My Thanksgiving Day Dinner Menu


Check out my new post at Farm to Table, Field to Plate… get some of my special recipes while you’re there!

Click this link to go right over to my new post!
Enjoy friends!

The Season of Autumn

“I must have flowers, always, and always.” -Claude Monet

The Season of Autumn truly does hold much beauty and awe…
The leaves as they change from brilliant green to all the shades of the beautiful sunset…
Waking to an early frost as it glistens… the sun touches it and the frost becomes a deadly killer.

The sounds of the geese flying overhead with their graceful bodies against the fall sky …
There is something magnificent about a fall sky…
You know what I mean… the clouds put on a performance that leaves one standing, staring in awe… simple elegance.
Massive waves of swirling color, not grey yet not white, billowing over head so low it seems you’d only have to reach up to touch them…
The night sky as the sun sets… its rays reaching down into the depths of your soul… waves of fire.

DPP_0001Autumn is when I get to start my cook stove again… oh the aroma of burning wood leaves a feeling so comforting. Like being wrapped in an old quilt…  I love my cook stove.  The memories of days gone by as a child, spending time at my dad’s folks in Northern Canada. There was no electricity or indoor plumbing until my young teen years.

I can still close my eyes and imagine the aromas that rose upstairs as grandma was frying  fresh eggs just laid that morning and bacon for breakfast… covered and cozy under her quilts… not really wanting to venture out into the cold… the heat would start to move slowly through the old farm-house upstairs and then I’d jump out of bed and quick get dressed and run downstairs. Everyone else was already up and moving long before I. It was a happy feeling… a cozy, homey feeling that I had there.

Now I have a cook stove of my own and although I only use it in the cold months, I can’t imagine winter without it.

But my heart and my soul belong to the sun and warmth… I live to be in my gardens… to touch the dirt… to breathe deep into my soul the life my gardens gives me.

I am of the same mind as Claude Monet… “I must have flowers, always, and always”…

So today I’ve decided to share, in between my new organization series, an Essay Of My Flowers.

My heart and my soul are happiest in the garden.. my garden of flowers.










Please note that these photographs are owned by me… If you’d like to use them in something, I don’t mind so long as you give me proper credit and direct them here to my site. Thanks…

Happy Day,

Organization Series Day 1: Creating and Maintaining Routines

list_my chalkboard_emailver

I’m all about routines, lists and general organization. I wear several different hats: Wife, mother, writer, organic farmer/ gardener and winter farmers market Manager/ Owner, to name a few 😉

Up until recently I also operated a fifty member CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) share program on our farm which was a type of co-op. I organized and scheduled several farmers crops along with our own two acres according to our needs. I also attended a weekly farmers market. Our farm had several wholesale restaurant accounts where we sold specialty sausages, eggs, other meat products and produce.

Our farm raised both hogs and poultry for meat and eggs.  We also have an on-farm butcher shop. Cut flowers for bouquets was another branch on our tree.

Not to mention I write two personal blogs, the one you are reading and Wren In The Willows

I contribute weekly to The Detroit News, The Good Life blog

More recently contributing weekly to “Your Home with Karie Engels” and “Farm to Table, Field to Plate.”

I also have a new cookbook and gardening book in the works.

I’m currently working on a new Food Co-op project at one of Michigan’s oldest nursery/ greenhouses. Besides the co-op, we’re working at creating a community garden as well as a farmers market there in the next few years.

On top of this and several other things I didn’t mention, I am a mom. My youngest children are six and three years old. They require much of my attention. Encouraging them to help and work along my side is part of the process as well. I couldn’t do all I do without the help of my children.

Being mommy is the most important of my ‘hats’ and it requires the most energy and thought. It would be very easy for me to get side-tracked and neglect them. That is why I do much of my writing and computer work ‘after-hours’.  Knowing my limitations helps to me stay focused and organized. I know where to dry the line and not over-extend myself. I know when to say ‘no’ to a project that just doesn’t fit into my life.

