Saturday, 29 September 2007

Fall Colours for the Indoors

I love decorating the house for autumn. I had fun putting together some silk flower arrangements for a splash of colour and the table runner is made from some retro fabric ( I think it hales from the 70's originally - check out the fabric on the binding and backing especially...) I received years ago. It took me a long time to figure out what I would use those fabrics for, but I am happy with the autumn table runner that they became.

Thursday, 27 September 2007

Bears and Salmon

Yesterday our homeschool support group met for a field trip at the park. The children played some games designed to show them the differences between the life of a bear and their own lives, how bears have to eat lots to ready themselves for winter, and how to tell a brown bear from a black bear (yes, apart from the colour)! The park interpreter had a challenge on her hands - a group of individuals of varying ages and varying interest levels who didn't know how to be quiet and attentive all at the same time.

The most successful activity was probably this onewhere the kids could do some running around looking for "food" and burn off some of that energy. I'm not sure how much "education" was done in that hour and a half, but as I said afterwards at the playground, I don't go on field trips just for the kids to learn facts - it's the whole experience of seeing our friends, getting out of the house and away from the computer/playstation, getting exercise and fresh air.

The interpretive centre had an excellent display - an indoor stream and lots of information about spawning kokanee salmon and other local wildlife.
The local bear who is hanging around this particular regional park really loves apples and salmon. We saw a huge pile of what looked like applesauce which was actually bear poo and of course the spawning kokanee in the creek are a temptation for the bear too. It would have been exciting to have seen a real bear, but alas it was not to be.

Produce Crazy?

I've gone on a produce buying rampage this week - pounds of peaches(last of the season), plums, apples, grapes and then veggies for canning tomatoes and for salsa. I guess there's nothing like the threat of frost to kick me into high gear! Here's part (I've bought over 150lbs. of tomatoes in the past 2 days alone) of the produce left from yesterday's tomato canning blitz. Yes, those 'maters are presently sharing my sewing space... which would be why I haven't been sewing in the past 48 hours...

This shows some of the 35 quarts I canned yesterday.
I have to share some pictures of a couple of the different tomato varieties I bought. This stripey one is aptly called a Zebra tomato, and this is what it looks like when ripe.
Very bright on the inside, but very mild and less acidic in taste.
This plump beauty is a tomato variety that hails from Russia. It doesn't show well in the photo, but the colour is a deeper red which almost looks black where the red and green pigments in the skin and flesh overlap.
I have several boxes of regular canning tomatoes to attend to along with some Romas which I will be using to make salsa with today. I guess I better get back to it. Lots of peppers to wash and seed along with chopping onions, prepping more tomatoes, adding in some peaches... Lots of fun!

Tuesday, 25 September 2007


We logged some "creativity" time today. I finished my dad's socks - they seemed to take ages, but as usual the last bit goes fast and then they're done.

(Caroline, if you're reading this, don't show this to dad because they are supposed to be a surprise!)

See that little ball on the left? That's what was left over from the 50 gram ball of Cascade Fixation after finishing the first sock. And the tail coming off the right sock? That's how close I was to the end when I knitted the last stitch on the second sock. Just enough to graft the toe.

Unfortunately, after I took this photo, I realised that I had forgotten to use the nylon reinforcing thread on that toe and I had to rip it back to the beginning of the decreasing and redo it! Aaaagh!!

Even though these aren't for me, I put them on anyway. They are a little loose and I think they'll fit dad okay.

One of the items on the boys' learning plans for this year is to learn more about the Celts. We had a BBC documentary from the library about them and it sparked an interest. (No, of course I wasn't at all swayed by all those lovely Celtic knotwork knitting patterns.) I did a search of the Okanagan library system and came up with 221 hits for "Celtic"! I put a bunch of them on hold and they have started to arrive. This week we have books about the Book of Kells and other samples of Celtic artwork.

Today's project was therefore to create an illuminated letter and here's what we did...
I had a lot of fun with mine, though I can't imagine making a whole book this way! It took me an hour to do my letter, though I was so absorbed I didn't notice the time pass.

