Thursday 31 December 2020

See Ya Later, 2020

 It's been said before, the wrap-ups, the contemplations, the looking on the bright sides, the hang in there's, so here's a bunch of funny things I found on Pinterest. 













Happy New Year's Eve to all the people who stop by my blog and are kind enough to comment, or not, which is o.k. too. I sincerely hope that this next year brings greater contentment, reassurance, stability, normality, and predictability to everyone and that plans can be made, and kept, and people can celebrate in groups if they wish, or stay home if they wish (not because they have to), and we can go to the movies and get our hair cut and sing out loud all in one day. Cheers!

Saturday 26 December 2020

O.K., we're good

 For those of you who were wishing for a white Christmas, you can stop now. We're good.

Friday 25 December 2020

Merry Christmas



It is now the night of Christmas and all has been good. We had our turkey dinner on Christmas Eve, so our children's long time boyfriend / girlfriend could join us. It was very nice and the "kids" played various games and their dad and I were happy to putter around and enjoy the laughter from the next room. We ended the evening with everyone playing Monopoly. Monopoly can really drag on and I, for one, was glad to be bankrupt so I could exit the game! 

This morning was lovely. It is funny that now we, the parents, have to wake the kids up on Christmas morning. We had a leisurely time of opening presents and enjoying ourselves. It turned out to be a white Christmas after all, with big feathery flakes coming down all morning, and afternoon. Now, when I look out at 9:56 p.m., there is quite a blow happening. I'm glad none of us have to be out driving in this. We did not gather with extended family. My husband's mother is in a nursing home and we were able to talk with her twice on the phone. She received presents that he had dropped off a few days earlier, so that was good. I have no idea when she will receive her vaccines, but it will no doubt be very strange for her to finally be able to leave and visit with us in our home, whenever that will be. 

As of tomorrow, Ontario will be in lockdown for 28 days, but of course there are exceptions to that. I will be teaching online for the first week after Christmas holidays, but then we are supposed to be back in schools (so the 28 lockdown does not apply to us). We will still be able to buy groceries and go to pharmacies, and I will still be able to purchase my chicken feed. I know many of you are in the same boat. 

To wrap up my post tonight, I will tell you what one of my presents was. I received a vacuum cleaner. Please don't feel sorry for me or think that my husband had quite a nerve purchasing a vacuum. I picked it out myself and even ordered it. My old one was not up to snuff and I really wanted to try this brand of vacuum - Shark. It's supposed to be as good as Dyson at half the price. Husband assembled it for me and I took it for a whirl today. Oh my lord - to see what got sucked up out of my area rug and out from between the cracks in my old hardwood floor in my kitchen - you'd think I have never cleaned the place! Yikes. It makes me ridiculously happy.

I hope all of you have had a good Christmas, in whatever way you wished to celebrate it, whether you were on your own doing things on your own terms, or you had a small gathering of those in your home, or something entirely different. Let's wind down this month, this year, and look forward to vastly more enjoyable times in the future. 🎄🎅

Saturday 19 December 2020


 You know how one thing happens and then when you go to deal with that one thing, it turns into a few more things, and before you know it, it's become a whole other thing? 

Last night, I was putting something away in a kitchen drawer. When I went to push the drawer back in, there was resistance, like something was caught at the back, so I pulled it out again and the thing that was caught descended down into another drawer. So I pulled that drawer out, but in doing so the thing then hit the floor behind that bottom drawer. Then that bottom drawer no longer pushed in all the way because of something that fell behind it. I had a look and not only was it the one thing (a plastic accordion-style folder that we stick receipts in from probably four years ago), but in fact quite a collection of things that all came from "the junk drawer" at the top. These things have been falling for a while now. There was some kind of a double ended phone cord, some Chinese food menus, two bundles of cheques, and the aforementioned folder. There was no way I could reach with my arm behind the bottom drawer to get in and get those objects, and thereby be able to push the drawer back in.

I explained my predicament to husband and asked where his "grabber tool" was that he has out in the shop (sometimes used when screws and other small parts fall where they shouldn't when he is doing whatever he does on vehicles). He had a look around, showed me where he usually keeps it, declared it wasn't there anymore and that he had no idea where it was now. Also, I should stop looking around so much in case I see a Christmas present he has stashed out there.

Night came, I left the drawer (which is my baking drawer by the way) half-way open and went to bed. 

