Monday 25 September 2023

Autumn Colour

 I took these pictures yesterday but am writing the post today. The weather is the perfect Autumn weather- warm in the day, cooler in the evening. Trees aren’t quite in their full regalia yet but there is certainly colour to be seen.

All over the property, there are swaths of yellow.

Black eyed Susan are aggressive and prolific self seeders but they do provide beautiful colour.

Aptly named Autumn Joy Sedum has a home in most of my beds and borders.

I have various hydrangea, some of which turn a lovely bronzey rose colour. Notice Aristotle peeking out.

Russian sage is still creating a lacy purple effect beside the snowball bush.

This year has been very good for this bunch of Michaelmas daisies. Other years they have barely bloomed. I think it was our rainy August!

Most of the tall phlox is done but there are still a couple of clumps blooming.

The Burning Bush isn’t quite on fire yet, but it’s off to a good start.

Finally, this branch belongs to a neighbour’s maple tree. Just that one branch is showing bright scarlet, the rest is still quite green. I walk past it on my walks and always admire it!

How is the colour where you are? Do you have some of the same plants?

Tuesday 19 September 2023

September 19, 2023

 It is a foggy morning this morning. I've been keeping myself busy with supply teaching here and there and the ongoing garden produce. Unfortunately, the little germ factories passed on the "scourge" to me with a sore throat and such. It was inevitable. 

This is still my world:

The Roma tomatoes have already been canned, but the other "regular" tomatoes remain in my kitchen, on my window sills, etc. Today I am going to tackle many of them and I am DONE with actual canning. I think I will just skin them, squish out the seeds and ziplock bag them for the freezer (even though I still have some from last year!). It was a good year for tomatoes, which makes me happy.

I did one last round of pickled beets yesterday, making only three little half pint jars. For the first time ever, I made pickled jalapeno peppers. I had such an amazing crop of them from just one plant.

Here they are in all their glory, prior to the pickling process. I wore gloves to cut them up. Son is very pleased. I didn't think to take pictures of the finished jars, but this made four half pint jars.

I am continuing with my elimination diet (specifically low fodmap) and have successfully reintroduced wheat. Today begins dairy. 

On a different note, I seem to have a broody hen. She is one of the lavender orpingtons. I've always just referred to her as "little comb", for good reasons. Poor thing has lost her tiny chicken mind, staying put in a nesting box, fluffing herself up and trilling every time I go near. She's not even laying (I don't know if that is part of being broody, but seems counter intuitive to me). She can sit there forever, but nothing is going to happen, as I don't have a rooster. I've been trying to gently break her of her broodiness, as I think it is hard on a hen to limit her food and water and not even end up hatching anything out, by lifting her off her nesting box and putting her out in the run a few times a day. Yes, again, I realize I have codependency issues.

Silly bird. 

We have had some excitement in our lives recently. This isn't unexpected, but nice that it is official:

Our eldest is now engaged! No wedding date is set yet but we are very happy for both of them! I will be a mother-in-law in the months to come and have a married child (she's 27, not exactly a child...). It's humbling. 

Thursday 7 September 2023

September 7, 2023

 Here is a picture of a quick 10:30 a.m. gathering:

I honestly think I could have been a great homesteader, if it weren't for the lack of modern dentistry, the outhouses, the backbreaking work of washing clothes, no electricity, and no benedryl...

I'm getting ready to make some salsa today. It won't be super hot, just some jalapenos (no seeds). Son wants it hot, so I might start by filling some jars with the regular, then introduce a hot pepper (not shown in picture - they are little cayennes, turning red now) into the remaining salsa and bottle the rest (labelling accordingly).

(For my own future reference, this is a bit more than six pounds of tomatoes, some Romas and other regular kind - the amount needed for this salsa recipe)

It was hot, hot, hot here in my neck of the woods for the past couple of days, but then we got a good downpour of rain which cooled things off. I actually don't mind the heat. Let's all remember January and February, people!!

