Fall Harvest

My garden has been a bit neglected with our recent trips. It’s hard to keep up with the weeding and thinning when you’re on the other side of the world.

I’ve spent a few hours the past week snipping the flowers off all the tomato plants. I planted three marzanos down in the kitchen garden. They were lush and full when I removed the Walls-O-Water, but they’ve been late to set fruit. We’re expecting mid-60s to low-70s for the next 10 days, so by removing the flowers, I’m hoping to encourage the fruit to ripen. So far, they look nothing like my idea of San Marzano paste tomatoes. I’ll be happy with whatever we get.

Worms can’t process the tomato seeds, so when I add the castings to my garden, I get tons of volunteers. Since many of my sowings didn’t produce anything, I decided to let these plants grow. They’ve set quite a bit of fruit, so far. I also have a canteloupe peeping out from amongst the tomatoes (another seed that worms don’t process). I may wind up with more than I bargained for.

The beets have actually faired pretty well after the early problem with predators, and my onions (that were meant to scare away pests) are also looking good. I even picked a few blueberries this afternoon.

fh-veges-berries

You may be wondering what I have in mind for all those tomatoes. Well, I really like Putting Up with Erin’s Smokey Tomato Jam. (I’m having trouble with the link, so here’s where to go:  http://www.puttingupwitherin.com/2014/09/19/smokey-tomato-jam/ .) Sweet Miss has requested a jar, and what mother can refuse a food request from her kid?

The recipe starts with six pounds of tomatoes, so I may be headed to the farmstand or market. Until then, I’ve been enjoying tomatoes on toast with an Italian flair.

fh-tomato-truffle-oil-toast

It’s just toasted bread of a good quality, spread with cream cheese, sprinkled with sliced tomatoes, and dried thyme. (This is what happens when I forget to water the thyme plant in the kitchen window, and it dries out all by itself.) And then this is the final part, the kicker, the piece-de-resistance, drizzled the whole thing with black truffle oil.

On our trip, we visited an olive oil factory outside Sorrento. They had around 70 different types of olive oil that were so tatsty. We dipped bread, dipped bread, and dipped some more. I was able to drag the MR and Baby Girl away after buying five cans of olive oil, some basalmic, and some for Sweet Miss. She used her lemon olive oil on pasta—amazing.

Sometimes that little extra step makes a world of difference.

Are you enjoying a fall harvest?

Inspiration and Disappointment

I wanted to call this post the Grapes of Wrath. Not because it has anything to do with the Dust Bowl, starving displaced families, or Steinbeck, but it does have something to do with grapes and wrath. Alas, I thought better of it.

Let’s start at the beginning. Earlier this month, me, and Baby Girl, and the MR traveled to Italy. We started in the beautiful city of Florence, a truly, lovely place we’d never been to before.

id-florence-2

After wandering the streets our first day and checking out the Uffuzi Gallery Museum, we had scheduled a Vespa ride in Tuscany beginning and ending at an ancient castle turned winery. This was the home of the Pazzis who tried to assassinate the Medicis in 1478 and were summarily executed.

id-castle

After a history of plotting and rebellion, it has turned into a family home and winery in recent years. Wandering through the barrel room and other areas of the production, we were reminded of our own wine-making efforts at home.

id-wine-barrels

Sure we only made one small bottle last year, but the MR said the grapes looked great. He thought we might be able to make up to three bottles with our banner harvest. After visiting the winery, it was time for some beautiful scenery.

Not everyone was born to drive a Vespa, so I became a passenger on the MR’s scooter. Just a short drive from an ancient and densely-populated city, we wound up in the rolling countryside the hills speckled with grape vines and olive trees.

id-vespa

This was at the beginning of two weeks of adventures, and the ideas of wine-making were put on the back burner till we got home. Unfortunately, just because we’re away doesn’t mean the rest of the world stands still back home. We had visitors. The MR thinks it was probably raccoons who came, climbed under the netting, moved boards holding it in place, ate the grapes, and tore up the vines.

id-grapes

Oh well, there’s always next year. Now you understand my grapes and wrath.

Any tips on getting rid of raccoons?

 

 

 

 

A Dime a Dozen

Me, and the MR, and Baby Girl have been on an adventure for the past few weeks exploring Italy. 

With Baby Girl studying architecture, it made sense to visit Florence and Rome with their rich history and amazing architecture. 

We visited the Duomo and Michaelangelo’s David in Florence and St. Peter’s Basilica, the Coliseum, the Pantheon, and the Spanish Steps in Rome. 

Between those two heavy hitters we visited Sorrento—a great stopping off point for many beautiful places. The MR dreamed of the Amalfi Coast, and we made certain to visit Pompei on the way to the train station. 

In the midst of all that, we took time to visit Capri. If you’re Italian, it’s aah-Capri (with a smile and a hint of wistfulness) where big white houses on the hill are everywhere. 


While Italy has been wonderful, I for one am looking forward to going home. 

What have you been up to this September?

Trees with Attitude

Sweet Miss was home a few weeks ago and asked what’s up with the trees. Funnily enough, I knew exactly what she was talking about. 

