Today, I had a date with my good friend Theresa to go apple picking.  We made a last minute date yesterday when she heard me say “Honey Crisp”.  We headed out to Patterson Fruit Farm.  Despite the rainy day, we were greeted by two friendly people manning the tent.  There were U-Pick Crest Haven peaches today as well, but we were there for apples.


The apples here are priced on a scale based on how many you pick.  This sign aside, Honey Crisp were advertised at $1.50 a pound.  For reference, honey crisp are the most expensive apple.  They were $2.29 at Giant Eagle today (and they weren’t just picked off a local tree.)


The Honey Crisp apples were just a short walk from our car.  When we saw the water, we were extra glad to have our garden shoes and boots on.  It really wasn’t too bad.  It was just sprinkling when we actually picked and we had about 30 pounds of Honey Crisp apples from just a few trees.



After we Honey Crisp, we headed over to the Gala apples.  This was actually the Buckeye Gala apple.  We quickly picked about 40 pounds and then headed back to the tent to settle up.  Because we had 70 pounds total and a mix of the apples, they were priced at 95 cents a pound.  It worked out great.  If you go with a group of people to pick, you should pay together since that way you get the best overall price.  Patterson’s provides bags for picking and they hold quite a few pounds of apples.


The darker smaller red apples are the Gala and the other larger apple is the Honey Crisp.


After picking, we drove up to the market on Caves Road.  We purchased apple fritters and donuts for the family and headed home.  It was fun, short outing.  Apple picking will last about 5 weeks depending on the farm, weather, crowds, varieties, etc.  We plan to pick a few more times before the season ends.


It’s been a while since I posted about workouts.  It’s odd since we’ve been to the J often lately.  I’ve been busy writing about CSAs and picking, but I’ve managed to get some solid workouts in also.

I’ve opted to stop working out with a trainer for the time being.  I love working out with Chelsea and I have 2 sessions left, but our schedules weren’t meshing.  Also, my outside of the gym schedule is out of control.

So, I contacted my friend Shayna and asked her if she wanted to work out together.  She’s a member of the J also and has been MIA lately between having 3 kids home for the summer and a broken foot.  The kids are in school and her foot is better (not 100%).  She was excited for the extra motivation of meeting someone for working out.  I was also excited to have a workout partner.  I am pretty good at working out on my own, but I feel like I get a much better, longer, stronger workout when I have a trainer or a partner.

For September, we are just getting into the groove.  She’s still recuperating and getting in the habit of working out again and I’m going to be out of town for almost 2 weeks during the month.

We plan to be well organized and in the groove at the beginning of October.  We’ll be making up our own routines based in knowledge we’ve learned from trainers, books and the internet.  I know it will be GREAT!


Today, we picked up week 15 of our Fresh Fork CSA.

Here’s what we were expecting to receive this week:

Small CSA:

  • 1 lb. pumpkin sage linguini
  • 2 lb. log of butter made from grass-grazed, organic milk
  • 2 ct. eggplant
  • 2 red peppers
  • 2 ct. winter squash (varieties include butternut, acorn, spaghetti, honey bear, heart of gold, and a few more)
  • Approx. 1.5 lbs. heirloom tomatoes
  • 1 lb. yellow wax beans
  • Quarter peck Gala apples
  • 1 head leaf lettuce

We received notice via our weekly newsletter that the heirloom tomatoes were not in and we could expect slicing tomatoes as a substitute.

Here’s a group shot:


The lettuce will be easily eaten in salads.  We got two heads on Tuesday too.  I’ll miss lettuce season when it ends.  I’m not a big fan of yellow wax beans.  I think they might go in our vegetable soup.  I used to make vegetable soup often during the summer, but now that I know what items are and how to cook them, I hardly ever make it.  Since I’m going on vacation soon, I thought a batch of veggie soup would be good to leave in the freezer for my husband and father in law.


