It’s that time of year! Back to School!

school bus

Some folks cheer as they send their little ones back to school–others cry.

I do a little of both. I am glad to have some routine back in our lives. However, I miss my kids when they go back.

When I dropped them off on the first day, I told them it was a very sad day for me–no one to talk to–no one to eat lunch with. My oldest felt really sad for me and sent me a text on her lunch break. THEN the tears came!!!

With regularly scheduled chaos back in play, I decided to do a little preparedness cooking.

This meatball recipe comes from a good old Taste of Home magazine.

Taste of Home

I picked up a large package of hamburger patties from the clearance bin last week. It seems like the patties go on sale more often than the by-the-pound packages. Nobody said I had to keep them as patties though! I didn’t really have a plan for 4 pounds of meat at the time. I just couldn’t resist the $2.97/pound bargain!

bargain meat

As the “best by” date approached, I figured I had better do something with all this meat–either cook it or freeze it. I gathered the rest of the ingredients and went to town! I just so happened that my meatball recipe called for 4 pounds of lean ground beef. You can easily cut this recipe in half if you don’t wan to make as many as I made.

meatball ingredients

Beat 4 eggs in a large bowl. LARGE BOWL. You are dealing with 4 pounds of meat here!

four eggs

I have a large bag of bread crumbs that I keep in my freezer. These are actually left over from this event. When I have leftover bread from dinner or heals that nobody wants to eat, etc. I dry them out in the oven. Then I whirr them around in the food processor. I leave them unseasoned so that they can be used in anything. Seasoning can always be added later.

You will need 2 cups.

breadcrumbs

Add the breadcrumbs, onion, salt, pepper, and Worcestershire sauce to the eggs. Mix it all around really well.

breading mixture

Add your meat.

meatball mixtures

This is where it gets messy, at least it did for me. Pull off your rings and start squishing everything together. I guess you could use a spoon. It just seems that hands do better for me. I can feel where the breadcrumb mixture is still in a clump. Squishing the meatball mixture together was rather therapeutic. It reminded me of making mud pies when I was little.

Once everything was mixed up, it was time to make the meatballs.

recycled styrofoam

I had what I thought was a good idea. Reuse the meat tray as my prep board! One less thing to wash!

I took half of the meat mixture on pressed it evenly into the tray.

tray of meat

Then, using a knife, I scored the meat into 36 equal portions. (I wish I could take credit for that idea. It came from the Taste of Home folks.) Roll each portion into a ball. Of course you could use a kitchen scoop if you would rather.

scored meat

rolled meatballs

After rolling a few meatballs, I decided they were too big. I went back and divided them in two.

Repeat the process with other half of the mixture.

My “equal” radar must have been a little off. I ended up with 153 meatballs.

prepared meatballs

At this point you can either cook them or freeze them.

I chose to cook them all. (400˚ for 10-15 minutes) You are supposed to cook them in batches so they aren’t so crowded on the pan. My crowded pan took a little longer than the pan with more space.

cooked meatballs

Use about 30 meatballs to make something yummy like Sweet and Sour Meatballs. Enjoy your dish while the rest of the meatballs cool completely.

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

After dinner, package up the rest of the meatballs and put them in the freezer. Now when that school schedule gets a little on the crazy side, you have something easy to fix for dinner. (Meatball Subs, Spaghetti and Meatballs, party appetizers, the list goes on and on!)

freezer meatballs

I ended up with 9 dozen meatballs for the freezer!

Keep your eyes on the clearance bin and have a great school year!

Back to School Meatballs

4 eggs

2 cups dry bread crumbs

1/2 cup finely chopped onion

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

1/2 teaspoon white pepper

4 pounds lean ground beef

-Beat eggs

-Add everything but the meat

-Add the meat

-Shape into meatballs

-Bake on an ungreased baking sheet with sides at 400˚ for 10-15 minutes, turning often,  until no longer pink.

-Drain

-Cool before freezing.

