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Saturday, September 25, 2010

Honeysuckle Hill Farm

Today, the kids and I had to find something to do while Peter was at school (ALL day).  I decided that since the weather was nice, we should do something outdoors and when I found out that Honeysuckle's first day to be open was today, I loaded the kids in the car and headed to the middle of nowhere.  Seriously though, it's actually not a bad drive from Nashville.  Most of the drive was interstate and the turns off of the highway weren't confusing.  When we got close enough, there were even some really nice blue signs!
The kids enjoyed running through the corn maze, digging their toes into the corn box (a sand box without the sand, full of corn up to Alexander's knees; Charlotte actually didn't like this as much but I could have taken a nap lying in the corn.  It has nice cushion and forms to your body!), jumping on the corn popper, petting farm animals, riding the cow train, and doing duck races, plus lots more!  I highly recommend taking your family out to Honeysuckle Hill Farm, especially if it's a nice day!
Inside the kiddie corn maze (the big one was 7 acres and I wasn't up for it without a helper)

Charlotte NOT enjoying the corn box

Tonight, Alexander says to Peter, "Daddy, did you know that cotton grows on a plant?"
I'm going to have to take my children to farms more often!

It was difficult to climb these huge bales of hay!  Charlotte thought she wanted to try it until she realized what the hay felt like.  She's not big on getting dirty!

I wasn't surprised when Alexander made friends with a little girl who led him through this maze.

Charlotte made a friend, too!

Cow train!

Sweet brother!  He was so good and helpful all day today!   Again, maybe I should take them to farms more often!


Also, just thought I'd show you a picture of the pajama pants that I made for Alexander yesterday. He's been begging me to make something for him and I didn't think it would be fair to just make things for Charlotte when he's so appreciative. I won't be able to sew for him for very long so I'm making the most of it!

Friday, September 24, 2010

More apples!

I had a few more apples left from my trip to the orchard so I decided to test out a new recipe on our new lifegroup friends.  I think it went over well; Alexander and Charlotte took a few bites and Greg ate two big portions (sorry to call you out like that, Greg, but I figure you won't be reading this anyway).  I used a recipe from my one of my Grandmother's cookbooks.  The cookbook is called, "Women's Home Companion Cookbook" and it was published in 1944.  If you're looking to simplify your cooking life and eliminate things like processed foods and canned 'cream of' soups, I'd suggest trying to find a cookbook from your grandmother's time.  There are lots of recipes that sound quite delightful and not all of them use as much butter as Paula Deen!  Here's the recipe since most of you won't be able to turn to page 370 in your 60 year old cookbook!

Red baking apples, large, 3 (I used green because that's what I had)
Brown sugar, ½ cup (I used about ¼ cup)
Sweet potatoes, cooked and mashed, about 3 cups
Butter, 3 tablespoons (I only used about 1½T)
Cream, 3 tablespoons
(I also added some butternut squash because I had it and wasn't sure that I'd have enough filling)

Cut apples in half crosswise.  Remove core and seeds; sprinkle cavity with half of the brown sugar.
Place in a shallow pan containing a little water and bake in a hot oven (400°F) or steam over boiling water 10 to 20 minutes or until almost tender.  Scoop out pulp, leaving a shell about 1/2 inch thick, reserve pulp.
To hot mashed sweet potatoes, add apple pulp, butter and cream; season to taste (you could add cinnamon, allspice, clove, or anything else that tickled your fancy).  Beat until fluffy (I used my immersion blender for this).
Pile sweet-potato mixture lightly into apple shells or force through a decorating tube (my mixture was a little too runny to pipe into the shells, most likely due to the butternut squash).
Place in a shallow pan and sprinkle with remaining brown sugar; pour a little melted butter over tops.  Head under broiler or in a hot oven until lightly browned.  Makes 6 servings.

