Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Houseplants - Do You Have Any, Many?

Sedums in a beautiful bowl with a
colorful watchdog painted by my
young friend, Jake. It's adorable.
I have come to love houseplants. They add such life to the home, they are beautiful with a fresh green for the eye to rest on and they help keep the indoor air clean. Here are my lovelies...
Maidenhair fern - lacy and lovely;
does so well in the moist bathroom

Shamrock loves the kitchen sink area;
south sunlight and moisture from the
kitchen sink/dishwasher

Snake plant (also called mother-in-law's tongue!);
this is great for a less sunny area of your home

My all time favorite, the spider plant

 Black-eyed Susan is a bright spot
from summer's garden

P.S. Guinea news alert...
We had a guinea hen sitting on a nest of 30 eggs. Yesterday she showed up with ONE keet! Not very good odds if your a guinea! Anyway, here is a picture I caught today. It's adorable in all it's fuzziness.

The tiny bird is in the shadow in the center of the picture

In this shot the keet is on the far right heading into the brush with the adults.

"Summer afternoon, summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language." -Henry James.

Enjoy your summer afternoon,

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Preserving the Cherries

After the cherry picking, the preservation job begins. We didn't have as big a crop as years past with only 6 1/2 jars of jam and 4 pies but we'll take what we got. It's so lovely to enjoy our cherries in the dead of winter.
Cherry pitting instruments
If you look at the picture above carefully, you'll see a bobbypin (yes, a bobbypin - story to follow) from year one;
the next is the silver handheld that pits one at a time, barely a step up from the bobbypin but a few less hand cramps; then the chop it man which is still just one or two cherries but you just hit the top with your palm which saves finger cramps - and he is cute; and this year, thanks to Maggie, a kindred jam making spirit, who graciously gifted me this multiple cherry pitter, I had no hand cramps this year. Thank you again, Maggie. The cherries were smaller than usual, so a few pits got through, oh well. I have to give credit to Mark too who gallantly pitted cherries with me more than one year.

The first summer we lived in the cottage, I was so busy making it livable that I almost missed the ripe cherries. Once I discovered them, a bumper crop, I called friends to come to help themselves. I picked enough for us and then was faced with the fact that I didn't have a way to efficiently pit them. I went to the hardware store and couldn't find a cherry pitter anywhere. I didn't want to drive another 25 miles and spend several hours searching so I asked a couple elderly women at the hardware store if they had any suggestions. One said to use a bobbypin. She went into detail how it works and they wished me well. Maybe they had a good chuckle about that but it does work! It's hard work, my hand was cramped, but the curved end of the bobby pin effectively caught the pit and slipped it out. While doing the job, I knew I had a mission to find a better cherry pitter. Now thanks to my friend, pitting cherries isn't quite so daunting.
Here's the new pitter in action, very
efficient and you can see it's capacity
is greater than one at a time
The beautiful ceramic cherry pie on the
lazy-susan behind the fresh cherries is a
hand painted gift from my young friend,
Sasha. Isn't it exquisite?
I got 6 1/2 jars of first of the season
cherry jam. It is delicious - of course
we had to try it right away!
My favorite jam cookbook. It's an
investment but it has recipes the likes
of which you never tasted before along
with old standards. Her methods are
modern and make this process a lot
And I also got 4 pies from this years crop, two of which made it to the freezer for later.
The finished pie, yum!
And of course there is always leftover pit crust that has to be baked off for an additional treat for those crust lovers.
When there are children around, I use cookies cutters in the shape of a bare foot imprint to cut the extra pie dough. Once sprinkled with cinnamon sugar, they look like dirty feet...and kids love 'em for both the name and the taste!

Summer for me is enjoying the fresh fruit and vegetables but also the preservation of them for winter. It is such a satisfying feeling in winter to be able to pull something from the pantry or freezer that I put up in the summer. It is worth the time and effort it takes to do the preserving.

This year I plan to dry some things as another way to preserve the harvest.

Hope you are having a fun and fruitful summer.

P.S. I've had a number of readers ask me about the flowers in the masthead of my blog. Yes, they are roses from my garden. Beautiful, yes?

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

All About Horses

The last of the baby horses was born late last week...a little filly that Buddy tried to check out with great caution. Afterall, Mom is standing right there!
He had better luck with the older babies, here one was as curious about Buddy as he was with her.

And then on Friday our friends had a Horse a cattle drive but only with horses. The cowboys and cowkids drove about thirty mares and babies from one pasture to another. In this case, they needed to travel on a highway for some distance so that added some excitement, here's a video and some pictures so you can see what I mean...
Here they come out of the pasture
and begin their journey on the highway

What a beautiful sight

This is why there are cowboys -
to keep them moving preferably
along the road

Not a sight you see everyday,
even in Nebraska!