Amazing Squash Pie!

Isn’t it amazing how conversations from different parts of your life often intersect in the most delightful ways?

A perfect example: I was, just the other day, telling my mother about the interesting squash we’ve grown in the garden. I believe it’s actually a “mongrel” variety of a Boston Marrow Squash that has been reseeding itself in our compost pile. Whatever its origins, it makes for delicious soups and isn’t bad just baked and mashed with a little cinnamon and butter. My mother told me that Boston Marrow Squashes were often used in the canning factories of her girlhood for pie fillings.Amazing Squash Pie

About the same time, I was also involved in a conversation about the excessive rain in the pumpkin patches, which is causing a dearth of canned pie fillings…just before Prime Pie Season.

Hmmm…can you see the connections I was making?

Nothing to do but give it a try, right?

Last night, I chose a likely looking squash specimen from the drying shed. I washed its face, cut off the ends, cut it in half and scooped out the seeds.Green Circle Grove I have a neat ice cream scoop that works just right for this job. Seeds and innards went into the chicken bucket—I didn’t worry about getting all of the stingy parts, although there wasn’t much.

The scooped out halves went onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet Green Circle Groveand into the oven at 350° for about 45 minutes –just until the halves were “fork tender”.

Green Circle Grove

 

I cooled the cooked squash for an hour or so, and then easily pulled most of the outer rind off the squash. This rind has some green between the meat and outer skin, so be sure you remove all that, too. It won’t hurt you, but makes for a more attractive final result.

As I peeled the squash, I put the pieces into the hopper of my blender –Green Circle GroveI could have just as easily used a food processor or even a vegetable masher—anything that will puree the cooked squash. My blender was closest to me, and the hour was getting late. I pureed, scraped the cooled, processed squash into a bowl, and refrigerated it. I shouldn’t start projects like this at night.Green Circle GroveIn the morning, I made a single shell piecrust, and preheated the oven to 425°. Out of the refrigerator came the squash, along with 2 eggs. I decided to use my usual pumpkin pie recipe for this experiment; it’s easy and time-tested for delicious flavor! I’ll post the recipe at the end of this story.

Green Circle Grove

To a medium bowl, I added and mixed the dry ingredients: brown sugar (if I have dark brown sugar on hand, I use that), spices and a dash of salt. Then, the squash was mixed in thoroughly. I poured in the eggs, which I had slightly whisked together in the same bowl the pureed squash had just been in. (I like to break the eggs into a bowl separate from the one with all the other ingredients, just in case there’s a bit of shell, or horror of horrors-a blood spot.) I added the eggs and the milk, mixed everything together well, and poured the whole combination into the waiting pie shell.Green Circle Grove

By then, the oven had preheated, so I baked the pie for 10 minutes, and then turned down the heat to 350°, and reset the timer for another 40 minutes. This is a good step to have in a custard-type pie recipe: the temporary high heat helps set the filling.

So far, the pie was looking like an ordinary pumpkin pie.

After the allotted 40 minutes, the pie smelled like an ordinary pumpkin pie, too.

The test for “doneness”, using a table knife into the center of the pie, showed that a little more time was needed. Amazing Squash PieTo be honest with you, I usually set the second temperature time for 45 minutes anyhow, so an extra five wasn’t unexpected. I ended up having to bake the pie for another 5 minutes (for a total of 50 minutes at 350°). I wonder if maybe the homemade squash filling wasn’t just a bit more “watery” than processed, canned pumpkin filling?

Looks pretty good, doesn’t it?Amazing Squash Pie

It will be cool by dinnertime and then the Official Taste Tester can make the final proclamation, but….here’s my early prediction:

There’s no need to worry about the lack of canned pumpkin. A winter squash from the back shed works just fine. Now I’m thinking about trying again, but using one of those Butternuts….

Maybe it’s time for another conversation or two.

