Psst....Ignore the weeds please. We decided in early summer to plant a small garden this year so only got in a couple of heirloom tomato plants, a pumpkin plant and for fun Debbie put in some gourds. The tomatoes have been unimpressive but the pumpkin and gourds are going nuts. I can't wait to see the fruits of these babies. They're doing great even though we only added a bit of compost to the soil. I don't think this is where the garden is going to be next year so we didn't want to invest a lot in amending the soil. I'm pretty sure we're going to level this area and lay a slate patio here. Next week I'll be throwing in some fall and winter veggies with a bit more compost.
Next year we'll start earlier and really put in more. I had hopes of canning our own tomatoe sauce this year but the only way that will happen is if we buy our tomatoes at the farmers market.
I found this at a thrift store a few weeks ago and I just can't figure out what it is. I've poked around on silverware websites as I thought it might be a spoon rest but I haven't been able to find anything like it. It reminds me of a vintage pen rest for dip pens I saw at a stationers on Cape Cod several years ago. I can't find a photo of that either now.
For now this will be set aside until I can figure out what it is.
Last weekend we visited a farm near my parents to get berries for freezing and jam. Every year I've wanted to do this but we just never get around to it. This year after reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle I had to follow through on some of my plans. It's good for my soul, good for my family, good for the farmers.
Little frosty hearts. Bits of sweet red sunshine we'll enjoy this winter. Locally grown and so delicious.
Then the jam making. We made a batch of strawberry Monday and Tuesday night, took Wednesday off, then Thursday did three batches of bluberry.
I'd unintentionally doubled the first batch of blueberry. I misread the recipe and nearly doubled the amount of crushed berries I was cooking. Thankfully I realized it before I'd added the sugar and we could double the rest of the ingredients. I'd been told not to try double the recipes as that way lay disaster. Except for the overly full pot that wanted to boil over it worked just fine. After that, the final batch was a breeze.
The final product glowing in the last days of summer. I had some on toast this morning and it will be so wonderful to eat this winter.
We'll be visiting farm stands next week for peaches and do it all again with frozen peaches and peach jam. I remember a summer my family lived in New Jersey we made peach jam and then ate it all summer. It's a fond childhood memory. Boiling the peaches, peeling the skin off while they're still steaming hot, dunking in ice water then slicing. Our kitchen smelled of tangy sweet peaches for days.
We'll share some with friends and family and the rest will be put away to use over the coming months until we can do it all again next year.
Like many of you, one of my favorite past times is thrift shopping and garage saleing. I love hunting for and finding treasures. It's a pasttime I haven't been able to indulge much since Tanner was born but in recent weeks I've been able to get out 3 or 4 times. The fun of course comes from being successful in the hunting. Here's some recent finds. This first is a partial set of vintage childrens plastic Russell Wright dishes. I've never seen these before. They have the same shapes and speckles of the grown up variety. Perfect for pretend tea and treats.
Next we have two spoons. The top one is silverplate and the bottom one sterling. Paid a whopping $1 for that one. We have a wonderful collection of mismatched silverplate and sterling that we enjoy using daily. Finally is the best find ever. I mean EVER! I've been wanting a vintage papercutter for ages and have refused to purchase a new one because it just didn't have the heft I remember from my school days. This is exactly what I'd been hoping to find one day. I didn't really think I'd ever find one, let alone one in good condition. This has an amazing edge on it still. I love using it.
We spent yesterday at the zoo with my brother's family. It was great fun, especially for Tanner and his youngest cousin. No photos as I'd forgotten to download the last batch I'd taken and both memory cards were full. Too bad as we saw raptors up close, brown bears trying to catch breakfast, and parrots and parakeets ate out of our hands. Okay, not mine. Everybody else though. We viewed the bears in their pool from a room that allowed us to see them under the water. They would push off of the glass and Tanner was separated from paws as big as his head by just the glass. They are so graceful in their own way. An awesome sight.
Back at home, Tanner and I made a strawberry rhubarb crisp. Tanner actually did most of the chopping and mixing. He's helped cut and frost cookies before but this was the first baking project he did beginning to end. We had it fresh out of the oven over vanilla ice cream. Delicious.
The recipe is from Barbara Kingsolver's book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle; A Year of Food Life. I can't recommend this book enough. It has completely changed the way we are shopping and eating. Here's the recipe.
Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp
3 cups strawberries, halved
3 cups rhubarb, chopped
1/2 cup honey
Mix together thoroughly and place in 8x8 inch ungreased pan.
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup brown sugar (or a bit more, to taste)
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/3 cup butter
Mix until crumbly, sprinkle over fruit mixture, and bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes, until golden. Find more recipes at http://www.AnimalVegetableMiracle.com.
Back in June, I attended an art opening Bridgette Guerzon Mills and was fortunate enough to be able to get two of her paintings. I went to purchase creve coeur. I fell in love with it when she posted. It speaks to me of deep longing and mystery. A desire for what's just up ahead. Once there I couldn't just get one. Choosing another was so difficult but I settled on forever constant. When Bridgette learned I'd purchased creve coeur she showed me it was published in Embracing Encaustic. She said forever constant was going to published in a Somerset publication but I didn't know which one or when. I was thrilled to open the latest issue of Artful Blogging to find it there on the first page.
What the heck is up with Typepad not putting pictures where I'm inserting them!!! They finally fixed the sizing issue and now this. Aargh! I was planning to upgrade when I renewed my subscription but maybe I should be looking for another provider.
I'm obsessed with green tea these days. Not any green tea mind you. Green tea from the Tao of Tea in Portland. I've been alternating between Pearl or Gunpowder and various Sencha's. The Pearl is bold with a bit of bite, like a lovely red wine. I prefer it first thing in the morning to wake up with. The Sencha is more delicate with a fresh flavor. It's described as creamy buttery on the website. I splurged on two of the competition grade sencha's and they were worth it. I can't decide between drinking them nightly so I can try a third before they sell out and saving them for occasional moments when I can truly sit and savor the flavor. Tonight to watch the opening of the Olympics I'm enjoying Sencha Gold. Lovely. Off to enjoy the show.
I found these golden gems dropping from the tree this afternoon. They littered the walkway and hung from the branches. I couldn't believe the owner of this tree or a neighbor hadn't come out to pick them all. They perfumed the air of my car with their sweet scent as I drove home. I don't think I've ever had an apricot fresh from the tree and certainly not one so ripe it had fallen to the ground. A sweet treat that we will enjoy immensely.
Recently my friend Jonna sent me and my family gifts that she'd made. It was such a wonderful surprise to arrive home to find an unexpected package on my porch. Particularly as Tanner had just been lamenting that he never gets mail.
She made Tanner this sweet little journal. It fits perfectly in his hand and he felt so very special when he opened it.
For Debbie she included this lovely painting. We all loved this. . I was over the moon excited to open my package to discover this.
I've wanted one of Jonna's journals for so long now. They are beautifully crafted with great paper. She's even personalized it with my name stamped in the leather. I've begun using it, taking it on our camping trip to the ocean. It was the perfect size to pack and to work in. I feel so honored to have a friend who would make personalized gifts for me and my family! We met at our first Artfest 4 years ago and for some reason just clicked. I was so out of my element and she was so welcoming and warm. I'm certain we were meant to meet that night.
I'm off to a day of celebrating birthdays and hanging with my extended family. Tanner always loves being with his cousins. It's going to be an easy enjoyable day. I hope yours is the same.