Monday, September 29, 2008

David's Wedding

My cousin David's wedding was delightful! It was so good to see our extended family, to go away (if even just for one night), and to be at a joyous celebration.

Mom and Aunt Georgie try to soothe the Bride prior to the rehearsal:

Everyone enjoyed being reunited again:

The sweet Winslow mothers:

Rachel gleaned flowers from Grandma to make her own little corsage for the wedding:

Aunt Georgie, despite living in Texas for many years, has not lost any of her British charm, nor her English accent:
The ceremony was held outdoors at the Audubon State Park in Henderson. What a lovely setting!
And here is the happy couple -- Mr. & Mrs. David Winslow!

The weather was perfect!

Everyone looked beautiful!

And here are Mom and Dad:

Rachel had so much fun playing with my cousin Anna (who, incidentally, was the flower girl in my wedding!):
Time to cut the cake:

Enjoying food at the reception:

Girl Cousin Time!
It was just so fun to see everyone together:

And then the beautiful couple went off to begin their new life together!

And we are back to normal life here at home. We have a week to rest before the last wedding of the season. There are actually several evenings this week to stay at home! I'm looking forward to that.

Have Talent, Will Travel

We had a wonderful time this weekend at our cousin, David's, wedding! There are lots of pictures to share, and I will have to choose just a few to post (more are on Facebook).

Here are a few pictures of the flowers that my mom and sisters worked on. Upon our arrival in Henderson, we found mom in her hotel room surrounded by flowers (and greens collected on a little shrub-clipping excursion outside the hotel).

Here is an arrangement she made that showed up at the rehearsal, wedding, and reception:

One never knows what can happen in a hotel room...... Here are the flowers that mom brought down with her in a big box:

Here are the sisters hard at work the morning before the wedding:

Tying up the Bride's bouquet:

And here is the beautiful result:

Next up will be pictures of the event itself!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Kayak Party

Today is James' 4th birthday. We began celebrations earlier in the week with a Kayaking Party. Grandpa has been wanting to take the kids kayaking for a long time. We met at the reservoir just down the road from us.

Note the flag Grandma made to add to the festivities:

Michael and Grandpa did the paddling and the kids took turns sitting in the hatch:

While some were out paddling, the rest of us explored the water's edge:

Sand Castles were even attempted! Those are birthday candles sticking out of the top of Baby Cake's castle. :)
Mommy and David even took a short ride. David was SO excited that it was his turn but then he turned all quiet and somewhat stiff when he was put inside the boat. I think he was scared but was determined to be brave. :)

Here we are on our paddle:

Then we enjoyed a picnic dinner:

With the park closing early, we headed back to our house for "strawberry cake." I came up with my regular white cake that I flavored strawberry, filled it with our homemade strawberry jam, and attempted to make my regular icing but added food coloring and strawberry flavoring. Let's just say it didn't work like it usually does (I'm blaming something in the food coloring/flavoring for keeping it from getting stiff):

James was happy enough:
And had fun with a few presents from Grandpa and Grandma:

Michael and James are off for the traditional birthday breakfast at Bob Evans. We'll have more presents when they get back.

We are headed to Kentucky today for my cousin's wedding. I am really looking forward to seeing extended family. I have yet to pack, so that's what I'm off to do. I hope you all have a lovely weekend!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Applesauce 101

It's time now to report on what happened to all those apples! I decided applesauce would be the best idea and borrowed everything I needed (except the apples) from friends.

Here's what we started with:

While at the dentist last week, I discovered that the dark green blotches on the apples can be scrubbed off. (The dentist's wife had gotten her apples from the same source.) That meant that I had to clean the apples before making applesauce. That turned into Friday's job.

Let me just say that it was a very time and muscle intensive job to wash apples. I finally decided on just washing the red apples, since they were more oddly shaped, and sending the green ones through a peeler (which I also borrowed). Here are before and after washing pictures:

Also on Friday I started in on some Crab Apple jelly, which I could not resist trying to make. After boiling the cut up crab apples, they had to drain for 12 hours like this:
Also on Friday's list was Black-Raspberry Jam, since I had the canner borrowed and could therefore process my jam. This jam is very, very precious. The 14 1/2 cups I made represent many walks to the woods and dozens of terrible chigger bites.

Saturday morning the applesauce process began in earnest. We set the pots to cook with half red and half green apples, with a bit of apple juice thrown in for extra sweetening:

The kids loved the apple peeler and actually spent most of the morning helping me:

Once the apples were cooked, we sent them through the Victorio Strainer (in my childhood it was known as the Squeezo). It was so wonderful to see that first bit of applesauce coming through! It brought back so many childhood memories!