Winter Squash Pie from a Pumpkin Pie Recipe

  1. Preheat oven to 425°
  2. Mix together in medium bowl:

½ cup firmly packed brown sugar; 1 tsp. cinnamon; ½ teaspoon each: salt, ginger, nutmeg; 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves.

  1. Beat in 2 cups pureed winter squash.
  2. Lightly whisk together 2 large eggs and add to squash mixture.
  3. Stir in 1-cup evaporated milk. Beat until smooth and blended.
  4. Pour mixture into prepared pie shell.

Bake pie for 10 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350° and bake for 50 minutes more, or until knife inserted into center of pie comes out clean.

Cool, serve, enjoy—refrigerate if there are any leftovers!

Makes one 9-inch [amazing] squash pie.

 

This post is shared with (mis)Adventures Mondays Blog Hop #40!

What Are You Waiting For?

What are you waiting for?

waiting

Sometimes I have the strangest dreams. Occasionally, I remember parts of them, and once in a while the whole thing wakes me right up, and I think “great idea!”

Of course, in the morning that great idea often doesn’t seem so terrific, but last night’s dream is still with me…

There was quite a bit to it, but what woke me up was a little girl saying to me, “I’ve spent my whole life waiting.”

Well, how about that? Isn’t that very close to the truth?

Already today, I’ve waited to be called to the desk at the outpatient department, I’ve waited to have lab tests, and I’ll wait for the doctor’s office to call with results. (Routine stuff, don’t worry.) I’ve waited my turn in line at the post office to buy stamps, for a friend to return a phone call, for the dogs to stop playing around in the yard and come back to the door. It’s not even noon.

Aren’t you waiting—for spring, for good weather, for clear roads…to lose a few pounds, the next paycheck, a vacation?

Think about it. When we are small, we wait for birthdays, for the first day of school, to learn to read, for Christmas. Later on, we wait for the day we can receive a driver’s license, a letter from the right college, the perfect job, the car, the house, the life…. We wait for our children to be born, and when I visit my parents these days, I see so many people waiting there, too. Just waiting.

I suppose I could dig out my old What Your Dreams Mean book, but it’s not really necessary.

I believe I’ve been reminded to spend more time enjoying the Right Now. Waiting in line is inevitable, of course, but there’s often an opportunity to make a new friend, read a few pages, or just take a deep breath and savor the fact that you’re breathing.

Instead of impatiently waiting for those goofy dogs, I can really watch them—their agility, their happiness in the moment.

It might not yet be spring or good weather, but there is something secure about spending time contemplating blowing snow from inside a cozy house, and something exquisite about stepping out into a winter night when the stars and moon shine brightly in the cold.waiting

Go look out your window right now. What is happening out there?

 

What are YOU waiting for?

 

This post is linked and shared with Simple Life Sunday #59 and The Sunday Social Blog Hop (March 8).

A Recipe Box Life

My mother and I have been sorting things.

At 96, she doesn’t see so well any more, my dad has become a bit forgetful and so in preparation for a move to assisted living, we’ve been going through what’s accumulated over nearly 75 years of marriage.

GCG-recipe box life

July 19, 1941

Last summer, the older grandchildren and I helped her paw through boxes of china, farm records, and family treasures—labeling some, exclaiming at others, tossing a few. Recipe Box life GCGIn the fall, she and I went through trunks of family history: graduation programs, old photos, souvenirs from a someone’s 1912 trip to California, the Purple Heart awarded to the uncle who was lost at Guadalcanal long before I was born. Again, we labeled and exclaimed, but this time we threw out nothing and shed a few tears. Another generation can deal with these mementos.

On wintry afternoons lately, we have been going through her recipe boxes. There are three: one heavy wooden box of Basic Recipes she had when she was studying to become a home economics teacher in the 1930’s; one small, decorated box from the fifteen winters or more spent in sunny Florida; and, a long file box containing everything else.

