Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Fall Life

Sometimes one just has to stop and smell the roses, or the fallen leaves. Last Wednesday I decided we just needed to stop life and go to the park before the beauty of fall fades away. We have one of the largest city parks in the nation just 3 miles down the road and it makes me sad that we don't make more use of it. Of course the entrance fee is probably what puts me off.

It was refreshing for all of us to be out in nature and alert to everything changing in the woods. Thanks to Brenda's recommendations, I'm reading the Charlotte Mason Companion right now and finding it very beneficial. I haven't done much reading on Charlotte Mason, mostly because I didn't feel up to delving into her original works. The Companion is easier and I'm surprised at how much jells with the way I tend to do things in our school anyway. Not to mention that I love nature......

This morning we woke up to gray skies and misty fog. It wasn't a frightening fog, but rather an inviting one. I decided we needed to take a walk first thing. I love the smell of the woods in the fall -- the musty leaves and wet wood.

Baby John is growing all the time. Apparently he is over 10 pounds now! And he's a very good baby, so we all like that. He came along for the ride on our Wednesday walk.

I think my favorite color is the bright pumpkin orange that is set on fire when the sun shines.

The kids and I love finding Fuzzy Wuzzies when we're out. Michael taught them this hilarious poem yesterday:
Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear
Fuzzy Wuzzy had no hair
Fuzzy Wuzzy wasn't fuzzy was he?
Of course it doesn't have anything to do with the Fuzzy Wuzzies we see, but they thought it was funny nonetheless.
We went to the apple orchard yesterday. I've been trying to keep us stocked on apples throughout the fall and we were running low. It was a beautiful day to sit in the orchard and watch the kids roll rotten apples down the tractor ruts and run about and play. And now half my fridge will be full of apples again. But I do like the taste of apples from the orchard.

Michael and I are off, ON OUR OWN, for a weekend conference in the hills of North Carolina. I'm hoping the leaves are still at their peak down there and that it will be a very restful and encouraging time. Hopefully I'll bring back pictures.

Oh, I forgot to mention that I felt in dire need of an apple pie after we went to the orchard. So, we made one. We had it for dessert and then for breakfast as a treat. Pretty delicious (and it was very low sugar too).

Another happy note about today, I have a new niece!!! Little Sophie was born this morning to Michael's brother and his wife. We are all pretty excited because girls are rare in the family. :)

I think this bee was a bit stiff. The weather is actually warmer at the end of October than at the beginning. Every day the heating is off is a help.

Bittersweet is a very beautiful part of natural fall. I love seeing it hang from trees as we drive along the rodes (and always wish I could stop and pick some).

About 2/3 of the way through our walk David gave us this look. He was tired out. Poor guy. He made it all the way though, with a bit of prodding from the rest of us.

We've been studying birds in science lately. The kids really enjoy that subject (birds) and we've been on the lookout for them everywhere:

Two more weeks of Art Class and then we'll be finished for the fall. It's going pretty well and the kids are cooperative for the most part. I need to get one class organized and taught before we leave on Thursday.

The gray skies of the morning are seeming a bit depressing in the evening light. One more week and it will be getting dark a whole hour earlier. That's when it's hard to go down and start dinner.

The golden days of fall will soon be fading......

Well, it's rice pilaf and roasted cauliflower and baked mushrooms and chicken for dinner. Recipes will appear before long over at The Cooks Next Door. Have a good week!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Fall Party

The house was full of people on Monday night for a baby shower. It was a fall-themed shower, and we had lots of fall treats, like this gluten-free pecan walnut tart. (Recipe to be revealed next month on The Cooks Next Door).

This was my first time making these Walnut Acorn Cookies. They were so cute, and very scrumptious:

Then we had a bright orange sun-dried tomato and cummin hummus that went well with blue cornchips:

I didn't get a picture of the delicious cheese fondue that we also had, thanks to a friend.

To drink we had a mulled cider punch, which I may just have to post over at TCND sometime soon:

Mom came over a few hours early and helped transform the house from major disaster into peaceful abode. She also helped with the decorations:

We played "Guess the weight of the pumpkin" and then read out cards with questions or statements like "Don't make your child eat ____________ ".

Oh, and we also enjoyed this amazing pumpkin cake with cream-cheese frosting. Our cake-maker friend (see previous post) provided this cake and I'm thinking we're going to need it for TCND.
We are in the midst of Indian Summer! I think that calls for a trip to the park........

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Fall Wedding

We went to my sister's sister-in-law's wedding this past Saturday. What a perfect time for a wedding! A bright, sunny day with the leaves at their peak and the wedding perfectly decorated with fall flowers.

My mom and sisters did the flowers and you can find much more detail over at Christina's blog. The bridesmaids wore navy, which was a stunny backdrop to the fall flowers.

Flowers aside, the bride herself was just beautiful!

And Baby John slept through the ceremony and behaved himself very well over the whole weekend.

Here is the bride's bouquet:

Our favorite cake-maker friend made another beautiful cake. It was covered in fresh fruit -- some dipped in sugar. It went along with the wedding theme so well!

And the reception was beautifully decorated:

Here are JK and Christina with John in his little vest that Christina knit to match their outfits.

