Thursday, October 30, 2008

A love of leaves

I've been wanting to wax some autumn leaves with E for a few weeks now. We finally had a day to ourselves at home and some time on our hands so, after spending the morning reading together, out came the craft supplies.First we painted backgrounds for an autumn tree watercolour that we wanted to do. While those dried we did some leaf rubbings. We've always loved to do these but this year I saw on Mom in Madison's blog a new twist on this old favourite. We cut out and then painted our rubbings with watercolour washes (or splodges depending on what floats your boat).Not sure if this was pumpkin innards smeared on the wall or just paint. In our house crafts = mess. Actually, in our house life = mess.
We melted some wax and poured it into a pie pan. I put the pie pan on the top of a pot with simmering water in to keep the pie pan warm so the wax wouldn't harden. The boys had already gathered some leaves. We gave each one a quick dip in the melted wax and then let it dry on a piece of wax paper.
When W brought his leaves in I looked twice and said that they looked like they were mouldy but he really liked the colours of them. Once he pointed them out to me I took another look and had to agree that they were quite beautiful. They had a really interesting speckle pattern going on and these two below were very different in colour.Hard to tell from the photos but they're lovely. Somehow this started a talk about how different people see things beauty can mean different things to all of us. Then we talked about how some things or people might be considered physically "beautiful" on the outside (to our society's notion of what beauty is) but may not be what we would consider "beautiful" (loving, happy, kind) on the inside. E thought that people who care about the earth would be beautiful to him. ;-) Then he scored bonus mama points by telling me (in a completely serious manner) that to him I was beautiful inside and out. (Well, at least it gave my husband something to laugh about when I told him about it over dinner) ;-)Anyway, we got some of the leaves dipped and dried and we think they are lovely - dried, waxed, speckled, rotting, composted, we love leaves anyway at all. We've collected many bags of them from our neighbours too. (big plans for even more front yard edible gardens. ssssh, don't tell my neighbours...or my husband)

Friday, October 24, 2008

Something that is making me smile...

The cat gets oatmeal with sardines and nettle. The dogs do not...
but they sure wish they did. ;-)

Some things I am loving just now...

Autumn blooms Everbearing strawberriesPumpkins...great huge pumpkins. One of them so big that I can't even get it out of the garage by myself to takea photo of it. Purple, yes, purple Autumn leaves. Organic oats cooked up with Rancho Vignola organic raisins and then topped off with great spoonfuls of applesauce (made with good friends) and cinnamon (given to me by a generous sister of my heart).
Starting to collect Dandelion and Burdock roots for drying or to make into tinctures.
A colourful view out my kitchen window.
E's Musque de Provence squash - oh to have the time to turn it into a Cinderella carriage. ;-)
And just the absolute beauty of the season.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Boys who cook

It has always been important to me that my boys have certain life skills, one of those skills is that they learn how to cook. After all, to my way of thinking, anyone who likes to eat should know how to feed themselves. W has been responsible for one dinner a week for quite some time (my kids usually prepare their own, or part of their own, breakfast and lunch) but just recently E (at 8 years old) has decided that he would like to be in charge of one dinner a week too. A few weeks back we were treated to "slop in a pan" - quite a feast, I tell you. I admit, it may not sound entirely appetizing but I am a big fan of anything that I don't have to make myself and so we ate E's "slop in a pan" with pleasure. The other day he decided he would make gnocchi (since I wouldn't buy the pre-made kind for him as I know how easy it is to make). We found a new recipe online that used baked potatoes instead of boiled (how I usually make it) and away he went. Potatoes were baked in the toaster oven while he played outside then he came in and we scooped out the baked flesh. A bonus about baking them instead of boiling is that we are left with all these potatoes skins to make another meal with.
He added some beaten egg, salt and flour and that was it. (although next time he wants to add garlic and more spices). I rolled out the dough into logs, he cut into pieces and pressed it with a fork. We decided to have them with sage butter so he ran out to pick some sage. He pressed sage leaves between two big slices of butter and then melted it all in a pot. The gnocchi went into a big pot of boiling salted water until they floated to the top. We scooped them out, drowned them in the sage butter and served them with pepper and Romano cheese. We had it with a side of tomato salad - what else? we've got a whole lot of tomatoes to eat up. This was seriously plate-licking good. Sage butter is a new favourite. All in all I think he was very pleased with his efforts...although I don't hold out any hope that "slop in a pan" won't be gracing our dinner table again soon. I did try to tell him that Jamie Oliver likely wouldn't name any of his dishes "slop in a pan" but I don't think he is overly concerned. ;-)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Each year at this time we give thanks for just some of our many blessings - we have so much to be grateful for. Our ritual is that we go around the table and take turns saying something that we are thankful for and then lighting a small candle. Some years we have wanted to give thanks for so many things that our table is full of candles glowing in the dark and we have joked that we might set off our smoke detector. This year we kept it simple and just had three candles each - three turns to give thanks.
And then...we ate pie. Pumpkin pie and whip cream...and lots of it. All the more to be thankful for, I say. ;-)

