Friday, October 31, 2008

Pickin' Pumpkins

We got to choose some pumpkins recently at a little park festival put on by one of Ron's co-workers. Free pumpkins, face paints, goodies, art projects and general park fun to help promote her business. We've been a few years and really enjoyed the fun. Of course, we hung out for a long time.... long enough to be forced to take home a few more than our fair share of pumpkins. The front of our house looks very festive as a result, although it is Halloween Eve and we haven't even carved a single one. Better get busy with the carving set!

Here are the boys lounging among their picks... as well as trying to convince Louise that it would really be fun to do the same.
No thank you!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Goodbye to a Friend

We had to say goodbye to "Little Fella" recently. Little Fella, as named by Gus, was a little caterpillar (a moth of some sort, my sister knows the exact species) that we found in July at my parents' cabin in WI. He lived in our living room and porch the rest of the summer and the beginning of the fall, until I was worried that we would single-handedly be responsible for his demise. These guys hibernate over the winter and don't become a moth 'til the spring. We considered moving his box to the basement, but I was worried we would forget, that we wouldn't give him the right kinds of plant life to survive, or that he might even stink up the basement in his forgotten death!

Instead, we decided to do the humane, but difficult thing: we returned him to nature. We took him to nearby Woodlake Nature Center and found a perfect little tree for his new home. Carl and Gus were quite sad, but were reassured when I said we could come back for visits whenever they wanted.

The three of them are scouting potential tree homes for Little Fella. When we found an ash tree, the same kind he was living on when we found him at the cabin, we knew it would become his home sweet home.

They're settling him in here. Gus picked leaf after leaf after leaf and piled them neatly beside and on him, to ensure adequate nutrition in his new home. They waved and blew kisses. "Bye Bye Little Fella!"

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Cutest Skirt

Please take a look at the skirt on Grosgrain, a fabulous blog with beautiful photography of a mom's sewing projects that just happen to include adorable girl skirts. She's opening up an online store in November.

I think Louise would look adorable wearing one of these with the pocket designed to hold birdseed. Love it! Hope I win the contest giveaway. If not, just in time for Christmas!

In the meantime, I've been doing a little bit of sewing myself. A certain friend of mine who shall remain nameless recently turned 40 and deserved a bit of recognition. Here's her new purse... same design as my sister purse.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Bread for Kerri

Kerri- Here's a preview of your bread from my giveaway that I'll deliver tonight. It just came out of the oven and I had to snap a quick shot of it. Congrats!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Check it out...

Hi there. In case you haven't had a chance to swing on over to the Ile de France website and check out the recipe contest, make sure you check mine out and vote for your favorite (mine, hopefully.) My recipe is the Camembert and Caramelized Onion dinner rolls.

Also, the artist/blogger Freckled Nest who made my fabulous header with the carrots is having a huge, blowout sale on her etsy site. Check it out. Every thing is 50% off. She does great work. Bright, cheery and they make great presents!

Have a wonderful weekend. I'm off to the northland with my book club to a cabin retreat. No kids, just 5 women, wine, food, walks in the woods and time to just be. What are you going to do this weekend to inspire you?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Fall Fun at the Arb

I think the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum is my absolute favorite place on earth to see the fall colors. Yes, some say that driving up north or along the mighty Mississippi is wonderful, and it is, but the arb really knows how to show off its colors.
We went last weekend and enjoyed an unguided romp in the woods with the cousins, the paths unfolding in front of us, allowing our boys (and girl) to discover the woods and all their wonders by themselves. The beauty of bringing children out in the open air like this is that they are exercising so many of their senses as well as their little bodies... and they don't even know it. Later they hit the pillows so hard we didn't hear a peep 'til the morn. They're still talking about the paths and rocks today.

As my wife (well, roommate) and I used to say, "thank you, thank you, thank you" for it all.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

More Bread

I tried another variety of the bread this week. It is a cornmeal based bread from Portugal. I believe the name they use is broa, which is the word for bread in Portuguese, but also the term used to describe this delicious, crispy, earthy style of bread. The recipe is basically the same as the boule/baguette/ciabatta recipe, but you substitute some cornmeal instead of some of the flour. The results? Mmmm. Wish I would have had a jumbo pot of a fish stew to eat it with. Butter worked too.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Happy Birthday, Krista!