We went through the file box first, because that’s what she wanted to do.recipe box life GCG I started at the front-with the divider marked “Appetizers”, and one by one, pulled out recipes and put them behind the right label. I read each recipe to her, and any comments that she had noted on the card, and as I read, she usually remembered the occasion, the event or the person who made the dish first. We talked about “Audrey’s Brown Bread”—and reminisced about dear Audrey with the houseful of children and the kind heart. Recipes for “Macaroni Salad for 150” or “Swiss Steak for a Crowd”, brought stories of aproned ladies baking pies and mashing potatoes in the floor industrial sized electric mixer for dinners sponsored by the Presbyterian Church. There were recipes from her early-married life on the farm—“Liver Loaf” and “Pickled Tongue”; we discussed my dad’s family when we found “Mother McNinch’s Gingerbread” and her own mother’s love for anything containing cranberries. Some of the recipes were handwritten on the back of an envelope; one had a grocery list on the backside, another an assortment of items needed from the hardware. We found a few letters, too—sweet reminders of Great Aunt Alice and cousin Florence’s third birthday—along with Aunt Al’s sugar cookie recipe and directions for Florence’s dad’s famous pickles. It took many afternoons to go through the whole box. I think we both purposely took our time at it, too, because there was a lot more going on than just recipe sorting.

The small green box from all the winters in Florida showed me another aspect of my mother and dad’s life. If the first box, the longest, was a history of family and daily experiences, this small, bright box was a record of retirement, relaxation, friends and fun. In the first box, there were three cards behind “Appetizers”. There were many, many more in the Florida box-dips, snacks, hors d’oeuvres. I found “Sarah’s Great Potatoes”—“…perfect,” my mother said, “for New Year’s Eve potlucks.” There were at least three dozen recipes for using oranges in various ways, and possibly the same number, or more, for using lemons. “Citrus Slaw”, “Lemon Fluff”, “Frosty Orange Pie”.Recipe Box Life GCG This little box also contained duplicates of my mother’s favorite recipes from the first box—familiar dishes to make in their home away from home. I also discovered that she began to gather recipes using yogurt, and those containing fewer calories and lower fat. There was no longer a need for hearty noon meals for a farm family; lighter lunches were the fare in the sunny South. The duplicates I set aside– for a granddaughter, perhaps?—the others, I added to the bigger file box.

The last box we tackled was the least amount of work. Some of the cards were out of place, true, but they were numbered, so easy to put back in order. This wooden box is truly a Basic Recipe Box. recipe box life  GCGIt begins with an introduction from the Head of Food and Nutrition Department at Iowa State College, copyright 1937, noting a “…need felt by the students of Iowa State College of a working tool for use in foods courses.” It goes from this, to a list of abbreviations used, directly to “Beverages”. No “Appetizers” in basic foods, apparently.

Each section in this heavy box has a list of contents, with blank spaces for adding more. Card No. 8 (Section 2) is a description of the Baking of Breads, which leads right into “Making Toast” (with variations). This recipe file hasn’t been used nearly as much, nor as recently, as the others. It’s tidy and organized, although a little dusty—much like a kitchen that’s no longer quite so cluttered from daily use.

It’s a handy file, though, for a beginning homemaker: from the recipe for Breakfast Chocolate, to Eggs/Cheese, up to Measures-which explains how to measure and level, as well as giving the approximate measure of 1 lb. of food material (3 to 4 potatoes, 40 to 50 average prunes, 4 cups flour). Beyond this, there’s a large section for Preservation – explaining conditions and principles. (“Bacteria need for growth-food, moisture and warmth. By removing one of these conditions, the growth is checked.”) This was the Depression Era, remember—anything extra was dried/canned/pickled/fermented for another time—and home freezers weren’t available.