Morning came and the drawer was driving me nuts. There had to be a way to take it out. These are soft-close drawers installed a few years ago which up until now, we have never needed to take out. Of course, this one was right up against a wall and at the bottom. I went trolling around on the internet because there is a video for everything. Well, no, there's not. I watched videos about other kinds of drawers, I watched videos from the company that made these drawers describing all their wonderful features and how to install them, I watched one video in a whole other language with subtitles, but none of these helped me and I got more and more angry. 

Husband was up at this point and said he would try to find out how to remove the drawer. After a bit of video watching, he started fiddling around with the drawer. I had emptied it already, the counter top now overflowing with containers of flour, sweetened coconut, half bags of raisins and walnuts, half bags of brown sugar,  four, yes four, boxes of semi-sweet chocolate squares, baking soda, baking powder, cocoa powder, little jars of sprinkles, partially used squeezable icing tubes in various colours... you get the idea.

Husband then decided it might be easier to try things out on a drawer that wasn't so far down so he could look underneath and see the mechanisms, so I emptied out my plastic container drawer. At this point, I used an empty laundry basket to hold all the bits and pieces of that drawer. Husband continued to roll around on the kitchen floor, making inquisitive sounds, exasperated sounds, finally positive sounds. He removed that drawer! Yay! So then he proceeded onto the original bottom drawer which he was also able to remove. Yay! Now it was my turn. I moved all of the junk drawer items that had fallen down to floor level, grabbed the vacuum, cleaned the inner recesses, saw how disgusting my floor was, cleaned that part, noticed my baseboards right beside that, wiped those down, realized the inside of my baking drawer was pretty scary, vacuumed it out and wiped it out as well, continued on to wipe out the plastic container drawer, and then told husband he could put the drawer back in now.

He did. It didn't close properly. It kept hitting the drawer above. He fiddled around some more and eventually declared that the drawer above it needed to come out and could I empty that one, please. Sure - that was the tea towel, kitchen cloth, oven mitt (and kitchen scale and huge container of double A batteries) drawer. All that now got dumped on the table, drawer came out, husband continued to fiddle around. He was successful. 

By now, I'm realizing I have WAY too many tea towels and kitchen cloths. I started purging. Get rid of the ones that are shredded. Get rid of the ones that are clean but have stains that have never washed out. Get rid of the cheap crap ones that don't actually absorb anything. Move those ridiculous bright orange Sham-Wow cloths (whatever happened to that guy?) somewhere else. Seriously contemplate if we need to keep that tea cosy that we used to use twenty years ago and haven't used since.

Then I tackled plastic containers. I take a lunch every day, and of course, there's always left overs to stash away. I put all the bottoms out on the counter and tried to match tops. If a top was found, it got to stay. If a top was cracked, it went away. Why do I have so many jar rings in that drawer?? Where do all the bottoms go? Why do I have so many extra tops, but no bottoms?

And the baking drawer... I decided to use large zip-lock bags and labelled them "raisins and other dried fruit", "nuts and coconut", and "cake decorating". This helped to at least organize and contain some things. It's still a pretty full drawer.

I also looked at the junk drawer. I had purged some items from there a while ago, but I did another small purge. I still have about twenty keys which are lacking doors to open. 

In the end.... BEHOLD...

my plastic container drawer which will never look like this again. 

Here is the tea towel (cloth, scale, oven mitt, battery, and yes, tea cosy) drawer. Not quite so immaculate, but much better.

Joanne, do you see your towel in the place of honour?

I'm not showing you the baking drawer or the junk drawer. A girl has to keep some secrets. 

I really wasn't what I was planning on doing with my morning, but there you go. 

Wednesday 16 December 2020

The Glow of the Leg Lamps

 I am not normally a movie person. Husband is. Daughter is. They can watch movies for hours. Husband will watch his favourites over and over (and over). He loves historical movies, war movies, epics (lord save me from an epic), "kung fu" movies, the list goes on. I don't have the patience for movies. I'm usually doing something else at the same time. I don't want a movie to unexpectedly scare me. I don't want to cry. There are very, very few movies I will watch a second time.

Except at Christmas. One of our family's favourites is "A Christmas Story."

We watch it every single year. We have the dvd. In the story, set in the 1940's, a little boy, Ralphie, desperately wants a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas. Everyone tells him he'll shoot his eye out. His mother is long suffering and his father has a special relationship with the furnace. His father also likes to enter contests and is always hoping to win a prize. 