Friday, October 10, 2008

Abundance and Beauty

The abundance of our yard right now is leaving me with little time to write but I would like to share some photos. We had a frost and I lost a few green tomatoes so we spent yesterday picking everything that was left in the garden. I had helpers.
We now have hundreds of pounds of tomatoes to put by loving husband, knowing how much I love tomatoes, went to a friend's field and picked two more big boxes of ripe ones just for me. Wasn't that sweet? More tomatoes. When I already have hundreds of pounds. Hee hee hee....ha ha, aha, aa haa, sob, sob, sob. ;-) (Where's the I heart tomatoes now, heh?)

Thankfully E had picked his Stars and Moon watermelons the afternoon before the frost. It was sad enough waking up knowing that I had lost some tomatoes, the heartbreak that E would have felt if his raised-from-seeds-that-he-chose-and-grew-himself would have been too much.

Notice the melon held aloft with joy. ;-) (yes, that is a crown on his head - both boys have been wearing them for a few days)
Last zucchini of the year - it happens to be off the same plant that I forced (under a milk jug cloche) which also gave us our first zucchini of the year.
Boxes of grapes that we made juice with. Grapes and I have some issues. They seem to like to spill their staining juice all over and I seem to like stainless countertops and cupboards. Once again this year I have promised myself that I Will Not Make Juice or Jelly Again!! Ever!! (stay tuned for the exact same post next year) More on this another day.Tomatoes ready for roasting for sauce - sprinkled with some chunks of peppers and some garlic
E found this leaf and brought it in to show me. He was thrilled with how "gorgeous" it was and later on I found it tucked in a vase of cosmos that I had picked and put in my room. The picture is up top. I love that my boys take time to appreciate the natural beauty around them.Another thing that I love about this time of year is the way that plants show us so clearly their abundance - not only do they provide us this year (whether in flower, fruit, or veg) but once the frosted bits are pushed asidewe can see that they have also provided us for next year - in the form of seeds. I love that cycle.

And so with all this bounty which can sometimes seem a little overwhelming ...
it really seems to important to take time to enjoy the beauty of this season too.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Favourite way to use tomatoes

We are still picking tomatoes every day. There was a touch of frost the other night in a few spots of our yard but the tomatoes escaped unscathed. Today I need to roast a bunch and get them tucked away in the freezer to use as soup throughout the winter. We had several pots of simple tomato soup last week but one of my all time favourite ways to eat tomatoes is like this.
Bread topped with cheese (preferably old cheddar) and then toasted under the broiler. Add a large slice of tomato for the last minute or so to warm it up. A titch of salt, some pepper...delicious. Quite often, I think, simple really is best.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Getting into Autumn

It really is starting to feel like Autumn around here. Yesterday I started collecting our walnuts and that always makes me feel as though Autumn has set in. We spent some time tidying the house, cleaning windows, taking off window screens and pruning some trees.We are inside a bit more at this time of year and it is cool enough that we enjoy baking again. Baking more again made me think I should get going on finishing the kitchen. (Rather like If You Give a Pig a Pancake) I finally, finally got to work on finishing the last bits of our kitchen reno...the one that we did most of two years ago. We are DIYers and we laugh at ourselves because we often complete a job almost fully but then leave the last tiny bit of it undone. It is like we get it to the point of good function and then leave the little details 'til we have more time...but then there is always something else to do. I plan on finishing the grouting around the rocks and some more patching, sanding and painting today and hopefully only having one more coat of paint (on the patched bits) to do tomorrow morning. I think I listened to the Mamma Mia soundtrack (from the play not the movie) at least three times yesterday while I did this. While making dinner I was humming more ABBA when my poor long-suffering husband asked me if that was ABBA that I was humming. I think his ABBA limit had been say the least. ;-)We have also been settling into more indoor activities and E decided once again that he would like to knit. I found an excellent book on simple knitted toys at the library. He decided that he would knit a horse to start with. We knit together with him on my lap and after only a few knitted rows on one leg of the horse he decided that he would knit a "whole farm" of animals, will my lap take it? We'll see. I knit a lamb while we were all sitting out on a blanket soaking up the sunshine. They're fun little things to knit and I can see E enjoying this process more than he would a dishcloth or scarf because at the end of his work he will have something he can play with.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

I heart tomatoes

It's true. I love tomatoes. If I had been Browning I would have been referring to my tomatoes when I wrote the 43rd sonnet. ;-) So, when we picked this heart shaped one how could I not take a photo of it.
But how can I resist? They're so gorgeous. And they come in so many lovely shapes, sizes and colours.

I love them when they're red, green, purple, yellow,
I love them if they are tart or mellow,
I love them if they are big or small,
I love them, love them, love them all.