23 May 2009

Photo Hunt #14 - plastic

It's been a while since I participated in the Photo Hunt. I didn't get a chance to take a picture so went through some recent ones to see if I had anything that fit the theme.

I spend a lot of time in that plastic chair, enjoying the view of my back gardens after each labor session in the garden.

If you would like to participate in Photo Hunters or just see more photos from other hunters... visit tnchick.


22 May 2009

feeling blue

I'm feeling a little blue this week. It seems as the week progresses, the blue-er I feel.

Tomorrow is my birthday.

I will be 40 years old.

I don't feel 40.

I don't want to be 40.

Tonight I have dinner with my dad and step-mum. Tomorrow with my mum.

Every time someone has a birthday at work, people bring a cake or bagels or doughnuts.

No one brought anything this morning.

No one even said "Happy Birthday".

As much as I don't want to celebrate my birthday or even have one, you know what I would like more than anything?

A surprise birthday party.

I've never had a surprise party before.

I've been to many, hosted a few...

There has never been one thrown for me.

I would like one... just once.

Sorry to be so morose and self-pitying...

I just needed to get it out of my system.


18 May 2009

moving things along...

Yesterday I mentioned that there were some big changes coming to the cottage. If you've been reading my blog for a while, you'll know that I've spent a lot of time contemplating moving. After getting my fence put in, things have really changed around here. I'm enjoying living in my little cottage. I'm enjoying working in my garden (I like that term better than 'yard') and am feeling better about living here.

When the fence was finished we started with the exterior painting project. This is something that would need to be done even if I decided to move. The painter is almost finished and hopefully will be done either this weekend or next. (It's a family member who can only paint on Saturdays, so it is taking a while. I don't mind though, he's very thorough and does a very good job.)

Now that the painting is almost wrapped up, my mum and I have talked about whether or not I was staying and if I was we should finish doing some important updates around the cottage. I feel that this is where I should be for awhile, maybe for the rest of my life. I don't feel the overwhelming urge to move, as I did a few months ago. So, I gave it some thought and have decided to do the updates.

So, here we go...

I have 3 weeks and 3 days to pack up everything in my house and get it packed out into storage. I'm having a complete bathroom remodel (not the style I wanted because the room is not large enough for the clawfoot tub I want, but it will be very nice), having some electrical work done (adding some fixtures and outlets and replacing some fixtures) and having the ceilings redone (most of them are popcorn ceilings and several are cracked and showing space into the attic).

We all have to move out and I'm timing it to coincide with our week long family vacation in June. Since the babies will have to board for the vacation anyway, this will keep it down to two weeks of boarding instead of three. I'll have to stay out of the house for at least two weeks. I plan to come home every day (except when on vacation) and check the garden. I'd hate to lose my plant babies while having this work done. One of my babies, Alwyn, would not survive a stay at the veterinary. He hates it there so much that he doesn't eat, sleep or use the "facilities". He will be staying in a dog cage at my mum's in her garage. I'll stay at mum's and will be able to spend time with him and keep him calm. I think he'll be okay. (He will be 15 on July 1st and has been having some health issues. I worry about him a lot. He is my first baby and I love him so much.)

I'm really excited about these updates. Not the having to pack and move out for a few weeks part, but the part where I have new ceilings, electric and a beautiful new bathroom... that part I'm thrilled with.

I'll be really busy over the next several weeks. Between work, getting packed up/out, and keeping the gardens in shape, it will be very hectic. Plus I have to pick out paint colors, sinks/tubs/toilets, faucets and hardware. I don't know how much I'll get to post, but I hope to post at least a few times a week.

So, that is what is coming to the cottage... any changes going on with you?


17 May 2009

It's the Jam!

As promised yesterday, here is my family's* recipe for homemade strawberry freezer jam. We've been making this every summer for as long as I can remember. Start out with fresh strawberries washed and capped.

We used about 6 quarts.

You'll need sugar and sure-jell as well as half pint jars.

I'll warn you now... if you are diabetic or careful of your sugar intake... this is probably not the best recipe for you. You'll see why in a minute.

Take four cups of berries and mash them up.

You'll end up with two cups mashed berries. Next you want to add the sugar. Here is the scary part... to the two cups of mashed berries, you add four cups of sugar. That's right, I said f.o.u.r. I know... it seems like too much sugar. My mum actually tried making it with less sugar once, we ended up with syrup. It was tasty and my brother loves it... but it isn't jam.

So go ahead and add in that sugar.

