A Subtle Shift

It seems that at each turn of the season I feel the need to start anew.  I think this has become even more of a necessity now that I stay home and homeschool my girls.  Because our home is where we work, play and educate, there is a more constant need to refresh, even if it is just a subtle shift.

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As a means of bridging our transition between summer and fall, the girls and I have been trying to bring in fresh flowers each day from our garden.  It is a true blessing to have this beautiful, natural color in our sights as the mercury begins to dip.

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A quick family room face lift has also helped usher in this new season.  It’s amazing what a fresh coat of paint can do to change the entire mood of a room.

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As I mentioned a few weeks back, we have an abundance of home-grown pumpkins, so those gorgeous orbs are finding their way into many indoor and outdoor arrangements, as well as into many new recipes.

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Our reading material has also been refreshed.  With a little help from Ms. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child has whisked our whole family away to a magical land each evening.

And after the girls are asleep, Glennon Doyle Melton’s Love Warrior fills my heart in a way no other book has.  As I wrote about here, when my mom was ill, her book Carry On, Warrior shone a light on my experience that helped me through those most difficult, excruciating months of my life.  But I believe her new novel, although raw and often emotionally difficult to get through, is giving me the tools I need to make it through the next fifty years of my life by imparting me with a whole new outlook on life, love, truth-telling and grace.

I hope each of you feels refreshed as you enter this new season, ready to embark upon many new fall adventures.

 

 

Fall Preparations

With frost now hitting our area in the evenings, this little family of mine has been rushing about, making final preparations for late fall.  I really do love this time of year because at this point, I am ready to nestle in and do a bit of indoor work (reading, crocheting, sewing) instead of the manual labor that is involved with a large garden during the warm months of the year.  I am so thankful that we live in an area that experiences all four seasons.  It gives us a chance to let our bodies and souls rest and rejuvenate before starting the growing season again the next year.

Our first order of business was to bring in all of our herbs.  These seem to be the first of our plants to get hit with frost, so they topped our priority list.  The girls and I picked our basil, oregano, sage and thyme and then dried it in our food dehydrator.  Once the herbs were dried I ran them through a quick whirl in the spice grinder and put them in Mason jars. We store our dried spices in our spare refrigerator for the winter.  The herbs keep very well storing them this way, and we have found it saves us a great deal of money in the winter months to have all of these herbs on stand by.

Next came the tomatoes.  Oh those tomato plants…All 36 of them.  I must admit, I was dreading this activity this fall.  Good thing I had a little helper by my side to keep me company and do some of the manual labor 🙂  We first picked all of the remaining ripened tomatoes.  Then we harvested all of those lovely green tomatoes (a recipe to come tomorrow), and took down all of the cages and composted the vines.

I received some garlic seed from my mother-in-law, so that went into some of the empty beds that had been cleared a few weeks ago.  Hopefully the seed makes it because a certain little kitty cat keeps wanting to dig it up.  We shall see if this little garlic venture is fruitful come next year.

We are trying something new this year for weed control.  Gardening is quite the effort in trail and error and each year we seem to fail in this department.  Last year, we planted annual rye grass in each of our beds.  The rye grass was suppose to act as a ground cover to help deter weeds, die off in the winter months, and leave the soil enriched with nitrogen and provide excellent compost to till in come spring.  Well, we didn’t get much of a hard frost last winter, so the rye did not die off.  Instead, we were left with garden beds filled with two foot high, green rye grass.

This year we are just aiming for weed control and plan to add compost to our beds in the early spring.  We stopped by our favorite local coffee roasters that I mentioned in this post, and got a bunch of burlap coffee bags.  I cut these and used them to cover each of our beds that will remain dormant for the winter.

And now we venture into the unknown with our fall/winter garden we added this year.  For now, it seems to be surviving the frosty evenings just fine and we should be able to start harvesting in the very near future.  A new adventure waits in the valance.  I can’t wait!

Apple Sauce

A sure fire sign that fall is upon us is when we start to find apples popping up here and there at the farmers’ markets.  Last week, we found our very favorite farming family at market with their tables loaded down with the most beautiful apples.  There were Cortlands, Jonathans, Honey Crisps, and Crimson Crisps.  Each more delicious than the next.

With all of this goodness to choose from, the girls and I decided it was high time to start making apple sauce.  So yesterday, with much fanfare and hullabaloo, we began our apple-sauce-making soiree.

The girls did all the work, while I took pictures and drunk in the sounds of 2Cellos on the IPad.  They used our very favorite apple peeler/corere/slicer to do the majority of labor, and then took turns adding some yummy local honey and spicy cinnamon to the mix.  We make our apple sauce in our slow cooker, so we just set it and forget it 🙂

A few hours later, once the aroma of the sweet and tangy apples, floral honey and spiced cinnamon fill the air, we have the perfect apple sauce for our family’s liking.  Fall is here.

Fall Planting and Harvest

Upon our return from Disney, it was to the garden we went for some fall harvesting and some more planting.  We came home to our second round of beans, ready and waiting for us on the vine.  They were a very welcomed surprise after eating a bit too much non-homegrown food on our trip.

There were also about 80 tomatoes begging to be picked, and a whole lot of raspberries ripe and ready for a little princess to pick for her afternoon snack.

We then set to planting our new beds with some cold-hardy greens.  We are hoping to add a hoop house or some type of low tunnel over these beds once the frost sets in. (Even though that seems very far off at the moment, as I listen to my air conditioner humming at this precise moment, when it is a whopping 90 degrees again today.)