The Basic Recipe file ends with “Vegetables”, just as the other files have done. Again, there’s a difference: the large, daily file had newspaper clippings explaining how to use excess zucchini as well as four separate recipes for “Scalloped Corn”; other than “Zesty Stuffed Tomatoes”, the Florida “Vegetables” section was entirely filled with potato recipes (“Crunchy Topped”, Cheesy Baked”, “Easy Scalloped”). The wooden file, under the same topic, has General Directions (Card No. 236: “Old potatoes have improved flavor if soaked ½ hr. before cooking.”) Ten more cards present vegetables alphabetically arranged, noting preparation for cooking details and estimated time for boiling….beginning with Artichokes and ending with Turnips. (Who’d heard of zucchini in 1937?) My mother suggested selling this box—or throwing it out. I can’t do that, so we agreed that it would go to yet another granddaughter.

recipe box life GCG

“Easy To Roll” sugar cookies

recipe box life GCG

Learning to bake bread in Grandmother’s kitchen.

These recipe box-sorting sessions left me emotionally exhausted. It’s hard to explain what reliving more than three-quarters of a century of a woman’s life—a well-loved woman’s life—is like. We began the journey when she was a college student—unaware and uncertain of the future. We talked and shared recipes through the years of World War II, when she taught home economy to housewives rationing sugar, growing victory gardens and pressure canning on kerosene stoves. Up through the years as a mother, farmer’s wife—the church dinner/harvest meal times—when summer meant wash tubs full of peas, long hours husking, shelling, snipping, and slicing, crocks of pickles and hot kitchens—when relaxing meant picking buckets of berries or tent camping next to a stream. On into middle age, when work beyond the home resumed and grandchildren arrived. There are recipes for “Easy-To-Roll Sugar Cookies”, along with those for healthy soups, crock-pot meals, and “Master Mixes” for quick suppers. Zucchini and various herbs-seasonings beyond salt, pepper and parsley for garnish- found their way into the family’s diet, too. As life moved along, so did the recipes—there were fewer using beef, but more with chicken—lots of casseroles and not as many aspics and molded salads. The retirement years—with the need for two recipe boxes—one for summers in the cabin in the northern woods, the other for busy winters in Florida. Barbecues, punch, snacks—many now marked “lo-cal”. Finally, the years spent close to home—back up north for good. The cassette tape with my dad’s voice reading the favorite recipes for her to follow—lacking sight, she still found a way to be a cook and homemaker.recipe box life GCG

This sorting project turned out to be much more than putting cookie recipes behind the “Cookies” divider, and punch under “Beverages”. The closer we came to the end of the card files, the slower I went. I don’t want the story to end.

It won’t, of course. My mother’s days of cooking and baking may have come to an end—with the new living arrangements, meals are prepared for the residents. But, I’ve realized her purpose in having me help her sort through the boxes was not just to organize and file. It was so I could share a glimpse into the life she has led. I’ve learned new stories, and gathered new recipes for my own journey. My mom and I have shared some delightful afternoons, a lot of laughter, and many, many memories. As my dad dozed in his recliner, I was able to relive, with her, all the years of their marriage.

A few days ago, I wrote a bit about this project on the Green Circle Grove facebook page. After several sentences, I knew there was much more to the story, so I ended by saying I needed to write a blog post about it.

I’ve discovered there’s much more than a blog post here. I’ll have to write a book.

In the meantime, if you’re looking for something to warm up your kitchen with a wonderful smell; an easy, old-fashioned dish that’s comforting, chocolaty and not at all low-calorie…here’s…        Recipe Box Life GCG

Elma’s “Brownie Pudding”

1 cup flour                                    2 Tbs. cocoa                        2 tsp. baking powder

½ cup milk                                    ½ tsp. salt                        ½ tsp. vanilla

¾ cup sugar                                    2 Tbs. fat, melted***            ¾ cup nuts

¾ cup brown sugar                        ¼ cup cocoa                        1 ¾ cup hot water

Sift flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, and cocoa. Add milk, fat, vanilla. Mix until smooth. Add nuts. Pour into 8” greased pan. Mix brown sugar and cocoa, sprinkle over batter. Pour hot water over entire batter. Bake 45 minutes at 350 degrees.

