Monday, August 24, 2015

Step Three of the Elderberry Wine

Today we siphoned the wine out of the jug into a bucket so that we could clean out the sediment and bottle it up again for another 4 weeks.

I added more sugar and one of the crushed Camden tablets, then we poured it back into the clean demijohn and put it in a cool place to wait.  It's going to take some time.

John and I both took a quick sip, and it was VERY tannic, and a bit bitter.  I read up on it and that seems to be exactly what others have experienced, but that with more time and the sugar, it should come out okay.

KT's First Day of Kindergarten

The day finally arrived...our KT is in Kindergarten.  Where has all the time gone?  She has been a bit nervous about it when we talked about it, she would say she was "a little shy." I told her that everyone in her class was new to school, so all the kids would be a little shy.
Colleen took some photos on Saturday so that they could document this big event and they turned out so beautiful.  I'm in awe of my daughter's ability with the camera....she has real talent.  Of course, her subject is awfully beautiful, if I do say so myself.
 KT was a good model -- she wasn't sure about all this business with the apple, but she went along with it!

This pose was my absolute favorite! I'm so glad Colleen chose it as THE kinder picture!

This morning she texted us the "off to school" pic....that backpack is as big as she is!

And here is the after school picture -- Colleen said she told her that she had a "great day!"  I knew she would, her teacher is so lucky to have her!
First day is in the history books!

Expensive Two Months....

Does it seem like when one appliance breaks, all the others seem to take a cue from it and curl up their toes and die?  It's been that kind of couple of months for us.  Whew!

First, the vacuum cleaner died. So, it wasn't that great a vacuum cleaner anyway, so we were happy to replace it.  This time we got one of those Dyson multi-floor ball vacuums, and I LOVE it! It's designed for both hardwood and carpet, and it is a great performer.

So then the dishwasher was feeling left out, and decided to die.  Arghhh!!!! Now this is getting expensive.  We replaced it with a Whirlpool stainless, top of the line, since we used this thing every single day and it's worth getting a good one, and heaven knows that I'm not really going to hand wash all of our dishes.  Over $1000.  Sigh.....

Then my food processor died.  A real stinky, burn-y, almost on fire death.  Oh well, I bought this thing factory reconditioned about 10 years ago, so it's given us everything I expected from it, for a lot longer then I expected.  During garden season, I used it several times a week to make salsa, chop cucumbers, and a million other things, and during the holidays it's essential for cooking.  I haven't replaced it yet, but I'm on the look out for another one.

And yesterday, the oven (30 years old, mind you) decided that it has had enough.  We found out just how old fashioned our kitchen is compared to today's bigger kitchens.  It was an oven designed for a 24 inch opening, and today's ovens are much, much, much bigger.  Most new homes now have huge ovens, and some even come with double ovens.  I'm not that kind of cook.  My little oven has done everything I've ever asked of it, and I'm not into a complete kitchen overhaul, so we started looking for a new oven that would fit in our space.  Not easy.  We did find one, stainless to match the dishwasher, but they don't carry it in store.  So we had to order it online.  It will arrive in early September, and another over $1000 gone.  Meanwhile, no baking.  (No problem! ha!)
At this point I'm almost afraid to use any of our appliances for fear that something else will die!  Keeping my fingers crossed.

Oh, and I didn't even mention that John just HAD to get a new mower last month.....

It never ends....

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Spring/Summer Tomato Finale'

We decided to terminate the last of the tomato plants this week, instead of trying to baby these through the fall.  They looked bad, although they were still producing a few tomatoes.  All in all, we had a tremendously successful tomato year.

All total we harvested 89 pounds 5.7 ounces of tomatoes.  Whew!  I put up:

 4 pints "Rotel" Tomatoes
 7 pints Tomato sauce
14 pints Mild or Hot Salsa
 3 bags frozen Tomatoes for soup
The rest we either ate fresh or gave away. Yes, we ate a lot of fresh tomato salads this year!

Totals for each variety:                                                                Pounds             Ounces
Beefsteak Tomato 12 4 9
Black Cherry (volunteer) Tomato 0 5 2
Cherry, Yellow Tomato 6 14 1
Cherokee Purple Tomato 9 1 5
Snow White Tomato 8 4 7
Homestead Tomato 14 15 6
Great White Tomato 5 5 9
Juane Flammee' Tomato 6 4 3
Red Star Tomato 10 5 3
Sleeping Lady (2) Tomato 15 12 2

My favorite of these varieties was the Snow White.  I loved those little pale yellow tomatoes, and I put a few vines to try to root one for the greenhouse this winter, and I'll grow this one again and again.

Second favorite was the Homestead.  Huge, heavy, beautiful classic red tomato, and it put on tomatoes in three different waves for us all spring and summer.  This is your classic for slicing for sandwiches, a real meaty tomato.

The Sleeping Lady was a small compact plant, and if you're planting in a pot or in a small garden area such as a balcony or porch you will be very pleased with this one.  The tomatoes ripen to a beautiful maroon color, but I didn't feel like it tasted as rich as I like from a home-grown tomato.  This might have been our soil, so it would be interesting to hear what others experienced from this variety.

The Great White was another favorite, and very lovely.  Big, pale yellow, and heavy -- another great slicer.  Tasted wonderful too!

We had so much fun this year experiencing our tomatoes from seed, to pot, to garden, to the kitchen.  First time we've ever done that, and I call it a huge success!

Summer Garden Notes, August 21, 2015

Not much happening in the garden right now.  I've been monitoring my little seedlings in the greenhouse and have even repotted some of them up to the next size pots.  Having some germination problems with a few of the varieties, but I'll get some of each type.

