Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Squirreling Away Your Fall Treasures

The weather is cooling, and I'm seeing a lot more of this:

and this:

This is my absolute favorite time of year, and I love bringing the outside in! Even though it seems to bother this guy when I'm rooting around in his territory...

My favorite thing to bring in, in September, is acorns. They're a beautiful, glossy green right now.

I love to group them with freshly-picked berries and yellow fall leaves.

I take out some of the 'best' ones and make little acorn 'nests' to put around the house. These little nests are so versatile, because I put robin's eggs in them in spring and summer, and they have this fall use too.

I frequently combine the two, especially on our sun room table. I think they complement each other very well!

These green acorns will eventually begin to turn darker...

...and some develop multiple hues, like this purple, tan, and green one.

Eventually they become a dark purple, and then darken into a lovely deep brown.

There's a mysterious tree by our house whose seeds resemble teeny, tiny pine cones. I bring those in too, of course, and will eventually make small wreaths out of them.

This month's issue of Martha Stewart Living says it best:

Everything in the garden has gone to seed, so I've really been gathering this week, before the rains come and cause rot. Of course, I use my rubber stamps and shape-cutting presses to cut out sticky labels.

I think they brighten up the bags quite a bit!

The last of the summer bouquets have been picked, too. It's back to grocery store bouquets until spring!

Still, some creatures are still out and about, like this full-grown Black Swallowtail caterpillar. He's in his final stage before making his chrysalis.

This little guy is in the second instar phase. Instar refers to the stages between molts for arthropods. He has one molt to go before reaching adulthood, and then his final molt. I've cut down most of the dried plants along the fence, but I've saved several for the caterpillars.

The mantises are still pretty active...

...and little insects, like this cucumber beetle.

I've gotten started on my fall knitting. I wanted a simple, warm hat to wear, in a nice fall color. I found a cloche-style pattern that I really liked. The construction is quite clever. You knit a section in stockinette, add a purl row, continue with another stockinette section, and then fold at the purl "crease" and knit the two stockinette sections together. Now you've got a tidy, sturdy brim. Modeled by my sister...

I wanted to stitch a brown velvet ribbon around the brim. Unfortunately, it wasn't a well thought-out plan, but I'm pretty happy with the way it turned out. It lays almost completely flat when the hat is on, and I just had to hand-stitch a center row of dark brown stitches to hold it in place.

I'm finishing up a lap blanket, too, and halfway through a pair of fingerless gloves.

Besides fall gathering and fall knitting, I've got my fall cooking, too. I had originally planned to post a different recipe today, but I fell in love with a potato soup I made last week that was a conglomeration of three or four other recipes. The resulting recipe is astoundingly good, even though I'm not much of a soup person. Thick, rich, and flavorful...and perfect for fall.

Thick, Rich Potato Soup

3 1/2 cups peeled and diced potatoes
1 finely chopped onion
1 - 2 cloves garlic, minced
3 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 - 3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1 bay leaf
handful of mushrooms, sliced
2 - 3 carrots, grated
5 tablespoons butter
5 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
2 ounces cream cheese
a handful of shredded cheese

Saute onions in butter until translucent and slightly browned, about 8 minutes. Add mushrooms and carrots and cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes. Add minced garlic and cook for about 30 seconds. Then, add chicken broth, spices, bay leaf, and potatoes. Boil for about 20 minutes, until potatoes are soft.

When your potatoes are about 5 minutes from being done, start your roux. Melt the butter and then whisk in flour. Stir for about a minute. Slowly stir in milk and bring to a boil. Stirring almost continually, cook for 5 - 8 minutes, until mixture thickens. Add your cream cheese and a handful of shredded cheese and stir until completely melted.

When potatoes are done, add the roux and remove the bay leaf.

With some thick, crusty bread, it's a perfect fall meal! Enjoy!


  1. Jamie this blog is amazing! I love the acorn baskets. Totally want to make one. That hat??? Awesome! Sending you a FB message. Love Cyndi s.

  2. Jamie this blog is amazing! I love the acorn baskets. Totally want to make one. That hat??? Awesome! Sending you a FB message. Love Cyndi s.

  3. The hat is terrific! What pattern is it?

  4. Thanks! It's "A Better Bucket" on Ravelry!