Sunday, September 28, 2008

Serene Sunday Scene

Or, my invitation to have you join me here at the blog to watch the changing view of our pasture and woods as the autumn season progresses!

Last week, I showed you a photo taken from this same general vantage point of the beginning color in the woods, looking northeast from the back porch or here in the back yard. I have watched with amazement this week as the color changes and expands almost before our eyes! While Mason and I were outside watching the sheep and the visiting wild turkeys and I was snapping pictures, I thought I might keep track of the change and share it with my blog.

So, here are the next in the "series" and the last of the Sundays in September:

(Including the old grey mares!)

(Sun setting on sheep in the far pasture)

And speaking of fall colors, I saw some gorgeous examples on my trip north yesterday to the Northern Michigan Lamb and Wool Festival in West Branch. What a GREAT time I had, shopping and visiting with friends and traveling with more friends...Hilda and Mary! If you ever have the chance to take this one should ;)

Friday, September 26, 2008


I recently stumbled across the most delicious and exciting and FUN yarn work (at least I think it is!) here, with Jane Thornley and her breathtaking, earthly, FUN creations! The day I discovered her blog/web page happened to be the week a new knit-a-long was starting up on Ravelry. If you are a ravelry member, you might want to check out the Jane Thornley Group there and definitely check out some of the projects people have made from her free thinking ideas.

I purchased the Feather and Fan booklet and, inspired, started pulling things out of the yarn stash. Along with enhancements from Sip 'n Knit (my local yarn shop), here is just some of what I have concocted so far:

The first photo of these three, the red group, is the one I am starting with (I am in a "red" phase these days - LOL! Maybe it is my recent obsession with everything tomato - see yesterdays post) You might be able to see the little rectangle I knit just to get me started. I have cast on now for the Organic Wrap in these colors. I didn't take photos of the other "groups" of colors I have pulled together - one in pastels; one in blacks and greys and browns and creams; one in earthy peach and aquas and one in some hot and bright magenta, gold, copper and black.

What FUN!!!! Thank you, Jane, for your inspiration ;D I am hooked!

(Another photo, right, of the colors I am presently working with)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Favorite foods and a recipe or two

Over at the Falling For Ewe Swap on Ravelry, its time for our weekly question. One of the participants asked this:

What meals or foods mean ‘Fall’ to you?

Oh, so many of them! Just the fact that things are cooling off so I can actually use the oven means great roasts (pork, beef or lamb) with lots of great fresh vegetables. Or yummy, filling casseroles. And baked goods, like pies and cobblers and doughnuts. But I think what says it most for me, especially since I am just finishing up the last of it, is this:

"Putting up" tomato soup in preparation for the long fall and winter months. (Notice that the barn shows up again, in a guest appearance with the soup!)

Although fresh tomatoes are, of course, the reigning queen of summer food around here, my focus is always on getting huge batches of tomato soup put up. I no longer make tomato juice, stewed tomatoes, etc....its all about the soup for us these days ;) And it is sooooo easy (at least I think so) We use it every way...straight up (and usually along with toasted cheese sandwiches) or as an addition to casseroles and pot roasts. Husband and I have been known to savor it for breakfast ((grin))

Would you like me to share my recipe? Like so many, it is my own version, compiled and combined from several others. But it works and we like it and so do many of my family and friends who shamelessly barter for jars of this goodness ((more grins))

This recipe is easily halved, if you want to just do a few tomatoes at a time throughout the season.
8 quarts fresh tomatoes (I throw in everything, including all my favorite varieties of cherry tomatoes - Super Sweet 100 and Yellow Pear being two of those)
Onions (usually 2 - 4 large, depending on what is on hand)
Peppers (a mixture of bell peppers, banana peppers and even hot peppers...whatever is ripe and usually in equal amounts to the onion)
Celery (a couple of stalks, chopped up and including the leaves)
Parsley (I go easy on this...just chopping up a few stalks of the flat leaf Italian type)
Garlic (as much as your family likes...I usually use four or five big cloves, minced)
1/4 to 1/2 cup salt (I use kosher salt and it seems to take less. Adjust to your own personal taste)

I core the larger tomatoes, but don't bother to peel them and the cherry tomatoes I just toss in to a large kettle for cooking down. Peel and chunk up the onions; remove the seeds from the peppers and chunk them up. Chop the parsley and celery; peel and mince the garlic. Sprinkle the salt over all and bring slowly to a boil over medium-low heat. Reduce the heat to low, and simmer about an hour stirring occasionally. Your house will smell so good! Remove from heat and let cool down a bit before you run the vegetables either through the blended or food processor and then a sieve to remove the seeds and small bits of skin. Put your tomato puree back into a kettle to reheat. At this point, combine and add:

1 cup brown sugar
1 cup flour (I use regular flour, but have heard others have used rice or potato flour)
1 heaping teaspoon each of allspice, cinnamon and cloves (I buy my spices in bulk and freshly grind all of these. If you are using canned, you may want to use a bit less)

I use a whisk to slowly add this mixture to the soup as it is heating. Then add 1/2 cup of butter and continue stirring as it all heats slowly, until the butter is melted. Pour into hot jars, put the lids on and process in a water bath canner at 20 minutes for pints, 30 minutes for quarts. **NOTE: I am assuming that if you are making this, you already know something about canning foods and will follow all recommended safety precautions. I accept no responsibility for mistakes on your part...this is just a general recipe

When you are ready to eat the soup, if you want it as a stand alone, you can dilute it with a cup of milk or water. It is really great with some fresh home made croutons on top and a grating of cheese.