My last check on the elderberry wine revealed that it is starting to clear, with a deeper color and sediment on the bottom.  The 3 week date is Monday, August 24th, and I think I'll move to a 2nd bottle with a siphon and add the campden tablets, then let it sit another few weeks.  I'm just winging it at this point. I'll take a little taste on Monday, too.  Fingers crossed!
 Some of the veggies that I've saved for seeds are drying nicely.  I collected two types of okra seeds this week, the Buck's Big Buck and the Stewart's Zeebest.
John and I had a couple of the little butternut squash from this year's garden the other night.  Delish!!
 The two mulberry trees that we added this year are really growing fast! They started at about 4 inches (tiny little plants) and one of them is about 2-1/2 ft. tall now, the other just a tad smaller.  I know its a long term project, but I'm happy with their progress in only one summer.
Someone tell me what's wrong with my morning glories this year.  At this point of the year, they are usually covered in beautiful blue Heavenly flowers, but this year I'm lucky to get a flower a week.  Usually it looks like this.  Nada. Weird.
The Malabar spinach is sending out these thick vines all over, there must be 6 or 7 of these trailing out from the plant.  I'm picking a few young leaves here and there to use in eggs or salads.  This is an amazing lush plant.

Those little peach trees that we planted in February have grown like wildfire.  They seem to really like where we planted them.  Looking forward to seeing how these will perform next spring.
That's about it from here.  We'll be tilling up the raised bed (John cleaned it out for me the other day, removing the fencing and supports that were in there from the peas this spring) and adding compost to get it ready to plant the garlic.  I'm going to try to get this bed in the first week of September.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Mimi's Summer Day Camp, Day Nineteen - Canada Week

Today was the final day of Summer camp, and Mimi's kind of sad about that, so we made it an easy day and had some fun!  First, some Canadian artwork....
 ...then lunch in Boerne at the Dog and Pony Grill.  KT found some delicious mac'n cheese there, but I recommend their turkey burger.  Quite good.  Then we continued our field trip by going to see the Shaun the Sheep Movie!  It had NO dialogue -- none.  But was it ever cute.   KT kept up with the entire thing and we laughed out loud several times.  Very cute and we highly recommend it!
Of course, popcorn and a drink were definitely necessary.
Then to top that off, we stopped for a fudge sundae at the Dairy Queen.  Such a nice treat on a very hot day.
 Brain freeze!!!!
I can't resist using my new PencilSketch app - KT is the perfect subject.
 So now her travel case has a complete 10 country stamps on it.
 And we filled in the last page for this summer in her passport.
We talked about all of the countries we've "been to" during lunch today.  She remembered so much more from each country then I thought she would, and she still says that Australia was her favorite.  She's starting Kindergarten soon, and I predict that she will be the teacher's dream student -- such a smart little cookie.
Now I start planning summer camp for next year -- we'll have TWO kiddos then! Whew!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Mimi's Summer Day Camp, Day Eighteen - Canada Week

Our final week of summer camp took us to Canada!  KT painted the Maple Leaf flag first.
Next she and Grumpy went out to take a scavenger hunt challenge.

There are totem poles in British Columbia in Canada, erected by the First Nation people.  Many have animals that certain tribes considered their "totem" so we used all animals in our totem pole project. KT, Grumpy and I all had fun painting them!
 Next KT and Grumpy placed our animals on a pole.  KT picked the order they went in.  She wanted the Canadian goose at the top!

Next we made our Canadian fry bread...we made them into "Moose Ears" and "Moose Poop" shapes... any way you shape them they taste delicious!! They were just like our family favorite from camping, one we call "grease balls", but we just make ours with canned biscuits.  Of course, this yeast recipe is a little better.

 KT shaped a moose ear....
 Coated in sugar and cinnamon!
 KT got caught sneaking some fry bread! 

After lunch we played a game of matching animal tracks to the correct animal.  KT studied the right answers earlier in the day, so this was a test of how much she remembered.  She did really well, and started with the easy ones -- duck, turkey, deer.  We had a good talk about how cats don't keep their claws out when they are walking, so a cat track would not have a noticeable claw mark.  She stores all this information -- I'll bet she'll remember that.  
Then we got interested in the otter and the fact that there are several different kinds of otters - the river otter, the sea otter, and something called a giant otter.  We looked them all up on the internet.
 Then after a little break, we strung some leaves like the kind found in Canadian forests.  I'm going to put these on the fireplace mantle in September, for sure.
 We put them up for a bit just to see how they looked.  Since it was 100 degrees outside today, this touch of fall looked so good!
We had a wonderful swim, and then back home!  One more day of summer camp on Thursday.  Sigh....

Mimi's Summer Day Camp, Day Seventeen - India Week

I can't believe I forgot to put up a page about day seventeen! Whew! Must be getting busy around here.  The last day of our "trip" to India was fun, too.
 KT fed Turk some cherry tomatoes (the turkey loves them!) which has nothing to do with India, but it was fun.
 KT made a salt dough candle holder and put beads in it, then we baked it for about 5 hours.  This was to celebrate the festival of light, Diwali.
 KT painted an Indian flower (a paint by number design.)
 We had our weekly trip to the library on Thursday this week.
 When we got home, we tried out our hand with painting a "henna" design on KT's hand.  She had gotten a black heart stamp at the library, so we designed around it.
 KT wanted to paint her face.
 We drew some "henna" hand designs on the pavilion floor.
 We tried our hand at wrapping a sari.  I had a couple of long scarves that we tried, but they needed to be a bit longer.  We had lots of fun trying, though, and KT even suggested some other wrapping ideas that worked somewhat better!
Here's the same picture I put into a new app called PencilSketch.  I just love this.

We have only one more week of summer camp and we're going to Canada next week.  I'm going to be sad, we've been having so much fun this summer.  Can't believe KT is off to Kindergarten in just a few short weeks.