Tuesday, August 28, 2012

End of August Garden Update

The weather has taken a turn toward Autumn, we still are having some nice warm days, but the mornings and evenings are much cooler, we have even had a little bit of rain.   Earlier this week I took advantage of a cooler day to get some work done out in the garden, we cleared away the remnants of the green beans and planted kale in its place.  I also planted a couple of pots full of lettuce, and hope to plant some spinach as well.  I always like to plant a few things for the fall garden.

The zinnias have finally bloomed, I love their vibrant colors.

The stars of the garden this week are definitely the pepper plants.  We had quite a harvest of jalapenos and poblano peppers today, and I am looking forward to jalapeno poppers tonight.  The poblanos will go well with sausage and onions, and I am hoping to make a jalapeno cornbread next week.  Next week we should have another large harvest of jalapenos as well as the bell peppers that are starting to come along.

My two little plantings of lima beans are still growing, the pods are starting to fill out and I am hoping the weather stays warm enough for them to finish up.

We have one lone acorn squash, and I am keeping my eye on it, I would rather not share this one with any garden pests.  I love acorn squash in the fall.

I tucked in a few pumpkin seeds in with the zucchini, and found this cute little white pumpkin growing, definitely a sign of fall's arrival just around the corner!

Friday, August 24, 2012

52 Weeks of Fairy tales Week # 31 - The Three Billy Goats Gruff

For 52 Weeks of Fairy Tales Week #31's  fairy tale, I was inspired at the county fair.

By these three.

So I thought I would share the Norwegian fairy tale, The Three Billy Goats Gruff.

This story is about three billy goat brothers, they have run out of grass to graze on, and must cross a bridge over a stream to get to a lush meadow on the other side, where they will have plenty to eat.  Unfortunately a horrible and mean troll lives under the bridge, and eats anyone who crosses.  The smallest billy goat crosses the bridge first, and as soon as he is part way over the bridge, the troll jumps out and threatens to eat him up.
The littlest goat explains to the troll that he is very small, and if the troll just waits, a larger goat will be along shortly, and the larger goat would make a  better meal.  So the troll lets the smallest goat across the bridge.

Then the medium sized goat makes his way across the bridge, and again the goat is stopped by the hungry troll, who threatens to eat him up.  The medium sized goat also convinces the troll to not eat him, and instead to wait for the larger goat that will be there soon.  So the troll lets the middle goat across the bridge.

Finally the largest billy goat makes his way across the bridge, and once again the troll stops the goat, and threatens to eat him up.  The largest billy goat is a large and strong goat with big horns, and he doesn't put up with the troll at all.  The largest goat then charged the troll, and sent him flying right off the bridge, and into the stream.  The large goat made his way across the bridge to join his brothers in the grassy meadow, where they would have plenty of grass to eat.  From then on the bridge was safe and no one heard from the troll again.

Snip, Snap, Snout.  This tale's told out.  ( This was the classic ending included in some versions of the story, I thought that it was fun.)


This is a very fun story to tell, there are many different versions online, as well as some fun animated versions on YouTube.  You can use these online sources to come up with fun ideas for telling the story yourself. This would also be a fun story to tell in conjunction with exploring various bridges.

For my craft, I decided to do another paper cutting for our fairy tale scrapbook.

Here is a close up of the cut out image, I drew on my design, the goat shape I found online and reduced the picture a few times to get the different sizes of goats and cut them out and traced them above the bridge and troll, then cut out the design and mounted the cut out paper to a black sheet of 12 by 12 card stock.  The tricky part of paper cutting is thinking through what you want cut out, and how that will look, and also not cutting so close to the edge that you almost cut the paper in half.  :)  I really enjoy this type of crafting, and our fairy tale scrapbook is coming along nicely.

I also think this story would be fun to make shadow puppets for like I did for the fairy tale The Three Spinners.    The Three Billy Goats Gruff is one of those wonderful classic tales that I grew up hearing, and it is nice passing it down to my children, both of my kids are teens now, but with pop culture so full of fairy tale inspired books, TV shows, and movies, it is nice for them to know the classics.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Nightshade in the Garden and August's Books

Today we got an early start to the day, it was registration day at the high school, and time to get class schedules sorted out.  Fall is just around the corner, and the start of a new school year is always exciting.

The weather was nice today, not too hot, so I decided to get some weeding done, and prep the garden for a few fall veggies.

I had some grassy weeds that were tall and are starting to go to seed, I left this one out in the middle of our gravel walkway, it looks really pretty blowing around in the breeze.

Then I decided to work on weeding my unruly patch of lavender and came across the weed below. In just a little over a week it was really starting to take over the lavender bed.  My daughter and I started pulling it, we both thought the purple flower was pretty, but then I noticed green berries on the vine, so we stopped so I could look up what plant it was, I was concerned it was poisonous and wanted to make sure we were handling it's removal correctly.

