Sunday, September 28, 2014

Sea Cider and a Sweater

Today was supposed to be our annual trip to the apple festival on Saltspring Island. We haven't missed a festival in 6 years. April was so excited too. She was telling us how much she wanted to pick some apples and ride on the big boat. Perhaps it was poor planning on my part or maybe it wasn't meant to be. We packed ourselves up and did our very best to make it to the terminal in time but I suppose the apple festival was more popular than I remember. The ferry was full. So we turned our car around and decided to find something special to do on our own island.

It has been several years since we visited Sea Cider. We don't drink alcohol (well, Jon does occasionally) so there wasn't much call to visit but we decided it was time to see what was new at this lovely cider farm. The views alone made the trip worth it. It was a clear sunny day so we could see all the way across the strait with Mt. Baker clear in the distance.

I realize now that I over-dressed my children. The last weekend in September isn't meant to be this sunny and warm. Right? At the very least I wanted April to take her new sweater out for a spin. I was really skeptical about the finished product but it will fit her perfectly this winter.

We slowly walked through the orchard. We read the names on the markers, watched the bees visit the Queen Anne's Lace, spotted some magical faerie mushrooms in the shade, looked for the last, lonely apple on some of the harvested trees and said hello to the spiders hiding in the branches (I'm relieved I haven't passed my fear of spiders on to my child but I was happy to say hello from a fair distance). When we finally made it to the farmhouse, we were ready for a snack so we enjoyed a lovely spread and cracker platter (and Jon sampled some cider) while we gazed out over the strait. I can safely say it was a happy alternative to the apple festival.

On our drive home we stopped at a few more farms. We picked up the last of the local corn from Silver Rill, some local bacon and a homemade pie at Oldfield Orchard and Bakery. We finished our day with a perfect meal of corn chowder with bacon scones and a slice of apple pie. Such a treat! I think April forgot all about the apple festival and in the end, we spent the day together doing something special for us all.

A few notes on the sweater: I started out with the Loren Cardigan pattern but I didn't like the rolled neckline and hem so I decided to make it seed stitch like the button band. However, I misread the pattern and ended up with a different shaped collar and a shorter body (though I found it frustrating that she gave measurements without a reference for where to take the measurements from). I decided to continue on. There is a bit of a mess on the inside of this sweater as I tried to make the outside look like a professionally finished product. I also decided to add an extra button hole. I'm so glad I did. The two button look doesn't usually work for us.

I used Mosaic Moon Mountain Meadow in Beekeepers Garden. I was definitely taken in by the beautiful colors and forgot that I really don't like the variegated colorways. I just don't love how they look all knit up. Yet I'm a bit of a sucker for the colors when they are skeined. It does look nice on my little girl and it will keep her warm. I added some special moon buttons I found on Etsy years ago. I have a love for buttons and it is always the most stressful part of finishing a project. Not wondering if it will fit or fretting over flaws; finding the perfect buttons is my nemesis. Luckily these buttons seem to be just right for the late summer cardigan.

Friday, September 19, 2014

So it Begins

The first big virus has hit our family. It's been cycling through the kids and finally got me a few days ago. It's a rule in our family that we don't go spreading our germs so we have been hunkered down at home while we do our best to kick this chest cold to the curb. It seems mild enough until night hits and everyone begins coughing. Sleep has been difficult to come by this week.

We have been trying to keep April (and everyone else) from going stir crazy with simple activities. Lots of stories are being read, lots of pictures drawn (the autumn coloring sheet is from Little Acorn Learning's Facebook page), lots of warm baths. The weather has been fair so April and Jon have been working together to collect leaves from the yard for our compost. It's been a relief to get outside, no matter how briefly.

It's also been important for me to work to build up our immune systems. They need as much support as possible to help us fight off this bug and the many more we will encounter this autumn and winter. I've had thieves oil in the diffuser and humidifier all week. I plan on making some thieves soap too. I have a batch of healing bone broth in the slow cooker and we've been sure to add as much garlic to our meals as we can stand. It's also the time of year for elderberry and echincea. I find the best way to get all that immune boosting goodness into the kids is in popsicle form.