To the point… I have a lot to organize and my time must be scheduled accordingly. I don’t have time to diddle-daddle or fly by the seat of my pants . Every minute is precious and must be used wisely.  I plan on a daily, weekly, monthly and seasonal agenda according to what project is at hand.

Over the next month I’m going to help you get your life organized by teaching you how to set and maintain routines. Routines are the key to success in life and when you have a plan of action written down to visually see, you will succeed!

There are many benefits to creating routines which include keeping yourself organized, scheduled and on track. You’ll be able to create daily, weekly, monthly and seasonal routines that will be geared toward your life and what is happening with you and your family.

Today lets look at the first important element in creating a happy organized life!

Creating and Maintaining Routines

How do I create routines?

*First, think about yourself and your needs.

*Next you’ll make a list.  Get a notepad and write down what you’d like to accomplish in your home over the next week and through the current month.  Remember to start small and don’t worry about trying to organize the list right now, you’ll do that later. Right now just focus on brain storming and write down everything you think of no matter how large or small the task.

*Write down your normal household chores, for example, laundry, cleaning out the fridge, etc. If you do any of these chores on regular days, jot that down too.

*Now make a list of your appointments for the current week and month in your notebook. Include yours, your spouses and your children.

Now that you have all the basics down, you’ll be able to create routines for everyday of the week and organize your time through the year.

The next step is my favorite! P.M.S.~ This is not going to be what you think…and this is for the next day, so keep posted!

How do I maintain my routines?

Like anything else, once things become a habit it’s much more likely that you’ll continue to do them. Routines are no different. By doing your routines on a daily, weekly and monthly basis, they’ll become second nature to you!

I also have my routines for each day of the week written down in a journal. I use to keep it open on the counter during the day so everyone could see it freely, although over the years I’ve drifted from this simply because they really have become habits.

Until then, here is a sample of my Morning routine.


“She riseth while it is yet night and giveth meat to her household…” Proverbs 31:15a

This would be during the school season. I have a different one for our summer schedule.

•5:50am~ Rise and shine with smile and praise in my heart and get the coffee brewing!

•Swish toilet and sink; get a load of laundry together to throw in.

•Brush my teeth; get a quick shower; put lotions on; get dressed.

•Have some quiet time with the Lord and a warm cup of coffee…

•Check email/messages;  send any responses that need done.

•7:00am~ start waking the rest of the clan up… get breakfast going.

•Throw load of laundry in.

•7:30am~ everyone at table for breakfast; family devotions

•7:55am- Clearing off table; wash breakfast dishes; switch laundry loads.

•8:10am~ Get children off to school.

  • 9:00 am- Think about my day; make list’s for jobs to be done; check my day planner

•Check menu~ take anything that has to thaw out of the freezer; make sure we have all ingredients for the menu.

Next we’ll look at P.M.S. and how wonderful it is!

If you missed Day 1 follow this link to see the schedule of topic posts!

Happy Day,

New Organization Series


It’s autumn.  My gardening as well as canning season is coming to a halt. It’s not an easy time of year for me… putting away all the things that make me live.

The soil.
The green.
The suns warmth.
The feel of living things.
… I live and breathe my gardens…

Then comes the time I spend putting all the bounty from my gardens ‘up’… precious life source that I feed my family through the cold winter months here in Michigan. Canning, freezing, drying and root cellaring… I love to feed my family.

The house gets pretty neglected starting mid-August through the end of October.  The gardens and their goods take every spare moment of my time. It’s a race… between me and the produce…. and I won!

Now’s the time I begin my fall cleaning, purging and organizing the house. It’s time to regroup, pitch and toss the junk and tidy up what stays. Organization falls into one of my ‘love’ categories… everything has its place and everything in its place.

A couple years back I did another series on organization. I thought I’d do some updates and revisions over the next month.


Here’s a breakdown of the topics I’ll be focusing on through the month of November.

