Friday, July 31, 2015

#100HappyDays :: Day 88

Though I loved my glowing blue moon shots this morning, I am happy that my moon drought is over, and I finally have written the perfect setting for my camera down!  A very happy moment in the day....having fun running outside with my daughter surrounded by fireflies and catching the moonrise.

In The Garden :: July 31

It is hard to believe that August is almost here!  We have had a sustained heat for the last couple of weeks, and I am not complaining.  Finally, Summer.  Everything is growing beautifully and my hopes for the warm weather crops that become winter staples in my pantry have been renewed.

We had our first small handful of green beans, they were delicious, and picking that first handful means that we will have buckets of them within days.  This year for the first time we are also growing yard-long green beans.  Look at these babies!  The flowers are large like broad bean flowers, and the baby green beans look like little snakes.  I can not wait to see how these turn out, and more importantly how they taste!

Many seasons the winter squash does not begin to set fruit until September.  This year with everything else a good two weeks behind, the butternut plants are full!  This will be a great bumper crop this year.  I think that I will look at canning some roasted butternut puree, that would be such a convenience on busy fall evenings that I do not want to spend the time dicing and roasting raw squash.  

We have two varieties of Kohlrabi growing.  They are a favorite of ours, and perfect for farm bags.

Speaking of farm bags, our fourth one of the season went out this week.  This week we were harvesting winter green lettuce, kale, kohlrabi, squash, eggplant and jalapeƱo peppers.

Finally,  as I mentioned in last weeks update, I was hopeful that the cucumbers and dill would be maturing at the same time.  Yesterday B began our first crock of pickles fermenting.  With the way the cucumbers are coming on, I suspect within the next week we will have a few crocks going!  What's growing in your garden this week?

#100HappyDays :: Day 87

After a busy week of work and then afternoons running errands and hanging out with Sidney, yesterday afternoon was perfect for some down time.  I sorted and and organized a stack of papers that have been piling up, while wrapped up on the couch re-watching episodes of the X-Files.  Sid (and I) are anxiously anticipating the re-boot that will be out early next year, she is not sure how she is going to adjust to Scully having long blond hair!  Isn't it funny how characters in both books and digital form become imprinted on our minds?   I also spent some time playing with my camera while contemplating catching the blue moon.  During the height of multiple photography projects several years ago, I was able to dial in some beautiful moon shots, which sadly have eluded me since.  I can not for the life of me duplicate the settings that I used then, and of course did not write them down, thinking oh, how easy, no brainer.....yep, right!  That is something that apparently did not imprint on my mind :)    Overall, an afternoon of finding happy moments in simple tasks.

Once In A..

The Blue Moon officially arrived early this morning, ironically at moon set.  Though I think this evening's rise will be spectacular, I had to try to get the official timing right.  It was crystal clear and 70 degrees at 5:42 this morning with the sky just beginning to lighten.  The moon itself did not have any trace of a blue hue, but I loved seeing it peak through the trees and light the midnight blue color of the clear sky just prior to sunrise.  A rather auspicious start to the day.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

#100HappyDays :: Day 86

Looking forward to vacation in just a couple of weeks, mother daughter pedicures.  Oh, and finding the perfect shade of blue.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

#100HappyDays :: Day 85

A little retail therapy and some Thai food; summer afternoons with Sid while the boy is at camp.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

#100HappyDays :: Day 84

We began yesterday morning with mischievous pigs.  As part of our morning chores before work, I went into the barn to say hi, then went around back to put some fruit in their 'slop' trough.  By the time I got back, Penelope had decided to dump their watering drum over, which broke the nozzle off and began to pour water everywhere.  Thankfully the nozzle did not actually break, B was able to get it repaired, but as the water was draining she began to roll around and frolic in the water.  I guess she had decided that she wanted a bath.  Though a frustrating situation, watching her made us smile, despite the mess.

Monday, July 27, 2015

#100HappyDays :: Day 83

Yesterday was a busy day, beginning very early as Charles headed off to camp.  I think he got his wish; post chili cook off he was exhausted so I am sure had no problem sleeping in the car for the four hour ride North.  I must say that I had a mom panic moment about two hours after I got home and went to fold laundry.  You see, the kids swam late Saturday night so Charles put his swim trunks in the dryer so they would be ready to head to camp.  You guessed it, I found them in they dryer late yesterday morning, so he went off to camp for a week without swim trunks!  I guess he will use his boy scout survival techniques to figure out what shorts will be the most water worthy for the task.