As luck would have it, the father does win a prize, a "major award" and he is so thrilled with it, that he displays it in the front window for all to see. 


Yes, its a leg lamp. Ralphie is enthralled. His mother is mortified.

Cut to our home. The village has been assembled once again on the bottom two shelves of the sideboard made by husband.

You've seen it before. It's a tradition. Sometimes new little pieces are added to it. 

But now, if you look up...

waaaaayyyy up... (Canadians get my reference?) 

there is a glowing set of lights above my crocks. 

Move in a little closer...

Yeeeessssss! Our own little leg lamps. It doesn't get better than that!

Monday 14 December 2020

Monday, December 14, 2020

 It is windy and colder now. When I got home from work and went out to the chicken coop to check for eggs, the hens were already roosted. It couldn't have been much past 4:30 or 4:45 in the afternoon. It was so dark this morning at 8:50 when we went out to the line-ups to collect our students and bring them in, one cohort at a time, that I thought there was something wrong with the universe. It was eerie. We are in for some weather, or not, depending on what weather site you look at. One sight said somewhere between 1 and 3 cm of snow tonight. Another site said 3 to 10 cm. It doesn't matter. We have very little snow at the moment so 10 more cm won't be an issue. 

We are in the home stretch before Christmas holidays. It's all still so different. Normally we would have either been part of a Christmas concert and had our time taken up with practising and dress rehearsals, or we would have been watching the dress rehearsals of other classes. There are no concerts now. We cannot gather in the gym to watch. We cannot gather together on the stage to perform. As well, we usually have carol singing in the gym for a few days before the holidays begin. No gathering. No singing.

I have books I like to introduce my grade three classes to at this time of year. However, because they can't sit together in a tight little group in front of me while I read, it takes away from being able to see the details in the beautiful illustrations. So I have found some You Tube videos of the books being read aloud, so I can project on the white board and make it large, so they can see all the wonderful details. Jan Brett is one of my favourite illustrators. I enjoy her writing as well, but it's the illustrations that are so captivating. I could live in a Jan Brett world.

On a different, but somewhat related note, husband and I went to go pick out our Christmas tree at the local grocery store which always has a very nice selection on the evening of December 8. There were NO TREES. Not a one. We went to the local F and S (formerly the Co-Op, where you purchase feed and seeds and rubber boots and plants...). Again, no trees. There were some sad small trees tied up with twine at the Food Basics. The needles fell off as we were shifting them around. I've honestly trimmed larger branches off my shrubs. And there couldn't have been more than eight of those. We drove to the next town to check out a different grocery store. None.

December 8th, and no trees. Our mouths were hanging open. We couldn't believe we were too late. We even contemplated having to (perish the thought) buy a fake tree. When we got home, I went online to find cut-your-own tree options. I noted that husband was eyeing up the odd pine tree here and there growing at the side of the road as were were driving home and I said something along the lines of "Don't you dare!" The cut-your-own options were quite far afield and one even declared they were "sold out". 

Daughter, who is living at home presently, finishing university online and working part time (online) would not hear of a fake tree, so she set to finding better options. She did end up finding a place that was offering cut-your-own trees for the first time. She and her father went the next day while I was at work. When I drove in the drive way after work that day and saw what was in the back of the truck, I was somewhat shocked. There lay a blue spruce! A rather big blue spruce.

It found its way from the back of the truck to the porch for a day or so. 

Then, prior to the annual shouting and cursing event of putting up the tree, husband re-engineered the tree stand to accommodate the giant tree.

This weekend, the tree was put up in the den. Furniture had to be moved. It is enormous. But, is it ever fresh! I really was expecting a family of squirrels to be in that tree. And yes, I know the whole thing was a bit "Christmas Vacation."


But it is a beautiful tree and we ended up not having to put some of the ornaments away because the tree looked too crowded. There was room for everything. Mind you, it is a bit tough to see the tv if you are sitting at the far end of the couch. 

The cat was a bit freaked out. The rest of the house is "decorated" now and some baking has happened, but that can wait for another post. Don't want to give away all my events in one post. Did anyone else notice that Christmas trees were sold out early this year?

Sunday 29 November 2020

Holy Cow??

 I was doing my regular grocery shopping yesterday. I keep a list with me which I categorize with "produce", "can / box", "dairy / frozen", "deli", "bakery" and "meat". Under the "meat" heading I literally had a "?" because I wasn't sure what I was going to buy. It depended upon what was on sale this week and what looked good. 

