Wednesday, May 24, 2017

When Birds are Jerks

This spring, a little bird decided to build a nest in my clothespin apron, which was hanging on the deck (convenient for grabbing to hang clothes).  Everyday, the bird would add twigs, and I would remove them.  We went back and forth.  Stubborn little feathered friend.

That is, until I got really busy.  And forgot to check for a couple of days.  After which, I found this.  Not only is the nest complete - on top of all my clothespins - but now the bird is sitting there all day.  Probably on some eggs.  Look how SMUG this bird looks.
I guess I won't be hanging out the laundry any time soon...
Nicely played, bird.  You win.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Butternut, Moths, and Peep S'mores

Gosh I love Spring.  Temps in the 70s, everything in bloom and green.  The promise of new life, new gardening.  Here's a picture of the twins on Easter, waiting to make s'mores out of Peeps.

After the suggestion of one of my blog readers (who are always teaching me wonderful things, and giving me new ideas), I canned the butternut squash I had left from last fall, before it could start to go bad.  When canning squash, you have to cube it, and you must use a pressure canner.  It was a lot of work to peel and cube so much butternut in one go, but now all I have to do is open a jar!  I plan to use it a lot in soups or rice bowls.  You can see my garden corral in the background of this picture.

Another sign of spring?  All the butterflies and bees.  On a recent run, I discovered this rather unusual moth.  I don't carry a camera or phone when I run on our trails, so I went back and found it later.  I loved it's creamy yellow coloring and brown stripe.  According to google, this seems to be a swallowtail moth.

Readers, what are the small things delighting you this spring?

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Go Fly a Kite

We had three kites from previous beach trips.  One breezy day over the boys' Spring Break, we took them down to the large pasture.  One was missing a piece.  Reid got his stuck in a tree when a breeze jerked it out of his hand.  But Cort?  Well, Cort had a grand time.

Behold the joy of Spring! 
Readers, when did you last fly a kite?

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Egg Hunting, Two Bears Style

This was the first year that none of the boys had Easter egg hunts at school.  So we had to do something at home.  Rather than just hide a few eggs around the house or in the yard, we decided to get a little more....creative.  Paul and I hiked a trail loop on our property, hiding eggs along the way.  It's about a 3/4 mile loop. 

After we had all the eggs safely hidden, the boys were very excited to go.  A neighbor kid showed up right around this time, so we gave him a sack to let him hunt for eggs too (he was so delighted by his fortune in having shown up with perfect timing you would've thought he'd won the lottery).  A brief countdown, and they were off!

There were eggs in trees and in holes and even on limbs.  Eggs that had to be hit down with sticks.  Needless to say, this adventure was a HUGE hit with the boys, and they immediately wanted to do it again.  I suspect this will become a yearly tradition, assuming the weather is always as beautiful as it was on this particular week. 

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Canning Boston Baked Beans

Recently my grandmother passed, and she has been my garden confidant and canning champion the past few years.  I don't have anything to can from the garden yet, so I decided to try to can a big batch of Boston baked beans instead.  It felt like a simple way to keep her close to my heart.  When I work in my garden each year, I will certainly be thinking of her.

I got two large bags of Great Northern beans and soaked them overnight.  Then I drained them and topped off with fresh water.  I boiled them until the skins started to split.  I layered them in my two hugest baking pans with chopped onions, green peppers, bacon, and a sauce made from molasses, salt, dry mustard, the water I boiled them in, and brown sugar.  I baked them for 3 hours at 325.

They had to be processed in the pressure canner for 85 minutes.  It was a long day to make these beans, but I ended up with 16 pints (plus a couple of pints I left out that we ate for dinner that night), and they have a great flavor.  Plus, baked beans are so inexpensive to make! 

Readers, are there ways you like to honor the memory of your relatives?

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Rampicante Squash Muffins Recipe

Remember last year when I grew so many rampicante squash in my garden?  I froze some of it (it's quite similar to zucchini, and you could use zucchini in this recipe if you didn't have rampicante) and decided to make some muffins recently.  I'm happy to say that these are kid approved!

You will need:
3 eggs
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 tsp. maple flavoring (or use vanilla extract if you don't have this)
2 cups shredded rampicante squash
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup wheat germ
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. Cinnamon
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 cup extra ingredient (nuts, chopped apricots, raisins or butterscotch chips)

Preheat oven to 350*.  Spray muffin tin with cooking spray (or lightly grease). Mix eggs, oil, and sugars.  Stir in squash.  Stir in dry ingredients until just mixed.  Fold in your extra ingredient (I used butterscotch chips).

Bake for 30 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.  These are fairly healthy, and make a great breakfast-on-the-go muffin (they aren't as crumbly as some muffins).  My boys love when I send them as a school snack.

Yield = 15 medium muffins

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Spring, Finally

I'm glad it's spring and I can move into warmer weather and gardening season.  I have a few random reflections on the winter.

We went through a lot of the home canned goods this winter.  By January we had run through all 12 pints of salsa I canned last summer.  This year I need to make more.  The boys loved the canned carrots and canned green beans.  Only Reid and Paul and I like the beets, but I'm working on the other two.  We used up most of the jams and jellies, and discovered that autumn olive is our new favorite jelly - next year I hope to make a lot more.  Some of the squash I stored never got used, and I had to throw it away in March when it started to rot.  This year I'm planting less squash.

Last month St. Patrick's Day resulted in little Leprechaun traps all over the house.  The twins were quite devoted in creating these, and they seemed to be around every corner.  Alas, they were still empty on March 18th.  Maybe next year.

I read the boys classics like Hatchet and Old Yeller this winter, when the days were short and the wood stove was going.  They loved both books.

I put down a layer of hay in the garden for weed control.  I look forward to warm hands in the dirt and putting in seeds this month.

Readers, do you have any winter reflections?