Monday, November 4, 2013

The Garden in Fall

The hoops are up and we are in the thick of autumn. My lettuce and spinach are doing very well, in fact I can just taste the baby spinach on my pizza this week! Still have the beets and leeks inside the hoops. The beets are there because I am lazy and don't want to do anything with them yet. The leeks could stand to get a bit bigger, and even could over winter out there for some yummy spring leeks!

I did harvest quite a bit. There are no more peppers or tomatoes out there. I cut most all the kale and chard as well. I am very happy with this year's gardening adventure. The pantry and freezer have lots of our hard work to show (and eat) for this fall and winter.

A trash bag full of kale. What the heck am I to do with that? Any ideas?

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Being 'All Done'

Since mid Summer I have had this desire to become more organized with my time. It is so hard for me. Part of the reason it is hard is that I am the type of person that gets very distracted. I could be washing dishes and out my window I will see a deer. So I will call to the girls so they can come look. We will watch the deer for a bit. As I turn from the window I may see a pile of books that needs to be put away and I will start on that. A book or magazine from the pile will interest me and I will sit and read for a bit. Then one of the girls may come over and wonder what I am reading and we will talk about it. That may lead into a story or a game. Two hours later I will wander into the kitchen and realize I never finished the dishes.

Another reason this is hard for me is that I put too much onto myself. I want way too much. I want time to exercise. I want time to quilt, knit, read embroider...., I want time to spend with my family, time to garden, time to bake and cook great meals.  I want time to do things for my family visit with my friends and also volunteer in my community. I want time for many of these things all in one day! Ha, Ha.

Yet another reason I get bogged down and don't get organized is that I don't know my own priorities. I always cook for my family, spend time with my family, and do things for my family. My family is my main priority right now. What I don't know is after my family what is my priority? Volunteer work? My own hobbies? Getting exercise? It is impossible to do everything, everyday so what do I pick? I have tried setting up a 'schedule' for myself. You know, exercise at 8, math with the girls at 9, do some chores at 11..... For some reason, at least for me, it never lasts and never works. Distraction in myself or others. Illness, someone else's schedule will change, which means mine has to. Someone will want a baked good for a fundraiser or we will be asked to get together at a friends house. Just going out to feed the chickens can throw the morning off if there is a problem in the chicken coop. Seriously a strict hour to hour schedule just won't work in a house with this many people and variables.

Some things I have learned to improvise. For instance exercise can be cleaning out the chicken coop. It can be biking with my girls. It can be walking and talking with a friend. It can be planting a bed of garlic. I do feel guilty seeing the exercise bike my husband bought me just sitting there though. Winter. That is when I will use the bike. In those long winter days when I cannot go outside. When there is no snow to shovel and when my shovel cannot dig because the ground is frozen. I also have gotten better at bringing some kind of handwork with me where ever I go and if I am just sitting talking or waiting for someone or even riding (not driving) in the car I can get in some crafting time for myself.

I have been thinking about this for a while now. I think my main problem is that I have always been the kind of person that cannot really relax here in the house until everything is 'all done'. I don't mean big projects. I understand if I didn't get around to raising pigs this year. It wasn't in the cards. I understand that certain things take time and slow but steady progress. For instance I wanted an herb garden this year. I did plant it and it did well. I used several herbs in my cooking and canning this year. I felt very good about it. What I didn't do and realize I can work towards is drying and storing my herbs. There is always some 'project' that didn't get finished, or even started and I can see the big picture in these situations. What I really have trouble letting go of are the smaller things. The things I see as I walk through the house. The laundry that isn't folded yet, or the floors that need to be vacuumed. The dishes in the sink or the floor that needs washing. To feel able to, and good about sitting down to relax, knit, or read in the middle of the day, before chores are 'all done' is very difficult for me.

Now the thing that makes no sense at all, but I see how it happens, is that I have no problem at all coming down into the office and sitting in front of my computer browsing news sites, blogs, and (cringe) Facebook. Is it because it is easy? Can I slip down without anyone noticing and get a little sit down time? Do I like the computer better than reading or crafting? No I really don't think that is it. Why can I make time to sit in front of this screen in the middle of the day, but not to sit in my cozy rocking chair and stitch a bit with a hot cup of tea? I tell myself I can't take time to have fun or relax until the work is done, but the mindless computer time doesn't count. Pretty dumb. I know that there is laundry to hang, the girls are waiting for me, paperwork needs to be filled out.... but I still find time to sit in front of the screen. Then at the end of the day, when I really want to sit and craft or read I can't because I am playing catch up on all the chores that just cannot be left undone. Would those said chores been finished during the day while I wasn't wasting time on the computer? Or would I still run around at the end of the day getting things 'all done' before I could relax?

