Monthly Archives: November 2014

garden update and CSA box

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We’ve had a number of hard frosts and freezes already this fall.  The fig tree, mulberry tree, and my ginger lilies look very sad.  I have not yet checked out how the vegetable garden fared after this latest cold spell, but I am hopeful that the carrots made it through, since that is the only real harvest from the garden right now, and will be sweeter for it.

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I have never had so many carrots in my garden before and I love it.  I hope to make a carrot soup tonight, and I hope the it goes over better with the children than the winter squash soups have done.  We have eaten lots of fresh carrots and roasted carrots, also.

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The garlic us up, but I have given up on the turnips – they are now a cover crop to be turned into the soil in the spring.  I think I did not order the best (i.e. sweetest) variety to plant.  I also planted some radishes a month or so ago and since I planted so many and we are not prolific radish eaters, they got left in the garden to grow.  And grow they did.  These are the biggest radishes I’ve ever seen!  I’ve not cut one open yet.  I doubt they are edible.

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One of my favorite late fall/winter trees is the Witchhazel.  We have two trees beside our house and I love the bright yellow starburst on their branches.  A sunny, natural decoration in this greyish landscape.  I love it!

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And, finally, I wanted to show off the last of the CSA boxes I have been getting from my sister- and brother-in-law (Annie and Isaiah).  They own and run Flying Cloud Farm here in Fairview, 1.5 miles from our house.  It is a 10 acre well-run, beautiful, organic (but not certified) fruit, flower, and vegetable farm.  I’ve never bought a CSA box from the farm because we have a fairly large garden and I can easily supplement from their fabulous produce nearly all year long.  But, this fall Annie gave me one of their extended season CSA boxes.  They have been packed full of gorgeous broccoli, greens, winter squash, and root vegetables.  We can eat through it all in less than a week, though I do have a bag of turnips in the refrigerator and three huge acorn squash on my counter, accumulating from past weeks.

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Yesterday, I got a cookbook that I am excited about – called Farmer and Chef Asheville.  Annie Louise (my sister-in-law) has a recipe in it!  It will be made tonight with those lovely greens above.

Collard Greens in Coconut Milk

1 (14 oz) can coconut milk

1 medium onion, peeled and chopped

6 cloves garlic

2 T minced fresh ginger

1/2 t crushed red pepper

2 bunches collards, stems removed and torn (I like to chop- almost in large chiffonade, though I am sure that is not culinarily correct)

1/2 t each salt and pepper

Pour 1/4 cup coconut milk in large skillet, heat to a simmer.  Add the onion, garlic, ginger, and crushed pepper.  Saute for 3 minutes.  Add the greens and pour over the remaining coconut milk, stirring to coat the greens.  Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.  Stir in salt and pepper.

 

from out to in

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It is supposed to be very cold here tomorrow – down to 12 degrees.  And, as the temperatures have been dropping, we’ve started the transfer of lots of play time outside to lots of play time inside.  We’ve already had our first snowfall. As much as I wish we could be outside (or I could easily send the children outside!), the bitter cold does not allow it for very long. We try to dress warmly, but for little ones especially, it can be hard. So, our days are filling with more inside activities – games, arts and crafts, trucks, building blocks, train tracks, and lots of books. Being more confined to the inside makes this house feel much smaller also. Something we all have to get used to again. It can be loud and messy with little arguments popping up more quickly. We try to find our “quiet” spots, try to pick up our projects and toys (except for the 2 yo who is by far the messiest!), try to help out and sometimes be out of the way – try to make this HOME.

The boys and I were out on a hike enjoying the last of the fall color last week.  Today was mostly inside with blocks, dress up, art projects.

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knit projects

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My maternal grandmother knit, but sewing was really her talent.  Her mother (known as Nana), though, was a knitter.  It seems she was always knitting, annually turning out sweaters for all children and grandchildren.  I still have clothes hangers she knit covers on, and they are the best because they are thick, sturdy, and clothes do not slip off of them.   I have a small bin filled with little sweaters she knit for my mother and aunts, which my children have worn, and their children will wear.

I learned to knit when I was in college – from a friend of mine.  She taught me how to make hats and I never stopped.  They are such easy, quick projects.  I remember knitting with my grandmother during my freshman year spring break.  My grandmother seemed amused, but happy, that I was knitting.  And, she critiqued by technique – apparently I was a very slow knitter and if I did it the way she did, I would be faster.  I could not get my fingers to work like hers, so I went back to what I could do.  Over the years, I changed my way of knitting, or really of holding the yarn, to try to be more like what she did.  I don’t think I am there yet!