After a little final cleaning up we took Sidney and friend to the Ren Faire.  They were dressed to play the part, and we had a leisurely afternoon walking around and catching shows.  The water lilies were just beginning to bloom and were a beautiful, relaxing sight after so much activity.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

#100HappyDays :: Day 82

The eighth annual chili cook off is now one for the books.  Another fantastic year with wonderful families, truly a highlight of our summer.  We had nine chili entries and six pie entries.  Everyone takes their tasting quite seriously, numbering cups to make sure that they can keep track of favorites.

In the last eight years we have had two years where there has been a tie.  Once for a chili, and then most recently in 2011 for a pie.  This year amazingly we had ties in both the chili and pie competitions!  The winning chills were a Five Pepper Southwestern Chicken Chili, and a Chili con Carne.  The winning pies were a Cherry Breeze Pie with a graham cracker crust and a Hey Der, Hi Der, Pie Der, Cream Puff Pie with a brandy old-fashioned glaze.  All of the entries were amazing, and it was a tough choice for all.

Beyond tastings, there were games, running, and a lot of generalized play with not a single kid plugged in.  The kids were beginning to gather here for a very heated game of capture the flag, only identifiable by their glow sticks as they raced across the property.

This year's bonfire was spectacular, and fortunately still going this morning with only a little stoking. The very definition of a happy day.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

#100HappyDays :: Day 81

Yesterday a group of friends and I tried something new.  SUP Yoga (Stand up Paddleboard), was a ton of fun!  It truly added a whole new level to maintaining balance in poses when both physically your platform is moving as well as all of your visual surroundings.  I would definitely love to do this again!  There were enough of us that we had to break into two groups, so the first picture I took, then the second two I want to give a photo shout out by my friends Mary and Heather.    A happy couple of hours in what was otherwise a busy chili cook-off prep day :)

Friday, July 24, 2015

In The Garden :: July 23

Nature is cool.  Another gratuitous tomato photo.   This time of year around the farm is equal parts keeping up and expectation.  The sugar snap peas and raspberries have been prolific this week, so I have tried to cook with some and put some up.   We are watching tomatoes set and display their first blush.

Baby eggplant, peppers and squash are expanding by the day.

The first of the green beans are about 1/2" long!

And, my oh my, I think the cucumbers and dill are in sync this season, and may actually mature at the same time!  Can't wait to get those baby's fermenting!  How has your garden progressed this week?

#100HappyDays :: Day 80

Signs of later summer are upon us, the Queen Anne's Lace is prolific, and last night as I was walking across the yard to the sound of swimming kiddos, the air was alight with fireflies.  Perfection.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

#100HappyDays :: Day 78

Piles and piles of raspberries is the name of the game right now.  With our warm and humid temperatures I can hardly keep up with harvesting them before they over ripen so I have been freezing them immediately.  So far I have 3 quarts frozen and Sid used a pint to make a puree to add to her cupcake frosting.  I think this afternoon we will make some scones and cordial with our spoils.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Why 100 Happy Days?

Now that I am 3/4 of the way through this challenge, I thought that it would be a good time to reflect on it.  I would say that the most valuable thing to come from this so far is that I am writing every day.  It has established a consistency, allowing me to set aside a time each morning that I had not done in the past.  In the first six months of this year I had already exceeded my total number of posts for 2014.  They say that it takes fourteen days to establish a solid habit.  I hope that after one hundred, I will be well on my way to keeping it up!  

Why 100 happy days?  I tend to do a pretty good job staying positive, being pragmatic, and I have always had the ability to step outside of myself to look at a situation and try to put it in perspective.  That however does not mean that I live life looking through rose colored glasses or that every day is truly a happy one, where cartoon bluebirds sit chirping on my shoulder.  Many days are just days getting a lost in the shuffle of work or going from point A to point B and back again, just like so many other moms find themselves doing as they cart kids around.   What is important to me about this project is finding that moment, even if it is a fleeting one, in each day that brings a smile to your face or lightens the load.  After years participating in various photography projects, I have learned that getting in the habit of taking pictures daily helps with this.  Simplicity is key.  A shot of a roasted marshmallow can capture that special moment that makes any given day a happy one.

