Friday, July 30, 2010

Cherries and Blueberries for the Freezer

We're on our second summer now without our own fruit trees and while it does take some getting used to (and makes me very sad at peach and plum time in particular) I find that I am not overly sad to not have our two cherry trees to care for anymore.  I found cherry trees to be quite a bit of work to prune and maintain and they were the one fruit tree that I was never able to care for without spray due to the pesky cherry fruit fly.  These last two years I've gone to a local cherry orchard and spent a peaceful hour picking cherries in their trees and then gone home to pit and freeze them all.  Easy peasy.
We already had some in the freezer from a picking at a lovely friend's house and then we picked 25 more pounds to tuck away for winter smoothies.  When we had two huge trees worth of cherries to process I found this handy gadget to be a sanity (and finger) saver.  If you love cherries and you ever see one of these at a thrift store I highly recommend buying it.
It is quick and easy - a bit messy but nothing that a covering of newspaper won't solve (I used to do this outside at our old house simply because I was doing so many and didn't want their juice sprayed everywhere).  Once they are pitted I freeze them on cookie sheets and then put them into some re-cycled clear plastic salad containers.  My dear friend Katherine turned me onto this idea and I am so grateful for it, it keeps my freezers much more organized than when I used plastic freezer bags for all my fruit.
This is the start of filling our fruit freezer.
This year we went picking at a new-to-us place for blueberries (their first year doing U-pick), I was so pleased with this place. 
There were a ridiculous amount of delicious berries on each plant so the picking was easy, there were no sprays used and the growers were very friendly too.  For me, during this time without my own fruit trees and shrubs to pick from, it is so important to take my boys and myself to places where we can still pick our own fruit.  Thankfully we live in an area which supports growing all kinds of delicious fruit and we absolutely realize how very blessed we are.

Oh and since we were talking about blue things (right?) have a look at this lovely dish -another vacation second-hand find.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Thrifty Thursday

OK, I actually found this last Friday on our way to Wasa lake but thrifty thursday just sounds nicer. ;-)
We stopped off at a huge garage sale on the side of the highway and were just quickly looking at the offerings and about to leave (we wanted to make sure we got to the campground in time to get a spot) when I saw these.  They match a set of bowls we received as a wedding gift almost exactly 18 years ago.  I was thrilled.  I've been wanting a butter dish for a few years  now - the last one I had thrifted was broken by...well, a set of butterfingers - and one can never have too many pottery honey pots can (I'm with Pooh bear on that one!).  And, we still managed to get a spot at the campground, although it was the Very Last One.

Handmade Pants

I love handmade clothes for kids and used to make shorts and pants for my boys.  Now that they are older the handmade things are mostly limited to the jammie pants my mom makes for them each year as well as knitted gifts from me.  Luckily for me,  I know a little girl who will soon be turning two and I thought I could indulge my love of handmade clothing and make something for her birthday. 

I used a pattern for pants that I had from when my boys were little and some fabric a friend had passed on when she was clearing out her stash.
E has a pair of jammie pants my mom made using up the last bits of striped flannel she had.  She didn't have the length she needed so she cuffed it with the same fabric running the other way - with the stripes running down the legs and then the cuff stripes going around.  We loved the look of them so I decided to make these pants like that.
I doubled the cuff over so that they can be turned up too.
Very fun and quick to make too.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

What I Shouldn't Have Done on My Summer Vacation

So now I have to admit to a very stupid thing I did on our vacation.  I saw several people pulled over alongside the roadway and so, curious and sometimes impulsive creature that I am, I wanted to find out what they were looking at.  I walked up along the roadside of a pulled over motorhome, popped out in front of it to see what was there and there I saw it indeed.  A bear. Not very far from me...standing there...on the side of the road...with no car around me as protection.   I should have known, I suppose, that it was a bear that had caused people to pull over but I didn't stop long enough to even think about it. 
And, even more stupidly, I took a couple pictures before common sense kicked back in, I realized what I was doing and high-tailed it down the road as quickly as I could.  I'm sure that look on the bear's face is disgust with another silly tourist. 

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

What I Did on My Summer Vacation: Part 2

Even though we crammed a lot of travelling and a lot of hiking and exploring into our time away we still managed to find time to relax.  This creek was right by our campsight and we spent some time there because E wanted to fish.
S was happy to oblige him
And W and I traded off turns with his fishing rod and reading.
We saw a few people go by us on kayaks and so W and I decided to try that too.
Then we convinced the boys to try the Highline Trail with us.  Our boys have hiked with us since they were babes in our backpacks and started hiking parts of trails when they were toddlers.   We've upped the length of trail time over the years and they are both great trail companions.  They called this hike the "Uber Epic Hike" (because it was 11.6 miles) and they both thoroughly enjoyed it - in fact, it was the favourite part  of our holiday for all of us.