Michael had to join in on the fun by jump-roping with some of the apple peels -- they were that long!
And here is what the kitchen looked like all day.

I started around 8:30 and by about 3 had the last of the applesauce made and the jars in the canner. We made about 34 quarts of applesauce, most of which were canned in quarts and pints -- a few frozen.
It took me the rest of the afternoon to clean up! The floor was still sticky even after I mopped it! And there was the Crab Apple Jelly to finish -- isn't it beautiful?! I only got two jars, but next time I'll know I can attempt a bigger batch.

And now I'm done in the kitchen with major fall projects like this, at least for the present. We'll see if any more produce comes our way. I've still got frozen raspberries to make into jam at some point.

Note for my British Readers: I wonder if applesauce is a bit of an American thing. When we were in Scotland I could only find it in very small jars in the condiment section, and of course under the name "Apple Puree". I did see it in baby food jars, but of course those were too small to feed a family. Over here in America we seem to eat applesauce in great quantities! :)

What do we eat it with? Well, usually we serve it as a side dish at dinner -- kind of like one would serve a green salad. My kids love a bowl of it plain, or sprinkled with cinnamon for a snack. We also serve it over plain yogurt for breakfast or lunch. It can also function as a simple dessert.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Welcome Fall

Fall is here! What a wonderful time of year! I spent the weekend doing very "fall-ish" things: making jam, making applesauce, cooking a fall dinner.

I think Fall is my best season as a cook. Somehow I feel more like cooking, the foods that are available appeal to me, and the dishes that I make taste (in my opinion) so good!

We had guests for lunch on Sunday. Catherine reminded me that the first day of Fall fell just after the weekend and so I was inspired to make sure the table looked very festive:

I ended up with a free subscription to Country Home and found a menu to inspire me. Thus, we had mulled cider to begin with, pork roast with fresh herbs (rosemary, sage, thyme, garlic), a variation of my own chutney, mashed potatoes, spiced roasted butternut squash, and green beans.

We had apples three ways between the cider, the chutney, and our dessert: Rustic Apple Tart.

The only thing we did not have was applesauce -- I think because we had our fill on Saturday!

Somehow, over the weekend the trees took on their first tinge of yellow. It's amazing how it just happens. Tonight we are off to join Grandpa and Grandma for a kayak picnic and to celebrate James' birthday a few days early. Therefore, I am off to go invent a Strawberry Cake!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Thinking Back

Yesterday I was thinking back seven years to our landing in Scotland (Sept. 17, 2001). Thinking also about what I could write for my 200th post, I decided a Scottish Memory just might work. Here is an excerpt from that time seven years ago:

"Alone, and in a new house, not to mention a new country, I knew the very first thing to do was to make a cup of tea. With my fingers wrapped around the hot mug, I took a seat in the front room and began to take in my surroundings.

I had already noticed the coolness of the room. It was only the middle of September, but already the air bore a chill in it. The front room, where I sat, had been painted a pleasing magnolia, with a bright terra cotta hue below the chair rail. Tiny orange flowers twinkled at me from their place in front of the gas fireplace. A large sofa sat opposite two matching stuffed chairs, with a small bit of wood floor stretched between them. The room had been tastefully decorated and I loved it.

I took another sip of my tea and gazed out the bay window, drinking in the view. Little brick houses, semi-detached, ran the length of the street; the only distinguishable differences lay in the brown or white paint of the window and door trim. Tiny patches of grass grew in front of each door. If one was lucky, a small tree grew as well. The street seemed deserted, but I supposed it was during school hours and any children would be up the street at school.

I had four years ahead of me. I couldn’t wait for the chance to explore our town and then beyond to as many places as possible.

My first task was to get our little house set up and our things unpacked. We’d come over with five pieces of luggage and ten boxes of books. The rest of the furnishings had been kindly provided by people we had yet to meet.

Behind the front room was the kitchen. Holding my mug of tea, I walked around inspecting each feature of the room where I knew I would spend so much of my time. There were plenty of cupboards, for which I was very thankful, and lots of counter space. I opened a cupboard and was pleasantly surprised to find it had been amply stocked in preparation for our arrival. I glimpsed marmalade and packets of flour and sugar. There were tins of tomato soup and baked beans, and a very tempting pile of biscuits and tea cakes.

Under the kitchen window was a sink and below the sink to the left were situated the front-loading washer and the dryer. Another wall housed the four-burner hob and below it the convection oven. Nearby stood the European-sized fridge. Almost as tall as the countertop, it could easily have been mistaken for just another cupboard. I leaned against the counter and let my mind wander, trying to imagine what our life would be like in Scotland over the next four years. Would we settle into life in a small town, meet friends and begin to feel at home? Only time would tell."