I put the craft of knitting aside for a few years when my babies seemed to grow faster than the sweaters I attempted to make for them.  But, occasionally I have made my children (and myself) hats to ward off the winter chill.  And, nearly every time I make a hat for one of them, it disappears within a few months, never to be seen again.  This has been discouraging, but I decided recently, that my job may be to make hats every year with the expectation that they will not be around by the end of winter.  Just enjoy making the hats, enjoy seeing them worn, keeping small heads warm –  just for a while.

So, I am getting back into knitting.  I’ve started on my first hat of the winter for Evva.  I also have skeins of yarn bought at the Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair set aside for Hythe and Anne.  So far, I love this merino combo yarn by the The Verdant Gryphon.  It is soft, not at all itchy (a bit concern for Evva), and really beautiful.  But, dang!  Good yarn is really expensive!

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I also, recently, finished a shawl for myself.  I have never had a shawl, feeling that it was too old-lady-like.  But, I really liked this pattern, got a bunch of nice yarn for very cheap and decided to try it.  I like it and I’ve even worn it once already.

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My other knitting project is a lap blanket for our couch.  Made from 16 skeins of linen/cotton blend, 12 of which I dyed with natural dyes.  I am only only on color 2 right now (6 skeins in), so I’ve a ways to go.

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So, for you knitters out there:  I would like to make a sweater for myself.  What nice, natural fiber yarns (brands, etc.) can I use that won’t cost a fortune?

good (Sunday) morning

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Such a gorgeous morning today.  Perfect for a late-ish breakfast outside just after the sun came over the mountain.  Today, and for the next few days, we’ll enjoy that perfect fall weather – not too cold during the day- warm even, chilly at night, with lots of sun.  I am planning to enjoy it.  Hope you do too!

The children started out playing pretend games outside (with a few of their new acquisitions, Amanda!).  Then,we biked and played and cleaned and visited and enjoyed each other and a few friends.  I even got a few minutes to read my own book by myself on the porch swing – such a treat.  A great way to spend a Sunday.  It made me remember that important idea of Sunday as a day of rest.  Despite all of what we did today, it really felt like a day of rest.  And, I needed that.

weekend excitement

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This past weekend began with the excitement of Halloween.  All the children were anticipating dressing up and deciding what exactly they were going to wear.  Since the weather was turning cold, we also had the challenge of what to wear with the costumes to stay warm.  Anne was still debating what she was going to be on Friday and even changed clothes/costumes halfway through trick-or-treating.  She started as a German bar maiden, but after she got a very puzzled expression from the first person who asked her what she was, she changed her story to “Laura Ingalls” and got rid of the beer stein.  Halfway through the night (after the horseback ride), she changed into regular clothes and said she was a teenager, hippy, or spy, depending on who asked her.  Evva, was of course, Pippi Longstocking – her current favorite book character.  Hythe went as a race car driver, and Steven as a bee (costume courtesy of a friend and neighbor).

Evva asked a few weeks ago if they could go trick-or-treating on horseback.  Anne and Hythe were enthusiastic and I got it arranged with William’s aunt to borrow a few of her horses.  It was a fun little ride (William and I actually walked–good exercise!) and they made it to 6 houses and the farm store.  Since we left early enough to not be riding in the dark, we ate supper after putting the horse back at the barn, and had time to caravan with a group of friends to the rest of the neighbors who were just a little too far to ride horses to.  Lots of candy was got by all!

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We woke up the next day to this:

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Nearly 3.5″ of snow – and it snowed all day, though the temps were above freezing so the snow on the ground melted as more floated down.  It was a beautiful overcast day and the children had lots of fun playing in the snow.  I stayed inside much of the day, cooking and cleaning – but, I did get out for a few walks to enjoy the fall/winter scenery.

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We had a Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) party on Saturday night with lots of friends making it over despite the cold.  Everyone brought a dish to honor a dead loved one.  It was fun and special and made me remember how much I enjoy being with friends – and how it takes effort to make those gatherings with friends happen in our full busy lives.  I want to do it more often.

My favorite view from inside the house is this sink.  Nearly always surrounded by dishes to be washed or put away – typical in this household of many eaters.  But that view makes it much more enjoyable to complete those tedious tasks.  (we need to get some bird seed!)

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