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August 2012

Friday Photos: Farm, Food & a Full Moon

Happy Friday, my friends!

Here in the States it's Labor Day weekend, also - and perhaps less fondly - known as the last summer weekend. (I'm actually thrilled - this is my favorite weekend all year!) Bill has some time off from work, so I was able to run out on my own this morning to get some pre-weekend errands done.

My first stop: our local farm, where this sunflower field caught my eye ...

Brooksby sunflowers

Isn't it lovely?

But my farm business today was all about these beauties ...

Green tomatoes 1

Fifteen pounds of green tomatoes, just the right amount for picalilli!

(I love to make picalilli at this time of year - my mum and grandma and I used to do this together and it holds many fond memories for me. And we all love picalilli served with our favorite fall suppers ... pot roast, meatloaf, sour cream chicken, etc.)

I'll blog about the process on Monday - I'm still gathering all my supplies. :)

Next up: a quick stop at the bookstore, where I treated myself to a quick bite to eat ...

Barnes & noble breakfast

A slice of quiche (delicious but very rich) and my first cup of pumpkin spice latte - they just started serving it yesterday! (And it was as yummy as I remembered.)

Now, this picture I took last evening ...

August blue moon

I'm awful at night photos, but I had to share this ... it's the waxing Blue Moon which will truly be full tonight. (It's not actually blue in color, but rather, it's rare because this makes two full moons in one month.) Be sure to watch for it rising this evening!

And August sure is going out in style ... the weather is quite hot today, 90 some-odd degrees, windy and dry. Tomorrow brings the first of September and, according to the forecast, some wonderful weather ... sunny and highs in the 70s! We are hosting Crackerjack's (rescheduled) birthday party tomorrow so that sounds just about perfect. :)

Well, my friends ... I'm off to get more things done on my list, but I wanted to stop in and share these thoughts and photos and wish you all a very happy weekend. Take care of yourselves and your loved ones ...

I'll see you here again very soon!

Thoughtful Thursday ~ on Good Books

"We should read to give our souls a chance to luxuriate."

~ Henry Miller

Book clipart

What books feed your soul?

{Note: My previous post would not accept comments for some reason! Sorry about that ... I would love to hear about your favorite feel-good books if you have the time. As for me ... I'll recommend Mittenstrings for God and The Private World of Tasha Tudor, just off the top of my head.} 

Milestone Moment

Bookworm at de orientation

Earlier this week, Bookworm attended an orientation for dual enrollment students at a local community college. I couldn't help but take a picture to preserve this moment - a milestone after all - and he looks so grown up! But I guess that's normal for a 17 year old - looking grown up, spreading his wings - sometimes, though, it takes a mama's heart a little while to catch up ... :)

Have a great Friday, my friends!

Our Year-End Reports

Yesterday, Leah asked about our year-end reports: 

"A slightly unrelated question regarding the end of year reports you have to do. In my state, we don't have to do a report but I'd like to do something for my own records. Is yours a narrative, a list or a form? I'd like your ideas on it since you've been doing it for awhile. I think it would help me put away the old year and start on the new."

Leah, this is a great question, I'm so glad you asked!

In my state (Massachusetts) there are four options for evaluating a homeschooled student: standardized testing, year-end reports, a portfolio of work samples, or progress reports. The town superintendent and the homeschooling parent must agree on one of those four choices.

I have always chosen to submit a year-end report because I write this up for myself anyway. I like to write - it helps me process - and I feel it's the best way to truly show what and how we did through the year. The report is mostly a narrative piece, but it's organized in a very particular way. I've followed the same format every year we've been homeschooling - and we start our 12th year next week!

{Now to be honest, I may be a bit rusty - to the best of my knowledge, this is the current law in my state. Massachusetts homeschoolers, if I'm off-base, please feel free to chime in!}

So our reports look something like this:

End-of-year Report, 2011-2012


{I begin with a brief introductory paragraph, a general comment on the overall year. For example, this year I talked about Bookworm's SAT scores.}


Language Arts




(Etc. includes art/music, foreign language, any interesting learning experiences, volunteering, activities and clubs)

Underneath each heading I talk about the resources he used and how he progressed: Bookworm continues to enjoy his Saxon Math curriculum. He is looking forward to starting Calculus in the fall. I also mention anything we added that was not part of the original plan: Bookworm joined a monthly British Literature discussion group. Please see reading list below ...