And because I know you haven't had enough apple recipes from me, tonight I'm making Dried Apple Rings using the recipe from "Put 'em Up", a new canning and preserving book that my Dad got me for my birthday.  So excited to try all the things in this book, although I'll probably have to wait until next spring/summer to use a lot of the recipes.  Here's the simple recipe!
6 (500 mg) tablets vitamin C, crushed
2 cups cold water
6 apples
Preheat the oven to 170°F
To prepare an antibrowning ascorbic-acid bath, dissolve the crushed vitamin C tablets in the water in a large bowl.  Peel and core the apples and cut into ¼-inch slices.  Add the apples slices to the acid bath as you cut them.  Soak for 10 minutes.
Pat the slices dry and arrange them on a metal screen or cake cooking rack and place the rack in the oven.  Prop open the oven door with a wooden spoon handle to enable moisture to escape.  Dry the apples in the oven until leathery, 3-4 hours.  The slices are fully dry when you can squeeze a handful and they don't stick together.
Cool the apple slices, and then condition them by transferring to a covered container and letting sit for 1 week.  This allows the dried fruit to redistribute any trapped moisture.  If you notice moisture on the sides of the container, repeat the drying process for another hour or so.  Fully dried apple rings keep in an airtight container for up to 1 year.

Here's a little P.S. for those of you who write your own blogs.  I found this HTML tutorial online tonight.  I was trying to figure out how to make the degree symbol ° and also wanted to be able to make fractions look correct. This dude has lots of great tips so I am happy to share his pdf with you!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Busy week!

It has been a very busy week!  I started two different sewing classes, one of which goes for three weeks and one that was all day Wednesday and Thursday.  My Monday night class is a basic construction class.  Some might wonder why I felt like I needed a basic construction class after all the sewing that I've done in the last few months.  I think that in this hobby of mine, I always have room to improve.  Also, there are things that I don't feel very comfortable doing on my own yet (um, buttonholes?).  So, in three weeks, I hope to post a picture of a cute red corduroy overall and a blouse.  I'll keep you updated on progress!
I need to gush about my time in class the last two days.  Our teacher was Leisl Gibson, the brains behind Oliver & S, and she was just fabulous.  If you ever get a chance to sew under her (rumor has it that she might make an appearance at a Martha Pullen sewing school; I can cross my fingers, right?), please do it!!  If you can't make it to a class, just grab a few of the Oliver&S patterns and get sewing!  The directions are very user friendly, even for those who haven't been sewing long!  Here's a picture of the Hopscotch knit shirt that I made today.  Do you like my new model?  I never have to worry about him wiggling and messing up my picture!
I still need hem it but it's nearly finished!  It was the first time that I have worked with knit and I'm pleased with the result.  It takes a little bit of getting used to the stretch of the fabric but I feel like I want to run out and buy a few more knits to pair with cute leggings for the fall.
I'm also working on finishing the School Photo Dress.  Here's a picture of Leisl and me with my unfinished dress.  Just need to set the sleeves and hem the dress and lining!  Too tired tonight to finish but maybe sometime this weekend?!

I wasn't just sitting around at the beginning of the week either!  I worked on this fall bunting using a tutorial I found on Funky Polkadot Giraffe.  I'm loving how it turned out and the kids helped me hang it from the mantle the other day.  Alexander thinks I need to make more decorations!

Sunday, September 19, 2010


I love when random people insist on taking family photos!  So happy that this one turned out halfway decent!
My dad was in town for Alexander's school's Grandparent's Tea so we decided to take a family outing to Cheekwood.  The weather was perfect on Saturday and we had a really good time exploring the Chihuly exhibit.  If you live in or near Nashville, you have no must get over to see this!  The kids really enjoyed it!  We took a lot of photos so I'll just leave you with a few of the best ones!