So, I guess I need to figure out what the root of the problem is. My inability to let the small things go undone? Or do I need to have a stricter policy on my computer use? Or maybe a little bit of both? Or do I need to loosen up and just keep going the way I am going? More thought on this is needed.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Now It is Time For Applesauce

We have been picking apples, and finally got around to making the applesauce. The girls helped me a lot. It is so great to have real help in the kitchen. While they are young it seems most times the 'help' that I get in the kitchen is more work for me than help. It is worth it to push through and be patient because now I have a couple of big helpers.

We cook our apples with the skins on. We do take out the seeds. After the apples are soft the girls ran them through the mills. I have a Foley mill and another type of mill that is much like a strainer and it has a wooden pestle that is used to squish the apples through the mill. I wish I knew what it was called.

We do not add any sugar to our sauce. Just put it in jars and process for 20 minutes.

Magically it turns into applesauce!!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Time With the Ones I Love

Him and I . We took a trip down to see our son with the four other children in tow. Two of them are really not children now but what else do we call them?

There is the oldest. He lives here, in a Yurt, without running water or electricity. He is fine. He is doing very well. He teaches during the day at an alternative school based on homeschooling. The children love him, of course.

Here is the second oldest. A natural writer, and thinker. Such things that go on in that mind. We have such intense conversations right now. Still searching for the best way to be. I remember those days. Very glad they are past.

My baby boy. He wouldn't like me to say that. Thinking about getting out in this big world away from the family. Hard for us to think about it, but he is ready and will do amazing things. Always busy creating some sound or song for us.

My first little girl. She is growing up so fast. How can I slow it down? She loves everyone. So very happy go lucky.

My baby. Surrounded by older ones always. She is a thinker as well. So smart, so sweet. She is the type of child you just want to squeeze. Which of course I do, a lot.

Such a nice day we had. The times we get to spend all together are fewer now, but the times that we do are so special. We really have the best time together when we are together and outside enjoying nature.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Pin, Stitch, Iron, and Repeat

With the Red Sox playing on the TV in the other room I was in my sewing room in a quilt block fever. I am thankful that the Red Sox are still in the series because it keeps my husband occupied. I get to pop in and watch my favorites (Ortiz and Pedroia) when needed. The rest of the time I have my ear to the game and my mind on the sewing.

I have made two of the four blocks for the Quilt Along. Two to go! Last night it was literally pin, stitch, and iron until the block was done. So much fun!

Here is block number one finished!!

Block number two, finished!!

No one was able to sleep with all the excitement of the game. The girls came down to my sewing room needing to 'do something' too. They both decided to pick up their knitting again after a busy summer. I spent a little time helping them cast on and off and start new projects. They are getting very good at knitting. Makes me happy to see them using those little hands for something beautiful.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Fall Here in Mine

I am very fortunate to live in Maine. I am even more fortunate to live in an area of Maine that has lots of land and woods and wildlife. I am not really far from a town, but far enough to feel very sheltered and cozy.

Yesterday I went on a bit of a walk around my parts here and got some shots of the wonderful colors of this time of year.

Walking down the hill into the woods. There are a few trails down here that I like to walk.

A lot of the leaves are falling, but we have mostly oaks and there are so many more to come.

These are so amazing how they show the progression of color change.

Maple! I just opened the last jar of maple syrup this weekend. We will really have to do more sugaring this spring!!

Here is a shot of my raspberries and blueberries with sumac and birch and ash trees in the back. Makes for a pretty shot.

Here is a shot off my front porch. Soon all these leaves will be on the ground. It has been so warm here in Maine though. 50's and 60's. Not normal but nice. I love the extended season. Winter is on its way though. I can smell it.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Time to Make the Donuts!

I hate making donuts. No, not really. I used to dislike it.

The request for donuts came last night. I did groan. Making donuts is such a process. First the dough has to be made and refrigerated over night. Then in the morning the dough has to be rolled out. After that they get cut into donuts and holes. Meanwhile the oil has to be heated to 350 degrees in preparation for deep frying the donuts.

I was tired when the request for donuts came in. It was already after 8 PM. I mentioned just wanting to sit down. My son asked why didn't I just sit down at the table and make the dough. (Sweet boy) I said fine, get me all the ingredients and I will. I did not expect him to do it, but he did. So of course I did make the dough.

This year I went to the Common Ground Fair, like I always do, and usually I see the same stuff and the same people, which I did, but I did see something different this year. I saw how to make donuts on an open fire in a cast iron pot.

