Saturday, August 9, 2014

Beginnings

To me, back-to-school time feels like the real beginning of the year. I loved school when I was younger. I looked forward to every new school year. I loved new school supplies - they held so much promise! New erasers that had yet to rub anything out, new pencils that hadn't been chewed, new notebooks with fresh, clean pages inside. Even now, buying school supplies for my children makes me happy. School starts on Wednesday here and we're all ready for it. This summer has mostly been a good one but there have been times when it really dragged. The small Bears were less independent this summer and there seemed to be more squabbling, more crying and complaining and general misery among the two of them. I didn't have much time to myself and it showed: I was crabbier than usual too, I think. I don't do well with a lack of routine, especially such a prolonged one. But toward the end here, over the last few weeks, things have improved a lot. I started taking more time for myself and being less apologetic about it. They didn't even seem to mind; I think they'd had enough of me too. Now we're going back to our routines (oh, I love routines): they'll be in school together for the first time, a kindergartener and a third-grader.


The sense of beginning is elsewhere too. The earliest signs of fall are setting in, like the chile roasters setting up around town. I suppose you could call this an "ending" too, but it feels like a beginning. Fall is my favorite season and I look forward to the turning of the season. I welcome the cooler temperatures, the change in weather. I love fall clothes - all the knits and the boots and cozy socks! Here, the slide into cooler weather is slow, but the changes always begin to show up in August. In our backyard, the nandina and pyracantha bushes are the first to show a subtle change, as their berries begin to ripen. It feels like it was yesterday that both types were covered in delicate white blossoms, but that was already several months ago. Now, the nandina berries are reddish (they'll be ruby-red in a couple of months)...



...and the pyracantha berries are turning orange. They'll be a dark persimmon color by mid-fall. When I look out the kitchen window, I'm seeing more and more yellow-orange on the pyracantha hedge along the back garden wall. It changes a little each day.


Our sunflowers have just begun to bloom. The small Bears and I planted seeds in the spring. I've been disappointed with them this year; the giant variety never grew at all, and the smaller, mixed variety has only produced a few plants. I think they got too dry before the monsoon began, but I'm not really sure what happened. We'll try again next year. We always plant sunflowers, it's a Thing We Do.


Meanwhile, we're picking up windfall apples every day. The apple tree has done spectacularly well this season. I'm sure last winter's major pruning helped a lot. We did notice another dead limb and will have to remove it soon. But the parts that survived have produced a ridiculous number of apples. We're composting the fallen ones. We're used to apples falling onto the roof over our bedroom at this time of year, but they're usually tiny, making a soft thud as they land. These apples are much bigger and they make a racket! 


They're almost ripe and I have big plans for them. I'm so excited to have big, healthy apples again.


The small Bears are already eating them every day, even though they're slightly under-ripe. I've tried a couple already myself. It makes me very glad to have ready-made snacks in the backyard. They pluck their own apples off the tree and eat them while they play.




We're playing in the backyard more now that it's not so hot anymore. The month of July was quite rainy, with thunderstorms most days, but August has been drier so far. We could certainly use more rain, but it's nice to have sunny afternoons too. It's very pleasant to sit outside, watching chickens and children.


Speaking of chickens, we're using their eggs now. Here, they were being prepared for poaching. They're smaller than the "large" supermarket eggs I'd been buying, but they have a richer flavor and the yolks are definitely a little brighter yellow. This morning, I made ice cream with our own eggs. It's freezing as I write (we're using my father-in-law's ice cream maker; I stumped hard for the Bear to choose an ice cream maker for his employment anniversary gift. He chose a leaf-blower. So practical! Well, we did need a new one). I can't wait to eat that ice cream later.


I've finished the skirt for the GB's Eloise sweater. I'm not in love with this project. I like my colors, and I'm glad to be trying something new. I don't think this pattern and I are getting along very well, though. It may find itself hibernating in the closet soon. I finished the GB's blanket! I'm very happy with it and I'll share more soon.


