oooohhhh.... it's almost Halloween!


Tomorrow is the big day! I don't ordinarily get excited about Halloween, but now that 'A' and 'H' are 5 and 3 years old, it's a pretty big day in our house. Both girls are wearing costumes stitched by yours truly this year. While I'm making the costumes I wonder why I bother, but deep down inside I really enjoy it.

I made 'A's costume last year. It's a princess costume and looks like something Marie Antoinette would have worn. I made it big, so it'll fit this year and maybe next too. She loves it. This year she wants to be a prairie girl, because as you know, we're all completely obsessed with Mary and Laura from Little House on the Prairie. So tomorrow she'll wear her bonnet from Old Sturbridge Village with her French princess dress. And she'll tell everyone she's a prairie girl.

I'm almost done making 'H's costume. She wants to be a fairy, so I made her a pouffy, puffy, all-tulle and satiny fairy dress. And wings. Oh my, wait until you see it tomorrow!


Today Jeff and the girls carved pumpkins while I stood 5 feet away and diced vegetables to make 4 roasted root vegetable tarts - 3 to freeze and 1 to eat tonight! I reached into the refrigerator and took out all the appropriate vegetables I could find: onions, garlic, peppers, rutabaga, turnips, beets, radishes, and winter squashes. Mmmmmm.... diced and roasted with olive oil and rosemary. It doesn't get any better.

Tomorrow should be fun.




Thursday


Yes, I'm easing into fall. Yesterday we went to the farm for the last time this year. It's a sad trip, no two ways about it. But today was an easy, happy day, full of easy, fun visits to drop off a baby present to a new mom, drop off treat bags for the children at the domestic violence shelter, and drop off some great clothing at a thrift store that benefits families in need. We made squash cupcakes for 'A's Daisy meeting, veggie chili and cornbread. Then we planted garlic and swung on the swings, built airplanes out of legos and kept up with housework. It was a good day.

feeling better!


The "quiet time" routine is working for me. My neck, shoulder and arm pain is significantly better. Today I sewed and sewed the aforementioned Halloween costume, then went for a walk in the woods with 'A' and 'H'. It's warm and sunny here, the perfect pick-me-up mid-autumn day.


I've been reading about the Alexander Technique and how it can help my pain. I've come to understand that I stand, sit and move in ways that are causing my pain. It's not like I sustained an injury and as a result I have shoulder pain. The cause of it is my posture and my tense neck and shoulder muscles that are out of alignment day after day. Finally it got to be too much for my body to bear. So, I'm in recovery now, and recovery means it's time to learn some new tricks.


Now to talk about something I love to talk about -- yes, you guessed it: Food! I made these patties for dinner last night and my kids, who don't like anything, gobbled them up and asked for them for lunch today. Wow, that says A LOT. I made homemade hamburger buns yesterday and enjoyed one on a bun last night and today had it over salad. Yum!

This recipe comes from Devra Gartenstein's book "Local Bounty: Seasonal Vegan Recipes." It calls for black beans, which I didn't have, so I used black eyed peas. I threw in some bread crumbs but you could make it without. And just to continue the "I don't follow a recipe exactly" theme, I'll tell you that I didn't steam the squash, I cut it in half, scooped out the seeds, then roasted it flesh side down in a roasting pan (400 degrees F for 20 or so minutes)

Bean and Squash Burgers

1 acorn squash (I used a buttercup squash)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup diced onion
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
2 cups cooked or canned black beans, drained and rinsed
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon canola oil

Cut the squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Cut the halves into chunks that will fit in your vegetable steamer and steam them for 20-30 minutes, or until they are very soft.

And this is the bun recipe I used - super easy and fast. Next time I might decrease the sugar. If I had rolled them in powdered sugar and stuffed them with jelly, they would have tasted like doughnuts to me. Actually.... what's wrong with that?

Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan. Add the onion, salt, chili powder, cumin, and oregano. Cook on medium-low heat for about 5 minutes, or until the onion is translucent.

Scoop the squash pulp into a medium bowl. Stir in the onion mixture, beans and vinegar. Mix well.

Shape the mixture into 6 patties. Heat the canola oil in a medium skillet and brown the patties on both sides. Serve on buns, topped with lettuce, tomato and condiments.

I'm off to make soup for dinner tonight. Which one? Maybe I can find a new version of cabbage soup - I still have half a head left and I know my kids love it.


quiet time


I've declared this week to be "Quiet Week." Meaning, we are hunkering down and resting and nesting. We're attending as few scheduled activities as possible. No trips to the chiropractor for me. I need to give my body time to rest, relax and recuperate.

