Thursday, October 31, 2013

Cinderella Pumpkin

I've talked before about how I grew a Cinderella Pumpkin in the garden this year.  Usually they are quite large, but mine was about the same size as a pie pumpkin.  I decided to cook it yesterday, and I was pleasantly surprised by how very thick the flesh is in this pumpkin.  The seed cavity is very small, and although this pumpkin was only about the size of a pie pumpkin, it gave me more puree.  Usually, I count on getting between 2 and 3 cups of puree from a pie pumpkin, but the Cinderella gave me a about 4 1/2 c.  I saved some of the seeds so I can grow more next year.  I think I need to put some compost in the soil at planting time, and maybe my pumpkins will be even bigger.  But even if I get small ones again, it is still a large quantity of good quality puree.

I used a cup of the pumpkin in beef and barley stew last night ( and I plan on making pumpkin muffins today with another cup (  I need to make a dessert for the church bazaar, so I think I'll make a pumpkin roll with the rest.  I really do love cooking with pumpkin, and I've found that there are a number of things I like to use it for!

And yes, I realize that it's Halloween!   The boys are excited that they get to dress up for school today.  Technically, it is "book character" dress up day, but since Elijah is Harry Potter and Malachi is Hedwig (Harry's snowy owl), they can wear the costumes they plan on wearing for trick-or-treating anyway.  I will post more costume pictures this weekend.  They have postponed trick-or-treating here until tomorrow night because we are supposed to get some really bad weather this evening.  The kids were disappointed, but not too much, since it's just a one day delay.  And they won't have to worry about getting to bed at a reasonable time, either, since it won't be a school night.  So, Happy Halloween everyone!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Fall Break

Last week was fall break, so we headed to town to visit family.  Just look at the cuteness I got to cuddle:

 We also attended a bonfire, complete with costumes, so here is a Halloween preview:

And the sweet baby wore the turtle costume Nathaniel bought him.  So cute!

We also visited a farm.  The kids posed for pictures on these giant pumpkins.  They also played in the hay barn, and petted some animals in the small petting area.  We enjoyed apple cider and bought a couple of pie pumpkins to take home.

The week wasn't totally fun, though.  Lydia had croup, and now Elijah has a bad cold.  But we were so happy to get to visit!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Pumpkins and Runners

Yesterday was a busy and fun day for us.  First up, Lydia had her class field trip to the pumpkin patch.  It was drizzling, so raincoats were in order.  It didn't damper the mood!

Lydia had fun with friends!

Here she is in the pumpkin patch.  She found her pumpkin right away, and we were good to go.  When we got back to the farm store, my friend and I decided to go ahead and do the u-pick for apples.  We were already damp, so what's a little more?  We and our girls headed to the patch, where it promptly started raining for real.  We still picked half a bushel each.  When you're already wet and having a good time, why bother stopping?!  There weren't very many apples left on the trees, so we tramped around up and down the rows to find enough apples and ended up with several different kinds.  There weren't any russets left, but there were some for sale in the store, so I bought a peck of those.  We really love that kind, and they are the only type of apple that Malachi currently eats.

Our pumpkin/apple adventure wore Lydia out, and she fell asleep on the way home.  Luckily, her raincoat and boots kept her totally dry underneath, so it was not a big deal to roll her into bed after those came off.  Then, after a too-short nap, we started looking forward to the last cross country race of the season.  We headed to school with plenty of time before the race started so we wouldn't miss anything.  Because of all the rain and mud, they ran around the paved bus dock, and their times all dropped by a minute!  Elijah got first (as always) with a time of 6:18.  Malachi finally managed to claim third with a time of 7:09.  Fourth place was only one second behind him.  He was so proud to get his medal!

Afterwards, they had pizza and cake for the kids.  They also all got trophies and certificates.  I'm not a fan of giving kids trophies every time they participate in a sport, so I wasn't too thrilled to see those, but the boys were happy, of course.  (They also get trophies for every Y soccer season, etc.)

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Garden Summary

Well, the garden is about done here.  I do still have some broccoli growing, and some peas and herbs, but most of the vegetables are done.  I've been letting the chickens graze in the big garden.  They love that!  The small garden still has the broccoli and peas, but the tomatoes are done.  The chickens frequently escape into that garden, too, but then Katie scares them back to the other yard.  She loves chasing the chickens, and so far she has remembered not to actually touch them.

