Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Goodbye to an old friend

I'll be back to posting soon, I promise.

But, meanwhile I had to say goodbye to my sweet Zeke yesterday. It was an awful decision to have to make, but it was past time and it was very hard.

Michael will fondly remember the way Zeke would slyly muscle his way into a diagonal position in front of the food bowls, effectively blocking Farley from any food until Zeke had taken his fill.

And the strange and all-encompassing love that Zeke had for Michael's guitar case. Zeke was immediately draped on top with his paws wrapped around, rubbing his cheek and purring whenever the case was lying flat.

I have too many fond memories to count. But, mornings at the back windowsill watching the birds with my boy and a cup of coffee were a favorite.

And watching him jump into any freshly emptied container, paper bag, box, basket, cooler and claiming them for his own, always gave me a laugh.

He made the last 15 plus years fun, full and freaky, with a bit of snooty-kitty pizazz.

Goodbye sweet friend, safe trip back to the Mother ship.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Ah, August!

Here in the late summer garden, things begin to go a little wild!

Some of the plants have truly taken over, spreading out, flowering and fruiting daily—keeping us busy every evening with our colander and harvest baskets. The weeds are enjoying the season as well, and we're not quite keeping up with them the way we would like. Too busy harvesting food!

Right now we are gathering lots of tomatoes, green beans, and cucumbers. The native sunflowers that we grow for the Bee Project have really had a wonderful year. They are a small branching sunflower and the gold finches come around every morning and again at twilight to snack on the seeds.

We have great expectations for our first crop of popcorn as well as potatoes and pumpkins.

The delicata squash are coming along nicely this year, and we're looking forward to some delicious roasted delicata with balsamic vinegar. Yum!

The beans have been one of our mixed blessings this season. Our bush beans have mostly succumbed to a bean blight, which we've had in other years in other areas in the garden. It doesn't kill the plants completely, but slows growth and cuts way down on the yield. Luckily, the three bamboo teepees of bush beans in the middle of the bed seem to be unaffected. And we've been harvesting a variety of lovely fresh green pole beans, Kentucky Wonder, Cherokee trail of Tears and Purple pods.

A good lesson in the wisdom of growing a diverse selection of crops. Even if some fail, other's will thrive.

After last year's gloomy outcome in the tomato department, we were more determined than ever to have a good crop of tomatoes for fresh eating and putting up for winter. We planted many varieties this year including Brandywine, Martian Giant, Sophie's Choice, Arkansas Traveler, Italian paste and Matt's Wild Cherries. Everything is coming along really well.
And the Matt's Wild Cherries have come out an absolute favorite. They are branching and shooting up all over the place with no end in sight for the flowering racemes which quickly develop into branches of tiny sweet red tomatoes. Delicious to snack on by the handfuls.

So, here's to more wild times in the garden.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Jammin' on the one

I've finally tried my hand at canning. It has been a long time in coming...trying to overcome some strange little trepidation I had. But I discovered a lovely patch of wild black raspberries at my neighbors house the other day. Neglected, and unpicked. I made a point to introduce myself and get permission to pick. She doesn't like the bushes and would love to have them chopped down, but her husband won't let them go, although he doesn't pick them either. So, I've now been over to pick three times and there will be one or two more forays before the berries are all gone.

This gleaning was about 1.5 Quarts.

This bounty of found, wild food was just the kick in the seat I needed to nudge me into my first canning experience. With newly purchased canning pot and accessories, sterilized jars and Pomona's Universal Pectin in hand I made a batch each of red and black raspberry jam, sweetened with local honey.

The red berries come from our own raspberry patch that we planted when we moved in three years ago. It is bursting with fresh juicy red berries, and we've been out there picking every day, with no sign of letting up!

My first batches...10 jars of summer goodness.

And this morning before work I was off for another check of the black raspberry bush. This time another 1.5 quarts. Enough for a batch of black raspberry cordial or half of another batch of jam. The bushes have a few more pickings left in them, so into the freezer these will go for now.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The colors of the garden

Sorry for the radio silence but, life and the garden have conspired to keep me away from the blog. Here are a few shots of the early season here. These colors are slowly being replaced by yellows and brighter reds and hopefully I'll have more pictures to share soon.

For now the last hurrah from the chives...

and the crimson clover which has since been brewed into a lovely clover syrup with local honey, just the thing to add to a cup of green tea!

The indigo columbine was a favorite in late May

Not to be overshadowed by the lovely rose pink columbine nearby

And sea pinks bobbed their cheery heads near the driveway.

