Friday, June 19, 2009

Shop Til You Pop


If it can be done, I sure hope I can find it! I'm giving it a shot, anyhow!

Craigs List
Word of mouth
phone calls

and doing searches online for hours now, trying to line up some way to either purchase or fabricate a pool wall.

They just don't sell the walls any longer. You have to buy an entire kit.

I kid you not, I have even been emailing Chinese manufacturers and importers of rolled and coiled sheet metal.

No dice.

We are picking up a pool wall someone had on FreeCycle that is a 3 by 12. It will be welcome to have to cool and splash in until something larger makes itself available, but I'm wondering about hooking up our huge filter system. LOL If the wall can take it, it ought to filter that whole pool in about 2 minutes.

Meanwhile, I'm going to try pickles, I think. We have a lot of cukes. And we had zucchini for breakfast. ;)

That was three days of rain on the garden. Lots of mud. But they clean up just fine.


Here's what I've got so far...

Gooseberry pie filling, gooseberry jam with no stems, and gooseberry jam WITH stems.

I planned on making jelly from the frozen gooseberries, but didn't have enough sugar for the whole lot of them. So I decided to do the 1 1/2 gallons of black currants I still had.

I did not follow directions. I wanted to see if using my juicer would give me juice to make the jelly.

It did not. I stopped after only doing about 1/3 of them. My juicer clogged up and I ended up with puree. I should have remembered that this juicer will not do soft fruits at all.

So I put the whole thing into a pot and cooked it til the remaining currants had broken down, then tried to strain it.

Kept trying...

And then tried leaving it for a long time...

It was not use. That stuff was not going to let go of the juice. So I ended up making black currant jam.

Isn't this little guy cute? I think he got too much nitrogen. I hope I don't have a problem. The plants absolutely would not grow until I gave them some later, but it may have been too much.

Having just gone through the cupboard, I'm short on some pickle spices, so I may have to put that off until I go to town tonight and can get some.

Michael is out taking down the massive amounts of grass growth we've had since the rains. We'll be raking it up and putting in the compost pile, it looks like. Too thick to leave there. We ended up with nearly 5 inches of rain this week! We, like so many of you, have been dealing with drought conditions (weird for me to say, as I'm from CA in an area that 15 - 20 inches was a good year) here for a few years. The top of the landscape is good, our lakes are good, but the water table way down deep is still a bit low. I'm hoping this week has brought it close to where it's supposed to be. :)

One bad thing from the rain, is that all the last herbs we put in, that were soooo tiny, got buried by runoff. Next year will be better. If we have the greenhouse going, we can get an earlier start and be able to put plants in that are not tiny, but maybe 6 inches tall. What a blessing that will be in so many ways!

The Tomato Garden

An old Italian lived alone in New Jersey. He wanted to plant his annual tomato garden , but it was very difficult work as the ground was hard.
His only son, Vincent, who used to help him, was in prison.
The old man wrote a letter to his son and described his predicament:

Dear Vincent:
I am feeling pretty sad because it looks like I won't be able to plant my tomato garden this year. I'm just getting too old to be digging up a garden plot. I know if you were here my troubles would be over. I know you would be happy to dig the plot for me, like in the old days.
Love, papa

A few days later he received a letter from his son.

Dear Pop:
Don't dig up that garden. That's where the bodies are buried.
Love, Vinnie

At 4 a.m. the next morning, FBI agents and local police arrived and dug up the entire area without finding any bodies. They apologized to the old man and left.
That same day the old man received another letter from his son.

Dear Pop:
Go ahead and plant the tomatoes now. That's the best I could do under the circumstances.
Love you,

It is going to be hazy-sunny today and 95 degrees!



Thursday, June 18, 2009

Ooh, a SAD day!


We got home late last night. Michael went out to do chores and came in doing his best not to cry.

Yes, it had given way while we were gone. :-(

Gratefully, I had prayed, when we had our first and only swim together before the rains came, that when it gave way, it would be when Michael was not in it. That prayer was answered with a yes. :) Also, the filtering system was not damaged either, so that's a plus.

But we are very sad. This has been such a blessing to us and a highlight to our days of work. We work all day long, but look forward to dipping into that cool water and relaxing as we enjoy the afternoons and evenings of rest after a long, hot, sweaty day of work.

You can see where it gave way first, right where the biggest duct-taped hole had been.

A chair blew in. Looks like someone was cooling their feet.

I hope the grass does not die. We had just superchlorinated it two days prior. You can see how far down the water carried the chlorine dispenser.


But, before all that took place...

After trying to can more here, we packed up to head to my folks' house, just as another gully washer was coming.

