Summers are so Busy

Hey Everyone!

I have been wanting oatmeal raisin cookies for a few days now.

Today I finally made half a batch. The full batch would have just been way to many cookies to try to eat before they get stale. Being the only person in the house who is gluten free, dairy free and egg free, my specialty food costs more money, and since I am the only one in this house who really needs it, I tend to make half a batch of these kinds of things.

I also was in the mood for gluten free vegan rustic flat bread. So I mixed one up this evening and baked it along with my cookies.

It’s been a while since I felt like baking, and I picked the busiest day to do it on. This afternoon I spent a couple hours working in the backyard and around the garden, picking berries and such. I also spent some time knitting, and then baking and dinner. After all that was done, it was time for a quick shower and off to church.

Summers are short (which is great since don’t like the heat), and we have to pack in all that we can to maximize the growing season and what we can put up for winter. We have to make the most of the long days to get the most done.

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First Freezer Jam of the Season!

Hey Everyone!

Summer is in full swing! The raspberries we have growing in the backyard are taking off.

Yesterday I had grabbed a second pint berry container just in case, and I wound up using it and filled it up. Today when I went out to pick berries I had also taken a second pint container with me and I filled both up as well today.

I finally had enough berries to make a batch of freezer jam! So I finally got my first batch of jam of the season.

I used the directions out of the MCP box for making freezer jam, with one alteration, I put Karo Light Corn Syrup in my jam. The old MCP recipe called for a cup of Karo Syrup after you let the jam sit with the lemon juice and pectin, and before adding the sugar. You also want to put the lemon juice in with the crushed berries and the pectin. The directions don’t specify that.

I had made some jam after they had changed the recipe and without realizing they had changed the recipe and the jam came out all gritty and gross.

My mom and I came to the conclusion that the Karo Syrup helps the sugar to dissolve and the jam to not be gritty.

I don’t know if it was just one of those things or if there was any correlation between the two but i had watered the garden earlier in the week and the next day there were so many berries ready.

I will definitely try to remember to pay attention to how many berries I get tomorrow and see if there is more berries ready than usual.

What Living in a Small Town taught me about Who I am

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I am loving gardening and being able to go outside and work around after a rough day. There is something about working around the garden alone in the evenings.

Gardening definitely makes me miss living in a small town in the middle of nowhere this time of year. The towns I lived in while in college are college towns, at the same time there are families who live there, and the college is a welcome part of the community. With the exception of some of the freshman (thinking back to my own freshman year and lower division classes), the majority of the student body were there to learn. There were also a fair amount of older / non traditional students who had kids, in addition to the school not being a party school (can anyone say “dry campus”), made for a more family friendly community small town feel. Outside of town limits it was all farm land, whether they were growing grass for hay, hops for beer, or grapes to make wine, it is definitely a farming area. A lot of people who lived outside city limits also had gardens, some had chickens and or goats. There were at least a couple alpaca farms. It took leaving the city and moving there to realize that I am not a city girl.

It took living there to plant the seeds of wanting to live in the country, on some acreage where I can have a flower garden and a fruit & vegetable garden as well as chickens, maybe some goats, and so much more. I personally fell in love with living in the country, not super far from a small town.

Living there taught me how to appreciate the quiet and simpleness of a summer’s evening, and gardening once the sun is past it’s peak (between 5:30 and 7:30 pm), and enjoy watching the sun go down while sitting outside especially if there is a breeze.

Living in a small town where the regular TV stations didn’t always come through clearly, and many businesses closed by 7:00 pm, there wasn’t a lot to do like there is in the city. That didn’t bother me at all. It really helped me to appreciate the simpler things in life like the beauty of a summers evening, and going for a walk for something to do. It fits well with who I am. That slower pace of life, and enjoying the simpler way of life in terms of not having to be going from one store to another, spending lots of money, or constantly needing to go somewhere and do something is what works for me. If I ever have a family of my own, I would love to raise my kids near a small town.

Working around in the garden this week gave me time to think about how much more I want to do and what I want to grow and make for myself. While there is more of a resurgence of the Homesteading / Urban Homesteading Lifestyle out here in this part of the country, it seems like how much of what women did a couple generations ago (and they weren’t all urban housewives), is a chapter in the history books. Homesteading, even Modern Homesteading and urban Homesteading are a lot of work, but I love the way I feel at the end of a long day of work and being tired from actually accomplishing something.

This week I have picked about a pint of raspberries each day, and yesterday I picked some of my lettuce that I had planted earlier this week. I watered the garden, and kept a watchful eye on the tomato plants. It was a good thing that we staked the tomatoes last weekend. They have grown so much in the past week, it’s crazy. As of yesterday there were 11 flowers that I counted between all the plants. If we hadn’t staked them when we did, they would likely be falling over already.

Starting a Garden Journal

Hey Everyone!

Now that I have been getting more into Gardening, and hope to continue gardening well into the future, I decided to start a gardening journal.

I know that moving is in near enough future, and depending on where I move, the longitude and latitude I am at may change a bit or a lot. Unless I am able to move to Alaska, which could happen, in all likelihood I will stay in Oregon, Washington or Idaho, as I love this part of the country and the growing regions we have out here. We have everything I want out here, in terms of agriculture and produce. Not to mention hunting and fishing.

Each year is different, and different vegetables grow differently at different elevations, in different climate zones and at different latitudes.

