Playing Hooky – Again

Yes. It’s true. I played hooky – again.

I’m becoming a habitual offender! 🙂

At least this time I brought the kids with me!

the moms We met up with several other home school moms and their kiddos at a local park to enjoy one of the last wonderful days of fall.

While the kids played and played and played –

The moms sat and talked – catching up on life, sharing ideas, and just soaking up the sunshine.

Our biggest entertainment –

babiesWatching the babies be cute.

It was one of those “easy” kind of days that makes me so glad to be home schooling.

kiddosI’m thinking the kids were kind of glad, too!


Date Day!

I played hooky from school yesterday. 🙂

My husband surprised me on Thursday night with the news that he had to take off for the eastern part of the state in the morning to pick up some parts for work.

And he asked me to go along.

I think I actually squealed! An entire day with my husband! Whee!

Even the 6:00 AM departure didn’t lessen my excitement – it just meant sharing an amazing sunrise with him as we traveled east.

I didn’t even mind the almost 2 hour wait while Jan had the parts cut and loaded. I got to sit in the quiet van and read. What a treat!

While our kids were home eating left-overs for lunch  – we were sitting on a park bench by the river shared a sub sandwich and soaking up the sunshine.

Things just got better and better!

Our first stop of the afternoon was at the famous Dutchman’s Store in Cantril. Think an Amish Wal-Mart. It takes almost an entire city-block and sells everything from food to quilting supplies. It’s like our little Amish store on steroids.

StoreWe obviously found some things we just couldn’t live without!

My favorite purchase was the carton of fresh chocolate/peanut butter. We ate it by the spoonful all afternoon!

Our next stop was the Milton Dairy where we had to sample every variety before finally choosing a package of tomato/garlic cheese curds.


We stopped at several thrift stores before heading back west as the sun was setting.

The weather was perfect.

The autumn landscape beautiful.

The company ideal.

Jan said it was the best day of work he’s had all week.

Yeah, me too! 🙂

End of the Season

It’s over.

A hard freeze last week brought the end of the gardening season for the year. This is always a little bittersweet. I’m ready to be done picking and canning and freezing – but yet I’m sad at the thought of how long it will be before we taste vegetables this fresh again.

Peppers We picked everything possible that afternoon before the freeze.  Now what do I do with a dish pan full of jalapenos?

For now we are eating them as poppers with almost every meal! 🙂

I’ve played with the idea of trying to can some in little jelly jars to use like the canned jalapenos you buy at the store. But that will need to wait for a day with a little more energy and creativity.

I really can’t complain though – how often are we still eating fresh poppers in November? I feel like we went into “post-season play” with the garden this year.

But instead of the going to the Rose Bowl – we got invited to the tomato bowl!

Ta Maters We picked every tomato that had even the slightest hint of red and brought it inside. As they ripened, we cut them and froze them.  Almost of these beauties are cooking on my stove right now in one last big batch of spaghetti sauce for the year.

We did save a few out for some more bruschetta,  salsa and tomato salad. We need to savor these treasures – it will be a long time before we taste anything this ripe and delicious!

Peppers 2The sweet peppers will go in the fridge and I’ll use them up fresh as quickly as I can. I’ll miss sweet pepper in my eggs and on my salads.

I still have a few apples on the porch and some patty pan and butternut squash from Mom waiting in the basement to be eaten – but for the most part – the harvest is in and the season is over.

The fence is down, the stakes and cages put away for another year, and the plants pulled up and hauled away.

The ground lays fallow and will be soon covered with snow as we sit inside all warm and cozy – enjoying the fruits of our labor.

But then – with those bitterly cold days of January – the first seed catalog of the year will arrive and we’ll start the whole process over again!

Gardening isn’t just a hobby – sometimes I think it’s an addiction!

I’ve linked this post up at A Tuesday Garden Party at An Oregon Cottage.

The Roads

My sweet, wonderful niece Sarah is my guest blogger again today! I think you will enjoy her thoughts as much as I have…

The Roads C.S. Lewis

I love all the poems that Auntie M posts here – there is such a beauty and peacefulness about poems. Even when they include great passion or longing, still, there is a feeling about them that everything is going to be okay. There’s a peace.

Here’s a poem I love to get out every Autumn and read through. There’s something about Fall that makes me want to travel and see things like the colors in the trees and the richness of the harvest, or even the faces of my friends before the winter snows holes us up in our respective cities.