And I had thought we were going over to use my mom and dad's kitchen, but dad had been working on a plan.

He bought a range top at the thrift store, rewired it, put it on a base and we canned outside. Til dark. In the rain. Using the van as a prep area...

I don't think I will do it that way again. LOL But with my mom's alzheimer's, it is upsetting for her to have her kitchen messed around in. Dad says I can borrow the stove top any time. It has a broken and tilted large burner that adds a challenge, but it worked OK.

I am confused on several aspects of jelly making/canning. This has turned into quite an ordeal. Still, I am glad I am learning, and looking forward to being able to share with others what I have learned, when I get there. LOL

It was good to visit with my dad. He's always got great ideas. The rain just made it a bit tedious, and not having counter tops.

I've got jelly left to make, from the frozen berries from last year. I'm going to do small batches today, I hope. That and figure out how to clean up the pool mess.

Life remains an adventure!



Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Every Cloud Has A Silver Lining


And just as soon as my headache goes away I'll begin looking for it in earnest. But for now it aches and I am hitting roadblock after roadblock in trying to can. It's beginning to look like we'll miss yet another get together tonight with friends because of the hangups.

I dug out jars and washed them all up. :)

I borrowed my mom's old pressure canner and water bath canners.

I bought the official canning book of the world and a utensil set.

I even got this, but I'm not sure what it is anymore.

I took a good look at the old racks...

And decided to buy a new one.

Then I discovered that my glass top stove is not suitable for canning. So I borrowed this camp stove.

Then I realized that was going to be a pain with all the rain we've been getting - 4 inches in two days was not going to be outdoor canning weather. So I dug out a tiny little pressure canner, and was able to to 5 pints of pie filling yesterday.

I had to go buy lemon juice and corn starch and I saw this small stock pot. Excitedly I brought it home, only to read.... "Not suitable for glass top stoves."

This morning I bravely began to can in small batches. I figured one little step at a time will get me there eventually, right? :)

But after all my prep, I discovered why my MOST DELICIOUS caramel from last Christmas never would set... My stove will absolutely NOT get anything above 205 degrees before the regulator shuts it off, to keep it from shattering.

I now have a giant pot of unjelled gooseberry jam on my stove, surrounded by splatters of pink goo everywhere, and no way to complete the process.

So looks like I'm heading to town to borrow my parent's kitchen. I don't mind it, but the thought of dragging everything is annoying the heck out of me right now. LOL


Good thing yesterday was so nice. :)

After the pie filling, which siphoned due to my impatience in getting it out of the pressure canner before leaving, we went to town to do errands and meet friends. We missed the sewing class, but arrived just as it was over and we met with two families for the afternoon at the lovely home of one of them we'd not had the chance to go to before.

I am going to share pictures of this place. Gary built it himself, from trees he cut himself. It's just beautiful, and sits on 14 quiet acres. This is the family we are having the giant pumpkin contest with. :-D

The front door. It has a story we got to hear. :)

The LR. Yes, he does rock work too.

The hall, and I refrained from taking pics of the bedrooms, though they were gorgeous.

The kitchen.

Look at the detail.

While we oohed and ahed over the inside, the kids all went out to the back porch and played checkers. It was sunny, with amazing clouds, a light, cool breeze, and about 88 degrees.

The girls had the same idea I had. I tell you, these are the most wonderful kids for Michael to have as friends. We are truly blessed to be surrounded by great kids.

Here's the back porch from a distance.

Angie made music for us.

We took a walk about. The place is amazing. And they bought it without even looking it over. It was sort of a happy accident that turned out REALLY well! LOL The chimney work.

The matching garage with apartment over it.

Which even has a back deck.

In leau of crown molding, they used this cool rope.

The end of the house, taken from the deck of the apartment.

Some teak root benches. That one on the right is not a dog, but it sure looks like one.

Going down the driveway to the open field where we went to see the garden, the portable saw mill, and the kids riding the 4-wheeler.

The house, from below. That's a full length porch, complete with rockers and a swing. MY swing! LOL

Heading to the garden.

Hmmmmmmmmmm.... Our rival giant pumpkin plant. Must get more fertilizer!

The mill.

Having way too much fun! They all took turns giving each other rides. Angie was even able to join in, despite having arrived in a skirt and sandals. :)

Dear friends.

We love them so much. :)

So I swung on the swing, and they rocked. And we chatted a bit, and we listened to the birds a bit, and we just enjoyed the beauty.

Playing Curses.

Ginseng and Cohosh, I believe.

Then we were off to Michael's Court of Honor.

OK, I better pack it all up! :)