Saturday, September 27, 2014

33 Weeks...and Counting!

Well, how about a little update!    With the instant gratification of Instagram (pardon the pun), I haven't had the will to sit down and write a blog post.  But let's get one in before I pop out a little Cesarz baby!!

After many years of infertility nonsense...we got knocked up!  The old fashioned way!!  *wink wink*

A beautiful surprise, which came exactly one week after my sister called and told me she was pregnant (with twins!!).  The Bielski girls were more than doubling our little offspring lot before Thanksgiving, and all were overjoyed.

I've traveled with this little pumpkin all over the great mitten state this summer, and swam in the icy waters of Lakes Michigan, Huron, and Superior.  I've neglected my gardens and read countless novels on the porch with iced tea in hand.  It's been a beautiful pregnancy, and hard to believe we're in the final stretch.

Not much to complain of...some normal swelling, and the telltale puffy lips of my pregnancies.  Heartburn, lots of peeing, and I'm really craving a cocktail.  It's a mover and a shaker, and may have a pitchfork in there.  When it's not being a little alien and stabbing my with pointy things, it has the hiccups.  So many years went by thinking that I would never feel these sweet things I am beyond grateful for every last little sign that there is a strong and healthy person in my belly!  Now on to gratuitous belly photos.

OMG...remember when I had a waist line?

Long watermelon belly...just like with Coco!

My last trip to Cincinnati to visit with my sister before....

...These two showed up!!!   Meet my little Nephew and Niece,
Jude Henry and Leona Eve!!  
My sister did good ;).

Stay tuned for the big arrival, some time around mid November!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Granola Bars. Do It.

Last night we happened upon Food Inc., a terrifying documentary on the modern food industry.

It scared the shit out of me.

I would probably never sleep at night again for fear of Monsanto eating my young, except I have faith.  I have faith in the small local farmer.  I have faith in my friends and neighbors, and their one or two acres of fresh food.  I get excited by the twenty and thirty somethings sharing canning recipes on Instagram.  We're going to be ok...we have to be ok.  But we NEED to learn where our food comes from, and how to feed ourselves folks.

Having said that, I have a short list of foods that I buy from the store each week.   I'm not perfect.  I buy crates of Little Cuties from Florida, and I'm not delusional in thinking that my cupboard is GMO free.  Fucking Reece's Peanut Butter Cups are labeled as GMO for Christ's sake.   But I try.  I really do.

One thing I buy each week are granola bars.  I hate buying them, but I love throwing them in for lunch and snacks.  Even the healthy organic ones have high fructose corn syrup and crap in them.  SO I MADE THEM.  And they are awesome.   And you will love them.

1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup almond (or peanut) butter
a good squeeze of LOCAL maple syrup
1 1/2 cups of quick oats

(aside from the oats, the rest of the choices are yours!  fill em' with your faves!)

I used...
1/2 cup coconut
handful of flax seeds
handful of sesame seeds
nuts, cranberries, raisins, etc. etc.

Toast anything toastable on a baking sheet at 350' for 15 min. (oats, seeds, coconut)
In a small saucepan, combine your wets (honey, almond butter, syrup)

Combine the toasted goodies, the wet mixture, and all of the extras (nuts and berries) in a big bowl, and mix it up.

Press it into a baking pan lined with foil for easy removal.  Throw it in the fridge (I keep it in there), and once it hardens DIG IN!!!

xoxo, e.
p.s...Coco loooves them.

Monday, January 13, 2014

My Lil' Gal from Tennessee.

(the pictures I looked at above her as I sang to her each week)

Edwina was my favorite patient.  Ever. And she deserves a little remembrance from me.

She has been on my hospice service for years - always declining just enough to meet hospice criteria, but never too much that she was anything but pleasant.  A tough little gal from Tennessee.

They married later in life, but in their ripe old age managed to put 54 years together under their belts.  She was 98, he is 87.  He took care of her.  Every Day.  Every Night.  He got her meals, helped her to the bathroom, hunted, fished, and gardened for their fresh local food.  I would spend half of my time singing to her, and half of my time shooting the shit with him on the back porch.  I would drag Joe and Coco along too, because they didn't have any family and it was the right thing to do.

He kept the house piping hot with the wood stove blaring...wood he chopped.  She was so tiny and always cold, so while I would be stripping down layers, and trying not to be lulled to sleep by the warmth, she would ask for her babushka and have me tie it tight to keep her head warm.

I never left empty handed.  Veggies, venison sausage, a bag of fresh fillets from that morning's catch - it's not customary to accept gifts from patients, but this was different.

