Friday, September 28, 2012

Happy Anniversary to Me!

 Yesterday marked the one-year anniversary of “all hell breaking loose” for me. One year ago yesterday I:
  • Started my new job (and the associated training program – which just finished last week,)
  • Took possession of my new home, and;
  • Moved into my new home (and out of the townhouse I was renting)

When I look back over the past year (as is, I think, appropriate to do right about now) I can see I have accomplished a lot both on the job and around my house…

At work I have made a good change for myself – am now involved in a job I like – one that interests and challenges me and, for the most part, one I can leave at the office when I go home at the end of my day.

At home I have made a start to the renovations inside (and the removal of 17 different kinds of wallpaper)

And am now surrounded by clean lines and light colours:

I made a start to the changes in the back and front yards.  I hacked back a lot of this:

Removed all SORTS of strange and interesting crap:

And am left with this for now:

No more jungle out there but still a ways to go.

Where renovations to the house itself are concerned, I have also learned that I need to use some temperance in getting things started – or rather, taking on only one project at a time and seeing it through to completion BEFORE starting a new one.

I have learned how to water-bath can food and am in the throes of preserving as much of the current bounty of my space as I can before winter sets in. Next year I hope to have an actual garden and to produce (and preserve for myself) even more of what I can grow.

I still have a long way to go, but looking back, I’m pleased with my progress.

With love across the waters,

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Additional Adventures in Canning – Applesauce!

During the week I was in Vancouver Autumn came to Cumberland.  The leaves are turning colours (and in some cases, falling already!) the air smells of wood smoke and somehow the sunshine doesn’t seem so hot.

Also during the week I was in Vancouver, the apples on my trees have ripened and are ready for me to do stuff with. Last night I baked an apple crisp. I have no vanilla ice cream in the house (and can’t bring myself to try it with chocolate ice cream, no matter how much I love chocolate) but it was darn fine anyhow!

Today I started processing apples. I headed in to Wal-Mart & picked up three dozen wide mouth pint jars, some extra snap lids and I also found a quart-jar canner that I put into my shopping cart. 
Home, I had another cuppa coffee and some more cuddle time with Jasmine. Around noon I went outside and picked a bucket of apples and got started. I should point out that, while I have now taken a bunch of apples off the tree, there are still TONS there, ready, waiting and continuing to ripen.

LOADS still on the tree!
Using my handy-dandy corer/peeler/slicer (which frankly takes off too much of the apple flesh in my opinion) I filled my G I A N T cook-pot with apple.  Two tablespoons of cinnamon and a little water added (there is no sugar in anything I processed today) onto the stove it went. About forty minutes of processing is what was needed to get the apple into a chunky mush (there was a LOT of it) and when it was ready to process into canning jars I got started.

After 10 minutes and a stir.
Once the applesauce was ready, using my funnel, I filled the jars nearly to the rim – first batch into the pot to be processed (twenty-five minutes) I gave myself about ten minutes to putter around, clean up what mess I had made and then get the next batch of either jars ready for processing.

Processing underway!
AGH! I didn’t quite have enough applesauce to fill the other eight jars earmarked for today’s batch of applesauce… so I have thirteen pint jars of chunky applesauce with cinnamon, one pint of chunky applesauce with pear wedges and two more pints of canned pears. I only had a small amount of pears left from before, and so being able to process some of them along with the applesauce today was nice.

Listening to the lids pop!
Tomorrow I think I will maybe try out applesauce with lemon, plum and ginger.  I figure if it’s a total fail the worst thing I have is something I can sweeten with honey and pour on ice cream! I have plum sauce I processed last year when I moved into the house (and used lemon in it) – all I need to do is get my hands on some fresh ginger.

With love across the waters,

Tapas Dinner, Chocolate Buffet, and My Critters

It’s a pretty diverse title this time, I know, but it is also the main highlights of this past week for me.

Saturday of last week I dropped Jasmine at my friend Terri’s home – to be boarded for a week… Sunday morning I took Missy to the Blackberry Hill Kitty Kottage (the boarding kennel) for her week-long stay, and then Sunday evening I flew over to Vancouver (under much protest, I must admit) to attend a week-long training session for work. 

While the work-related pieces were interesting and will, I am certain, prove valuable, the highlights of the training week for me happened on Tuesday night and on Thursday night. 

Tuesday night I was able to connect with a long ago love of mine to have a delicious Tapas dinner at La Bodega and, more wonderful for me, a great long catch up and visit.  I can’t say he hasn’t changed a bit – he has – but then again, we all have. The years are being beautifully kind to him. He’s also changed somewhat on the inside, from what I can see.  He’s matured.  He was always sweet and kind and very thoughtful – but the years have refined him somehow, and the person I see when looking at him now is someone that I would want to get to know better, even if I didn’t know him already. Truly, I would like to get to know better the man he’s grown into. I hope we don’t end up going another ten years between visits, but lives have a way of getting busy and so if I am unable to see him for another ten years I will content myself to Facebook updates.

Thursday night I was able to meet up with a couple of high school chums for the purpose of partaking in the Sutton Hotel’s Chocolate Buffet.  OH MY! The highlight of the food portion of the evening was, most definitely, the crepe station. YUM. While I didn’t hit ALL of the samples I wanted to try out, I did manage to make some inroads into some delicious options and all in all the food review of the portion of the evening is a positive one. Catching up with my girlfriends? It was truly wonderful to see some great friends.

Friday afternoon I headed back home – got here around 6:30 in the evening… Blackberry Hill was closed and I just didn’t have three hours of driving in me, so Saturday morning I headed down to get Jasmine… When I arrived Miss Jasmine was up on the grooming table being brushed and combed, blown out and beautified.  She wasn’t exactly thrilled with the process, but I did get climbed on and kissed when I got close enough for such attention (and I LOVED it!)

I missed the “lunch break cut off” time and so headed home and had a small nap & then went and picked up Missy around 2PM.  She was also happy to see me (not as thrilled to see the dog though) and told me in no uncertain terms (in loud and plaintive tones) that I was missed and not to do that again any time soon please and thank you!

Since arrival at home, Missy has been in and out (and in and out and in and out!) and has so far brought a red collared bird and a snake into the yard.  The snake was alive, the bird not so much. Jasmine is not letting me out of ear-shot at the moment.  I stand up from the computer and she comes to find out exactly where it is that I think I may be going.

How does the old saying go? East or West, Home is best?


With love across the waters,