Friday, September 28, 2012

{this moment} - his writing obsession

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. See Soulemama to play along.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

her project

Elizabeth is obsessed with using her new pocketknife that she received for her school camping trip.  She'd been asking for one for a while and this trip made it a necessity. ;)  To give herself a bit of practice before the trip, she started whittling everything in sight.  This project has not been cleared for divulgence, but I have it on good authority that it will be a Christmas present for Finn. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Yarn Along

For Yarn Along this week, I'm still working on Finn's blanket, slowly but surely.  I did take a hiatus last week and work on a few other things, but I try to get a few rows on Finn's blanket done each day.  I'm sure it will be finished with plenty of time to spare before Christmas.  I just started reading The Long Winter to the kids, at Philip's request.  All of the kids really enjoy the Little House books, but Philip and Finn seem particularly connected to them.  I've put off reading The Long Winter because of the harsh conditions, and starvation, they had to endure.  But now here we are and I think the kids will enjoy it despite the desperate times.

Here is one of my hiatus items.  Philip requested a storm trooper hat for Christmas and this really was a fairly quick knit.  One problem...the colorwork has very little give and made the hat too small.  I guess my nephew will be getting one as well. :)  And I'd better order more of this yarn soon!

I also knitted these hand mitts last week as well.  They will be keeping my hands warm over the next few nights as I travel with Elizabeth's 6th grade class on a tent camping trip to the NC mountains.  It promises to be quite an adventure, and my hands will be warm the whole time!

Monday, September 24, 2012

first autumn weekend

The first weekend of autumn was the quintessential celebration of the season.  We spent the weekends with the first fire of the season, roasting marshmallows and warming ourselves against the chill of the evening.  We also helped watched some friend brew beer, which was a fascinating experience.  I, looking through the lens of having done a bit of fermentation and cheese-making, observed some similarities and many differences.  The art and science of making ancient and artisanal foods is such an intriguing process to learn.  We wrapped up our weekend with a meal directly from our garden and other local harvest.  Every ingredient in our spaghetti squash with homemade sauce was from within 15 miles except the olive oil and salt. A lovely way to start the autumn season, I think.

Friday, September 21, 2012

{this moment} - preparing

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. See Soulemama to play along.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

::right now::

::new autumn mitts::

::his obsession with words::

::first time at bat::

::autumn smells in the kitchen::

::never-ending jalapenos::

::a glimpse of the season to come::

Monday, September 17, 2012

in defense of picking

My attention was drawn recently to an article over at Slate, which was apparently a reprint twice over (at least).  I'm not one to get into debates about many things, but I just found the absurdity of this piece worth mentioning, especially since it seems that Slate reprints the article nearly every year.  The author of the article argues that "it's delusional to think that [a pick-your-own farm] is good for the environment, farmers, or the economy" because the activity is rife with wanton excess, wastefulness, and over-spending, among other grievances.

When I first began reading the article, I was prepared to be amused at whatever negativity someone might spout at a wholesome activity like picking your own fruits and veggies from a local farm.  But as I got further into the article, I became irritated that this self-proclaimed NYC yuppie might in any way assume that his experience picking fruit at what was obviously a caricature of a real farm bore any relationship to reality outside his urban bubble.

My family does a great deal of fruit and vegetable picking.  We grow some of our own veggies.  We find pick-your-own farms for as much of our food preservation as we can.  We buy a great deal of fruit and veggies, often in bulk, from nearby farmers at our local farmer's market.  We are neck-deep in the local food scene.  And I have to say that my experience could not be more different from the one the author describes in his article.

Take, for example, our apple picking 2 autumns ago.  We picked 4.5 bushels of apples for about $40.  We used a half-bushel for eating (which lasted us about 3 weeks), and I peeled, cored, and sliced apples into 25 quart bags to freeze for the winter.

Just with the apples we ate, I would have probably spent $5-7 per week, so that's roughly $15.  The quarts of apples that we froze either became apple sauce or butternut squash applesauce.  Even if it was only applesauce, it made about 6 4-oz servings of applesauce per quart bag. Those 6 servings in a convenient little package at the grocery store cost about $3.  So our 25 quarts of frozen apples would have cost $75 at the grocery store.

So I paid $40 for $75 worth of applesauce and $15 worth of eating apples.  (This isn't even counting the apple pies I made in the first few weeks with that left over half-bushel of apples.) That's a $50 savings.

But more than the money we saved or the food we picked at the peak of ripeness and stored away for winter, I taught my children where their food comes from. I didn't glamorize the picking of their food or lead them to believe that working on a farm involves 5 minutes of work with hayrides and hot cider at every turn.  It's real work.  And we're grateful for the farmers who spend much more of their time doing this work than we do.  And that is the legacy that I hope pick-your-own farms pass to my children.

