Monday, September 07, 2009

our crazy, crafty, creative labor day weekend

Like a horse moved to a new barn, or a dog rescued from a shelter and taken to a strange house, I think I've been in the process of realizing that this little, postage-stamp-sized farmstead on the mountain is Home. I'm pretty sure this process started happening back at the end of June, when it looked like escrow was actually going to close without too much of a hitch. And I'm pretty sure that a new part of this process - maybe the final part - happened during this long Labor Day weekend, which we kicked off by going to the Fair - an inevitably and creatively sensual experience that must have dislodged something that's been stuck for a while way down in my psyche. Friday night we were all exhausted, but on Saturday we decided to bake a double batch of Tollhouse cookies:

Why, yes, that IS a Siamese cat sleeping in the background, completely unimpressed by our culinary endeavors. Want proof?

On Sunday, one of the kids started talking about what kinds of plants we might enter in the Fair next year, so "Come with me," I said. I told them that I'd been eyeballing the property, trying to come up with the best place to plant a garden. The spot I tentatively chose has southern and eastern exposure, but it's blocked on the west and the north. It's where the entrance to the crawlspace is located, and our big, steel water cistern is buried nearby, too, so there's no chance we'll put a deck or other addition there. Plus, the previous owners left some heavy duty steel "planters" buried in the ground, and I figure those could come in handy for growing herbs. Right now, the spot is weedy and untended, but give us the winter to dream up our garden wish list and the spring to build raised beds, and there's no telling what kind of life we might breathe into that patch of ground:

I told the kids we could actually get started on the garden now, despite the fact that we'll soon be heading into fall and the already short northern Arizona growing season is getting close to being over. They were all excited, until I told son to grab the wheelbarrow and follow me and daughter while we walked the property and tossed as many old, dried out cow pies in as we could find (our land is on open range, and apparently, the last owners didn't close the front gate. Bovine visitors were clearly abundant). Actually, it didn't take the kids long to get excited even about that. It's amazing how fun it can be to collect petrified cow crap. Try it sometime. Afterward, we dumped the patties on the space I'd built for our compost pile. I used a bunch of cinderblocks that were left over after the little horse barn blew away in that rogue tornado:

Throughout the day, daughter would ask if I had anything that she could throw on the pile. Such a little Earth Girl. Go figure.

Today, we'd hardly gotten up and eaten breakfast before the creative urges struck again. It started with a big bag of apples that's been sitting on my counter all week, threatening to become compost fodder if I didn't do something quick. So, with the kids' help in the mashing phase, I batched up a quick pot of homemade apple sauce to serve with chicken sausage and my favorite Trader Joe's Basmati rice blend topped with mushroom sauce for dinner:

Have you ever done this? It's the easiest thing in the world! Four ingredients: Apples, water, sugar and cinnamon. Take a few minutes to peel and core the apples, cut them into quarters, boil all the ingredients together for a while, cool 'em down and mash 'em. Voila! Warm, homemade applesauce with an amazing taste and texture that will leave you feeling a little bummed out the next time you have to use storebought.

We even held back the peels and rings to dry for this year's Homemade Christmas:

I did mention that I was basically Martha on roids this weekend, right? Lizzie was as unimpressed as the cat. That's daughter's abandoned apron and son's abandoned artwork on the floor:

I was willing to overlook the increasingly daunting mess, though, since just about every time I checked on the kids, both of them were feverishly working on stories and pictures and even paper sculpture creations like this cat/kitten/bird/egg/watermelon/garden combo created by daughter:

I don't know what the heck was in the water around here for the past few days, but whatever it was...give me more.


  1. "It's amazing how fun it can be to collect petrified cow crap."—I have tried this in the past. We used to use them for 2nd and third base, not the same one of course.

    Thanks for your vignette.

  2. lol, Ken. I bet that gave a whole new meaning (and odor) to "sliding" to the base.