Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Summertime Equals Zucchini Time

Even though the weather isn't helping it seem like summertime around these parts (it has been unusually wet and cold), the way the time is zipping by certainly makes it feel like summer.   There's been cherry picking...and pitting and freezing of course.I love  my old thrifted cherry pitter and can't imagine cherry season without it, it makes light work of cherry pitting and when you do it outside you don't need to worry about the cherry juice that splatters all over.
We enjoyed making homemade noodles so much when our friends were here that the boys and I decided to try making homemade ravioli with our garage sale pasta machine.  It works like a charm for rolling out sheets of noodles.  I don't have a ravioli maker yet so we improvised with a jar and a slightly wider drinker glass.  These we filled with spinach from the garden and ricotta cheese and then served them with sage butter and garlic scapes.  Yum!
I snapped a few photos of the garden this week while I was wondering why on earth I don't do a better job of keeping up with pruning tomatoes. Part of me wants to because I like how tidy the plants looked when pruned and because I plant so closely I don't want too much overgrowth but another part of me just has such a hard time pruning plants.  So, I pruned some here and there and then let myself be distracted by picking more beans and the last of the peas.

My late planted potatoes are quickly filling their cages and I need to get busy adding more mulch.
And, happily, there are cherry tomatoes ripening up outside - a very few at my house so far but lots at the garden at work.  Thank goodness for generous gardeners sharing their tomatoes, a few of these added to any dish makes it delicious.
There has also been lots of zucchini eating going on.  Last year I was quite convinced that I would plant less plants (8 is really too many for one family) and yet....somehow....I ended up with 8 again.  If the boys question me on it I'll use the excuse that with two gardens at separate locations it gets a bit confusing and somehow I ended up with 4 at each. ;-) 
Today both boys started looking for recipes themselves rather than leaving all the zucchini prep up to me, they know that they will be eating lots of this over the summer and the get pretty sick slightly tired of my same old, same old methods of preparing it (although in my defense I have loads and loads of ways of making it, it is just that when you're eating it at least once a day for months...).  E found a recipe for thin crust zucchini mushroom pizza that we tried tonight (I'll share it next time) and he declared it a two thumbs up success.
We even took zucchini away with us on the weekend to enjoy with friends during a weekend of hiking and mountain biking.  When it comes to zucchini I guess my motto is....don't leave home without it.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


It is part of my regular daily round to take time to be grateful for all that I have in my life.  I'm always thinking about the things I have to be grateful for and I often take time to write things down too.  I love this idea that Knitty Gritty Homestead is doing each Tuesday, she shares five things for which she is grateful and asks others to share their gratitude list as well.  The last few years have been teaching me all sorts of lessons and the more I learn the more I believe that it really all boils down to just this:

Live in the present.

Practice gratitude.

I believe those two things are the key to a happier life.  And, happily, they are very simple.  Easy? No, not always.  But simple?  Yes.  And easier with practice.

And so I hope you will join me in practicing gratitude - there's no better way to stay in the present than by focusing your attention on whatever is "good" in your life right now.

Right now I am grateful for -

So much fresh produce in the gardens that most of each meal is garden-fresh.

Gorgeous full moon right outside our sun room (or moon room, in this case) windows (and a clear view of a barred owl as it perched on a dead tree as a bonus)!
An abundance of fresh flowers to cut and bring inside for bouquets.
First batch of green beans.  Love these (all of which were enjoyed raw and fresh).
Homemade strawberry ice cream!  Twice (once with friends which makes it taste even better)!!
The morning glory vine S planted starting to bloom as it climbs up our stair railing.  Lovely!
And you?  What are you feeling grateful for?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Lavender Wands

I've been enjoying making lavender wands again.  This is such a lovely thing to do as your visiting with a friend (or watching a movie) because you can do it without much thought, I also love the smell of lavender so enjoy working with it just for that reason.  A dear friend of mine showed me how to make these several years ago and I can still remember spending time with her in my old back yard as she showed me how she makes them.  She makes hers much tidier than I ever have but I enjoy them all the same.
Once they are dry I will remove the white string from the gift ones and replace it with a ribbon.  I still have the original ribbon from the first one my creative friend gave to me and I re-use it each year on one of mine (she made the ribbon as well).
I've got quite a stash now, some will go in our bathroom, some will go in our clothes drawers and some will be given as gifts.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

An Important Message

Do you remember these letters?  We had them when I was little and I can remember them being on our fridge.  I bought some from a thrift store for W when he was very little and he liked to play with them.  They've been packed away for years and I came across them when we moved and brought them up to the kitchen.  They've been a source of entertainment ever since.