Because our town is very "pro-testing," I make sure to mention any testing (aka evaluating) we did as part of our curriculum: Every 10 lessons Bookworm took a cumulative test. Any errors were reviewed and corrected before moving forward.

When I sit down to write the reports, I refer to the ed. plans I filed the previous summer. Then I go through our weekly file folders, the classroom in-basket, my monthly calendar, this blog, etc. to remind myself what we did differently than, or in addition to, our original plans.

I always use the previous year's reports as a framework (just saving them as a new documents and then changing up the information). It really doesn't take long to do - I always think it's going to take me forever, and so therefore, I procrastinate - but then in just one focused day I'm done with it all.

And as Leah said above, it does help me put the old year to bed and start a new year feeling fresh. It's also a nice way to remind myself that even when it seems like we didn't get enough done - or what we meant to get done - once I start writing I realize just how much we accomplished!

So I'm finding these reports (and our ed. plans) to be very helpful. When the boys were younger I shared the reports with family members who wondered just what we did with our time. (That was another reason why I started this blog!) And recently I used the reports to work up a high school transcript for Bookworm when he applied for dual enrollment at a local college. Using the end-of year reports and the yearly ed-plans it was pretty easy to pull one together.

I keep a hard copy of the reports on file as well as a digital copy on my laptop. This year I'm hoping to be a bit more proactive by sitting down each week to jot down a few notes. In fact, my current lesson planner has a page specifically devoted to this weekly reflection. I think it would make my year-end reporting easier and more accurate.

So I hope this post has helped you a little Leah ... please let me know if you have any other questions. I'm happy to help when I can. :)

Blessings to all my readers ... enjoy the rest of your day!

I will see you all again very soon ...

Making My Homeschool Lesson Planner*

*This post is my Back to School Prep: Part 2, I just couldn't fit all that text in the header!

Lesson planner 5

Good morning, my friends!

Over the weekend I put together a lesson planner for myself, and I thought you all might like to see it. :) I started with a dark blue, 3-ring binder, which I embellished with pretty paper, ribbon and stickers.

Lesson planner 4

Back when the boys were little we called our homeschool, "The Little Acorns Homeschool" (because tall oaks from little acorns grow, of course), and our "symbol" was a combination of oak leaves (one for each parent) and acorns (one for each boy). So I decided to use some pretty stickers I had on hand for the front label ... I'm feeling a bit nostalgic since this is the last year I'll be homeschooling all three boys. 

Now for a look inside ...

Lesson planner 2

Inside the front cover I keep loose papers to file, and on the right is a colorful class chore chart. I must admit I'm not exactly sure how I'll use it, but a package of 25 was only $2 at Michaels so I couldn't pass it up ... 

Lesson planner 1

(I have a soft spot for owls, too.)

I then added some tabs to my lesson planner:

General information: ed. plans, curriculum orders, class information, etc.

Family Living & Learning: family activities and adventures, field trips, and faith @ home, etc.

Then, a tab for each of my boys ...

And finally, the lesson planner itself, a set of weekly planning pages.

Now this is how I plan to use it.

I am keeping ALL my weekly planning pages in this master binder, but each week I will move JUST the pages that are meant for that one specific week to my Home Management Binder ...

Lesson planner 6

They'll be in the front section, directly behind the yellow daybook pages and blue master to-do-list. At the end of the week I'll swap out the "used" pages for a new set.

The weekly lesson planning pages are organized like this:

(2 sheets of paper = 4 sides)

Page 1, side A: Cover page - Monday's date, any events "of note"

9/3 ~ Labor Day, Lessons resume, (Not) Back-to-School Picnic, Nativity of Mary, first Pats game, first CCD class

Page 1, side B: Specific lessons and goals for each student that week (the page is divided into three sections)

Math, English, Science, Social Studies, Nature, Faith, etc.