Thursday, September 9, 2010


It may not be the most catchy of blog titles but it sure does describe what we did all day long!  Alexander's kindergarten class went on their first field trip this morning.  They went to an apple orchard in Nolensville, Tennessee (about 25 minutes drive for those of you who aren't Nashville peeps).  They got to learn all about apples, cider, and even honey.  You can learn more about their trip on their class blog.
After I picked Alexander up from school, we peeled, cored, and sliced all of our apples.  We used my pampered chef tool, the apple peeler corer slicer which is a great piece of machinery!  It can do potatoes too!  Hey, and I don't even sell Pampered Chef stuff!  If you're one of my readers and you are a consultant, let me know and I'll put a link to your site on this page.  As you can tell, there was a lot of action going on during our prep time.  I am so thankful for the use of Sarah's camera but am ready to get mine back (hurry up, Dad!) as it captures action shots a little better.  Also, I'm used to my camera and am still getting used to Sarah's!
After prepping most of our apples, we made a batch of applesauce.  It's so easy, even you could do it if you had a little time!  You cook the apples with a little water, a little cinnamon, and I added a few cloves because I like them.  You wouldn't have to add them but I obviously did.  Cook these until they're fork tender and I mashed them up using my potato masher.  You can put them in a food processor or a food mill if you're so inclined.  You can also add sugar if you think that your sauce needs it.  Mine needed a little body so I added a tiny bit (seriously tiny, like 1/8 cup) of brown sugar.  These apples seemed to be pretty sweet on their own without much sugar.  I like that.  Next, I canned them.

Then, because we still had a huge number of apples left, I made another batch of applesauce which is now in my crock pot turning into apple butter.  I'll share a recipe with you if I can get permission from my friend, Angela.  She sent me the recipe a while back but I don't want to share without her blessing.  There are lots of good recipes out there, just do a search on Google, "How to make apple butter" and you'll probably get thousands of hits.  
And, because we didn't have enough apple stuff going on, I also made an apple pie.  I'm so full of Baja Burrito and miscellaneous apple products that I haven't even tried it.  Maybe for breakfast?

Ok, and last but not least, I had all these peels and cores left over from the apples and I felt like I didn't want to waste them.  Soooooooo.....
I'm making apple peel jelly.  I found this recipe  and am going to test it out.  I have already boiled the peels and cores and they are sitting on the stove now.  I'll work on the rest of the project tomorrow morning while the kids are in school.  Wow, that's exciting to say; both kids are in school tomorrow and I get a little bit of what my friend, Murray, referred to as "Mommy time!"
The end of apples.  For now.  

P.S.  My kids ate their dinners using wooden spoons tonight.  They thought this was hilarious.  I thought it was great that they ate without complaining.  Note to self, buy more wooden spoons.  

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Charlotte's First Day of school!!

Charlotte was so excited this morning as we walked into school.  She insisted on carrying her puppy dog lunch box and marched right into school.
I know it's hard to tell that she was happy and excited when you see these pictures.  You'll have to take my word for it.

I dropped her off and she seemed pleased to be playing in the room and immediately helped herself to several baby dolls (her favorite play-thing right now). 

I'm keeping my fingers crossed for Ms. Cricket (her teacher's nickname) right now because it's 'nap' time.  I wonder how that's going over with the kids in the class??  There are four girls, including Charlotte, and one boy in her Wednesday class.  The kids might change on Friday because some of them go Monday/Wednesday and some go Wednesday/Friday like Charlotte.  We'll have to wait and see. 
This was before she skinned her knee in the parking lot.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Reuasable sandwich and snack bags

The finished products
I've tried really hard the past year to use gladware instead of plastic baggies but sometimes it's just easier to stick some things in a bag.  So, I decided that I'd make a few reusable bags.  There are lots of tutorials out there but I chose this one.  I followed it step by step for the sandwich bag but my sewing machine kept arguing with me about the thickness of the fabric.  I even put a denim needle on the machine, right after I broke the other needle that I was using.  Anyhow, I decided that for the snack bags, I would sew them together a bit differently but I still used the tutorial, loosely.  Instead of making all of those hemmed edges, I sewed the plastic onto the right side of the fabric and left a hole at one end so I could turn it (just like you would do if you were making a lined garment).  It worked out pretty well.  I also added velcro closures to the snack packs.  I don't recommend using the velcro with the sticky back if you're going to sew it makes your needle all gummy and the sticky gets stuck on your fabric too.  However, if that's all you have, don't forget to clean your needle and presser foot when you're done. 
The inside of the bags.

