School Begins and Other Happenings


{This may be a rambling post as I have not had as much time to post lately…I do hope that is okay!}




And so it is September – one of the most beautiful months of the year, I believe.

The days are still so lovely and filled with the warmth of the sun and yet the evenings are cooler and require a toasty warm sweater and some wooly socks. I’m almost tempted to start up my cozy cookstove in the mornings, but we have to do a proper chimney clean and a stove clean out the opening of the stove will wait until such a chore happens. We have been busy around our little home, as well, working on small and big projects, getting things ready for the cooler months, working on the last of the garden and yes, beginning “formal” school (although I do like to think we school all the time in life, but the math books and grammar books were officially opened as of today).


{This is not a formal back to school shot – but an end of evening,
everyone-is-sun-kissed-tired-and-ready for the bath shot! Sometimes those are my favorites. Look at those happy faces!
So blessed!}

The girls have helped me gather some of the herbs left in the garden – we tied them in bunches and dry them in a dark corner of the kitchen. These happy, bright calendula flowers were grown from seeds collected from Lacey’s 14 year old friend. Dried, they will make a lovely healing salve for many uses on the skin.

Her friend collected the seeds last fall and gifted some to Lacey in a simple white envelope. In the spring, Lacey sowed the seeds – we were delighted to receive such a beautiful, useful gift! Lacey, in turn, will collect the seeds from some of the flowers as they die off and replant next year, as well as save some for gifting to other young girls wishing to start their own herb garden.

{one of my favorite herbal books – it is not so New Age filled as other books,
but contains simple straight forward facts about hundreds of various herbs}

Just yesterday, Lazarus and I sat in the herb garden, warmed by the afternoon sun, and watched the pretty honey bees dance from vibrant, purple hyssop flower to another hyssop flower. He watched with delight and awe – I warned him not to touch the bees, as I could see his little fingers wanting to reach out and explore, but he listened, thankfully. Bumblebees were everywhere, as well, gathering nectar for one of the last few weeks of the year. The wind was blowing through the pine trees and the fluffy clouds were briskly moving across the September sky. It is in those moments that my heart truly thank God for a chance to live in this tiny piece of land. It feels so right to have the children grow up this way – I know this is not the only way to raise a child, but in a busy world with many alternatives to raising a family,  this country life feels so comfortable, home-like, for which I am so grateful.

{gathering hyssop}


Our tomatoes are, thankfully, still ripening, although very slowly – and although it is not the same amount as last year all at once, it is still a good number of tomatoes to work through. Today, after we finished our morning school routine, I managed to cut up a bushel of ripe Roma tomatoes and nearly a half bushel of peppers [purchased from a local store, as our garden did not produce many peppers for the size of our family] for another batch of tomato sauce. A hearty, healthy tomato sauce is something you just cannot have enough of – you can use it for everything – even to make a yummy soup, if you so desire in the winter months! Another important tomato resource would be simply chopped or diced tomatoes, canned as they are. Nothing fancy but they are very handy when creating your own sauce, dishes and such in the middle of a long winter. Surely you can taste the difference between home canned tomatoes and store bought when you are served a dish!



Yesterday, I was able to make a batch of ketchup for winter, as the girls do enjoy it. Last year’s batch did not turn out as thick as I would have wanted so I turned it into a tomato soup. However, this year, it turned out much thicker and tastes more like the real deal.

Here is the recipe, gathered from Home Joys:


Homemade Ketchup

1/2 bushel of tomatoes (I used Roma)
2 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
2 large onions, chopped
1 T mixed pickling spice
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp cinnamon
6 T. salt

Add tomato juice and vinegar together in large pot and cook, reducing your tomatoes as much as required for your taste. Place pickling spice in a cheesecloth bag and place in juice. Boil for one hour. Stir often to avoid burning!
Saute onions in a little tomato juice, then add to your big pot of tomato sauce/juice.
I used an immersion blender to puree the ketchup and onions.
Add sugar, cloves, cinnamon, and salt. Boil for fifteen more minutes.
Remove cheesecloth bag.
If your sauce is not smooth enough, puree longer or run through a food mill.
Wipe rims and place in clean, warm jars.
Water bath can for ten minutes.

Lovelyn has patiently waited all summer for her sunflowers to bloom – she was rightly pleased this week when their happy faces burst forth to the sunshine.

I never appreciated sunflowers until lately. Now, I would love to plant a whole section of happy, go-lucky-sunflowers for September enjoyment. They are so lively and joyful!


It will soon be time to harvest our honey from our precious honey bees. Contrary to last year, we had minimal bee stings this year (I think I can, thankfully, recall only five stings) – last year was much worse. Perhaps we are remembering to watch the ground more closely as we walk barefoot or perhaps the bees found their way around the fields about us. We are certainly grateful for fewer stings!




September 8, 2017 - 3:17 pm

Gigi Lauren, how funny – I have a subscription to that magazine. It is my FAVORITE! I borrowed some back copies from some Mennonite friends and tried to write down as many recipes as I could before returning them. I am still trying to find a way to purchase back copies but shipping is very expensive to Canada. So glad you love the magazine too! It is the best I have ever read!

September 8, 2017 - 1:22 pm

Lauren I read home joys too! Gina writes quite often in a magazine called Keepers at Home, and it is a lovely, most encouraging magazine! I actually wanted to send you an extra copy of one… I’m sure you would appreciate and enjoy it
Your sunflowers are huge! They are so beautiful

September 8, 2017 - 10:23 am

Katy Such a lovely post! My sister makes homemade ketchup as well (she has a child with food allergies so likes to make things from scratch as much as possible to make sure it is safe). Your ketchup looks wonderful! I must admit, I have never tried to make homemade ketchup before but I should! 🙂

Your sunflowers look fantastic! I planted some this year…but unfortuanately they didn’t take off…at all! 🙁 BUT my pumpkins are doing wonderful! I have a total of 5. A couple of which are quite large! 🙂 I am loving seeing them grow!

Have a lovely weekend!

September 8, 2017 - 6:04 am

maike How tall the sunflowers are! The sunflowers growing on the farmer’s fields here are only about an adult’s size. What are you going to use the hyssop flowers for? Aren’t older books the better ones? I really put more trust into the vintage books, because I’m afraid that the helpful ones are on purpose getting erased from books.