Updates in planting, knitting, and cooking coming soon.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Knitting in shades of Spring

Stress knitting, or rather knitting to un-stress has been my thing these days. Especially knitting little bitty things that give me quick results and cuteness. And with the seemingly endless waiting that is such a big part of our life right now in the world of domestic adoption. (waiting for "the call" waiting for a match, waiting for the Goober to find us...) I've done quite a bit lately!

First in pictures is this little baby cap the Fixation Newborn Hat from Ravelry. I love this pattern for the simplicity and cuteness factor. And since I was knitting and sitting and listening alot, at a performance my sister-in-law was in, this was the perfect thing.

And then I discovered the Milo!

I know I'll be making many of these little vests. The pattern is so easy once you see how it goes together and it is a total stash buster, using such a small amount of yarn. I love it! The cable variations that the pattern suggests will make for some nice little changes and with different yarns and sizing from 3 months to 4 years, I'll be knitting these for years! This one reminds me of celeriac so that's what I call it.

So, as for the news on the adoption front, there's no baby to report. We have now been officially waiting for over 17 months and trying to keep our spirits up. Our agency is going through some major personnel changes, which is very disconcerting. And it seems that many folks are waiting a very long time, not just at our agency. We did just attend a big Adoption Conference and immersed ourselves in classes and conversations about birth families, open adoption and openness in adoption. We did meet up briefly with the new director of our agency, which was a nice surprise and spent a few minutes catching up with our social worker as well. We'll be meeting with the new director next week to discuss where things stand and talk about opportunities for networking and anything else we can do to ease the waiting.

Luckily, we're heading quickly into planting, harvesting and preserving season. We have plans for garden and season expansions, as well as gaining some new food preserving skills. And maybe starting to plan the chicken coop! So, we'll keep ourselves busy and out of trouble as much as possible...but always ready to drop everything at a moment's notice to go and meet our Goober.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Spring socks and seedlings

I finally finished Michael's Valentine's Day socks. They are a basic top-down sock recipe made up in a lovely sock yarn called "Smooshy" in color Blue Lagoon by Dream In Color. Not totally dye-fast. My fingers and bamboo needles had telltale signs of blue, but lovely stuff none-the-less. And now that Michael is a convert to home-made sock goodness, I need to keep this thing going!

I'm prepping another round of seedling pots for the next week of seed starting in the basement.

I'm happy to say the halved TP rolls with newspaper strip bottoms have worked out pretty well. This is the second year I've used them filled with purchased seeding mix from Gardener's and I've had pretty good luck. A little bit of a mold thing happens on the sides of the pots, but my chamomile tea spray and setting the trays out when it is sunny, seems to keep it in check. Hard to say wether that has something to do with the cardboard, the plastic trays or the basement itself. But, it doesn't seem to be holding us back. This week the tomato and basil seedlings are starting to take off!

So, onto the IDC update...

Plant something Planted turnips and parsnips outside. Cleared out and amended a few more beds for planting. Started more sprouts in the kitchen.

Harvest something Asparagus

Preserve something Started a new Sourdough starter and started a new yogurt culture.

Waste Not The usual.

Want Not Pulled out a bunch of clothes for mending. Finished making another pair of socks and a few bits for the Goober.

Build Community Food Systems – Wrote the first article of the season for the organic garden at work. Helping on the Earth Day Committee at work.

Eat the Food – Made a fresh batch of yogurt, enjoyed the first warm slices of a fresh loaf of sourdough bread, enjoyed steamed asparagus a few times this week, great with local eggs!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Signs of Spring!

Raspberry canes leafing out.

Garlic coming up in rows.

Asparagus heads poking up last week...

...and this morning.
Rhubarb last week...

...and this morning.
And as for the IDC update, things are beginning to gear up!

Plant something started tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, flowers and herbs inside under grow lights. Spread clover on a few beds for green cover. Cleared out and amended a few beds for planting.

Harvest something Chives

Preserve something Nothing this week.

Waste Not Using more TP rolls and newspaper for my seedling pots. Saved rinsed out paper coffee cups from work for repotting some seedlings. Started another compost pile. Brought my Nana's sewing machine in for a tune-up.

Want Not Found another pyrex small casserole dish with cover and a large pyrex measuring cup at Salvation Army.

Build Community Food Systems – Volunteered to help with the garden at church. Scheduled a meeting with a friend to help her plan her garden.

Eat the Food – Down to the last of the beets, sweet potatoes and butternuts from winter storage. Planning some meals around those... butternut parmesan soup, butternut pecan muffins, sweet Potato fries, sweet potato pancakes, maple roasted beets and beet slaw...not all at once!