I have four goals for this week (a very small number by my standards):

Finish 'H's fairy Halloween costume (made with a LOT of tulle, something I promise never to do again!).

Stuff and deliver the Halloween bags the kids made at a UU church party to the domestic violence shelter. The kids at the shelter often don't go trick or treating for security reasons so we're giving them some treats that will make them feel special.

Make a plan to deal with all the food in our house (we have a 2 week overlap for our summer and fall CSAs, not to mention it's "harvest time" and that means we have so much food in our house right now: beets, carrots, onions, garlic, turnips, radishes, lettuces, bok choy, cabbage, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, herbs, potatoes, sweet potatoes, tomatoes). My goodness!

Rest (can I count that as an action item?)


Once I finish my goals (is it possible to finish resting?), I have other goals, such as:

plant some garlic (it's late, isn't it?)

put the garden to bed

find my winter clothing in the attic, so I can stop wearing short sleeve t-shirts every day

investigate yoga classes around town


Looks like I have a serious case of winter/cold weather nesting and resting, folks. I'm excited!

keeping children safe


BOO! 'A' made this candle at 4-H

When it comes to parenting, there are some things I'm pretty lenient about, and some things I'm very strict about. Safety is one area where I am strict, anxious, nervous... whatever you want to call it. My kids have to be safe and that is all there is to it. Sometimes I feel like a real jerk with all my safety rules and neurotic behavior. "Don't..." "No..." "Be careful..." "Watch out..." Those phrases sometimes seem to come out of my mouth so much that I feel like I'm saying it non-stop. The latest issue involves 'A' and sidewalk curbs. She runs up to the edge of the sidewalk, right where it meets the road, at top speed, then quickly stops short right at the curb. I tell her over and over that it's not okay to do that. People who are driving cars don't know she's going to stop and they can get hurt if they slam on their brakes to avoid her. And what if she trips and falls, or can't stop for some reason? I've been on her case about it.


Outdoor Farmer's Market in Saratoga Springs

I hate being a "safety nag." But then things happen that make me think it's okay to be a stickler for safety. The other night I was at a meeting at the church. Jeff was there also and we transferred the girls from my car to his. He left a few minutes before me. On the way home I drove through the scene of a car accident that had obviously just happened. It was dark, so I couldn't see anything, but I could tell it was bad. Helpful bystanders were taking action and emergency vehicles were starting to arrive. Immediately I freaked out and thought of my family, who had travelled that same stretch a short while earlier. I called Jeff and he said they were safe. Phew! But someone had been involved in that accident and I sent all the healing thoughts I could to them. The accident has an unhappy ending, and the circumstances made me think that perhaps I am not crazy for trying to drill into 'A's head the importance of being careful around cars.


Once my shoulder feels better, my name might be on this board! I'm excited to work for him and support the local food economy

On a happy, less stressful note, I'm looking forward to:

* Spending time with Jeff and the girls tonight

* Making pumpkin muffins for the Sunday School kids

* Trying the first Brussels Sprouts of the season for dinner

* Working on 'H's fairy costume for Halloween

Have a wonderful weekend!


Fall is here, isn't it?


Our table "centerpiece" is decidedly autumnal. Fall is here, isn't it?

One of the website projects I worked on in the past few months was a Wordpress site for Angelini Wine, a wine importer. Wordpress is a blogging site, similar to blogger, where this blog is hosted. Earlier today I was cruising around the internet and it occurred to me that there seems to be an endless number of sites with free Wordpress blog templates and surely there must be a similar number where I can find a new blogger template, right? I'm in the mood for a change!

I googled a bit and found Aqua Poppy Designs and picked the template I put up today. It's colorful and full of my favorite colors, and I like it, at least for this week!


As I mentioned yesterday, I'm starting to pay attention to the mind-body connection and how my neck and shoulders feel throughout the day. I'm super surprised to find that my neck has almost no pain in it while I'm at home puttering around, playing with 'A' and 'H' or soaking up the atmosphere outdoors. But when I head out to interact with the rest of the world - at the grocery store, or at any one of the number of activities the girls are enrolled in - the pain comes right back. Interesting, huh? Yes, I think so too. Part of it, I'm sure, is that I have natural lighting and a homey environment at home, as opposed to the artifical lighting and overstimulation I find many other places.

I think I'm extra sensitive during this time of recovery.

This afternoon I'll be cooking (green tomato pie, soup for dinner, granola for breakfast); cleaning up (the kitchen, the laundry); sorting through (stuff on my desk, toys that are all over the house); packing away (summer clothing); and refining the art of negotiation (with the girls, who want to keep toys out all over the house).