I had most of a day alone this week while the small Bears spent time with their grandparents. They went for a hike, visited a rattlesnake museum and ate ice cream prepared with liquid nitrogen! All very exciting. I stayed home in comfy clothes while it drizzled outside, savoring the solitude and quiet. I made myself a light lunch, a small (prepared) quiche and a green salad with a vinaigrette I'd improvised a couple of nights before (white wine vinegar, canola oil, Dijon mustard, honey, chopped fresh tarragon from our garden). I ate while reading a mediocre biography of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis (really, it wasn't great), and listening to light rain on the skylight. It was lovely. I'm looking forward to more time alone, as well as the return of Private Fridays with the Bear - our first one is less than two weeks away.


The backpacks are hanging on the kids' pegs by the front door. The GB's backpack is almost as big as she is, but the time has come. She has to carry books and homework now. The LB loves school so much and I know she'll love it too. We have a welcome-back ice cream social with her class on Monday, and I have to go in for registration meetings on Tuesday. And with that, the school year begins.

I learned of another wonderful beginning this week. Very dear friends (he's like a brother to the Bear, she's a warm, funny and talented lady whom I loved instantly when I met her) are expecting their first baby next winter. It's a boy. I'm so incredibly happy for them. I'm already planning gifts for this little bubba. My hook will be smokin' this fall! 

I have a giveaway win to share, from earlier this summer. Time has run away with me and I neglected to share it sooner, but it's really wonderful and I'm so happy to have it. Deborah from the lovely blog sunshine time is a very talented knitter and she makes warm, cozy beanies for her family and friends. She gave one away on her blog and I was the winner. Deborah let me pick the colors, and I asked for purples and blues since I love 'em. Deborah's package was the first one this mail-lover ever received from Australia, and that was almost as exciting as the gift inside! Deborah packaged the beanie inside a pouch made of pages from a children's dictionary, sewn up the edges. It's so cool, and I saved it to reuse it for a future gift. I love the beanie! It's perfect. I can't wait to wear it this winter. Thank you so much, Deborah.

50 comments:

  1. It sounds as though the ending of the summer holidays has been a good one with lots of great things yet to come. I hope that GB enjoys the new challenges of school and that the year goes well for both bears. I agree that the leafblower doesn't sound like the most exciting gift, but as you say, a very practical and useful one especially given the time of year that will be coming! xx

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  2. How lovely to see you, Jennifer - I'm assuming that's you wearing your beanie? I loved school as well and always got excited when it was time to go back after the summer holidays. Enjoy your new routine. :o)

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  3. Even though I don't have children, I also like the beginning of a new schoolyear, like you... Maybe it's a bit melancholy, or reminiscing about a long time ago ;-), I don't know... But every new school year, when the stores start selling school supplies, I have to buy some...
    Are you already seeing the beginnings of fall over there ?? So soon... Here, fall only starts showing itself at the end of september...
    Love your new beanie :-) !
    And keep us informed how that home made ice cream tasted !!
    Xxx, Ingrid

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  4. I love the beginnings this time of year as well! We're back to school on September 1st and the littlest heads off with her big brothers. Sounds like you've had a good summer. Ours has been really good too but I am craving some quiet time. I imagine your homemade ice cream was delicious. Enjoy the weekend, Bee xx

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  5. I always loved new, fresh school supplies too. School here doesn't start till September and I'm done with that phase but it does always seem nice to get back into a routine. I'm always sad to see winter end though.
    I love the beanie, and getting it from Australia does add to the excitement!

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  6. So many good things in this post, Jennifer, which make me smile. You write so well on the coming of Fall, and show beautiful images of the berries, sunflowers and the delicious apples. That would be a dream for me, having apples growing in the backyard for the children. Such a healthy way to live! Love the colours in your beanie, which will be so cosy to wear this coming winter.