Page 2, side A: Brainstorming page for seasonal/liturgical themes/ideas, recipes, field trips, activities, etc.

Discuss chores/allowance, First Day breakfast, create Mary garden/serve blueberry cake, wash our homeschool "bus," Intro to Animal Study: hang classification chart, organize subject cards, etc. ...

Page 2, side B: WeekEnd Journal (my summary of the week)

e.g. "Our first week "back to homeschool" was ..."

So after I write the summary, I'll file away those completed pages and grab next week's pages from the lesson planner ... and start all over again! I could of course, not move pages at all, and just use the lesson planner as it is, but I'm trying to streamline my planning tools as much as possible. So the HMN is really my planning "hub" these days.

Now, I do have all the weekly pages written out as far as possible ... the cover pages are all marked with events of note and the brainstorming pages are full of timely ideas for that week. I'll update that information as events arise and ideas form. The "weekly goals" and "weekend summaries" are more timely of course, and will be filled in at the start of, and end of, the week, respectively.

Does any of that make sense or am I talking in circles, lol? I'm wrapping this post up in the very early morning hours and my caffeine level is not up to snuff yet!

Before I go though, let me show you the "autumnal" cover I made up for my HMN:

HMN fall cover

It makes me very happy. :)

Well my friends, I'm going to sign off for now and jump-start my day. It's raining here in Massachusetts this morning, and it's just so lovely. We have all the windows open ... and the sound of the rain is so soothing and the coolness of the air is so refreshing. I can say all this of course, because I'm not rushing through this rain or sitting in traffic, so I'm taking a moment to count my blessings and savor the comforts and joys of my line of work. :)

So please have yourselves a good day, and thanks so much for stopping by ... I'll see you here again very soon!

Money $ Monday: Of Price Books & Pantries

Good morning, everyone!


My topic this week is two-fold, because I think these two subjects go hand in hand. (And thanks to Chrissy for the pantry-building suggestion!) Having a well-stocked pantry is a boon to meal planning and scratch cooking, and when you buy things at their best price you save all the more. If something you use regularly is on "special," (whether by sale, coupon or both) how much better to purchase it while it's at its best price?

So, say you routinely buy toilet paper (and I'd hazard a guess most of us do) and your preferred brand is being offered at a reduced price ... if you keep track of prices you know immediately if that sale's worth the trip. 

A price book can be kept in a binder or - if my "intel" is correct (and he usually is) - nowadays it can simply be an app on your phone.

So my first question for you all today is:

Does anyone have experience with a price book, and if so, do you keep it manually or electronically?


And here's the second part of this week's topic ... 

Some of us are seasoned pantry keepers, but many of us are just starting out. Filling those cabinets and freezer shelves can be expensive!

So when you don't have a lot of wiggle room in your budget, how do you build up a versatile and valuable pantry? Please share any tips you might have!


As for me, I can tell you I do not keep a price book (other than the random facts and figures I juggle in my head) and my pantry is slowly being built week by week. I've been a bit disorganized about it though, so I feel like my shelves may be filled with good buys, but not necessarily helpful meal starters. (I mean, how many boxes of Cheerios does one family need, lol?) So this is something I'd like to focus on as we head into fall ...

Well my friends, I'm going to sign off for now - time to rally my troops - but I'll check back in here as I can. Enjoy your day, wherever it takes you, and I'll see you here again very soon.

I am a Marketer's Dream ...

Waffles pumpkin spice

Well, this is what Bill tells me whenever I come home from shopping with something like this: a new "seasonal" item that I simply cannot pass up. But you know ... it's nearly fall, and I'm craving cooler, cozy days, so "pumpkin spice waffles" just sounded so yummy and special!

(In my defense, I also had a coupon, so really, how could I say no?) 

So yes, today I bought some frozen "Pumpkin Spice Eggo" waffles ... even though I know homemade waffles are A. healthier, B. tastier and C. so much less expensive.