I've never made Green Tomato Pie before (I've never made anything with green tomatoes at all). This recipe came from Justine Denison. I have no idea how it tastes, and if it's supposed to be a savory or sweet treat. I'm thinking savory. But it has all that sugar. Sweet? Here is the recipe:

Green Tomato Pie

Crust:

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 cup butter-flavored shortening (recommended: Crisco)

1/2 cup cold water

Sift together flour, salt, sugar, and baking powder into a bowl. Cut shortening into flour mixture with a pastry cutter or fork until mixture resembles cornmeal. Stir in 1/4 cup of the cold water, then add remaining

1/4 cup and mix until combined. Cover dough and allow it to rest in refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Divide dough in half. Place on lightly floured board and pat out.

Using a rolling pin, roll out 1 piece of dough to the size of a 9-inch pie pan. Put crust in pan and trim off excess dough around the edge. Roll out second ball of dough for pie crust top.


Filling:

1 1/4 cups sugar

2 tablespoons tapioca flour

1 teaspoon grated orange zest

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1/4 cup raisins

5 green tomatoes, or enough to fill pie crust, thinly sliced

Glaze: 1 slightly beaten egg white and Sugar, for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix sugar, tapioca, zest, cinnamon, nutmeg, and raisins in a large bowl. Lay tomato slices in pie crust.

Sprinkle mixture over tomatoes. (Overlapping will occur but tomatoes will shrink in size when baked.) Gently lay top pie crust over filling, tucking in the extra crust around the edges. Pinch dough with fingers or butter knife to seal edges. Using a knife, make 4 to 6 slits in top of crust to allow steam to escape. Brush top with egg white and sprinkle with a little sugar to give your crust a shine.

Place pie in the preheated oven and bake for 25 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees F. and continue to bake for 20 more minutes.

Cool on wire rack.

Thursday


I'm very happy because today is the first day I've felt like myself in 3 weeks. The adjustments and the exercises I've done with the chiropractor have certainly helped; so did the cupping session I had on Tuesday. Making some physical adjustments has made me feel so much better. And so have the social & emotional adjustments. Earlier this week I wrapped up some things that were causing me various degrees of pressure and stress. Wow, does that feel good. Finally I have the time to relax and enjoy my children without thinking about the other things I should be doing instead. Finally I can laugh and live in the moment, and that feels so good.

I've been giving some thought to the mind-body connection. In my case, it's all too clear that the outside stresses were causing my body to be in pain. One of the things that has caused some tension in my life is something that in some ways seems so insignificant, but has actually been looming large: 'A's gymnastics class. She loves gymnastics, and I don't have a problem with her taking it. It's the time schedule. The class is once a week from 6 - 7 in the evening. That's our dinner time. I had no idea how protective I am about our family dinner hour until this class started. Dinner time is when we come together as a family and reconnect. We share information, stories, and love. We need that time together. In addition, I have been confused about when to serve dinner on those days. I don't want to serve 'A' a big meal right before her class, and I don't want to wait until we get home at 7:30 in the evening to serve dinner. When do we all eat?

The session ends next week and sign-ups for the next session happened the other day. Somehow I completely forgot to sign her up until it was too late. The class is full now, and she's not in it. Was it an accident that I forgot? I don't think so. I think my subconscious mind took over and said, "No!"

In the midst of all of this, I took 'H's in-progress Halloween costume out of my sewing bag and resumed work on it. While I was sewing my pain melted away. The key for me is to incorporate a little fun & creativity into every day. I need it to stay healthy & happy.

It's never too late to learn these lessons, now is it?

over the rainbow


I'm on my way over the rainbow, hoping to get to the other side soon.

The good:
I got my car back today and it's fixed!

My neck/shoulder/arm is feeling better and better. I'm not feeling 100% better by any means - I still have a lot of pain, but the pain is less and less as I do the stretches my chiropractor teaches me, and I have hope that I'll be feeling better soon.

I've wrapped up a lot of loose ends around the house and in my life.

The bad:
There isn't any. My pain is bad, but since it's getting better, I put it in the "good" category.

Last night we had a hard frost and the basil turned black, the pepper plants wilted, and the eggplants looked like they were cold and shivering this morning. I feel melancholy at this time of year. Not sad, just thoughtful and full of feelings of wanting summer back.

Overall, life is good. And it's getting better.

Hope!


