Wednesday, July 31, 2013

An Ode to Public Libraries in the Summer

I love Public Libraries. There's something about walking into a cool library in the dog days of Summer, welcomed by the smell of books and the sounds of the Summer Reading Club, that always makes me feel nostalgic. It reminds me of the seemingly endless days of Summer holidays as a kid, making trips to the library to check out new chapter books to read by the lake or in front of the fan to beat the heat. I loved immersing myself in a new world, becoming a new character, going on new adventures. My imagination craved these literary escapes and the library was always there to provide them.
As an adult, I still enjoy the world of novels, but I love even more to check out books on living sustainably, farming, and obscure crafts. There is a whole world of knowledge to discover at the library.
We stopped in at our library today. I browsed through the non-fiction, placed a hold on a new book, and read stories to my son in the children's section. We chatted with the librarians and Kesten dragged one of them around the library, showing off his new walking skills and crawling under shelves. Children were gathered upstairs, talking about the books they read this week for Summer Reading Club, and people from town were using the internet downstairs. Someone was in the corner reading a paper. What a great place. There is community in the library. Have you stopped by your local library yet this Summer?

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Preserving the Bounty

These days have been all about harvesting and preserving food that I have in excess. Herbs always seem to be abounding in the garden and I wanted to try a few methods of preserving this year, other than drying. I'm sure many of you have seen this method of freezing herbs in olive oil before, but I thought I would give it a go this year. I found nice clear instructions here. 

First off, I picked some fresh oregano from my garden and chopped it up.  
 Next I filled an ice cube tray with the oregano, about 2/3 full.
 I covered them with extra virgin olive oil.
 I covered the tray and popped it in the freezer overnight.
 Voila! Ready to use cubes of herbal yumminess! When I need to fry up some meat or onions, I can just pop in one of these cubes to start it off.
 I put them in a freezer bag labeled with the type of herb and oil and the date and popped them back in the freezer.
I'm going to dry some herbs next, and maybe I'll look into other preservation methods.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Huckleberries

On Saturday the plan was to go picking around 10am. I've been looking forward to picking huckleberries since I moved here almost 3 years ago and hadn't been once. So imagine my disappointment when we woke to pouring rain. I got the phone call that our plans were cancelled and we would reschedule for the next day. I was bummed, but decided to make the most of it by reading in the bathtub ("The Secret Keeper" by Kate Morton. I finished it. Yay!) But soon got another call saying the plans were back on, the rain had stopped. So in a rush, I threw together my supplies, hopped in the car and drove out to meet my friends. We loaded into a truck and went down a logging road until we spied a new road in a clearcut and decided to try our luck down there. We pulled over and got suited up. I put on my rain pants (the bushes are still really wet) and a mesh bug shirt that covers my head as well. I know I looked so cool. My sister, who raves about the fashion sin of Gortex, would have disowned me if she had seen me. But there is no one but bears and hawks out in the bush to see you and function comes before fashion in my mind. With pails in hand, we fanned out from the truck and picked our way through the fallen logs and underbrush of the clearcut until we reached the tree line. That's where the huckleberries start to grow.
 For hours we picked, wandering about, heads down looking for a good patch of huckleberries, calling out once in awhile to see where everyone else was. Sometimes we would find a large patch and sit ourselves down in the middle of it and pick for an hour. I'm not as fast as the other, I only picked 2 quarts in the time that others picked a gallon or so. But it was enough for me. So, after about four hours of picking, we headed back to the farm to look at the chickens and play with the dogs. A good day!
 Back at home I got to work making 6 jars of huckleberry jam to add to my 9 jars of wild raspberry jam.  It looks like we are going to have lots of jam and jellies this year to get us through the Winter.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

What's Been Happening Here


Sine I last wrote:

* I cut off 17 inches of my hair (and donated it)


(I like it so much better right now)
*I've gone for some bike rides
*I've jumped in the lake nearly every day
*My wheat is starting to turn golden
*My peas are producing like wild and I've had to freeze three bags so far
*Kesten and I went berry picking yesterday and I almost have enough wild raspberries to make jam
*We're still getting over our colds
*I've started a new book "The Secret Keeper" by Kate Morton
*I might have heard an attempted crow coming from the chicken coop...
*I had my birthday! Last year in my twenties...
*I've been bitten by so many blackflies that I feel I need a blood transfusion
*I've been wishing I had more time to be crafty, but that will come with Winter (I hope)

What has your Summer been like so far? Are you making the most of it?

Monday, July 15, 2013

A Week on The Prairies

We were gone this past week to the prairies. My husband went to a workshop in Edmonton and we accompanied him. It was a nice little trip, but we were glad to get back home, especially because we seem to have caught a cold while we were away.

