Saturday, August 31, 2013

eggs

A new friend mentioned that she had a bunch of chickens, and more eggs than they could use.  I jokingly (?) said I would gladly take them.  I have a kid that would eat scrambled eggs every day of the week if we made them.  So she invited me to stop by and get some, and she wasn't kidding.  I left with eggs by the two dozen, and that barely dented the collection in the fridge!  Of course, I was as excited about the pictures I could take with these lovely little gems as I was at the prospect of fresh, free range, free eggs!!  And as I was contemplating photo ideas, I remembered that I had recently found an abandoned nest on the ground.  (There are also brown and beige eggs.)  


7684 blue eggs

Saturday, August 24, 2013

greens from the garden

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I went to my local local grocer's to buy local cucumbers.  Of course, we canned them!  I find that pickles are one of the easiest things to put up, although the vinegar smell does linger in the house.  This is my most requested canned good item, from friends and husband, and BFJ opened the last jar of last year's pickles a week or two ago.  I don't want to have a disappointed spouse for the next year so I stopped and got some cucumbers.  I actually planted what I thought would be a bed of cucumbers, but it turns out that only two or three of the plants are actually producing cucumbers, while another two are producing what appear to be mutant pumpkin hybrids.  And I'm not sure what happened to the rest of the plants I thought I had.  Sad.  The lemon cucs are doing better but are in the corners of the other beds.

The jalapenos and other peppers and goodies did come from my garden, though, and I did make a couple small jars of home-grown stuff.  I'm not sure how the lemon cucumbers will serve (bet you can tell which one that is!)  My mother-in-law brought a jar's worth of cucumbers last week, as well.  

We had pesto and grilled chicken last night - a family favorite, yum, yum.  It goes fast!  

Shown:  basil pesto, dill, tomatillo, two zucchinis, lemon cucumber, three jalapenos, two pablano peppers, and one runty cucumber from the garden.  Even runty, the homegrown cucumbers are delicious!   

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Spiced Peach Preserves

I have a friend who received some Spiced Peach Preserves from me last year, and she inquired recently whether I'd be making more this year.  I answered that I was not sure, as it is hard to can with store-bought fruit after you've received organic, homegrown, best-you-ever-tasted peaches.  Obviously I would love some more of those peaches, but unfortunately my in-laws' peach tree was hit hard with a late frost this past spring, as were many fruit trees in Colorado.  My local farmer's market had some lovely peaches on a day when I didn't have time to can, and assured me that they'd have more the next week.  They didn't!  So previously mentioned friend asked her brother to pick up a box on his way through Palisades last week, and she gave them to us in exchange for some finished jars, and a little lesson in canning.  Isn't that nice?

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I decided to blog the recipe so that you can use it, and I can find it here again! 


Spiced Peach Preserves
Recipe adapted from Sweet Preservations, original recipe here
  • 10 cups peaches
  • 5 cups sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. cloves
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 lemon, zested
  1. Sterilize canning jars. Combine peaches, sugar, spices and lemon juice & zest and slowly bring to boiling, stirring occasionally.
  2. Cook rapidly until thick, about 15 to 25 minutes; stir frequently to prevent sticking.
  3. Pour hot preserves into hot jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Wipe jar rims and adjust lids. Process 10 minutes (high altitude) in a boiling water bath.
  4. Allow jars to sit undisturbed for at least 12 hours before moving them.
Yields roughly 16 - 4 oz jars, or 8 half-pint (8 oz) jars
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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

in Minnesota

I should finish up my story about our trip to Minnesota, right?

Friday
We arrived at Camp Friday afternoon.  A few other people were there, and we went in and said hi, and figured out where we should park. But before anything else, the boys and I headed right down the path to the lake!  There were a couple of cousins I knew, along with one of their kids.  Before you know it, shoes were off, boys were out on the dock, feet were in the water.

