Friday, October 29, 2010

This moment...

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. Inspired by SouleMama.

A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.



Thursday, October 28, 2010

Beautiful Sun!

Who can resist wandering around their house taking pictures on a rare sunny day?



Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Around our city ~ Farm Tour #3

Today is a beautiful day! In fact, it is the ONLY beautiful day we have had in over a week now. And, unfortunately, the only one in the forecast future. So we decided to take advantage of it. Don took the day off and we headed out on our Pumpkin Patch farm tour. The first farm we visited Picha's farm in Puyallup, was closed until 3pm (which is during nap time in this house)... so we decided to look for another one. And we found Scholtz Farm!

They had all sorts of features out for the harvest season. Their animals were all ready to be petted and watched, and one of the hands told a story about one of the pigs escaping into the corn field (which is a maze) only to come home a bit late for dinner when they were sure 'Mrs Piggy' was gone for good.

But of course, what fun with animals can be complete without Cyan having a close encounter or two:

The pony nibbled her hand pretty good and although it was scary, he was looking for apples, not little girl fingers, so she was fine. After a brief hug from mom and then dad, she was able to go make up with the pony again and feed him some dandelions she found in the pumpkin patch.

We picked up some beautiful pumpkins and quite a few of my favorite squash.

The Delicata!

It was a great sunny day trip!


Monday, October 25, 2010

Preserving Food ~ Slightly sweet spiced pears

I got a box of pears so I could make some baby food for next Summer when our newest little one wants to start tasting stuff... but I realized that pears and apples are not far behind when he will be old enough. I think I'll make him up new batches next year. That means these pears can be for us!

I am a lightly sweet kinda gal... and then I like slathering stuff with ice cream. :) These pears fit the bill perfectly! Slightly sweet with a little added ginger zing, mix with the sweetness of Alden's Organic Vanilla Ice-cream and we were in heaven!

Slightly Sweet Spiced Pears

1 box of Bosc Pears (brown skin) peeled, cored, and quartered

2 cups of sugar (organic and unbleached is what I use)
8 cups of water
2 whole nutmeg
2 Tbs vanilla extract
  1. Prepare the jars. This means they must be clean and VERY hot when you are packing them with the pears and syrup. I usually wash mine in a sanitizing wash in my dishwasher just before canning. Then I pull them out one by one as I fill them. If you fill cold jars with cold pears and hot syrup, you will break jars.
  2. Prepare the lids. I put mine in a small sauce pan and pour boiling water over them.
  3. Prepare the pears. As you finish cutting and peeling your pears, drop them in to a large bowl of cold water that has 4 Tbs lemon juice added to it. This will stop them from browning.
  4. Add to each jar:
    1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger
    1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
    1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
  5. Fill the hot jars with the pear quarters.
  6. Pour the syrup (making sure not to drop the nutmeg into the jar). Check for air pockets, and then fill to 1/2 inch below the rim.
  7. Wipe rims and add the lids and rings to fingertip tight.
  8. Place them in a waterbath canner and process at a rolling boil for 20 minutes.
  9. Remove from waterbath canner and allow to cool on a towel with at least 2 inches between jars.
  10. While you are waiting to enjoy your treat: Make pretty labels for your jars with my tutorial here.
  11. Make sure you have a batch with vanilla ice-cream while they are still a little warm. Cut through the ice-cream to get to the slightly sweet but amazingly flavorful pear underneath and enjoy!

Notes: 1 box of pears makes about 13 quarts of these. The 13th was what we ate for dessert that night. I highly recommend it!



Sunday, October 24, 2010

Canning away and a pregancy update

I have been canning like a little squirrel and am just about done with what I needed to get done for this year. Pears, spiced pears, applesauce and some tomato sauce have gotten put away for winter. I think I am done for the year. With less than 30 jars to show for it. It's odd for me (even while pregnant) to do this small an amount, but there are things that have stopped me dead in my tracks lately. Cyan's teeth thing, the bunny thing, and just having three homeschooled kids while being pregnant is enough for anybody. I am trying to be gentle on my canning side right now... but it is hard.

Honestly, I am just tired out. Pregnancy insomnia is kicking my butt (although I have finished an entire scarf in the middle of my sleepless nights which I will show soon) and I am having trouble getting enough water in me to keep my body happy.

25 wks now... more than half way there. This baby (current favorite name 'Lucas') has taken to tucking his sweet little head up into my ribs. Which isn't painful at all... but it means his sweet little feet are strait down... and that is.

