Happy Halloween

Halloween is such a fun time. Cute trick-or-treaters, sweet treats, cozy fires and comfort food...what's not to like? 
And, I don't know about you, but this time of year I can't get enough pumpkin! If I'm not eating them, I'm decorating with them!

Warm and Cozy

Autumn has colorfully arrived, along with chilly rains. It's time for pumpkin spice lattes, fires in the wood stove and comfort food.

My husband made a delicious soup with our end-of-the-garden produce. This is somewhat how he made it...

Comforting Minestrone Soup
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 large carrot, sliced
1 ½ cup green beans
1 medium zucchini, sliced
4 cups stewed tomatoes
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 15 -ounce can low-sodium kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup elbow pasta

Combine all ingredients, bring to a boil, then simmer about 20 minutes.

Optional fresh toppings:
1/3 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

Trying to Beat the Weather!

Tomatoes, and more tomatoes! We waited  (it seemed like forever) until we finally had some juicy heirloom tomatoes on the vines. But now the vines are drooping to the point of breaking with the large crop. We save seeds for the heirlooms each year, and the tomatoes grow larger each year. I wonder if it is due to saving the best seeds? Maybe because we use our compost for fertilizer? Who knows...I won't complain.
We needed to pick the San Marzanos this weekend so the rains wouldn't split them. That meant lots of canned tomato sauce! We also grow our own garlic, onions and peppers. 
Actually, there isn't much we don't grow.
We have almost 1/4 of an acre of garden. Most are raised beds. We have a north and south garden. Oh, I didn't even count the pumpkin patch!
But, back to the tomatoes. I encourage you to save your own seeds. However, they must be heirloom seeds (not hybrid) to come back as the same tomato each year.
To save your tomato seeds:
  1. Scoop some seeds from a very ripe, healthy, large tomato. (the seeds will have a gel-like substance on them)
  2. Place the largest seeds in a small container. (I use a teacup) Add room temperature tap water to just cover the seeds.
  3. Set in a semi-dark place, away from drafts, for about 5 days. (I set mine on a shelf in the dining room.)
  4. After about 5 days, a sheen of mold will form on top of the water. Carefully add fresh water and swish around, then drain water and mold off.
  5. Repeat step four about 3 to 5 times to clean and separate the seeds from any gel.
  6. Place damp seeds on paper towel. Allow to thoroughly dry. Place in a paper envelope and store in dry, dark place. These seeds can last up to 3 years if stored correctly.

Autumn is Falling

The sky sprinkled autumn today. The first rains of the season made everything sparkle like spring but with fall colors. Purple, orange, red and gold.
Painting in my autumn journal
The smell...ahhh...is heavenly; that mixture of damp dirt, fresh air and over-ripe berries.
Our red maple steals the scene outside. Most leaves are just starting to turn, but Mr. Red wanted to party early.
"Look at me...look at me!"
To the chagrin of squirrels and jays in our neighborhood, I'm collecting acorns to make an autumn wreath. I do believe there are plenty for all of us this year, but the squirrels are scolding me none-the-less.
I've been painting overtime to get last minute art out the door for various products, but my favorite painting pastime is when I get a chance to add to my autumn journal while sipping a pumpkin spice latte while the cider-scented candle flickers. Of course, my schedule has to allow for pumpkin hunting and decorating all things with colorful berry vines and petite crabapple branches.