I am ready to get back into the swing of supply teaching. I booked a two day stint on Monday and Tuesday of next week. It is in a 4/5 split, but at this time of year, it will feel more like a 3/4 split, which I'm very comfortable with. I also booked a hair appointment for Wednesday of next week. It is time. I'm starting to get that "you've got long hair and just pull it back into a pony tail and not care what it looks like" hair. I need to change it up and feel good about my hair again (lord save me from frizzy, unfortunate hair --- thank you Scottish ancestry). 

Have a good day, all.

Tuesday 5 September 2023

Chili Sauce Day

 My house currently smells like (to me) abundance, contentment, love, goodness, harvest, autumn, and the happy parts of childhood.

Yes, it's chili sauce day. I have posted about this before. This concoction is not a hot, spicy type of condiment. It is more like a cinnamon spice sweet / tomato-y slightly thick sauce that pairs perfectly with sausage or roast pork or roast chicken thighs. 

Clean jars awaiting their contents.

It is a perfect way to use up some tomatoes and it does not require a lot of ingredients. I will share my mother's recipe for those who are interested:

Ingredients being brought up to a boil.

After boiling down for about an hour.


Maureen's Chili Sauce

Ingredients for a small batch (can easily be doubled):

-9 good sized tomatoes

-1 large yellow onion

-1 tbsp salt

-1/2 cup white vinegar

-2 cups white sugar

1/4 tsp allspice (or more if desired)

1 tsp cinnamon

Drop clean tomatoes into a boiling water bath for a minute or so, then place in cold water so they can be cored and peeled. I also de-seed some of them as I'm doing this. Chop roughly.

Chop onion into medium to small pieces.

Put all ingredients into a large pot (like a small soup /stock pot) and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to a low boil/ brisk simmer and occasionally stir for aprx. 2 hours (you want a lot of the liquid to boil away and for it to be somewhat "thick")

Ladle into 1/2 pint, or 1 pint jars - process in boiling water bath for 20 minutes.


I double the recipe and it makes aprx. 9 1/2 pint jars. I like to give these away to family members. 

I do realize that I am canning on perhaps the hottest day that we have had since July. But that's all part of the process. These beautiful early September days are when all the good things happen. I might also do yet another batch of zucchini muffins (chocolate chip this time), to stick in a large freezer bag and freeze for later. 

(Yes, I made these while I was waiting for the sauce to boil down.)

This last one is for Joanne, whose tea towels are still as perfect as the day I received them as a gift!

It made 6 half pints and 2 full pints.

On a whole other note, and yes, this is where we get personal, I've been dealing with digestive issues for five, yes five, weeks. I'm not going to go into detail, but whatever you guess is probably correct. And if you are from Ontario, you know that I can't see my doctor for 4 weeks (at the time I tried to make the appointment). I stopped taking supplements that were somewhat new to me, as I thought perhaps that was what was causing my gut angst. I stopped coffee and the minimal amount of alcohol that I was consuming. Parasites, etc. were ruled out. To not avail, I decided to take matters in my own hands while waiting the weeks and weeks to see my actual doctor (I did get to see a nurse practitioner who ordered the tests to rule out creepy crawlies, but that's all she did).

I researched (because I'm good at researching and learning and applying and all that) the low FODMAP diet and the elimination diet. So as of six days ago I am religiously following this elimination diet (basically eliminates all foods in five categories that are known to cause intestinal distress). After you follow this for at least two weeks, or more, if you are seeing that your symptoms have significantly calmed down, then you move onto the reintroduction phase. It's all laid out and easy for me to follow and I'm keeping meticulous notes. In fact, my digestive issues have already 90% settled down. I am now VERY curious to determine what the heck it was that put me in the place I was in for 5 weeks. 