I was looking at the various cuts of beef and saw this:

This was not a particularly large roast. I realize it is prime rib, but honestly, did this come from a holy cow??? Who would pay this? 

I bought a tray of pork chops. 

Monday 23 November 2020

It's Beginning to Look A Lot...

 I'm not going to say it. I am not one to start Christmas too early, but I have to say, the snow this morning was so pretty! It lay thick and fluffy and seemed magical. I took these pictures when I went out to check on the hens and feed them and see to their water.

I like this one so much, it may turn into my header picture! 

Dried hydrangea heads covered in snow.

Cedars in the snow.

Looking up from under the apple tree.

Even my clothes line looked fluffy and festive.

I understand why people are pushing Christmas ahead of time. They want something to take their mind off of present situations, such as they are. I admit that today's snow did make me want to bring out some decorations and have mint hot chocolate. I even thought about Christmas baking. When I did my grocery shopping this past Saturday, the Christmas music was being played and holiday type food was being displayed everywhere. 

Coming up this week, instead of having the usual parent / teacher conferences following the Progress Reports being sent home, I will be attempting to video conference with parents via "Teams". I've already had two moms email me and ask if they could just have a phone conversation with me instead. Absolutely! If you had told me thirty years ago that I would be "meeting" with parents via a computer screen, I would never have believed you and I would have thought it impossible and ridiculous. Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes.

Monday 16 November 2020

The Need for Speed and Why Can't We Slow Down Anymore

I turned on my laptop to read a few blogs before going to bed, as I often do. I was met by a dark grey screen and a spinning circle. Thinking something was wrong, as we had some flickering lights and power due to very high winds yesterday, I restarted it. After that, my screen let me know that updates were being performed and I should not turn off my computer. Annoyed, I decided I had better do something productive while I waited, so I deleted some photos from my phone.

I couldn't just wait the seven minutes of so that it took to complete the updates. There is something wrong with our society. We want it now. I think I probably have more patience than the younger generation, as I come from the world of dropping off your film and waiting a week until your photographs were ready. I come from the world of having a party line and if Mrs. Baer down the road was using her phone, you had to wait to make your phone call until she was done. I come from the world of waiting until Thursday night to watch the next episode of Hill Street Blues. I come from the world of writing a letter by hand to a penpal in Tennessee, mailing it away, and waiting weeks until a reciprocating letter arrived back.

But now I am in the world of immediacy. 

Broken windshield? It will get fixed that day, sometimes even in your driveway. Hungry? Hop in your car and go through the drive-through, getting your meal within moments. Need to know a fact? Grab your phone and type in an enquiry. You'll have the answer in seconds, if you type fast enough.

I am a very poor consumer. Stores don't make a ton of money from my shopping habits, but I do know quite a few people who order from companies such as Amazon, and use their Prime membership to get anything from tea to underwear right to their door by the next day.

Heaven forbid we wait. I have waited eight seasons for that bloody treasure to be found on Oak Island. I have waited for my teeth to slowly straighten over the course of more than a year with my Invisaligns. I waited sixteen years until we put in new kitchen cupboards and appliances. I am quite a patient person, usually.

However, faster is presented as better. Lose weight quicker on this programme. Increase your internet speed with this company. Make your plants grow and produce vegetables more quickly with this miracle fertilizer.

I meet many, many Amish people on the road. They will get to where they want to go only as fast as their horse is able to pull them. I wonder if they have any need to speed up in their lives? 

There are those people who cannot wait at a traffic light, drumming the steering wheel with their fingers, creeping ahead inch by inch anticipating that green light so they can speed on and get to their destination a few minutes faster. 

My professional world has been governed by deadlines, due dates, and bells. I'm sure there are others whose working lives are far more hectic and pace driven. What are we doing to ourselves? 

Are you able to slow down? Do you feel frenzied at times (or did you, at some stages in your lives)? Have you been able to release yourself from the fast pace of technology, or do you thrive on it? I'm curious.

Monday 9 November 2020

November 9, 2020

 It was another balmy day here in Ontario. Work was good. We are all reaching a point of fatigue of always being the watch dogs, reminding and reminding to replace masks, stand apart, use hand sanitizer, don't touch... whether these are our own personal beliefs or not, it is required of us and we continue to do it day after day after day. It is tedious.  However, my kids are great and they loved being outside at recess in this gorgeous weather. Some were in shorts! 

