The Beginning of Fall at our Home

After a quick fall morning run, I peek into the stroller, and this is what I find: 
I grab my camera, setting out to capture the fall changes while my little one was napping.  I admire fall blooms of aster, Japanese lanterns, mums and Japanese sunflowers, still wet from yesterday's showers.

I appreciate the bugs and all their little details of perfection (yes, I'm an insect lover).
I notice the last of the garden waiting to be preserved and the beginnings of the fall crops waiting their turn for preserving too. 

I wander back to my little one, thinking of what to do next while he's slumbering. Shall I get started on preserving?  Should I work on our little one's new fall coat? (pictures to come)  Should I make my husband (another) apple crisp? Collect eggs?  Begin the fall transplanting of the flower beds? (what grand plans I have for new gardens)
But that slumbering boy has been awoken (again) by a train. Which he lets us know by signing train (shown below) hourly, even in the middle of the night. In fact, even between those hourly train whistles (who knew the train went by hourly?!), we talk about trains, at his request. I scratch all of my plans, pick up that little angel of mine, and we head inside to read some book about trains (again).   Sometimes my plans are cancelled out by my little helper.  And that's just fine by me.

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Justin's Favorite Apple Crisp

My husband loves this recipe, it's another Jackie original.  It's not fall without apple crisp.  Before him, I mostly made pies, as that's my dad's favorite.  Although my husband likes pies, he looooves apple crisp.  He likes a lot of crisp too.  I add some good stuff to this recipe so it's not all junk that he's eating.   But don't tell him that...he might eat more.

Justin's Favorite Apple Crisp

8-10 cups of peeled and sliced apples
1 cup apple cider or 1/2 cup of apple sauce mixed with 1/2 cup water
2 sticks butter, melted
1 1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/8 cup flax seed meal
1 1/2 cup oats
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp salt

Place apples in 8x10 square dish.  Toss with apple cider or applesauce mixture.  Set aside.

In different bowl, combine melted butter and sugar.  Add flour, flax, oats, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Mix until combined.  Sprinkle over apples.

Bake 350 for 35-40 minutes.  Justin loves it with homemade ice cream or freshly made whipped cream.

The *Best* of Summer

Yes, it's fall.  Love fall.  In the midst of jumping full force into the season of apples, pears, pumpkins and sweaters, I'm stopping for just one second.  To let the memories of summer linger for just a moment or two more. The top summer memory?  Camp.  On the St. Lawrence River.  Where I grew up spending my timeless lazy summer days with my parents and grandparents.  And now we continue this tradition with our own little boy.  I can't help but smiling looking at these pictures. I hope that you are getting cozy on these cooler fall days, but I also hope you stop and savor those summer memories too.

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Five Bucks and a Thrift Shop

This was an especially exciting thrift shop just about everything was brand new!
Purple Yoga Mat
Turtlefur Headband
Pair of socks for mama and a couple pairs of socks for baby
3 yards of corduroy fabric
A hand knit sweater (which I love)
Total:  $6.25
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Canning.  A marvelous invention.  Would you believe this is the first year I've given it a go?  I've always been a freezer.  Blanch, pop in a freezer bag and into the chest freezer.  Always worked like a charm.  That's what my mom always did and it's what I used to do to help her.  The problem is over the years, the volume which I have preserved has increased markedly. I just don't have freezer space.  So...I decided to invest in canning supplies.  I have helped my grandmother in the past with canning, but I'd still consider myself a beginner.  I looked and looked online for the $50+ starter kits.  I just couldn't bring myself to spend that much $$$ on just the supplies for canning.  Plus the books, I wanted a good one.  I ended up doing a bit of a mix and max and ended up with everything I need and only spent $16.  

How?  I bought a large lobster pot at a thrift store (which is easy to come by living in Maine).  I bought  the jar lifter and the canning rack from amazon, they were on sale for $10 combined.  I found a canning funnel, similar to this, used.  I found in lieu of a book. It's a fantastic resource to tell you everything you need about canning.  

Now how to get stuff to can?  Well, you can grow it, go to a pick your own farm or farmer's markets.  Those are the obvious choices.  Or you can be like me, and ask your neighbors.  I have some wonderful neighbors who have some fruit trees.  I've noticed that the years we live here that not all the fruit was used.  I asked if they would be willing to share.  And you know what?  They're thrilled that someone can use it and it's not going to waste. Look around old farmhouses in particular.  Sometimes there's a half of a dozen old apple trees with apples not being used.  Ask!  The worst someone can say is no.  They may be thrilled that it won't go to waste too.

These are from our good neighbors who have become our friends.  I picked a laundry basket full and barely touched the mass amount on the pear tree.  I maybe took 1/10th...and look at the crop!
All I do is cut the tops and bottoms off, cut them in half and boil until fork tender.  These are hard so it takes about an hour.  Then I pop them in whole in my kitchen aid using the fruit strainer attachment (which is worth it's weight in gold when making this stuff). Then I can according to the directions on the website referenced above.

And I receive constant supervision from my sous chef.  He spends a lot of time sitting in the canning boxes.  And stepping in and out of them (as he is here).

All in a days work.  
Little helper approved.
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Our Chickens

The girls have arrived and are settled in.  They've been here 6 days so far.  My dad is totally going to tease me for taking pictures of chickens, but you've here they are...
We have 11 in all.  3 Rhode Island Reds.  2 Comets.  3 Barred Rocks.  3 Aracanas.
Here's a peek into the coop.  On the left are the nesting boxes I made.  On the right is the self feeder bin I made.  And the floor is a big bottle with a hole poked in the bottom and a pie plate to catch the water.  All supplies for said chickens...made...for free.  Because I'm cheap.

They're all settled in quite nicely.
My husband and I were outrageously excited when we spotted the first egg.  Here it is below.  We've got close to a dozen in less than a week.  Not bad. 
Stay tuned for spring...when we hope to have some babies to raise.  

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Coffee Cake

Coffee Cake.  Yum.  Perfect for the Sunday paper with a side of coffee. 

This recipe I used to make frequently when I was a kid.  It's adapted from the 1977 cookbook from the church I grew up in as a child. It's perfect if you need coffee cake in a jiffy.  Who doesn't experience the frequent need of a warm piece of coffee cake?

Coffee Cake

4 T butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg 
2/3 cup milk
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cup flour

Combine butter and sugar.  Add egg.  Dump the remaining ingredients in and mix. Spread in greased 9x9 square or round pan. 

1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon.

Sprinkle topping over batter.  Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.


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