Sunday, September 30, 2007

Apples, apples, apples!

I just love fall. And even with the sunny, hot and humid weather of this weekend we got out and still enjoyed it. Even with the heat the colorful leaves and combines in the fields just seem, well, perfectly fall.

We visited a local apple orchard to pick more apples this weekend with the boys. At only 7 miles from our house, the narrow winding country road, steep hillside, and 1800s buildings make you feel like you have gotten away. The mosquitoes helped us set a land speed record for picking 45 pounds of Jonagold apples in just 15 minutes, wagon hauling included. Sure helps to have 2 excited small boys!

When we got home with our bounty we set up a wash/rinse/bag station in the yard. Apples were checked, washed, rinsed, and bagged. Our process attracted the attention of all of the kids in the neighboring houses, and everyone helped and participated. It was fun. And, each kid got their own apple to munch on as everyone just enjoyed the nice afternoon.

We got started on the apples right away. First, we started apple butter (which takes many hours of simmering to get that nice thick spreadable sweetness). Second, we began a batch of apple cider "syrup" which is YUMMY and sweet on oatmeal, granola, or yogurt. We have plans for our dehydrator tonight too - so that we have dried apples which will be great for home made granola and oatmeal ... The boys have been great helpers and really enjoying all of the fun "appliances"!!!!!

Friday, September 28, 2007

It's here!

Yes, this is it! Locally grown WHEAT! Grown in McFarland, WI, just 10 miles from us. We picked it up from the farmer today--I cannot wait to bake with it!

No words.

Hope for peace, democracy & freedom.

Image from here.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

CSA Box This Week.

After a nice morning nature walk with several other families at our local arboretum, we headed over to pick up our CSA box at the farm. The boys found the biggest mud puddle EVER in the 1 minute it took me to transfer everything out of box and into bag - which figures, since they both had on shoes which are only a few days old...and white. :)

In our box this week: Red slicing tomatoes, yellow onion, beets, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli tips, brussel sprouts, green acorn squash, (pungent!) basil.

Just the right size bag.

We have been tweaking our template around to get just the right size bag. This week we made some kid bags, and have been cutting and planning some cool adult gift sets for the holidays. A loves to help sew...although he doesn't go solo of course. He was very excited about this vintage style baseball fabric ("It is odd, I don't like baseball, but I just LOVE this fabric, mom!"). It was a remnant, but we squeezed 2 bags out of it...because what you make for one, you must make for the other! This size is perfect for a few toys, or a nature notebook/crayons/water for a walk, or a few library books. There are even a few pockets on the outside for extras.

A helped sew much of the bag - the easy straight lines and hems are great for that - and when finished had to Ooh and Aah over how it was just the right size, and sling it casually over a shoulder to walk through the house ... trying to see how it looks on him in passing reflections!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

All seemingly incongruous...

...but all tied together by 1 hour of time.

A cool rainy fall morning - boys walking in a lush maze.

A drive close to home, admiring the turn of colors, the red barns, the misty hills, and the still green grass in the midst of gold and brown.

Two beautiful sandhill cranes watching us watch them, just a few feet away.

Yes, I love fall and those cool rainy days.

Monday, September 24, 2007

One of my favorite fall things: Apples.

I have two amazing little helpers. We went to a park this morning to play with some friends (hi guys!), and then after lunch we got rolling.

They peeled & cored (crank crank crank), taking turns and cheering each other on.

They smushed (crank crank crank) with the food mill - it can't be too chunky, they said.

They stamped and splattered as the apples simmered, and simmered.

The house filled with an amazing aroma. They added cinnamon, nutmeg, and maple syrup.


We didn't make too much today (5 qts) - just enough for them to do most of it and have a great time without it being *too much*. They had a blast.

I might make more. Definitely not as much as this marathon applesauce goddess, though!

Photos of the Day - Early Fall in Wisconsin.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

First loaf.

Our first try with the hand crank grain mill? A success. The boys LOVE to crank. The bread was rich and moist and light and textured and nutty and amazing.

I was not familiar with the type of mill my husband selected - and wasn't sure how fine the grind would be. But you can just set it to the finest setting and run it through twice and it is perfect for bread. The rolling mill is also for making cereal/flakes from whole grains, so there are many other uses I am interested in trying.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Fall banner.

The boys have been into stamping and glue lately, so our fall banners were perfect.

We used coffee filters which we cut into leaf shapes - and then colored them with paint and marker as our main decoration.

They also stamped a leaf and pumpkin on the fabric, and glued all sorts of little acorn and leaf shapes (yes, he is wearing his monkey shirt is his favorite!!!).

Everything was done on just natural canvas, which was hemmed into a basic rectangle with a flap at the top to slip in a bamboo rod, and finished with a ribbon to hold it up.