He has nicknames for all of us.  I am "that gee-tar (guitar) lady," the chaplain is "that bald headed preacher man,"  and the social worker is "the one with the big boobs."

When he saw me walk into the funeral this morning, he yelled out "Where's Joe!?"  "He's right in the back" I said.  Joe made his way up and sat with him, holding his hand as they talked.  He said "My pot plant that the Mexican gave me is almost come over and we'll have us a party"...he said this loudly enough that everyone heard, and everyone was laughing (except maybe the funeral directors.)  But we all knew and loved these two people so well that this made everyone feel at ease somehow.

Edd cried when I sang "In the Sweet Bye and Bye."  That made Joe cry.  Joe is not comfortable at funerals, experiencing big loss early in life.  But I grew up Polish and Catholic - funerals are our thing.  I went to so many funerals growing up, I am comfortable here.  Death is that thing that I am good at, because somebody has to be - right?

She died in her chair, with her teeth in (her teeth that she lost every day).  He was feeding her pumpkin pie as she passed.  We should all be so lucky and so blessed to exit this world in such a way.  Loved.  Cared for.  And Fondly, sweetly remembered always. love love.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Larder Line Up...

Aside from the heatwave of the last few days, things feel different here in the mitten state.  The air is different, the light is different.  The breeze is crisp, and the flowers are sending forth their last hurrah.  The barn swallows have left early, and the sandhill cranes are starting to gather in small groups, then larger groups...eventually flying away for the winter by the hundreds.  Things beg to be picked, and eaten, and preserved.  We are on the cusp of fall folks!

Here at the farm that means hard core canning, freezing, and preserving season.  So here is your yearly update on how well we've stocked the larder so far.  (And this is not an invitation to come running our way to eat jam should the zombie apocalypse hit) (Kelly!!).

The cherry haul was impressive, thanks to our new friends in town, and we put many pounds of sweet and tart pitted cherries in the freezer.  This blueberry season was just "ok," due to long stretches of cool weather mid summer.  Also due to the fact that when we should have been picking, we were wedding prepping.  But we still have a decent haul in the freezer, and put up quite a bit of Blueberry-Cherry Jam...which is delicious!  We also picked/saved raspberries, strawberries, and we made a decent amount of Raspberry Jam and Strawberry Rhubarb Jam.

Despite a tomato blight (again, weird weather year here in michigan), we still hauled in bushel after bushel.  We canned the beautiful heirlooms, and stewed them down into marinara sauce for the freezer.  We made red salsa, and Joe's famous hot tomatillo salsa! We also have four sheet pans roasting in the oven right now with heirlooms, basil, garlic, olive oil, sea salt and crushed pepper.  Not sure if we'll freeze or can these yet, but god they smell good!!  And, we kicked ass at pickles this year...crispy and delicious!

We had so much chard in the garden (and still do), that we picked a few bushels, sautéed it in a little olive oil, and froze it in muffin tins.  I popped them out and put them in freezer bags, so mid winter we can pull them out for soups, stews, pasta, etc!

Ok, on to fall fruits.  We picked peaches, but we ate so many, and made so many damn peach crisps, that none made it in the freezer ;).  We had a great pear pick at the home of our cherry friends, and a bushel from our friends at Family Circle Centennial Farm, so we just finished the second batch of canned pear sauce.  

The first of the apples are ready at Uncle Scotty's orchard, so we pressed cider last week and put five gallons in the freezer ( and drank a bunch ;).  The rest of his orchard is close behind, and so is our trusty apple tree out back, so from this point on there will always be a roaster going on the counter roasting apple sauce or apple butter.  This is a bumper apple crop year, so let's put up some apple goodness!!

Our new set of chickens, the "teenagers," are in laying overdrive.  When I have a few extra dozen, I either make ice cream or pie crust for the freezer!  My "Never fail" amish pie crust seriously never fails ;).

And speaking of eggs, we have an incubator going in the basement with turkey and peahen eggs baking away!  My bourbon red turkeys have been a delight to raise, but I don't want to eat them until I get a new round of chicks going.  Fingers crossed that we have some hatchlings by the end of the month!

Come on eggies...I want little peacocks with their tails up to pop out!!
(but that's probably not how it works ;)

The best part about all of this is spending sweet time with my handsome husband and beautiful daughter...lovely mornings in orchards, hot afternoons in the kitchen - it's all about being together.  It also draws in friends, new and old, who want to eat beautiful local food.  
Yay Michigan!  Yay local food!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

To Have and to the Farmstead!