Sure, I'm in a lot of pain because my shoulder, neck and arm are hurting. Sure, I don't have my car back from the dealer yet, because they don't know what's going on. Sure, the weather is getting cooler here and summer is most certainly over. The geese are heading south. Row covers have made their appearance both in our garden and at the farm. But I have hope for the future. For my future.

I've been in constant pain for over two weeks now. My shoulder, neck and arm hurt. All I think about is pain. I can't live like this anymore. I mention it to people and some of them say, "do you have a chiropractor? I do, and it's wonderful..." I don't have a chiropractor, and I'm scared to death of going to one. This morning though I woke up and decided that today is the day. It's the day I call a chiropractor and ask for help. I got a recommendation from my osteopath and he was able to see me first thing this morning. Wow! He showed me a stretch that has just transformed my life. All the pain that went down my arm has subsided significantly. My shoulder feels better. I'm not functioning at 100%, but I certainly am better. And most of all, I have HOPE. Life is good.




Unknowns


I suspect that today is our peak foliage day. At least in my neighborhood it is. There are still green leaves on some trees, but others are completely bathed in yellows and reds and oranges. Few leaves have dropped. It's beautiful.


I'm dealing with a few unknowns right now. For starters, my shoulder still hurts and I don't know when it will stop hurting. I can live on this muscle relaxer/wine cocktail for only so long. Physical therapy is the key to recovery. Sigh. I couldn't go today because I couldn't get there. I couldn't get there because my car is spending day #6 at the dealership while the technicians try to diagnose its problem. Don't you wish cars could just talk and tell you what is wrong with them? I take no comfort in knowing that technicians around the country have never seen a problem like mine.

So, these are my unknowns:

When will my shoulder and arm feel better?
When will I get my car back?
Will I make 'H' Halloween costume in time for Halloween? (It depends on how quickly my shoulder and arm heals)
Will I prepare apple crisp filling and freeze it before the bag of apples goes bad?


Of course, there are lots of good things going on here too. Now that I make an effort to lay down every afternoon and rest my shoulder, we've started a new tradition of snuggling on the floor together and reading stories. It's fun to read in new places, at new times of the day.

I've got a TON of the girls' artwork to sort through and I've got to figure out what to do with it all. I would love to frame each and every piece, but that's not possible. I can frame a few, make books from others, and perhaps make some embroidered pillows like this one.

I've got an amazing husband who is coming home early today so he can bring 'A' to her gymnastics class, and amazing cat who brings me daily gifts of mice and chipmunks, and two amazing daughters who continue to inspire me and keep me going.


And I've got beautiful trees just outside my bedroom window.

weekend


Nothing slows down your weekend pace like an injury and the absence of your car. I've been resting, as much as someone like me can rest. Sure, I made apple butter, granola and three more roasted root vegetable tarts. Sure, I went to a baby shower, wandered into the woods to look for big mushrooms, and put away loads upon loads of laundry. I feel better when I'm standing up and moving around. But I also rested when the urge struck.

The girls are handling my shoulder/spine/rib injury wonderfully. They keep track of how often I do the PT-prescribed stretches, rub my shoulder, and understand that I need time to rest. If I didn't have the girls to keep me busy, my injury would hurt more, I think. 'A' and 'H' keep my mind off of the pain, they keep me moving around and limber, and they give me the strength to keep going. I don't know what I would do without them.

Last night I made Julia Child's french onion soup for dinner. I shouldn't say that I made it last night, because it actually takes a good part of the day to cook the onions slowly so that they sweeten up nicely. I first made this on New Year's Eve years ago, with Jeff, my sister Jennifer, and my brother in law, Bill. Mmmmmm! This is goodness at its best. I used vegetable stock instead of beef stock, because that's where I am in my life right now, but beef stock does taste better.

JULIA CHILD'S SOUPE A L'OIGNON ~ The Classic Version
(6-8 servings)
From "Mastering the Art of French Cooking", Volume One

3 Tablespoons butter
1 Tablespoon olive oil
5 cups thinly sliced yellow onions
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon sugar (to help carmelize the onions)
3 Tablespoons flour
8 cups beef stock, at a boil
1/2 cup dry white wine (like extra dry vermouth)
Salt and pepper to taste
3 Tablespoons cognac

Garnish: 6-8 croutes of hard toasted French bread rounds; 1-2 cups grated Swiss or Parmesan cheese

Melt the butter and oil over low heat in a heavy soup pot. Stir in the onions, cover, and sweat until they are tender; this will take about 15 to 25 minutes.

