Despite the last post, it’s not really winter yet. Yes, it was 28 degrees when we left the house this morning–and then I came back home, because it’s my flex Monday–but there are still leaves on the trees, and the snow didn’t stick. There’s that nice, crisp autumn feel to things.

Things have been busy, though! I spent most of last week’s evenings getting ready to teach some Unitarians to geocache. They have a camping trip, up in Wasilla, each fall, and they thought it would be cool to have a geocaching workshop. Dale and I were the only people loosely affiliated with the Fellowship (“loosely” is a key word–I’m on the mailing list, but we’ve never been to services) who knew how, so we volunteered. On the bright side, a fair bit of my preparation time can be reused when I teach my coworkers to geocache and put a cache in my library (assuming our local approval volunteer is OK with it being so close to another cache). And it seems like the class went really well: people seemed to have fun and more or less pick up the basics. I neglected to mention that you have to re-hide the cache as well as it was hidden before you found it, clearly, but otherwise, it was a success.

The remainder of the day was fun. We liked the people there and will probably start attending the Fellowship, at least sporadically. 11am on a Sunday shouldn’t be hard, but for some reason it is–it’s not that we’re [always] asleep then; it’s that we’re not usually showered and dressed and ready to go. But when I get back into my morning exercise routine, starting tomorrow, mornings on weekends will get easier again, at least for me. ;)

The day did end rather abruptly when the canoe I was trying to get into tipped, and I fell in the lake. (Dale let go just 30 seconds too soon. He was very apologetic.) Late September in Alaska is not a good time to get in the lake, at least not without a change of clothes handy, so we drove home. I was pretty bummed about missing the campfire, so he made it up to me by building a big, wonderful fire in our fire pit, last night (Sunday). We made s’mores with fancy chocolate. So we’re even. :)

Anyway, back to the homestead: during my end-of-summer/beginning-of-winter preparations, I tore down my garden and harvested what I could. All told, I got a stalk of broccoli (smallish, but delicious), a stalk of cauliflower (smallish, sitting on the counter), 3 nice-size beets (to be cooked this week), 3 servings of potatoes (a huge disappointment after how big my plants got, but at least they were tasty!), 4 strawberries (and counting–they’re indoors, now, with several berries yet to ripen), and some lettuce. We didn’t love the lettuce–this variety was kind of bitter–and because we’re so slow to use it, we probably won’t bother in future years. Other lessons: broccoli gets huge and blocks the light from other plants. Beets can, too. Cucumbers… I don’t know how to make those or zucchinis grow, but I really want to figure that out this time, since those are my favorites.

I definitely put more money into the garden than I harvested in vegetables, but the lessons learned were worth something, and I know better what to do to prepare, next year. Also, with any luck, we’ll have a little bit of sun next summer. This one was all rain. (Though fall has been lovely!)

My other project, starting on Friday, is the 365 Days of Cooking Challenge, which you can follow on the linked blog–I’m not the only blogger/participant, by far, so if the writing style looks different than you’re used to from me, check the author. ;) The goal is to cook at home and therefore not eat restaurant or pre-packaged foods for a year. Nobody, so far, is really aiming for 365 days. The most popular goal seems to be 6 days a week, which is what Dale and I are aiming for. (I’m actually aiming for 13 days out of 14, but we’ll see.) I’m also trying not to buy things with ingredients I can’t use in my own kitchen–so, citric acid is OK, but soy lecithin might not be–or with unethically farmed meat or eggs. No CAFO meat, anyway. It doesn’t have to be organic (though that’s nice), but it does have to be grass-fed or cage-free, whichever the appropriate modifier is. I’ll buy local when I can, as well. … Which means we’ll be eating vegetarian & pescatarian a fair bit of the time, too.

Anyway, that’s all the news that fits in print. Dale’s supposed to post pictures from when Dad was up here, plus whatever else we haven’t put up yet, and I’m sure he will, but like I said, things have been busy. And Halo Reach just came out. I’ll bug him. ;)