Saturday, July 28, 2012

52 Weeks of Fairy Tales Week #28 - Jack and the Beanstalk

The last couple of weeks have been very busy, I got the bug to organize a few troubles spots around my home and have been very focused on finishing my organizing projects, that, along with all the summer heat, and I have gotten behind in my fairy tale crafting.  I am hoping I can get caught back up soon.

Week 28's fairy tale post was inspired by my garden, with bean season starting, I was very excited to read the story of Jack and the Beanstalk.

Jack and the Beanstalk is a classic English fairy tale.  The story is about a widow and her son Jack, they are very poor.  Their only income is the family dairy cow, but when the cow stops giving milk, Jack's mother sends Jack into town to sell the cow.  On his way Jack meets a strange old man who buys the cow for a handful of magic beans.

When Jack arrives home his mother is furious, and throws the beans out the window and sends Jack to bed with no supper.  However, overnight the beans grow a giant beanstalk, and in the morning Jack decides to climb it.

So Jack climbs...

and climbs...

and climbs...

until he reaches the sky, there he sees a giants house and makes his way to the house.

Jack arrives at the giant's house and is greeted by the giant's wife, Jack asks her for some food, and she invites him in.  When the giant arrives home Jack must hide from him.  The giant can still smell Jack though and says his well known phrase - Fee-fi-fo-fum!  I smell the blood of an Englishman.  Be he live, or be he dead, I'll grind his bones to make my bread!  Fortunately Jack is well hidden and the giant's wife distracts the giant with his money, which the giant falls asleep counting.  Jack steals the bag of gold, and sneaks out of the house and back down the beanstalk.

Two more times Jack makes the journey up the beanstalk, the second time stealing a hen that lays golden eggs, and the third time stealing a magic harp that sings.  The third time however the giant wakes up and chases Jack to the beanstalk.  Jack makes his way down quickly yelling for his mother to bring him an ax.  Jack makes it down just in time to chop down the beanstalk, and down it falls along with the giant who was climbing down, and the giant dies.

We find out that it was the giant that stole these items from the family in the first place, as well as stealing from other poor people as well, and in many versions it is the giant that is responsible for Jack's father dying. And so Jack is a hero, and he and his mother live happily ever after with their riches.


For my craft, I made a little Jack doll and took him out into the garden for his pictures.  The first picture he is in is one of my garden trees, the branch looked like a large vine he was climbing, the next pictures of Jack climbing are in my green beans, purple beans and lima bean plants.

His little green shirt is embroidered with a leafy green bean vine, and his hat is embroidered with the letter J for Jack.  I always have fun making these little bendy dolls and their outfits, and I knew I wanted to make a Jack and the Beanstalk doll clear back when I was planting my bean seeds.

Here are some of the beans we harvested tonight, the purple green beans look like they are right out of a fairy tale, I am excited to try them out tomorrow.

You can learn learn how to makes bendy wrapped wire dolls from the book by Salley Mavor, Felt Wee Folk, great instructions as well as clothing patterns.  You can learn more about this book through my Amazon link below.

Hope everyone is having a nice weekend!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

End of July Garden Update 2012

July is about to wrap up for the year, and the garden is in full swing.

All of the raised beds are full to bursting with healthy plants that are just about ready to start filling our dinner plates with fresh veggies.

The green beans that were slow to start have really pulled around, and we should be able to pick some this weekend or early next week.  Every one of us here loves garden fresh green beans and are happy eating them at as many dinners as possible.

This year we also experimented with  a purple variety of bean, and they are beautiful and also doing very well.  I love the purple blossoms!

The peppers are full of blossoms as well as a few small jalapenos that will be stuffed and wrapped in bacon as soon as they are ready.

The lima beans in my old wheelbarrow are starting to flower.

The Zucchini which was also really slow to start for me this year, and had to be replanted once, is doing very well.  Both my standard variety, and my chartreuse variety are already producing, and the yellow variety finally has a few baby squash.

Back in early June when I was worried none of my zucchini plants would grow, I decide to buy a few zucchini plants, our local veggie plants selection was very tiny and picked over, and all I could find was a mini variety made for smaller pots.  I planted two in a little pot and they are doing pretty well, they are a cute small striped variety.  Since my regular zucchini plants finally popped up, I ended up planting the other two mini variety under the rose bush, the only spot left at the time, and they are doing very well also.

This compact zucchini plant would be a great variety for someone whose garden space is limited to a deck or patio.

Here are the squash I picked today, I will be serving them steamed and drizzled with butter and a little sauteed garlic along side our Mexican Cornbread Bake .

Here is the first of our garlic harvest, this was the first time I have grown garlic here, and I planted it too close together, so they are small, but they smell delicious and they will be nice to serve along with our other garden veggies.

The early girl tomato is covered in green tomatoes, our heirloom varieties are also doing well.

As always the sungolds are doing great, and they will find their way into pasta and salads over the next couple of months.

Here is a sad little tomato plant that got hit with a burst of sun and got looked over in the last watering, I will give it some extra attention this week and it should come back around, but what is really funny are all the volunteer tomatoes that have popped up from last year's dropped tomatoes, they are growing right in gravel and doing very well.

