August 28, 2012

Farm Fun


Hi everyone!  Hope you're doing well.

Sorry, I've been kind of absent...I've had a lot going on lately. Anyway, I'm finally getting around to sharing a few photos that I took a couple of weeks ago when my kids and I visited the Oliver Kelley farm.

I wish I would've been able to get more pictures, but my camera battery died almost as soon as I got there. I know...great planning on my part! I threw a few other photos into this post that I took recently...ones that have a farmy-feel to them just to mix it up a bit. But anyway, maybe I should share a few tidbits about our outing since I don't have a whole lot to show you.

The first thing I love about this farm, is that it's located not too far from where I live. Situated just off the highway, down a long dirt road, it's nestled behind a grove of trees alongside the Mississippi river...such a pretty setting. I kind of feel like it's a little hidden gem. The thing that makes it so interesting is that it's a working farm from the 1860's. The workers dress in period clothing and carry out the typical farm duties from that era, such as plowing the fields, gardening and tending animals. Visitors are welcome to join in, if they like, too.


If I remember correctly, the farm has a total of sixty-two animals. We found many of them freely wandering and grazing on the land. We'd be standing there and a huge ox would meander past or a group of pigs. I can't think...what would a group of pigs be called? A herd? Anyway, we loved it.


We had to laugh when we saw this pig rolling around in a muddy hole. He seemed so happy!


Of all the animals there, guess what my kids loved the most? The kittens! Something we see plenty of every single day. I have to admit, those kitties were pretty darn cute. I wish I could've gotten a photo, but they were so crazy running this way and that, that it just looked like a blur. One of the guys there told us we could take the little cuties home with us, if we'd like. Yeah, we wanted to, but we have our hands full with the two we have now. This is the sort of face I got when I told my kids no...over and over.


Lastly, let me show you this guy. He was quite the character! From the first moment I saw him, until the last, he spent all his time strutting around this coop, looking at all the other chickens inside and crowing. Round and round he walked...peering in. Isn't he handsome fellow?


I think having a few chickens around would be such good entertainment. We had ducks once and found them to be so funny! Well, that's all for my day of farm fun. I hope you enjoyed it.

Best wishes for a wonderful week!

xo

August 17, 2012

In the Bag


Hello, my lovelies. I hope you've had a wonderful week.

I want to start out by saying thank you for all the love you gave me about the passing of my sweet, old dog, Murphy. Your kind words mean the world to me. I can see that a lot of you share the same love of animals that I do.

As for today's post, I'm not feeling particularly talkative. I mostly just wanted to post a few photos that I took the other day. My hydrangeas are starting to fade, so I thought I'd cut a few and put them in this pretty woven bag. When life gives me flowers, I take pictures. 


The light was so nice. It had that warm glow that sunset brings...little bands of gold twinkling through the leaves. It's been rather dry this summer so some of the leaves are starting to fall. It makes me think that autumn is just around the corner. Although it's such a pretty season, I wish summer didn't end so soon.


Well, that's all for today. I hope you're enjoying the last days of summer. Best wishes for a beautiful weekend :)

xo

August 14, 2012

Missing Murphy... Life's Unexpected Moments


It's with heartwrenching sadness and in a state of disbelief, that I write these words...

One week ago today, my life was forever changed.  

Early last week, with a short getaway to Wisconsin planned, my family and I left home to the sound of our sweet, old dog, Murphy, barking with excitement at the sight of our suitcases. He stood at the door, ready to go, thinking that we were all headed up to the lake...a place he loved. I told him he had to stay home this time, gently nudged him away from the door and went on my way.

When I returned, it was with tears in my eyes and a heavy heart...to a silent house. Murphy's spirit had left us while were gone.

Seizures had overtaken his little body and he quickly slipped away. The unbearable pain of not being there to comfort him and say farewell is lessened only by the thoughts that he died while he was at home, as my sister hugged and kissed him, whispering words of love into his soft floppy little ear.

Life is full of unexpected moments, but I wish with all my heart that I could turn back time...that I had known as I closed that door, that this was the end. That I'd never again get to hug his chubby, little self...enjoy his gentle spirit...or see those two sweet, brown eyes. He was a part of my life for almost fifteen years and I can't believe he's gone and that I wasn't able say goodbye. I love you, Murphy...until we see each other again.

xo ♥

August 02, 2012

Hello Again...


Hi everyone! I'm just popping in for a quick hello...trying not to be so absent. By the way, thanks for all your nice visits on my last post. Anyway, can you believe it's August already? Oh, I hate to think of summer coming to a close. It's been so wonderful! I suppose that's the way it's meant to be though, the circle of life..as the one thing starts to wither, another is just awakening.

The hydrangeas are coming into bloom. I put together a few arrangements for the dining room. I love that they add just a bit of color...it feels fresh somehow.


I made a rustic apple tart this week too...twice actually. I'm not much of a pastry-maker, so I had to work on the crust a little and get it just the way I wanted it. The second time was a charm, luckily, since I really didn't want to make it a third time and eat all those calories. At least I got a few healthy servings of fruit though...right?

I think this will be a nice desert for autumn with all the apples that will be coming into season. Honeycrisps and Pink Ladies are my favorites. What kinds do you prefer?


Rustic Apple Tart

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, chilled and diced into small pieces
  • 1 egg yolk, beaten
  • 6 tablespoons water, ice-cold
  • 2 Pink Lady apples
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • lemon juice

Mix flour, sugar and salt together in a medium sized bowl. Add butter and using a using a food processor, pastry cutter or two knives in a criss-cross fashion, cut in the butter until it's pea size and the mixture looks crumbly...I use my hands to work everything together at the end, but not for too long because you want the butter to remain very cold. Whisk together the egg yolk and the water and then add it to the dry mixture. The dough will seem dry, but just work it into a ball with your hands. You could add just a bit more water if you think it's needed. Form dough into a ball, wrap in plastic and place it in the refrigerator. 

Fill a medium sized bowl half full of cold water and add a healthy squirt of lemon juice. Leaving the peelings on, but removing the cores, cut up the apples into approximated 1/4 inch slices. Place the apples into the lemon water as you're cutting. Set aside.

Lightly flour your work surface. Get out your dough and roll it out to about a 15 -16 inch diameter. Place a 9 to 10 inch tart pan with a removeable bottom on the center of your dough. Using your pan as a guide, trim the dough into a clean circle extending out approximately 3 inches from the base of the pan. Place dough into pan. I baked my tart in a pan since I wanted a perfect circle, but you could easily make this tart on a sheet pan covered in parchment paper too.  

Mix together cinnamon and sugar. Sprinkle 3/4 of the mixture into the pan. Place apples in a spiral pattern around the edge of the pan, overlapping them slightly as you go. Place a few apples in the center of your  circle. Create a second spiral of apples over the top of the first, closer to the center of the pan. Sprinkle remaining cinnamon and sugar mixture along the edge of the pan. Melt butter and brush over the apples. Fold up crust and brush with a little melted butter.

Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for approximately 30 minutes until the tart is lightly browned and the juices are bubbling. Cover with aluminum foil after about 15 minutes to keep the tart from getting too brown. Towards the end of baking, I also take my pastry brush and wet it with a little bit of the juices that are bubbling up in the center of the tart and brush it over the apples to keep them nice and moist.

Serve slightly warm and enjoy.

Well, that's all for today. Hope you have a sunny and happy weekend!

xo

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