*Creating and Maintaining Routines
*My Journal
*P.M.S.- this is not what you think
*Weekly Schedule at a Glance/ Focused Errand Days
*Menu Planning/ Grocery Lists
*The Walk Through
*Room by Room Cleaning How-to
*The Kitchen
*The Pantry
*The Laundry Room
*The Mud Room/ Back Entry
*The Family Room
*The Dining Room
*The Bedrooms
*The Bathrooms
*The Office
*The Garage
*The Homemakers 10 Commandments

Keep posted for my first post coming tomorrow!
Happy Day,

Lesa’s Apple Pie Recipe

Apple pie photo: Apple Pie apple-pie.jpg

Autumn is such a cozy time of year. I love watching the Canada geese fly overhead listening to their familiar honking as they encourage one another on. The fields of corn and soy beans are brown and ready for the harvesters. My gardens are prepared for their white, winter blankets until I can once again be in them next spring… when the days are longer and the sun is shining warmly down on me.  Apple tree branches are weighed down heavily with their radiant fruit…. and that means pie! These are just a few of my favorite things…


Apples and fall just go hand in hand. My house is filled with wonderful aromas as my cook stove keeps us warm.. I love its woody smell. Scents of autumns comfort foods drifting through the house…  hearty vegetable soup and of course… apple pie!

Yesterday I share the how-to can apple pie filling without a thickener and promised my friend Lesa’s recipe… here it is!

Lesa’s Yummy Apple Pie 
This recipe makes 1 deep dish apple pie.

Apple pie photo: apple pie apple-pie.jpg

1 2-quart jar or 2- 1 quart jars of Lesa’s canned apple pie filling
1 c white sugar
1/3 c all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. cloves
OR 1 1/2 tsp. of Penzeigs Apple Pie Seasoning in exchange for the cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves

2- 9″ prepared pie crusts for a deep dish pie plate
milk to brush crust

Combine in a separate bowl and mix well:
1/4 c sugar
1/4 tsp. cinnamon

1. Mix first six dry ingredients together in a large bowl.

2. Drain liquid from the canned apples; add apples to the dry mixture, mix well.

3. Pour apple/flour mixture into the prepared pie crust; top with other crust and vent; brush the top of the crust with milk and sprinkle with the cinnamon-sugar.

Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 40-45 minutes, or until crust is golden and apples are bubbly.

Thanks to my good friend Lesa for sharing her yummy apple pie recipe with all of us here at For Dragonflies And Me.
Happy Day,

Lesa’s Apple Pie Filling: How-to can apples for pie without a thickener


The other day my good friend Lesa came up and I got to help her can two bushel of Northern Spy apples. Lesa cans her pie filling a bit different from I do, and I thought I’d share it for those of you who don’t want a ‘goop’ thickener like me!

Here’s Lesa’s Apple Pie Filling how-to!  Enjoy friends!

Step 1: Wash your apples in a sink of cold water; with a Pampered Chef Apple, Peeler, Corer (APC) or a similar tool, start doing your apples. Once the apple is through the APC, cut the peeled, sliced and cored apple in half, trim any bruised spots and any of the core that may have been missed.

**TIP: Be sure to put the stem end of the apple into the ‘poker’ part of the APC, it seems to work better. Also make sure that the apple is straight.
Here’s the link to Pampered Chef’s site for info on this wonderful and ‘have-to-have’ kitchen gadget!

DPP_0007Step 2: Make a sugar syrup. Lesa likes a light syrup, but here are the options:
Light = 1 part sugar to 3 parts water
Medium = 2 part sugar to 2 part water
Heavy = 3 part sugar to 1 part water
Put your sugar/water mixture into a large kettle and bring to a rolling boil for 5 minutes; set aside.

Step 3: Put 1 inch of water in a large kettle and place your apples in till filled. Cook on high for about 10 minutes or until apples are soft but not mushy.

Step 4: Fill your jars with the par-cooked apples. Lesa likes to use 2 quart jars (1/2 gallon) because that’s what her recipe calls for in a pie. You can use 1 quart jars as well.

Step 5: Pour hot syrup over the apples leaving 1/2 inch head space;  insert a butter knife to clear any air bubbles; put more syrup in if needed.

Step 6: Wipe rims of jars, place lid on and put ring on tightly.

Step 7: Water bath 2 quart jars for 25 minutes and regular quarts 20 minutes.