I planted a bunch of flower seeds in an old kiddie pool, and the bachelor buttons are the first to blossom (cosmos and zinneas soon to follow), I love Bachelor Buttons, they are so easy to grow, and often reseed.

I grew a mixed variety this year with both the purple and blue as well as pink and white, I love this white and purple blossom.

The sedum is flowering all over the yard, we let it grow anywhere it lands in the gravel and its pink, white and yellow blossoms are so pretty this time of year.

The old stone face is nestled under the bird feeder among the creeping jenny which is a nice bright yellow now, I love the little daisy weed next to him.

The lavender is still keeping the bees busy.

My rose bush is also producing some beautiful blossoms, here is one peeking through the barberry.

Our blueberry harvest is also in full swing you can read about our blueberry harvest in my Bagpipes and Blueberries post.

I love being out in the garden with all of this colorful and green growth, we feel really blessed to be able to eat fresh produce from the garden.  My prayers go out to everyone in the country experiencing drought and to all the farmers who are facing such a difficult year.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Bagpipes and Blueberries

Around here, mid July is marked every year by two of my favorite things, Bagpipes and Blueberries, and this last weekend we enjoyed both.

One of our favorite family events to attend in July is the annual Portland Scottish Highland Games.

Saturday was the 60th annual Portland Scottish Highland Games, and we arrived just in time for opening ceremonies.  Our day started with some wonderful bagpipe music kicking off the event.

Opening ceremonies always starts with the singing of the national anthems of The USA, Canada, and the UK.  Then a parade of the various clan families.

After the parade is a very fun event, the kilted mile run, you can see the runners being led in by a bagpiper.  This year the winner ran the mile in 4 minutes and I believe 17 seconds, he was extremely fast, it was pretty amazing.

After the kilted mile, we enjoyed a lunch of our favorite Highland game food, the Scottish meat pie.  We look forward to these every year, these little pies are beyond good, a delicious crust with a savory meat filling.  We also shared a Stovie which is just like a hearty beef stew, it was great.  For dessert we all shared a dish of Tipsy Laird a yummy raspberry topped custard over pound cake.

While we were eating lunch,  we enjoyed a little bit of the highland dancing, below the dancers are doing the sword dance and have to dance over two crossed swords without touching the swords.  They all did a great job.

After lunch we walked around a bit, listening to the pipe band competition for a while.  I really enjoy bagpipe music.  When I went to camp in the 6th grade, we were were woken every morning, bright and early, with Bagpipes playing Scotland the Brave over the speakers, a much better way to wake up than a dreadful alarm. :)

Then it was time to head over to the upper field and watch some of the Scottish athletics.  We saw a little broadsword combat demonstration.

Then watched as some very strong athletes throw the Portland Stone.  This event is a fun Portland special event, the Portland Stone weighs 96 pounds and came right out of the Sandy River.  The men hoist it above their heads then run and toss the stone, quite impressive!

These men were swinging a Scottish hammer.

These men were throwing weights straight up in the air for height.

After taking in some of the sporting events, we walked back to the main field, spent a little time browsing various venders.   Sarah sampled some McTavish shortbread, they had some interesting flavors like lemon with lavender and even a red velvet.  Joseph enjoyed looking through the swords with Gary.  Then we went back to the stadium to find a nice spot to view more bagpipe competition, and have a afternoon snack of my favorite sausages- Bangers covered in sauteed onions- yum!

Everyone looks forward to one of the last sporting events- the Caber toss- this year they had a new caber that was 19 feet long, and very heavy.  It is amazing that anyone can even lift such a huge thing, the men competing were all very strong, unfortunately this year no one turned the caber, it was still very exciting to watch.

After the caber toss, the day ended with mass bands- all the bagpipers, playing together on the field.  This is always so wonderful to watch, and such a wonderful sound, they played Scotland the Brave and finished with Amazing Grace.

We had a wonderful day at the games, it is always such a memorable day.  

This weekend was also the time for us to bring in the bulk of our blueberries.  Last week the bushes had some nice ripe berries, and this weekend the rest were all ripe.

I found these very cute little berry baskets in Target a few weeks back, and knew they would be perfect to hold our berries.  With our first picking of blueberries I made a blueberry crisp , fruit crisps are one of my favorite desserts.

This weekend Sarah and Joe picked enough blueberries for a Blueberry pie.

I cleaned up a large bowl of berries, tossed them with a cup of sugar and a half cup of flour (I normally use less sugar, but this year the berries were a little more tart than we like) poured them into the pie crust, dotted with butter, and put the top crust on.  

I baked the pie at 400 F. for about 15 minutes, then reduced the temperature to 350 and baked for another 45 minutes, until the filling was bubbling (you definitely want to bake this pie on a cookie sheet or it will make quite a mess of your oven).

I cut out a few leaves with a mini cutter and made the little circle blueberries with the round end of a frosting tip.   We enjoyed our nice warm pie with some vanilla ice cream for Sunday dessert.   Perfect end to our wonderful mid July weekend.

You can read about last year's 2011 Portland Scottish Highland Games here.