Winding down.

My garden is slowing down, frost is looming. This is a mixed-up time of year for me when I feel sort of Jekyll and Hyde-ish towards my garden. I am sad that it is almost done for the year, I will miss the abundance and beauty of it, but at the same time, dang! will I be glad when all the work is done. Sunday I finally canned some tomatoes instead of freezing them.Yesterday I picked this to make into dinner.Dinner was pie.Dessert was more pie.*only a few more weeks of plum harvesting so we've got to eat a lot of plum pies to get our fill

This is how my garden is looking now. We are collecting seeds for next year and flowers for dyes. We are enjoying our last few weeks of garden time and ignoring any weeds with the smug knowledge that they will soon be frozen and dead. (wha ha ha ha you nasty weeds)

No More Bull (edited Sept 28th)

I've just finished this book and being a vegan of course I agree with everything Howard Lyman says! However I do like reading this sort of book, because apart from confirming that I have made a good choice in being vegan, he has given me more ways of supporting a good argument should one arise.

He compares meat-eating with smoking. All the scientific evidence points to smoking being really bad for your health. Some people think that they should be allowed to treat their bodies as they wish and that their choices are not affecting others. With smoking, however, we have the second hand smoke problem - the rest of us don't want to breathe in all those carcinogens or have the stink of smoke in our hair and on our clothes when we go out in public. Most public buildings now ban smoking. I'd just like to add that smoking creates one hell of a litter problem. I was helping to weed around the building that my husband works in at the weekend, and the amount of cigarette butts tossed into the undergrowth was gross. Why do smokers think that cigarette butts are not litter - perhaps they think that they are biodegradable! Not! Factor in all the smoke breaks that employees take throughout the working day, and there's a lot of man-hours (person-hours?) going up in smoke. If by smoking you give yourself lung cancer or whatever, that is also causing pressure on the health-care system that could easily be avoided - more taxes for all.

Mr Lyman says that many meat-eaters would argue that it's up to them what they put into their bodies. However, here again, the scientific evidence is that a plant-based diet is way healthier. Meat (and here I include chicken and fish, people, anything with a face - oh, and dairy and eggs too) provides no worthwhile nutrition. We can get all the protein and carbs and fibre and vitamins and minerals we need from plant foods. Over and over again, it is the SAD (Standard American Diet) that has been proved to cause cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and Mr Lyman also makes a good point about Alzheimer's being a result of our addiction to a meat-based diet (the symptoms being very similar to CJD, that lovely human version of Mad Cow disease).

So back to my point. Yes, people have a choice what they eat. However, there are good reasons for me to continue to publically speak out in support of a vegan diet and not just quietly get on with it. Raising animals intensively for meat is a waste of land. Growing plants to feed direct to people, instead of growing plants to feed to animals to feed to people, is a way better use of the land. Piles of stinking manure - now that's a reason to quit having feedlots. They have made large areas of the US unlivable and there's tonnes of methane polluting our air and piles of this shit are burning right now.

And I haven't even started on animal abuse, cruelty, slaughterhouses, fecal contamination of meat during "processing" (read - killing and mutilation, not necessarily in that order).

I think the world would be a much better place if the killing stopped - maybe if we stopped killing animals and ingesting their fear and sickness, we would all be pacifists who could then create a world without wars.

My hope is that meat-eating will, in the next few years, become something that is viewed like smoking - something that the minority do, despite the health warnings on the packets!

Monday, 24 September 2007

The booty...

Here's what Karen won from me in our Equinox giveaway. She may have to wait a few weeks to enjoy it all, though, as she lives in Australia!

Sunday, 23 September 2007

Ready to Go

This is my design for organizing hand sewing needles that incorporates some hand embroidery on linen and some scrappy quilted goodness on the inside. I may make some changes on the next one I make. We'll see after I get feedback on this one from its new owner and giveaway winner, Jacqueline.
I laid out all the goodies that will be heading to Jacqueline this week. The apron made from a thrifted vintage tablecloth, the thrifted vintage notions, some autumn coloured fat quarters, a handsewn velvet apple pincushion (because the valley where I live is known for its orchards), the needlebook and some dark chocolate. Congratulations, Jacqueline! Hope you enjoy these sewing bits and pieces as much as I enjoyed gathering and making them to give away.

