Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Julianna loves chickens and being on the farm

Last weekend, we visited our friend's farm in upstate NY. They used to live down here by us in NJ and retired to upstate NY where they bought this great farmhouse on a ginormous piece of property (90 acres I think??) - It's up in the middle of nowhere and it's just gorgeous!! It was our first visit there and we had a nice time. Julianna loved their chickens - she loved feeding them and collecting the eggs on Sunday morning. She didn't quite get the egg part so much because she tried to feed an egg to one of the chickens....

Karen & Dave have a large garden with tomatoes & other veggies as far as the eye can see. They have been jarring & freezing for weeks now. They have enough jarred tomato sauce, pickles, herbs, etc... to last through next year! Their chickens give them about 8-10 eggs daily... so we were sent home with a jar of sauce, 3 dozen eggs and some other various items. We had fresh eggs (french toast) for breakfast and fresh tomato sauce for dinner- Yum! The farm fresh eggs are incredible to say the least. What a difference from store-bought. Makes me want to have my own chicken HAHA!

Julianna loved feeding the chickens. 

Julianna looking at the barn 

Morning sunrise in the fog. 

Love this one. I would love to wake up to this in the morning. 

We got up early to go feed the chickens & collect the eggs 

My silly dog (black & white on the right) almost got herself a chicken dinner! 

Hello chicken! 

My girl. 

Getting ready to ride the quads. 

Me & Brian.

The pond their dogs love to go swimming in.

Checking out the farm.

Such a pretty view. 

Collecting the eggs. 

And there she is with the chickens again! Her new friends! 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

What do I love lately?

I was going to do a "Lately" type of a post and figured I would do that but combine it with some recent photos that never made it into my blog because there seems to be too much to blog about and not enough time!!

So Here's what I love lately -

 I love that Julianna loves the aquarium fish - she could watch them for hours on end. (So can mommy!) 

My husband and I babysat this little cutie a few weekends ago while his aunt got married! He was so much fun and such a good boy. He would make a good friend for Julianna, too bad he lives 3 hours away! 

This is J's beloved giraffe. I am loving this giraffe simply because of how much it calms Julianna down and how much love she has for this little thing. It's always with her when we are home and he makes the occasional trek out to the store as well. 

I love watching Julianna play with other children. When we babysat little Jack, she wasn't too eager to share her toys and only let him play with some - but I am loving that she is getting the hang on sharing -sometimes- haha! 

I am loving that Brian and I decided to buy a pontoon boat for next boating season. We took a boat out for a test ride on labor day weekend and fell in love. We have been living by our lake for 8 years and have always talked about getting a boat but it was never the right time. Now is the right time. So this winter, we will be looking at our options and probably ordering a new boat for springtime. Yay! 

This is a area called Byram Bay on the lake- everyone goes here and drops anchor to hang out. On a hot weekend day, you can walk from boat to boat practically because it gets so crowded! 

Brian looks good as the captain - Lovin it! 

I don't know if I could deal with a sailboat. Too much tipping and uncertainty for me. Looks like fun though! 

And who doesn't love this house? It's my favorite house on the lake. It's an old castle. There are many large homes on this lake with tons of history - but this is my favorite- Lovin it!! Can you imagine sitting on that porch overlooking the lake sipping a glass of wine? Now that's living. 

Loving this little seagull sitting on the buoy

I am loving how much my little girl loves her daddy! 

I am loving this shot of Julianna. A lot of you said you liked this one... 
Here's what I did to get this effect. I have been practicing panning because I saw a similar shot like this over at "Click it up a notch" and I had to try it out.
I set my ISO to 800 (kind of indoors).  My 18-200 lens was pulled to 18mm (that kind of gives it that wide angle look a little)- My shutter speed was 1/15 ... Fstop was F16 to get as much detail as possible. I took a shot every time she came around - and moved with her (swinging my upper body with camera from left to right as she went by, if that makes sense) as she came around and tried like heck to focus on her face. I took about 15 shots and maybe 3 were decent, although they are not too sharp, it's still a fun picture!! 

Friday, September 21, 2012

Best of the week - Foggy Morning Sunrise on the farm

I am entering the following "Sunrise" pictures in "Finagle a Foto" over at Happy Jax. Melanie is a great photographer that just started her own business and she takes some pretty amazing shots! Check her out!

The theme for this week is "Best of Week" I normally enter photos of Julianna, but this time, I am doing 3 photos of the gorgeous sunrise on a foggy morning on our friend's farm this past weekend.

happy jax

This is what we woke up to in the morning!
Beautiful right?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Our {Community} Garden

I have talked about our community garden here in the past. We have a plot there and grow tomatoes, celery, peppers, 4-o'clock flowers, carrots, basil, thyme, oregano, rosemary and melons. The celery, carrots, peppers & melons never really matured like we had hoped for. The tomatoes & herbs on the other hand ... they took off and we have been picking a ton of them every week lately!