We take things for granted every day.

We are often so busy in our daily routines that we miss the beauty around us. It seems there is just no time to be still and observe.

Sometimes, however,  we are forced to be still and observe–like in the school pick-up line.

As I would sit and wait for the bell to ring, I started noticing things around me. One day there would be interesting cloud formations. On another day there might be a tractor plowing the nearby field. Sometimes a crop duster, en route to spray a field, would soar over the rows of cars.   I always wished for a camera on those days. Then I got an idea for a project.

Early project

The project was to take a picture of the field across from the school-from the same spot-every day of the school year.

I would remember my project idea around October every year. By then it was too late to start. Well, last summer I made my idea into a plan!

Just before school started I went over to the school and scoped out where to place my camera and such. I was so excited to finally be going through with my project.  I even had my husband take my picture!

before profile

 

Originally, the project was going to be called Project 360. I was going to take a picture in the morning and in the afternoon. I quickly decided Project 180 would do just fine. Besides, there was homework to do after school!

Here are a couple of things I learned from my long-term project:

•Plan. I had the idea for a long time. It wasn’t until I actually made a plan that there was follow-through.

•Be flexible. The field I photographed was not the field I had originally planned on shooting. I had done the planning for my shot in the afternoon. When I took my first picture I realized I didn’t like the way the shadows fell in the morning. I moved down to the end of the parking lot to find a different view.

•Use a tripod. I had a mono-pod (Photo says tripod but it was really a mono-pod.) It worked okay. There was a nice crack in the curb for me to plant the base every day.

chipped concrete

I had to line up my view finders on a tree in the distance to try to get the same view every day. Some days I just had to guess! A tripod would have provided more stability on windy days as well.

•Always carry business cards with your blog address on them. I can’t tell you how many times I would get stopped at the football games, the grocery store, the parking lot, etc. with people asking me what in the world I was doing. Friends would send me emails. Acquaintances and perfect strangers would drive by just to inquire. If I had a nickel for every time…I wish I had at least given them a card.

photographer

•Upload your pictures daily. This I did do, thank goodness! Being an amateur photographer, I took several pictures each day. I would come home and immediately upload my 12-30 photos. I had nice little file for each day. Then I would go through and pick the best one. The best one was considered “best” compared to the previous day. I was mainly looking to see if the photos were aligned. These photos were labeled according to their day and went into a “Chosen Ones” folder. BE SURE PHOTOS ARE UPLOADED BEFORE DELETING THEM FROM YOUR CAMERA!

•Involve others. My husband, a photographer,  was very excited about my first photography project. The kids…well, the jury is still out on their excitement. Poor Katie had to ride to school every day with the camera. She “affectionately” called it Cami. Then there was the day I almost shoved her out of the car so I could get to my place in time to capture the crop duster in the perfect spot. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the shot, but my child did make it to school safely.

•Love the subject. I was afraid I would get bored taking the same picture for 180 days! It really was fun. It was like I was seeing a different field every day.

Ecclesiasties3This project gave the change of seasons a whole new perspective. I suppose standing in 14˚F weather will make you look at ANYTHING differently. Yes, I stood in the same spot in the pouring rain, the 35 mph wind, the frigid cold and the beautiful sunshine–180 days!

I hope you enjoy this project as much as I did.

A big THANK YOU to my husband, Chip, for putting the video together for me and encouraging me all along the way!

Now, I present to you my photography project–Project 180…

 

My friend, Joanna, has a gluten-free-of-the-month subscription. Her husband got it for her for Christmas. Sweet-huh?

Knowing that I blog mostly about food, she offered to share with me her latest “treat”.

Seaweed Love package

Seaweed? Really? Thanks.

Seaweed is supposed to be good for you. Okay, we’ll try it.

nutritional facts

It looked interesting enough.

roasted seaweed

thin sheets of seaweed

seaweed snack

That’s it!

That is the nicest thing I can say.