The Roads
By C. S. Lewis

I stand on the windy uplands among the hills of Down
With all the world spread out beneath, meadow and sea and town,
And ploughlands on the far-off hills that glow with friendly brown.

And ever across the rolling land to the far horizon line,
Where the blue hills border the misty west, I see the white roads twine,
The rare roads and the fair roads that call this heart of mine.

I see them dip in the valleys and vanish and rise and bend
From shadowy dell to windswept fell, and still to the West they wend,
And over the cold blue ridge at last to the great world’s uttermost end.

And the call of the roads is upon me, a desire in my spirit has grown
To wander forth in the highways, ‘twixt earth and sky alone,
And seek for the lands no foot has trod and the seas no sail has known:

For the lands to the west of the evening and east of the morning’s birth,
Where the gods unseen in their valleys green are glad at the ends of the earth
And fear no morrow to bring them sorrow, nor night to quench their mirth.

Apple Butter

We’ve been having an apple butter marathon this week!

My mom is here and we were determined to use up the last box and half of apples. Four batches of apple butter later we now have over 60 delectable pints!

The house smells wonderful even if the windows are all steamed up and we’ve used every pot in the house!

We started with my favorite recipe, but after a couple of batches we improvised a little with the spices. (It’s a family joke that my mom never follows a recipe exactly as printed. “Improv” is her middle name!) We love the final product!

Apple Butter

Start with 2 gallons of THICK unsweetened applesauce. You can purchase this, or you can make your own but use very little water. We made our own using my Victorio Food Strainer.

Add 14 cups sugar, 5 heaping teaspoons cinnamon, 1 heaping teaspoon nutmeg, and 1 heaping teaspoon of cloves. Mix well.

Put in a large roaster (we used my turkey roaster) and place in a low oven (300-325 degrees). Bake for 5-6 hours stirring every half hour or so.

The butter will thicken and turn a rich deep brown color.

Pour apple butter into pint jars, seal and process in a water bath canner for 10 minutes.

Makes about 15 pints.

We could only do one batch at a time in the oven, so we improvised (Yes, my mom is the Queen of Kitchen Improv!) We put the second batch in two crock pots uncovered on low overnight. By morning the butter was ready to put in jars and process.

We still had 2 batches that needed to be cooked. So I dug out my electric roaster and put the last 2 batches in it without a lid. It worked very well. It took the same amount of time as the oven, but we didn’t need to bend over to stir, the oven was free for the bread we needed to bake and we could do more than one batch at a time.

It was a marathon, but these will taste so good all winter!

Apple Toast: A Taste of Fall

With the cooler temperatures and shorter days, our appetites have started craving those wonderful fall comfort foods.

The apple harvest is plentiful this year and we have been feasting on our favorite apple dishes.

One of our breakfast favorites is apple toast.

Start with a slice of bread ( we used homemade whole wheat.) Butter it well.

Then core and slice a good baking apple. (You may peel it if you wish.) Keep the slices thin so they cook quickly!

Carefully layer the apples slices on top of the bread sprinkling cinnamon and sugar between each layer. (Pile them as high as you want!)

Finally, top the apple slices with shredded cheese. (We used cheddar).

Toast in a 400 degree oven until the bread is toasted, the cheese is melted and the apples are soft.

Yum! A delicious way to warm up a cool fall morning!

Changing Seasons, Changing Bird Feeders

I woke up this morning to the sounds of geese calling as they make their journey southward. The constant humming of the combine replaces the insistent chatter of insects and birds during my afternoon walk. It’s beginning to sound like fall. The temperature dipped down to below 40 degrees last night and we’ve dug out the sweatshirts and jeans. There’s a nip in the air as I hang the laundry. It feels like fall. The view from my farmhouse windows is more yellow and oranges than green. The sunsets are breathtaking, but earlier every evening. It even looks like fall. I love the change in seasons, the rush of the harvest, followed by the lull before winter. The falling leaves and the smell of the woodsmoke. It’s time to think about changing the bird feeders. Replacing the oriole and hummingbird feeders with the finch and peanut tube feeders. My favorites are from Woodlink, because they are strong, durable and beautiful. I’ll use both the mini-magnums and the copper series for fall and winter feeding, along with a few cedar feeders. You can find these find feeders at Just search under the garden and patio categories.