Friday, December 2, 2011

Inspired.

I'm so grateful for our cottage; tucked away in the country. A small piece of the world where all we have is all that we need. I believe that a home is a lovely reflection of what inspires you.
~A life filled with gratitude often has so many quiet, beautiful moments.
~Recently, we traveled up the back roads to visit friends for the weekend. Surrounded by the beauty of the season, we all walked from their home up to the town.
~What a delight to walk through the historic neighborhoods.The homes had so much character, and I enjoyed hearing some town history from some of the locals. After going through the outdoor market, we took our time as we walked back to the house.

~Inside, we talked together as supper was being prepared.

~At a local estate sale, I ended up taking home a quilt from the 1860's-1870's. Originally the local museum was going to buy it, but they didn't come back so I was able to talk the price waaay down! I'm looking forward to mending it by hand this winter.

~A tree leaning against our old shed. Rustic textures of the season.
~ We each try to gather a basket of pecans daily...My sister was coming down to the house after checking on the chickens and bringing in a few eggs.

~The wall I'm standing in front of is an enclosed porch my dad recently built onto the back of the cottage..it's made entirely of wood from our own trees that we chopped down last winter. //Second-Hand Treasures: Crocheted shawl $0.50--Vintage dress from an estate sale $3.00
~Preparing for dinner, fresh green beans are washed and sorted.
~
We harvested quite a bit of peanuts..So far we've made boiled peanuts, but I look forward to roasting and grinding them for homemade peanut butter..
~
With these extra green tomatoes, I'll be using them to make a relish. Secondhand Treasure: Vintage 1940's apron (found at an antique mall) $3.50
~In the garden, this is the perfect time for dividing up the flowers.
~My brother made homemade Reese's Cups! I thought it was pretty creative... All he did was layer melted chocolate & peanut butter in a cupcake liner, then pop in the freezer!
~The English peas in the cottage garden are doing well! Since our recent rainstorms, they've actually grown quite a bit and are ready for trellising.
~My dad went and picked up a free load of farm-yard manure, and my sister helped unload it into the wooden compost crates he built.
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As our meal cooks over an open fire, the wood smoke rises into the air, revealing the sun rays.
~

Several baskets filled with pecans. It's a little overwheming thinking about us shelling all those, but its worth it in the end....right? haha! So much for a pecan shortage this year ;)
~My dad sketches our homestead as we discuss ideas for producing more home-grown foods.
~

A Countryside Thanksgiving


This holiday, we decided to have a countryside thanksgiving, attempting to eat as organic/home-grown/local as we can. So I went onto LocalHarvest to find nearby farms to support. It was a pleasant surprise to have an opportunity to tour a couple farms and meet our neighbors! In the end, we ended up purchasing some organic produce, and pasture raised fresh ham & sausage.
~Acorn squash filled with Apple Pecan stuffing--delicious!
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In the background, soft music plays as we all cook and prepare the baked goods together...
~Outside under the shade of an old tree, we began to fill our picnic table with the various dishes-- and after spending all morning in the kitchen...we were ready to EAT! hehe
~ Menu (From far right to left)
*Fresh Ham w/ a sweet apple glaze, *Old fashioned creamed corn
*Homemade cranberry sauce w/ fresh apples and pears

*Macaroni and cheese
*Sweet potato and Apple casserole
*Fresh collard greens, *Acorn Squash with Apple Pecan stuffing, *Buttermilk biscuits, *Cornbread dressing,
*Apple cider, *
Homemade Apple Pie w/ Vanilla Ice-cream
~~My parents taking a walk together after dinner~

After enjoying a wonderful meal & dessert, my brother declared it was "The BEST thanksgiving ever." That was so rewarding to hear, and I'm thankful that we were able to have the celebration we wanted--simple, with foods that are seasonal & local to our area...And the time spent together was memorable, indeed.
~

My brother gathered up acorns from up under the oak tree, to make Acorn flour he had read about in one of his survival books :)


~After rinsing, boiling and drying the acorns, he ground them up into a coarse meal..not quite flour..but close! He added it into a pancake recipe, and we were surprised at how "earthy" it tasted! heh. I believe its called survival food for a reason...
~ My sister was recently inspired to crochet new projects...
~


And I'm inspired to dig new areas for the onions!


Yesterday I dug four garden beds that are 4 ft x 12 ft each...only a few more to go. The ground is extremely soft because of all the rain lately, but the days are chilly and overcast.
~


We bought Georgia sweet onions from a farmer, for only $5 per bundle...We ended up buying 9 bundles...Gracious, that's 700 onions! Almost done planting though..I look forward to giving away many of the onions next year. It's so important to share with others the fruits of the harvest. Food is just too expensive these days-- we need to help each other out! ;)




~Mia

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

To my Readers...

Congrats to Ms. Lydia! I've contacted you with details :)

There were 132 entries in the Giveaway, and the online random generator landed on #107! Many thanks to all who joined in, I wish I could send everyone something...your comments on the season of Autumn were inspirational, truly!
~

Question to all my readers:

What would you like to see more posts on? (Hair care, Clothing, Reading, Lifestyle, Family etc.) Do you have a question that wasn't answered in the Interview post? Please comment, and let me know :) I look forward to answering all that I can. A new post will be coming up soon!




~Mia

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A Portrait of country living {& A Giveaway}

The last few weeks have been full with projects, keeping us outside while the weather is pleasant. I appreciate that Autumn is not the end of the gardening year, but rather the start of next year's growing season! So with that in mind we're doing all that we can before the cold front sets in!

~On a clear & windy afternoon, we decided to go out searching for any roses, shrubs, and other plants in the woods. The yellow Goldenrod was everywhere, so we transplanted a few as well.