I’m super excited that it’s winter squash season.  These acorn squash are beautiful!  I never got sick of winter squash.  I haven’t decided for sure about the eggplant.  I’m either going to make eggplant pizzas (sliced eggplant baked and then topped with spice, tomato sauce and cheese and baked until the eggplant is cooked and the cheese is melted) or another veggie lasagna.  The lasagna might be nice to have in the freezer for Stephen’s lunches while I’m away.


We ate the pasta for dinner.  I made a basic white sauce (butter, whole wheat flour, pepper, milk, cheese), country sausage crumbles and red peppers to go with it.  It was delicious.  We’ve had this butter before.  It’s good and will last us awhile.


I was glad to see apples.  We got cabbage from our other CSA and I like a coleslaw recipe that uses apples.  I already had the dressing ingredients, raisins and almonds that I needed for the recipe.  The rest of the apples will be eaten as snacks or my oatmeal.   The red peppers were used in tonight’s pasta dish.


The tomatoes look terrible.  Two of them are moldy and I’ll ask for replacements next week.  I’m not sure if these are heirloom, slicing or what.  Either way, two of them are bad tomatoes.


The object of the game this week is to stay ahead.  I’m leaving for vacation on the 19th and need to focus more on packing and prepping the household and less on veggies and the CSAs.  But, I still want to do my best not to waste anything.


Nick and Sally love to help in the kitchen.  Sometimes, I have a really hard time figuring out things that they can do.  It’s especially hard to find things that are a real help instead of busy work.

In yesterday’s CSA, we received a couple of packs of slicing tomatoes.  Although they weren’t paste tomatoes, I still wanted to make sauce.  Actually, I want to make ketchup, we it all starts with juice.

I decided to set up the food mill and see what happened.

I sliced the tomatoes, Sally filled the tray and Nick pushed them through.  It worked like a charm.



The kids had a great time and I was glad that this practice session worked.  It’s almost applesauce time and I am hoping that they’ll be able to help.


Today, we picked up our Geauga Family Farms CSA.  I was glad that we remembered it was Tuesday.  It feels like a Monday since yesterday was the Labor Day Holiday.  It’s week 13 already.  I think we have 20 weeks total.

Here’s what we received:


Let’s take a closer look.

Cabbage, sweet corn


Potatoes, yummy SWEET oranges peppers


Swiss chard, watermelon!


2 varieties of leaf lettuce


Tomatoes, yellow squash


Carrots, green peppers


This week looks superb!  Everything was vibrant, fresh, and we had a rainbow of colors in our box.

I’m hoping that we get apples from our other CSA this week and I can make my coleslaw recipe with the cabbage.  I have all of the other ingredients on hand.  I’ll be cooking the sweet corn tomorrow or Thursday.

After juicing 100 pounds of Roma tomatoes for sauce over the weekend, this amount of tomatoes doesn’t seem like very many to me.  I’ll probably just use a couple in salad and juice the rest for some ketchup or BBQ sauce.

I don’t really have specific plans for the other items, but we’ll be eating well this week!

PS – Yes, we got another watermelon.  Yes, I am HAPPY about it!


Three years ago today, I had the honor of attending the wedding of Jeanne and Aaron.  The wedding was held in Dakar, Senegal in Africa.  Aaron and I have been friends since seventh or eighth grade, and  I was happy to act as an official witness for this very special occasion.  I met Jeanne for the first time just 2 days before the wedding.  She is amazing, and I knew right away that she was the one for Aaron.

Happy Anniversary Aaron and Jeanne!

The civil service:


The church service:


Wedding portrait:


The happy couple with the witnesses:


Family photo:


Aaron and Jeanne with the United States visitors:


Aaron, Jeanne and myself at the reception:


A photo of us in our African outfits in Jeanne’s home town for a celebration:


The United States visitors with Aaron and Jeanne in Thies:


I had many great experiences during my trip to Senegal.  It was certainly a once in a lifetime opportunity.  It’s not very often that one of your best friends gets married on another continent.

Congratulations on 3 great years!


