There is always plenty of great food and drink, attractions, shows, revelry and livery.  Since I have spent most of the summer reading historical fiction novels set in the 16th century, It was the perfect cap to my summer. So whether it was watching the joust with the Queen,

Cheering on the Fire Whip,

getting a lesson in Falconry,

enjoying a sassy court fool in the pouring rain,

kids of all ages in the 300 battle,

or dad trying out the Didgeridoo while sporting his daughter's new cape, 

the day was a memorable day,  partying like it was 1599!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Writers Block

This month has been a tough one for posting.  Aside from the fact that we are super busy with getting ready for school, while trying to utilize every last moment of the summer, I got it in my head that I needed to take on a writing project.  Several weeks ago I came across this great magazine called Taproot.  If you are familiar with Soule Mama's blog, then you may have heard of it.  The magazine comes out quarterly.  Each issue has a theme and encourages non-fiction articles, photography and poetry, but most of all creativity.  I decided to throw my hat in for the current issue that they were taking submissions for.  Funny enough, once I decided on doing it, the words all dried up.  I had zero inspiration for blogging, and was so preoccupied trying to come up with an idea for the themed essay that I was frozen. 

Then knowing that I was headed camping with the girl scouts this week and that there would be no time to finish it before it was due when I got back, last weekend I woke up and poof words were overflowing (further evidence supporting that I need a deadline to write).  I always have some scraps a little tablet of paper in the car.  So as I'm trying to jot down thoughts I realize how difficult the physical act of writing is.  When the flow of words comes typing is so seamless, but writing it down, my hands felt knotted and I couldn't get them to work fast enough.  It made me a little wistful to realize how I am losing the art of long hand, and how my kids may never truly have it. Oh, and my handwriting has become atrocious! 

I submitted the article last Saturday and had a response late yesterday.  As with anything, once submissions begin coming in they are picked and puzzled together to compliment one another within the theme.  My article did not fit in the puzzle for the winter issue, but they will keep it on hand in case it fits another theme.  I was also encouraged to continue submitting for future publications and Amanda (Soule Mama) nicely gave me all of the upcoming themes.  I didn't expect to be published on my first shot, just felt that I would take the leap, and was happy for the encouragement to continue.  The article I wrote is an introduction to how we came to the homestead and our journey thus far.  I posted it with my Bio under the new Our Story tab if your interested in seeing it :)

Happy Weekend!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Farm Bag Five

This week has gone by in a blink!  I spent last weekend at a conference, and then came back to work, school preparation and garden duties.  It has been a really phenomenal summer and I am excited contemplating a continuation of farm bags for longer this year than in years previous.  Here is this weeks newsletter.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Two Seasons In One

 Things have been so busy recently that I have relied heavily on my iPhone to take photos.  There is nothing wrong with that, it does a good job.   However, I have missed my evening walk, spent in part capturing shots, since recently Sidney has monopolized my camera.  I am not complaining, she is doing amazing things!  But yesterday I made a point of carrying my camera with me as we had our evening stroll.  We were not rushed heading in different directions, we were able to meander.  Just as I headed into the garden  a cool breeze whipped up and the trees rustled like crazy.  An early feel of fall was definitely in the air.  That made me smile, as I noticed that the sound of the wind and angle of the light is taking on that autumn feel that I so love. 

This is our last true week of summer vacation and I can hardly believe how it has flow by!  I think that we have all been fooled by our crazy weather all year.  We had lilacs at the end of February and then they grew all their new growth.  Once the rain finally came, they began to bud once again and are now experiencing a second growth of branches for next years blooms!  This is truly like two seasons in one for us Wisconsinites!  Nothing reflects that more perfectly that blooming lilacs with an almost completely orange pumpkin on the vine below.  An auspicious mingling of my favorite things, lilacs and fall.  Who'd have thought?  Happy Weekend!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Focus and Refocus

This last week has simply flown.  I know that traveling for a business conference for three days and then jumping back into life at home has everything to do with it, yet I was shocked to realize that I haven't posted in nearly a week!

As a hobbyist photographer I have found that everything in a shot can change subtly or dramatically just as a matter of focus.  Depending on the light, there can be variations in softness, depth and lovely little artifacts.  All of these things allow us to see the world around us in different and amazing ways.

B and I have found since beginning our homestead journey that trying new things that support our ultimate goals is a rich and diverse experience.  A wonderful trial and error that gives us a continuous education.  We learn what we can take on, push our limits, set goals, adjust goals and make game plans.  A constant focus and refocus.  There are different times for different things and nothing is black and white.  Activities and ideas all have their place on the ultimate slide rule adjusting with the ebb and flow of life.

Even if you aren't into taking pictures, I urge you to look through a lens and focus on something and then change it, focusing on something to the background or foreground of the item.  Or simply set your camera to auto and notice all of the little self adjustments.  Then think about how simple it is to fine tune, focus and refocus.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Taking Leaps

Over the last couple of days as I was perusing Pinterest looking for new and interesting ways to preserve food from the harvest, I seemed to repeatedly come across a saying; 'If your dreams don't scare you, they're not big enough.'  That statement has resonated with me especially since it seems that trying new things that cause some anxiety seems to be how we roll.  What causes the anxiety?  Is it the newness of the thought?  The fear of failure?  Being taken out of a comfort zone?  Some leaps you have no choice about, like the leap that Sidney is about to make into middle school.  As you get older, I am finding that the leaps that we take are well thought out,  and come from a place of deep belief, commitment, and choices we make in creating our life.  However you put yourself out there, if it's new and scary, it tends to have great reward.  The feelings of unease may not disappear overnight either; conquering fear may not be in the initial decision, but as a result of repeatedly making that decision until you realize there was no need for the fear to begin with.    What leaps are you ready to take?

