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We went Smiling Hill this weekend, picked some pumpkins, petted a goat or two and took a ton of photos.  Beautiful fall day and adorable kid? It’s hard not to.

Since we last came in the spring, the petting zoo goats have gotten a lot chubbier and LMC’s gotten more independent. She wanted to be wherever the bigger kids (3-5 year-olds) were: climbing on the trains and planes, driving the John Deere-a-saurus, riding the mini tractors, going down from the top of the tall slides. She also wanted no help in carrying her pumpkins of choice. Is it any surprise that we’ve switched to the booster seat from the high chair at home? This girl is ready for her seat at the table.

With the pumpkins brought home and her costume finished last night (she’s gonna be so cute!!), we’re all ready for Halloween here. The only thing left to do is pick out the kind of takeout we want for Friday night (a Cleaver Halloween tradition).

Do you have a favorite pumpkin patch or Halloween tradition? When I was a kid in California it was Stanly Lane for pumpkins every year and my mom would sew whatever incredibly complex costume I desired that year (as chosen from the back of the Simplicity or McCall’s pattern book at JoAnn’s) including full renaissance dress. I figure this is probably my last year before LMC has an opinion about what she wants to be for Halloween (maybe one more?) so I’m trying to make it a good one.

Me-Mades: Minoru Jacket, Lamina Sweater

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Little Miss Cleaver is, for the most part, a pretty good eater and if there’s one thing she loves to eat above else it’s fruit (unless it’s honeydew melon, because she ain’t having none of that).

She is, however, somewhat picky about the quality and seasonality of her fruit. Watermelon in July – gimme more! Watermelon in a fruit salad in September – no way. So it’s perhaps unsurprising that her favorite outings seem to be our PYO trips, because fruit fresh off the plant? Nothing better than that!

And I tend to agree, our annual Ricker Hill trip is always one of my favorite days of the year. Beautiful views, fresh fruit, apple cider doughnuts, and Steinbeck gets to come too? And this year they even added a hard cider tasting room.

Its was unseasonably warm this year, but everyone still had a great time (even Mr. Cleaver, who we forgot to get in front of the camera!), but I think LMC had the best time of all!

PS – check out the photos from last year, my little one has gotten so big!

Picking Raspberries

Down the Path

Picking Raspberries

Picking Raspberries

Picking Raspberries

Snell Family Farm

Picking Raspberries

Checking for More

Tasting the Bounty

Picking Raspberries

Raspberry Pie

Raspberry Pie

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Raspberry Pie and Ice Cream

Eating Pie

What can I say? I love pick your own (PYO) farm adventures!

Last week at the farmer’s market we discovered that Snell Family Farm did PYO raspberries (they do apples too). So on a sunny Saturday morning Mr. Cleaver, LMC and I loaded up the wagon (no pets allowed, unfortunately) and took the short drive out to Buxton/Bar Mills.

We had a fabulous picking experience. The raspberry fields are orderly and the picking rows are wide, so you don’t have to worry about backing into thorns/stepping on fruit. There were plenty of ripe berries on the bushes, mostly down low, which meant that LMC could pick berries on her own (though she doesn’t quite get the concept of ripe/not ripe yet).

I highly recommend bringing a picking assistant- twice the picking, half the fruit! I’m pretty sure LMC ate at least 1/2 pint of raspberries while we were picking, but as the kind cashier said, “I didn’t weight her when she came in, I’m not weighing her on the way out.” (We gave them some extra cash anyhow).  We were also able to pick up some carrots and green beans from the farm stand and they have huge greenhouses full of flowers. So if you’re in the mood for picking fruit, I’d highly recommend our Snell experience.

Also, can I say that Mr. Cleaver did an awesome job as field-trip photographer? With the exception of the pie close-ups, he took all of these. And he says he doesn’t know how to use my camera- ha!

We ended up with two full quarts of berries, half of which we’re in the process of eating fresh and the other half made their way into a raspberry pie. While LMC has assisted in the baking portion before, this was her first slice of pie, of which she left no crumb uneaten, so I think I’m safe to say she liked it.

LMC-Approved Raspberry Pie

Preheat oven to 375 °F

Crust

  • 2 cups flour, plus more for rolling surface/rolling pin
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup shortening
  • 1/4 cup very cold water
  • Small amount of milk
  • Small amount of sugar

Mix together flour and salt then “cut in” shortening with a pastry cutter or knives.

Add up to 1/4 cup of very cold water a few Tablespoons at a time, until dough holds together.  Form into two equal-sized balls of dough and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill in the refrigerator (at least while you make the filling, preferably at least an hour). Flour working surface and roll out crusts, using half the dough for each. Makes one top and one bottom crust for a 9″ pie tin.

Filling

  • 4 cups fresh (or thawed frozen) raspberries
  • 3 Tbl cornstarch
  • 2/3 – 3/4 cup of sugar (to taste, based on the sweetness of your fruit)

Mix filling ingredients together, trying not to smush the berries too much.

