Meat Birds & Tomatoes


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These days we are up to our ears in chickens and tomatoes!

chickens

A couple of weeks ago we added 28 cornish rocks to our homestead.  These are our "meat birds" that we will butcher at the end of October.   Every year a group of friends and neighbors go in together on a large order of birds, we raise them on our own, then get together for a joint effort experience "turning the chickens to meat" butchering day work party.   These are meat birds, that will live a good, healthy, but short life on our homestead.

tomatoes

Our garden tomatoes have been extremely bountiful this year.   The past couple weekends I have been busy picking and peeling.   Last weekend I made salsa.  (7 pints)  This weekend I had so many tomatoes I made pasta sauce.   This was a first for me.   I was in the kitchen for a good part of the day, but it was gloomy anyway and I started a good audio book.

I used this recipe and was able to use tomatoes, basil, oregano and parsley from my garden.   I was very happy with the results.   I ended up with 13 pints!!!

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We are definitely putting a little more work on the front end of things, but the products of our efforts are pretty darn good.  


Around Here....

 

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We celebrated the last weekend of summer vacation at the lake.  Although it was cooler, the kids had no problem jumping in the water, for what may be their last lake swim of the season (although time will tell).  We participated in several special activities that were part of the weekend festivities, including an arrowhead hunt, a 5K and an ice cream social.   In the race I had a hard time keeping up with this 11 year old, who pounded out 3 miles in 22 minutes plus change!  It is a privilege to be raising young athletes - and this mama is doing what she can to stay fit to enjoy activities like this with them.

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I was able to enjoy these beautiful views on a 7 mile trail run this morning.   I have a half-marathon race coming up in a couple of weeks and I am favoring the trails to the pavement on longer runs, especially with the opportunity to spend some time with my canine companion out on beautiful local trails.   Around here - 2 (1)
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We celebrated the last day of summer vacation with a feast of walleye cakes. We also spent some time paging through our photo books from the memories that we created on our trip out west and our weeklong camping trip in Voyager's National Park. We are so blessed to have had the opportunity to make these memories together, plus all of the others we have made this past summer.    Around here - 6
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It's time!  5 out of the 6 of us are transitioning back into the routines of school - tomorrow!   We are all excited and a little bit nervous.   If you or your children are in the same situation, I wish you the best!  Cheers to a new school year!  May it be one that encompasses purpose, balance, connection and joy!







Minnesota Parent - School Days - September

The September  issue of Minnesota Parent Magazine is available throughout Minnesota and online now.

Minnesota Parent September - Cover

My ramblings in my School Days Column this month, centered around my experiences and observations in the differences parenting three boys and a girl.

School Days - Minnesota Parent - MN Parent

This month I also wrote a recipe feature, highlighting a wonderful recipe from the cookbook Magnolia Table written by Joanna Gaines for the "In the Kitchen" column.  Be sure to check it out!

Magnolia Tale Recipe Feature

Pick up a print copy, or read the full issue by clicking --> HERE.

Find the online link to my column---> HERE.

Find the online link to the Magnolia Table recipe feature----> HERE.

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If you like what you see, social media 'shares' are appreciated!

As always - thanks for reading!


Around Here....

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The seasons are starting to shift.   The landscape of my lush green summer trail runs is changing to where I am seeing yellows, browns and even an occasional red leaf making its appearance.  Although we are in summer mode subtle changes are hinting of the onset of fall.   

The rhythms of our activities are changing as well as we are gradually gearing up for the start of the new school year.   I have been in school, getting my classroom ready for my new students.  This year will mark my 18th year of teaching!

The cross-country running season has also started.   Our eighth grader is training hard, gearing up for the first meet next week.  I am helping with the team as an assistant coach, as I have been doing the past couple of years.  We have both been running and doing some other cross training all summer long.  I am working through a running injury (plantar fasciitis), but still on track to complete a half-marathon in late September.   My daughter and I have been inspired by the newly published book:  Run Fast. Cook Fast. Eat Slow.: Quick-Fix Recipes for Hangry Athletes by Shalane Flanagan and Elyse Kopecky.  There are lots of great recipes, tips and training advise including the Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups (pictured above) that my daughter has been making from the "Power Snacks" section of the book.  

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I have been keeping up with our bountiful garden and lining my pantry shelves with canned goods.  Lately, I have been busy pickling cucumbers and beans.   We are having a great year for tomatoes as well!   We're eating a lot of garden suppers (BLT's, salads, and quick pasta dishes celebrating and savoring the gifts of the garden.

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I am still working on new and different avenues of publication.   I recently received the exciting news (and payment!) from Highlights for Children that two of my submissions will be published in upcoming issues of Highlights High Five. 

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We are making progress with our sauna building!  James is working hard and the rest of us are pitching in when we can. We have the slab poured and we just started framing up the walls.   We will be slowing down just a bit as we wait for our trusses order.   We are so excited about this new addition to our homestead. 


