Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Cat's Meow

Late October in Indiana means many things...cool days and chilly nights, pumpkin patches, apple cider, falling leaves, and frantic squirrels. It's also the perfect time of year to make the trek to Brown County State Park. Brown County is in the southern part of the state, featuring 16,000 acres of gently rolling hills. It's home to many different types of trees and lots of interesting wildlife, from white-tailed deer to wild turkeys. Black bears once roamed these woods, but the main attraction now is the beautiful fall colors.

When we visited last week, we were gratified to see that most trees hadn't dropped their leaves yet. The colors were amazing, ranging from deep red...

...to creamy gold.

A pleasant walk around Ogle Lake.

The trees themselves are sometimes overshadowed by their brilliant covers, but shouldn't be. I love to see the different types of bark in the fall, like the peeling bark of this sycamore tree.

Near the end of our visit, we found a quiet clearing to explore. It was like being in a fairy ring, surrounded by young trees whose leaves tossed and whispered in the wind and whose limbs seemed to playfully grasp the limb of its neighbor, like children playing Ring Around the Rosy.

We found lots of acorns...


...interesting old logs...

...and even an abandoned bird nest or two.

We collected lots of beautiful leaves for pressing.

Our last stop was an old stone shelter that held a wooden table, where Todd had carved our names several years ago.

It was a good trip.

We've had some excitement at home, too. My friend Michelle's cat, Cookie, has misbehaved. She snuck outside before her spaying appointment and, well...

...now she's the proud mother of five little kittens. I visited the small family when they were about a week and a half old. At that age, they were either eating...


...or sleeping.

Young kittens are champion sleepers.

They can...and do...sleep up to 20 hours per day.

They love to be warm, so if the mother isn't available, the kittens snuggle together...and sleep some more.

By the third week, though, their eyes are open...mostly.

All kittens have blue eyes at first. The true color doesn't emerge until the third month.

They are wobbling around in their nest and beginning to play together.

Their cries for Mom are a lot louder!

This little guy's baby teeth are just beginning to come in.

Oh, yes, and they're still eating...a lot!

As the weather cools, I've been thinking about knitting some mittens and a hat for winter. I chose a basic, vintage design for the mittens. My only modification was to kitchener the tops of the mittens closed. I think it makes a tidier tip.

Of course, I used my Malabrigo yarn...my new favorite.

I originally chose the pattern Coline for my hat, but the designer was so incredibly rude when I forwarded a quick question about the crown decreases that I decided to go with another pattern. Now I'm working on Caulfield, an intricately-cabled design I hope to finish by next week.

Yesterday, I made pumpkin puree. I used to buy canned pumpkin puree at the grocery store until I realized how easy (and cheap!) it is to make your own...and healthier, I think. Canned puree is tan, but the puree I make is a lovely orange color, as it should be.

I purchased two "pie pumpkins," which are smaller than jack-o-lantern pumpkins. After splitting them in half and removing the seeds, I roasted them in a greased pan at 325 degrees for a little over an hour.

You'll know when they're done. The insides will be soft and the rind will peel away easily. I use an ice cream scoop to transfer the fleshy insides to the food processor.

I puree for about five minutes to get a nice, thick consistency. The two small pie pumpkins I used yielded ten cups of pumpkin puree!

They went straight to the freezer, where they'll be used for pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, pumpkin scones, pumpkin pudding, and whatever else I can think of.

Going to Brown County and making pumpkin puree are some of my favorite fall traditions.

Have a great week!


  1. Your photos are like a fresh, cool breeze in my stuffy office. Thanks for sharing them!

  2. Great post and the photos are amazing! Wish I was your neighbor....