My sister turned 33 last week. 33? How can that be? We're almost two years apart, so for a few months a year, we're only a year apart in number. I'm 34 until December, so until then, Krista can lord it over me that we're almost the same age.

We celebrated her birthday last night with our family at soup night, our monthly tradition of gathering together over soup, bread, salad, wine (and beer) and lots of laughs. Over the years the meals have become less relaxing (read: louder) as we've expanded our numbers with kids, yet still a wonderful time together as family. Last night the four little ones were mostly happy sitting at the little kid table and eating, so the adults were able to talk together for a little while uninterrupted.
The beautiful fall table my mom set.
A few years ago I admired a cake on the front of a Country Living magazine and decided to make it for Krista's birthday. The tradition continued and now I've made my third one for her. The annual Country Living copy-cake. Happy Birthday, Krista. Hope you're feeling better!

Notice the fondant stripes around the cake. A little crooked, but rolled with love.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A Little More Sewing

I pulled the sewing machine out of the depths of the basement (we're sort of remodeling and it is a MESS!) to the dining room this weekend. Since it is out, I figured that I should get some use out of it.

I purchased this shirt recently at a garage sale for $.50, thinking it would be a fun shirt to go out in. Let's just say it was a bit too tight and way too short. I guess I was shopping with two children, so maybe I overestimated the size of the shirt. Instead of tossing it into the GoodWill bag, I wondered if it could be turned into something for Louise. With a little snip and some other found clothing around the house headed for the trash, a new twirly skirt was born. I felt like a woman out of the Depression, reusing every tiny bit of fabric on hand. Even the elastic was reused. Later I'll post a picture of her in it, doing her new favorite thing: twirling.

I don't have a serger, so I zigged it. Rustic yes, but very fun.

Monday, October 13, 2008

A Little Sewing

I began this shirt for Louise last Christmas. It is a good thing that I bought a 12-18 month size
shirt for it, because it took me until last week to finish it. Poor Louise, she was too little to realize that her brothers and cousins got embroidered t-shirts. Perhaps it makes it more perfect now. She's the only one that got a shirt... and she loves it!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Book Fair

Last week at Carl's school we attended the book fair. Quite a lovely little fair, I must say. The folks at Scholastic know exactly how to do it... lots of inexpensive books with great illustrations on the cover. It was like letting the kids loose in a candy store. A healthy, organic kind of candy store.
Carl picked out a Geronimo Stilton book about Private Detectives and soon we began calling the boys OOC and OOG (that's double O C.) Gus picked out a cute one called Charlie Cook's Favourite Book, by By Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. The same team as The Gruffalo. (If you haven't seen this photo yet of the upcoming Children's Theatre show, please take a peek and see if you know that little fellow for the Gruffalo.)
The weather was so beautiful that we decided to stay at the park to play, or well, read. Before the swings and the slides, we had to read the new books, they said. Who can say no to that kind of request?

Saturday, October 11, 2008

We have a WINNER!

Thank you to all of you who left comments this week. Sorry to the out-of-towners and even out-of-countryers who left comments, both on the blog and via email. This bread and cheese is meant to be eaten fresh. It was fun to hear about everyone's favorite fall traditions. Many involve food, of course.
I put all the in-town entrants' names in a hat... and the winner is: Kerri! You'll have to drop me a note and let me know if you prefer a loaf of warm bread or some fresh mozzarella. I'll deliver either one to your home this week. Congratulations.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Camembert goodness

Camembert and Caramelized Onion Dinner Rolls. My inspiration.

As we watched the UPS truck drive up the other day, Gus remarked, "They are bringing your cheese, Mom." Quickly I scanned my brain, wondering what kind of on-line purchase I had made lately and would be arriving soon. The driver handed the box to Gus and of course, with a kid's intuition, he was right. My latest shipment from Ile de France Cheese, a free sample to taste and review. How did he know? Or was he just hoping for another fun-filled box with cheese to make Mama happy and the bubble wrap for himself?
Inside the overnighted box was a lovely little round of Camembert cheese on an icepack, insulated to keep it the perfect temperature. I couldn't help but sneak a little slice before I placed it into the fridge. Mmmm... and they want me to review this delicious little morsel? I'm game.