Place lower crust into a 9-inch pie pan and pour in filling. Use a small amount of milk or water around the edge of the lower crust to help seal.  Cut vents in top crust and place over filling, cut off overhanging crust (save them for cinnaminninies!) and crimp the edges to the lower crust to seal.  Brush top crust with milk and sprinkle with a light dusting of cane sugar.

Place in center of oven and bake for approximately 55 minutes, or until filling bubbles and crust is golden brown. If needed, cover the edges of the crust with tinfoil during the final stages of baking to prevent scorching.

Cool on the windowsill of your choice (nothing burns like hot fruit!) and enjoy with ice cream.

 

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In my book, a girl’s first baseball game is a big deal. Going to a SeaDogs games was another of those moments I dreamed about sharing with LMC as soon as I knew she was coming. Even so, it caught me a bit by surprise that I got a little teary-eyed when we walked out of the concourse into the sun-lit fields of Hadlock Stadium.

Any attempts to actually watch the game are mostly moot at this point, and if you asked LMC what her favorite part of the experience was, and she could speak in sentences, I’m pretty sure she’d say the french fries. But it’s harder to find something more summery and American and wonderful than a minor league ballpark on a July day, particularly when your team is up by four runs.

The only thing that could perhaps be more perfectly summery is a field of sun-ripe strawberries. I’ve already noted LMC’s love of berries here before, but it’s something else to be in a whole field of them. We made it to the last picking day of the summer at Jordan’s Farm in Cape Elizabeth, and while the berries on the ground were no longer numerous, they were still delicious, and fortunately the farm stand was still well stocked, since the berries we picked seemed to mysteriously disappear…

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It’s no secret that I love Autumn in Maine. Fall has always been my favorite time of year and New England has the best Autumns of them all. And this year I get to share it all with Little Miss Cleaver – which makes it even better.

This year we crammed both of the Cleaver Family fall favorite field trips into one gloriously busy week: the Fair (Cumberland County) and apple picking (Ricker Hill). Miss Cleaver was wide-eyed at all the new things to look at (but not allowed to put in her mouth) and Mr. Cleaver and I loved watching her take it all in. Steinbeck was just happy to be there.

For years now, Mr. Cleaver and I talked about how some day we would take our future children on these annual adventures with us and what a thrill it is to be actually doing it now. We met in the fall and married in the fall (6 years this Sunday!), and the return of the season each year serves as a reminder of how this little family, my greatest joy, made its start. Small wonder that Autumn’s my favorite time of year.

PS: Miss Cleaver just turned 6 months old (how time flies!) and mastered sitting the day we went apple picking.
Pumpkin Photostrip

Or should I say, almost mastered?

PPS: Thanks to those of you who voted for the Pride’s Corner Drive-In. Unfortunately they didn’t win a new projector, but another Maine Drive-In (in Saco) did!

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Oh hey there blog. Don’t worry, I didn’t forget about you. It’s just been a long quiet summer. I watched a lot of dvds (The Poseidon Adventure really holds up by the way and my love for the X-Men cartoon survives unabated), but for the past month or so, I didn’t really do much of anything I’d call “blog-worthy.” But fall is quickly approaching here in Maine and the Cleaver household is getting back into the swing of things.

First stop? Ricker Hill for our annual apple picking adventure.

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On our 4th year out, my love for this place is still strong, as the doughnuts are still delicious, the views wonderful, and the apple selection top-notch.  We picked a half-bushel and a peck of MacIntoshes, McIntoshes, Cortlands, and my personal favorites, Jonagolds. I see a pie-making afternoon in my near future.

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The weather was sunny and crisp, just like an apple-picking day should be.

Steinbeck was super-helpful.

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We came home happy, tired, and full.  Though I might have been a bit more tired than usual, but that’s only because gestating a tiny human being is hard work……

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Yep – the Cleaver’s are expecting!

While I couldn’t come up with any cutesy blog announcement photo theme (they are seriously not kidding about that 1st trimester fatigue), both the Mr. and I are super excited. I’m about 12.5 weeks along and am due in late March. So expect many photos of tiny baby sweaters soon. I imagine it’s going to be a busy fall!

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On Saturday after several weekends of sickness and rain, we finally, finally! made it out for our annual trip to Ricker Hill for apple picking.

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And even better, the the pick your own fields at Ricker Hill are dog-friendly, so we took Steinbeck along for his first apple picking adventure.

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Why are you putting this round thing in my face? Weirdo.

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I guess I'll check it out. It could be meat.

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Nope. Definitely not meat.

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Steinbeck wasn’t really into the apples, and he definitely wasn’t into the slingshot.

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Mr. Cleaver rockin' the double denim

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But he did enjoy the wagon ride, and was very interested in the porcupine we wouldn’t let him within twenty feet of.

Porcupine

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As for the people, we got a beautiful crisp fall day, great views, a chubby pumpkin and half a peck of delicious apples.

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See ya next year Ricker Hill!