This summer, the peppers grew well.  The tomatoes did ok, not as well as I'd hoped due to weather and deer, but still better than last year.  And I planted lots more, so I'd be sure to at least have some tomatoes.  The cucumbers did well, including the fall planting.  I think we'll do that again next year.  The peas did much better in the fall, but that was probably due to the fact that I planted them in a sunnier location.  The pumpkins, cantaloupes, and butternut squash all did alright.  None did as well as I'd hoped, but all did ok.  The zucchini did ok for a time in the early summer before falling to blight, like usual.

The herbs did really well this year.  I had good crops of cilantro, basil, sage, oregano, and I've always got lemon balm. Mint didn't do quite as well as in the past, but it is in a pot and probably the soil is not as good.  I'll have to add dirt next year, or some kind of compost.

Speaking of compost, the "working worms" are doing really well now.  Lydia loves worms and is often playing with them, so I've told her that the compost worms are "working worms" not "play worms" so I don't have to worry about her killing them.  She does like to check on them with me, but she doesn't pick them up and mush them around.  They have just about finished one tray of compost and are working on a second.  The worm bin sits in the corner of my kitchen, and I've been pleased to report no smells coming from it, and no fruit flies, either.  Between the chickens and the worms, we don't have too many food scraps left!

As for the fruit trees we planted, those did not fare as well.  The plum and pear trees look great.  The peach tree did look good, but I think maybe a deer ate its leaves, because they are gone now.  The apple, cherry, and mulberry trees never did sprout leaves.  I'm debating about trying to plant a newer, bigger fruit tree from just a local place.  Even though the pear and plum trees look really healthy, both are very small.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Camping Reunion

We're back from the big annual camping family reunion.

This was really cute.  Max was in the camper banging on the window to get Elijah's attention.  Elijah was happy to play with him!

Malachi is excited that Elijah is too big for the Colts sweatshirt, so it's his now!

Lydia was always willing to smile for the camera!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Book Review - Return to Me by Lynn Austin

Cover Art

When I chose this book, it was a surprise even to myself.  I typically don't read novels set in the Old Testament, and in the past I had read a few that were not very good.  When this book arrived, I put off reading it for a week, wondering again why I had picked it.  Finally, I started it, and I was quickly enthralled.  The book is set during the return of the Jews from Babylon to Jerusalem, where they are to rebuild the temple.  I did recall the Biblical account, but this book brings the episode to life in a way I'd never experienced.  The main characters are Iddo, a man faithful to the law but fearful of God, his wife Dinah, who doesn't really want to leave the only home she's ever known, their grandson Zechariah, and Yael, a friend's daughter who has been heavily influenced by a Babylonian seer.  The trials of faith of these characters is multi-facteted.  The author took great care in creating characters with depth, and the setting and way the people lived is also very well done.  Although the book is more than 400 pages, it never dragged or seemed to be taking too long.  This book would be a great choice for a book club or Sunday school discussion.  I highly recommend it.

I received this book from Bethany House for a review, but my opinions are my own.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Star Wars Origami

Elijah has been really into Star Wars origami.  He got the book Art2D2 at the book fair this week, and he's been busy adding to his collection.  These are a few that he made up himself:
He wanted to take pictures of them and show you on the blog, so I said ok.

We've had a good but rainy weekend here.  My parents came for the weekend, and they got to see all of the kids' soccer games before the downpours started.  After that, we mostly have just hung around the house.  The kids loved showing Nana and Pa their creations and telling them stories.  I also used the ice cream maker to make a cherry limeade slushy drink, which was a big hit.  It was easy and good.  Nathaniel has had to work a lot this weekend, so it was especially nice to have visitors to distract us.  

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Pumpkins and Squash

It's October now, so I thought I'd give a pumpkin and butternut squash update.  I got two tiny butternut squash from my plant:

And my pumpkins are now ripe, too.  The one on the left is a pie pumpkin, and the one on the right is a Cinderella pumpkin.

The Cinderella pumpkin is small.  Usually they are quite a bit bigger than pie pumpkins.  The pie pumpkin is average size for its type, though.  

So now my pumpkin plants are done.  In the garden I still have tomatoes, but they are ripening very slowly, so we only get one or two every few days now.  Slugs are still an issue.  We do still have peppers, and those have done quite well.  The fall cucumber plants have produced well.  Lydia accidently ripped up one of the plants while she was picking one, but we still have a couple of plants with small cucumbers growing.  The peas look great.  We ate a handful last week, and I could get some more any time.  Malachi particularly loves pea pods.  The broccoli looks ok.  Two plants have started forming tiny heads.  I still have some cilantro, parsley, basil, mint, oregano, sage, and lemon balm growing.  

I'm already thinking about next year's garden!