Thursday, August 27, 2015

Home Canning

Well, to make up for my lack of posts for so long, here's another one.

I didn't do any canning last year. I guess having a newborn during the summer months was a good enough excuse. But I sure did miss all that homemade jam throughout the year. Well, this year has been a different story! It is August and I've got over 70 jars canned. I have the basement kitchen set-up as my own canning centre, and it has made the process quick and painless!

 So far, I have made strawberry syrup, strawberry jam, strawberry-rhubarb jam, huckleberry jam, nectarine jam, sweet zucchini relish, zucchini dill pickles, and pickled beets. Let me tell you a sad story about those last two. My husband had taken an empty vinegar bottle and filled it up with water to use as a weight. Well, somehow it made it back to the shelf where the regular vinegar would go and I used it for my zucchini pickles and pickled beets. The funny thing is, I never noticed that it didn't smell like vinegar until later I had to open another bottle of vinegar for something. But that was a week after my jars had been sealed and pickled with water. So all those had to go in the compost heap. Whimper. I plan on making some more pickled beets this week though. Now that I am sufficiently over the trauma.
 This afternoon, while the kids napped, I canned the salsa that I prepared last night from our own garden tomatoes.
I hope it tastes good! I think a few jars of apple butter and pickled beets will round off the canning year. How about you? Have you been attempting to can anything this year?

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Another Long Catch-Up Post

I had sworn I wasn't going to do another one of these posts... But summer being summer, I have been busy enjoying myself and I am sorry to say that this blog got forgotten about for a few weeks. So, now that I am back, here's some photos to catch you up!
I made some dye with goldenrod to dye my other scarf yellow.

 It came out a pretty colour, but I don't think it is colourfast at all. If I wash this scarf, I am sure that I will lose all that yellow!
 Herbs are picked and drying from the garden.
 We went for a visit to Nakusp to see my sister and her family. While we were there, we had to check out Nakusp Medieval Days. I saw some people from my past, so it was very cool.
 The cousins got along remarkably well.
 We made homemade pizza with homemade mozzarella.
 These two are only 6 months apart in age.

 After Nakusp, we headed to the Okanagan to reunite with the whole family. I was having so much fun, I forgot to take pictures.
Once back at home, it was time to harvest my wheat.

Our garden is full of produce right now and every dinner is chock-full of home-grown veggies.

On the weekend, Kesten and I got to check out the Vanderhoof Fall Fair. It was so much fun and such a treat to spend time with just the two of us. Kesten wanted a picture in front of every tractor.
These mini goats were adorable.
Oh silkies- you'll always be my favourite breed of chicken.
Kesten was very impressed by the Lego entries.
And everyone was impressed by these turkeys!
And that pretty much takes us to present. I can't believe there is only one week left in August!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Dyeing With Woad

Back in the spring, I got some woad seeds and I thought, "Hey, why not?" I planted them, watered them, and created a little dye garden raised bed for them. They grew and thrived and now it was time to try them out.
Back in the spring, I also ordered a few silk scarves, in anticipation of dyeing them with woad and goldenrod. The first step was to prepare the scarves. I wanted to experiment with various shibori techniques, and luckily, the internet is full of DIY. The scarf in the picture below I planned on dyeing in graduating tones from light to dark, with a little design on the dark end. I traced some circles onto the scarf and then basted a stitch around each circle.
 Next I pulled all the stitches tight and that was that! I experimented with a variety of other techniques on my big scarf and then I soaked them overnight in water to prepare them for dyeing in the morning.
For most of my information on dyeing with woad, I followed the instructions on this lovely blog:
Next, I headed into the garden to cut my lush woad leaves. I need 4 times the weight of the fabric I was dyeing in leaves. I was left with lots leftover, so I think I will be dyeing again in the future!

 Inside, I heated roughly 5 litres of water to 90c and prepared my leaves by tearing them up, rinsing them, and draining them.
 Next, I shut off the heat to the water, dumped in the leaves and covered it for ten minutes. When the ten minutes were up, I placed the hot pot directly into a sink full of ice water and stirred to cool the pot down to 50c in about 5 min.
 Then I poured the liquid into a bucket, straining out the leaves with a colander. I used gloves and squished out all the liquid I could from the leaves and then I poured the liquid in the bucket back into the pot.
 The dye has to be alkaline, so I dissolved a heaping teaspoon of soda ash into a small amount of hot water and stirred it into the pot.
 With an electric whisk, I stirred the pot for 10 minutes. Pretty green and then blue foam formed on top.
 When the 10 minutes were up, I gently stirred in some thiourea dioxide, which de-oxygenates the water. The dye bath now has to be kept at 50c for at least the next half hour, until it becomes a translucent greeny colour.
 It is now ready to use! I took my scarves (and a t-shirt that I added later) and rinsed them under the hottest tap water so that they wouldn't cool down the dye bath. I then submerged them into the dye for about 10 minutes. For the scarf that I wanted to dye in varying shades, I put the end that I wanted darkest in first, and gradually added more of the scarf every 5 minutes or so. I've actually read that it is better to do shorter dips, pull the fabric out to oxygenate, and then dip again, etc for a darker colour.
 While the fabric looks yellowy-white inside the dye bath, the moment you pull it out and introduce it to oxygen, it magically turns blue.

 This is what my t-shirt looked like just after I pulled it out.

 Later on the clothesline, you can see that the blue has darkened a lot more. I rinsed my fabrics under tap water right after dyeing them, but I've also read that you should leave them for 24 hours.

 When they were dry, it was time to take out all my stitching and elastics to reveal the patterns underneath.
 Tomorrow I will wash them and give them a good iron to get all the creases out from the shibori process.
 The design on my t-shirt came from putting marbles under the fabric and holding them in place with elastics.

I was pretty pleased that it actually turned out and it is definitely something I will try again! I wonder if I can get darker colours? Oooh, and next up will by dyeing with goldenrod.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Apple Tree Fort

After a walk in the forest this morning, we got in some much-needed play time in the backyard. We haven't been playing out there too much lately, as the bugs were soon driving us back inside. But the bugs have died down now and we are re-discovering the fun that is our yard! One of the best discoveries? Our apple tree fort! The branches form a perfect cave with a little door. You would think that I had purposefully pruned it that way!

 It is pretty magical to look up and see a ceiling of leaves and fruit! Kesten has been discovering all the "windows" in the fort.

 Oh, and the best part? The walls are edible! Cedar and Kesten have been picking those sour little apples and munching on them.
 Sometimes, Kesten and I squeal at the sourness and our faces pucker right up. Cedar seems unphased by the sourness, though.
 Sometimes, the apples don't even get picked before they are tasted. It is fun to watch Kesten use the apples in his imaginative play- serving us apples at the picnic tables, pretending to pick "green, pit-less cherries," doing target practice with the windfalls.
 And while the kids are busy in the fort, I get to wander through my garden a little bit. My wheat is ripening.

Boos likes to play lookout in the garden. The raspberries are turning red.

 The quinoa might actually blossom soon...
 And I caught this tiny little hen in the act of laying another egg today!
That makes two, tiny adorable eggs!
Mmm, I am enjoying this backyard time!
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