Yesterday, we went to a friend’s birthday party.  The birthday girl was turning 4.  The party was outdoor picnic style with fun and games for the kids.  Food included hot dogs, brats, veggies and fruit.  The kids enjoyed a bounce house, sand box, parachute and more.


The little girl definitely loves her princesses.  She couldn’t wait to put on this dress.


She helped her mom make this castle cake.  It was so cute!


After the party died down.  Sally and I headed home and Nick stayed at the party with Stephen to camp out in the back yard with the other kids.  By then it was dark, so I don’t have any photos, but there were 4 tents set up.  Stephen texted me around 9PM to tell me that they were playing with glow in the dark chalk and having a great time.  Soon after, another text told me that Nick had requested to go to sleep.

Unfortunately, the night was cut short when thunderstorms rolled in.  Around 2AM, I received another text that they were on their way home.  They packed up enough to come home and went back this morning for the tent.  Nick had a great time and already asked when the next night in a tent will be.  I think his first sleep over was a success, even if it was only a few hours long.


Today, the family headed to Howe Meadow in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park to ride the STOMP Bicycle Adventure. STOMP is an organized bike ride with over 1000 riders each year.  There are several distances to choose from.  We had signed up a couple of months ago for the 10 mile family ride.  There was a special for $50 and that enabled all 4 of us to enjoy continental style breakfast, snacks, lunch after the ride and t-shirts for each of us.  It was a great deal and all of the proceeds to to support the Metro Parks Serving Summit County.

As we approached from the parking lot, it looked like quite the festival environment.  Registration was smooth.  We arrived about 9:30AM and our ride was to begin at 10:30AM.


We picked up our t-shirts and walked around the farmer’s market for a bit.  I entertained the kids while Stephen got our bikes put together.  We had to take 2 cars since we had coolers, helmets, wheels, a Weehoo trailer, a Burley trailer and 2 bikes.  It just doesn’t fit in one vehicle.  The Weehoo had a flat when Stephen went to put it in the car today.  He patched it.  At the STOMP grounds, we bought a new tube from Century Cycles in case we needed it.  When Stephen returned to the car to get us ready to ride, it was flat again.  So, the trailer was fixed twice before we started the ride.


Around 11AM, we were on our way.  At our only street crossing, we stopped for the train.


Most of the family ride is on the towpath.  After about 5 miles, we stopped at our Fun Stop.  Our stop was located at Deep Lock Quarry Metro Park.


Everyone enjoyed a cold beverage and snack.  Then, we headed back down the trail.  We made a pit stop at Hunt Farm.


Despite the rough start to the day, we had a great ride.  We got back to the main area at 1PM, which is when the live music began.  Nathan Hedges was the artist this year.


Lunch included grilled hot dogs, brats, sandwiches, grapes, carrots, baked beans, chips, cookies, drinks and left overs from the morning.  No one leaves STOMP hungry.


Cascade Subaru, Century Cycles, Friends of Metro Parks and many, many other sponsors and volunteers make this event possible.  Back in 2003, I chaired this event for 2 or 3 years.  It was amazing to see it in action today.  If you are ever looking for a fun, organized ride, please check out STOMP.


Yesterday, I took the kids and met friends at the Geauga County Fair.  The fair is in Burton Ohio.  It took us about 40 minutes to get there.  The fair runs from September 1st through the 5th this year.  It’s always held over Labor Day weekend.  I had to pay $7 admission and the kids were free.  They also had free parking and a shuttle running to the gate.

Here’s the sign at the main admission gate along with a view of the grandstand area.  There were lots of school buses since many of the 6th graders in the area attend the fair one day.


Our main (only) reason for going to the fair was because Nick wanted to fish and we knew that they had fishing for the kids at the fair.  We arrived to the parking lot around 9:30AM.  The gates opened at 9AM and the exhibits opened at 10AM.  Imagine our surprise when we arrived at the fishing pond and saw this sign.


ARGH!  Are you kidding me?  I had emailed the fair to ask about fishing because I wasn’t sure if we had to bring bait, rods etc.  I received a prompt response to my email.