Still, I can't help but wonder if "Eggnog" is next ... ;)

(Anyone have a pumpkin waffle recipe to share?)

p.s. I just caught up with last week's comments - I'm so sorry to be so late in my replies this week. Thank you, as always, for your patience and of course for stopping by to read and perhaps leave your thoughts. I appreciate your time and support!

Back to School Prep: Part 1

Happy Friday, my friends!

Crayon banner 3

Clearly I'm loving the crayons these days. ;)

So, are you, like me, more than ready for the weekend? Goodness, that was a busy week! I can always tell how busy a week was by the state of my house on Friday afternoon, lol. I certainly had my work cut out for me today!

Anyhoo ... moving onto other things ... like the last week of summer!

Yes, it's true - we have a little over a week left before school starts again. The public school kids will be off and so will we. (Off to classes some days, home for lessons on others.) I still have a lot of things to iron out before September 4th and I'll be working on all that this weekend, but first off was deciding on - and ordering - the boys' curriculum.

I thought I'd share our planned studies for this year with you all here ...

Here's how it breaks down:

Bookworm, 12th grade

Calculus (fall semester, local college)

World Literature (Oak Meadow)

U.S. Government (Oak Meadow)

Biology (with a small group of homeschooled high schoolers, taught by a tutor)

French 2/3 (Rosetta Stone)

Public Speaking (an outside class)

Photography (fall workshop, an outside class)

Health & Fitness (Oak Meadow)

Computer Class TBD (spring semester, local college)

Driver's Ed.

Crackerjack, 8th grade

Math (Oak Meadow)

English (Oak Meadow)

Civics (Oak Meadow)

Physical Science (Oak Meadow)

Spanish 1 (outside class)

Art (outside class)

Drama (outside class)

Religious Education

Earlybird, 4th grade 

(I'm still gathering resources, but I cobble together most of EB's curriculum myself since no one text or program works perfectly for him.)


Reading & Writing


U.S. Geography

Massachusetts State Study

Historic Heroes/Mythology

Animal Science

Nature Study


Life Skills/Behavior Management

Religious Education


As you can see the older boys are participating in a lot of outside-the-home classes so there will be a lot of driving about this year. At this point, EB is not signed up for any regular (i.e. weekly) actvities, but we're keeping our eyes and options open. I do plan to take lots of little "adventures" with him while we're carting his brothers around. :)

Over the next week or so I will be organizing the kids' materials (back-to-school supplies) and creating a lesson planner for myself ... then I'll work on setting up the learning room so it's all fresh and ready for a new year!

Well, my friends ~ I hope you've all had a nice week, busy or otherwise. (We're all busy aren't we? In one way or another!) I thank you for stopping by and promise to see you again soon.

Blessings to you and your loved ones!

A Pretty Lantern for Dark Autumn Days

Lantern 1

My friend Kim introduced me to this craft several months ago ... I think it was back in March because I originally planned to make a "Lenten" lantern out of these materials. Alas, it all sat in my craft bin until just today. :)

Instead of a Lenten lantern, I decided to make something for the coming fall. This will look nice in our learning room, tucked into the corner where I enjoy my afternoon tea. (Remember my Tuesday Tea posts? They will return after the autumn equinox.)

So in the top photo you see most of the materials I used: small framing mats, plain vellum paper, adornments (butterfly stickers, floral acetate sheets), ribbon and a battery-lit candle.

I started by cutting pieces of vellum to fit the mat openings - I taped them down on the backside of the mats. 

Lantern 2

I then did the same thing with the acetate sheets.

Lantern 3

I could have used glue, but tape seemed to work rather nicely. (Though glue might hold things down more permanently ... a light hand would work best.)

I then applied the pop-up, slightly translucent butterfly stickers to the front side of the vellum. Finally, I attached the three mats at their corners using a hole punch and a sheer green ribbon.

Lantern 4

(Note: I had an awful time with the hole punch - I ended up using very sharp scissors to complete the holes.)

Finally, once the three panels were secured, I added the battery-lit candle ...

