Thursday, October 31, 2013

Some People Carve Pumpkins

I like traditions.  My family doesn't have many, but we have a few.  Breck and I always give three kisses before bed.  He who cooks doesn't clean is another.  We also eat Chinese food on Halloween.

It started when we were a family of three and we were trying to carve pumpkins and get our son ready for trick or treating.  Things were so busy we ordered Chinese for delivery.

All these years later it is still something I look forward to on Halloween night.  This year I made the drive to Houston to have dinner with Breck at a yummy place he recommended.  My gosh, was it good!

I am a creature of habit and ordered the same thing I always get,  General Tso's Chicken.  I even saved some back to have tomorrow for dinner.  And our fortunes?  Guess whose is whose.

Happy Halloween, everyone.  Do you have any fun traditions?

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Another Jam For The Shelf

My day started earlier than normal.  This morning at 5am I woke to the sounds of trucks, horns, back up warnings, and men whistling.  When I looked outside I saw this.

That is what it looks like when a builder is pouring a slab for a new house.  They always get an early start.  The spotlight, though, was crazy!  It lit up the whole neighborhood.  But that's not what I really want to tell you about.  Last night I made another jam.  This time it was Carrot Cake Jam.

Oh. My. Goodness.  It was fabulous.  I took a jar to work to test out on the guinea pigs coworkers.  We spread it on whole wheat bagels with cream cheese.

It really did give off a carrot cake flavor with the raisins, pineapple, carrots, and walnuts.

Yep.  One more yummy for Christmas gift list.  The coworkers agree.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Essential Oil Essential

It's that time of year that I need to start getting my ducks in a row.  After sitting down the husband over coffee and talking about things we would like to do, I think we have come up some good ideas.  Step one in order to complete some of those gifts is to make some rosemary essential oil from my garden.

I know I could buy it, but why?  I have been growing rosemary for years and have plenty.   Besides, it just adds another level to homemade.  Yes, someone might see this and make a connection when they receive their gift, but that will just show them how much love went into it.

It's pretty easy to make essential oil.  I just filled a pint jar with freshly picked rosemary from the garden, making sure to bruise the leaves as I packed it tight, and poured in enough canola oil to totally cover the leaves.

After covering it with heavy plastic (a sandwich bag cut open and the ziplock removed), I screwed on a jar ring to hold it in place.  This will sit for a couple weeks in the light, but not direct sun.  After that, I will strain off the old herbs and replace them with more fresh cut rosemary and wait again.  Repeat.

I'm really excited about this gift, as I am with the others that we put on our list to make.  And do you remember all that wood I cut way back in February ( Getting A Jump On Christmas 2013)?  Well, it's time to get that project going again.

Let the parade of nonstop Christmas begin.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Just Out My Front Door

I am so lucky to live exactly were I want to be.

Just out my front door and down the street to the left is a beautiful spot in our neighborhood for walking, enjoying the outdoors, and spotting tokens of petrified wood.  (You know I'm a nut for it)

Talking a long walk through the reserve is one of my favorite weekend activities.  This morning Breck and I trekked out to see what changes have been occurring since the weather began cooling.

We apparently were not the only ones to think that sounded like a good idea.

And just like at Bastrop State Park last weekend, we found lots in bloom.

And many things that we just found . . . pretty.

Yes, even the hornets were . . . pretty.

And the wispy clouds and amazing blue sky was a treat.

Wild grapes?  Reminds me that I really need to make more jam.

 How stunning is this?  Can any state park have any more to offer than this?

I wonder how many of my neighbors wander the paths like we do?

Goodness knows it's the best time of year for it.

Unless you want to wait a few weeks when the leaves really begin to change and not just dabble with the idea on a branch or two.

Yep.  Pretty happy right where I am.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Number 32: Buescher State Park

After hiking around Bastrop State Park on Sunday, we made the 12 mile drive on Park Road 1C to Buescher State Park.  

I was driving, so I don't have any pictures of the scene, but I will tell you that there is a definite line you can see where the fire of 2011 came through. It is just as evident in the parks themselves.  Where Bastrop was bare, Buescher was lush.

Perfect for trying out my new wide angle lens.  Just look at how much will fit in the view.

Such a pretty park.

There were wildflowers here as well, but not as many as in the open fields of Bastrop.

The trail was green with long fall shadows and plenty to appreciate.

In the late afternoon light we saw things we may have missed at other times of day; this spider web, for example.

And I always love getting shots of mushrooms.

And I didn't know that Turk's Cap was a wildflower in Texas, but it was in bloom all along the trail.

So much contrast between two parks so close to each other.