While it feels nothing like fall in SE Michigan today (high of 89 and 94% humidity), with Labor Day behind us and September officially here…the summer is sadly over. We filled our last few weeks of summer with attending the Ann Arbor Wayzgoose and Printing Festival, a trip to Cranbrook Art Museum where we saw the Too Fast to Live, Too Young to Die: Punk Graphics, 1976-1986 and Shepard Fairey: Salad Days, 1989-1999 exhibitions, visiting two new-to-us breweries (Atwater and Batch Brewing Co), and the start to college football season. Also, Maddy successfully completed the snoot challenge…have you seen all this cuteness?!? Pictured above is an arrangement I made with flowers and herbs from our garden – roses, lavender, mint, lemon balm, basil, and sage.
The Pearl Beer bottle opener pictured above belonged to my Mema and Granddaddy. In March of 1942, my Granddaddy enlisted in the U.S. Army; on June 6, 1944, he – along with the brave soldiers of the 4th and 90th Division – stormed Utah Beach in Normandy, France. He was the recipient of the Purple Heart, Bronze Arrowhead, Five Bronze Stars for five major battles, three Overseas Bars and the French Legion of Honor Medal in addition to several other commendations. He lived to be 94 years old and I am so honored to have known him and to call him family. Thank you to all who have served.
Long, holiday weekends are heavenly…yet somehow, they never seem to be quite long enough; we thoroughly enjoyed ours and squeezed in a movie, lots of r&r, grilling, some more planting in our garden and yard (Bartzella Itoh Peony, Cascade Azalea, a few more herbs, and a mosquito plant), and – even with temps in the 90s here in May (that’s hot for MI in May!) – we spent a good amount of time outside enjoying our backyard patio space.
Speaking of things we enjoy…Ryan and I enjoy beer, I’ve been curious to try our hand at homebrewing, and we also enjoy a good DIY project on occasion – so we took the first step towards this and bought this book about it. We plan on reading up on it first and then we’ll see where that takes us; I’m excited at the possibility of creating our own homebrew, with a healthy dose of reality that this won’t be easy to do and will take a good deal of patience and practice to hopefully, eventually be successful at (fingers crossed!). My Dad shared with me that my Granddaddy once tried homebrewing and that it didn’t turn out that well for him – lol! I’m hopeful there will be more to come on this for us, stay tuned…
You can view more photos from our Memorial Day weekend here.
We purchased and planted most of our summer garden on Mother’s Day and are looking forward to some delicious garden goodies over the summer months! We are growing some of our annual favorites, but always pick out some new and different varieties to try as well. Here’s what’s growing in our summer garden this year: basil, oregano, thyme, mint, parsley, chives, shallots, strawberries, a variety of peppers (jalapeño, habanero, etc.) and tomatoes (Green Zebra, Mr. Stripey, Black Krim, and Chello), red leaf lettuce, kale, marigolds, nasturtium, dianthus, lavender, and ketchup and mustard roses. We’ll be adding coleus and maybe a few other things to pots in the coming weeks too. We also planted a few hanging baskets and pots with pretty, trailing plants like sweet potato vine, etc. Happy gardening!
It still doesn’t feel like fall in Michigan, we had high temps in the 80s over the weekend; but it certainly is looking like fall here which is nice. We spent all afternoon on Sunday raking and picking up seed pods that have fallen out of our locust tree and leaves in our yard. We also planted our rose bush in the backyard, which I hope will do well over the winter and bloom again in the spring/summer next year. It was nice to spend some time sprucing up the house, both inside and out, and put out a few decorations for Halloween. And with Halloween in mind…
- 2017 Guide to Halloween TV: Episodes, Specials, Movies, and Marathons
- 36 Best Halloween Films on Netflix
- Halloween on Hulu
Maddy will just close her eyes through the scary parts. 😉
Maddy’s antics never cease to amuse us (and, let’s be honest, sometimes drive us crazy); the image above is of one of her rubber squeaker toys which she’s dropped into the toilet all by herself – we fished it out and properly cleaned it off…but it did give us a good laugh! She’s got that “Border Collie stare” down pat and her curly tail is the cutest. We enjoyed a relaxing weekend at home with Maddy, lots of long walks in our neighborhood (the crisp, fall temps we had were much appreciated!), and we made this Blue Apron meal and used up about half of our garden basil to put together a quick pesto sauce for a pasta dinner Sunday evening.
It seems our garden is really set up to make sauces and hot sauce more than anything else. Rather than just using our serrano peppers for hot sauce again (which we still may do) we decided to mix them with our tomatoes for a nice salsa that can be quick canned for preserving in the fridge or freezer.