Lantern 6

This whole project took me about an hour and with a little help and adult supervision I think even young children could make something like this ... I think it would make a lovely homemade birthday or Christmas gift.

Lantern 5

I'll keep mine in my reading corner ...

Lantern 8

... and as the afternoons grow darker, I'll enjoy its soft glow all the more.


Now it goes without saying, this lantern could be made in any and all colors and designs - it could be made for a season, a holiday, to match a room or to celebrate a special person or event. It's such a simple project but quite versatile and the colorful results are so pleasing. Thanks to Kim for sharing this wonderful idea with me!


Well, I hope you've all had a nice day, and thanks so much for stopping by and sharing in my "craftiness" today. Have you been working on any crafts lately? If so, I'd love to hear about them!

Have a good night, my friends ... see you here again very soon!

Thoughtful Thursday: A Job and a Blessing!

KG sunflowers

We've been talking lately about mothers working at home - and all the different ways we work at home - so here's a great article that describes homeschooling as a full-time job:

Bottom line: As homescooling moms, we're working two jobs at home, not just one!

I always start off a week thinking - because I'll be at home more often than not and my time is mostly my own - that I'll be able to knock so many things off my "to-do" list. When in reality, I often struggle just to get the priorities done and I usually end the week adding more things to that list.

Anyhoo, just thought I'd share some nourishing "food for thought" for we homsechooling mamas ... let's not be hard on ourselves when we fall behind in our "keeping." Let's remember we're juggling a lot of plates above our heads.

Have a good Thursday, my friends!

Busy Days Ahead!

I'm still working on our homeschool plans for the new year (post to come soon!) but I can now happily report that Bookworm is officially enrolled in his first college class ever! As part of the Dual Enrollment Program, high school students (including homeschoolers) can take college courses for both high school and college credit. Bookworm will be taking Calculus this fall (two evenings a week) at a local community college, and I think it will be quite an experience!

As I said to friends earlier today: I can't believe I have a child "heading to college!" I must admit I'm feeling kind of old ... old, but proud. ;)

Have any of your kids participated in dual enrollment? And if so, how did they like it?

Also ...  just to keep ourselves extra busy, lol ... Bookworm and I have volunteered to teach religious ed. (aka CCD) at our church. We'll be co-teaching fourth graders two Sundays a month ... and needless to say, that should also be interesting!

More to come on our curriculum and activities this year ... I have orders to place, supplies to gather, schedules to nail down, and a whole learning room to put back in order ...

{How I love this time of year!}

Hope you're all having a good Wednesday ... see you here again very soon!

And the embroidery kit winner is ...

Lori B.!

Congratulations, Lori - I hope you enjoy the kit! I'll be in touch soon so we can sort out mailing details ...

Thanks to all for participating in my "Monday $ Monday" discussion - I truly value your input and appreciate your time and support! Next week's topic will be ... well, I'm not quite sure, to be honest! Saving on back-to-school supplies, perhaps? If you have a suggestion, please let me know ...

And have a great Wednesday, my friends ... see you here again very soon!


An early touch of fall ...

Good morning, my friends!

So I stopped in at JoAnn Fabrics this weekend and was very happy to find a wonderful sale on fall decor ... I also happened to have several coupons to use so I splurged a little!

First, below you see a new tablecloth I got for the picnic table ...

Joann finds 1

I love how it coordinates with the chair cushions and planters, and I adore the folksy pattern! It's made from a flannel-backed vinyl, so it's great for the outdoors - and crafts, snacks and nature study etc. on the deck.

Joann finds 2

I also purchased these pretty clip-on silk sunflowers ...

Joann finds 3

They were about a dollar apiece. :)

This autumnal table runner also caught my eye ...

Joann finds 4

The print's a bit "70s" but I like it!

Joann finds 7

I also bought an olive green canvas messenger bag and a pretty embroidered floral patch to iron on it.

Joann finds 8

Won't that make a nice "homemade" fall bag?

And finally, and this has nothing to do with fall decor, but I wanted to share ...