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  7. School starts early for you doesn't it? Ours doesn't begin until September and summer still feels in full swing with 100F+ temperatures. Our giant sunflowers never grew this year either and the smaller variety have just begun blooming in the past few weeks. I truly loved the start if school too and the newness of everything. I hope it's a wonderful year for both of your little bears. Congrats on your win!
    Blessings,
    Betsy

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  8. I like the beginning of the school year too, I always have and I agree with you about how lovely new stationary supplies are! Your new beanie is great and you look lovely wearing it. Looking forward to seeing the blanket.
    Marianne x

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  9. Your apple tree is doing beautifully, I see lots of apple recipes in your future. How swiftly the summer flies by. I am less a fan of autumn, although I've come to the conclusion that any season is quite lovely once I'm in the midst of it. I love the picture of your Girl Bear flying in the air, it's fantastic. So nice that you can enjoy the outside again now it's a little cooler. CJ xx

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  10. I commented yesterday morning that I could feel that Autumn was just round the corner. There was a slight "nip" in the air. The nights are noticeably drawing in too. It's been a good Summer but it will be good to start a new Season. A move to sixth firm for Matt. Old enough to start driving. Yes, I'm ready for Autumn. (We have loads of apples and plums too!) x

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  11. back to school so soon. gosh. time is flying by. how exciting for the youngest bear, I hope it goes well xxx

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  12. It's funny how as I get older I'm far more aware of changing seasons. I will always be a Spring and Summer girl, but the last couple of years I've enjoyed autumn too. I love the images of winter, cosy woollies and days spent reading by the fire. The cold and wet reality of England just never seems to quite match up somehow!

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  13. As always a lovely post Jennifer. I am right there with you. We too have apples galore and I make chutney. It's lovely ..... Have you tried to make it ever?
    Enjoy every day .... And Special Fridays will soon be here.

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  14. So many lovely things in this post, Jennifer. We also consider the start of the school year the start of a new year - we all start school at the same time in this household. Oh, and how I still love new school supplies; I sometimes joke that it's the reason I became a teacher! xxx

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  15. I love stationery and was just like you with the school supplies at the start of the school year, choosing new pens and pencils for the year ahead was even better than buying new school shoes even though I loved that too. There's another three weeks of summer holidays here before our schools reopen but it will be a little different this year with no children in actual school. It will be all change for Eleanor starting sixth form.

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  16. I loved reading your post, like you I am keenly anticipating the autumn season!

    Helenxx

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  17. I also love the beginning of the school year for the same reasons as you do. We don't need to supply pencils and other stationary but I always buy a box of colouring pencils for the children. They seem to have big boxes of pencils, pens and rubbers in class, which I suppose is handy for us. Our schools are also back on Wednesday. Eagerly anticipated by me, not so much the children. You are right to look after yourself more, mums need this me time to recharge their batteries.
    Like you, I do love autumn but is a fragile love because it marks the arrival of yet another winter. Winter in Glasgow is dreich, dark and long. I think autumn is more loveable if a proper cold winter is to follow. I hope I am not sounding too weird! Cx

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  18. Lovely post, summer seems to be coming rapidly to an end, but I have always liked autumn and its many colours.x

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  19. You lucky thing to be having your autumn come now. We are still waiting but the signs are beginning :-) We have another month before school (and now college) returns. Different routines through Mr Teen going to college now, but I can't wait!! Take care xx

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  20. Gorgeous post today my friend. I love every picture and every word. And I am thrilled you got a day to yourself, I can't remember when my last day was, it feels like years ago, but it certainly can not be that long ago. We have one more week of summer than it is off to school, Little B starts his pre-k program the same day my teenager starts his senior year of high school, crazy I know.
    Hugs,
    Meredith

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  21. What a lovely post, Jennifer! You are so lucky to have an apple tree in your backyard... apple pies, applesauce, apple jelly, so many possibilities! Your healthy lunch looks delicious. I could eat salad and quiche for lunch almost every day. Glad you had some alone time for yourself. And how exciting for the little bears who will start school in just a few days. I think I do better with a schedule as well. I was originally planning to homeschool my daughter only for kindergarten, but I think she needs more of a schedule and routine in her days, more so than I can give her at home. So we are trying to get her in a half-day TK program, but most of them seem to already be full. Maybe someone will have a cancelation, and we can get her in before school starts at the end of the month. I feel that I need this as much as she does.