He is doing great though! Ultrasound showed a 4th healthy and beautiful babe preparing to come into this world. Blood test showed that I am dehydrated (although I don't know HOW as I drink enough water to sail a ship) but other than that, all is well and nothing of note. He is growing and is estimated to be over a pound now (although that could be off by a half pound either way at this point). All good... I'm just beat.

In other news, I am gearing up for Christmas already... are you? I am going through craft books, web sites and my inspiration notebooks like mad looking for great ideas for gifts this holiday season. So quarts of applesauce and spiced pears are not all I find myself squirreling away. More later...



Friday, October 22, 2010

This moment...

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. Inspired by SouleMama.

A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.



Halloween Cocoa

It is one of my kids favorite traditions. They don't get candy often and so when they do, it is something to be celebrated. This weeks candy celebration came just after I had spent the whole day canning pears and tomato sauce. I needed a little pick me up. So I made some cocoa and just for flare, I dropped in a Peeps marshmallow cat. Instant party... the kids were thrilled!

Bring on Halloween. I'm ready!



Thursday, October 21, 2010

Wing Clipping Day!

Finding a chicken in on my fence and another on the roof of the shed was enough to get me looking for the scissors.

On every small homestead there are things you learn about after you get your animals. My first set of chickens got their wings clipped too early when they were really young. This left them with flight feathers that were still long enough to jump around 30 wks and they nearly escaped from my yard (which could have been bad since all three yards around us had dogs). With this set of chickens, I waited a bit too long, but after some 'flying' away from the kids who were sent to bring them to me, the job was done, and they were happy to sit on my lap for a while (and Cyan's) and be petted.

With chickens, you only cut on set of flight feathers or one wing. It is to throw them off balance and make it so they can not jump as far. If you cut both, they can get used to the lack of flight feathers and still jump farther than you would want them to. Here is a good guide for chicken wing clipping.

Of course, with any major feather adjustment comes the need for a dust bath in the sun. :)

Happy chickens!

In other chicken news, we should have eggs soon! They are now on layer feed (25wks) and should be laying any day. And the coop is almost finished. Sides and nesting boxes go up soon!



Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Ubber Canning

This year I have done very little canning. I made some jam at the start of the harvest season, did a couple jars of applesauce from extras we had, and froze a bunch of berries. That's about it. As the season has started to come to a close I have felt slightly panicked. But only slightly. Most of the stuff I did last season will sustain us through this one. We still have several jars of peaches, apple pie filling, green beans, frozen beets, and quite a few other things that will last us.

However, we are completely out of applesauce and tomato sauce. And just for fun, I decided to do pears for the new baby. This turned out to be a little bit more than I had bargained for at first. Because of course, what is a good canning weekend without a bunch of family drama? So emergency dentist came first, and I am just getting to the 5 boxes of produce I have in my kitchen today.

I have employed Alex and we are doing it all assembly line style. He is a great helper! First came the batch of pears (I have at least one more batch to go), then the two boxes of tomatoes for roasted tomato sauce... and last but not least, I will make the two boxes of apples into applesauce tomorrow.

And Thank goodness for the meal plan! As I am canning like mad, trying to pack away this wonderful bounty for the rest of the year, I can just hand the kids the binder and dinner is next to no work for me. I LOVE it!

Wish me luck, we are on box #2 of tomatoes and going strong!


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Dental drama...

10 days ago, Cyan got hit in the face with her recorder while it was in her mouth. It knocked her front left tooth loose. Over the next week, she got hit repeatedly in the mouth (jump rope once, bike handle once, and once it was even the face of a stuffed dog) and it started to swell. This was last Friday. I decided that if it wasn't better by Monday she was going to go in to the dentist. Well, over the weekend it got worse. When I checked on Sunday she had a nasty abscess that was up under her lip all the way into the top of her mouth.

We got to the dentist and almost within seconds he said he couldn't handle it and sent us to a specialist. I could see on the x-ray that something was off... but not sure what and the dentist really wanted us to talk to the specialist before we knew a whole lot more. It looked like the abscess was pushing the damaged tooth out like a splinter would get pushed out by a blister. Downright odd, is what that was!

Apparently, her front tooth is dying. Most of it stems from an accident she did three years ago when her tooth was still coming in. Involving a scooter, a bunch of rocks, and then a street curb. I can't find the post, although I am sure I posted it with a link to a horridly graphic picture of my daughters mouth just after the swelling went down. It was bad... and apparently, it has left her with problems.