This weekend, I researched a way to compost all these leaves and turn them into something useful. I bagged (with help from son who was home, and then daughter today after I got home from work) lots and lots of leaves in big black garbage bags, poked holes in the bottom for drainage and so worms could find their way in (hmmm, I think that might  be a big of a stretch), stuck the garden hose in the bag and wet things down a bit, then tied up the top and set them someplace on the ground where I don't mind staring at them for twelve months or so. After that they become something called leaf mold and it's great for gardens. It's worth a shot and I filled about 15 big bags. 

I sat out on the porch with my daughter and got caught up on things, then barbecued some turkey burgers. They were the best turkey burgers I've ever tried. I believe the company is called Hayters. They are not cheap, so maybe that's why they taste good - it was all meat, no circumspect chewy bits. 

The light starts to fade severely by about 5:30 p.m. I was barbecuing after that and took this shot of the fading sunset and the silhouette of the trees.

That extremely bright light in the bottom right hand corner is a new sign that was installed at the edge of the park along the main road. It doesn't have much to advertise or inform people, as this is a tiny little village with not many businesses or activities, but holy crow, is it bright! It reminds me of the Seinfeld episode where the Kenny Rogers Roasters sign kept Kramer up all night. 

Saturday 7 November 2020


 Today, the weather has been extraordinarily beautiful. This doesn't happen often, lovely war 19 degree celsius weather in November, within days of so much snow that the students had rolled giant snowballs on the yard and they had only just melted, but when it does, it makes everyone happy. I went outside in jeans and a sweatshirt this morning and starting doing this:

and this

and this

In between some of that, I scooped up piles of leaves in my great big flexible plastic tubs with handles and took them to the chicken run where the girls enjoyed scratching their way through, looking for tidbits or bugs or buried treasure, I don't know. I also went into town and took back empties to the beer store and nabbed $4.00 and change for my efforts, and bought groceries, and was dismayed to discover the earlier shortages and overpricing are happening again. There was no paper towel except for the most expensive bundles and the price of broccoli practically floored me. Broccoli! 

Then I returned home and put everything away and dug a frozen hunk of beef out of the freezer and put it in the magical cooking pot with a half a package of onion soup mix and put it in at 325 for the rest of the afternoon. 

I went back outside to do more of this:

And despite wearing good leather gloves, I ended up with this!

I'm sure all the other gardeners and rakers out there have had the same injury! The one where you manage to raise a blister in the web of your hand and with a bit more insult to injury, you manage to open it up, leading you to ozonol ointment and a big wrap around bandaid. 

The piles of leaves are taunting me, as are all the other leaves lying thickly on the lawn, waiting for me to come out again tomorrow in the lovely 19 degree celsius weather. I will, but I'll be thoroughly padded up. 

Saturday 31 October 2020

Saturday, October 31, 2020

  I thought I should compose a quick post just to prove I am still here. Tonight is Hallowe'en. After a show of hands from my class (more or less eight year-olds), I found out many are going to be trick or treating, although some with a limited number of houses to visit (grandparents, cousins, etc.) and a small amount will be having fun at home, parents hiding treats around the house (like a Hallowe'en Easter egg hunt) and watching movies. 

Daughter and I prepared little ziplock bags of treats and will set them out separately, so the few children who do come to our house can just snag a bag without rummaging through a bowl of treats. Our numbers in our region are very, very low and nobody is hospitalized, nor has anyone died, so we are fortunate. 

School, my career, my thirty-plus years of experience, continues to be a different world. Retiring at this time is going to be bitter sweet for so many reasons and incredibly anti-climactic. 

The weather was brisk today, to say the least. The chicken water outside was frozen this morning. I did my usual grocery shopping and have spent the rest of the day working on progress reports which are a set of report cards that go out in November. 

Life goes on and I am well, as is the rest of my immediate and extended family. And everyone else I know, and everyone I work with, and all the children at my school. 

I hope you are all contented and well. I'm still reading your blogs, but as I am plodding along the same way day after day, I don't feel the desire to post about it very often. Happy Hallowe'en, all!

Wednesday 7 October 2020

A Week Gone by in October

 I cannot believe it is October 7th. There are so many layers to this. I cannot believe that it will be Thanksgiving weekend next weekend and we are still following distancing rules and not having a big gathering. I cannot believe that it feels like I just finished setting up my classroom and figuring out how to teach in this new normal at school and we are now a full month in. It is the juxtaposition of being firmly stuck in rules and protocol, while life keeps whipping by surprisingly quickly. 

