Friday, August 22, 2008


We made it to the raspberry fields this week! What a beautiful sight they were with the rows of green bushes and the bright pink-red of the berries peaking out from behind the leaves.

It is always a treat to get out into the countryside and surround oneself in creation.

The children all enjoyed the outing and, according to their abilities, helped to pick. Here is our Cool Dude berry picker:

Rachel is old enough to do quite a bit of picking!
David is at the stage where he is happy to pick the berries and eat every one. "Berry in there," he says, pointing to his bucket and expecting one of us to give him a berry to eat.

David took turns standing beside each of the aunts or Mommy, patiently waiting for the berries to fall in his bucket and often just picking them himself, seemingly never bothered by the thorns.
The children were fascinated by the yellow raspberries and had to pick some for their buckets:

We stopped for lunch under the shade of some trees that bordered a pond. With apple trees a stone's throw away, who could resist the taste of an apple for dessert?

Here are all the little berry pickers:

After lunch it was time to walk back up the hill and finish the picking:

Seven buckets worth of picking (35 pounds)!

An apple cider slushie was a must for the ride home:

We also came home with a bunch of produce from the orchard stand:

Most of the berries headed straight for the freezer to be made into pies, desserts, and jams at a later time. But, we had to leave some berries out to enjoy fresh in such things as this giant scone filled with sour-cream/whipped cream:

Our busy week is nearly at an end. We had a delightful time with our company and especially enjoyed the ordination service of our friend last night. Imagine singing the psalms, a capella, in the midst of 220 people all singing in 4-part harmony. That, combined with the sermons, and the fellowship with people (some whom we haven't seen in 7 years!) made for a very special time.

Next week we are taking our family vacation. We'll be here at home, but Michael will be off work and we will focus on doing fun things with the children. I'm going to try to stay off Google Reader and my blog for a week. :) I'll be back with PLENTY of pictures of what we did!

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Peaches

The peaches did indeed ripen up, and right on schedule for me too! The first to ripen were made into peach jam and then the next day the rest were ready to be made freezer-bound.

The peach jam came together quite nicely. This was my first time to "process" jam in a canner after it was put into jars. It was quite a shock to my system to see how much sugar it took to make 13 cups of jam! Yikes! I'll be buying low-sugar pectin for the future!

This week seems busy. Michael is preparing for an important day of church meetings on Friday. I will join him in the evening for the ordination of a good friend of ours. We will be hosting a husband and wife from Wisconsin who are coming down for this meeting.

Next week is our week of family vacation at home, so I'm trying to prepare for that so it can be somewhat relaxing. :) School begins immediately following vacation! Life never really ever stops, does it? I am thankful for moments to sit and rest a bit and regain equilibrium in the midst of busyness.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The State Fair

I love the State Fair! It has a very nostalgic feeling for me which is strange since I didn't grow up going to the fair, nor am I from a farming family.

I think it has to do with all the wonderful fair-related books I read as a child: Charlotte's Web, Farmer Boy, Windy Foot at the County Fair, etc. In my imagination I went to the fair with the characters in each book. Now, when I go to the fair, I feel like I'm reliving those imaginations.

And hopefully my children will have precious memories of the "real" fair when they grow up!

There are so many fun things to do at the fair! It's definately a wonderland for children.

And tractor after tractor to climb on:

Even adults can do a little pretending:
The Pioneer Village is definately a highlight with its focus on how life used to be on the Indiana Prairie:

Here's what my kitchen would have looked like 100 years ago:

And then I would have graduated to a kitchen like this:

Thinking about Laura and Mary and Little House on the Prairie:

The animals are so much fun to watch and touch:
Lately I've been feeling "the urge" to make a quilt. These vintage quilts just added fuel to fire:

This is a scene I love: the horse barns. I think it has to do with the Windy Foot series. I do feel a bit attached to them:
Of course we had to see "World's Largest Board" (we think that is a category and maybe not a fact). He was too big to stand, weighing in at over 1,100 pounds.

The brown pigs were pretty cute -- their faces reminded us of friendly dogs.

I really, really enjoy watching horse competitions in the arena.

