Weekend Highlights



~ Well of course there was Thanksgiving.  My favorite holiday, and this year was no exception.  It was a very laid back day spent with family and an abundance of really good food.

~ Hanging out with our friends on Friday and then going to our neighbors for dessert Friday night.

~ Eating leftover Thanksgiving all weekend.

~ Relaxing by the fire every morning all weekend.

~ Getting our Christmas tree.

~ Decorating it.

~ Making turkey soup.

~ My nap today.

~ Taking my two big kids to the Nutcracker tonight.


Cutting the Christmas Tree (and Santa)










Happy Thanksgiving


More photos coming...


The Thanksgiving Preparations Have Begun


After a lovely day at homeschool group today we headed to the co-op where we proceeded to spend the next few hours checking lists and filling our cart (amongst many friendly faces doing the same).  We chatted with new friends we made on a recent homeschool field trip and made plans to have dessert with our neighbors the day after Thanksgiving.  We spent so long there that it only made sense to have dinner there as well.

Tonight along with my helper I started the brine.  And tomorrow the turkey goes in it...


Weekend Highlights






~ Having Grandma Sam, Grandpa Scott, Great Grandma Aleta, and Great Grandpa Glenn over dinner on Friday night to celebrate Grandma Sam's birthday.

~ Relaxing by the fire all Saturday morning with nowhere to go and nothing that needed to be done (and all five of us in such good spirits).

~ Going to the annual Holiday Fair (at Grace's old school) that the kids all look so forward to each year.

~ Making Christmas cookies at Katie and Kris's house and celebrating Grandma Lee's birthday.

~ Making venison summer sausage for the first time.

~ Ryan making venison for dinner (and having our first ever dinner that was 100% homegrown, handmade and hunted all from our own hard work... more on this soon).




Our edamame, our apple sauce, our squash and kale, Ryan's venison. Yes!


Canning Tomatoes





This weekend Katie helped me can our tomatoes.  I don't have an exact quantity but I think there were around three bushels of them.  It was our biggest canning marathon to date.  Katie purchased a giant pot (this picture does it no justice- it is equivalent to one and a half five gallon pales) for us to use and before cooking it down we had 27 quarts of tomatoes simmering away.  In the end we produced 13 quarts of sauce.  It was defiantly a weekend affair and all the best moments were never captured with my camera... the eight hours we were able to talk without interruption, the tomato waterfalls as they began to thaw, the smell of the simmering sauce, the tea drinking, the head scratching that finally ended in seat-belting the giant pot into my van and transporting it to my parents (where we finished simmering and canning it the next day).  My mom helped too by watching the girls on Saturday (the boys were up north hunting) and then letting us take over her kitchen on Sunday to finish the job (and feeding us all with delicious chili).  Oh and Grace and Nora helped out to by entertaining us with a great dancing and singing show.  It was a lot of work but so fulfilling, and definitely made all the better by being surrounded with family.  A few notes for next year...

~ Use only the best paste tomatoes, no more freezing little ones or the more watery varieties
~ Have lots of towels handy, thawing tomatoes causes massive flooding
~ The chopping alone took 3 hours
~ This part was only fun because we did it together, in other words, do not attempt alone!
~ This whole process took around 15 hours
~ It was really hard to seed them when they were frozen, I need to look more into this and see if I can't find a better way.
~ If you leave 20 quarts of hot tomato sauce in your car overnight, in freezing temperatures, and wrap some towels snugly around it, it will still be hot in the morning.
~ Going into winter with a cupboard full of tomato sauce feels awesome


For the Official Record




I forgot to take pictures of the first snow a couple days ago.  I love documenting such things because I often need this proof to win arguments with Ryan several years later.  For example, yesterday... it is not normal for winter to be in full force by Thanksgiving.  Oh, but it is.  So, for the record, the first snowfall of 2014 was November10th this year.

And also, my camera is broken.  I guess I'll have to settle for lousy phone pictures for awhile (magically that middle one didn't turn out to bad but not sure I can replicate it).


Finding Hope


I didn't go vote yesterday.  I know, I know.  If you don't vote, don't complain.  The thing is, I can't seem to find a reason to vote anymore.  Rarely does anyone even talk about the issues that really matter to me and if they do (and I vote for them) they end up doing the opposite of what they said they would do.   The only two elections I really cared about this year were in Colorado and Oregon (if only I could have voted there).  This morning Jackson woke up and said, "mom, who won- cancer, or your team?"  I swear I did not refer to the people against labeling GMOs as the "cancer guys" but I guess my kids have learned enough over the last few years to come up with that clever nickname all on their own (and for that matter, I also didn't refer to the right to know group as "my team"... though I might start referring to them that way, I have always wanted a team to cheer for).

It is hard for me not to loose hope sometimes about the direction this world seems to want to continue heading.  I mean, for goodness sake, we just wanted to label GMOs.  God forbid we would even think about banning them.  Cancer, birth defects, lymphoma (and on and on), why wouldn't we want to continue growing and eating GMOs.  In fact, why don't we grow more of them (and we will).

I have to look closely for the hope these days.  But it is there.  Yesterday, along with several other families, we helped a family from our homeschool group put up some more boards on the off grid home they are building (completely themselves) on their beautiful piece of land.  I watched as all of our children ran around on the trails, playing happily and as all the adultss pitched in to the best of their ability, also smiling and laughing the whole time.  After a few hours of work we all sat down together and shared a big pot of delicious homemade chili.  I found myself overcome with a feeling of this is how it is suppose to be.  People working together to help provide for each other, and having fun doing it all the way.

Yes, I found hope there.  And I found hope today, sitting in front of the fire with Nora, harvesting our dried beans.  A much smaller bit of hope to be sure, but hope all the same.  "Mama, these are jumping beans" she said has she broke apart a dried pod and laughed as the seeds flew everywhere.  For a brief moment, I envied her just a bit.  How wonderful it would be to have such a memory etched in my brain from childhood that could be referenced now as an adult (or any memory, for that matter, pertaining to the skills of self sufficiency).  Then after a minute I decided, oh well, I get to learn it all now and that's fun too in a way.  But Nora (and Grace and Jackson), they will enter into the great big world with at least a little bit of knowledge about how to provide for themselves.  That gives me hope too.  



Learning and Pretending

{you can see the tip of the tepee sticking up out of the tall grass on the far left}

{fuzzy phone picture}

We just finished up a long unit on the Lenape Indians and now we have moved on to the Ojibwe Indians.  Grace and Jackson are so interested in Native American life.  They have gotten really into playing Native Americans with their new friends using our tepee out in the big field.  Today Grace told me they ground "wheat" with stones while the boys "hunted" for food.  They even had to migrate at one point and relocate their tepee.  I think this year we will have to take a field trip up north to the Indian Museum.


Weekend Highlights


~ Halloween.  Nora being very satisfied with trick-or-treating at two houses and then heading home with me to eat a piece of candy, read some Halloween books and go to bed.

~ The big kids and Ryan continuing on to our neighborhood and trick-or-treating with their new friends.

~ A lazy Saturday morning- doing a puzzle, reading by the fire, jewelry making and a big breakfast.

~ Finishing up with a lot of "before winter comes" projects- basement window replaced, gardens almost all put to bed, leaves raked and piled up for next spring when I need them for mulch, more wood stacked.

~ Reading by the fire- just finished Home Grown (love, love, love) and now reading Cold Antler Farm (also love).

~ Grace deciding to cook us all lunch on Sunday.

~ Meeting our friends at the park for the afternoon.

~ Grandma Lee and Papa coming out with pizza for dinner.

~ Feeling more prepared for winter then we ever have since moving to this little farm.