Congratulations to Bethany and Rusty on their marriage!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Freezer's On A Diet

My freezer is on a diet. Once my oven was working again, I felt it was time to move onto the freezer, whose gasket was gaping in several places.

"For one thing, ma'm," began the freezer repairman, "this freezer's too full." "Well, don't let my family hear that," I thought. They already think I'm crazy because I keep a decent pantry and I knew I'd be in for more of the same if they heard about the freezer.

Okay, time for a freezer diet. Out came a gallon of frozen milk (to become yogurt). Out came a few bags of frozen grains (note to self: stop buying things like wheat germ in 5 pound bags). A few bags of strawberries made their way to the fridge freezer. And I promised myself no more freezer jam -- everything will have to be canned from now on!

"So I'm getting a quarter of a beef in a few months," I casually told the freezer repairman. "Well then, I suggest you get yourself another freezer, ma'm."

Fortunately, Michael doesn't think I'm crazy (as my family does). He thought a second freezer was a great idea and even offered to put more shelving up in the pantry to help me have more storage space. (Gotta love a guy like that!)

So, today found me driving south to pick up my new freezer -- 16 cubic feet, not frost free (better for meat storage), chest-type, found on Craig's List. It'll be sitting next to the upright in my pantry. The pantry is now a mess, with everything overflowing into the kitchen, all awaiting my attention. But we have the freezer and the new arrangement is going to be great! And, we'll have room for that cow (pictured above and grazing happily just 1 1/2 miles from here). I just need to get the pantry organized before the party I'm hosting happens Monday night!

And before I end, I just have to remind you how wonderful beet greens are -- especially when sauteed in olive oil and browned garlic with balsamic vinegar drizzled over at the end. I wish there were leftovers.....

Oh, and let me also mention that our toilet stopped working downstairs and had to be replaced -- today. And I think I maybe shouldn't have mentioned to the boys that it's the kind that can flush 20 golf balls at once.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Appearance of Fall

Fall is certainly here, even though the leaves aren't at their peak. Our heating is on now, and I'm craving lots of tea and soup. I got out Sunday afternoon for a walk:

Some of the kids came with me -- what a wonderful time of year for exploring in the woods:

I can't wait until we see more deep orange and red.

Every now and then one does catch a glimpse of red:

Mushrooms are popping up everywhere.

And there is a bush covered in rosehips that we pass everytime we go walking.
The only flowers we see are these lavendar-colored ones -- scattered everywhere in the woods:
We always stop at this point to admire the water:

Michael is away in Chicago for a seminar and we are busy with school and lots of cooking and baking that needs to be done. The winter clothes are almost all switched in and I'm trying to make order out of my craft closet. I've just finished Ysolda's Ishbel Shawl and it's blocking on the floor of my bathroom right now. Can't wait to show you!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Teaching Art

Thursday mornings are spent at homeschool co-op right now. This year it is my turn to teach a class, not just be a helper. I was given Art for the 5th and 6th grades. While I am not really an artist, I certainly felt more at home with this than something science-related!

This morning we focused on value (light, medium, and dark) and at the end of the class the kids did a pencil drawing of this:

They did a good job. Three of the six weeks are over, so I'm half way done! Thursdays are nice because after an intense morning, school is finished and we can take it easy for the rest of the day (if we don't have anything else planned).

Pumpkin butter is in the crockpot and making the house smell like a Pumpkin Spice Latte.......ahhhhh. Nice counteraction to the heavy rain falling outside and the cool temperatures. I think homemade bread and soup is in order for dinner -- maybe.

Speaking of pumpkin butter, I will be posting a recipe on The Cooks Next Door sometime in the next several weeks. But, if you head over there today or tomorrow, you can sign up for the current give-away, which is a really nice cookbook.

And now, I think it's time for a little rest before gearing up for the rest of the day.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Plenty of Food

For those of you who enjoy reading my posts about food, you can now do it full-time (well, technically half-time :). Have a look:


Thursday, October 1, 2009


Life has been busy recently. We're into the height of soccer season. With both Andrew and James playing, that means possibly two nights of the week with soccer and then Saturday morning. Fortunately, Michael feels responsible for that and takes care of the runs as much as possible. And there is Wednesday night ballet. It does mean strange meal times -- very early or very late. I'm not quite used to it. Besides the funny appetite, meal times are suffering. There are so many wonderful things to cook though, especially at this time of year. Tonight we are having "fake pizza" (from the store) because it sounds so good! :)

We had our first Fall hospitality event last week with a pie night. I realized I better get my house decorated fast. I have a new mantel decoration, but no picture of it yet.

I'm playing around with my new camera, but haven't been able to get it figured out yet. I may need a different lens (I have 14 days to return the one I bought). I need to try a few different settings, but I'm thinking I'm going to have to get that other lens I was thinking about originally.
Michael is away until Saturday night. Hopefully I can do some fun things with the kids while he is away to help pass the time. I think we're going to watch cooking shows and knit tonight. Maybe that will be relaxing. We spent the morning at homeschool group (at which I teach art to the 5th and 6th graders) and then it was home for a quick lunch before heading out to the dr's and then the Knit Shop and then the airport. I think it's time to relax......
We have overnight guests this weekend so I need to get organized for that and of course do some cooking/baking. First off is one more day of school.....