I did locate my recipes for cornbread (for the dressing) and the filling for Sweet Potato Pie. I will either use Patti LaBelle's recipe or one posted by Monica Mingo.
The decoration issue is bothersome. I have so many boxes and I cannot locate the one containing the laser-cut felt leaf-shaped placemats, faux corn, place cards (made by myself and my younger daughter some years back), iridescent orange glass beads, etc.
I am really not interested in buying new decor but I really get into making the day special, so I suppose I will have to schedule a trip to Michael's when I go out Tuesday to get the last minute fresh ingredients. In the meantime I will try to find the box. But time is limited, after all I still have to fulfill my daily responsibilities.
The guest list is finalized, and there are fewer than usual. On the one hand, I will have to make the dish they usually bring. On the other hand, I don't need to have the kids wash the patio table and bring it in. Less tablecloths and napkins to iron and one less centerpiece to make. Also, fewer dishes!
I picked up a beautiful dark orange carrot for my stuffing/dressing from the farmers market, and a quart of vanilla ice cream from the independently owned ice cream shop.
I was supposed to pull out my Thanksgiving decor box, but it wasn't where I thought it was. I'll have to do that tomorrow.
Item #1: Done! Some folks who would normally come over have made other plans this year. This means I have too many of the special cookies I get just for Thanksgiving, but I'm sure the kids will disagree.
Item #2: All done. We are doing all the main dishes and the guests are bringing some of the peripherals.
Well, summer is officially over. Time to discuss what went right and what went wrong this season.
I woefully neglected my garden, at the same time, quite ironically, I was making big plans.
I really let the landscape go while I was making future plans and busy with other activities. I looked up one day and felt like I was living in a weedy junkyard! Not terribly glamourous. So I pulled out my boots, gloves, pruners and bug repellent and got to work. I weeded along the front and both sides of the house. The back is on the list, I've got a decent sized tree seedling growing next to the patio.
WHAT WORKED ANYWAY
The basil, oregano and stevia thrived on benign neglect. The four small stevia seedlings have gotten quite large. The oregano spread and grew tall, and the basil is as high as my shoulder. Much more than I have been able to use fresh, so this fall I will be dehydrating my own herbs for the first time. I am inclined to try tying them up in the rafters of the shed my husband constructed for me rather than using the dehydrator. Perhaps both.
The wineberries came in, and we really made more of an effort to get out there and pick, pick, pick. It's rather annoying that nature can't just make all the berries on a particular vine ripen at the same time. We had to keep going back day after day, and naturally we missed a day here and there between activities or it just being a bit to blazing hot some days. We ate lots fresh, dehydrated some and froze a few pints. As I've said before, they are better than raspberries. The husband doesn't think they are worth dehydrating, but I think the flavor is good so I will continue to dehydrate a batch or so a season. I'm planning to use the wineberries in some sort of dessert, come Thanksgiving.
The plans came back from the landscaper, which we will adopt with a few tweaks. We won't be using him, which sent me on a quest to figure out who we will use. It turns out that someone in the neighborhood does this sort of work so he will be helping us out on the project.
Now that it is Fall, it's time to go back to cool -weather vegetables like greens, cauliflower and broccoli. I ripped out the dead plants and weeds in the garden bed and transplanted seedlings. I also sprinkled some lettuce seeds in the bare soil. I'm 4 weeks past when I should have started according to the info on the little packets, but what the hey. Baby lettuce is fine with me. I've been watering it every day and it looks good! I can also walk in my garden again after ripping weeds out of the ground and putting down cardboard.
I've planted pansies in the window boxes of the shed, and ripped up the weeds around the shed to make it a bit neater. That area will be re-done in the fall as well. I would love to get the inside of the shed finished with shelves, paint, and flooring (probably just a roll of vinyl from Home Depot) but I don't know if that is going to happen this fall.)
Goodness, has it been three weeks already? Before we start, a quick video:
Now let's get to it!
Summer is in full-swing here on the homestead. I continue to pick salad greens and chives, and actually have more than I can use. The weather is warm enough now that the spinach and lettuce have quit, so I picked the rest of the spinach and will finish the lettuce in a salad today. The chard seems relatively unbothered by the heat, so I will continue to put it in stir-fries and sneak it into sauce. Whatever is left will be rinsed, chopped and frozen if I can't keep up. This the best I have ever done with greens, as I actually got them in the bed early enough, and bought enough to really make a difference.
