Reflection and Gratitude

The holidays … yes, Thanksgiving and Christmas are one season to me … turn my thoughts to the last year. Probably because I gather pictures for Christmas card collages and relive the memories.

I feel extremely blessed, and it’s good for me to name the reasons why. Then, during my low times, I have specific things to use as reminders.

Creating with my hands helps me process what I’m thinking. As I create, I have time to think…

We have enough and

I am content in my heart.

We are healthy today.

We have work we enjoy and

people who care.

We have a place to go

and good food to eat.

We have dreams to follow

and hope in our hearts.

20171123_065125.jpg

What do you cherish in your life?

Advertisements

The Second Move

Last year, I called moving day the Big Heave-Ho because we tried to half-carry, half-roll the greenhouse to move it to its winter location.

This year, we had wheels.

Next year, the temporary wheels will be mounted differently to avoid tilting and falling off issues.

Even so, we moved the greenhouse in less time this year than we did last year and with a few less complaints. Success!

20171113_140630.jpg
New location with straw tucked in to keep the cold out. 

Unfortunately, the move came a little late. Nothing drastic, but a few crops were exposed to freezing temperatures before I could cover them. I lost my radishes. The lettuce and carrots survived with no problem, but my beet tops drooped. I think the actual beets are fine, though.

20171113_140535.jpg
Inside look at winter carrots and little lettuces, red and green. 

I also waited a little too long to dig my sweet potatoes. The parts hidden under the ground show no effects from the cold, but the tips of some of them are soggy where they peeked above ground. I’ll need to remember to use them first.

One sweet potato looks like a meal by itself. I never know what I’ll find when I fork out my potatoes. It’s like a treasure hunt … and I get to eat it.

20171113_140125.jpg
The mammoth next to a normal sized sweet potato. 

The last of the tomato vines headed to the debris heap. I’m sad to see fresh tomatoes go, but I’m glad for the garden slow-down. I have many other projects waiting. Most have nothing to do with gardens.

Thanksgiving arrives next week. Are you ready? What do you look forward to with the coming holidays?

I’d love to hear from you. Jot your comments below. 

What’s Your Flavor?

Pumpkin.

Forgotten flavors mingle with fall. Not once during the summer did I wish for pumpkin pie or apple cider. Not once. I didn’t want stew or chili either. Apple pie wasn’t even on the list, though I wouldn’t have turned it down. Oh, my…with a little drizzle of peanut butter sauce.

We’ll pretend foods like hot apples, pumpkin muffins, and hot coffee don’t fit on this list because I definitely wanted them over the summer. Shhh…don’t tell fall.

With the completion of the outdoor soccer season, I may even have a little time to make some of these cool weather delicacies. Here are two that called my name this week:

Pumpkin butter. Just click the link for the recipe I used. I did substitute apple cider for apple juice. Yum. 

Pumpkin spice mocha. If you click on the link, you’ll see the recipe I started with. I halved the recipe. To make it a mocha, I added two tablespoons of mini chocolate chips instead of any extra sugar. And in place of the pumpkin and spices, I used a heaping teaspoon of pumpkin butter. Again, yum.

20171108_121634.jpg

What recipes tempt you this time of year?

And if anyone has a good pumpkin scone recipe, do share! 

Procrastination Paid Off

Last weekend, we had a windy storm blow through, and though it didn’t interrupt much of everyday life, it did drop a few tree limbs, blink the lights off in the middle of the night, and make for a few rerouted buses.

One of those limbs…a large one…landed on a section of the greenhouse that had remained uncovered all spring and summer. We had just started the “Will it be covered by winter?” talk.

(I really should concentrate more on projects I can do myself rather than enlisting the help of a too busy husband, but I haven’t learned that yet.)

Well, this time…don’t tell my hubby…procrastination paid off. If that lovely greenhouse would be good and covered, it would also be good and punctured right now. Phew! Havoc avoided with procrastination. Who’d have thought? Not me. I hate putting things off for later.

20171101_114836-1.jpg

Also last weekend, with the rain on the way, I pulled my little lettuce plants out of the protection of the cold frame and planted them.

These are the greens I had started inside about a month ago, so they were several inches tall. Taller, in fact, than the ones I’d planted at the same time outside. Proof that more hours of light and warmer conditions grow a faster greens.

20171101_114739.jpg
The taller new transplants are on the right. Lettuces on the left were planted in the ground outside. 

Planting them side by side makes it easy to compare them. Maybe it works better this time of year to start lettuce inside. The growing conditions are more controlled there, and the light in the back room reminds me to check on the water needs of the plants.

The trick is always to get them into the ground soon enough. A problem buffered when I have a cover, like my unheated greenhouse, over them. It’s like putting a sweater on my plants, and right now, we all need a sweater outside. 

What are your favorite parts of fall and the chill creeping in?

 

Duck n Donuts

Last weekend, we moved the ducks to a better suited home. With a pond. Technically, ducks don’t need water to survive. They need drinking water but not swimming water.