I made some yummy dinner tonight.  It was a shepherd's pie but instead of regular mashed potatoes, I used sweet potatoes (they have more nutrients than the white ones).  I got the recipe from this month's Rachel Ray magazine.  I imagine that you could probably find the recipe online but I'm too lazy to find it.  Just thought I'd put the bug in your ear to try something different occasionally.  It can't hurt! 

Also, say a little prayer for me, Charlotte, and Ms. Cricket (Charlotte's mother's day out teacher).  Tomorrow is her first day of 'school'!  They go from 9:30-2:30 which means that they take a nap while they're there.  I think she'll have a good time but the routine will take some learning and getting used to.  I'm sure that I'll post a few pictures of our sweet girl tomorrow after I drop her off.  Stay tuned!

**And a special thank you to Sarah for loaning us her camera while mine is being held hostage by my Dad! 

Monday, September 6, 2010

I'm home!

I had a good time with Dad and Charlotte in Mexico but am so, so glad to be home sleeping in my own bed, cooking in my kitchen, and sitting at my sewing machine.  I haven't done much crafting but I sure have done a lot of cooking since I got home!  I promised a couple recipes to people so here they are:

Roasted, Stuffed Eggplant (This turned out great and was a hit with the whole family; the kids devoured their portions!)  I found this recipe on our CSA's recipe website but thought it would be easier if I put it here too. They do have some fabulous recipes on their site so you should check it out.  I highly recommend the chocolate chip zucchini bread!

2 Eggplants (16 oz each)
2 T extra virgin olive oil
1/2 large onion
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic
1 lb extra lean ground beef
1 1/2 t dried oregano (or 3 t fresh)
1/2 C tomato sauce
1/2 C (2 oz) grated parmesan cheese
1/4 t salt
1/4 t pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 

Pierce eggplants in 2 or 3 places and place on baking sheet. Roast, 20 minutes, turning once or twice until tender. When cool enough to handle, halve lengthwise and scoop out pulp, leaving 1/4" to 1/2" shell. Chop pulp and let drain. 

Meanwhile, heat 1 t of oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and bell pepper and cook, stirring occasionally for 8 minutes. Add garlic and beef and cook for 5 minutes, or until beef is no longer pink. Still in eggplant pulp, oregano, and tomato sauce. Reduce heat to low, and cook for 15 minutes. Stir in 1/4 cup of cheese, salt and pepper. 

Place eggplant shells on baking sheet. Evenly divide beef mixture among the shells. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and drizzle with remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Roast for 15 minutes or until lightly browned on top. 

I served grilled okra with this meal.  Just take your fresh okra (emphasis on fresh; no bruises or soft spots), brush with butter, sprinkle with salt and grill on high for 3 minutes on each side.  The okra come out really tasty and not at all mushy or slimy.  

Here's my 'tart' that I baked in a shallow cake pan!
So, that meal was last night and I was just so excited to be cooking that I decided to be adventuresome tonight as well.  I made a cherry tomato tart, roasted acorn squash, and I honey roasted some peanuts.  The tart recipe idea I got from my friend Carrie (she's my inspiration for a lot of my ideas!) and she actually got the recipe here.  The acorn squash was cut in half, roasted meat side down on a cookie sheet for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.  Then, I took it out, brushed on a little butter and sprinkled a little brown sugar.  I put them meat side up and put them back in the oven for another 30 minutes or so.  If you have one of those fancy butane torches, I think it would be super fun (did I just type super fun?) to crystalize the sugar on the top of these at the end of the cooking time.  Alas, I do not have one of the fancy butane torches, nor do I need one, so mine weren't crystalized.  They were still very good.
The peanuts were certainly an experiment.  I wanted to just roast them and then eat them but roasting them with the shells on seems to be hit or miss.  Most of mine didn't get done enough inside (so they were mushy) but were too brown on the outside.  So, I shelled all of them and then loosely followed this recipe.  Now, they're the right texture and they taste yummy too!

As soon as I get my camera back from my Dad, I'll post a few Mexico pictures!  I'm going to miss my camera for the next two weeks and I image that you all will suffer as well.  All I'll have are pictures from my iPhone (which was found by TSA at the Cincinnati airport, thank goodness!).