Yesterday morning, as Joe and I had our coffee, he said with a sigh..."God I'm glad there is no to do list for today!"

Because, for most of this summer, there was a to do list.  A long one.  If we weren't working, we were generally farming, gardening, painting...etc.  All in anticipation of Naomi and Tim's wedding!!!!

On August 15th, Joe's sister Naomi wed the wonderful Tim here at the farm.  It was beautiful, perfect, was all that I hoped it would be for the sweet couple.  On to the pictures!

Oh seriously Naomi....couldn't have imagined a more beautiful bride...but wait, let's go back to the beginning...

The dinner plate dahlias arrived in flats, and it was my job to whip up the floral arrangements!  I live for this shit ya'll.

The sunflowers bloomed, the porta potty made pretty, and the tables were set with the help of both families and the campers out back!

Joe made these kick ass chalkboard signs for the end of the road and for parking, and Naomi made the fabric flags for the front fence.  The details were really something folks!

Craig made the chuppa, and the chairs were ready for the pretty guests!

When everything was set, I had time for champagne and a bath.  Trixie had time for a nap in her wedding colored bandana (orange and teal held the day together).

Here comes Coco and Julia, Esther and Toby, and Naomi the Bride!

Music and words filled with love guided us through the ceremony.

Martha fit in a nap during the ceremony.

Who knew that the corn field would be the perfect picture backdrop!
And Oh the dancing courtesy of The Webbs!
... and desserts courtesy of Sweet Heather Anne!

This Couple!!!!
Amazing Wit Wedding beer courtesy of Tim's own Fitger's Brewhouse,
 ...and an amazing food fair courtesy of Chef Todd at Wesleys Catering!

Hostesses with the mostess.

The morning after.
I couldn't get out of my pretty bed, but the clean up crew was on their way for work and brunch!
Everyone wore their wedding favor, out Wit Wedding tee's!

   Hey, this was one of the coolest things that we have ever done.  This is the very reason we bought the farm.  Nothing makes me prouder than providing a beautiful, comfortable place for the people that I love.  So, until the next wedding (Julia?  Steven?  Luke?  You guys better be before Coco!)...xoxo, e.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Cultural Camping.

So many times this sweet summer, I've thought to myself, "I have to write a blog about this!"  But then we head to the lake, or the pool.  Or I read on the porch, or pick flowers for the house.  Or I snuggle the goats, or sit on the porch with the peacock.  Which means this has been a delightfully perfect summer.  And all of that is way better than blogging.  But last week, we packed up, left grandma on the farm, and hit the road.

Nestled in the pine trees of the great state of Michigan, is the town of Interlochen.  I did not grow up in Michigan, so this magical place was not part of my vocabulary until recently.  Last week, we loaded up a ton of crap, and set out for a camping excursion at the Interlochen state park.  Our good friend Allison and her daughter were attending camp at the Interlochen Center for the Arts (more on that next post).  Myself, the two dads, and 4 kids were roughing it across the way from them.  Allison camped with us at night, and we got Samantha for our final evening.  The trip was filled with fishing, swimming, smores....and going to see musicals, choral performances, and symphonies.  What a truly magical week!!  Some pictures, shall we?

The kids put on staches while mom organized a home sweet home campsite.

We were surrounded by RV's but out little sight was just perfect.

The weather would change on a dime (pics 5 min apart!)

Quick climb up Sleeping Bear!

 Lazy days at the beach ;)

Jojo love.

Joe spoiled us with percolator coffee, pancakes, eggs, bacon, fish tacos....he was in it to win it on the camping stove and grill!


Little beauties :).

We laughed till we ached.  I love these people, and can't wait till our next adventure.  Stay tuned for posts on the bedroom re-do, and Naomi's big wedding here next week!!!!

xoxo, e.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

She's My Cherry Pie.

Every day over the last week, as we drove in and out of Chelsea, we would see it...the big stone farm house by the cemetery, with the 30 foot tall cherry trees -heavy laden with fruit.  Finally I stopped.  I made Joe run up to the house and ask if we could pay to pick...or trade for eggs and honey.

Success!  They were a delightful couple, eager to talk fruit trees, farming, and community, and eager to share their bounty.   They were also headed out of town during peak cherry week, and graciously said we could pick while they were away or else the birds would get em'!

And, folks, this is why we live in a farming community.  Small town values, good people, trading with your neighbor, local fresh food, etc. etc. etc.  Amen to small town Michigan!!

xoxo, e.