***I suppose when this recipe was first used, “fat” may have been butter, or whatever was available in the farm kitchen. Later on, margarine was probably used. Today, I use coconut oil.

On the back of the card, it says “Yummy-Yum!!”

 

This post is shared with the Sunday Social February 15 and Simple Life Sunday #57.

Quick Chocolate Truffles for Valentine’s Day

Just in time for Valentine’s Day—here’s a quick , easy and fun recipe.

It’s quick because there are only three ingredients:

3 cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

It’s easy because all you have to do is pour the condensed milk over the chocolate chips and melt them.GCG chocolate truffles

I put a large bowl over a saucepan about a third full of water, set it all on the stove and heat over medium heat, stirring until the chips and milk are melted together. You might wonder if the metal bowl gets too hot to handle—and no, it never has.GCG chocolate truffles

Remove the pan from the heat, add the vanilla to the bowl and stir.

Cover the bowl and chill for an hour or two.

Here’s the fun part: shape the chocolate into balls, roll them in whatever you desire for a coating, and ..that’s it! Store them in the refrigerator to keep them firm.GCG chocolate truffles

I used chocolate and colored sprinkles, powdered cocoa, toasted chopped pecans, crushed peppermint candies, and flaked coconut for coating the truffle balls….totally forgot that I also had confectioner’s sugar that would have been nice, too.GCG chocolate truffles

Don’t they make a pretty Valentine?

This post is shared with (mis)Adventures Mondays Blog Hop!

 

“A Kiss For Cadence” -a Book Review and a Valentine’s Day GIVEAWAY

I learned to read when I was four years old. One of my very favorite things to do then—and now—is to curl up with my dog in my cozy chair and lose myself in words.A Kiss For Cadence Review- GCG

When I was offered the opportunity to review Airian Eastman’s ambitious first novel, A Kiss for Cadence, I was flattered and intrigued. And, when the book arrived in the mail a few weeks ago, I was delighted to find not just one book…but two….a second paperback book to offer to you as a giveaway!

A Kiss for Cadence is the story of a young woman returning to her small hometown after her marriage twelve years before. We discover that the intervening years have not been happy ones for Cadence, and we learn much about her family relationships, her broken dreams—and a kindly man with smoldering eyes who re-enters her life.

Eastman, from Central New York State herself, does a lovely job describing Cadence’s hometown and surroundings. In my reader’s mind, I could see the sunsets, the comfortably furnished homes, the sparkling lakes; and I could feel the snowflakes on my cheeks, the sturdy church pews, as well as the even harder to portray close relationships between Cadence’s siblings.

Airian Eastman tackles some heavy subjects in this novel: spousal abuse and other family tragedies with the potential to shake relationships to their foundations. These sections were written thoughtfully and honestly. When the final chapter came to an end, I felt I knew the characters and had been involved in their lives. I’ll admit—the ending surprised me—and I was very happy to see that a sequel to A Kiss for Cadence is in the works.

Airian Eastman’s A Kiss for Cadence is just the thing to curl up with on these long winter afternoons. It’s a quick read, but not necessarily a “light” read. There are parts that will make you think, and wonder, and feel. It’s divided into chapters, so if you need to set it down for a while, you can easily find your place again—or you can read a few chapters and then come back to it—although I think once you start reading A Kiss for Cadence you’ll not want to put it down!A Kiss for Cadence Review GCG

 

So…about the GIVEAWAY –you can enter to win your own signed copy of Airian Eastman’s A Kiss for Cadence” in these ways:

  1. Leave a comment below this post. You might tell what intrigues you about this book, or why you’d like to win it—or just a bit about your reading habits…OR…
  2. You could leave a comment under the post on our Green Circle Grove Facebook page…..OR….
  3. You could share the Facebook post with your friends.

On Saturday morning, February 14th—Valentine’s Day—the random picker will choose the winner. I hope it’s YOU!