Half of me wants to make her wear a helmet and a mouth guard everywhere she goes. The other half knows that this clumsy phase will pass... but goodness. This is the 7th chipped tooth she has had... twice has been this very same tooth and once was this tooth just before her permanents came in. My boys have never chipped a tooth... but my daughter. Goodness! That girl could get a fat lip in a padded room standing still... and I so wish I was joking!


She is on her second dose of antibiotics in her lifetime and she is doing MUCH better. There really are times for Western Medicine, although I hate to admit it. They drained her abscess (which was traumatic as all heck for her and I) and I had to drain it several times since (only slightly less traumatic) but having her wake up this morning and seeing the improvement was worth every bit of discomfort yesterday. Her gums are healing, the abscess has started to get smaller and her lip and gums are much less angry looking. The best news though, is that her tooth is moving back where it belongs. And the specialist said that if that happens she has a good chance of keeping her real tooth until she is done growing. I am hoping for longer. But not holding my breath.



Around Our City ~ Farm Tour #2

First stop is the chickens. We get to feed them the scraps from the farm...

And perhaps get to see a few eggs being collected.

Next stop, hay ride to the apple orchard. This took much longer than we could have walked it, but it was super fun for the kids to get pulled by a real working tractor!

At the apple orchard we picked enough for two gallons of cider to take home. One to freeze and one for right now.

And of course, what is cider, without a toddler bitten apple or two between the tree and the press?

We carried the apples back to the farm house to be cleaned, pressed and bottled.

Terry's Berries is a wonderful farm and only 7 miles from our house. This is where I go when my shares at the CSA stop coming in the winter. They have a little farm store open on Tuesdays and Wednesdays year round that provides food from local vendors as well as some imports that are organic. Their staff are friendly, their products are AMAZING, and they have lots of things to see and do during the Autumn months.


Saturday, October 16, 2010

Crock-pot Lentil Soup with Portabella Mushrooms

Fall is here. It's freezing at night right now where I am and my herbs are just about the only thing left in my garden. During the day though, is beautiful and 60* so we are getting TONS of yard work done. Today we replaced the lamp post out front that had gotten broken when we first moved in. We only took one break from that big job and it was so we could go to the farm and make fresh cider from their apples. (More on both of those later.)

These jobs, although fun and very rewarding, left me in no mood to spend an hour slaving over the stove for dinner. So, being the goddess that I am, I decided ahead of time to make crock pot soup.

This soup epitomizes fall. It is slow food at it's finest, with a creamy tang from the sour cream and some fresh herbs from what is left of my garden this season, I am completely in love. In fact, I am on bowl #3 and I am just really glad I was in the right mind to write down what I did... because I think you are going to love it!

Crock pot Lentil Soup with Portabella Mushrooms

  • 3 cups dried lentils
  • 4 cups chicken or veggie broth
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 large portabellas
  • 1 onion
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 2 lg carrots
  • 1/2 cup parsley
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 1/2 tea kosher salt
  • 1/4 tea black pepper
  • 1/2 tea dried oregano or 1 tea fresh (minced)
  • 1/2 tea dried tarragon or 1 tea fresh (minced)
  • 1 can (14 oz) chopped tomatoes
  • 2 Tbs balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbs Worcestershire
  • 4 Tbs sour cream (as garnish)

Dice mushrooms, onions, celery, and carrots.

Mince garlic, parsley, and other fresh herbs (if applies).

Put in crock pot and add broth, water, lentils, bay leaves, and salt.

Cook for 6 hours on high.

In the last hour of cooking, add pepper, vinegar, and Worcestershire. Mix well.

Serve with a toasted crusty bread and a heavy dollop of sour cream and seriously enjoy!



Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Handcrafted Holiday ~ Chocolate Dipped Pretzels

These were so easy I can hardly take credit... the kids did all the work. First, I had Logan weed out the broken pretzels from the whole ones (and eating the broken ones of course).

Then I had Alex melt the chocolate (which he did need help setting up the double boiler). After that, the kids just dipped them in and I poured on the sprinkles.

I don't have a picture of the finished product because they got eaten so fast! It is a great idea for fall and the kids loved making them! Variations are endless... chopped nuts and dark chocolate. Tiny M&M's and milk chocolate. Even dark chocolate and candy cane bits (since that season is coming up SUPER fast!). They are very easy and the possibilities can please any taste bud. (As long as they like pretzels. ;) )


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