Make sure you mix it in really well, you don't want it to be gritty. You want to stir it several times over the next ten minutes.

At the five minute mark, turn on the water for your sure-jell, you need 3/4 cup. Add in one pack of sure-jell and stir well. Once it starts boiling, stir it for one minute. At the ten minute mark, stir the sure-jell mixture into the strawberry mixture and continue stirring for three minutes.

Now fill the jars, leaving about 1 to 1 1/2 inch from the top.

Once the jars are full, cap them and set them to the side.

From the six quarts of strawberries, we ended up with seventeen half-pints and one quart of jam. When your all done, check the jars to make sure they are sealed tight. The jars need to sit at room temperature for twenty-four hours. Once that time has passed, put the jars in the freezer. You have JAM!

Believe me, once you've tried this, you'll never go back to store bought.

*I found out yesterday that the recipe was actually from the sure-jell package. All these years I thought it was an old family recipe, but it isn't. It doesn't matter, it is still delicious!

There is big change coming to the cottage. I'll give an update as soon as I have a chance.

16 May 2009

enjoying the day...

This morning I was feeling a bit down. The sun was hiding behind clouds and light rain and supposedly would not make an appearance all day. I took myself off to the local farmers curb market and picked up some fresh strawberries and peaches, a loaf of artisan white french bread, a head of dutch bibb lettuce and a bouquet of peony blossoms.

When I returned home, I was still feeling restless and upset, so I called my mum and she told me to come over and we would make jam. She and I ran errands, went to the larger farmers market outside of town, rescued a lost dog and made jam. When I came home, I mowed my yard and checked my garden.
Take a look at this photo... do you see what I see?

do you see it? you may need to click the picture to make it bigger...

still don't see it? ... okay... here's a close up...

guess what that is... can you guess? yep, your right...it's a pumpkin sprout! My pumpkin seeds have germinated and sprouted! I'm so excited!

This is how the beans are looking today...

See what else I found in the garden today...

...bunny tracks...that's right... i said bunny... oh boy...

finding new things in the garden, working in the yard, making strawberry jam with my mum... these things lifted my spirits today...

The greatest gift of the garden is the restoration of the five senses. ~Hanna Rion

tomorrow we will have a show and tell about our jam making...


10 May 2009

Happy Mother's Day

Wishing a happy mother's day to all the mothers of the world...

and to those of us who are mothers only in our hearts and souls...


03 May 2009

gardens, blooms and mysteries

Today's post is of photos from my weekend. I spent Saturday morning planting my veggies and then the rest of the day piddling around the house. Today has been relaxation day. I've pretty much done nothing but watch movies (Twilight[again], Practical Magic[again] and currently The Skeleton Key...yeah....again!)

First we have a few photos of the mystery plant that I got from my mum, that she got from my her aunt's house when she passed. If anyone knows what this is, please let me know!

here's a closeup of the blossoms:

Next photo is my veggie garden planted...

the bricks are to keep the cardboard down until they settle into the ground. How do you like my make shift trellis for the snap beans I planted?

this is how much room is left that I can plant in...

I'm thinking of planting pumpkins. I know I'm going to do one more tomato plant and possibly another row of beans, but other than that I'm at a loss as to what to do with the space.

I'll leave you with a photo of something I got at the local farmers market yesterday morning...


back to The Skeleton Key and my dinner, red beans and rice with sausage...


01 May 2009

my day off

I took the day off from work today. It is the first day I've missed in over two months (yay!). The past two weeks at work have been hell and I've accumulated a bit of comp time. My supervisor told me I could use some of the time today so I planned a yard work day.

Mum came over after I took an early morning trip to one of the big box stores to get top soil for my garden. I ended up hauling 1600lbs of top soil around today. I'm really surprised I can move. :-)

We planted the bed along the fence that I dug out last week with shasta daisies, blackeyed susans and something that I don't know the name of. I'll have to hit up google later to try to find out what it is.

I still haven't planted my vegetable garden, but it is ready with a layer of cardboard and a layer of topsoil over it (to help keep the cardboard down). I use the cardboard to try to help keep the weeds out.

Tonight I have to figure out the layout for my veggie plot. And tomorrow morning, I plan to get up early and get the veggies in the ground. Then hopefully take a trip to the farmer's market.

We also finished the gate side bed along the house. It looks much better than it had.

This little fella came to visit while I was relaxing on the deck. He couldn't have been more than 5 feet away from me.

And this guy kept swooping around and watching me too. I wonder what he found so fascinating...