Sunday, October 5, 2014

No More Gnats (or fruit flies)

Some folks are just a wealth of knowledge.
As Mom and I were complaining about fruit flies
and now all the gnats,
a family friend nonchalantly said,
"1/2 cup vinegar, 1/2 cup of water and a drizzle of blue Dawn dish soap
in a bowl will attract them, and they'll drown."
It really works!
Can you see the little corpses in the bottom of the jar?
She said a friend of hers mixed up a little batch and 
set it outside thinking it would be nice if they didn't even come in
the house.  Evidently moths are also drawn to the solution.
There were so many drowned moths that the gnats and fruit flies
were fluttering over the dead moths trying to get to it.
I wish I would have known this when I was doing pears
since there were so many fruit flies, and
they seem to enjoy hovering about two inches 
in front of my eyes.
This is so much more earth-friendly
than bug spray or tape.

(you can find instructions for the fall table runner here)

Until next time,
Nimble Fingers and Even Stitches

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Harvest Blessings

There has been a lot going on around here
as there has been for many folks.
I'm not entirely sure just where to begin today.
My last post included a partial to-do list
some of which has occurred.
Today I found my kitchen floor.
You know, I think it was under there all along
and was just playing hide & seek.
At least we can walk across it without
it pulling our socks off now:)
The forests are open so we have brought in,
split, and stacked a couple trailers of wood.
We probably need one more good load or a couple small ones.
That's quite the workout, but is so rewarding.
A few days ago as I was picking 'more' plums, and
this nearly hit me in the head before I noticed it.
This whole limb will be pruned off 
so I am going to rescue it and bring it inside for the mantle.
The river is low but still sounds beautiful as
my head hits the pillow at night.
Tomatoes! Wow!
They leave me speechless.
There were a bunch that came up volunteer (in the potato patch.)
They are a little later than the ones we planted intentionally.  But look what they are doing.  The vast majority of these little ones go on the dehydrator to become 'sun-dried' tomatoes.  The ones in the upper right bowl are all from volunteer plants.
This year in addition to 'real' tomatoes,
we had little purple tomatoes and big orange ones - both good.

If you have never canned pears,
first let me warn you.
And second, 
you don't know what you're missing.
I have canned as much as we will eat,
gave away six big grocery bags full to some friends,
and they are still falling.
My neighbor was over today and asked if I wanted any pears.
I just laughed.
A good year for pears evidently.
Some folks don't realize that they fall from the tree green
then ripen over the course of about a week.
This was fantastic thought on God's part since they
are too tender, would bruise, and directly turn to mush
if they fell when ripe.

They are easy to can (one of the first things I learned to can.)
Just peel, core, slice, and top off with syrup.
Hot water bath for 8-10 minutes and presto.
I prefer a light syrup so use 1 cup sugar to 4 cups water.
Bring it to a simmer so the sugar dissolves before
pouring over the fruit.
And last but not least...
evening before last we fiiiiiinally had a little shower
move through, and as we looked out our back door,
this is what we saw over the mountain.

I hope each of you is finding your own form of blessings
and enjoying the tail end of the harvest season.

Until next time,
Nimble Fingers and Even Stitches

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Sensing the Season

The race is on...
lately there have been some beautiful autumn posts and pictures.
(out by our gate)
What goes through my head is
"Waaaaiiit! I'm not ready yet."
The pears are on,
The tomatoes are on,
The plums and cukes are still on.
(one day's worth)
All of these need preserving.
The dehydrater is going full bore.
The canning pots are standing ready.
The pantry shelves are still receiving.
The tree with eating apples is not quite ready yet.
The celery is taking its own sweet time.
We had about 6 weeks of 100 plus degree weather
this summer and had to keep things alive through it.
I want to reap and preserve as much of the bounty as possible.
There is still so much to do.
We still need to:
begin pulling and cleaning up the garden
as certain things begin to fizzle out,
get firewood,
as trees finish up, prune them (this is their year,)
clean chimney / ready wood stove, and
deep clean kitchen after harvest which isn't finished.

Yes, I realize this just seems like some
crazy person's to-do list,
but really it's about living with nature.
I don't want to rush it.
Don't get me wrong, I love autumn,
the rich warm colours,
and the crisp cool nights.
If we take our cues from nature
and the critters,
late summer is for squirrelling away our winter store.
The chipmunks have been busy,
the quail nesting earilier in the evening,
the bear foraging on fallen fruit of all sorts,
and birds soaring to warmer climes.
This is where we find ourselves.
I mean really find ourselves.
It's living right with nature:
it's just what is here now and
making the most of the gifts we are granted.
It's not rushing forward into the next season.
Our society forces this upon us by putting
Christmas decor out in October
and St. Valentine's candy out at New Year etc.
Neither, is it grasping to what is gone.
You might try swimming in the river,
but you won't last long - the water is cooling down.
All of this said,
maybe just appreciate the sense of season,
the now season.
It's an in between season with no real name,
no longer summer and not quite autumn.
It's the gift of today,
and isn't today just beautiful?

Until next time,
Nimble Fingers and Even Stitches

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Six Bean Soup Mix

This is really a Gift in a Jar idea.
The thing is that it can be a gift 
for someone else or for yourself.
I like to make up three or four at a time
for our own use.
These are wonderful both to give and to receive.
It's something that saves time
and can be used up.

Six-Bean Soup Mix

1/2 cup each (dried):
red beans
navy beans
pinto beans
lima beans
kidney beans
Great Northern beans

Then in a small zip-lock bag:
2 bay leaves
2 Tbl. dried minced onion
1 Tbl. dried parsley
1 tsp. dried minced garlic
1 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes

And on top:
1 beef bouillon cube
1 vegetable bouillon cube 

Then for cooking:
1 can diced tomatoes
1-2 lbs. cubed ham, bacon, or sausage

To cook, remove seasoning packet & bouillon cubes.
Place beans in large pot with seven or eight cups water.
Let soak overnight.
Bring beans to a boil - let boil 2-3 min.
Remove from heat and let sit 15-20 min.
Pour off water.
Add 5-6 cups water, spices, bouillon, diced tomatos, and meat.
Now you can either bring it to a boil then reduce heat
and simmer for an hour and a half to two hours,
or my favorite...
Put it all in a crock pot or Dutch oven with low heat and leave it alone
until dinner time.

This is one of the ways I use up left-over ham.
Mr. LB loves it and even likes to have them reheated for a second meal.

Until next time,
Nimble Fingers and Even Stitches