Remove the cover, increase heat to medium, and stir in the salt and sugar. Cook 30-40 minutes, stirring often, until the onions have turned an even, very deep, golden brown. Sprinkle in the flour; cook and stir for 3 to 5 minutes.

Off the heat, whisk in the boiling stock. Add the wine. Season to taste. Place the pot back on the heat, bring to a simmer. Continue to simmer, partially covered, for 40-60 minutes or more, skim foam from surface as it appears.

Taste and correct seasonings. At this point you may set it aside, uncovered, until you are ready to serve.

When ready to serve, with the soup at a simmer, stir in the cognac. Place the toast pieces in the bottoms of each bowl, pour the soup over it, and pass the cheese separately for your guests to help themselves.

To gratinée: Place a piece of toasted (sturdy) bread on hot soup (in individual oven proof bowls), sprinkle generously with grated Gruyère and place under broiler until melted and bubbly.

in flux


We're in flux today. No car. Not a lot of physical stamina. But lots and lots of painting, cooking, stories and love.


trying hard...


Usually I take an optimistic approach to life, and today is no exception. But sometimes I just want to whine. And today is one of those days. I went to a physical therapy appointment today to work on my shoulder and neck (and that darn dislocated rib problem). I found out that one of my vertebrae is twisted. It'll get worked on, and worked out. On my way home, my car died in the middle of the road. It's almost a new car - less than 3 years old! It's in the shop now and I await the verdict, and the bill. These days, car repairs don't come cheap. Everything is computerized and in turn, super-expensive. Today we missed a nature walk with the 4-H group, and tomorrow we'll miss 'H's gymnastics class.

Maybe this is part of the Universe's grand plan to slow me down?

Is that my way of looking at this in a positive light?

On the up side, you wouldn't believe how many people helped me with my car. So many people stopped to make sure I was okay. They pushed my car out of the road, kept my girls safe, followed me to the nearest garage. At the garage, the mechanics gave me an assessment and didn't charge me. They sent me to my dealer, where the car is now. The guys who towed my car from the local shop to the dealer also gave me and the girls a ride home. All in all, it worked out as well as could be, and it made me happy all over again that I live in the tiny little town that I do.

my rib!


I finally got some answers about my neck and shoulder pain today. It's a dislocated rib. Ouch! I got it by keeping my stress in my shoulders, which in turn pulled my rib loose. It's actually a really good diagnosis compared to what I expected to hear - that I have a hernitated disk in my neck or severe arthritis. A rib in the wrong spot is something I can work with. I start physical therapy tomorrow and hopefully I'll find some relief soon.

In the meantime, I've been thinking that I need to make some changes to take some of the pressure off. Yoga? Saying "no" more often? What else?

I'll tell you what was probably not the best idea, but something I did anyway tonight because I was scheduled to do it... I went to a coffee shop in town as a representative of the stewardship committee at the UU congregation, to talk with whoever wanted to stop by about the stewardship drive at church. We're asking for pledges of Time, Talent and Treasure. It was me and another stewardship rep there, no one from the congregation came to meet with us. My body would have been happier if I hadn't gotten in the car and gone out. But it's done, and I'm home now with my kava tea, so all is well.

On an unrelated note, have you had a chance to check out Sandi Henderson's book, Sewing Bits & Pieces? It's giving me things to dream about, and that feels good...

Hi there,

No photos. Just lots and lots of pain. My neck hurts. A lot. It takes all I have to make it through each moment. So, no photos until I feel better. Hopefully that'll be soon.

Saturday


Planning to:

Order one of these Pluckfastic.org stickers for my water bottle... and maybe one for my car too

Can many jars of apple sauce and apple butter tomorrow afternoon

Make felted soap sometime with 'A' and 'H', just as Meg did recently

Get a little more organized here at home

And enjoy the rest of the weekend with my family!



clay pot cooker


This is the wonderful gift given to me yesterday by someone who loves food as much as I do. Wow, a clay pot cooker! I can't wait to break it in with the bag of root vegetables I received at the farm on Wednesday.

We had a good day today - some organized activities, some time spent in a not-so-organized way, cooking, playing, some volunteer work, and an evening with friends. Everything that makes me smile.

About Me

My name is Jillian. I started this blog as a way to experiment with my camera and it's a become a nice little spot where I enjoy spending time. I'm a mother to 6 and 4 year old daughters, wife to a cool computer guy, and mama to a cuddly cat. We enjoy eating local, organic food; managing several food allergies; homeschooling with love; spending time in nature; and we love to take time each day to be creative. You can also find me over at From Scratch Club from time to time. Welcome!