Saturday, 22 September 2007

Mincemeat, yarn dyeing and smelly dog! Ah, the smells of Autumn.

If you had been at my house on Thursday you would have thought my house smelled delicious. I was making green tomato mincemeat and while that might sound gross it is actually quite good. It is full of cinnamon, allspice and cloves and the delicious smells made our cool house seem cozy and warm. Even if you had been at my house yesterday you might have thought it smelled pretty good. I was making a tofu, chickpea curry to share with my friends at our Equinox potluck. It smells quite good too while it is simmering on the stove.

But today? Today as I sit here on the last full day of summer, with the clouds making it dismal and gray outside, my house smells like wet dog...wet dog who has been eating a lot of prune plums, if you catch my drift. If you don't, then you probably don't have a plum-eating dog, and aren't you lucky. :-) On Wednesday my house smelled yucky too, for a bit. We were making some natural dyes out of walnut husks and carrot tops, these don't smell too good while they are simmering away. Although they don't smell nearly as bad as a strong solution of Kool-aid, I think I'd rather have to hang out with the farting dog than to spend a lot of time around Kool-aid. E wanted to use the concentrated Kool-aid solution to dye his yarn. I remember when I was a kid, that in the summer, we used to have Kool-aid as a treat sometimes, and I used to always feel sick after drinking it. (that didn't stop me from drinking it, mind you, it was a treat and I certainly wasn't going to miss out on a treat) In this house it only get used for dyeing yarn and here are some pics of his yarn in progress. It is pictured at the top of the post as it looks when it is finished.

Friday, 21 September 2007

The winners!

The draw has been done and the results are:

Heather's home-canned goodies go to MARY-SUE

Katherine's apron and sewing notions go to JACQUELINE

Samantha's yarn and chocolate go to AMY of Of Larks and Wrens blog

Nicola's knitted fingerless mitts, yarn and other bits and pieces go to KAREN of And so, I sew blog

The winners have been notified. We had a lot of fun with this and hope that some of you who found our blog through the contest will stick around and continue to read what we have to say!

Today's the day

Thanks to everyone who has been visiting our blog this week, especially those who have been leaving comments and entering our contest. Noon today our time (BC, Canada) is the deadline so as I write this at 7am there isn't long to wait to find out who the winners are.

One commenter questioned whether I'd ship to Germany. Yes, three of us are willing to ship anywhere in the world. The exception is Heather, because she is giving away home-grown produce, fresh or canned, that can't go in the mail!

We are celebrating the Equinox today (a little early I know, according to my astronomy calendar the exact moment of the sun crossing the equator is around 5am Sunday). As well as drawing the winners for our blog contest, we are getting together with other friends for a harvest potluck lunch, children's crafts and a walk in the woods.

I hope that wherever you live, you are appreciating the change of the seasons and the cycle of the year.

Thursday, 20 September 2007

Bad Karma. Bad Momma.