First we had to make hiking sandwiches - peanut butter, banana and maple syrup - and pack the chocolate bars. 
Then off we went. 
There is a wire handrail here because it drops straight down (waaaay down) to the Going-to-the-Sun road.
Love these flowers.
Lots more Mountain Goats - walking right along the trail.
Don't look down W!

We were very happy we had brought our rain gear.

This was our destination - the Granite Chalet.  We were planning on eating our lunch there.
I had to take a photo of this clothesline (even though the ranger had a bit of a laugh at me) - a clothesline with a view.
Then we headed back down the Loop trail to where we had left our truck.  A wonderful thing about Glacier National park is their shuttle bus system.  You could take a bus all along the Going-to-the-Sun road if you wanted, we drove to a parking lot then took a shuttle up to Logan Pass so we could do a hike one way.

Beautiful.  A hike we will all remember and one we'd like to do again.
The next day, after a stop at a thrift store in Eureka, we were leaving Montana and back to British Columbia and some old favourites places - Wasa Lake and Fort Steele.

I adore Fort Steele and would like to live there.  Each time we go there I wonder if I can somehow convince them to let me move in as a caretaker.  This is my favourite house and I would love to take over the gardens. In the meantime we just enjoy getting to make homemade icecream (cinnamon, this time) and look forward to the next time we can visit.
And, even though we are camping, we still like to make sure we get some fresh, local food.  There is a greenhouse just a bike ride away from the campsite at Wasa lake that has delicious tomatoes and cukes.  S came up with this simple concoction when we were heating up corn tortillas in the fry pan.  He took some garlic/peppercorn bread and heated it in olive oil.  Then he put some mayo and asiago cheese on it and topped it with a slice of tomato.  Delicious.  The flowered plate is another thrift store find, I love old melamine plates for camping and couldn't resist these flower patterned ones.
And I made sure that I got a little bit of hammock time too (while reading Farmer Jane: Women Changing the Way We Eat).

Monday, July 26, 2010

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

What I Did on My Summer Vacation: Part One

Summer vacation is a Big Deal in our family.  Throughout my childhood my family went on a three week camping trip each summer (to the same lake), our extended family came too and usually some friends would come visit as well.  When S and I met he was quickly brought on board with the ritual that is The Summer Camping Trip.  This was a must, no exceptions allowed.  We have our own ritual that allows us to indulge our love of exploring new places with our need for tradition - we go on a 10 day camping trip which usually involves at least one new place and also usually manages to include a visit to a well-loved favourite.  This year we decided to go through Idaho (new to us) to Glacier National Park in Montana (S and I were there 20 years ago but on the eastern side of the park).  We camped on the west side of the park this time by Lake McDonald and Loved it. 
The last time we were in Glacier park the gorgeously scenic Going-to-the-Sun road was closed for the season and we weren't able to drive it, S has been wanting to see it ever since and he finally got was worth the wait.

I thought these tour buses were beautiful.
There were just so many mountain peaks - you're completely surrounded.
This road was finished in the thirties and the work it must have taken to do it is awe-inpsiring.  I loved the rock work along the sides and on the bridges.

Huckleberries seem to be a big deal in Montana and so we sampled the obligatory milkshakes and huckleberry icecream.  Delicious.  I grew up on red huckleberries and only learned about black huckleberries a few years ago when we were camping at Barkerville.
We went on lots of hikes.
E spotted this guy on one of our hikes. He always seem to see things that just blend right in for the rest of us.
We walked through rapidly melting snow and fields of glacier lilies on our way up to
this lake.
Then the boys tried sliding down the snow, we were wishing we had thought to bring something to slide on.
There was wildlife everywhere...and I do mean everywhere.
When we first started this hike I was scanning the ridges hoping to see a moving speck of white - a Mountain Goat at a distance - it wasn't long before Mountain Goats started wandering in our path.  So cool.  I had no idea we'd get to see them so closely.
On the way down this mama marmot seemed quite intent on watching me, I was on a little bridge and she wanted to cross it to get to her babes.  I had to move and then she ran under the bridge and up the rocks to her babies.
We also have a new favourite family hike.  More about that later but for now there is a small mountain of laundry to do. ;-)