Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Trick or Treat Day

Those days are gone. The days of hyper anticipation. The days of creating costumes, carving pumpkins with the family..... decorating the outside of the house to scare our many trick'r treaters...
Now a days, Halloween is about roasting pumpkin seeds, admiring the creativity of parents and kids, as their little ones make it to our door, two or three at a time. All my years of kids and Halloween, I was always the one to walk the neighbourhood with our kids. I never got to stay home and hand out treats. That was daddy's job. He spent the entire day of Halloween putting up a cave, with creepy webs and eery lights, haunting sounds.. so, it just made sense that he would stay home and scare the crap out of the neighbourhood kids.
This Halloween is no different. We cleaned out the pumpkins last night (ok, the picture shows that Terry did that),
but I roasted the seeds. Out of 4 nice sized pumpkins, I got 4 cups of seeds. I like leaving the little bits of pumpkin on them.
I use to wash them off, but it made the seeds quite soggy, and by leaving the little bits on , they seem to absorb more of the butter and garlic and roast very nicely.
This time, I used left over garlic butter, and didn't add as much garlic powder to my recipe.. and they were particularly yummy. Even Terry tried them and said they were pretty good and he doesn't generally like them.
Below, you will find an oddity. In all our years of gutting pumpkins.. this was a first. There was a seed taking sprout inside the pumpkin. Very cool. Actually, Suzanne and I found a leaf spouting in an apple once too... very cool.
Another fun part of Halloween is buying the treats. I finally figured out a few years ago that there is no need to buy the treats in early Oct. They just get eaten by the pre Halloween treat testers. I now feel that I can confidently buy treats either the day of the day before Halloween. There will be lots of treats somewhere to buy. We headed out to Zellers buy my favorite treat to give out.. and that is microwave popcorn in little bags, and when you pop it, it comes out orange. We got a box of chocolate bars too, but Terry said we are not giving them out unless we really NEED to. When we were unwrapping our boxes of popcorn, Terry read on the box "Diacetyl Free". We weren't sure what that was, but it must be a good thing. Its the next thing we need to avoid I figure... if only I knew how to say it.

Wouldn't be halloween, either, without dressing someone like a lady bug. I couldn't catch Tonks... so Paralax wore it... not for very long though!

Happy Halloween Everyone..

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Signs of Fall-The harvest begins

Well, our apple adventure was so profitable, we ended up with three large bins of "drops" for the cafeteria. Those poor ladies just don't need to be peeling apples day in and day out.... so I decided that I could peel and freeze at least one bin of them. I love peeling apples... and potatoes for that matter... I like peeling boiled eggs, too. Could it be that it is mindless, sitting around the table with family... kind of work. I like to think that, anyway.

I am only half way through one bin! I have about 100 cups of apples peeled, sliced, "lemoned" and frozen. Geesh... its a slow process... but I still love it.

The other big harvest at this time is My Scarlett Runners. They bring me joy each year. Watching them pop out of the soil in June...
race up the strings in July...and reach the top of the strings... and then start blooming those tasty orange blooms... well, I haven't really tried them but the hummingbirds think they are top notch!

They provide shade and bugs for birds and kitty cats in August and September while growing giant beans.

Watching them die and dry in October.
Ripping them all down and pulling all the bean pods off of the vines....
and finally harvesting their big purple beans, to get all ready for next year.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Apples anyone!

