Monday, August 18, 2014

Just Peachy

Little by little, the peaches are being eaten.  I haven't done anything major with them.  We've had a few fruit salads, which have included our peaches, the first pawpaws of the year, and whatever else was available... blueberries, pear, etc.  This afternoon, I have some peaches soaking in Fair Game Beverage Co.'s Ferris, and look forward to having them for dessert tonight.  I'm also looking forward to trying some grilled peaches, something I've never tried.  I've seen and saved several recipes that sound promising.

The dear souls at Hospice gifted me with this lovely stained glass piece, by Amy Keith Barney, when I returned after my Mom's passing.  Isn't it lovely?  The little metal chickadee above it is one I bought at Brightside Gallery for my Mom this past spring. She often called me her "little chickadee".  It makes me happy to see these together.  

Joseph spied a male Eastern box turtle on the path to the tractor shed, so of course I had to grab my camera.  I'm happy to see him here, as their numbers are dwindling.  I love his coloration.

The sunflower patch is looking good.  I love to see their cheery faces when I pass by.  Our hopes are that the birds and other critters will leave enough seed for us to save for winter bird feeding, and some for us too. I've been doing a bit of canning. Yesterday, I dry canned 50 lbs of grits, and 45 lbs of oats.  Today I canned quarts and pints of tomatoes.   I hope you're enjoying these late summer days.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

A Summer's Harvest

Peaches and pears have been showing up in odd places around the homestead, often half eaten.  Though the squirrels have been giving us a run for the money, we've managed to save some of the peaches.  We had to pick them before good and ripe, or none would have been left.  But, they're ripening nicely on the counter.  Now, what to do with them, that's the question.

Recent rains have sprouted all sorts of mushrooms.

I was recently cleaning up the brown leaves in the houseplants on their long outdoor bench, and realized there was a little nest with eggs in it.  There are bird feeders nearby, so I had not noticed the little bird that flew off.  A few minutes later, I slowly snuck up on the nest to snap a picture, and mama bird had not returned.  I've looked from a distance since, and she is sitting on the nest.  The eggs look like they may be chickadees.

I've canned up Blueberry-Lime jam from Ball's Blue Book.  I got a great deal on a bag of limes, so this seemed a good recipe to try.  The limes were not organic, so I did not use the zest, but the jam is good!

There are Black Swallowtail caterpillars on the dill in the garden.

When my hands are purple, you know it's likely elderberry harvesting season.  I've got a quart of the lovely tincture brewing.  Our oldest variety of apple has been harvested, though it's name escapes me at the moment.  It seems it originated around the 1200's from the Romans, but that might be incorrect.  Approximately 15 of the homely but tasty apples were picked.  Lamb's quarter continues to be harvested for freezing.  Shiso is next on the list, for drying.  It's a great herb to give to the pups when they've eaten something that's a bit rough on their digestive tract.  With all the woods here, and hunting season not too far off, it comes in handy.  Tomatoes, squash, okra and cucumbers are producing nicely.  That's recent life on the homestead.  Be well, friends.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Finding My Way

Blueberry season has arrived.  During the month long drought, they began looking quite shriveled, but most have recovered with the recent rains. You can still see some shriveling if you look closely at the photo.  I had doubts that we would get any at all, the way they were looking, so am happy for each one I pick.  I hope to be putting up some blueberry jam in the coming days.

Apples are also coming along nicely.  Our earliest apple, a Yellow Transparent, gave us 3 apples this year.  It's somewhat shaded, between the New Earth shop and their heater, so anything we can get off it is good.  Other apples look to be doing well.  For whatever reason, they all seem much less bug-ridden than most years.  We don't use pesticides here, and it's a rare year that we manage to apply horticultural oil during the small window of opportunity.  Though it's doubtful any will be very large, we'll take perfect, little apples any day.

The frogs at the pond serenade us nightly.  I've been surprised by how many frogs it actually supports.  When we walk the perimeter, there are countless splashes as they jump in.  The dragonflies put on a show for us, when we sit for a spell in the evenings.

nest of a tufted titmouse
I greatly appreciate all your kind words and support, in response to my last post.  I am slowly beginning to find my way again.