Joann finds 6

Bill brought me flowers on Saturday, just before Crackerjack's party.

Aren't they lovely?


Well my friends, thanks so much for stopping by and letting me share a few early fall touches around my home. And thank you for all the wonderful "work at home" comments as well! I'm really enjoying reading your responses, and I hope you all are too!

Have a great Tuesday, everyone ~ see you here again very soon!

Money $ Monday: Do You Work at Home?

Simple embroidery

{Now it goes without saying that every mom is a working mom, whether she's paid monetarily or not, but for the purposes of this post, I'd like to talk about the kind of extra work that earns your family money ... something you can do at home in your "spare" time.}

But before I get to today's specific questions, I'd like to point out the sewing kit shown above. This is my giveaway today! It's something I bought for myself years ago, but I've never done more with it than just look it over. (And yes this kit is meant for kids, but that's about my skill level when it comes to needlework!) Well I've finally decided to pass it on, so if you're interested, please leave a comment below and I'll enter you in the giveaway.


This week's question:

Are any of my readers currently running a home business or working at home in some way? If so, would you share a little about what you do? And please leave a link if you'd like!

... or ...

Have you ever thought about how you might earn money by working at home? If you could envision a little cottage industry for yourself, what would you do? Are there hobbies and/or passions you could translate into a profit somehow?


Well, I'd love to hear your thoughts on this subject, so please leave a comment if you have the time and inclination. :) I'll jump into the comments when I can ... but for now I have to get these kids up and get our day rolling!

As always, if you're not interested in the giveaway, be sure to let me know ... I'll be pulling a name from the comments Wednesday morning.

Have a great Monday, my friends ... see you here again sometime soon!

A Special Day for Crackerjack

The celebrating continues!

Jack's bday party 6

Crackerjack's "friends" party may have been postponed, but it was "all systems go" for our family party this weekend. Here are some pictures of the birthday boy and our day ...

Jack's b

It was a very Lego birthday!

Jack's bday party 9

I don't think my boys will ever tire of Legos ...

(And I've stepped on more Legos than I can count over the years, but there's really only been one serious Lego-related injury in our family. Years ago - I'm thinking five or six - on a busy day just before Christmas, Crackerjack was running through the house and tripped over a chair and landed head first on a Lego. His forehead had only a small puncture, but it just would not stop bleeding! So I panicked and called 911. (This was before I knew that head wounds are notorious bleeders.) Thankfully the EMT's felt a butterfly bandage, rather than stictches, was all the injury needed. But honestly ... that was a very memorable experience!)

Some of the fellas, hanging out: my brother Matt, Earlybird and Bill.

Jack's bday party 8

Needless to say, Bookworm was just as excited for those Lego sets as CJ!

Jack's bday party 14

Crackerjack and his proud pop.

Jack's bday 1

CJ, Dad and me.

Jack's bday party edited pic 2

Our friend Eric (aka Aunt Ami's boyfriend), my dad, CJ and Mum.

Jack's bday party 4

(I swear I didn't ask people to dress according to party colors!)

The buffet was done in bright primary colors, especially yellow:

Jack's bday party 16

We opted not to grill since it was a drizzly day ... instead we had meatballs, calzones, baked ziti and salad. And all kinds of nibblies beforehand.

Crackerjack had to rearrange his birthday cake message a little! Earlybird - my little baker's apprentice - had a bit too much fun with those cool candy letters. ;)

Jack's bday party 11

This was Crackerjack's birthday request: a lemon Jello poke cake with Cool Whip topping.

Jack's bday party 12

Tender and cool and very refreshing!

I also made a batch of plain vanilla cupcakes with lemon buttercream frosting, and let me tell you ...

Jack's bday party 15

This may be my new favorite frosting!

It used double the butter of my usual frosting as well as a pinch of salt, a teaspoon of vanilla, a box of confectioner's sugar, and the juice and zest of one lemon. (EB was very good about zesting!) And I have plenty of leftover frosting in the fridge - which I'll save for this Wednesday's feast day. :)

Well my friends, thanks so much for stopping by and letting me share our day with you. I hope you've all had a nice weekend ... what did you get up to - anything fun? Did you kick back and relax or maybe head to the beach? These last days of summer are flying right by!

