Sunday, October 28, 2012

"One Autumn When the Nuts Were Ripe. . .

 . . . And the leaves on the hazel bushes were golden and green-

 Nutkin and Twinkleberry and all the other little squirrels came out of the wood, and down to the edge of the lake (to gather nuts). . . "
 Dear Friends,

We've been busily squirreling away nuts and apples, before the cold sets in and ends the harvest.

We've also been blessed to find a mess of inky cap mushrooms growing nearby. Inky caps and shaggy manes are easy to identify, because they turn into ink when overripe. They are delightful if cooked up when young and fresh.

We also found a surprise on our collard leaves while harvesting them; it pays to look closely!

Since it was too cold to sit outside and "do apples," we decided that the kitchen floor was as good a place as any. Children love helping with gathering and eating the bounty that grows all around.

Our African marigolds are STILL blooming, and still giving us lots of seeds. If anyone wants some, just let us know!

Our hands have been busy making lots of baked goods this week (in addition to pancakes), too~ We especially loved making pita bread for the first time, which is much easier than we had thought. They taste so much better than store-bought! Here is the recipe we used, which we found in the book "Every Woman's Herbal," by Dr. John R. Christopher and Cathy Gileadi:

1 c. warm water
2 Tablespoons honey
1 Tablespoon dried yeast

1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon kelp (optional)
(we added about 1/4 cup powdered goldenrod leaves)

After mixing and kneading these ingredients, let the dough rest for 15 minutes. Break off golf ball-sizaed pieces of dough, and roll out about 1/4 inch thick into circles. Place on ungreased cookie sheet that has been sprinkled with cornmeal. Let rise about 30 minutes, during which time you preheat your oven to 450 F.
Place sheets on bottom shelf of oven, and bake the pita breads for 5-8 minutes, just until they puff and solidify a bit. Remove and cool separately. If you don't have a lot of cookie sheets, let the breads rise on a cornmeal-sprinkled surface, and gently place them on the cookie sheets as they become available. Makes 2 dozen pita breads.

May your family be well and happy this upcoming week!



p.s. Hettie sends a letter from the Lake District here!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

More Autumn Blessings

Dear Friends,

Happy Sunday to you! We have been enjoying all sorts of varied weather this past week, with everything in the forties to forecasted highs in the 80s. Our fall garden is a little confused, but is doing really well. Nothing beats fresh greens in a salad or smoothie. Did you know that you can eat squash leaves? They blend up really well in a fruit smoothie, and have a nice, mild taste.

After noticing a lot of books going unread on our shelves, I challenged my three oldest girls to read at least three books to their younger siblings each day. After only a few days, there has been a noticeable change in the atmosphere of the home, with fewer videos being requested and more peace and quiet.

The cooler weather brought some amazing sunsets,

. . . While also making Hickey Pickety decide that the pantry would be a perfect place to lay her egg!

The dark, rainy days are made a little brighter by a few mums on the table,

which is also made brighter by yummy buckwheat pancakes! We make our pancakes by soaking whole groats overnight, then straining, rinsing, and blending them with water, baking powder, and salt in the blender. This makes the flavor a lot more mild than using buckwheat flour, and they really are tasty and simple, especially pouring the batter from the blender onto the griddle, instead of using a ladle and bowl. Everyone down to little Rebecca loves flipping pancakes in the morning (although Rebecca's results are a little more "interesting" than the rest!).

(This pancake was NOT made by Rebecca)

Violets and dandelions have decided to have a second spring, and we have enjoyed plucking their cheery blossoms (and wearing them, too).

They don't last very long as a clothing accessory with chickens around, however.
Autumn's light brings a more golden hue to our walls, showcasing the lovely plates that our friend Evelyn gifted us~

This little pillow was stitched for us by our friend Devina, who lives "Across The Pond"~

Pumpkins are at bargain prices at all the grocery stores, and we have made them into everything from soup to muffins to custard. We think our favorite way is simply roasted with coconut oil, salt, and butter.
We took a recent trip to a local nature center and had fun exploring the trails and play area, as well as buying a couple of field and native gardening guides.

Audrey was excited to see this Nashville Warbler visiting the feeders there.

Autumn with its bright colors makes us glad to be alive, and teaches us to live each day as gracefully and gently as a leaf, who makes the world a sweeter place at its passing.

We leave you with these beautiful words by Christina Rossetti:

"Were there no God, we would be in this glorious world with grateful hearts and no one to thank."

May we always remember to stop and thank the One who makes this beautiful life possible.



Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Autumn Blessings~ Enjoying the Last of Warm Weather

Dear Friends,

We've been spending as much time in nature as possible these past days, while the weather has been fine. We had a light freeze the other night, but thankfully we'll be warming back up into the 70s for a while, before Madame Winter comes on the scene.

 (Photos from a recent nature excursion to Swope Park, the largest park in Kansas City)

Every year at this time we feel a longing to stay in the embrace of the sun for as long as possible, to listen more closely to the crickets and cicadas, and to drink in the sights and scents of green, growing things just a little bit longer. We feel as one feels after a nice long visit with a friend who is going away for a long while, and whose leaving will leave a space in our hearts that only he can fill.

As much as we love the cozy layers of winter with its daily hot soups and baked goods, fresh from the oven, we always miss the freedom of open windows, line-dried laundry, and feet who love the feel of the earth.

May we learn wisdom from the trees and animals around us, and gracefully embrace the changes that are inevitable as the daylight ebbs and darkness once again stakes its claim upon the earth.

"Nature is forever arriving and forever departing, forever
approaching, forever vanishing; but in her vanishings there
seems to be ever the waving of a hand, in all her partings a
promise of meetings farther along the road."

-- Richard Le Gallienne

Love and blessings to you,