It actually reminded me of when my sister and I would play mud pies as kids. After a rain, there would be this slimy moss that we would call “spinach” in our mud pie cafe. When we set it on the man hole cover in the front yard to “cook”,  it would end up looking very similar to this roasted seaweed! Mmmm.

This was NASTY!

The Critics all agreed! I wish I had a picture or a video of all of us trying it. The faces were priceless! It would have been fun to see who kept it in their mouth the longest.

Thank goodness none of us put a whole sheet in our mouths! We each broke a piece off of one sheet.

It smelled like fish food. My guess is the taste was pretty close, too.

Joanna, thanks for sharing?

Critics’ Corner

Chip: This is the best seaweed I’ve ever eaten.

Megan: Only one word befits this thing that should not be considered food: disgusting.

Katie: Unused toilet paper tastes better than this (please don’t ask how I know).

 

I was pleased with how some of my pictures turned out from the Moss Mountain tour Mom and I took. You can read about the tour here.

Since Mother’s Day was the following Sunday, I decided to make Mom some notecards from my photos.

Moss Mountatin Farm notecards

I should use “I” loosely. Actually my sweet hubby did most of the work. I did take the pictures! I did some of the layout, too. And the cutting–I did the cutting!

selection of notecards

photo cards

DIY notecards

notecards

garden notecards

homemade notecards

cards as gifts

Check out the back. That was my idea.

back of the card

Cellophane wrapping was my idea, too.

cards with envelopes

Everything looks better in a cellophane bag!

farm equipment

I was pleased with the way the cards looked in the little bags with envelopes. Mom loved the cards, especially since there was nothing like it in the gift shop.

packaged note cards

Surely you have some photos worthy of becoming a gift. Start printing! Just don’t forget your cellophane bag.

After hanging out on the porch for a while at Moss Mountain Farm, it was time to go home.

Our soggy tour had been a blast, even if we didn’t get to go to the vegetable garden.

But wait….

as we headed toward the car, we realized the vegetable garden was “just right there”. We decided to take a speedy look before anyone realized it was past 3:00!

giant cabbage

I’m so glad we did. I think the vegetable garden was my favorite!

kale

chives

lettuce

onions

I love the “salad garden” planted in wheelbarrows.

wheelbarrow planter

Even the gardening sheds were neat to see.

garden path

garden sheds

potting shed

peeling paint

There was an extra second or two for us to see the stone-fruit orchard–

stone fruit orchard

and more chickens!

delux chicken coop

chicken coop

I hope you have enjoyed your virtual tour of Moss Mountain Farm. Trust me, it is even better in person! If you go, I want to hear all about it.

 

With only about 30 minutes left in our self-guided tour window, Mom and I made a mad dash for the Rose Garden. We felt like we had to make a decision between the Rose Garden and the Vegetable Garden. Roses won!

Rose Garden at Moss Mountain Farm

I so wished for my great aunt to be in the rose garden with us. She had the most beautiful roses in her backyard in Atlanta! She always sends gifts for birthdays, anniversaries, and such wrapped in rose paper. The same rose paper! She must have a ton of it.

I’m sure Auntie could tell you the names of all these different roses. I just know them by color.

pink rose bud

large yellow rose

They were so sweet-smelling.

peach and yellow rose

yellow rose buds

red and yellow rose

Raindrop on roses–now one of my favorite things!

single pink rose

rain-kissed roses

The color and fullness of these double peach roses was incredible!

double peach rose

After the roses, we peeked over a fence to see the back-side of the vegetable garden. We still had the Summer Kitchen and Art House to see!

I failed to take any pictures of the art house. Wouldn’t you love to have a private little get-away place to go create?!

Wouldn’t you love to have a second kitchen?!

You may see a little reflection on these photos. I was shooting through the window!

Summer Kitchen

peeking through the kitchen window

Time was just about up on our Moss Mountain tour.