It was so windy today. The leaves were swirling. This was the sky as I drove home from work.

I thought the lines in the sky were amazing.

I have just been sitting here, staring at the computer screen for several minutes. I do not have anything remotely interesting to say. I reheated some pasta for supper tonight. We watched "Somebody Feed Phil" tonight where he goes to Thailand. I finished marking a pile of work after school which made me happy. The chickens continue to molt and look very unattractive. I will be making a turkey for just the four of us this weekend, and a pumpkin pie, and maybe an apple pie. I have used so much hand sanitizer at work, I feel that it must be oozing out of my pores. 

Now I'm going to go read your blogs and see how exciting your lives are. 

Thursday 1 October 2020

October 1, 2020

 I cannot believe it is October. I have come through my first month back at teaching. It is only now that I feel like my students are comfortable with and know the routine. This now feels like the new normal. Although, when I was driving home out of the small town in which I teach at the end of the day and I saw a school bus with the driver wearing a mask, it still made me shake my head a bit. The new normal.

Apart from how my professional world has been turned on its head, everything else is pretty good. I am very rural, our numbers are extremely low, and life is continuing on without much of a hitch. There is much talk of the second wave. In my own opinion I think a total shut down cannot happen again. It must be specific to certain areas, with a focus on the most vulnerable in our society. My opinion. 

In other news, our fall colours are breathtaking. We have now had some rainy days with a couple more to come and that usually takes away many of the leaves, but they are beautiful at the moment. There is such an exquisite feel to the air. I felt it when I went out tonight after supper to close up the chickens at about 7:15 p.m. It was cool, the grass was damp, there were leaves on the ground, and the light was rapidly fading. The chickens were already "in bed", I just had to close their little door. They know. The seasons have changed. They are also molting and from nine hens we get a massive two eggs a day. It comes with the season.

You may be thinking, dear lord, please don't let her write about tomatoes again, but here it goes. 

I gathered these from the very soggy garden today when I got home from work.

These were already in the house. I don't have a picture, but just assume there are more on the windowsill. 

This is what I made and used up maybe a whole eight tomatoes. This isn't the finished product, I browned some ground beef and added that, and two small cans of tomato paste to thicken it a bit. I served it up with penne and some shredded parmesan cheese. It was simple and tasty.

For someone who reaped maybe two tomatoes last year and not much more the year before, this glut is welcome and makes me happy beyond words. Husband is doing his part by eating a toasted tomato sandwich every day. Last night I made a tomato pie. I should have taken a picture. It was lovely and although a bit sloppy, it tasted delicious. I had never heard of tomato pie before I read Mrs. Moon's blog. Now I suspect I will make it every year, at about this time, when I'm looking for ways to use up these last tomatoes.

Enough of food. Well, actually maybe not. I discovered a series on Netflix called Somebody Feed Phil. Many of you probably know it. I had always seen it listed, but ignored it. I have now watched several episodes, often with my daughter and husband. I am really enjoying it. Phil travels around the world meeting chefs and local people and his enthusiasm toward whatever he is eating just puts a smile on my face. I recommend it!

Thursday 17 September 2020

Thursday, September 17, 2020

 My garden has ghosts at one end. It is supposed to be very cold tonight, so I've brought out the old sheets that I keep for just this purpose and have draped them over my tomatoes, closing them up here and there with clothespins. They are all tucked in, in case of frost.

After work, I picked all of my ripe / semi ripe tomatoes, pulled the rest of my beets, and dug up some of my potatoes (I doubt it would be a super hard frost already), and then did the ghost maneuver. I threw a few starting-to-rot tomatoes to the hens who ran and attacked them.

Here are the tomatoes I picked the day before:

Today there was a giant tomato! Daughter took the picture for me. We often talk about something being "as big as your head". Excuse my dirty-from-the- garden hands in the next picture. Trust me, at work, I use hand sanitizer ALL DAY LONG.

Do you remember my accidental/mystery acorn squash in my compost pile? Here is the final result!

Right now, on a school night, I'm making another batch of my mom's chili sauce. It is very simple and we sampled a bit with sausages last night. It was the way I remember it. Here is the recipe if you want to ever give it a try.