Keep posted tomorrow for Lesa’s Apple Pie recipe!

Happy Day,


Step 3


Step 4


Step 5


Decorating with Gourds and Pumpkins


Fall is a splendid time of year… and even though my beloved flowers are getting tired and faded, there are still many opportunities for decorating and creating a delightful entertaining space.

I love to entertain and decorate for all occasions. Each season has its special ‘natural’ elements that are readily available. We just need to be creative and utilize them!

Here are a few ideas on how to decorate with gourds and pumpkins… some of mine as well as others.


This is my table center piece. The two greenish-orange squash on either side were surprises my little boys found me yesterday behind the barn.

mum_in_pumpkin_emailverUsing a hollowed out pumpkin to place a potted mum or aster in is a quick way to add fast ‘WOW!’ effect.


Incorporating bittersweet and other branches of fall colored leaves, like burning bush is a great accent.


What is your favorite thing about fall? Leave me a comment and let me know!

Happy Fall y’all!

Here are several other photo’s of ideas that ARE NOT MINE.  I did not take these photo’s and I do not own them. I found them all on Facebook and on Pinterest. I tried to give credit where it belonged.  If you are the owner of any of these photo’s and would like me to remove them, please just leave me a comment with which one is yours and I will do so immediately.  If you’d like me to keep it up and simply give you credit with a link, I’d be happy to do that. I have not received permission from anyone to use these. I am not trying to make any monetary gain with them.  Some of these photo’s have the owner’s name on them.

Jean Smith/ For Dragonflies And Me

painted_pumpkins_chalk_paint-1-4 painted_pumpkins_stripe 1239833_420633454703778_449806995_n 1239976_10151884541619533_373741772_n 1238184_10151965103561019_33028480_n 1236578_559293004120137_847064672_n 1235443_666220536729094_983312434_n 1234936_661356623882152_176254337_n 1209342_321325191345460_1547164585_n

Canning Pumpkin: Easy how-to plus some yummy recipes!


Canning season for some is over, but not for this farm girl. I still have a few things on my list… namely sauerkraut, a bit more apple pie filling, one more batch of salsa, my smoky barbecue sauce and my pumpkin.

Today I completed my pumpkin and barbecue sauce… so exciting when you get to cross that stuff off your canning list!

So what do you do with canned pumpkin other than make pie at Thanksgiving and Christmas? Well there’s a lot you can do with it, but first here’s a simple step by step how-to can pumpkin along with some yummy recipes to use it in!  Please note, that in a recipe that calls for mashed or cooked pumpkin, this is where you’d use your canned pumpkin.

Enjoy friends!

Canning Pumpkin step by step how-to:

**TIP: You can figure that 1 average size pie pumpkin will give you 2 cups/ pint jar of cooked pumpkin. So figure how many jars you’ll want and then you’ll be able to figure how many pumpkins you’ll need!

Before !

Before !

Step 1:  Cut the pumpkin in half; remove seeds and cut in half again.


Step 2: In a large roaster, put 1″ of water; place the pumpkin quarters in the roaster; cover and bake at 350 degrees for about 30 to 45 minutes or until they are soft enough to cut.


Step 3: Remove from oven and let cool until you are able to handle them.


Step 4: Using a spoon, carefully slip the edge of spoon between the skin and meat. The spoon should just slide through allowing you to slice the pumpkin off the skin.


***Step 5: Fill some of both 1/2 pint (jelly jars)  and pint size jars with the soft pumpkin leaving about an inch of head space; wipe the rims clean; top with lid and put ring on tightly.***


Step 6: Pressure can pints and half pint jars at 10# pressure for 55 minutes.  Remove from canner and place on a towel or cooling rack. Leave on counter for 48 hours to ensure proper seal. Remove rings and put in storage area.



***The reason I suggest using both 1/2 pint (jelly jars) and pint jars to can your pumpkin in, is because some recipes call for one cup- 1/2 pint jars while others call for 2 cups- pint jars. It’s nice to have both on hand for specific recipes.

Now for some yummy recipes!

