July 11, 2011

Independence Days Update—Back to the Basics

 DSC_5810 We participate in Sharon Astyk’s Independence Days Challenge.  I’m getting the idea that Sharon won’t be posting these updates anymore.  I’m changing the format slightly.  Since these were inspired by her work, I’m still going to call it my weekly “Independence Days Update”.

Yesterday I woke up in a mood.  I was tired after a lot of activity with family who were visiting.  I had missed two Sundays at church, and the Sunday before that I missed the service because I was working at children’s church.  I was complaining and venting and reinforcing my bad mood.  Then almost as soon as church started, I felt much calmer—more centered, more at peace, happier.

Later in the day, I was mowing the lawn and realized that I had a smile on my face.  As I weeded the garden and picked the vegetables, I realized how content I felt in spite of the heat.  As I worked in the kitchen to prep beets for canning, it was methodical and rhythmic.  Those simple activities of daily life make me feel whole. Reconnecting with my sense of spirituality was the pick-me-up that I so needed.  Getting back to the basics is good for my soul.

The weather has been hot and pretty dry.  Yesterday when I stepped outside to pick a flower arrangement for a friend who had a birthday, I was almost instantly sweating.  Thus far we have had enough water in the rain barrel to give the garden a drink, but if we don’t get rain soon, it will run out. 

The second and third wave of cucumbers are finally starting to look better.  We have a few cukes on the vine, which gives me hope for a crop.  My dad has had plenty on his and a friend gave me a large back full.  Both of those sources have resulted in a few quarts of refrigerator dill pickles

The second planting of watermelons seem to be growing nicely.  All of the cantaloupes and Gooligan White Baby Pumpkins are kaput.  The eggplant have done nothing, and I’m thinking they are too shaded by other plants.  I saw some Japanese beetles in the garden, and I’ll order some milky spore to put in the ground so that any grubs don’t see the light of day next year.  I’m also afraid that my brandywine tomato has blight.  UGH.

What did I plant this week?—I don’t think that I added anything else to the garden this week

Planted to date in 2011--

Super Sugar Snap Peas, 7 tomatoes (brandywine, grape, Early Girl, Better Boy), Choko Baby bok choy, One Kilo Chinese cabbage, 4 eggplant, Blue Lake Pole Beans, Christmas Lima Beans, Kestral Baby Beets, Touchstone Gold Beets, Chioggia Beets, Bull’s Blood Beets, Waltham 29 Broccoli, Rouge d’Hiver Romaine Lettuce, Matina Sweet Butterhead Lettuce, Galia Melon, Gooligan White Baby Pumpkin, Gourmet Rainbow Radish Mix, Gigante Inverno Spinach, Cavili Zucchini Squash, Milano Black Zucchini Squash, Supersett Yellow Crookneck squash, Sweet Beauty Watermelon, Marketmore cucumber, Genovese Basil, dill, flat leaf parsley, Jenny Lind melons, Butternut Squash, Garlic (planted in the fall), yellow and red onions, 8 bell peppers, 6 jalapeno peppers, 4 cabbage plants, 4 broccoli plants, daylilies, surprise lilies, sedum, 4 o’clocks, hollyhocks, red cockscomb, moonflower, zinnias, sunflower mix, marigold, butterfly flower garden seed mix, thyme, chives, carrots, coriander, horseradish, garlic chives, Peace Vine tomato, another type of basil (friend gave it to me), Sweet Million Tomatoes.

What did I harvest this week?—All of the big and medium sized beets in the garden and in my dad’s garden.  I left some of the smaller ones to see what they do.  I picked cucumbers at my dad’s and zucchini at both his garden and mine.  Jalapeno peppers and bell peppers, tomatoes, herbs, beautiful sunflowers, cosmos, bachelor buttons, onions, a little broccoli, and blueberries.

What did I preserve this week?—Mild pepper jelly.  It wasn’t nearly hot enough, but I think it will make a good treat for some of my friends who prefer milder flavors.  I lost my recipe for hot pepper jam, which was perfect and beautiful when made.  I’m still trying to track it down, but if you have a good recipe for it, please pass it my way.  I pickled beets.   I made 5 quarts and 1 pint of refrigerator dill pickles, and I dehydrated a few zucchini squash.  We also made popsicles.  While it isn’t a food preservation that will last long, I did it to use up some milk and juice in the fridge before it spoiled.

How did I work to reduce waste and live more simply?— Even though we ran the dishwasher almost nonstop while guests were in town, we had the lowest utility bill for the month of July that we have had since we started recording about 4 years ago.  I’m guessing that the power being off for almost 48 hours and being out of town for a few days helped. 

We received two big piles of hand-me-downs for our daughter this week.  She was thrilled.  Last night when I cut my hand, I was trying to hurry with the beets so that I could watch the fashion show that she was planning to put on for Hubby and me.  I do believe she gets more excited about hand-me-downs than she ever does about new clothes.  There is something about receiving it from the “big girls” in her life whom she respects.  Hubby and I are very appreciative of the generosity of friends and family who are so willing to share with her and us.  I’m planning to make it to a consignment sale that Blue Frog Creations mentioned on her blog to pick up some winter clothes and clothes for the fall.  Other than that, we are pretty set in way of clothes for our sweet girl.

I have a ton of baby things that I haven’t wanted to sell yet.  I have a close friend who I’ll share those with when her baby comes, and it makes me feel good to know that they will go to use instead of just sitting around in storage. 

How did I work at building and strengthening community food systems?—  I continue to visit local farmers markets and support local businesses when I can.  I have a food preservation class coming up next week, which I’ll post more info on soon.  I’ve been working to get ready for that.

Did I try any new recipes or were there any special meals at our table?— My dad has a new recipe for a rice and squash dish.  He makes a batch of rice, adds tomato sauce and lets that soak into the rice near the end of cooking, adds sliced zucchini and hot peppers, and seasons it.  Then he melts cheddar cheese on top.  It was delicious. 

We had a lot of sweet and special meals while family were visiting, and I’m so blessed to have people in my life who want to come and see us.  Such a nice time!

No comments:

Post a Comment