After a search on Google, I found it is was most likely Bittersweet Nightshade or Solanum Dulcamara, and was, as I suspected, poisonous.  You can read the Wikipedia page on  Solanum Dulcamara.

The plant has clusters of these little purple flowers with a yellow stamen, the berries on the plants in my garden are currently green, but apparently will turn red.

Here is the shape of one of the larger leaves.  The whole plant is attracting some sort of pest, and the leaves have quite a bit of insect damage.  I plan on digging the rest of this plant out tomorrow with hubby, it is poisonous, and my lab Zoey, who loves the lavender patch, and nibbling on garden greens, could be in danger if she gets a hold of this plant.

Had I been more observant I should have seen the connection to the nightshade family of plants.  Look at the shape of that flower.

Look at the shape of these tomato flowers, growing only a few feet away.  The tomato is also in the nightshade group of plants, and the plants are strikingly similar.

I am now concerned about cross pollination between my cherry tomatoes and the bittersweet nightshade, they are only a few feet away, and both next to my lavender which is covered in happily pollinating bees.  I have tried searching out this info, most people say they won't cross pollinate, but one person said that she got sick from a tomato in her garden that was growing near a patch of bittersweet nightshade.  I don't know enough about cross pollination to know, so until I figure it out I have put a temporary ban on the cherry tomato patch.  Any ideas gardening friends?  Have you ever come across this weed in your garden?


All this poison plant talk got me to thinking about my favorite Nathaniel Hawthorne short story, Rappaccini's Daughter.   I first read this short story in my high school Junior English class, and loved it.  Set in 18th century Italy, a young scholar falls in love with a young women who tends her father's poisonous garden.  A very intriguing, mysterious short story, I would highly recommend it.

You can find a very inexpensive digital collection of Nathaniel Hawthorne's Short stories at Amazon, here is my link.

Of course you can probably find a copy of Hawthorne's works at the library as well.  We also watched a film adaption of the story in our high school class, a very interesting little movie.  Years later I searched out a copy of the film on VHS, and enjoy watching it from time to time.  I played it for Sarah and Joe earlier this summer, and they thought it was interesting as well, despite the 1980's style filming. :)

I may have to upgrade to DVD soon before my old VHS wears out.  You can read more about the movie at Amazon.  I believe you can also watch it on Netflix.

I also thought I would share what I am currently reading.  I have been making good use of the library this summer, and have done lots of reading.

I have just about finished up Radical Homemakers.  I had seen it recommended many times, and it turned out to have a lot of wonderful information on simple living, and choosing to live life rather than focus primarily on consuming- consuming less and creating more, living life around family and community.  Very thought provoking book.

For fun I checked out Stitched Whimsy.  This book looked like it would have a lot of fun felt project ideas, and it does.  Very cute projects, lots of animals, dolls and ornaments, mushrooms and gnomes, soft play food, and simple patterns to follow.  Ideas for fabric, felt, and needle felting.  I am really enjoying this book and need to get out my wool felt stash and sew up a few of these projects. :)

I hope everyone is having a nice week.  If you have any more information about the bittersweet nightshade weed, I would love to know.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Gratitude Sunday and Happy 18th Anniversary

Today I have something very wonderful to be grateful for- Gary and I are celebrating our 18th anniversary!

I feel so fortunate to have shared 18 years being married to my forever love and best friend.  You can read all about how we met and our wedding story in my 17th Anniversary Post  from last year.  

So today I decided to list the things I am grateful for about Gary and our marriage and family.
  • I enjoy our long talks and coffee breaks together.
  • Gary makes me laugh like no one else.
  • I love that we have seen so many years of movies together that we can quote funny lines or even one funny word from a movie and we both know what we're talking about, no matter how obscure the reference. 
  • I genuinely enjoy hanging out with my hubby all the time, working, playing, anytime. 
  • I appreciate all the times Gary gets up in the middle of the night to check a sound I thought I heard. :)
  • Gary and I love getting out into nature and exploring, and I look forward to many more road trips and day outings!
  • Gary is very supportive of anything I am trying to accomplish.
  • Gary works hard to provide for our family which has allowed me to stay at home raising our children for all of these years.
  • I am so grateful for the family we have become, I love parenting alongside Gary, and I so incredibly enjoy our children.
  • I am grateful for the foundations we have laid down for our family to continue to grow on.

Gary, I love you so much!  Happy Anniversary!


We had a great time this week at the county fair! You can read about Our Day at the County Fair here.