Surprisingly, the broccoli and cauliflower did develop heads. Soon after, however, they separated. The broccoli can probably still be used but the cauliflower it too far gone. I may just let it go to seed and practice my seed-saving. I have an entire book on the subject that I have not yet opened. In the latest photo of the garden bed, you can make out the broccoli. To the left, in front of the chives (looks like spiky grass) you can just make out the cauliflower.
The tomatoes are now coming into production. My little one was out the garden and noticed the shiny green globes first. I have a bell pepper plant in a pot that seems entirely unenthusiastic about life. I don't think it's grown an inch since I transplanted it several weeks ago.
The blueberries have begun to ripen, and the kids and I have already enjoyed a few. The wineberry canes are now laden with fuzzy red pods, just waiting to burst into red, delicious fruit. Those usually peak around July 4th, so we don't have to wait much longer. I've been saving the containers from the cherry tomatoes I buy in the store. It's perfect for gathering berries to give to friends. Apparently my husband has already promised several people wineberries. We plan to get alot for ourselves, I will rinsed and freeze them and use them for muffins, smoothies, fruit syrup and pound cake--if we don't eat them all fresh!
Two years ago I threw handfuls of wildflower seeds into some disturbed dirt. Some of the flowers keep coming back. Black-eyed Susans, maybe?
Elsewhere on the property, my hydrangeas survived a late frost and are blooming beautifully. I seem to have accidentally gotten the ph just right to make them purple. I love purple flowers, so this makes me ridiculously happy.
One thing having a garden will teach you, (and will teach you over and over again until you get it), is that carelessness will cost you. I had noticed the weeds growing up between my potted blueberries and thought, "I need to put some cardboard down". Well, the weeds got taller and taller, as weeds will do. One day last week I finally got around to it, moving the pots and putting down boxes from a Costco run. I moved a pot and the grass next to it rustled. Something slithered under the cardboard close by. Uh oh. I flipped the cardboard up to find this:
Now, as you can imagine, I was less than thrilled by this development. But it was my own fault for not staying on task earlier in the season. Luckily, this is NOT one of the venomous snakes known to inhabit this area. Some online research determined that this is not a copperhead. I didn't think it was, since I have actually seen baby copperheads on my property before, but I had to double check to be sure. This is a northern brown snake, known for eating mice. Thank you, Mr. Snake. Go in peace. (I'm pretty sure I heard it snatch a mouse in the tall weeds just outside the garden fence a few minutes ago when I was taking photos for this post)
The bright yellow flowers that signal the beginning of zucchini appeared on my plant about two weeks ago. I was all excited, until the day I got careless and left the gate open overnight. I came out the next morning and the flowers were gone. Marauding deer, no doubt. I'll have to wait for more blossoms and keep the darn gate CLOSED! I can't blame the deer. They are doing what deer do.
The first of the japanese beetles have appeared. My daughter came in to report their presence on one of the dwarf blueberries planted in the ground. Green tulle and pipe cleaners to the rescue! I immediately shrouded the bush. For my larger plants, I will have to coat them in Surround. I KNOW I have some, but I haven't been able to find it yet. If I can't soon I need to order some or preferably find some locally.
THE NEXT PHASE
The landscape architect came and presented me with a plan. It's got tons of fruit trees, berry bushes, medicinal herbs, plants for beauty. It looks well-laid out, and he even presented some plants that I have never heard of. Look and see!
Now it's a matter of budget and scheduling. We may not do it all in one fell swoop, so we will have to decide what gets done first. Trees will have to be on the "do now" list. They take longer to get established and produce.
Things are picking up around here! I'm harvesting greens from the garden almost daily. Putting spinach in the smoothies, and the rest of the greens in salad. I've decided I don't love the taste of raw kale and raw chard, so I will probably use the rest in a stir fry.
I'm getting a few strawberries a day. If you've never had a just-picked, sun-ripened strawberry, you are missing out! Have you ever had strawberry soda or strawberry candy? You know that intense flavor that tastes nothing like a conventional, store-bought berry? Well, I am here to tell you that THAT taste, that amazing, sweet, concentrated flavor explosion actually DOES somewhat mimic the real thing.
My blueberries, as I may have mentioned earlier, have outgrown the tulle netting I bought last year to shield them from the birds. I'll have to break out the old sewing machine to combine pieces. Now's about the time I need to be on the lookout for Japanese beetles, as well. I believe I still have some Surround that I can mix up and apply.
Oh, and here's some video! My first ever. I suppose I should work on intro graphics and a theme song, but in the meantime, enjoy!