~The air was wild with leaves falling upon our shoulders, as we searched for the perfect sized plants. In the warm sunlight, I came across a bee resting contentedly on the blooms.
~My mother began to move a few bushes...

~Yet it was nice to see so many types of flowers..Some may be considered weeds, but I think they're just lovely.

~We loaded up the wagon with the plants, and watched as my brother pulled it across the property. It creaked and wobbled all the way to the front garden, and even the chickens observed as we passed by the gate.

~This is our favorite time of year to go bike-riding through the neighborhood. The roads are scenic, and most families out here are farmers, so it stays quiet--except for the distant hum of tractors out in the fields during harvest-time.
~

To keep the task of dish-washing interesting, I listen to the radio, especially classical music. It holds a special nostalgia to me because we listened to classical music during 'school time' in our early years of homeschooling(10 yrs ago!). It calms the atmosphere, and you even learn about composers which is nice.


In the kitchen, my mother and I sat down to discuss our Thanksgiving meal preparations...It was so enjoyable to go through our favorite cookbooks, reading inspiring recipes to come up with ideas. I'm really looking forward to sharing with y'all what we do :)


~In the garden, the English peas have been planted.
~I love fresh, tender salad greens...there's something visually delicious about the combination of its vibrant mixed colors & delicate taste. Truly, even a simple salad can be an art form in its own way.
~Homegrown food is an expression of humble economy. Although our gardens aren't very established yet, its been encouraging to see what we have been able to harvest thus far. With a little patience, these seedlings we transplanted today should do pretty well.As they grow, they're able to supply nourishment to our family throughout the upcoming winter months.
~One afternoon, I came across a butterfly enjoying this old, forgotten piece of fruit. It struck me because even though the fruit is slowly deteriorating, the butterfly doesn't care about the outside..only the sweet inside that I couldn't see.


{"...For man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart." 1 Samuel 16:7}
~
Lately I've been trying to gather pecans from our many trees around the property. So when I have extra time during the day, I shell the pecans and put them up in jars for later use.
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At the sewing table, a winter hat gets freshened up with a few flowers sewn onto the band.
~The picket fence needed a bit of paint in a few spots...so on a clear day, my sister was able to remedy the situation :)
~Simple White Alfredo Sauce
This is an all-purpose and basic recipe..I've used it many different ways...enjoy!


In a sauce pan, heat 1 TBsp butter & 2 Tbsp Olive Oil until hot..then add 3 TBsp flour (mix it in well). Turn off heat and let sit for 1 minute. Add 1.5 cups milk, stir and bring to a boil. Add 1 (heaped) cup of Parmesan cheese & 3 minced garlic cloves. Return to a boil, then add 2/3 cup milk and 1/2 tsp sea salt. Serve over pasta ;)
~One of our pumpkins from the garden...
~As the sun began to set, I watched the calm landscape from across the meadow.
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Lately, meals have been prepared over an open fire. It's been lovely to gather around on chilly mornings and evenings as we eat together outdoors.
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The chicken pen was expanded a few months ago, and so the new grassy area was cleared in record time. One thing's for sure, weeds aren't an issue when chickens are in residence!
~~A corn-husk broom & dried cotton plants~
I recently got a chance to spend the day in an 1850s cookhouse, and I do believe I had too much fun ;)
~
Early that morning, I arrived with my baskets filled with fresh vegetables, herbs, and everything else I'd need for the day. After preparing the bread dough, I began to make old-fashioned apple fritters before the students arrived.
~ "...The mass of cottagers lived on bread, bacon, lard and weak tea as their staple diet, and whatever fruit and vegetables they could grow themselves. Eggs and milk were available to many, and according to the season, they were able to gather blackberries from the hedgerows..." -Philippa Drury
~I encouraged the children to gather in close as I balanced answering questions while demonstrating how to fry apple fritters. I brought along an old iron that belonged to my great-grandmother, and what a delight to watch the children experience how heavy it was! As it was passed around, the expressions were priceless!
~There's nothing like good, hearty potato soup on the stove, mingled with the aroma of fresh bread right out of the oven. It's amazing to me how the most rustic meals are often so simple to make.
~
'Tis true that it may not be fast, quick, and less than 4 ingredients...but let me tell you-- at the end of the day, the rich, flavorful broth and fresh veggies produce a soup you'd enjoy immensely, I'm sure. I wish you could've joined me though, I had an extra wooden bowl and plenty to share. Standing in the doorway, I watched as the last of the children walked down the brick path, some with shouts of, "Bye miss Mia!", others with shy waves. As I walked down to the herb garden, I tucked a few sprigs of lavender in my apron before entering the cookhouse to tidy up. Soon my baskets were packed, and I swept the floor one last time before traveling back home.
~
I'm so excited that I have over 1,000 followers! To celebrate, I'd like to giveaway a few things that I've tried and enjoyed:


*The Complete book of Small Batch Preserving {by Ellie Topp and Margaret Howard} Wonderful book, it has over 300 recipes, many full color pages, and its easy to read.


*Pomona's Universal Pectin {This has been THE BEST pectin--It doesn't need a ton of sugar to gel--Rather, I'm able to sweeten jams with fruit juice concentrate, maple syrup, honey, stevia, low sugar etc...its adaptable, and you have freedom to create your own recipes.}


**Also: I'm including a note to you, and Hand-written recipes {including the vanilla-spice jam recipe}.
~ "What do you love most about the Autumn season?" Answer this question in the comment section and you'll be entered! The giveaway ends Saturday November 12th, 2011. If you don't have a blog, be sure to include your email so I'll be able to get in touch with you :)



Thanks again, and I look forward to hearing from you!


~*~Mia