TodayI am joining Taryn at Wooly Moss Roots for Gratitude Sunday.
G r a t i t u d e  *  S u n d a y
{Sunday's heartfelt tradition. A time to slow down, to reflect, to be grateful. A list of gratitudes.} 

Gratitude Sunday

Friday, August 17, 2012

Our Day at the County Fair

It is County Fair season, and Wednesday we had a wonderful day at the fair.

The weather has been very hot this week, in the high nineties and even hitting a hundred at times, for us that is about as hot as it gets, so I knew the day at the fair was going to be warm and an early start was best.  This year we went with my little niece and nephew for their first year at the fair which was very fun.

We were all excited to spend the day at the fair, as we arrived we were met with all of the wonderful smells of fair food and earthy animal smells, as well as the sounds of rides and happy people, and lots to see.  We made our way down the path of food vendors, stopped to watch a very funny comedic juggler, and made our way to the main pavilion.

I was very excited to see all of the kitchen cupboard entries, I love all of the old fashioned baking and crafting portion of the fair.

It was interesting looking at everyone's canned foods entries.

The pies looked delicious too.

This was the display I was most interested in.

This year I wanted to enter the baking portion of the fair, I have wanted to for quite some time but wasn't sure how, so I went online and found all the rules and categories, and decided to make my Brown Sugar Bacon crumble Muffins .  I dropped them off earlier in the week, and was very eager to see how my first try at Fair baking would go.  I was so happy to see a ribbon for third place.  I am really looking forward to next year, now that I know how to go about entering, and all of the different categories, I plan on trying my hand at many of the classic baking categories.


The first place muffin entry went to a very delicious looking double chocolate chip muffin- yum.  I was also pleased to see entries in the junior competition from one of my Sunday school students who won ribbons,  and also spotted the handiwork in the craft and hobby area from some of our our friends, I look forward to congratulating them on Sunday.  Good work!  I love to know that their are young people continuing to learn cooking, sewing, and crafting skills.

There is only so long you can ask little ones to look at baked goods, especially when there are animals to be seen and rides to ride.  So next we made our way to ride a few rides before it got too hot.

My niece and nephew enjoyed some classic kiddie rides.

They were so excited it was cute.

Next Sarah and Joe went on a big kid ride.

Then the little ones enjoyed another kiddie ride, this was their favorite, they could move the helicopter up and down with their own control stick, they thought that was pretty cool!

Then Sarah and Joe had their own up in the air ride.

This ride looked like a lot of fun.

Then we decided a trip through a fun house would be a fun classic for the kids to try out.

After rides were done it was time for lunch.  Foot long hot dogs, corn dogs, and delicious cups of flavored shaved ice were the first treats of the day.  The shaved ice really hit the spot and really helped to cool us down.

After lunch we went to check out all of the animals.  

We really enjoyed all of the rabbits and chickens.  I spotted a Blue Indian Runner Duck that is now on my list of duck breeds I would like one day, and I always enjoy looking at the variety of chickens.  Of course we all loved the cute rabbits, from very large to small.

You can all guess what fairy tale I am inspired to share after seeing these three goats. :)

This had to be the cutest thing by far, these two little piglets were so enthusiastically nursing it was hilarious and super cute.

Here were the rest of the piglets, so cute!

We had fun looking at all the pigs and cows.

At the goat barn we had fun petting all of the goats, this breed was so friendly.

We only had time to barely glance at the sheep, the weather was so hot at that point that it was time for another shade and cool beverage break.

Sarah and Joe took pictures of their little cousins in the wooden cutouts.

We  all enjoyed corn on the cob with icy lemonade.

My nephew decided that he agreed with Uncle Gary and loved the corn on the cob!

Sarah and Lily were making each other laugh.

After we cooled down a bit, we walked through a butterfly house that was set up.

We were given q-tips to soak in nectar that allowed us to pick up the butterflies.

It was very fun seeing them up close.

We then made our way to the game area to play some classic fair games, we watched some neat dancers on the way, they did a wonderful tap dancing routine.

The little ones tried out a few of the classic fair games, like knocking over milk bottles.

and testing out their strength.

They had fun winning a couple of prizes and playing the games.

Joe and Gary were interested in trying out the crossbow shooting, and Sarah was interested in brother and Dad trying to win her a giant white tiger (her favorite animal).  Joe gave it a couple of tries, then Gary tried a few times.

And Gary got a bulls-eye!

Sarah was so excited to bring this giant fellow back home, the dogs aren't sure what to think of it. :)

We finished off the trip with a sampling of some very tasty fair treats along with lots of ice water. All six of us shared these very greasy, but oh so good curly fries.

We all had a little taste of this funnel cake.

And last but not least, split a few giant elephant ears.

It was an all around wonderful day at the fair, and I eagerly await visiting again next year!

What is your favorite part of the fair?