How about one more recipe, one of our family favorites, as a way to use your delicious tomato soup (of course, you can also use store bought if you must). Cabbage is another of my fall favorite meals. As a kid, I always loved my grandma or my mom's Stuffed Cabbage Rolls and I learned to make it...often burning my fingers on the steaming hot cabbage leaves as I rolled the hamburger filling up in them. Then one day I discovered a faster, easier and still tasty substitute LAZY DAY CABBAGE ROLL CASSEROLE. Here it is:

3 cups chopped cabbage
1 pound hamburger (ground lamb works in this, too)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium bell pepper, chopped
3 tablespoons rice, uncooked
1 can tomato soup
Soup can (or jar) of water

Place cabbage in a greased baking pan (I use a 9 x 13) Brown the burger, onion and pepper seasoned with salt and pepper. Add the rice, soup and water and mix together. Heat through, about 10 minutes, and pour over the cabbage. Cover and bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or till cabbage is tender at 325 degrees.

All we add to this to make a meal is a nice hearty slice of bread slathered with butter. Hmmm...that just might be tonight's supper ;)


Monday, September 22, 2008

Change in the air

The (official) first day of Autumn and the trees are beginning to turn...(those little dots are sheep, by the way!)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Cold Weather Projects and Barns

Falling For Ewe Question of the Week #2:
What ‘cold weather’ project are you looking forward to making the most the autumn?

My Wrap Me Up Stole. I just picked it up again, having put it down during the hot days of was just getting to large to have the heavy wool across my lap when the temps soared! I am still really enjoying this knit! You might remember that my version is a mix of handspun and commercial yarns. I may only ever wrap up in it while I sit at the computer desk (it is big and heavy - LOL!) but I love it ;)

I want to include in this post a few barn pictures for Robin, who commented earlier this month about having a barn fix looking at my September photo of the Burnham barn. Our farm encompasses two adjoining properties, the piece we live on and the other place known as the Burnham Farm, even though Bill (my husband) has owned it for probably thirty years now. Both are blessed with beautiful hip roof barns, and of course the Burnham Farm is where the "Round House" is located.

These photos are of the "Serenity Farms Barn" - the barn here at home, both inside and out, as well as viewed from the pasture. I hope you like seeing it and that the interior photo is not to dark....

East Loft...

....after a storm

....view from the field. Notice how it dominates the landscape? It is a central part of our lives....

Friday, September 12, 2008

A Beautiful Swan

I have shown you pictures over the past few months of fiber I have received for my participation in the Fiber Swap Club over at Ravelry (by the way, I think they are currently taking sign-ups for the next go-around of this fun swap ~ go check it out!) This past week, I received my final package, this one from Cyndi at Mullers Lane Farm in Illinois.

Cyndi and I are kindred souls and have enjoyed some nice online visits about things in life that are important and sacred to us. When this fiber arrived and I opened it was of those "ohhhhhh" moments, when fiber or yarn is so lovely that it just takes your breath away. This is so perfectly "me"! Cyndi calls it "Ugly Duckling" and she wrote that "the Ugly Duckling batts always spin into Swans for me". Well, let me tell you I can hardly wait to begin spinning these!!! On the other hand, the are nice just to look at the way they are ;) Oh...I haven't shared any pictures yet, have I? Well, here we go:

Isn't she lovely sitting amongst some of my potted plants in the shade garden? My camera skills aren't sufficient enough to capture the real richness of it all, but I will try with another closer look and include some of the soap

The fiber blend includes Merino, CVM, Camel Down and glitz. It is warm and rich and earthy and perfect for fall. I keep thinking mittens for my fiber projects right now - LOL - but it will depend on the yardage I get when spun. The soap is Cotton Blossom and there was also one called Pepper Zest that we are already using. I don't know if Cyndi is selling this fiber or not, but if she is you might want to hurry to her website and try to buy some before I claim more! She does offer soap for sale at her site.

Thank you my new friend! I will think of you all the while I am spinning. Over at the Falling For Ewe Autumn Yarn Swap at Ravelry, Amy asked us our favorite things about fall. Well, right now, this fiber is it! Okay, I just have to leave you with one last look, from a different perspective and then I will be quiet ~ Enjoy!

Sunday, September 07, 2008

September Sunrise

Burnham Barn and Round House in a September morning mist
Fall is on its way ~

Close To My Heart....

There are people in our lives who make us better....who make our life easier and brighter...who share our laughter, our joys but often more importantly our sorrows and our trials...they are there to lend a helping hand when we need it, even when it is so hard to ask.

I am blessed to have many friends (and family!) like that. This week I was reminded of this when I was in need of help. I called on one of these very special friends and I didn't even have to say what it was that I needed. She simply said "I'll be there" Now this job was one of those physical labor jobs that leave you sweaty and smelling very much like sheep....with your boots covered with manure and your arms covered in bruises if you aren't careful and your back aching no matter how you do that job ((grin)). But my friend was there....

There you have it - her hand and mine, working together, sharing a task. Thank you, my Friend...more than you know!

I think it was especially important on this day to be doing a job that kept me busy and my mind occupied and to have a friend close by. It was a special day. My very precious grandsons first day of kindergarten. My heart....

I look at his face in this full of expectation and excitement and yes, nervousness, too. And I think of the life and spirit we are now intrusting to others... For some reason the enormity of this hits me more deeply now....His Mom (my daughter) and I have decided that the first two days weren't quite so bad. But then we both suddenly realized, after having him home this weekend, that he has to go back tomorrow!!! No, no, no...we aren't ready - LOL. But I think he is and since I can't convince his parents that having a grandmother homeschool him would be a good idea ((sigh)) I guess I have to let him go ;)

Don't I?