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  22. Such a nice post, Jennifer! My favourite season is the fall, and this just makes me look forward to it even more. It sounds like you are ready for the new school year, and that your young Bears are as well. I miss the days of going shopping for school supplies - something we did ever year even though we homeschooled and it wasn't really necessary. As for the eggs, I think they will get bigger as your chickens mature.

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  23. I used to love school and getting all the new books and pencils and so on. I still love stationery and the smell of good paper. Your apples have done very well - we are also going to have a good crop this year but they aren't ready just yet. I'm sure you're glad to have started eating your own eggs - they're so much nicer than the ones you buy.

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  24. Oh - nearly forgot - love your new beanie!

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  25. just looking at the pictures on your blog cheers me up, they're so clear and colourful. I love stationary as well. I did well yesterday as I got a thrifty scientific calculator from the chazza yesterday for a £1. They are so expensive, they hardly use them and the one day a year they do need them they have lost them. Boys .............grrrr lol

    Love your hat xx

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  26. The time seems to go so quickly it doesn't seem five minutes since the start of the school holidays and here we are time to go back to school already. I can remember feeling relieved when my kids were small because the summer break was three months long such a long time. How lovely to have so many apples, you would laugh if you could see mine I have about 5 tiny apples which probably won't be edible anyway. Hope you enjoyed your ice cream, you look lovely in your new beanie. :)

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  27. Where did the summer go? It seems we are all preparing for Autumn already canning, freezing and making jams and chutneys with produce from the garden. Loved the beanie...

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  28. A lovely home-y post!!!! Down here in the south the "new beginnings" of spring is showing everywhere and that really makes me very very happy!!!! Have a happy and creative week!!!!
    Love
    AMarie xxx

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  29. So many lovely things on the horizon Jennifer - I really enjoyed reading this post. Its all beginning to sound very Autumny where you are.
    We have so many apples too this year !
    have a good week, Kate x

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  30. What a lovely post - even reading someone else's anticipation of autumn makes me feel happier. And can I declare apple envy? I knew it was a matter of time, but there are none here this year and the reality is a hard thing to bear...

    Composting is good, but our windfalls normally make for pots of jelly - as long as you get the fruit before the critters do... cut the bad bits off... Then the wee hard runty apples make pots of autumn love to cheer you up with a pile of toast and a ppt of tea through to spring. Good recipe here...
    http://www.allotment-garden.org/recipe/131/apple-jelly-recipe/

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  31. I find it so hard to believe that kids are getting ready to go back to school already...probably easy for me to say when I don't have little ones at home anymore! My nieces, who are in high school, go back this Wed. as well. I think school starts earlier every year! I love new school supplies, too. Always did - but wasn't a big fan of going to school!

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  32. You rock a hat, Jennifer. They really suit you. We have a few more weeks of jollies here, and I am savouring every day. I think I will be ready to let Olly go. But the picture of your little ones school bags caught me out - a inward sigh of sadness escaped me. I fear I'll be unbearable when he is ensconced!
    Leanne xx

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  33. Its such a long time since mine where at school, but i can remember the summer holidays. It took most of the holidays to get into a routine then it was time for them to go back to school.....xx

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  34. Love the hat on you pal!!!! I always enjoy seeing pics of my blogging friends...so often we have the camera on everyone else! And hooray for school! We start back up in a week which I am looking forward to as well! Now look at those apples and the eggs!!! Is there anything better than that!!?!? I still can not get over the fact that it is almost fall but like you it is my favorite season so bring it on!!! Loving everything here friend...best wishes to your kiddos with their first day back! Happy week to you!!! Nicole xoxo

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  35. Good luck with the return to school - I hope both bears settle well and are very happy. And you get some time to yourself, yay! I can really see an early autumn feel creeping into the light and colours in your photos. X

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  36. Our school year start at the end January, it seems funny to be starting on. How lucky to have an apple tree in your garden.