Maureen's Chili Sauce (small batch)

9 tomatoes (skinned and roughly cut up)

1 onion, chopped

1 tbsp salt

1/2 cup vinegar (just white vinegar is fine)

2 cups white sugar

1/4 tsp allspice

1 tsp cinnamon

Put all ingredients into a large heavy-based pot, bring to a boil, reduce heat and let it gently boil down for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours (it will reduce to about half and thicken slightly and turn a bit darker). Stir fairly often so it doesn't scorch and stick to the pan.

Process in boiling water bath for about 15 to 20 minutes. Makes about 6 pint jars.

Saturday 12 September 2020

Fruits of my Labour

 Today was a busy day - it was time to do some preserving and freezing. I didn't want my garden produce to go to waste, even though I would rather not be attached to my kitchen all day, but that is what the day involved.

I was up by about 6:30 because that's what my body is used to now, and husband was also snoring up a storm after having cut the lawn yesterday. After a big mug of coffee and opening up the chickens, I went out and picked the remaining beans, both green and purple. I already had some in the crisper that I had picked a couple of days ago, so I did the whole washing, trimming, blanching routine and ended up with two medium sized freezer bags of beans. You'd think it would have resulted in a greater amount, but it will still be good to be able to reach into the freezer in January and pull out one of those bags.

I think the green and purple look nice together. After they are blanched, they are all green. 

I spread my beans out on towel after blanching to dry before they get bagged and frozen.

Next on the list was pickled beets. This is the first time in a VERY long time that I've been able to successfully grow beets. I think it was a combination of adding lots of my own compost to the soil and laying out soaker hoses and using them frequently throughout the summer.

I grew cylindrical beets. They ended up growing up, out of the soil. I didn't make a lot of pickled beets because I think only husband really likes them. Maybe daughter's boyfriend as well. I prefer beets boiled with some butter, salt and pepper. 

Three pints and two half pints of pickled beets. Those stickers from previous years (when the jars had strawberry jam in them) do NOT come off easily. I washed those jars in the dishwasher and processed them in boiling water, and the stickers still held. I ended up just writing on the jar lids instead.

You may recall that one of the successes in my garden was a little hot pepper plant that son brought home. You may also recall that they were deadly hot. Well, son was feeling a little bad that they would potentially go to waste and was hoping I could do something with them. He and his sister enjoy Frank's red hot sauce and sriracha sauce in different kinds of food, so I thought, why not try to make a hot sauce? I looked up some recipes and realized it's not difficult and I had the necessary ingredients. 

Those are the little devils I used today. There are still just as many out on the plant! I grabbed some plastic gloves from husband's shop and got to work trimming them and scraping out the seeds. I've heard that a lot of the heat is in the seeds. I'm pretty sure there's still heat in the rest of the pepper, as I managed to clean out my sinuses by breathing too deeply while they were boiling in their vinegar bath. I might have been able to strip the finish off the kitchen cupboards if I let it boil long enough. Anyway, after whizzing it up in the blender, I poured it into two small jars and sealed them. I don't want to be the one to try it. 

Next on the list was making my mother's chili sauce. This is not a hot chili sauce. It is tomato based and perfect with sausages. I got the recipe from my mom many, many years ago. It just makes a small batch, but it's important to slowly boil quite a bit of the liquid away so you end up with a thicker sauce that has a nice dark reddish brown colour. I think it turned out perfectly and it used tomatoes from my garden. 

I re-use my old jar rings. They really show their age! 

I couldn't even find labels for my canning jars this year, so I just wrote on the lids with a Sharpie marker. 

After supper, there was still one more thing I wanted to make: orchard fruit chili sauce. I've made this a few times, but haven't made it in about three years. Again, my tomatoes were part of it, but it includes so many great flavours that just marry together into a very pretty sauce: tomatoes, onions, peaches, plums, pears, red bell pepper, green pepper, celery. 

I love all the colours it starts out with. 

There are some of the orchard fruit chili sauce jars cooling off on the kitchen window sill. (Note to self: don't take pictures in front of windows in the evening!Can you see my reflection?)

I love the look of jars lining a shelf. It makes you feel like you are ready for any disaster - snow storm, power outage, pandemic (oh hey... ) I still have more tomatoes coming. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that we don't have a frost any time soon. Even if I can just can some tomatoes, that would be great, but I do want to try to make Maggie's tomato relish. (The Farmer's Wife Day by Day)

What kind of preserving did you do this year?