Cheese is lovely, just as is, served in a little wedge or accompanied by a slice of apple or crackers. Cheese is elevated at times by a little preparation, the addition of a few perfect ingredients and a little time to meld the flavors. The Ile de France Camembert is mild, creamy, non-offensive to even a 3-year old's tender palate. It made a swell snack several evenings in a row after the children went to bed, happily reminding me of many-a-round of Camembert I consumed during my semester in Paris. How can a little morsel of preserved milk, a bit of artisan handling, and time... bring me back in an instant? Ile de France is a French cheese, that's why. Thank you, Ile de France, for the instant journey back to my days walking through Jardin de Luxembourg and down Rue Montparnasse, demi baguette in hand.

Of course, I couldn't just finish the cheese without a little bit of fun in the kitchen. As I've been playing around with bread in Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day, I decided to take a peek, further back into the book and find a tasty way to incorporate the cheese. I settled on a recipe for rolls topped with herbs and caramelized onions, but incorporated the cheese. Melted camembert and caramelized onions, a winner indeed. The scent of lingering onions melded with warm cheese is still wafting aound my kitchen. Mmmm. Take a peek and see for yourself. Too bad I can't share them with all of you. You'd love them too.
Also, make sure to send in your favorite cheese recipe to Ile de France. They are featuring a contest with $1,000 for the top prize.

Two more days to post a comment for the cheese/bread giveaway! The winner will be selected on Saturday.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

My 100th Post-- And a Giveaway

There has been a lot more bread baking here this week. I've tackled, and conquered (I like to think) the following: boule, ciabiatta and now, the baguette. Within the past week I've made at least three batches of bread, which means 12 loaves. Wow.
This is my official 100th blog entry. A huge feat, considering my early opinions of blogs. Was my life blogworthy? Would people stop in for a quick hello regularly? Would I be able to continue blogging regularly? The answer is yes, all around. With the blog and the blogging community I've found a new niche for myself as a stay-at-home mom, a crafter, a woman, a photographer and citizen of this world. I've truly enjoyed my early morning time or into the wee hours of the night when my wee ones are sleeping, catching up on our daily outings and activities, reading all about my fellow bloggers' lives and habits, children and cheese.

To thank my loyal and occasional readers, I'm offering my first official giveaway. Unfortunately, due to the perishable nature of my prize, the winners will have to be local. Out of towners, don't fret, I'll have another item for a giveaway soon. So, if you're local, here's the deal: Post a comment here within the next week. You don't even have to log on and get your own blogger account, just be anonymous but sign your name. Answer the following question: What do you love about the fall?

The prize? Your choice of a fresh ball of my homemade mozzarella or a piping hot loaf of boule, ciabiatta or baguette. I'll even deliver it to your door, ready for your dinner. In your comment, make sure to let me know your preference. I'll put your names in a hat, mix 'em up, and Carl and Gus will choose the winner. Let the baking or cheese making begin! To 100 more posts!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Arb

This chartreuse color is truly one of my favorites these days. And orange. Not probably the most flattering color on a blonde, but sometimes you just gotta do what feels right. Not necessarily what the rules say are right.

My brother, sister and I took our Mom on a birthday outing a few weeks ago, to the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. Just us, no kids, not even our Dad. We did the same for his birthday in July, just Dad and the three of us to a baseball game. With so many little ones around at our family gatherings, it is often difficult to really talk. I mean, really talk. No interruptions.

The Arboretum was a perfect location for our birthday gathering, as all four of us could talk shop about plants for days. We're all garden lovers and interested in picking up tips on new plants and cool color combinations. Although it was rainy and cool, we enjoyed our selves immensely, taking the trolley tour of the grounds, noshing on a light soup and sandwich lunch in their enviromentally friendly cafeteria (they compost/recycle almost everything!), and lingering among the hosta glades.

Love this combination. The gomphrena reminds me of the summer
I spent in China. These hot pink beauties grew there like dandilions here.
Everywhere and beautiful!

Ideas for the future... wouldn't this look great at our farm someday?
This French-style kitchen garden caught my eye.
Tomatillos, growing THIS big in Minnesota? Mine never even dreamed of these heights!
Krista in the rain... admiring the waterfall that actually
crossed through the rocks on the path. How do they do that?