Or, seeing them go by outside:

A trip to the sheep barn was a must since Auntie C was along. How do you like this hair-do?

These poor sheep were all prettied up and thus had to stay under their blankets. They looked very funny indeed!
The barn was filled with beautiful sheep, looking the best they ever do after all the extra attention, baths, shaving and fluffing:
"We're hungry!" baaed the sheep. "Let's try these."

We made it to the Dairy Bar just in the nick of time. Their ice-cream is delicious, possibly the cheapest food at the fair, and comes in huge portions. The kids were very happy!

Then it was time to hit the Midway for one ride of choice before ending on the Ferris Wheel.

And now we all can't wait to go again next year! Hurrah for the State Fair!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Sweet Memories

Last week my mom handed me two boxes filled with old letters and photos. Inside one box I found this photo! There I am with my two best buddies from my childhood -- Kate and Carrie (they are sisters).

The photo brings back so many memories of dressing up, sewing together, visiting Kate and Carrie's grandparents on their farm, making pancakes with too much salt, etc. etc.

All these memories go along with the book I'm reading right now-- Grown-up Girlfriends by Erin Smalley and Carrie Oliver.

Lovella reviewed this book a few weeks ago and I then ordered it from the library. I'm really enjoying it! It talks about making/keeping/cultivating/rejuvenating friendships among women now that we are adults. I highly recommend it.

This afternoon we are off to the State Fair! The kids are SO excited! I'm hoping it doesn't rain. :) And, I have 29 pounds of peaches sitting on the counter waiting for them to ripen. It'll be just my luck that they ripen on Sunday! Actually, I think they'll probably be good to go on Saturday. Stay tuned for plenty of fair pictures!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Summer Food

Summer is a wonderful time for food! I love the color of everything and the fact that you can have a fairly simple dinner with a few ingredients but it can be full of such flavor and beauty!

I've been enjoying cherries the past few weeks since they have been on sale for an extremely good price. I think I really just prefer cherries as they come (although a cherry pie is hard to resist).
I did manage to try a cherry clafouti which I've been wanting to make for years! It's a common French dessert made with what is essentially a crepe/pancake/Swedish pancake type batter. I found it tasted like crepes with cherries inside. :)

Saturday I volunteered to help my sister out. She wanted chocolate petit fours. Yes, I knew what I was getting into. I attempted once in my childhood to make petit fours and have had the wisdom to never do it again. However, sometimes you'll do things for a sister.....

So, I made a really, really good chocolate cake and then made the ganache to cover the chocolate cake pieces. Talk about a messy process -- covering the little cakes! With lots of patience and persistence, they worked. And, they tasted AMAZING! I know, because I broke all my rules and actually ate most of one! (Note: I did not make the store-bought confections in the wrappers)

Did you know that last Friday was "Give your neighbor a zucchini (courgette) day"? Zucchinis are jokes in the country, from what I understand. I didn't have any to give away, and, unfortunately, I was not the recipient of any. Oh well. It would have made a good blog post.

Last weekend I made a terrific Chocolate Zucchini Cake which I would recommend to any of you with extra zucchini.

The kids were using their imagination this weekend and came up with grill toys to play with. Check out their grill! -- complete with charcoal bricks underneath! And, if you listened to them play you would here a "Tstzh" everytime they placed something on the grill!

My favorite summer time tea is made with mint from my pot out back. I pick a sprig, boil the water and then put the sprig and my decaf Irish breakfast teabag into my mug. After steeping, I pull out the mint and teabag and put in a little milk. It is SO, SO good!

While in Madison I bought some tomatillos from one of the farmers at the farmer's market. I asked what to do with them and he promptly pulled out this little recipe from his shirt pocket.

When we got home I whipped this salsa up and I have to admit it was the best salsa I've ever made! I'll be saving that recipe!

Tonight I have corn chowder on the menu, to be made with fresh corn from the farmer's market. We're eating lots of fresh cucumbers and tomatoes, zucchini and summer squash. Peaches are at their best price this week, so I'm trying to decide how many pounds to freeze and make into jam. And the weather is incredible! Whoever heard of days on end in August where the temp never goes above 80!