Lake Harvest

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We are home from a weekend a bit farther north, at my parent's island home.   This past weekend we were able to claim a healthy lake harvest of Minnesota walleye and crappies that we have in our freezer for a future fish fry and also shared a meal with friends when we were visiting.   We are enjoying these last few weeks of summer, before we will be back in school.  

Hot and humid summer days are best spent on the lake!  We are grateful to have the opportunity to share these special times, making these memories with our children and with my parents at their home and on the beautiful lakes in and bordering Voyager's National Park.


::On My Bookshelf::

Here are some books that that I’ve recently enjoyed that you may want to put on your book list :

Unknown

The Inner Runner

Description:  Why are so many people drawn to running? Why is running the most common physical activity? What is it about running that empowers so many people? And how can runners harness that power to create a more meaningful life? The Inner Runner addresses these questions and a whole lot more. This book is not about how to get faster or run a marathon; rather, it explores how the simple act of putting one foot in front of the other helps you harness your creative powers. Learn about the psychological, emotional, cognitive, and spiritual benefits of running and introduce lifestyle changes based on the latest scientific research on running and its effects on hormones and the brain.

As a nationally recognized running and fitness coach with a PhD in Exercise Physiology, Jason Karp brings his expertise in science-based coaching to runners of all levels. He believes that running gives you a chance to discover, challenge, and bring out the best in yourself by impacting your creativity, focus, imagination, confidence, and health. Let The Inner Runner help you become not only a better runner, but a more creative, productive, and imaginative person.

My Review:   (3 stars)  Now that I am getting back into shape and involved again with coaching our track and cross-country teams, I found this a relevant book, but not typical book about running.

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Magnolia Table: A Collection of Recipes for Gathering

Description:   Magnolia Table is infused with Joanna Gaines' warmth and passion for all things family, prepared and served straight from the heart of her home, with recipes inspired by dozens of Gaines family favorites and classic comfort selections from the couple's new Waco restaurant, Magnolia Table.

Jo believes there's no better way to celebrate family and friendship than through the art of togetherness, celebrating tradition, and sharing a great meal. Magnolia Table includes 125 classic recipes—from breakfast, lunch, and dinner to small plates, snacks, and desserts—presenting a modern selection of American classics and personal family favorites. Complemented by her love for her garden, these dishes also incorporate homegrown, seasonal produce at the peak of its flavor. Inside Magnolia Table, you'll find recipes the whole family will enjoy, such as:

  • Chicken Pot Pie
  • Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • Asparagus and Fontina Quiche
  • Brussels Sprouts with Crispy Bacon, Toasted Pecans, and Balsamic Reduction
  • Peach Caprese
  • Overnight French Toast
  • White Cheddar Bisque
  • Fried Chicken with Sticky Poppy Seed Jam
  • Lemon Pie
  • Mac and Cheese

Full of personal stories and beautiful photos, Magnolia Table is an invitation to share a seat at the table with Joanna Gaines and her family.

My Review:   (4 stars!)  A great book!  Full of family-friendly recipes with practical ingredients.   Look for the Peach Caprese in an upcoming recipe feature in Minnesota Parent Magazine!  

Ok - I may have to admit I have a little Chip and Joanna Gaines crush - This month I also read:

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The Magnolia Story

Description:   The Magnolia Story is the first book from Chip and Joanna, offering their fans a detailed look at their life together. From the very first renovation project they ever tackled together, to the project that nearly cost them everything; from the childhood memories that shaped them, to the twists and turns that led them to the life they share on the farm today. They both attended Baylor University in Waco. However, their paths did not cross until Chip checked his car into the local Firestone tire shop where Joanna worked behind the counter. Even back then Chip was a serial entrepreneur who, among other things, ran a lawn care company, sold fireworks, and flipped houses. Soon they were married and living in their first fixer upper. Four children and countless renovations later, Joanna garners the attention of a television producer who notices her work on a blog one day. In The Magnolia Story fans will finally get to join the Gaines behind the scenes and discover their story of their beginnings.

My Review:  (3 stars) This was a quick and easy read.  It was interesting to learn about the story that is behind the success of Chip and Joanna Gaines.

 

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The Hate You Give

Description:  Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil's name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr. 

But what Starr does-or does not-say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

My Review:   (3 1/2 stars)  It took me a couple of tries to really get into this story, but after a while I was hooked.  I would recommend the Audible audio book version read by Bahni Turpin,  her performance adds a dimension to the story that my imagination could not recreate.   This is a timely, thought provoking story which offers many perspectives.

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Now That You Mention It

 Description:  New York Times bestselling author Kristan Higgins welcomes you home in this witty, emotionally charged novel about the complications of life, love and family:

One step forward. Two steps back. The Tufts scholarship that put Nora Stuart on the path to becoming a Boston medical specialist was a step forward. Being hit by a car and then overhearing her boyfriend hit on another doctor when she thought she was dying? Two major steps back.