UPDATE!!! Chosen by Random Picker –the winner of the signed edition of Airian Eastman’s novel is CARRIE J., who entered on our Facebook page.  Congratulations, Carrie J., and thank you all for helping promote Ms Eastman’s novel!  Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

Now, if you can’t wait to see if you are the winner, you can purchase a paperback copy of A Kiss for Cadence, and it’s also available for your Kindle, HERE through Amazon.

 

And our disclaimer: Green Circle Grove was furnished with a copy of A Kiss for Cadence, but the comments and considerations are entirely unsolicited.

 

This post was shared with (mis)Adventures Mondays Blog Hop, February 2 and also with Thursday Favorite Things Blog Hop at Katherine’s Corner and From the Farm Blog Hop.

“My Days” – Confessions, A Review, and A Give-Away!

In my mind, I think of the cycle of a year as a sort of calendar. By the end of December, it’s full of dates, some crossed out, some added in the margins. It’s a bit tattered from erasures and from having pages turned back; there are marks from paper clips, tape and stickers, there are days with big red stars, and sometimes a series of days that should be damp from tears or black and gloomy. The last few weeks are packed full of appointments and reminders. I find myself saying, “No, I couldn’t possibly. But, after the first of the year….”

The new year, to me, is like a new calendar…it’s fresh, clean, crisp. Even better, my birthday comes right after the New Year. It’s like the year and I have a chance to start over—a clean slate, you know?My Days-GCG

Confession: I happen to love paper. When I was a young girl, “school shopping,” meant new tablets, freshly sharpened pencils with clean pink erasers, a snappy new pencil box. For a long time, I couldn’t write thoughtfully without a yellow pad and a few pencils lined up next to it. The feel of a new tablet of paper…the smell of erasers…the sound of a crisp new notebook opening for the first time? Heaven. Confession #2: I have been known to open a new notebook or a 3-ring binder filled with blank paper and just close my eyes, breathe deeply, and smell the possibilities.

I suppose it all fits, doesn’t it? A clean, smooth pad of paper. An unmarked calendar. A new year and a new start.

Confession #3: I’ve been a following a friend’s journey from city life to homestead—she and her husband have jumped feet first into market gardening and chicken keeping. They have embraced the country lifestyle whole-heartedly, and yet there is a part of her (I believe) that longs for order—chickens that stay in their pens and out of the gardens, temperatures that don’t plunge below freezing when tiny plants are in beds. I also believe that many of us long for the same sense of order.

We know that we cannot organize nature to our liking, of course, but we certainly can try to come up with a system for the other parts of our lives—meal planning, appointments, household repairs and chores, phone calls to return, agendas. For many years, I’ve tried to use a system of a wall calendar, pocket planner and notes tacked to two bulletin boards and the refrigerator. I don’t have to explain how well this works-or why I look forward to a new calendar year.

Jenny, from Black Fox Homestead, has turned her longings into art. She has created and designed “Little Bird’s Deluxe Planning and Time Management Set”. I’m excited to give it a try, and thrilled to be able to share it with you. Here’s why:

  • It’s PAPER!! Not only that, this “deluxe” set includes a yearly planner, a month at a glance, a fill in the blank monthly calendar with four different illustrations, errands planning sheet, two different options for menu planning and shopping, contacts sheets, and more. It can be used as is, put into a binder, or laminated for repeated use.
  • It’s beautiful. From the front cover with the tiny bird, the nest full of delicate blue eggs, all outlined with branches just sprouting their first leaves—it’s hopeful, as well. The cycle begins anew.
  • It makes me think. You may not want to think when you’re jotting down notes, but at the beginning of a new page-or a new year-it’s a good idea to have some goals and priorities. There’s a whole page devoted to this—from the choice of a word for the year to a column devoted to ‘what I want to accomplish’ and another column for ‘what I need to accomplish’. And not only that, on the same lovely page (with mama bird setting on her nest of her own “goals and priorities”), there is a numbered list on which you can make your plans.
  • It allows one to break projects down into smaller goals—something I find helpful. There are whole pages, in fact, devoted to just this…monthly, weekly, and daily. The daily page may just be my favorite. (The little birds have hatched and mama is busy, busy feeding them.) There are nicely arranged cubicles for daily priorities (right at the top-where they will be noticed first!), and one for the daily menu, contacts to be made. The day is also broken down, on this same page, into hourly increments, so you can jot down what needs to be done at a specific time.
  • It offers choices. There are so many ways to use “Little Bird’s Deluxe Planner and Time Management Set”. A suggestion was made to laminate the daily planning page, so it could be used over and over. You might want to do this, and save paper, but for a paper-lover like me—I plan to print a page for each day. This gives me a journal of my daily life, too. I can use it to refer back to planting dates, menu choices, and appointments. It’s also not necessary to print each section in the deluxe set, but I think you’ll want to—there’s a shopping list, a menu-planning sheet, “to-do” lists and notepaper.
  • It’s easy, it’s a one-time expense (and not all that much), and you can have it today.

Here’s how to purchase your own “Little Bird’s Deluxe Planner and Time Management Set”—fly right over HERE—to the Etsy shop run by Jenny. You can purchase, download, print and get started right away.

The page components of planner and time management set are also available separately, and while you’re browsing the Etsy shop you’ll want to take a look at some of the other items, as well. Jenny is offering readers of the Green Circle Grove blog a 25% discount on any purchase$4.99 and up, between now and January 18th. Just put in the coupon code GCG2015.

OR…if you want to take a chance, you can ENTER TO WIN the twenty-two piece set. The talented artist at Black Fox Homestead is giving away a“Little Bird’s Deluxe Planner and Time Management Set” to one lucky person. There are three ways you could have your name put into the random picker for the drawing on Saturday morning, January 10, 2015. (That will give you the whole weekend to start filling it in!)

You could:

  • Leave a comment on this blog post, telling what aspect of the planner appeals to you the most, or
  • You could leave a comment on our Green Circle Grove Facebook page, right under the post promoting this giveaway, or
  • You could share the Facebook post with a friend. (Only shares from the Green Circle Grove Facebook page will be counted.)

Or, I suppose you could do all three, and that would put your name in the running three times, wouldn’t it?!?

And now, you must excuse me. I have a planner with blank pages sitting on my table with a sharpened pencil resting next to it. Happy birthday, to me—and good luck to you!

My Days GCG

One final confession: I was provided with “Little Bird’s Deluxe Planning and Time Management Set”. The comments in this review, however, are entirely my own.

This post is shared with The (mis)Adventures of a “Born Again” Farm Girl’s Blog Hop January 5.

Best Wishes from Green Circle Grove!

Best wishes from Green Circle Grove!

Best wishes from Green Circle Grove!

Peering Into The Hornets’ Nest

Last summer, I wrote about the hornets’ nest that was hanging in the shrubbery near our lower gardens.  You can read that story HERE. While researching that story, I found that the nests are abandoned in the winter, so…

Yesterday, I cut down the hornets’ nest and took it apart. The rest of this post is mostly photos of what I found, and my comments and conjectures.

First, I noticed that one side of the nest seemed to have had a small explosion. Hornet Nest GCGIt was blown out from the inside.

Then, as I cut it down, I realized that it was attached in several places to the branches of the shrub, although after I cut it apart, I didn’t notice twigs or branches growing through the nest, just at the edges.hornet nest GCG The nest could swing in the wind, but it wasn’t going to blow away.

I noticed that the bottom entry hole of the nest was nicely shaded with a branch, too.hornet nest GCG

I couldn’t easily cut the nest in half, so I dismantled it, beginning at the bottom. I discovered, first, a few cells on a stem hornet nest GCGwhich led to a section of cells that filled the entire nest.  It was like the few small ones were an “entry way” to the first floor.  A few of the cells in the large section were filled with larvae, but only a few.