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  37. Hi Jennifer! Thanks for visiting my blog. I've enjoyed reading your post. I think the colours you used for your GB's skirt are gorgeous and that beenie hat is a great win indeed. Can't wait to hear what you'll make with the ripe apples. Thanks again and I hope the return to school is going well. Marion

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  38. Oh, I'm just catching up on blog reading now! I'm so pleased you like your beanie and it does look really lovely on you! I'm so happy to think my little gift travelled safely all the way there. I re-used the packaging; I bought a lovely handmade tea cosy from Butter and Buntings; glad to hear you'll be recycling it as well! I hope you enjoy some down time once your kids are back at school. Sounds like you deserve it! Xx Deb

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  39. What beautiful looking apples! Your homemade ice cream (from home grown eggs) sounds amazing as well :) Hopefully you'll transition smoothly into school. I love new supplies as well!!

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  40. I know what you mean about routines.. things have been pretty busy since last year with the traveling, moving and then a baby so we decided to send D to camp this year just to be able to try to maintain some of the routine and sanity.. plus he is having so much fun.

    The apples are looking great.. I would love to try my hand at growing things some day..

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  41. How lucky you are to have your own fresh apples! I can just imagine (and smell) what you will be making with them. Lots of apple pie and cobbler and bread and jams or jellies, I bet. Have you ever saute'd up onions and apples for a side dish? So good! And your own eggs too! I can't wait to have chickens some day. Love all your pictures, as always. I've seen that sweater pattern, and it looks like you have done quite a bit of it. I know how sometimes a project just doesn't do it for you though and it gets stuffed away and replaced with something else.

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  42. Wow! That's a lot of apples! Glad you are having nice weather for outdoor activities. Sure do miss the great outdoors of Colorado. I for one am not looking forward to the return to school. I go back this coming Sunday. The past year was not good and I don't see things getting any better. If I make it through this year, I should receive an award or something. Ha! My youngest son starts 11th grade on the 31st. He definitely needs to get back into a routine. Have a great week. Tammy

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  43. I too loved new stationary and even now I get so excited whenever I need a new diary.I treat myself to new pens and diary and a couple of new notebooks and it feels me with sheer delight.
    This is a lovely post

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  44. I loved buying new stationary for school, and still think of reasons to buy stationary, just because I love it :)

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  45. I used to love the start of a new school year too, getting new school supplies was a real highlight for me. Lovely post :)

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  46. Late Summer and Green Apples, properly green like yours, make me think of my Granny's Green Apple Cobbler, a treat she made at this time of year. And if I had a penny for every time she told us we'd get worms eating so many green apples (we liked the windfall ones) I'd still have money, lol.

    Here in southwest Georgia, I saw the first blooms of golden rod and Mallow flowers yesterday. The Sweet Gum in my front yard has big yellow stars scattered amongst the green. The Turkey Foot Oak are getting more and more red leaves. Today the water from the faucet ran icy cold despite being 90F outdoors. Yes, the change is approaching.

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  47. I love Autumn too, the crisp air and cozy clothes, brisk walks by the sea with waves that are growing wild... bring it on! How wonderful to have your own eggs to use in homemade icecream, it makes it even more special, when I see my cousin he gives me eggs from his hens and I like to use some for making and baking too, but they are so delicious that we have to just simply soft boil some too! The hat is lovely and I hope your bears are enjoying the start of school, x

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  48. Autumn is such a nice time of year, I always have a 'starting afresh' feeling when September approaches. We have another week or so off school, but I have already started preparing. The summer has been busy here, more at work than home unfortunately(!) but the time I have spent at home has been good. I do know what you mean about the bickering though. I think as they get a little bit older, there can be more squabbles as each child feels like they need to defend themselves or have their say. It is tough and draining! You have done so well with your apples, I wish I had some luck with mine!

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