My question to you, dear readers, is have you ever "suddenly" developed a sensitivity to something that was never an issue before, but now absolutely is? I know it happens. I know people can develop hay fever having never had problems before. I know allergies can occur for no particular reason ( or for reasons that people suspect but will be called out on if uttered publicly). I wonder if some of my medications to suppress estrogen and progesterone, or my bone-builder infusions (Zometa) (all a result of my breast cancer this past year) have contributed? (No, I did not have chemo). My sister, for those who regularly read, almost died last year and was in the ICU and for a while, it was unknown what the actual cause was until finally a targeted allergy test determined that she is now deathly allergic to ibuprofen!! Yup, good old Advil that people take for their aches and pains all the time! She had never, ever had problems before. 

So please chime in if you've discovered you suddenly can't consume dairy, or wheat, or onions (lord, I already miss onions and garlic, which I have to currently eliminate), or whatever. Also, tell me if you are canning anything right now. We homesteaders need to stick together! 

Saturday 2 September 2023

Saturday, September 2, 2023

 I've been somewhat MIA lately. We have had family from out of the province staying with us for a few days. Prior to them coming, we had to get two spare bedrooms ready for company. If you are like us, or if you have a "project husband", you may use a spare room for storage, the place where crap goes to live that you think you can't live without but you don't have a proper place to put it.

As well, materials from an unfinished upstairs project were living in one of the spare rooms. Dust and detritus from the project had created a coating over pretty much everything in that spare room, so plenty of putting things back (into the garage), even a little purging (yay!!), and a deep cleaning was in order. 

There has been plenty of egg collecting and garden harvesting. August was incredibly wet and not consistently hot, so things grew and grew and grew. Every day the hens get some bolted spinach or lettuce, sending them into a rapture of excited clucking.

I have baked two kinds of zucchini muffins (which were consumed whilst the out-of-towners were here) and two kinds of zucchini loaf. I still have lots of zucchini left. That might be tomorrow's project for me. I can just freeze things for some other time. I have already frozen some shredded zucchini as well.

Today, I decided to make pickled beets. These are not my favourite. I prefer hot cooked beets with butter, salt, and pepper. But husband and daughter's boyfriend love them. 

Here is a great big pot of them, ready to boil. I wash them, cut off the tops and bottoms, and cut into chunks. Later, when I run cold water over them, the skins just slip right off. 

It only made four jars, but aren't they a beautiful colour? This is the stage at which I poured the hot syrup over them and put on the lids. They aren't done with their water bath yet.

Whilst the company was here, husband took advantage of extra hands (i.e. 3 young strong men and one older, but still strong husband) to bring a giant tank out of the basement. It is scheduled to be purchased by someone this coming Wednesday. It was an ordeal getting it out of our very old basement.

Only one finger injury and one snagged shirt ensued. There was a great deal of sweating, stopping and starting, reconfiguring, swearing, placing of mats on the floor, getting soaked from the rain when it went from front porch to carport, and then finally victory. 

This is the beginning of the long weekend in Canada. Monday is Labour Day. For thirty-one years, I would have been already getting my classroom ready, and experiencing that combination of excitement and anxiety as a new school year is about to start. Like that old Bits n' Bites commercial, you never know what you're going to get each year, a "whole new ballgame". ( I hope this link works),vid:MJLF6hQGZwk,st:0

 Sometimes new students would arrive (AFTER you have labelled everything, created a seating plan, and figured out you had JUST ENOUGH hooks on your coatrack), and sometimes there would be a shuffle of students. 

But alas, it is now someone else's task to prepare for a new school year. Yes, I will still do some supply teaching, and that suits me right now.

Did you see the "blue moon" the other night? We stood outside to look at it, and son said, "It's not even blue. It should be blue." That made me laugh, because I don't even know why the term "blue moon" was adopted (yes, I realize it is the second full moon in a month, but did the term happen first and then the expression, or did the expression precede it?).

I love this time of year with the purple and yellow colour combination in my beds, the crickets chirping, the pre-fall feel in the air. I hope you all have a contented weekend.