Pumpkin Dinner Rolls– this recipe can be found on page 42 in my cookbook, Lovingly Seasoned Eats and Treats. See link below for purchasing details.

DPP_00082 c milk, scalded
1/2 c butter (1 stick), or 1/3 c oil
3/4 c sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 c. cooked pumpkin
2 eggs, beaten
2 Tbsp. yeast
6 c or more flour

1. Mix ingredients like a cake, except for the yeast. Do not mix yeast with water. Add yeast after making sure milk isn’t too hot; knead.
Dough should be soft, but not sticky.

2. Cover and let rise until double, about 45 minutes to an hour.

3. Shape into golf ball-sized balls; place in greased pans of your choice, 1/8 inch apart.

4. Let rise until doubled. Bake at 350 degree for 10 to 15 minutes, or until golden done.

5. Butter tops.

For those of you who have purchased my cookbook already here are some yummy references for you to easily find:
Butternut Squash Cinnamon Rolls, Donuts or Dinner Rolls. I exchange the butternut for my canned pumpkin, pg. 48
Cream Cheese Pumpkin Muffins, pg. 57
Pumpkin Muffins, Pumpkin Crunch Muffins and Pumpkin Oat Muffins, all on pg. 58
Kathy’s Pumpkin Roll. pg. 284
Pumpkin Pie recipes… you have 7 choices between pgs. 301 to 304
Pumpkin Trifle. pg. 339
Dinner in a Pumpkin, pg. 115
… and there are more! Enjoy friends.

You can purchase my cookbook, Lovingly Seasoned Eats & Treats via PayPal by clicking this link. If you’d like to see a photo of it along with pages, you can do so on the side of this blog or by going directly over to my Facebook page by clicking the link on the side as well.

Click this link to go directly to PayPal

Pumpkin Cheesecake

pumpkin cheesecake photo: Pumpkin Cheesecake pumpkin_cheesecake_009_2.jpg

1 c. graham cracker crumbs
1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/4 c. melted butter

3 – 8oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 c. sugar
1/4 c. powdered sugar
5 eggs
2 c. mashed pumpkin (canned)
1 tsp. maple flavoring
1/4 c. flour
1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

1. Make crust: Combine crumbs, pumpkin pie spice and butter. Press into the bottom of a 9-inch spring form pan; Refrigerate.

2. Filling: Beat cream cheese and both sugars until smooth; beat in eggs and maple flavoring until smooth.  Add pumpkin and blend well.  Blend in flour and pumpkin pie spice until smooth.

3. Bake a 325 degree for approximately 1 hour or until edge is set but center is still soft.

Chill at least 2 hours before serving.

Spiced Pumpkin Pecan Butter

I love this recipe because you don’t have to spend hours cooking down pumpkin in a roaster or crock pot! Super yummy recipe!

3 1/2 c. cooked, mashed pumpkin
1 c. toasted, chopped pecans
1 Tbsp. pumpkin pie spice
4 1/2 c. sugar
1 box fruit pectin
1/2 tsp. butter, softened

1. Measure pumpkin, pecans and pumpkin pie spice into a large kettle;  stir in pectin, mix well; blend in softened butter.

2. Measure sugar into separate bowl.

3. Bring pumpkin mixture to a full rolling boil on high heat, stirring constantly; quickly add in sugar stirring constantly. Return to a full rolling boil and boil for exactly 1 minute, stirring constantly.

4. Remove from heat; skim off any foam with metal spoon. Ladle into jars, leaving an 1/8 inch head space. Wipe rims of jars, place lids on and put rings on tightly.

5. Process in boiling water bath for 5 minutes.

Here’s a yummy recipe for Pumpkin Fudge!

Hope this gets you so excited you’ll be off to the pumpkin patch tomorrow getting loads of pumpkins to can!
Happy Day,

Herbal Gifts: Home made herbed vinegars and oils


So excited to announce my article in this wonderful publication! Check it out on pages 14 & 15.

This would make a great gift for all your Herbal Enthusiast friends and family!

Click this link to follow it there!

Happy Day,