We have a lot of trees that appear to be copping an attitude.


Is that Pom-Pom pine making a rude gesture?


What’s up with the smoke trees? We aren’t they neatly pruned like the rest of the shrubs?

You see for her entire life, her dad had kept the trees and bushes trimmed up neat and tidy. What’s going wrong? 

Apparently you have to let trees grow a little so you can add another level. Me and the MR had a conversation or two s few months ago. I too was concerned that our well pruned trees and bushes looked a little scruffy. 


We’ll have to let our experiment run its course. Until then, please forgive our plants and their rude gestures. 

Any pruning tips?

Waste Not

Me and the MR were visiting friends last month. They have a quirky cabin on a lake in Idaho. 

When our hosts asked if we wanted some crab apples from their large trees out front, of course I said yes. 

Perhaps it’s because my dad was born during the Great Depression, or maybe it was because my own family felt the crunch when Boeing laid off so many in the early ’70s, or I guess it could be those early days of marriage when the cupboards werebare, but for whatever reason, I can’t say no to free food. 

Crab apples could be perfect in apple cake or perhaps apple butter. I could always look up recipes online. So together we picked a few bags, and me and the MR headed home. 

You know how it is when you get home from a few days away. You have laundry; you have to restock the fridge; the garden needs attention; you have to catch up on all those little household chores. 

Well those crab apples sat on the counter for one week—Sweet Miss was home visiting. And then they sat on the table for another week. The MR thought he saw bugs. Should he just throw them away?

I looked up recipes, but nothing caught my eye. Maybe I would make that apple cake. Then I cut into one of those babies. Have you ever tried to core a crab apple? Those suckers are hard—like rock hard. 

I decided they’d be a lovely addition to applesauce. Baby Girl reminded me of potential arsenic poisoning, but I removed all the seeds by running the cooked down apples through my Kitchenaid strainer. 

The crab apples mixed with a few of our own beauties keeps the sauce tangy. And the redness of the flesh and the peels turns the sauce a rosy pink color. 


Baby Girl put it to the taste test and gave it her stamp of approval. 

And now we have lovely pink sauce to remind us of fun times.

    Do you have a favorite recipe for crab apples?

An Upgraded Dining Experience

You know how sometimes you go shopping, and you come home and you’re like we bought a new dining room table, they’re delivering it on Thursday? Yeah, me neither.

With the MR on leave from his job this summer, we’ve had a lot more down time. We’ve had time for overnight trips and this and that which might even include shopping—one of the MR’s least favorite pursuits.

So yes, we did go shopping to an actual furniture store and buy a table and 10 chairs. (Our dining room is 15-feet wide, and no, that does not include the built-in china buffet. Let’s just say, we have a lot of space.) So we’re excited to be replacing the 20-year-old table from Ikea that has been up close and personal with both Sharpies and a spirograph and hasn’t seen the light of day without a tablecloth in many years.

Unfortunately, the guy at the store informed us that now was the time to be buying dining room furniture for Thanksgiving. Huh? This was weeks ago. It seriously takes three months for furniture to be delivered? Hmm…

Don’t worry; I took lots of great pictures. Yeah, right. I looked at relciners for my Dad while they were writing up the paperwork. So you’re just going to have to trust me that it’s going to be great.

Funnily enough, I was looking through my Pinterest board for the home and came across this picture.


I was shocked to see that it is very similar to the base we’re getting although we purchased from Leathers Furniture in Issaquah.

We ordered a 10-foot long solid wood top in a medium wood-tone.  Surrounded by glossy white cabinetry, the wood will add warmth to what can be a cold space. The chairs are complicated, so I’m not even going to try to explain them. Trust me; they’re going to be perfect for long family dinners gathered around the table.

Any dining room updates to share?

Celebrating August

It’s been a pretty awesome month with family and friends and a lot of sunshine.

Celebrate

We celebrated Milestones with the girls.

Anniversary Canvas

Dealt with a proliferation of broccoli and cucumbers in Ain’t It Funny and saved some Herb-alicious goodness for the cold days of winter.

Rosemary Cubes Closeup

We did a little shopping and Super-Sized a rug, Problem Solved with a new floor lamp, and Added a Little Drama with some new nightlights.

ALD Light on Maple at Night

The MR has been busily remodeling the guest bedroom bath. I Teased You with a glimpse of tile, shared the newly glorified shower Somewhere In the Middle, and showed you Bit by Bit how it’s all coming together.

New Shower

I dreamed a little about a backyard waterfall—Just Imagine, and dreamed too of winning a Fitbit challenge against my 22-year-old. It’s just A Little Friendly Competition, but I have been getting in more steps lately. I think I’ve won one challenge in the last three weeks. I do have a few years on her and tend to go to bed before my Sweet Miss. Who knows, maybe I’ll actually lose a few pounds.

The MR has picked up the new sink/counter combo for the guest bathroom, and I do have plans to make up those new throw pillows I bought the fabric for way back in June. We’ve done a little shopping, a little planning, Baby Girl is moving back to school in a few weeks, and I have a few surprises to throw your way. September is always a good month.

How is your fall shaping up? Are you in the full back-to-school mode?