Monday, September 23, 2013

Fall Fun

The pantry is filling with the produce of summer. The plants produced lots of tomatoes after all and they are still ripening. I love being in the kitchen putting up the produce knowing that we will appreciate it this winter.
This includes marinara sauce, spicy ketchup, apple rosemary syrup, strawberry peach jam,peach jam and blushing plum pear jam.

The basket on the left holds black cherry tomatoes which have a rich and complex flavor and as you can see they are black! You must try them, they are sweet and delicious. I grew all heirlooms again this year and there is no better taste anywhere.

The pullets are laying and every day we get more. I now have 15 hens and I'm getting between three and five a day. The basket above is two days worth. Soon they will all be laying. They are such a nice bunch of hens, calm and friendly.

When Mark was selling off our hens we got last year to cull our flock, even the babies that Mark raised from eggs were sold except for one that the buyer thought might be a rooster. One day Buddy brought an egg and laid it at my feet in the lawn. It was a guinea egg so he obviously found their nest. Mark placed the egg under the setting hen with the black copper Marans eggs and a guinea was hatched too. After everything was sold, we ended up with the one I mentioned above and the guinea and now they are best friends. They have since been integrated into The Dot House and they are getting along with the other 15 pullets there. I love the amount of chickens I have now - just enough to get to know them and the work is manageable.

The sedums are so lovely in the fall with their deepening pink color. One of my fall treasures that were a gift a few years ago from my friend, Connie B. I love them and so do the bumblebees!

Happy Fall,

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Night Moves

Our friend and neighbor, Dick, has shared more pictures from his land where he has cameras throughout his property. I love seeing these wild creatures...


A close-up 


So much happens in the wild when we aren't around. It is awesome.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Summers Bounty

The tomatoes have finally ripened and I'm bringing in two huge baskets nearly every day. This first bounty brought six quarts of marinara sauce and four pints of ketchup. We are enjoying the fresh tomatoes and I've frozen many whole. This winter will be more delicious because of this bounty.

The peaches and pear are from our fruit trees. This year we got eight delicious juicy peaches and so far one pear - the other two aren't ripe enough yet to pick! Not a big crop but our first, so exciting.

Another beautiful basket of ripe tomatoes.

My beautiful granddaughter, Kelsey, giving some love before she leaves for Chicago and her new job. We wish her a wonderful life. Mark and I had two precious days with Kelsey and her Mom, Sandra, on their way to move Kelsey to her new home. We so enjoy their company.

My special "girls", Kelsey and Sandra. Visits from family and friends are part of the summers bounty.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Fourth Summer Visit with Sasha, Nina and Jake

Our young California friends were back for their fourth summer visit and we had a wonderful time. Before getting to Nebraska, the kids had an amazing summer visiting relatives in the Czech Republic plus visiting Austria with friends, then Indiana with Grandma Ann and Grandpa Jim and finally to Nebraska with us. They were ready for some country time and slow play.

The first day after arriving, I brought out my high school junior and senior prom dresses that I designed and made. The girls had fun trying them on and modelling. I also gave them my wedding dress and lace shoes. Sasha is 13 so she fit in the prom dresses quite well. Both girls had such a fun time with the dresses and as you can see twirled and whirled.
Sasha in my junior prom dress (vintage 1965)

Nina in my senior prom dress (vintage 1966)
Sasha twirling in my wedding dress while
Jake is spinning lettuce dry for supper's salad
As is our tradition, we spent alot of time in the kitchen baking and making meals. Sasha and Nina baked a raspberry and strawberry pie from scratch by themselves. I am so proud of those girls. Their baking skills are exceptional for their age and all three love to make things in the kitchen.

The first evening's supper was Blueberry
Steak Salad. Here is Jake cooking the steak
on the salt block. He had fun and did a great
job. The salad is delicious.
The girls putting the finishing touches on their
berry pie. I am so proud of them that now they
can make their own flaky crust (frankly better
than mine!). They have as much fun doing it as
I do.
The beautiful finished product - Wow!
Jake and Sasha making 'dirty feet'
from the leftover pie dough. I have
a footprint cookie cutter that we
use and finish them with cinnamon
sugar to make them "dirty".
I started making 'dirty feet' for the kids when they were very small and they loved the idea of it and of course the taste. It is now a pie making tradition in our family.

Jake making scrambled eggs
This year Jake spent the most time with me in the kitchen making meals. He's turning into a good cook and gaining confidence in the kitchen. He also made salmon pockets where we cooked the salmon with some veggies in foil that he'll be able to replicate for his family.

Nina made oatmeal chocolate chip cookies
Payback time! Years past, Mark would always chase the
kids with shaving cream, this year they got him back
with toothpaste - OMG!
We made a return visit to their favorite place in Grand Island, The Stuhr Pioneer Museum. They love the 'log cabin' set up for play with costumes and everything. Their play was like watching a movie.
Nina tending the babydoll and Jake getting
into Pioneer costume.
Sasha watering the windowbox of flowers
Nina in full costume - love the boots!
Even a buckboard wagon...
Nina scrubs the clothes while Sasha rocks
the baby
The NE kids are back in school so our kids had the entire place to themselves for two hours. It was great fun.

Cold Stone Creamery, what's not to love?
Nina's face says it all.
Buddy, Jake and Nina playing in the sprinkler
Buddy loves to drink from the sprinkler,
Jake thought it was hilarious
It was so hot when the kids were here that the sprinkler was a fun way to be outside and still comfortable. Buddy loves to play in the sprinkler when there is someone to play with, so this was a big day for him.

When you are eight, mowing is fun. Well, actually, it's fun at 65 too for some of us! I'm not sure why, but I love to mow. Jake did a great job.

Sasha deadheaded all six rose bushes.
Our friend and neighbor, Dick, took
Jake for a ride on his ATV. It looks
like Jake was doing the driving!
The kids are experienced riders with horses of their own at home. They live in the country in the hills north of Los Angeles. They were needing to do some riding so they asked Mark if they could go on a trail ride. They had fun with Mark and Buddy.
Saddled up for the trail ride
Ready to go (Sasha 13, Jake 8, Nina 10)
Leaving the ranch for the trail ride
Important quiet time after all the travel
Every evening we played a couple games of Oh Hell and it was a blast. These kids are good card players and have the banter to go along with it which makes it so fun. Mark and Nina were the winners. Jake was usually in second and Sasha and I were vying for last place.
Serious concentration while bidding
We're always sad to see the kids go and the time goes so quickly. Off to Denver to stay with Aunt Sandi for the night and then to the airport for the trip home - at last! Summer 2013 was memorable.
For a look at my 1965 prom dress on me in 1966, check this out. I was chosen as South Dakota's state representative in the DECA Sweetheart competition. DECA stood for Distributive Education Clubs of America. It was a high school work study program. The competition included multiple interviews but also the formal dressup portion for poise etc. I got to go to Chicago for the Nationals and it was my very first plane ride as a senior in HS! Times have changed!