Monday, September 25, 2017

A Beautiful September Day

I had the most marvelous afternoon this past weekend while visiting my friends' property nearby.  If you remember a short while ago, I promised you that I would visit the chickens that lay those beautiful eggs, which we've been partaking of here at home.  I finally took that much-needed trip to see the "ladies" and visit my friends.


When I arrived, I noticed that some of the flowers near the home and around the outbuildings were still in bloom.  The garden planted by my friends, Luke and Alicia, was bursting with vegetables ready for harvesting.  To top it all off, the sky was as clear and blue as the ocean.  

Our area of Pennsylvania has been experiencing very warm temperatures of late.  The days have been feeling more like midsummer than early fall, but you won't hear me complaining because I don't mind sunny days and eighty degree temps.  I'll take this weather and whatever the garden has to offer, any day.


Years ago, I visited this beautiful property and blogged about it by taking you inside the barns, the various outbuildings and by giving you a brief history behind the structures.  You can read about that experience by clicking here.


As we made our way to the garden area, I noticed a wire fence surrounding the parcel allocated for the vegetables.  Luke told me that in year's past, his fencing endeavors of mesh, chicken wire, etc., have not been as effective as this low-voltage, electrified fence.  Constructed of wire that winds around the four posts of the garden, the entire system connects to a solar-powered mechanism which can be turned on and off at the flick of a switch.


Can you guess what Luke is holding here?  I'm told that the little green pods which grow high on thin stalks were somewhat of an experiment to see if they would grow.  As you can see, they did.  Still no guesses?

Sesame seeds!!


Isn't it amazing how large sunflowers will get?  They always seem like something out of this world to me.


Alicia harvested several beets, including this beautiful golden one.  We began talking about how to best cook these beetroots.  I like them either roasted with olive oil (salt and pepper of course) or steamed with a little butter.  Tasty!


As we made our way back to the barns, we stopped by the little dairy outbuilding.  Luke discovered a small milk-keeping space that was hidden underneath a pile of stones.  This area was once used to hold metal milk churns back in the early 1900s.  Through a series of pipes, cool water would fill the area, and the milk containers would then get submerged for cooling.  Keep in mind that this was way before refrigeration.     


The inside of the building is very rustic, yet beautifully preserved.  Luke and Alicia think that this would be an ideal space for an extra kitchen in which to do large-scale cooking and baking.  Can't you just imagine a Garland stove against the wall, and a long farmhouse table right in the center?    


As I neared the door to the coop, I could hear the ladies clucking away.  The area where the chickens reside was originally used to house the bull on the dairy farm.  It's such a nice, sunny space that is well-insulated to keep the chickens cool in the summertime, and warm during the winter.  Hay is laid down along the floor of the coop, while bails are placed throughout so that the chickens can take a rest.  Feeders and water sources are hung from overhead.  


Look at this adorable Plymouth Rock trio that greeted me upon entering!  They were most welcoming and chatty.


Luke and Alicia tell me that they have a mix of Plymouth Rocks, Leghorns, Orpingtons, Australorps and Araucanas.  They are about to add Silkies to the mix!


What a beautiful Orpington.


Along one of the walls is a set of shelves reserved for the laying of eggs.  Taking a peek over the top, I noticed quite a few eggs ready for the taking.


The coop run is bright and sunny for the chickens to stretch their legs.  The girls can come and go as they please, but if you happen to be anywhere near the little hatch, they come running out because they know that treats are coming.  On this day, Luke fed them some tomato fresh from the garden.


The chickens are even let out from their coops for a bit of free-range time late in the afternoon.  It's so nice to see them run around the yard as a group.  They really do like to stick together.


Can you blame me for wanting to come here?  I can't get enough of the beautiful eggs from this property.  It's so nice to be able to enjoy something delicious that is locally sourced.  My omelets, fried eggs, cakes, frostings and cookies have been even better since I started using these beauties.  I vow to put some Maran chickens in their flock for the coming year, because I think they could do with some chocolate-brown eggs.

The last of the bounty from the garden.



I can't tell you how fortunate I am in knowing good people.  It isn't every day that one gets to make the connection with individuals who are passionate about locally sourcing fresh vegetables, eggs and other foodstuffs.  Luke and Alicia tell me that one day they would love to bring back some cows into the fold so that they can start milk production.  I hope that someday their dreams come true, for when it does, their endeavors will be as successful as their current small-scale cottage industry.