Over the past few months, my Mom's partner, Frank, and I had many hours to talk.  One of the stories he told me prompted me to title that last post Wild Blue Yonder.  One of my Mom's earliest jobs was at Mitchel Air Force Base Hospital on Long Island.  He told me of how she & he would find each other through the house, each singing a line from Wild Blue Yonder, as they went.  Love that.  And lest you think she got the worst of the face masks with that pig nose, she really had a "thing" for pigs for a while there.  Be well friends, and enjoy these summer days.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Wild Blue Yonder

My Mom, my friend, left this world yesterday.  This photo of her was taken on a cruise in 2012.  She and her partner, Frank, packed a lot of adventures into 11 years.  They gallivanted all over this country, and a number of others too.  She had always wanted to travel, and I'm so glad she was able to do that.

I'll miss so many things... her humor, the way she woke us on our birthdays (with a kazoo!), her cooking... She was one of two souls in my life that, like me, was prone to burst out in song when something reminded her of one.  I guess I'll have to sing for the both of us now, though I have no doubt she'll be singing along.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014


These are sweet and precious days for my family.  Hold your loved ones close, friends.

yellow finch outside my Mom's window

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Fair Game Beverage Grand Opening

This cabin was our home away from home last weekend.  We were in Asheville, while I was taking an aromatherapy class.  The cabin was sweet, and nicer than I expected.  Though our pups were in great hands at home with a pet sitter, these cabins are dog friendly.  One of the cabins here was used in the shooting of the movie Thunder Road in the early 50's.

We ate very well while in Asheville. When we arrived, we had lunch here on the patio.  Our dinners were at Vinnie's and The Glass Onion.  Vinnie's was a high energy and noisy spot, not usually what I want when I'm eating out, but the food was very good, and I enjoyed the evening despite the din.  Enjoying an excellent bottle of wine didn't hurt.  The Glass Onion was all around amazing.  Go there if you have the chance.  Lovely atmosphere, wonderful food, fantastic staff.

The night before last, Fair Game Beverage Company held the grand opening of their new distillery.  They had a circus theme for the event. There were jugglers, women on stilts, and lots of fun costumes.  That's Chris above, the manager and distiller.

Here's a peek of the bar Joseph made for their tasting room. It's 8 ft. long, and I couldn't manage a photo of the entire bar using the phone.  There is also an 8 ft. shelf on the wall behind, which echoes the rebar design on the bar.  You can see the vintage typewriter sitting on it.  They really liked the look of a table he had made using a live edge slab of local red oak, so these pieces were made using the last he had of this oak. Opening night was great fun.

My soap shelf is almost bare, so soapmaking is high on my to-do list.  Cedar-Lemongrass was the first one made on Friday.  Either Lavender or Wake Up will be next.  Last week, we began harvesting cucumbers. I shared the majority of those picked, but if they keep up at the same pace, I will begin my canning season this week, getting some of them pickled for later use.  Some of the tomatoes are huge!  We keep waiting for that first blush of color, which will let us know tomato sandwiches and caprese salad won't be far behind.  Have a great week, friends!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Tastes of Almost Summer

Some of the things that had fallen by the wayside are finally getting attention this week.   The chicken coop was shoveled out, a bit of weeding and pruning was done, and my bathroom got its spring cleaning.  It was a good feeling to get these things done, and felt like some progress had been made.

Garlic has grown here as many years as I've lived here, but somehow I've never done anything with the scapes before.  That changed this weekend.  First, I made a garlic scape dressing, which we enjoyed on a salad with fresh picked lettuce from the garden.  Then I pickled 4 pints.  They are refrigerator-type pickles, and need to be left alone for a minimum of 6 weeks.  If we're fond of them, I may can some next year.

I do love a good fruit salad.  This one had mango, blueberry, raspberry and strawberry.  Only the raspberries were picked here.  For some reason, none of the strawberries bore fruit this year, and the blueberries have not yet ripened.  It shouldn't be too much longer, though.  We got much needed rain last night, and were happy to see the cucumbers and tomatoes had grown.  Good thing, as I'm hoping to be canning up lots of both this summer.