“Thank you for your interest in the fair, yes there is youth fishing at the Natural Resource area of the fair. The program has all poles and equipment needed for the kids to fish and they are almost assured they will catch one. They will also clean and hold it for you to take home later.

Thanks again we look forward to seeing you at the fair.”

I never thought to ask him about hours.  I assuming (wrongly) that the fishing would open when the fair opened.  Now, we had 2 adults and 5 kids and 3 hours until fishing.  Now to mention that we had 2.5 hours until my kids napped and our friends had other obligations at 1PM.

So, we walked around the fair for a bit and then left to drive to Middlefield.  I had ordered Roma tomatoes and thought I would pick them up on my way home, but decided to go there to kill time.  I picked up the tomatoes and headed back to the fair.  Our friends picked up tomatoes and headed home.  They ended up returning in the evening.

I got the kids a hot dog for lunch and we headed back to the pond.  We arrived there just after 1PM to find this.


The Department of Natural Resource guys were baited the rods and getting ready.  We had a short wait and then the kids were fishing.


The staff was great and worked with Nick for a couple of minutes.  At some point Nick and Sally got their lines tangled, so we spent quite a bit of time getting them untangled.  After 15 minutes, a horn goes off and you are done.  If you didn’t catch anything, you can go back and get in line.  We got back in line a second time and Nick was bored about 1/2 way through that turn.  Neither he nor Sally caught anything.  But, if you ask Nick if he caught any fish, he says, “I didn’t catch any fish, only worms.”.  He didn’t realize that the worms were the bait and thought that he had caught the worm.


By now its 1:30PM and way past nap time.  We still couldn’t resist this corn box for some play time on our way to the car.


After playing for a few minutes, we headed to the car.  Nick cried all the way to the car because I wouldn’t let him ride.  I thought he meant the shuttle, but he meant the midway rides.  I’m not a fan of mobile rides and would take him to a stationary amusement park for rides.

Sally was asleep before we got out of the parking lot and Nick cried most of the way home.

It was an exhausting day, but I can cross take Nick fishing off our list!


We picked up our Fresh Fork CSA today.

Here’s what we were expecting to receive this week:

Small CSA:

  • 6 ears super sweet Miria 301 corn
  • 3 lbs. Yukon gold potatoes
  • 1 lb. grass fed ground beef
  • 2 ct. green bell peppers
  • 1 lb. green beans
  • Approx. 1.5 lbs. Flaming Fury Lucky 13 and John Boy peaches (freestone peaches)
  • 2 ct. cucumbers
  • 2 ct. yellow summer squash (probably last of the summer already)
  • 8 oz. bag or bunch of kale
  • 1 pint heirloom cherry tomatoes

Here’s a group shot:


Our beef was partially thawed by the time we got home, so I am going to cook it tomorrow.  We’ll probably make potato salad for the holiday weekend with the potatoes.


We have these 6 ears of corn, plus a few left from our Tuesday pick up, so we will be having corn tomorrow.  I have a local steak to cook also.  The peaches are still firm, but will be quite nice in my oats.


The tomatoes will disappear into Stephen’s lunch.  I’m in the process of cutting and freezing lots of peppers since we went picking yesterday.  I’ll add these to the bag.


Looks like we received zucchini instead of yellow squash.  It’s very similar and doesn’t make a difference in my uses.  I think we’ll make squash fritters.  I haven’t had them in a couple of weeks.  We’ll use the cucumbers in salads.


I may try the kale in vegetable lasagna this weekend.  I’ve enjoyed making a lasagna and having it for a few meals during the week to help with planning and cooking.  We’ll enjoy the green beans when we grill out on Sunday.


The yogurt ($5) was an add on for us this week.  We like this yogurt and are trying to stay away from the high sugar varieties.  For this yogurt, we’ve been adding homemade jam sweetened with honey to taste.


I think we’ll do ok this week.  I need to prep some items in our fridge and keep close tabs on our produce use since we have a few meals planned away with the holiday this weekend.