The boys make all sorts of messages and whenever we have company over people seem to find it hard to resist making some sort of message.  Sometimes I'll make one...

only to have it changed into something different the next time I come into the kitchen.
The messages get changed with surprising frequency and quite often I find myself giggling at what I read on our fridge. 
FYI - that message was not done by me (therefore not MY breath) and, as far as I know, not done by our dog either.  Hmmmm....

Monday, July 11, 2011

Garage Sale Goodies

I'm know I've posted before about my love of garage sales ( the posts in my Thrifty Goodness section are about garage sale or thrift store finds).  We like to get everything we need (and lots that we want) at garage sales and thrift stores for many reasons but recently (since moving again and having to pack, move and unpack all our Stuff!) I've been trying to avoid going to garage sales in order to stop getting more...well...stuff.  But, I have to admit that it really is quite hard for me to break this habit, especially because my husband loves garage sales too and has no intention of staying away from them.  So, the last two weekends we've found some great stuff.  Last week we stopped off at one on the way to the garden and these are some of the goodies we found.
I'm always on the lookout for these Bakelite utensils - we all love using them - but I've never found so many all at once before.  E spotted a big bag full on a table and snatched them up quick. ;-)

I've been looking for an old metal watering can for Ages!
I HAD to get this casserole dish because it matches my thrifted bowl set...right?
And then this Saturday morning we walked to a great one in our neighbourhood and found these goodies.

We also hit one a few months ago and I found this. 
For $20 for a spinning wheel I really couldn't be expected to resist, could I?  And I manage to justify all this to myself quite easily because I tell myself that I need it all for my farm market when we get our farm. ;-)

There's just something about finding such treasures, isn't there?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Kildeer Mama and Babies

I keep forgetting to share these photos of the mama Killdeer with her babies.  This is the second batch of chicks (four of them) this year that have hatched right by my garden in town.  The owners mark off the nests so that the eggs don't get stepped on when we're working in the garden (that's what the bamboo poles are).  If you look closely you can see one little chick poking its head out.
I was there just as all the chicks were heading out of this nest where they had hatched and moving out into the field. In the photo below you can see the last little chick just thinking about leaving with its Mama.  They sure don't seem to stay in their nest very long and they grow up fast.  It's fun to see them getting bigger each time I go to garden.  You can usually spot them just by watching for their parents - they try to distract you away from their babies by calling out and pretending to be injured -  then you can catch a glimpse of their babies on legs that are exceedingly long for their bodies.
We also have loads of quail babies at home here.  Yesterday morning our cat had a close encounter with one, I snatched her up (by her tail, actually) and made her drop the little chick.  Thankfully the chick was able to makes its way back to its family.  Kitty was in the dog house for the day!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

More Strawberries...With Chocolate

We went back for more strawberries on the weekend and came away with 10 more buckets.  I've got plenty in the freezer now (for our winter smoothies) and we had enough to make Rebecca's chocolate shortcake that I've been meaning to make since last summer.
Yum!  I followed the recipe this time and the boys loved it but I have a few changes in mind for next time which include making only half the cake batter (for a thinner cake part) and then letting some of the juice from the strawberries soak into the bottom cake layer for a bit (possibly also putting a bit of liquor of some sort in with that strawberry juice!).
So now we're done with putting by strawberries and next up will be cherries and raspberries.  The neighbourhood where we are now was a cherry orchard at one time and there are still cherry trees everywhere so it will be fun to see which neighbours put up "Cherries for sale" signs.
The other day we all decided to have some fun with our cameras.  Each day we pick a different subject and we all take a photo of it and then decide which one we find the most interesting.  S started off with a flower and then came in to show us and told us we had to figure out which flower it was and then go take a photo of it.  E was not impressed.  "It's not a treasure hunt!", he said.  He just wanted to know which flower it was so he could take his photo too. ;-)

Then E chose the next day's topic and it was super macro close-up.  He has taken several interesting pictures and tonight we will see them all and then pick the next subject.  Quite fun to see the different perspectives each person has.
There are so many gorgeous blooms here that it is quite easy to get carried away with photo taking but I noticed yesterday that I can't help myself from being drawn to taking photos of veggies.  I really do find them utterly beautiful.
(first peas in my home garden which is a little behind compared to the garden in town)
First ripe cherry tomato in home garden, this one is planted in a big herb box on our side patio.  It is a wonderful place to have herbs growing.