These are the 4 o'clock flowers - Before my Nana (grandma) died a few years ago, she gave us a bag full of '4 o'clock' flower seeds. We held onto them for a few years and never really did anything with them.. until this year. Brian planted the seeds in his seed-starter kit, and we were able to sprout several flowers from them. Pretty neat after 4 years of sitting in a plastic bag - and it makes me think of my Nana every time I see these flowers. They are called "4'clock flowers" because they open up at, you guessed it, late in the day around 4 o'clock! This isn't the greatest picture but that's them - They get to be about 3-4 feet tall if you stake them! 

Julianna waiting for the water to come out of the hose so we can water! 

We picked just a few tomatoes the other day! 

In case you missed it, I posted "What do I do with all of my tomatoes from the garden" the other day, including my recipe for my delicious spaghetti sauce! It is worth checking out! Click Here


Sunday, September 16, 2012

What do I do with all of my tomatoes from the garden?

OK - so now that I have all of these tomatoes from our garden...
What do I do with them?

Here is a great recipe that I made twice in the past few weeks - My husband couldn't get enough of it! 

Here's a great website filled with some fabulous tomato recipes! 

I also made this several times - It is soooo good & fresh! No Knife Spaghetti 

And what did I do with the rest of the tomatoes? 
I do what I do best- I make my famous (Spaghetti) Sauce
Here's how: 

I make large batches of sauce to freeze for use later. I like to make food in bulk - it's such a time saver!

Lot's of fresh tomatoes; 10-15 fresh basil leaves; chopped, Fresh Oregano to taste; Salt/pepper; small can tomato paste; 1 large can tomato puree, Olive Oil, garlic, onion. 

First, Wash your tomatoes off (to remove any dirt from the garden)

Cut the tops of your tomatoes off. 
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
  • In a flat pan, drizzle olive oil, fresh basil, fresh oregano, garlic (your discretion) salt & pepper.
  • Put them face down (on the flat side you just cut off) 
  • Last time I made this, I had enough tomatoes to fill 3 pans like shown below. 
  • Make sure to have a pan deeper than a cookie sheet. 
  • Once these are baked, they give off a lot of liquid and they need more room in the pan. 
  • Bake for 1 hour. 

 OK - Once your tomatoes finished baking for an hour, take them out of the oven and let them cool for a few minutes.

You now need to remove the skins. They come off super-easy now!  I'm usually able to pull them off with my fingers and a small knife or fork.

Here's the optional part, I do NOT normally remove the seeds. However, if you do not like seeds in your sauce, then remove them now with a fork.

So at this point, I usually run out of time, so I take the skinless tomatoes and all their juice... and put them in containers to store in the fridge for making the sauce later. If you don't need a break and can continue on - Let's move onto the next part - Making the yummiest sauce ever. 

I use a large pot like this:
  • Turn heat on medium or medium high. 
  • Pour some olive oil in the bottom of the pot - maybe about 1/8 -1/4c depending on how much sauce you are planning on making. 
  • Add 1 c chopped onions & 4-8 cloves of minced garlic, salt & pepper. 
  • I sauté the garlic & onions for a couple minutes until the garlic starts turning golden. 
  • Add your tomatoes & tomato liquid from when you baked them. I usually have enough tomatoes to fill about 1/3 or 1/2 of the pot. *The tomatoes are still pretty solid, I use a mashed potato smasher to push them down & crush them in the pot. They will smooth out as they cook. 
  • Add 1 can of tomato puree if you need more sauce 
  • Add 1/2 to 3/4 small can of tomato paste for thickening purposes 
  • OPTIONAL - If you do not have your own tomatoes , I use 3 large cans of tomato puree' and 1 large can of crushed tomatoes in place of the fresh baked tomatoes here.
  • Lower heat to medium-low. Let cook for 30 minutes uncovered.
  • Add chopped fresh basil  & fresh oregano. (more salt/pepper if needed)
  • Optional - Add 2-4 tbs of sugar (to taste) if your tomato sauce is tasting bitter - it takes a while to cook off the bitterness sometimes. 
  • Once all of this is done - Cook covered on low or medium/low for 3-4 hours. You are not looking to boil this. If it's on medium or higher, it will burn. Sloow & long cook - tastes best! 

Once cooked, I usually let it cool a little, then divide up into small containers for the freezer. I put enough sauce in each container for us for one night of dinner. Depending on how much you make and how you divide it up, you can freeze a lot of delicious sauce for upcoming dinners! 
I know this may seem like a lot of steps but I wanted to make sure to include everything! 
It takes me no time to do all of this and is so worth it in the end! 
My husband can't eat any other sauce. He says nothing compares! :) 


Enjoy and let me know if you decide to try this out!


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