On our way out, we stopped for a picture in the canola fields. We are still in BC in this picture, just an unusually flat part of BC. (Don't worry, I didn't trample any canola for this picture. I only walked where there was a path.)
 Heading through the Rocky Mountains, we saw some wildlife on the road.
 Downtown Edmonton. Since our hotel was downtown, we spent a lot of time in this area. Kesten and I  also took the bus out to the famous West Edmonton Mall (Kesten's first time on public transit).
 Another day, we took a tour of the legislature building. It was fascinating!
 On our way back home, we stayed a couple nights with Grandma and Grandpa. We drove out to see the old church on the prairie that I took pictures of years ago and have painted many times.
 I also explored an old homestead that was falling down.
 Closer to home, in B.C., we stopped at the Ancient Forest, an old growth rainforest of some giant cedar trees. We went once before in Winter, so it was amazing to see how lush it was in the Summer.
 And here is my little travelling champ, trying to have some fun in his car seat. He was sick on the drive home and ended up sleeping most of the 9 hour drive. Poor little guy. On the way there, I discovered a fun way to keep him entertained in the car. I just poured some water from my water bottle into a bucket and let him play with some toys in the water. It kept him busy for over an hour, which was great! He loved driving his cars through the water and stirring it with a wooden spoon.
Back at home, it looks like it rained and rained the entire time we were gone. The wheat was all knocked over from all that water, but it seems to be recovering. The peas have taken over everything in the garden! There are so many of them! Everything seems to be doing really well, and it is nice to have homegrown veg with every meal. Oooh, and the strawberries! We seem to have a glut of strawberries right now. Mmmmmmmm. Soon the wild berries will be in season and it will be time to forage.
And that is what we have been up to lately. Sorry for the neglect. Summer always seems to take priority...

Friday, July 5, 2013

July in the Garden

I know, I know, another garden post! I'm sorry, but it does take up most of my spare time these days. Last night I harvested some greens (and purples and reds) for a delicious salad.
 Home grown salad for dinner with fish cooked in home grown herbs. These kinds of things make me smile from ear to ear.
 We FINALLY got a weed whacker so my garden is looking a bit more like a garden, and less like a tangle lost in chest high grass.


 My wheat is about waist high now!
 Isn't it beautiful? This is the Chinook wheat:
 And this is the Blue Tinge Ethiopian Wheat:
My little chickens (almost 7 weeks old) are now mixed in with the bigger chickens (13 weeks old). It was a very peaceful transition. The big ones are not really picking on the little ones, which is unusual. I think having them live side by side but separated by wire helped them get used to each other. The little ones also slept all night in the big coop with the big girls last night. Sleep Over! I still have no idea which of the little chicks are roosters and which are hens. I think I am going to have to wait until they are 12 weeks old and grow saddle feathers (if they are boys) before I'll be able to tell. Right now I have 6 chickens total and I only want to keep four.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

July Long Weekend

Happy belated long weekend to my fellow Canadians! We celebrated Canada Day on Monday (Dominion Day in Barkerville!) Kesten's Grandparents came up for a visit (bringing a bunch more birthday presents) and then we headed off to Barkerville for a camping trip.

Kesten loved all his new presents. What a spoiled little guy!
 He loved helping me build his new table and chairs- using his new tool set :)
 Before we left town, we headed to the beach for an evening picnic. The weather was hot, the water was fine, and the sand was welcoming.
 We got rocked by the waves as we sat in the boat on the shore.
 Kesten enjoyed pouring sand on us as we soaked up the evening rays.

 Next we headed off to Barkervile. Barkerville is an old ghost town that was home to the big goldrush on Williams Creek in BC. Today, it is opened to tourists, with costumed actors bringing the town to life again. We poked around the old buildings, listened to some very interesting talks, and watched various Dominion Day games and activities. We even walked up to the old courthouse, where "Judge Begbie" (The Hanging Judge) was holding court. We got 'yelled' at for entering late and were forced to do jury duty. Haha, it was pretty funny.
 What wild times it must have been during those goldrush years. Gold does funny things to people.
 Monday night we had a WILD storm while we were camping. Something about being in a tent during thunder, lightning, fierce hail and wind makes you feel so vulnerable! But we made it through and Kesten pretty much slept through it all. It was very exciting!

Back at home, we are trying to settle back into the groove of things. Kesten is enjoying being back with all his new toys. He loves to sit and eat at his new table. It is perfectly Kesten-sized.
 The peas exploded in the garden while we were away! They are full of blossoms which will hopefully be followed by peas in a few days. (We also bought a weed whacker on our way home, so I am looking forward to getting our garden looking a little less wild around the edges!)
These peas are so amazing! They are an edible snow pea called Carouby de Mausanne Snow Pea, but they have all the beauty of a sweet pea. I haven't tried the actually peas yet, but I'm sold! I'll be growing these again. Edible and decorative, 2 for 1!
 Some of my purple peacock broccoli is ready for picking and eating now. What beautiful colours! (And don't you love my new plate from Barkerville?) We ate our first zucchini from our garden last night. It was delicious! It was shaped like a bottle because I cross-polinated it with my pumpkin as no male flowers were open on the zucchini yet, haha. My wheat is at least waist height and looks like an ocean wave when it blows in the wind. It has been a fun experiment so far.
Tell me what you have been up to this summer! How does your garden grow? Attach links in the comments if you want us to check out your gardens and Summer fun!
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