They turned out cute and we can add to them as we go. We plan to collect real leaves, acorns, and other goodies to add to it, as well as to make a streamer of found elements to embellish the sides!

Sweet anniversary gift.

The boys and I are excited...a GRAIN MILL! Hand crank, for more fun.

We also found a local source for wheat (yay)...although my first bags come from the local coop.

Tomorrow we make...bread!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

CSA Box This Week.

I love the drive to the farm to pick up our CSA box each week. Today, even in the heat, signs of fall were all around. Corn is brown, beans are yellow, tree tops are rust colored, and the bushes which line the highways are fiery red.

The mosquitoes were not too abundant so we all were able to go in to the outbuilding together to get our goodies.

The boys immediately found their favorite spot where the wash basin drainage hose comes out creating a bit mud puddle and gravel bed.

Today in our box we have:
Kohlrabi, tomato mix bag, beauty heart radish, beets, carrots, brussel sprouts, red kuri squash, basil.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


Smoothies are a favorite in this house. It is nice both boys like them, as they are at the ages where texture and smell issues seem to plague their veggie and fruit consumption. It is FUN because they get to make their own - and we use big loud appliances, after all. They both really enjoy picking and choosing their ingredients -- juiced veggies, fresh yogurt, frozen fruits...the result is always delicious (and packed with stuff they won't eat in its' original form).

Today, A juiced carrots for the liquid base. He then added home made vanilla yogurt, frozen strawberries & blueberries, and a few frozen peaches. We added a little liquid supplement (CLO) too, to make it extra good, and whizzzzzzzzzzzzzzed it right up.

Today A was pretty nervous about tasting the smoothie - he juiced both orange AND white (gasp) carrots. But of course he eventually did a "taste test", loved it, and yes, this photo below is of him, all smoothie goofy & dribbled. He was yelling "white carrots are NOT disgusting" while I snapped a shot.

Making smoothies is definitely one of the favorite kitchen activities - and we try to make it a ritual/activity which we do at least once or twice a week. YUM!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Beautiful flowers, just so.

Monday and Tuesday mornings we have playgroups where the boys get out to parks to run and play. On those days we take it easy for the afternoon as climbing and running makes for sleepy but not wanting to nap boys. These afternoons are for quiet simple crafts or reading.

Today for our afternoon craft we visited our garden to pick the last blooms of the season. There was a frost around here this week, but our flowers made it through. Both boys pinched and snipped the most beautiful blooms ... well, at first they plucked the bloom HEADS until they realized they needed a stem for a vase.

We came back inside and put the flowers into water as we decorated the vases (The flowers HAD to come first, because their excitement was too great when they heard the plan...SCISSORS!) We took plain clean drinkable yogurt containers and decorated a sleeve.

On kraft cardstock, they stamped designs, painted with watercolors, and scribbled with oil pastels. When done and dry, we wrapped the sleeve around the container, glued it on a little, and tied a ribbon around it.

Each boy then got to arrange their own flowers. By now, the cutting, stamping, painting and water pouring was done, so A wandered off. G, however, being G, carefully selected each flower and placed it "just so" in his vase. He topped off the water, and then placed it on the table for optimum view.
A did come back and dug through the cabinets to find a stainless steel cup for his flowers instead, and arranged his with a decidedly different look. The table is considerably brighter with the two vases of beautiful flowers.

Spelling signs.

A is interested in words lately. He chats with himself, trying to spell out loud, asks about signs, and repeats things over and over until they roll comfortably off the tongue.

Over the weekend I had my camera in my lap and took a few pictures of words at the library in the parking lot, just messing around as we waited. He asked to look at each photo and spelled each word, trying to pronounce it/figure out what the word was...and then he had an idea. He asked for me to take pictures of signs while we were driving, since they pass too quickly for him to see/spell. He then asked for a photo of this word, then that word, and our collection has expanded. He loves being able to then see them on the screen, and having time to go over each letter. He also is excited to view the words in iPhoto after they download off of the camera - big and clear.

It is an interesting idea - and since it was his idea, he is very involved in it.

His favorite new word is Monona. It is a funny word to spell out loud - quite the tongue twister!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Yummy cake, sweet boys.

Well, it is official! I am now 40. The boys worked with their dad to make an amazingly delicious spice cake with maple syrup buttercream icing from scratch for my birthday. They sang, and pranced around, all happy with themselves. They made me breakfast, and A carried it up on a tray. As I ate in bed, they put on a show - singing, dancing, and telling stories. A and G each hand stamped and punched sweet birthday cards for me, and my husband, ever the attentive one, gave me a gift certificate to that amazing fabric store I discovered last weekend. It was quite a lovely day.

Thank you for all of the warm birthday wishes and comments. I enjoyed reading each one.