Injured in more ways than one, Nora feels her carefully built life cracking at the edges. There’s only one place to land: home. But the tiny Maine community she left fifteen years ago doesn’t necessarily want her. At every turn, someone holds the prodigal daughter of Scupper Island responsible for small-town drama and big-time disappointments.

With a tough islander mother who’s always been distant, a wild-child sister in jail and a withdrawn teenage niece as eager to ditch the island as Nora once was, Nora has her work cut out for her if she’s going to take what might be her last chance to mend the family. Balancing loss and opportunity, dark events from her past with hope for the future, Nora will discover that tackling old pain makes room for promise…and the chance to begin again.

My Review:  (3 1/2 stars)  This was a good summer read, not too complicated and entertaining.

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Little Fires Everywhere

Description:  From the best-selling author of Everything I Never Told You, a riveting novel that traces the intertwined fates of the picture-perfect Richardson family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives. 

In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned - from the layout of the winding roads to the colors of the houses to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules. 

Enter Mia Warren - an enigmatic artist and single mother - who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenage daughter, Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than tenants - all four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past and a disregard for the status quo that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community. 

When old family friends of the Richardsons attempt to adopt a Chinese American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town - and puts Mia and Elena on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Elena is determined to uncover the secrets in Mia's past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs. 

Little Fires Everywhere explores the weight of secrets, the nature of art and identity, and the ferocious pull of motherhood - and the danger of believing that following the rules can avert disaster. 

My review:   (3 stars)  This story was a little more complicated, (more characters, twists and turns).  I listened to this in an audiobook form and it accompanied me on several long runs.  It was worth reading, but seems to drag on at times.  

What is on your bookshelf?

 

*book descriptions in italics are pulled from amazon.com

 

 


Around Here....

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We have recently returned from a long weekend trip to on the North Shore of Lake Superior at our annual destination campground family reunion.  We experienced comfortably cool weather and had a great time connecting with extended family during our last "glamping" trip on our camping travel trailer.   Recently, we decided that we are putting our camper up for sale while it is still in excellent condition. (Help us spread the word if you know of someone who may be interested!!)  

It served us well for our trips to Michigan and, most recently to the Dakotas. But now we have our sights instead on our goal of constructing and finishing a sauna building at our homestead.   This has been something that we have visioned for a while and that we have recently started on.   Check back for updates on the progress of this functional and creative project!

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I am navigating a rich and abundant early August garden.   Upon our return from our trip to the North Shore, our large garden was a bit overwhelming to say the least!   

Weeds!  Cucumbers!  Tipping tomatoes!  Overgrowing pumpkin plants! 

That and the arrival of 2 cases of peaches (a nordic ski team fundraiser) led me to spend many hours both tending the garden in canning and preserving in my kitchen.

I did my best to focus on the positive and dove in and tamed the garden, harvested herbs, tomatoes, kale, beets, cucumbers, then dried and preserved what we didn't eat fresh.  
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Around here - 1As much work as it is, it is always worth it in the end!

 















Minnesota Parent Magazine - August

The August Issue issue of Minnesota Parent Magazine is available throughout Minnesota and online now.

MNP 0818_CoverRGB

My School Days Column, for this back to school issue, is titled: "Getting Ready for K".

Megan Devine - Minnesota Parent Magazine

This month I also wrote a recipe feature, sharing my mom's recipe for zucchini chocolate cake for the "In the Kitchen" column.  Be sure to check it out!

Megan Devine - Minnesota Parent Recipe

Pick up a print copy, or read the full issue by clicking --> HERE.

Find the online link to my article ---> HERE.

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If you like what you see, social media 'shares' are appreciated!

As always - thanks for reading!


Snapshots from our camping trip in Voyager's National Park

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I am just settling back at home after a weeklong camping trip with the kids in Voyager's National Park.  In the middle of the winter, I made a reservation for 7 nights on Burnt Island on Sandpoint Lake hoping to time the experience with good weather and ripe blueberries.  We lucked out with both and our experience camping on an island for a week was amazing.  Enjoy these snapshots from our trip and be delighted by the beauty and bounty of this beautiful area of Northern Minnesota:
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What an adventure!


Around Here...

 

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I tested a recipe for Peach Caprese from Magnolia Table by Joanna Gaines that I will be putting together for a recipe feature in an upcoming issue of Minnesota Parent Magazine.  This is a wonderful cookbook with lots of great recipes and beautiful photography.   The recipe was a hit in our family.


Summer! - 5The boys beat the summer heat today on a slip and slide in the back yard.   They had a lot of fun and it was fun for me to just watch them!

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Our garden is coming along!  The rain, heat and humidity is doing wonders!    The weather has been great for wild blueberries as well.