Could life be any cozier at the moment? My best friend has just had her baby, we are deep into our September apple unit, I have a list of fall-inspired menus on the refrigerator door, and the weekend has been spent teaching, learning, crafting, and cooking—and curling up with Katie to read Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix at least twice a day. I love all this coziness, all this productivity, all the memories we are making together.

To start the day, the kiddos and I made apple turnovers and scrambled eggs for breakfast. Eric has started saying, “ap-pah” for “apple”—he is picking up material from our apple unit as well. Very cute!

I started some chicken stock while we played outdoors. I used the chicken carcass from last night’s dinner. I’ve actually never made homemade stock before, but my friend Meaghan  had great advice. I ended up with eight cups of it, frozen in baggies in the freezer, easy to pull out for the fall and winter soups and pastas. The kiddos and I picked thyme and rosemary from the garden for the stock and added parsley and onions and carrots. It seemed to work—we’ll see if it boosts the flavors of our dishes.

I was partly inspired to make the stock to save on costs from the grocery store, to improve flavor, and also to honor using the whole protein. Katie, my feeler, said last night (even as she was gobbling down dinner with enthusiasm) that it made her partly sad that the chicken had to die for the meal. We spoke about how the chicken gave us its energy, and we should honor that energy by being productive and putting it to happy use. After dinner I got to thinking that I should really make more of the life that it gave to us by not being as wasteful as I normally am. My insightful daughter often challenges me to learn and grow with her.

Then it was apple project time! September’s edition of Disney’s Family Fun magazine had an apple tree craft that we’ve been wanting to: A Pom as Lovely as a Tree. The hyperlink should take you right to the directions. Fortunately, we happened to have everything on hand, including the poms from a large multi-colored bag of poms that we got a couple of years ago.

The kiddos investigate the materials for the project.

Katie puts on a red apple.

Katie adjusts the tree in the Play-Doh base (wish we had stronger clay, but we’ll see if this works).

For dinner, we made spiced maple sausages using thyme from our garden and sage from my mom’s garden. We also made butternut squash gnocchi with sage brown butter.

Katie makes gnocchi.

Eric learns how to roll gnocchi.

More rolling…

Katie and her tray of gnocchi. She rolled almost the whole tray (I seriously only rolled about ten of them, as I was busy cutting the dough and tending to Eric). Had it not been for her diligence, dinner would have been even later than it was! Go, Katie, go! She is so fun to have as a helper in the kitchen!

I have to say, being a mom is so much fun—it requires hard work, yes, like anything worthwhile—but being a mom, at the heart of it, is complete joy.