#100HappyDays :: Day 77

While I was braving the mosquitoes on a steamy afternoon to get some raspberries picked, the girl scoured pinterest for a recipe.  This was her first attempt at making cupcakes from scratch.  I have never made many cupcakes.  I guess because I lost patience trying to find that perfect light texture that always seemed to elude me, so I was interested to see how these turned out.  She chose devils food with a raspberry yogurt frosting, and they were fantastic!  I asked her if she had a special interest in baking, and she said "no, I just like to make all kinds of things."  It looks like maybe a few cooking lessons on summer afternoons may need to be added to our summer bucket list.

Monday, July 20, 2015

#100HappyDays :: Day 76

In yoga, inversions are an important part of practice.  They help with balance, core strength and blood flow.  The boy had his own way of accomplishing this yesterday.  Back flips at the faire, a happy spot in a family summer afternoon.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

#100HappyDays :: Day 75

When it is so hot outside there is not much to do but find a place to hold up and not move.  The pigs have rotated their time between the barn floor and the holes they have dug themselves under the giant pine trees in their pasture.  With a few sporadic downpours, they have indulged in a little mud bathing as well.   Happiness is a cool floor with an arm draped over the water cooler.

Friday, July 17, 2015

#100HappyDays :: Day 73

After I posted looking for more ideas about what to do with our currants, Julie said that they had been making Italian Cream Sodas from cordials this year.  It just so happened that I had picked up some heavy cream anticipating making raspberry scones this weekend!  I picked another batch of currants and made up a quick batch of cordial and voila, ready for soda.  Sidney said it was like drinking clouds;  I'd say that is an endorsement!

Currant Cordial

A batch of currents, de-stemmed (as much as you have patience for, a few stems won't matter)
1 C Water

Wash and mostly de-stem your currants.  What is nice about cordials, is that you measure ingredients based on your volume of fruit juice, not the volume of fruit.  So pick as much as you can.  Yesterday I had about 5 cups.  Place currants and water in a pot on medium low and simmer about 15 minutes or until the fruit is very soft and breaking down.  I place a sieve over a large measuring cup and pour the hot fruit into it.  Smash the fruit in the sieve until all of the juice has been extracted.  Add the juice of one lemon.  This left me with 2 cups of liquid.  Place the liquid and half that volume of sugar (1 Cup)  back into the pot and cook until the sugar has fully dissolved.  Bottle, cool, and refrigerate.  It should last 6 months, but I doubt it lasts that long!

For the cream soda add cordial to taste (I normally do about 2" in the bottom of a glass of ice), pour in soda water, top with cream and mix it all up.  Fruit cordials are a big summer favorite around here and very easy to make, try it!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

#100HappyDays :: Day 72

Sid had a friend over last night, and a spectacular sunset began the girls evening activities.  You can make out a few green flecks in the water.  As we watched the sky change from brilliant color to brilliant color we filled the pool with glow sticks for a little night swimming and lots of laughter.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

In the Garden :: July 15

As promised here is a garden update, hard to believe that it has only been just over ten days since my initial summer garden update.

We are eating fresh from the garden many nights, and though full yields have not come in yet, with our recent bout of warm weather, things are coming on increasingly every day.

The squash and cucumber plants have tripled in size and giant blossoms are open in the early morning.

The berries will be ready for picking within the next couple of days, I am already dreaming of those wonderful raspberry scones.

With the garden beginning to produce, so too comes the time to start preserving surplus for future months.  The last several years I have done lots of red currant jelly, which the kids love.  Last years harvest was so abundant, I still have some stores remaining.

So this year to mix things up a bit, and in anticipation of the home grown proteins that are heading toward the freezer, I branched out into a red currant chutney.  The initial batch is really quite delicious, I think that it will be perfect to use as a marinade.  My initial currant harvest yielded just over five cups of fruit, so I calculated 2 1/2 times the recipe and it made two cups of chutney, plenty to portion out into 1/2 cup servings and freeze.  Do you have any tried and true currant recipes?  If so, please share!


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