After major changes in the past year, I am back! Change can be frightening, exciting, stressful, exhilarating - or all at the same time! In the past year I have retired from fulltime public school teaching, and am now a parttime online teacher for my state's public system. The complete joy and freedom of being able to make my own hour and take my work on the road with me after over 30 years of being tied to a firm schedule is mindboggling!
So what have I been up to with extra time? Staying busier than I would have believed... gardening, canning, dog shows, traveling and one of the greatest joys - actually having the time to kick back, sit on the deck and watch the birds and squirrels play. We are still enjoying the fall yard decorations we created for our son's rehearsal dinner for 50 on our deck and back yard - and the creatures are as well, using the straw bales, corn stalks and pumpkins for homes and play areas.
With fall here in force, I hope to spend some time sharing our favorite gardening tips, recipes, canning triumphs and failures, and life!
Retired and loving it - and back to blogging! The garden is taking shape for the summer. Tomatoes all in, onions and garlic up, and the last of the spring peas are going wild. The winter greens were delicious and I am still finding carrots we missed.
Yesterday we put in a 4 x 10 raised bed for our son as a housewarming present - what could be better to make a house a home than homeraised, fresh organic veggies? So simple to build a box, fill with good manure, topsoil and layer in straw, and get to planting! We started them off with tomatoes, squash, herbs and lettuce and soon will add peppers and eggplants. Perhaps an idea for young people in your family or neighborhood just starting out? Instead of more *stuff* for them to cram into their lives, how about a new garden they can enjoy year round?
The collards, mustard greens and other fall veggies are going gangbusters - we have enjoyed fresh collards at least once a week and I have been taking bags to give to co-workers. But with gardening activities slowing down I have looked for other ways to save money while getting fresh, homemade vegetables. The after Thanksgiving sales had me finding ways to preserve sweet and white potatoes. So far I have frozen mashed Russet potatoes, baked sweet potatoes and twice baked Russets. Those will be so easy when we're tired - just pop them in the oven at 325 and 30 minutes later, hot twice baked potatoes! When sweet potatoes are on sale for 19 cents a pound and Russets for 25 cents a pound, I just had to find a way to put them up for the fall and winter! We will be enjoying dehydrated sweet potatoes as well in our roasted vegetables when the weather calls for a hearty meal. Tomorrow I will be dehydrating some of the Russets to add to vegetable soups. Frugal and delicious!
The Micro toms are ripening under the fluorescent lights - will have them on some of our potted mesclun lettuce mix tomorrow... the collards have filled the beds and that beautiful October sky makes being outside so much more appealing now that the air is crisp instead of muggy.
The NC mountains, besides being beautiful, produce great apples. Although I was unable to get up there, a friend brought me a bushel of Winesap, Granny Smith and Golden Delicious. Four pints and eight half pints of homemade organic applesauce are in the pantry now and tomorrow we will have apple maple crisp for desert. Certainly helps us get over the loss of ripe homegrown tomatoes as fall descends!
Had to share some pics of the fruiting Micro Tom tomatoes - they are growing now inside under fluorescent lights. Put a tablespoon in the pot on the right to show the relative size of the plant and tiny tomatoes.
Took out the last of the pepper plants today - and harvested ten pounds of six varieties. The day was spent roasting Anchos, Round of Hungary and Corno di Toros, freezing chopped bell peppers and canning banana and jalapeno peppers. I tried a bread and butter jalapeno recipe and ended up with six pints- am hoping the sweet and hot flavors will be an interesting accent. We had two of the roasted Anchos with melted cheese with our tortilla pie dinner - their smoky hot flavor was fabulous!