As the weather cools, I've been enjoying some minor scavenging in the yard. Plants that have wilted and dried still have their own quiet beauty, I've found.
This snail shell, its occupant long gone, waited patiently in the soil for discovery. Every ridge shows up nicely. It's quite a marvel of engineering!
Devoid of its weight, this wasp nest stem tosses in the breeze. It looks like a small, frail wine glass.
This ladybug provides a bright splash of color. It's unseasonably late for ladybugs, but it's been unusually warm until recently and a few are still hanging around.
I bring in more things from the outside. A walnut shell...
...and lots of pine cones. They're very cheerful in their little glass containers.
Some unusual leaves are collected, too, like this spotted one.
We've had a few frosts, too. Tiny ice crystals dot the tops of this wild ajuga plant like a fine dusting of sugar.
Frost collects, too, between the fronds of this plant. I love the frosty, chilly mornings we've had lately! I'm ready for snow.
With that in mind, I knit an interesting hat for a friend's son recently. It looks a bit like a chain mail helmet, which is good for playing dress-up. It has a very pleasing spiral top, too.
For me, the interest comes in the unusual construction. A small scarf is knitted into the base of the hat. It's ribbed, so it stretches easily...
So now he can wear the hat and the scarf can be tied around his neck, or tucked into the collar of his coat. I was quite pleased with it!
I've been doing a lot of baking lately. A old favorite, my favorite braided lemon bread, has been seen around the kitchen several times this past week!
I've been focused, though, on my green tomatoes. My windowsills are full of green Roma tomatoes that are slowly ripening in the sun.
Most of the cherry tomatoes, however, are just too immature to ripen that way. I had a lot of leftover cherry tomatoes...pounds of them. What to do? I hated to waste them. Thankfully, I found a wonderful recipe for no-sugar green tomato salsa. I was a little skeptical when I read the instructions, but I knew my husband would probably eat them, no matter what. He's never met a tomato he hasn't liked. Besides, anything was better than just tossing them in the compost.
I picked as many as I could...
...sliced them up...
...and got to work!
No-Sugar Green Tomato Salsa
Adapted from Farm Girl Fare
2 pounds of green tomatoes, chopped
1 pound of onions, chopped
1/2 pound tart apples, cored and chopped
6 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon salt
4 jalapeno peppers, cored, seeded, and chopped
2 tablespoons dried cilantro
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Combine everything but the jalapenos, cumin, and cilantro in a large pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for about an hour. Next, add the remaining ingredients and simmer for an additional 5 minutes. Using an immersion blender or, like me, a potato masher, blend (or smush) until at the desired texture.
It can be canned or frozen. It got rave reviews from my trusty taster!
A word to the wise: don't use your fingers to seed those jalapenos. I did, and the juice got under my nails and burned for hours. Also, touching your nose is a fairly bad idea, too.
Thanksgiving is coming up this week. I've been thinking about the holiday and what it means in a broader context. I've been pondering this Bible verse:
Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.
I Thessalonians 5:18
I want to try to be thankful all the time, not just on a designated day, for my many blessings. I want to be thankful, too, even when "thankful" doesn't seem to be the normal response for a given situation.
I am reminded of Corrie ten Boom's book, "The Hiding Place". Corrie's family was a part of the Dutch underground during World War II. They were eventually discovered and sent off to the concentration camps, themselves, as punishment. Corrie lost her beloved father and suffered greatly in the terrible conditions. She was sent, with her sister, to one of the worst camps, Ravensbruck. 1400 women were in a building meant for 400. It was freezing cold, with a mud floor, and fleas tormented them day and night. Corrie and her sister had smuggled a small Bible into the camp, and they contemplated this very verse. Corrie's sister struggled with the concept of being thankful in this particular setting, but Corrie reminded her that they must try to be thankful, even for the fleas! They gave thanks, and soon their blessing was revealed. The fleas were so bad that the guards refused to enter their area, and the ten Booms were able to start a small Bible study to provide comfort and hope to their fellow prisoners.
Examples like this make me want to be thankful every day...not just on Thanksgiving...for both my blessings and my trials. The next time I want to complain, I will think of this story, that verse, and this one:
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.
Many blessing to you and your family on this Thanksgiving week!