Here is my recipe for our Immunity Popsicles.

2 cups elderberry juice (I make this by soaking dried elderberries over night and staining before use)
1 cup frozen blueberries
1 tbsp powdered probiotics
1-2 tsp liquid echincea
7 drops of liquid vitamin D
1-2 tbsp raw honey (DO NOT add this if you are giving to children under 1 year of age)

Add all ingredients to blender. Blend until smooth. Pour into popsicle molds and freeze overnight. Enjoy!

Smoothies are the next best way to deliver nutrients. Strawberries are a great source of vitamin C and smoothies are easy to hide supplements like probiotics and liquid vitamins in. I've also been please that April has had a couple cups of hot water with lemon and honey. I'd like to add ginger but she says it's spicy. Jon just harvested some honey from our hives so we have been taking advantage of the benefits of that raw honey for our sore throats.

Wish everyone a health autumn and please share any other immune boosting tips you might have!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Applesauce Afternoon


September is here and it's apple season. In all honesty our apples were ready weeks ago but we were waiting for more autumn temperatures to get in the kitchen to make a batch of applesauce. I apologize for the photo quality, my kitchen has terrible lighting. I did design this project however for just April and myself so I wanted to capture so images. One-on-one time with April has been a challenge so I love to savor the moment.

Most of our apples were picked a few weeks ago and sent to the juicer. It's what we do every year. It makes our apples last longer (we have organic apple juice from our own yard year round) and nothing is better in the depths of winter than boiling a pot of homemade apple cider. There were still a few left on the tree and some had fallen into our yard from our neighbors neglected tree. We managed to collect a full basket together.

I think the actual operation of the apple peeler was a bit challenging for April. You can't go too slow or the peeler cuts to deeply and if you don't get the apple on quite right, the core breaks and the apple falls off. So mama did the peeling and April put the slices in the pot. She took her job very seriously. We had some fun too though. April stood on a stool near the peeler and tried to catch the juice droplets that were flying into the air with her tongue. After all that peeling and slicing, April indulged in the one leftover apple. She told me "Apples are my favorite. They are soooo tasty."

Only a few more tasks remained for my sweet girl. As we let the applesauce simmer (with a bit of water, a lot of cinnamon and a touch of coconut sugar), April collected all the "apple spaghetti" aka the peels and took them to the chickens. She used the peels to decorate their run. We let the applesauce simmer for at least an hour while we ate dinner. We made sure that April was the official tester. She declared that it was yummy so we knew it was ready. Breakfast the next morning was oatmeal with our special mama/daughter applesauce.

Monday, September 1, 2014

August Bounty

August is always a good month for garden bounty. It's the month when we harvest the most zucchini, beets, cherry tomatoes, greens, beans and potatoes. We've been so fortunate to enjoy a vegetable from our garden at almost every meal. August also brought us pears and apples.

As we almost always do, the apples were sent off to be juiced. The apples from our tree are very tart and not great for munching straight from the tree. I always turn a few into applesauce but almost all are juiced. There is nothing more comforting in the winter as getting a jug of that apple juice from the freezer and boiling it with spices to make the best hot cider. I look forward to it every winter.

We've been dealing with our usual bumper crop of pears. They are beautiful this year, almost no bug damage. My family isn't a fan of pears sliced so I've been making pear and yogurt popsicles (I have two dozen of them in my freezer). We've also been sharing them with friends and neighbors. It's always nice to have a big harvest to share with others.

September will bring us hopefully another lovely harvest. Carrots, roma tomatoes, grapes, chilis, delicata squash, perhaps a few brussels sprouts and hopefully some radishes. I'm planning on planting a lot of spinach. My spring spinach just bolted so I didn't get any this year and spinach is one of my favorite garden greens. Let's hope September is good to us.