Monday, October 31, 2011

Sir Topham Hatt and a Ladybug

If you were to ask my kids what they were going to be for Halloween, they would most likely tell you, "we don't celebrate Halloween!" And they are mostly right. We don't participate in going door-to-door for candy. We live out in the woods where almost everyone has a long dark driveway and most likely a shotgun hanging over the door. I also don't happen to be a fan of the holiday, for various reasons, but that is another story for another day.
However, we did go to a Harvest Party on Saturday night, and there will be another party today at school, so costumes and candy have become a part of our season.
The Ladybug suit was super easy... I found it for $4.99 at Goodwill.
Sir Topham Hatt was a bit more of an adventure. I thought to myself, as I set out to find the ingredients, "Piece of cake! Go to Goodwill, pick up a yellow vest, grey pants, suit jacket, white shirt, and top hat... easy!"
Two hours and two Goodwill stores later, all I had was a black vest. No top hat. No grey pants or black suit jacket. Not even a measly button-up white shirt.
But on the drive home I hatched a plan.
The next day involved several hours of cutting, taping, glueing, machine, and hand-sewing.
The end result was pretty dashing, if you ask me. Look at that face... he was so proud of his costume, and didn't seem to mind that next to no one at the first Harvest Party knew who in the world Sir Topham Hatt is.
Hopefully some of his fellow Kindergarteners at the party today will also be fans of the Island of Sodor, and will give the recognition his Mother he is due.

Friday, October 28, 2011


A flock of migrating birds visited us recently.
Chirping, swooping, constantly trading places on the bench, the fence, the tree.
It was like some kind of wild ballet, with no perceivable rhythm, yet lovely and melodic all the same.
Wary little things, I wasn't able to sneak up close enough to get their identity.
But the four of us were entertained for several long minutes as they bathed in the fishpond waterfall, snacked on seeds from the Mountain Ash tree, played in the tippy-tops of a few Douglas Fir trees, then... gone.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


Personally, I've never been drawn to the game.
But the last few days, this classic has trumped even Mario Kart Wii.
I'm pretty sure that all of the strategy is coming from the almost-6 year old, and I'm also pretty sure that he hasn't figured out yet that he could tell her all the wrong moves so that he wins every time.
She keeps trying to impart personalities into her pieces and plays them like characters tromping all over the board. In turn, of course.
Its all pretty adorable and silly.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Around Here

This last one is a wallpaper from me to you... to grace your computer screen. Left click to enlarge, then Right click to save. For your personal use only, please.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

First Frost

Brrrr... it is chilly out there this morning! The first frost of the year has come to visit, and transformed our landscape.

A certain little Girl, who usually adores tagging along with her Daddy while he does his morning chores, opted to stay in today, because, "I don't want to step on the fwosty gwass!"

That is, until I informed her that when little girls step on frosty grass, it goes Crunch! Crunch! Crunch! This was information that simply could not be ignored.

And with cozy fleece jammies already on, all that needed to be done was slip on a pair of boots...
A girl after her Mama's heart.

Anniversary Tree 2011

Previous Anniversary Tree posts can be seen here.

Monday, October 24, 2011

What's in a Name?

After weeks of living nameless lives, it is such fun to have names for the furry bundles that are nearing their go-home day.

A few names are still undecided, some pups with names have yet to meet their owners, and two very sweet little black females are still waiting to be claimed. But these we know for sure...

Luna & Robbie...
Tyee & Penny...
I love catching a puppy in the midst of a misdemeanor, and being able to reach down, take one look at their tag, and translate their ID number into a name and owner. It makes the lectures about good behavior so much more effective when a person can use their full name.

Friday, October 21, 2011

At Week's End

The Play-Doh Poker...
the Butterfly-Hands Boy...
and the Coffee Lover...
wish you a Happy Friday.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Smouldering Green Tomato Chutney

I have a friend who makes a mean Tomato Chutney.

If you have an abundance of Red Tomatoes, then A.) consider yourself Blessed, and B.) ignore my recipe and instead, go make Colleen's version.

I didn't make massive changes, unless you consider using unripe green blobs instead of gorgeous Scarlett-hued beauties to be a massive change.

But amazingly, if simmered long enough, and with the proper seasonings, green tomatoes can be transformed into pure perfection.
I dubbed the recipe Smouldering Green Tomato Chutney because it isn't just spicy, it is full of a warm heat. The kind of warm heat that makes your whole belly cozy, and lingers in a "Mmmmm, I just ate something so good I don't want to brush my teeth" kind of way.

But don't take my word for it.
Smouldering Green Tomato Chutney

8 pounds green (unripe) tomatoes
2 pounds dried apricots
2 cups apple cider vinegar
2 cups "other" vinegar (the first batch I used Malt, the second I used Balsamic- both were good)
4 cups sugar
1/2 cup kosher salt
2 heaping tablespoons cayenne pepper
12 cloves garlic
4 to 6 inches of ginger root, depending on how thick it is and how much you like ginger

Remove stems and any blemishes from clean tomatoes. Cut into quarters. Using a food processor, pulse the green tomatoes in batches until they are reduced to pieces more or less the size of peas or sunflower seeds. Dump into a deep stockpot with a thick, insulated bottom (or else it will want to burn).

Peel the ginger, then cut into 1/8 inch cubes. Put it into the processor.
Peel the garlic, then toss whole cloves into the processor with the ginger.
Toss the apricots into your food processor with the garlic and ginger and pulse until roughly the same size dice as the tomatoes. Toss into your pot.

Add sugar, salt, cayenne pepper, and vinegars. Stir together, over medium heat. Bring to a low simmer, uncovered, and cook for 3-6 hours, stirring often, until it is very thick and about half its original volume.

Put into warm, sterilized jars, seal, and finish in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes.
Eat it on fried egg sandwiches, on crackers with cream cheese, warmed and poured over grilled pork chops, or as a garnish for tomato soup. I have so many jars in my pantry that I will most likely give a few away as Christmas gifts. Shhhh...