The fall is so amazing in the Annapolis Valley. The golden glow of the dried corn standing in perfect rows makes everything look and feel warm and toasty. When one is driving down the 101, the rows stretch along and up over the hills and around little islands of Maple, Ash and Oaks trees that are located in weird little clusters throughout the fields. I am not sure why those clusters of trees have been allowed to stay where they are, because they must be annoying to the farmers... perhaps they are left there to break up a boring job of plowing and planting in straight lines. I am not sure why, but I am pleased they are there... they add beautiful color in the spring and fall...
Apple trees that line the highway have either weighed down limbs dotted with bright red apples, ready for picking.... or.... limbs that are springing in the winds... finally free of their heavy burden.
The colors are spectacular throughout the valley and today's winds and yesterday's rains are starting to do their job in blowing those colors all over the yards, driveways and fields... the deflowering of fall has finally arrived.
A couple of Saturday's ago, the weather was predicted as sunny and cool. A perfect day for a few staff members, friends and family to head up to this wonderful apple orchard on South Mountain. This orchard is a family run operation called Stonehenge Farms. Their marketing scheme is unique and wonderful. This family have hundreds of trees in many varieties. They run an "Adopt a Tree" program, where you can pay them to adopt a tree in the spring (or anytime, really). This tree is yours all spring, summer and fall... offering the opportunity for you to visit your tree with family... maybe have a picnic... take family pictures.... whatever you might like. Then in the fall, when your tree is ready for picking... you own all the apples on your tree. Its a fun idea and very reasonable priced as well, and he guarantees you at least 200 lbs of apples!
This particular Saturday (3 weeks ago, now) started off pretty dull and cloudy but since the weather man said sunny... we felt it was just a matter of time... til the clouds broke.
They indeed broke open but it wasn't sunshine that spilled out of them... but rain... as we drove to the orchard. When we arrived, Debbie and Ashley were sitting in their car, waiting for us, and the rains to stop. You know, the rains never really stopped, they turned to drizzle.. but once we toughened up and decided to pick anyway, we barely noticed the rain. We had a great time.

We were there to pick two trees full of McIntosh apples to give to Kingston School's Breakfast & Snack Program. Debbie and her family generously donated the trees to our program as well as provided all the bins to fill, and came to pick! Hows that for awesome. We all started off with all the lowest branches where the picking was easy.

Our two smallest brave pickers, Abby and Micheal were essential in picking up the "drops" from the ground. Once an apple drops (naturally or victim of over zealous pickers!) they aren't classed as eating apples as they bruise so easily. We donated those to our cafeteria who has been making apple sauce, apple crisp and cakes from them. Once the low branches were cleaned off, the reaching began.

Even though we had several very tall people (Chantal, Ashley and Heather (sort of)), we couldn't get to the top of the trees... and the ladders got dragged over.
The apple baskets also came out, thanks to Debbie and her apple orchard connections! Chantal modeled they're beauty and usefulness. Kerry took a turn too, and Terry finished off the day with one.

We didn't get all the apples picked because we didn't have enough bins. Imagine. We filled the back of three vans with bins and delivered them to the cold room at the school. In all, including a large bin of drops, we picked about 600 lbs of apples. We went back at the end of the week with a couple more bins but by then, all the high up apples had dropped and we filled two more large bins with drops for the cafeteria.
A great day with family and friends. Thanks Debbie and Brian for your generosity!
Thanks everyone else for coming out on a rainy day to pick!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Blogger Block

Did you know that I love blogging? I write a new blog every day.... in my head. There isn't a day that I don't organize something in my head, and take a picture, either physically or mentally.

So why is it, I can't write it. Its not that I don't have time. I do. Its not that I don't have any ideas... because every day, I find interesting things that I want to share.

Why, just yesterday, I was watching a TV show downstairs, and Terry came down to join me. He brought down two apple monitors... both broken. One had a major split line down the middle, and the other had nothing but a blue screen. While we sat and watched the TV show, he crouched on the floor, and spread several tools around the carpet and proceeded to take both monitors apart. He had no less than 10 little screwdrivers, several screws, metal flat pieces, plastic black strips, some sort of film thingie... and all the cases spread out. He was determined to make one good monitor out of both of them. He grunted, mumbled and moaned at these two useless pieces of junk and he puttered with them for an hour.
I totally ignored him... more interested in the TV show (which I don't even remember now) and when it was over, he was totally surrounded by bare computer boards looking rather intimidating to me.
I thought... wow, that is one pile of computer parts.... and thought I would go upstairs and grab my camera so I could take a picture of Terry at working, doing something he loves to tinker at.
By the time I got back downstairs, 1o minutes later.... he had both monitors put back together.........and both working!
The picture wasn't there... because all the parts were put back together.... geesh!

Now, was that worth blogging... no, not really... but its a start...