Yet another stem led to the “second floor”–hornet nest GCGanother section of cells spreading across the entire nest.

At the top of this second floor, I found another small “entry” (a back door?).hornet nest GCG

I admired the hard work, the engineering, the time and patience it took to build this intricate, air cooled home.  I tried to count the layers of paper that covered the nest, and pored over the striations in the coverings, thinking of all the old wood that went into this home.hornet nest GCG

Take your time. Look at these photos.  Let me know what you think.

And, remember, somewhere under a rock, a queen is waiting for spring to start the cycle anew.

Jack O’Lantern Pizza

Tomorrow evening just about dusk…

Ghosts and goblins, fairies and princesses…

Beggars and tramps, Power Rangers and Supermen…

Will be flitting, skipping, roaming, passing along the streets.

It’s All Hallow’s Eve, and in towns and villages everywhere, children will be coming to doors, calling “Trick or Treat”.

When my children were young and at home, they jumped off the school bus and hustled to get into their costumes to take part in the tradition.

I was always worried that they wouldn’t have any decent dinner before they left, so when I found a simple recipe and made it my own, this became the traditional dinner served on October 31st.GreenCircleGrove jackolantern pizza

Here’s what to do:

Heat the broiler, and split English muffins.GreenCircleGrove jackolantern pizza

Brush each muffin half with a little olive oil and broil just long enough to lightly toast the muffin.GreenCircleGrove Jackolantern pizza

Spoon about 2 Tablespoons of pizza or marinara sauce onto the toasted muffin. I make tomato sauce every fall, so it’s easy to add some basil and oregano –presto! Pizza sauce.GreenCircleGrove jackolantern pizzas

Separate slices of cheese; I use Provolone—and if the slices aren’t circular, I make them so. With a paring knife, “carve” jack-o-lantern faces in each slice of cheese.GreenCircleGrove jackolantern pizza Place the cheese on top of the sauce; broil again just long enough to melt the cheese.GreenCircleGrove jackolantern pizzas

We always liked these with a side dish of mandarin oranges and a tall glass of milk.

I always liked that the girls started the evening with a healthy meal—even if it ended with a bag of candy!

I’ve Decided To Wear Lipstick

I’ve decided to start wearing lipstick.

I’ve never worn it much because…well…I guess because I thought it made my lips look unnatural.

But, I have lots of lipstick. Pretty colors. Bright colors, light colors, dark colors, pale colors….GCG wearing lipstick…all lipsticks that I’ve bought to wear with something in particular for a special occasion.

I was cleaning out the drawer I keep them all in, and I think I’ll start wearing lipstick.

Now, here’s the thing. I know a bit, a tiny bit, about using makeup to enhance features—I do sometimes do a little something to make my eyes look brighter—or the spot on my chin less obvious. I’ve read about this, how you’re supposed to match your lip color to your complexion, how to figure out if you are a “warm” or a “cool”.

I know these things, but because I not only have “combination” skin, but a combination complexion matched with streaky hair and splotchy pink cheeks, there’s just no lipstick that I’ve ever felt enhanced anything—well, except maybe my lips. And they’re sort of barely there to begin with.

But. I am seriously considering wearing lipstick.

Here’s my plan. I am going to wear lipstick, not to match or enhance my complexion, but to match my clothes and my activities! After all, that’s why I bought the lip colors in the first place, right?

I have “Bistro Bronze” that goes beautifully with my corduroy jacket. I could wear that combination to lunch. GCG wearing lipstick

Frosted Brownie” will go with my jeans and apron while I’m baking in the kitchen.

Multiple Mocha” is just the thing to wear with my beige flannel jammies when I’m writing late at night.

Coy Coquette” sounds like a good one to slather on before I go hunting for a broody hen’s nest, doesn’t it? What do you think—should I wear the flowered sweatshirt or the denim jacket with it? Oh, the fun I will have.

…wearing lipstick.GCG wearing lipstick

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