*All of the above photographs have been previously published here at An Art Family following prior pick-your-own farm adventures.*

Sunday, September 16, 2012

the apple festival

Yesterday the gorgeous weather continued that we've seen all week and Paul, Finn, and I decided to make the most of the weather, and our low-key weekend, by taking a stroll through a local apple festival.  Located in a local historic park, the apple festival is full of apples, treats, crafts, and has plenty of space to roam, climb, and romp with friends.

Finn apparently forgot our last adventure here, for the apple festival 2 years ago.  He timidly ventured down into one of the cellar dugouts and became reacquainted with the fun of playing in the giant underground holes.

The old tailor's shop was the first dugout he explored.

We were only at the festival a few minutes when we ran into several of Finn's school friends.  They all began climbing the rock cellar walls.  Well, except Finn.  He mostly stared at them like they were crazy.

After so much running around with friends, Finn was ready for a snack.  He chose kettle corn as his treat and sat listening to live bluegrass music while he munched.

When he finished his snack, we visited a few of the old buildings.  Many of the old shops had re-enactors set up with old crafts and other work.

Finn helped one of the women weave a few rows on her loom.

Very important work!

He, of course, was hungry again at the end of our tour so we bought some of the locally grown apples and had another snack.

After finding our friends again and spending another hour or so running around with them, Finn was exhausted and ready to head home for a rest.

But not before I snapped a shot of his sticky, dirty face.  A sure sign of a delightful day!

Friday, September 14, 2012

{this moment} - the mummy

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. See Soulemama to play along.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Yarn Along

This week's Yarn Along is a newly begun project, although I am still working on Finn's sweater and socks.  This Christmas is Finn's turn for a hand knit blanket. (previous Christmas blankets can be found here: Elizabeth's, Philip's, and Paul's)  After finding a pattern I rather liked, then nervously deciding I didn't want to attempt all that colorwork on a blanket with a deadline, I decided to wing the design and just make a garter stitch blanket with interesting stripes.  The yarn is Simply Cotton from Knit Picks in Carnelian Heather and Reindeer Heather.  We shall see how it ends up!

As for reading this week, I've found myself perusing an old favorite, Messy Thrilling Life, and enjoying anew the delicious artwork and insightful words of Sabrina Ward Harrison.  I could just stare at her books for hours.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

the sounds of music

Paulie just started his second year of middle school band on the bassoon.
Elizabeth just started her first year of middle school band on the flute and her seventh year of African drumming instruction.
Philip is getting ready to start his fifth year of group violin lessons.
Finn just started his first year of African drumming, and probably a few other Musikgarten instruments.

These are the sounds of music in our world.  What about yours?

Saturday, September 8, 2012

recent food preservation and gardening

What $20 at the local market can get you on an early September morning: 8 scratch-and-dent tomatoes, 5 large bruised peppers, 3 lbs of green beans, 2 cucumbers, 4 lbs of Asian pears, 4 lbs of white peaches, 6 ears of shucked corn

The scratch-and-dent tomatoes and 2 of the peppers are still sitting in the basket waiting to be made into spaghetti sauce on Monday, because who can open a jar of canned spaghetti sauce when there are still cheap, in-season tomatoes at the market?!

The rest of the peppers have been diced and frozen and the green beans were blanched and frozen.  The stash in the freezer is almost too packed to find anything.  I might need to do a bit of organizing out there lest I lose something in the crowd.  I've found that freezing a few peppers each week, either from the bruised pile at the market or extras from our own garden, really allow us to use from our stash and buy very few during the winter.

The herbs received a trim just before the storm rolled in this afternoon.

I dried 4 trays, basil, chives, parsley, and thyme, to add to the jar accumulation.  I've really developed a new respect for the price of dried herbs since I started drying my own.  It really takes quite a large amount to fill a jar!

And in the garden, the peppers are really growing like weeds.  We have SO many jalapenos that I've started giving some away.  I do need to freeze some more before winter, but I have no doubt we'll still have plenty to spare.  The bell peppers are starting to produce nicely as well.  I still see many flowers and small peppers sprouting so I bet we'll continue to produce until we get a frost.

The compost that we added a few weeks back must have agreed with the beets.  They have been looking better than ever.

A few of them are even ready to be picked soon!  I'll definitely be planting more beets in the garden in the next week.

The last lone butternut squash is waiting to be picked, and I think his time is nearly nigh.  The squash plants have started drying up in the last week so I'll likely pick him in the next few days.

The garden peas have started producing nicely again.  I think they like the September weather better than the July weather.

Several of the pea pods are almost ready to be picked.

I hope to get some of my fall garden in over the next few days.  I've been delayed by the weather a few times.  (It's been too muggy here to be out there for long!)