As a young girl, we had a pond in our backyard where we often had several ducks. I loved watching them waddle around and raise little ones.

So, when my husband and I learned that some duck breeds lay eggs like chickens do, we decided to give it a try even though we do not have a pond.

What adorable ducklings, we thought.

20160627_071129.jpg

But…we soon learned that ducks away from swimming water, though adorable, are messy.  They also stink.

So…a year and a half later, the time came to find them a new home.

We loaded the car for a visit to my dad’s house, the place I grew up, and my husband made a duck carrier for the top of the car. There was no way we were putting them inside the vehicle. That would have been a long three and a half hour drive holding our noses.

One by one, my husband caught them and loaded them into their straw-stuffed crate. They chased each other in circles until we started the drive. Once moving, they calmed down and watched the world pass.

Partway there, though, we stopped for a coffee. The quacking started as the hens shouted their order for some Dunkin Donuts.

The next morning, we released them to their new home. They had not been swimming since  they were ducklings, so we hoped they would remember what to do.

No need to worry, they were only on the pond moments before they were preening away, splashing, dunking and diving.

So, even though ducks don’t need water to survive. In my opinion, they need water to thrive.

And who wants to simply survive?

 

Remnants

20170925_094043.jpg
The valley tinged with fall. 

The first serious frost happened this week. The kind of frost that my weather app flashes an orange warning for. It was supposed to be serious. I mean, it frosted here, but my peppers are still standing, not even a little limply. Maybe someone else got the serious frost? Or maybe my husband just needed exercise scraping his car windows that morning.

I guess my massive pepper-remnant gathering frenzy the day before was unnecessary. Or not. Why toy with frost warnings? I don’t spend my time waiting for peppers to ripen to red, yellow, or orange only for them to turn into a mush pile because I wasn’t paying attention to the weather.

Serious frosts mean we are entering that long holiday season that some of you dread.

Dare I say it? I’ve already been working on a Christmas project…or two.

Yes…before Halloween.

Gasp! I know. Some of you just decided not to finish this post. Have a nice day! Love you anyway!

I’m one of those crazies who plays Christmas music on the piano whenever I feel like it…from mid-summer through January. What can I say? It brings lightness to my heart.

As I get older, I still anticipate the holidays. I love to see those we don’t often see. I love to give gifts to my family. I love to drink hot coffee on cold mornings…days (even hot ones really. Okay, I just love to drink coffee). I love to eat cookies and holiday food. I love to slow down with the garden and hibernate a little.

That slow down means…

I don’t have much to say about the garden. It frosted, but I have a few lingering tomatoes. Nothing died. The lettuce and spinach and carrots continue to grow s l o w l y.

I have a few things to bring in before the real freeze. Sweet potatoes. Celery. And a little more attention to give to cleanup. My zinnias still feed the butterflies.

But autumn is here.

Gorgeous sunny days, chilly nights. Perfect soccer weather. Perfect walk-in-the leaves weather followed by hot cider.

Go outside and enjoy it!

Grow a Little Garlic

Fall is the time for garlic.

In my opinion, summer is the time for eating garlic…salsas and grilling marinades, pesto and other pasta delights. Do you ever get hungry talking about food? I’m hungry writing about it.

But garlic grows best when planted in the fall. Cool growing at its peak. That means early October in zone 6. Garlic needs a little time before the ground freezes to sprout some roots, but not so much time that it sends up too much green.

The last several years, I have saved and used my own garlic to plant for next year’s crop. From my stash of cloves, I chose the largest, nicest cloves to replant.

20171010_131915.jpg
I plant a hardneck variety. See the hard stem pointing up through the middle? They peel easier than softneck varieties. 

After loosening the soil and forking in some compost, I planted each clove about two inches down and six inches apart, root side down. I try to pick a place in my garden that I won’t bother too much through the winter growing season. My growing spaces are separated by about a foot of walkway. I don’t want to walk on the little cloves or forget where I put them (I’ve been known to do that. What a surprise in the spring!).

Through the winter, the garlic gathers energy, growing bit by bit. Then, early in the spring little green shoots show up.

As summer’s heat peaks, the garlic gets sick of the weather. By late July or early August, it’s time to dig the bulbs and dry them for storage. I like to lay an old screen across a garden cart and crisscross layers of garlic on it. This method allows air to flow around all sides of the garlic bulbs, drying it evenly.

20170809_064536.jpg

Then, I shake off the excess dirt, clip the roots, and store the bulbs. This year, I tied my bulbs together and hung them in our storage room, but softneck varieties are fun to braid for storage. You can also buy a mesh bag to store garlic in.

20171010_131444.jpg
Oops! I forgot to shake that excess dirt and trim those roots. 

Of the things I grow in my garden, garlic is one of the easiest. It takes very little time to plant, dig, and cure. Most of the work happens while I get other things done.

If you’re a garlic fan, I highly recommend it for your garden.