- 1/2 red onion (roasted on grill and diced)
- mix of roma and heirloom tomatoes, about 14 heirloom and 8 roma
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (+ some to coat the onions and tomatoes)
- 3 cloves of garlic pressed into a paste
- lots of serrano peppers minced (we lost count at 12, there may be more)
- cilantro to your taste (we used about a 1/2 cup loosely packed then finely chopped)
- 1 cup + 1 tbsp of distilled white vinegar
- salt and pepper to taste
On a grill roast the tomatoes and onions. Remove from grill and let cool. Small dice the onion. Core the tomatoes and put into a blender or food processor and puree (ours produced just over 4 cups of tomato sauce). Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat in a large pot. Add the garlic and peppers and sauté for a few minutes (3-4). Add the onions and continue to sauté for a couple more minutes (2-3). Add the tomato sauce and vinegar and bring to a boil. Once boiling reduce the heat to low and let simmer for about 10-15 minutes or until the sauce starts to thicken a bit. Add the cilantro and salt and pepper to your taste.
This recipe is not safe tested for real canning, we’re not certain about whether or not there is enough acid to keep it on a shelf for long term. That said, there should be enough vinegar for long term freezing and making it shelf stable in your fridge for a while.
Also pictured above, we pickled our garden jalapeños using this recipe.
We grew our own poblano chile peppers this summer; now that it’s getting to be late August and the weather will soon turn, we’re harvesting a lot of ripe peppers, tomatoes, etc. and figuring out what to do with all our garden goodies. With us both coming from Texas, we are fans of spicy food and Hatch chiles hold a special place in Ryan’s heart as it wasn’t too far from his hometown and an often used and enjoyed ingredient in home cooking. When he recently saw fresh Hatch chiles in our local grocery store, he was sure to pick up a bag and decided they would pair well with our homegrown poblano chiles for a nice, spicy sauce.
- 3 tomatillos
- 4 poblano chiles
- 6-8 Hatch green chiles
- 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
- 2 cloves garlic, minced to a paste or pressed in a garlic press
- 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
Roast tomatillos on the grill. Roast peppers on the grill, over medium heat, until skins are browned and start to come loose from peppers; remove from heat, place in container, and cover to steam. Once cooled, remove pepper tops, deseed, and remove skins leaving you with only the flesh of the peppers. Put all ingredients in a food processor and purée.
After putting this together and tasting it, Ryan called it the “best sauce ever”; it’s fresh, and spicy, and if you’re not afraid of some heat give it a try for yourself!
It’s peach season in Michigan and there is an abundant supply of juicy, ripe fruit available at our local farmer’s markets – or if you’re lucky enough to have a friend who has peach trees and is willing to share, from friends too! We were inspired by our friend Jennifer, who recently made and shared a beautiful peach crisp photo, and our friend Laura, who generously gave us a bag of peaches from her yard, to make our own peach crisp and it did not disappoint; we used this recipe as a guide (thank you, Jennifer!) and Ryan did a bit of tweaking using what we had available in our pantry (we added oats and cinnamon and left out the garam masala).
While we aren’t growing our own peaches, we are growing our own tomatoes, zucchini, strawberries, peppers, and herbs this summer and our tomato plants are producing some beautiful fruit; just look at this heaping bowl of tomato (there’s a zucchini hiding in there too) goodness! As our ripe tomato count is rising, we’re considering what do with them all…pasta sauce, salsa, etc. I couldn’t resist snapping a quick photo of them all piled up in this beautiful bowl by Abigail Murray Studio on top of this tea towel by MirDinara.
We also took some time this weekend to use the laser cutter at Maker Works to make a custom-etched dog tag for Maddy; what we ended up with was 100 times better than what we were able to get from the machine at the pet store too. DIY for the win!
Our garden is producing peppers like crazy now and our tomatoes are doing pretty well too; I picked another zucchini and a decent-sized poblano pepper yesterday! We had a fun weekend catching up on past Game of Thrones episodes for this season, visiting with friends, and we had a relaxing Sunday filled with a nice walk in a local park followed by some dog park fun with Maddy, then lunch at a local place that was new to us, and a visit to our local Humane Society to drop off some donations. The weather cooled off this past weekend and it was beautiful weather to be outside in! Cooler temps are already making me think of fall and I’m getting excited at the thought of having our first fireplace fire, fresh apple cider, and the changing leaves.
Ryan and I recently spent a day enjoying lots of summer things – cold beers on a warm, sunny patio, stopping in our local ice cream parlor, enjoying those beautiful, blue summer skies, etc. And our garden is starting to produce a good amount of fresh produce for us as well now; we’ve picked a whole bowl full of jalapeños and serrano peppers, 6 ripe tomatoes, 1 zucchini, and a whole lot of fresh herbs. Amazingly, the summer is already almost gone and suddenly it’s August! Where has the summer gone? Maddy seems surprised too…