So last night while I was thinking about how I had to get up and make donuts I remembered The Fair and the donuts. I remembered how cooking them on an open fire probably eliminated the smokiness in my home and in my lungs.

What I didn't realize is that cooking the donuts in a cast iron pot on an open flame makes them so much better than ever. I spent over an hour outside on a beautiful fall morning cooking donuts for my family. The day could not have started any better.

I made a huge bowl of these babies. Plain and chocolate. They were very yummy!!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Piecing a Quilt is Harder Than Knitting (IMO)

I joined a quilt along! Thanks to Corey at I love her blog and I really like her too. She always answers any questions I have. This is the second sew along I have done with her. I also did the Birdie Stitches. Those were embroidery squares, and so much fun.

This is what I have worked on so far. It is the first block. I am not much of a 'read directions' sort of gal and it has been challenging for me in a good way. As I was sewing along last night I got to thinking how quilting or piecing is much harder than knitting.

I just learned to knit last year. It took some effort on my part to stick to it and I am happy I did. I love to knit! It is so relaxing and meditative. I can knit while watching a TV show. I knit while my girls are doing their math. I can knit in the car. I even bring my knitting to meetings!! As much as I love sewing and piecing and quilting I cannot say I find it relaxing. It is fun for me because it makes me think and it is sometimes difficult to make something fit right. Many times I have to cut something again and redo things. When I decided to stop for the night I really felt satisfied that I had accomplished something nice. I am now at the point in the block that the little pieces get sewn together to finish the block. I am excited, and nervous about it.

Now if I could just narrow down my projects to just two or three or even four I may get something finished!!

It is a mess. I know right where everything is though. It is an organized mess and it is so much fun!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Whoa! October!!?

Can it really be October? I really cannot believe it. I am not finished harvesting! I am not 'feeling' it this year. What is up?

I do love the light that is coming in my windows this time of year. I love the temperatures. So nice. So sunny. So very warm in the day and cool in the day. I do live for this time of year.

With most of the putting food up for the year done (still have applesauce and pickled beets to do) I am starting to feel that October might be here. Really though, maybe it is global warming but it just doesn't seem like it.

The leaves all look so pretty though. Our weekly ride through the hills and fields were so pretty today. (Pictures to come at a later post)

What is really exciting is that I found this tomato flower in bloom in the greenhouse. I wonder if I keep it closed up will more tomatoes form and grow through fall and early winter. That would be so cool!!

Look at that pepper! There is more coming too. I am just so excited that I am still getting veggies and it is October!!

Here are my Everbearing Raspberries. FEDCO seeds said they should ripen in late August or September. Well, here they are ripening so nicely in October. I may have to cover them so they do not frost. I think it may be a sun issue, not a false advertising issue. I will be checking into it.

Really, I do more than just gardening. The kids keep me very busy. I am working on several different hand work projects and I am teaching a class this year!!

Oh October, I can't believe you are here but there is no denying it.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Happy Fall!

The Asters are in full bloom! It is fall. I am feeling pretty good about the progress that I have made to get ready for winter.

The pantry is full. I canned two kinds of pickles, and dilly beans. Dean made his amazing salsa, some hot, some mild. I froze lots and lots of wax and green beans. I froze zucchini and summer squash. We have home grown chickens and natural grass fed beef in the freezer.

My girls are now laying. Yeaaaa! Now we have a mixture of brown and blue eggs. So pretty! Sorry for the blurry picture. They just wouldn't stop moving among the greens.

There is still much to be done in the garden. Raspberries are coming again, eggplant, beets, and kale. Oh, those beans, they just keep on coming. Not to mention I am still getting some tomatoes and peppers and cukes! What a year it has been. I don't feel as rushed now to get it all picked and processed. I figure now that the larders are full, I can go at a more leisurely pace and not stress over it. I also need to plant some spinach and lettuce and I will try broccoli in the green house. Hmm, the more I list the more my stress level rises. No, really I am feeling pretty good about what stage I am with the garden.

It was a busy, busy weekend at the Common Ground Fair and now I am really feeling my thoughts are moving to the next season. There is home school Co-op, music lessons, and pies and applesauce to make. I love this time of year. It is such a mixture of inside and outside things going on.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

New Place for the Ladies

Thank you Dean and Aaron! The chickens now are safe (we hope) from the fox and anything else that may try to get at my wonderful ladies. They are getting so close to laying now. One just started! We know it is just one because it is a little blue one and we only have two Americana chickens.

It has a top and Dean put chicken wire all the way down into the dirt and covered it.

They have two roosts that they found right away.

The ladies are very happy. Me included. I am so glad to have this area for them. Bring on the eggs!!