Monday, July 28, 2014

This Summer's Garden

 Our garden is one of my favorite places to be in the summer.  It's a little wild, completely imperfect, but it never fails to give us an abundance of fresh, delicious vegetables every day.  

 Each year I hesitate to post pictures of our garden... sometimes I feel like I do everything you shouldn't do in a garden.  None of my rows are perfectly straight, I always plant my tomatoes too close to each other, weeds and grass grow abundantly no matter how hard I try, but I think that's the beauty in vegetable gardening.  It's very forgiving, and really the only rule I adhere to is never plant your cucumbers next to your squash (a lesson learned the hard way). 

This year particularly has been one of my favorite years having a garden.  My girls are at an age now that they love the garden just as much as I do and love to help pick.  Jillian is a huge helper this year... in fact, she does all of the tomato picking every day.

Our fence has worked wonderfully in keeping the chickens out.  In fact, not one hen has made it in yet.  (Plus it helps my garden look pretty from the road... even when my cucumbers are dying and my lettuce is going to seed.) 


 I had a late start planting my pole beans, something I've ended up being thankful for.  I've been spending so much time picking the bush beans and our bumper crop of squash and cucumbers that I've been grateful the pole beans will come a little later!


 Pretty okra blooms...

 Our squash plants are huge... this is just five plants and actually since this picture they have grown even more, if that's possible.   However, that's been a nice thing since the dreaded squash borer is having to work hard to get rid of these plants. 


 My favorite pickling cucumbers... the girls and I snack on cucumbers with salt every single day.  So much so that I've only made a few batches of pickles.   


 Jillian hard at work on the tomatoes.  I'm especially grateful I have her help this year since the tomatoes are so large and planted so close together that it's much easier for her to climb through them than me (smile). 


 A day's bounty of vegetables.  Time to take them in the house, sort through the basket and figure out what to cook for dinner!

 P.S.  If you're wondering where Rosetta can be found, I often see her sitting with her favorite chicken (a Buff Orpington) on her lap, talking softly to her while petting her.  Such sweet summer days...   

Monday, July 14, 2014

A Birthday and Barbecue

Our sweet Rosy turned three and we had a very low-key birthday party for her this weekend, which means we had family over, I made a few bouquets for the table, and cooked a meal.  It was so nice!  The more birthdays we have for the girls, the more I'm gravitating towards simple parties as they seem to be a lot more enjoyable for all! Plus it was so nice to have the family all together and visit.

I have several old tablecloths that belonged to my grandmother and I love pulling them out for special meals. I brought a card table in and "attached" it to our dining room table so we had enough seats for all the adults.  Then we had a separate little table for the sweet little cousins.   

 There was a time I thought I would never say this (believe me), but one of my favorite things about having friends or family over is cooking a meal for everyone.  Since we're in the midst of a hot July, I decided on a menu of summer barbecue dishes.  We don't eat a lot of pork, but I cooked this pulled pork with spicy peach-mustard sauce (using recently made peach jam) from the cookbook The Art of Preserving, and it was so delicious.  (I'm sorry, I can't find the recipe online anywhere, but the cookbook is worth purchasing if you like to can!) 

Three-color slaw (recipe here)... 

Potato salad (recipe here)... plus sweet pickles and sliced tomatoes from the garden.  (Not pictured, because I get so busy I always forget to take pictures of all the food!) 

  For dessert I made a cake that I saw in my Pioneer Woman cookbook.  Her recipe uses strawberries, but my parents have wild blackberries blooming all over the farm, so I used the blackberries instead.  These were so good!  They are a little tart, but after sitting in a little sugar... oh my...

Now my picture really does not do justice to how good this cake is.  (Not to mention I assembled it in a hurry with everyone in the kitchen watching - ha!)  But here is the link for the recipe and you can view The Pioneer Woman's beautiful photos instead.  ;-)  The cake was a winner.  So delicious and easy too since there wasn't any frosting.  

Just a note on the recipe - I used a dark chocolate almond spread instead of Nutella and I decreased the amount of sugar in the whipped cream to 1/4 cup and used organic granulated sugar instead of powdered.   Also, I baked the chocolate cakes the night before to save time, and put them in the freezer until about 15 minutes before I was ready to assemble the cake.  It worked perfect!

Last night I received a text from my sister-in-law and it was a picture of Rosetta from the evening.  She said, "You should put this picture on your blog!"  It was a picture of Rosetta wearing her pretty birthday dress, grinning ear to ear... and her dress pulled up (unbeknownst to her) with a chicken in her arms.  It's rare to be outside and see Rosetta without one of her chickens, even in a pretty dress!  Too cute!  (And I did want to put the picture up, but decided I probably shouldn't have a photo of Rosetta with her panties showing on the internet!  ;-) )

Hope you have a wonderful week! 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Catching Up

 It feels like it's been forever since I last posted!  Sometimes a blogging break (even an unplanned one) can be kind of nice, but after a while I start to miss writing here.  Not so much because I feel like I have to, but I feel like I'm getting out of touch with friends!

A couple weeks ago Justus and I celebrated ten years of marriage!  My parents watched our girls and we headed out to dinner together (at The Melting Pot - yum!), had a leisurely morning and coffee (okay, chocolate pie too) at the coffee shop in town.  We're thankful that after ten years of marriage, our love for one another is still so strong.  And one day I have to tell you the story of our wedding day! 

 Did you have a nice 4th of July?  We did!  We were away for the weekend, staying at my in-laws' farm.  There was a lot of family there and a lot of food.  The kids all played in the water and we played many games of volleyball!  I also got to pick a lot of fresh blueberries to bring home.  Delicious. 

 The days have been full here, enjoying summer and our last month before school starts.  The garden has been doing wonderful and also keeping the girls and I very busy.  Picking every day, weeding (who am I kidding - the weeds grow faster than I can pull!), freezing green beans, making pickles, and eating more squash than I dare count. 

My mom and I have also been busy with a little endeavor of ours.  We planted rows and rows of heirloom flowers to sell (purely for enjoyment) at my parents farm.  

 We have a little flower stand at the road.  Justus built this stand entirely out of reclaimed material - isn't it the cutest thing you've ever seen?  (You can read more about our adventures and the stand here if you're interested.)  :-) 

 We've had so much fun going out to the flower garden and making bouquets. 

I caught this image of Jillian this week.  We had brought home all the old flowers and Jillian immediately sat down on the floor with all the flowers and proceeded to cut and arrange a new bouquet for her room.  Sweet moments of summer!

Hope you are doing well.  I've missed chatting and promise to be back quicker this time! 
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