One last look at the roses on the side of the house. These are the same roses you saw from the upstairs bedroom here.

small rose garden

photographer

dinner bell

I guess the only thing we saw on the tour that we didn’t like was this…

garden snake

Yikes!

Move along!

Mom and I took some selfies on the front porch-which all turned out horrible! So, here is a picture of just Mom on the porch.

I love the coral benches. I would have never thought to use that color.

coral bench

Allen and Laura were busy heading to Allen’s next engagement. Mom snapped this picture of Allen taking a picture of peonies under the big tree out front.

tweet

Later I saw where he posted the picture that we saw him taking on Facebook. Kinda cool!

See it here.

As we headed toward the car, we stopped at the barn to take a picture of the carriage.

buggy

More cool lighting…

outdoor barn lighting

We enjoyed our tour so much. We were sad it was time to leave–

Moss Mountain Farm–or was it?

Stay tuned!

 

 

 

Finally time for lunch. I had grown quite thirsty on our Moss Mountain Farm tour. I was starting to get a little hungry, too.

Our tour group was led into the barn for lunch.

barn

Each reserved table was set with lovely white roses.

white roses table arrangement

We sat with some nice folks from Little Rock, Conway and Fort Smith, AR as well as Atlanta, GA.

The barn holds some of Allen’s paintings from his Squash series.

squash paintings

It felt pretty fancy for a barn! If only I could get our shed cleaned out, I’d have a place just like this. HA! Okay, maybe not JUST like it.

barn lighting

I love how  antique farm tools were used as decoration.

antique farm tools

Lunch was a bed of fresh, mixed greens topped with tomatoes, cucumbers, and grilled chicken.

salad with grilled chicken, grape tomatoes, and cucumbers

I have a confession to make. I don’t like tomatoes. Tomato sauce, salsa, tomatoes cooked in soups I’m okay with all that. Well, as long as they are chopped up really small. I think it is a textural thing. When the plate showed up with all those beautiful tomatoes I got a lump in my throat knowing I was going to have to eat them. I tried not to turn my nose up too noticeably. Here I was, a food blogger, at a fancy farm! I’m supposed to love all vegetables, right? Sorry.

I decided to be a big girl and try my first grape tomatoes. Guess what–I kinda liked them! There was not as much slimy surface as on a slicer. I found them to be a little on the sweet side. Believe it or not, I ate almost all of them! I must say, I was proud of myself.

grilled chicken

I also felt like I HAD to eat my salad before I dug into my dessert!

pie

Buttermilk Pecan Pie with fresh whipped cream!

Here’s a closer look. Try not to drool on your screen, please.

buttermilk pecan pie

YUM!

As we finished our dessert, Laura, our guide, answered questions from the crowd while we waited for Allen to arrive from Little Rock.

We stepped out on the drive for our meet and greet time. Allen is such an expressive person, it is hard to grab a good picture of him.

chattiing with P. Allen Smith

I looks like he is telling us a fish tale here. More than likely he is telling us about his chickens and their “poultry palace”.

P. Allen Smith

Next, it was time for photos and autographs in the gift shop.

Mom and I still had to see the chickens, roses, and vegetables in a matter of about 30 minutes! We made a dash to be first in line. Fortunately, Mom had made her cookbook purchases when we first arrived at the farm.

Moss Mountain Farm gift shop

Mom with P. Allen Smith

We zoomed down to the end-of-the-earth to see the chickens.

They were chickens.

Poultry Palace at Moss Mountain Farm

It was interesting to see all the different varieties. It was dark, so that made it difficult to photograph.

rooster

red, white, and black

poultry in black and white

farm baby

I liked the chickens. I just was anxious to see the Rose Garden before our time was up.

We trudged back up the hill toward the rose garden. Allen was finished with autographs, so we stopped for one more picture. Earlier, I had only taken pictures of Mom. I decided I wanted one too.

Looks like navy gingham was a good choice!

with P. Allen Smith

 

On to the roses!

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