Thank you Luke and Alicia for allowing me to visit the property, and for continuing to supply my home with the best of the best! 

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Crafts & Keepsakes from Martha Stewart Living

A year ago, while visiting a used book store in California, I found this wonderful binder that contained some of Martha Stewart Living's best crafts and keepsakes.  I had never seen it before, but I was told by several friends that it was worth owning.  While looking through it I found it to be wonderfully organized and appealing, so I took the advice of my friends and bought it.  At five dollars I don't think you can blame me for treating myself.  


I love being inspired by things from the past.  This special-edition binder contains some of the best crafts and keepsakes that have graced past issues of Martha Stewart Living magazine.  No doubt many, if not all of these crafts, have made it into the subsequent craft encyclopedias published by Martha Stewart Living.  Still, it's so nice to have a few memorable crafts in this flax-colored bookcloth binder.  


I love this idea of using eggshells to start seeds in one's home.  It's a great project to involve the kids in.  All you need are eggshells, potting soil or germinating mix, seeds, paper for tags, glue, coffee stirrers and an egg carton.


A set of collectible plates can be hung on a wall using annealed iron wire (18 gauge), plates that appeal to you and wall hooks.  The great thing about employing this technique is that you can make the hangers to size, rather than having to rely on store-bought ones that are already premeasured.  


Candied citrus peel is very much of the holiday season.  It's so easy to candy orange, lemon or grapefruit peel and either roll the finished strips in sugar or leave them in their own syrup.  This is a perfect gift for people that like to bake with citrus peel.


A grouping of framed silhouettes can provide such an interesting focal point for any wall.  I like this idea very much.


The easy project has you photographing the subject against a neutral background.  Each print photo background is then painted in white acrylic, while the actual person is filled in with a black marker.  The doctored image is then photocopied onto quality paper, which can be framed and arranged on a wall as shown.  This would be perfect for the pets of the family.  


Every year for Christmas I tell myself that I will make gingerbread tags for people's gifts, but somehow I forget to!  I really want to do this for friends and family that live near me, because it's such a charming way to personalize a gift. I have just the perfect mini alphabet cookie cutters for this project.


Pipe cleaner wreath ornaments are fun and festive for any tree.  I can see a grouping of these for a white feather tree or for a small tabletop Christmas arrangement.  Perhaps having several along a mantle or a single one attached to Christmas stockings would be nice too.


Easy!


I've seen this Crafts and Keepsakes binder come up for auction every once in a while, so look for it if you don't already own one.  It's the perfect reading material to get you in the crafting mood this coming holiday season.

Happy collecting and crafting!

Monday, September 4, 2017

That Day in September

The leaves of brown may come tumbling down in September, but for me, it's all about taking down the yellowware bowls from the shelves and giving them a prominent place in my kitchen.  I've told you before that these bowls are among my favorite pieces of stoneware to collect, and to this day, that remains true.  What better time to start using them than now?


September is also the perfect time to begin planning for the Fall and Winter months ahead.  I can already distinguish a few changes in the landscape as I take my walks around our home and throughout the neighborhood.  One may still be harvesting the last of the tomatoes or eggplants from the garden, but if you look up at the trees, at least it is the case here in Pennsylvania, you can already detect changes, however slight, in the foliage.

Yes, the months ahead are going to be very busy for me.  Requests for baby shower cookies are already noted, a Yom Kippur brunch that my friend wants me to help her with is in the works, endless cookies for the cafe are a given, the Halloween treats for my niece and nephews have to be planned,  my dear friend's destination wedding after Christmas that I am flying out to, is already booked! Let us not forget the Fall conundrum that many of us will face: do we host Thanksgiving this year at our home or will we attend someone else's? These are all things on my checklist for the rest of 2017.

More importantly though, is what we plan to honor our dear Lion with at the site of his resting place. I've been sharing my wishes with our gardener as to what I want the area to look like.  Not only do we want perennials so that they bloom year after year, but we really and truly want to capture the spirit and color of our little guy that we loved so much.  I'm thinking of bright-orange azaleas, and perhaps some tiger lilies, but the lively display of the dogwood shrub, 'Anny's Winter Orange' is also something I've been thinking.  Whatever we decide on, September is the month in which to do it.

Have you thought about what you will be doing before the year's end?