Yes, I have bad karma. Awhile ago I wrote a post about this squirrel stealing my apples that I had worked hard to grow organically. I made some disparaging remarks about him, and, here's the worst bit, I (jokingly) said that I would sic my kitty on him. (I was joking Universe! Really! Anyone who knows me knows that I would never actually do that. I won't even go into the story of me, when I was a child, saving the rooster with the frozen leg from the chopping block - ever after affectionately known as Gimpy - you can just take my word that I would never wish to purposefully harm an animal) I actually ended up just picking all the apples off that tree so that Squirrel would not be tempted and we could each go on enjoying "our" yard.
So you can Imagine how upsetting it was to walk into my garage and find part of Squirrel's little body on the floor, obviously done in by none other than....Kitty. Poor little thing. Oh the boys were upset. E especially. He decided to bury Squirrel and so he was buried with his nuts (!?) and the tears of a seven year old, under his favourite Hazelnut tree. E decorated his grave, with flowers and rocks, the next morning and seems to be feeling a little better after a few "circle of life" talks. We could hear a few other squirrels squawking throughout the day so we are pretending to ourselves that it was a "stranger squirrel from the mountain" that Kitty got instead of "ours". I know, I know, but strangely this makes us feel better. But you can bet that I am suffering from some serious bad karma thoughts towards myself and I didn't dare tell the boys what I wrote about the squirrel on here. They are total believers of "the secret" and this momma would not be very popular if they felt that I had put the Kitty get the Squirrel thought out there.
On a brighter note, W has decided that he wants to make t-shirts this year, with messages that he thinks are funny or inspiring. He got some shirts from the thrift store on our last visit, and this is the first one that he made. He is pretty anti-T.V anyway, but he read an article in Owl magazine about the amount of time that most people spend in front of the T.V. He added up the hours that most kids are in school, sleeping hours, T.V. hours and threw in an hour for eating and realized that...WOW! have no play time. So, he likes his shirt.

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

SIP (socks in progress)

I've been having trouble with my digital camera batteries. They are rechargeable - I have four and the idea is that while two are in the camera the other two are charged and ready for backup. Lately they haven't been holding a charge for longer than about two minutes, it seems! I squeezed this picture in using batteries from some other doodad lying around the house.

While I was out today, I bought four new rechargeables, so I should be all set to take unlimited photos now.

These socks are destined to fly all the way over the ocean to my dad next month. My in-laws will be visiting and I'll give them the socks to take back. As I have a specific deadline for this project, I thought I'd better get on with it and leave the wrap and scarf for later.

I'm enjoying knitting them both at once, alternating between the two as each step is completed. Just the straight part of the feet and the toes to go.

Monday, 17 September 2007

Another weekend gone?

Well we woke up Saturday morning feeling kind of tired, and since we had something to go to in the evening we decided to put off our day of canoeing until Sunday. It's never fun to be out in nature when you have to be home at a set time for an evening out. Now I know that most people, when they are already tired might choose to spend the day relaxing in the yard, maybe puttering in the garden, playing ball with the kids or maybe going for a nice walk with the dog. ( or even say, getting to knit!!!) What did we do?
Cooked and froze pears from my neighbour.
Made the tomatoes on the left into more stewed tomatoes, ones on the right into more salsa.

Roasted tomatoes. I use them to make a sort of concentrated soup base which I freeze. The flavour of the roasted tomatoes is so intense that it is delicious served in many different ways.
I used a little of it for the Mexican style soup shown below. I just use some of the base, add broth, corn and garlic, then serve with avocado and tortilla chips. I like it even more with home-made garlic croutons but by that time I couldn't be arsed to do even one more thing.
Well maybe just one more my fair share of pie. This is one of my favourite pies. It has ground walnuts on top of the crust under the plums and then it is topped with custard and baked. It is so good! We will be eating a lot of them over the next few weeks while our plums are ready.

While I was doing that. The guys were doing this.
Quite a bit of digging. A whole lot of shovelling fill off the truck into the wheelbarrows (my least favourite job). Some levelling and some brick laying. Most of this was done by S and the boys while I did the food preservation. Although I was the lucky one who got to do all the shovelling from truck to barrow and any other grunt work that needed to be done. W wants it known that he had to lift a lot of brick. I am looking forward to getting a chance to put plants in that new bed though. All in all a good day's work, although maybe not the way a normal person would choose to spend a day on which they were already tired...but I never said we were normal. No, not a bit.And this is how it looked just before dusk last night.
And this...this is Clipper, Clipper is not happy. We had promised to take her out for a dip, but Sunday turned out to be windy. If there is one thing that I am not fond of it is being in a little, bitty boat on a wavy, choppy lake with one large man and two small children. Not my idea of a good time. Poor Clipper.But I am happy because look what I got. Finally, finally, about two years after picking up this barrel that was marked free on the road side, I got me a rain barrel all hooked up to new downspout.

*I should mention that the reason this post has a frugality label is because we got all the bricks for this project for free (from a retail nursery close-out).