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Farm to Table

When we were in California the beginning of July, B and I had several opportunities to treat ourselves to nice meals out.  For starters, we eat predominantly seafood when we are in California, we can't seem to get enough of it.  At the first meal that we went out to on a 'date night' we were disappointed that the food was just so-so.  We critiqued discussed the experience as we were eating and began to realize that either our expectations were way to high, or we had just gotten to the point that with the love and effort we put into our cooking and the enjoyment we get form our 'tastebuds' dinner club, we can do it, and better.  I know this sounds horribly conceited, but maybe our tastes are just more towards the slow food we cook than what was laid in front of us. 

This experience and a bottle of wine later, we began to talk about how fun it would be to do a farm to table dinner a couple of times a summer (best after fair week) for maybe 6-8 people at the homestead.  This idea was blossoming in the back of our mind during the rest of the trip.  While we were tossing the idea around, I mentioned it to a good friend and fellow tastebud.  She was super excited and a couple of days later I got a text from her about a small catering job that she couldn't do and would I be interested in picking it up.  Leave it to dear friends to give you that little push off of the cliff you find yourself on the edge of! :) 

This morning I completed 80 tea sandwiches for a wedding shower.  The ideas for them flooded to me easy enough and I just made sure to get all of  my prep work done in advance so that this morning was all assembly.  I was nervous about the sandwiches because if they sit too long they can tend to get soggy.  I took some precautions against this making sure to coat the inner bread with a portion of ingredients that would help stave off dreaded sogginess.  What I ended up with was three creations in a farm to table theme:  A tarragon poached chicken with blackberry aioli and arugula micro-greens, a play on a farm caprese salad; hazelnut pesto with buffalo mozzarella and cherry tomatoes in a balsamic reduction, and finally a farm fresh egg salad with green tomato relish.  I was excited about how it turned out and hope that it is a taste of a farm to table segment at the homestead.  Thanks D!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Farm Bag Four

As the heat of August does not disappoint farm bag number four was ready for delivery.  I like to try to add little personal tidbits that come from all of the squirreling away preserving of food that we try to accomplish.  It never ceases to amaze me how quick and easy some things are, but it seems that we do not do them, always making the excuse that the task too time consuming.  I am much this way myself, but this week I was once again reminded how the most difficult thing of processing some of the basil was hauling out the food processor!  That said, it takes all of 15 minutes to pound out three containers of pesto and that was with grating all of the cheese by hand.  I have come up with a favorite recipe and now that I have made it a few times this week pesto is front and center in many of our meals.  I also included a container of it in each of this weeks farm bags.  Take a peak at this weeks newsletter to catch up on our Homestead Happenings.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

July In Review

July was a busy month and it went by in a flash. We traveled, experienced new things, hosted our fifth annual chili cook-off, delivered two great farm bags, and had an amazing fair week and that was just in our spare time! I found myself reaching for my iPhone more this month than usual for picture taking. In all of the busyness, I at least always had it at the ready. As we move into August, I plan to capture the month more predominantly with the 'big camera.'  I found there to be a lot of repetition in my photographs, those that I chose for the PAD and the others that I took.  You may notice that four of the days here involved berries.  If it gives you an inclination of our berry harvest this year, I think that I have berry shots from every day!  I had grand intentions of jam making, which I did about two dozen jars of, but they have come so fast that I am flash freezing everything so that I can more thoughtfully process them after the fervor of summer harvest ends.  Here are a few glimpses of our July.
July in Review
1. 7/1/12 Faning, 2. 7/2/12 Gooseberry Pie Filling, 3. 7/3/12 Meet Lion, 4. 7/4/12 Stumped Grandma, 5. 7/5/12 Climbing, 6. 7/6/12 Tasty, 7. 7/7/12 Sand dollar headed home, 8. 7/8/12 Surfin', 9. 7/9/12 Reel, 10. 7/10/12 Randomness, 11. 7/11/12 Boysenberries, 12., 13. 7/13/12 What's that falling from the sky?, 14. 7/14/12 Boys, 15. 7/15/12 Under the Carpet, 16. 7/16/12 Pie to Be, 17. 7/17/12 An errant lilac re-blooming despite drought and heat, what could be more auspicious than that?, 18. 7/18/12 Beautiful basil, a sampling in this weeks farm bags!, 19. 7/19/12 Mini Rex, 20. 7/20/12 Sick boy happy to be home (holding on to Sids foot), 21. 7/21/12 Rabbit barn set up--Boys!, 22. 7/22/12 Natural Pectin, 23. 7/23/12 Herb Tea, 24. 7/24/12 Dot on a hot day at the fair, 25. 7/25/12 ~Photography Judging, 26. 7/26/12 Veggie Judging, 27. 7/27/12 Winning Rabbits, 28. 7/28/12 Bull Ride-er, 29. 7/29/12 Funnel Goodness, 30. 7/30/12 Did it! First ride down!, 31. 7/31/12 Gourd Peek


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