I decided to start keeping this journal to track all of that on a regular basis (daily or almost daily).

I am only needed to record longitude, latitude, elevation and town / closest town each time I move, just to know where I am at and to be able to go back and look as a reminder.

At the beginning of the season I want to track if I planted anything new, what I planted, and how many plants, as well as what plants returned. From there, when I do maintenance stuff like staking the tomatoes or transferring starts from the greenhouse to the outdoor garden. I also want to track when things first start coming on.

On the daily basis track things like high temperature, humidity, whether it was an overcast or sunny day, if there was rain, or that I watered. I also want to track how much of each item I harvest each day. From there, I also want to document if I was able to make a batch of jam or something like that from what I harvested.

Part of why I am writing it down is so I have it easily at hand to track and look back on, as well as the fact it will be easier to search than my blog. I also feel that I would bore you all and lose followers if I posted all that here on a daily basis.

Not to mention that this blog is more than just about gardening, even though that is taking up a bit of my time in the summer.

I want to keep things as well rounded as possible, with Homemaking, Cooking, Baking, Canning, Gardening, cleaning, budgeting couponing, Decorating, entertaining, and all of that,

Attack of the Killer Tomatoes

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Over the past couple weeks since I have started picking raspberries, I have been keeping an eye on the tomato plants. They are finally tall enough where I really started taking notice and thinking that it was time to corral them.

Last year, they hadn’t been corralled, and by the time I had kind of taken over checking raspberries and working around the plot where the tomatoes are (as they are behind the raspberries), they were an overgrown mess. There were tomatoes on the vines, only a few ever started getting ripe, and most that did either got stepped on or partially eaten by squirrels and birds.

This year, since it is early enough in the season, and I have taken over keeping up with the plants in the garden and trying to tend them, and talking with the family members I live with, I found out that we had the wire tomato cages. With some help, we got the tomato plants corralled in the cages, and hopefully we will actually get some tomatoes off them to enjoy this summer.

I kind of taken over tending the garden plants because I really want a garden of my own, and what better way to get a feel for it than to jump and get my hands (and knees) dirty with what I already have available to me to work with.

I know I will be writing more about the Garden this summer, as well as other Homemaking and Urban Homesteading things. I may not post as many pictures here, but if you want to follow along, I will for sure be posting pictures on Facebook and Instagram. If you on either of those and want to follow my Homemaking and Homesteading journey through pictures and such be sure to follow me on those two platforms as well as following my blog.

This is the Life I Choose

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Earlier this week, one of the evenings I had been out picking raspberries, and I was been eaten alive by mosquitoes and cut up by the raspberry bushes.

The next afternoon I went digging in my closet looking for an old button down shirt that I didn’t really care about and hadn’t worn for ages. I found one that would work and put it on before going out to pick berries.

While the scratches from the raspberry bushes hurts, it’s the mosquito bites that concern me a bit more. While we don’t really worry about things like Yellow Fever or Malaria, or anything that is typically in the humid subtropical areas of the world, our biggest worries are West Nile Virus and to some extent Zika. Other than travel related cases where someone had travelled to a place where Zika is prevalent and gets bit, it is a pretty low risk still at this point in this part of the country that you could get Zika from a mosquito bite here. That being said it’s something I don’t want to take the chance of.

This evening I had gone out picking, and I got about 7/8 of a pint. The berries are slowly coming on. It is a wait and see kind of thing to see what the crop is like this year.

The berries I have gotten thus far have been gotten eaten. If and when I start getting a pint and a half to two pints a day, then making jam is a definite possibility.

There are a couple DIY hacks I would like to try in the future, such as homemade Citronella candles and using citronella essential oil mixed with fractionated coconut oil applied topically. I would also like to give some proper work clothes a try like some Duluth Trading Company clothes a try for the summer months (as well as some Carhartt for the colder months).

It seems that the older I get, the desire to grow as much of my own produce as possible, and do so much more Homesteading and DIY stuff. Knowing where my food comes from and what is in my food is a big deal to me. I realize that growing a garden, as well as going and locally procuring what isn’t feasible to grow on the small scale, hunting for and fishing my own food is the life I am working my rear end off to make happen for myself.

Fresh Picked Raspberries are my Current Obsession!

Hey Everyone!

Now that the raspberries are starting to come on, I am out there picking each evening.

My obsession began last summer when I was home alone for a week, and picking raspberries was left up to me. I was out there picking each evening, even though it was hot and the air was so smoky from the forest fires.

So far our air quality is still pretty good this year, but we have yet to have summer officially start, which will happen in less than 2 days (Thursday morning just after 6:00 am).

This afternoon I had gone out and picked the roughly quarter of a pint of raspberries that was ready.

I didn’t stay out long since it has been in the low 90’s today, and I am not a heat loving kind of person.

Today, I also got the bulky shawl I had finished knitting up a little while back washed up, beings that it was so warm today.

I am trying to maximize my use of the hot weather while it’s here, especially if I am ever able to move to SE Alaska. That is one thing I figured out / realized is that while I am living in the lower 48, I might as well take advantage of the summer weather to air dry my hand knit items outside and they will dry pretty quick. Then the house doesn’t smell like wet sheep for those I live with. Should I be able to move to SE Alaska, I am going to have to find other ways of drying my woolen creations. Living here in the lower 48, summer is the best time to wash new stuff especially. The wet sheep smell seems to diminish a bit after the first wash.