Take care of yourself and your loved ones ... I'll see you here again very soon!

Ina & Elmo

Happy weekend, everyone!

Ina and Elmo

If you're a Barefoot Contessa fan and/or an Elmo fan, today at 11 a.m. on the Food Network, Ina is welcoming the furry little monster and his creator to the Hamptons. Sounds like a wonderful show! I have our DVR all set up to record - EB has loved Ina forever and though Elmo freaks him out a little, I think we'll both enjoy the show. :)

Have a great Saturday, everyone ... see you back here again very soon!

My Midsummer News ~ now online!

Good Friday morning, my friends!

If I did this right ... over there on the right-hand sidebar you will see a pretty little nest ... that image is a link to my 2012 Midsummer News in PDF format. And if you click on the nest the newsletter should open right up on your computer. Please let me know if there are any glitches ... and I hope you enjoy!

{I am currently working on my next newsletter - "Mid-Autumn News - so please stay tuned!}

  KG sunflowers

I'll see you here again very soon ...

Thoughtful Thursday ~ on Summer's Bounty

KG picking peaches 1

"If produce had a holiday, it would be August. All of August. There's just no better time to eat melons, corn, tomatoes, zucchini, peaches, and every other fruit and veggie you can pluck from your garden or pick up at a farmer's market ... Enjoy!"

(From Better Homes & Gardens, August 2012)

I was flipping through my BH&G, waiting for the oven timer to ring, when I came across this quote and I thought it quite lovely ... and so true! I was just thinking about our neighborhood farm stand and what might be fresh there this weekend ... I'm itching to make zucchini bread, and perhaps some peach butter.

How do you take advantage of the bountiful produce at this time of year? Do you preserve it in some way or simply enjoy it fresh while you can? Perhaps you do a little of both?

I haven't done much preserving myself, though some years I put up several jars of my grandmother's picalilli. That's a Labor Day family tradition I would very much like to honor this year! 

Anyhoo, while I'm here, two more things to share - a link and a recipe ...

From Simple Pleasures of the Garden by Susannah Seton, a recipe just perfect for this time of year:

Vegetable Gratin

2 1/2 tbsp. butter

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 medium onion

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 medium-size green bell pepper, diced

8 smallish summer squashes (such as crookneck, pattypan, ronde de Nice, or zucchini), about 2 lbs. total, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

kernels from 2 ears of corn

Salt and pepper to taste

1/4 cup flour

1/2 cup cornmeal

4 tbsp. fresh basil or thyme, or a combination of both

2 eggs, beaten

1 cup lowfat milk

3 tbsp. freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a shallow gratin dish or other baking dish with 1/2 tbsp. of the butter. Place 1 tbsp. butter and the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, and green pepper; saute over medium-high heat for 5 minutes.

Add the squash, corn, and salt and pepper; saute another 4 to 5 minutes, until the squash is nearly tender. Remove from heat and set aside.

Mix together the flour, cornmeal, basil and/or thyme. Stir in the eggs, milk and vegetables.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared dish and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a crust has formed and a knife inserted into the center comes out nearly clean. Dot with the remaining 1 tbsp. butter, sprinkle the cheese on top, and bake for 7 to 10 minutes longer, until the crust has browned slightly and the edges are bubbling and crispy. Serve hot or at room temperature. 

Serves 6.

Doesn't that sound delicious?!

I will certainly be making this sometime very soon ... I will pick the basil and thyme from my deck and I'll get the rest of the produce at the farmstand down the street. And I'll see what I can find for local milk, eggs, butter and cheese ... I can't wait to try it!


Also, here's a follow up to the local-food challenge article I posted about earlier this month:

"Shop-Local Challenge Trickier than I Thought"

{I'm really enjoying reading about her journey!}

Well, my friends, thanks for checking in and leaving your thoughts if you have a chance ... I hope you all have a pleasant night! 

See you here again very soon!