As more people arrived, we had a fun time meeting everyone and figuring out how we were related.  The evening was hot and humid, and there were definitely lots of mosquitoes.  I was beginning to wonder if we were going to have two days of misery ahead of us!  Eventually, the boys ended up in the lake, shorts and all, and had a great time with new cousins.  Really, that's what we came for, so mission accomplished.  

a path off the path... where does it go?
0974 meadow in the forest

We slept in bunks, and it was not the most comfortable arrangement - for one thing, we did not bring the best bedding; but a few hours of swimming makes a boy sleep well, and everyone bunked in and did fine.  

Saturday
BFJ and some of the boys went down to the lake early in the morning, and scared up some loons who gracefully skimmed off into the fog. The first thing I did on Saturday was get dressed and take an early walk through the forest with BFJ. Every step smelled like Christmas trees, fresh and piney.  We spotted lots of interesting fungus and I was thrilled to find not one, but three, beautiful spiderwebs, with great backgrounds and beautiful lighting.  What more can a photographer ask for?

bracket fungus and lichen
1168 lichen and bracket fungus

spiderweb... you probably knew that
1237 spiderweb

We went to breakfast and then right down to the lake.  We spent several hours there, wading, swimming, canoeing, boating...  Pretty much, we spent the day on the lake.  BFJ and I attempted a four-person canoe ride which threatened to dump us all in the water, and was short-lived.  Then, my dad gave me a canoe lesson and we went around a small island - you can actually see it in this photo of some of the kids jumping off the dock!

1269 five in

We all got rides on the speed boats, supplied by Cousin Greg and Cousin Darrell, and four of us got rides on the inner tube things pulled behind the boats.  My parents even tried it, and they also had a canoe ride.  We ended the day with a luau with 90-ish relatives, and a white elephant gift exchange which was fun, but I think we'll all remember the water most!

Sunday
A rainy morning was highlighted by a pair of bald eagles that sat in the dead tree just outside the mess hall.  I think just about everyone spent a few minutes getting wet for a good long observation of the beautiful birds.  We had a family church service with a musical special from Cousin Heather's family and a lesson by my dad.   The rain continued through the afternoon, and made pictures difficult, but we did get a family picture of each branch of the family.  We spent a little more time visiting, and had lunch.

Eventually, the seven of us (we five and my parents) packed up and headed to Duluth.  We stopped in to our hotel and unloaded, then went to Canal Park on the west side of Lake Superior.  We really enjoyed the water, the beach, and the atmosphere in general.  We took a ride on a seven-passenger surrey-type bike, powered by four of us on pedals.  Interesting, to say the least!  We went out to a small lighthouse on the seven-person vehicle, then had some dinner overlooking the lake, and best of all, if you ask BFJ, we watched a large ship pass through the channel, under the Aerial Lift Bridge!  

We stopped at a souvenir shop where my dad had a t-shirt made, and the boys acquired slingshots.  And we made it back to our hotel room in time to enjoy the hotel swimming pool before bed.

Lake Superior
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ship in the channel
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Monday
The next morning, we packed up for the drive back to Lincoln, but first, we stopped at Brighton Beach.  Luckily we had three handy slingshots, and enjoyed skipping rocks and shooting rocks into the water.  Low-hanging clouds made it difficult to see much out on the water, but a few yachts passed by.  It was a beautiful morning, and made for some memorable pictures.

Brighton Beach 
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With a short stop at the Mall of America, we made it to Lincoln and halfway home.  On Tuesday, we enjoyed a fairly uneventful trip back to Colorado.  And there you are, our weekend in Minnesota!  For a quick little trip to a family reunion, we really enjoyed ourselves.  You can see my whole set of pictures here, including more spiderwebs, more fungus, more rocks, more water.

Best moments:  knitting with my mom in the car - well, she was crocheting, running into a deer in the forest with Zoom, canoeing with my dad, and walking through a mysterious forest with my best friend.  And watching my kids play in a lake with their cousins.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

back yard

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A garden

with bees IMG_5535

and pumpkins
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and birds! IMG_5550

And of course, some knitting.
5557 Pressed Leaves